Norton suggests Metro’s board should resign, speed up governance reforms

WASHINGTON — D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton called on the entire Metro Board of Directors to resign on Tuesday, a day after former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called for a smaller, temporary board to lead the transit agency.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser agreed at a summit Monday on the general idea of a smaller governing board, but had not agreed on how to put such a board in place. Nor have they agreed on how to provide additional funding that Metro needs to rebuild the decaying system.

Norton’s office said that if each Metro Board member resigned, then Maryland, Virginia, D.C. and the federal government could each appoint a single member.

Under the existing Metro governance documents, one member from each jurisdiction plus a chairman would allow the board to continue operations.

In a statement, Norton said achieving a smaller board quickly through a mass resignation would help the region’s Congressional delegation push for continued or expanded special federal capital funding for Metro. She said it would demonstrate the region’s commitment to “necessary sacrifices to reform and improve Metro.”

Local Virginia governments could raise the most significant concerns about a smaller Metro Board, because Virginia localities pay the lion’s share of the state’s contributions but they could lose input on how that money is spent.

In response to Norton’s call for mass resignations, Alexandria Councilmember Paul Smedberg told WTOP that he has no plans to resign his seat on the Metro Board. He noted that the final, detailed recommendations from LaHood’s report are still a month away.

In Maryland, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties each appoint alternate members to the board. But the state appoints the two full members on the board because state tax dollars pay for Maryland’s contributions to Metro.

Hogan said Monday he was not sure yet whether a smaller board would meet current state legal requirements and that he was not ready to commit to a proposal that he had only just heard about.

In the District, appointments are split to include a D.C. Councilmember, currently board Chairman Jack Evans. One of the mayor’s appointees, businessman Corbett Price, told WTOP he will do whatever Bowser wants him to do “when the time comes.”

Price has pushed for a smaller board, including stronger and smaller committees, as part of his leadership of the board’s governance committee over the last year.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2017 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up