Sunday, February 5, 2012

Metro Board Report for January 2012

You might have thought that the Title VI embarrassment (see my special report on same) was the only major issue to come before the Board, if you'd read the agendas for January … in fact, this was one of those rare months where I was able to monitor all the meetings via the audio feed provided for employees and the media! But there was one matter that bears reporting on:

The Project Labor Agreement Is A Done Deal, Finally : The PLA, which has been the subject of much negotiation between Metro and the building trades councils for Los Angeles and Orange Counties, was approved by the Board this month, but not until after previous questions (as we reported in September) were answered ... and led to new questions and some more BRU nonsense.

The questions previously raised by Director Zev Yaroslavsky about the apparent incongruity of the maps showing economically depressed areas with his own observations were taken care of by the revelation that the PLA had to use federal data for hiring guidelines, else the Federal Transit Administration would be unable to approve the agreement as non-conforming to the national hiring program. This didn't stop the Third District Supervisor from calling the maps flawed, citing the San Fernando Valley community of Pacoima, which "is worse than Arleta ... which is included, but Pacoima is not."

Then there was the matter of trying to keep specific projects from being focused upon, which would give the FTA further grounds to reject the agreement, which led Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa to take the unusual step of ruling "out of order" in advance any public comment which was project specific.

The entertainment portion of the public comment came from the Bus Riders Union, who tried to use the PLA (perhaps they still think it means "Palestine Liberation Army") to resurrect their "clean air plan" ... which is nothing more than the "500 new buses" they continually demanded during the ten years of the consent decree. Since they apparently have no new ideas, they tried a new approach to gain support for the retread by attempting to convince the labor leaders present that bus operator and mechanic jobs at Metro are also union jobs. Not surprisingly, the labor leaders -- who represent construction workers, not bus operators -- did not, as the BRU had hoped, flock to their side in support. It also didn't help that the BRU attacked the creation of construction jobs (their usual "stop building rail" argument), which further failed to endear them to those present; so it comes as no surprise that their call for the County Federation of Labor to support their vision fell flat on its face. Personally, I'm convinced the BRU hasn't learned a damn thing in over 15 years of making our collective lives miserable ...

I'd point out that -- as was the case in September -- the County Fed of Labor once again packed the Board Room to show its support, even though there was never any question that this would pass. As I did in September, I appeal to the labor community to stop taking seats away from those who are in attendance for other issues. Trust me on this: The support you enjoy starts to erode when you inconvenience your supporters. Next time something this major comes up, try to remember that sometimes less is more.

And, Of Course, BRU Still Only Supports Their View Of Reality: As might be expected, the Chair's Report consisted of further updates by Dan Levy, Metro's newly installed Director of Civil Rights Compliance, on the Title VI matter. This was followed by the BRU calling the matter a "crisis" (while still insisting the FTA found "violations" rather than the term "deficiencies" that appears in the FTA report) and demanded a rollback of all fare increases and restoration of previous service reductions ... while insisting that they should be in charge of the corrective process. And they labeled this as "just the first of our demands."

I have news for them: They are in no position to "demand" anything. As of the date that I write this, the consent decree has been over for 1,925 days. That's well over five years, and there wasn't some clause allowing them to make demands after the decree expired. Their fifteen minutes of fame expired a long time ago and they had best make peace with that fact; the Title VI matter didn't automatically reopen doors for them, and they are delusional if they think it did.

Lost in the midst of that BRU rhetoric was a claim by activist Damion Goodmon that the Title VI deficiencies automatically invalidated the EIR for the Crenshaw/LAX project. On that point, I think he is as delusional as the BRU.

Quote Of The Month: Villaraigosa, after listening to gadfly John Walsh make accusations that he is under FBI investigation of his current personal relationship: "You keep talking like that, you're going to be removed ... and you'll be lucky if that's all."

Of course, that was after Villaraigosa said (thinking he was off-mike) during Walsh's comments: "What a nut."

After I posted my notice that I was not going to file a report on the November/December Board meeting, I was reminded by my colleague Jerard Wright that there was one matter worthy of mentioning in passing ... the addition of the Manchester/Aviation Station to the Crenshaw/LAX light rail project, which was proposed by Director Don Knabe as a bid option only if it could be done within the project budget along with Director Mark Ridley-Thomas' underground Leimert Park station, which I reported on in my post for the May 2011 Board meeting. Notable about the discussion is that even though Knabe bent over backwards to make sure his proposal was secondary to that of the Supervisor from the Second District, Ridley-Thomas complained bitterly about the "vulgar inconsistency" of the way "his" project is treated.

I'll say it again: Ridley-Thomas cannot be made happy, no longer how hard one tries. I think everyone should stop trying.

Next Metro Board Committee Meetings: Wednesday and Thursday, February 15 & 16

Next Metro Board Meeting: Thursday, February 23