Meet the New Metro Board Chair…Same as the Old Metro Board Chair
Pam, we hardly knew ya.
Unless I'm reading my Metro Board Rules and Procedures incorrectly it appears that Metro Board watchers will be experiencing a little back to the future next week, because on Tuesday, July 1 current Metro Vice Chair and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will succeed Pam O'Connor as Chair of the Metro Board of Directors.
For a lot of people, this will probably be bad news. After all, while the Mayor has been an outspoken supporter of congestion pricing and the sales tax increase he's also the guy that takes advice from a transportation deputy that cruises around in a hummer and has been accused of not knowing what the word "bicycle" means.
But what is clearly bad news is that Pam O'Connor's term is over. While Streetsblog, and Street Heat before it, have been critical of the way Metro Board meetings are run; it was nice to have a Metro Board Chair who lived a car-free lifestyle and knew her way around a transit system even when she wasn't going to a press conference. Hopefully her initiatives such as the online chat with the board chair and the sustainability committee continue through and past Villaraigosa's years as chair.
Wikipedia gives a summary of Villaraigosa's actions when he was Board Chair:
As chairman, Villaraigosa oversaw the final approval of the EIR for the proposed Exposition Line, the opening of the Orange Line busway through the San Fernando Valley, and the beginning of tunneling on the Eastside extension of the Metro Gold Line light rail. One of Villaraigosa's main transportation related goals is to extend the Purple Line subway down Wilshire Boulevard to Santa Monica, although no plans have yet been completed. In order to convince Congressman Henry Waxman to reverse the federal policy he created which banned tunneling under Wilshire Boulevard following an unrelated methane explosion, Waxman and Villaraigosa appointed a board to study the geologic risks. After the panel declared that any risks could be mitigated, Waxman sponsored legislation to repeal the ban, which passed in 2006. More recently, Metro has determined that it will cost $4.8 billion (U.S.) to complete the subway, at $300 million a mile, and would take approximately 20 years.
So what say you Streetbloggers? Is Villaraigosa's re-ascension to Board Chair a good thing, a bad thing or does it not matter at all?