Najarian Effort to Retain Metro Board Seat about to Commence

(Update: It turns out that unless the Najarian nomination is rejected by a majority in a weighted vote by the City Selection Committee, that no action is required by North County Cities earlier today. While the Committee didn’t confirm his nomination, it didn’t reject it either. This wasn’t announced until today at the meeting, with everyone involved somewhat confused as to what the rules are. As Najarian put it in an interview with Streetsblog, “It’s no surprise people are confused. This has never happened before.”

In the meantime, Najarian continues to serve as a member of the Metro Board of Directors unless the North County cities and the City Selection Committee agree to a different representative.- DN, 11:32 A.M.)

This morning the North County/San Fernando Valley Sector-MTA of the Los Angeles County City Selection Committee will be meeting in the Council Chambers of the city of San Fernando. The sole item for discussion on the agenda is for the Sector to recommend a nominee for their seat on the L.A. Metro Board of Directors for a four-year term ending January 1, 2017. This is the latest episode in the soap opera like drama surrounding the attempt by proponents of the I-710 Big Dig project to keep vocal opponent Ara Najarian from continuing to serve on the Metro Board. The proponents make no bones it his use of his seat on the Board as a bully pulpit to preach his opposition that drove them to try and prevent Najarian’s re-appointment.

Najarian is no hater of freeway projects. Just ones that his constituents despise. Photo: Caltrans

Najarian previously received the nod of the Sector last October only to have project proponents actively prevent Najarian from receiving enough weighed votes to be confirmed when the full Committee met in December. Note that at the same meeting Mayor DuBois of Lakewood easily had her appointment to continue on the Metro Board ratified, which signifies what an unusual move this is being taken against Najarian.

Only 52 of the 88 cities in Los Angeles county were present at the December meeting. This matters because the votes are weighed by population (i.e. larger cities have more votes). Najarian received a total weighted vote of 236, short of the required 250 weighted votes for ratification.

If as I expect the Sector votes to re-confirm its nomination of Najarian the next step is for the full Committee to meet sometime in the near future and consider the matter. And one can bet Najarian and his allies will be working to make sure enough supporters attend to finally get him past the opposition. The Committee is made up of the Mayors of all the various cities in the county, although they can designate a proxy from among any of their city council members to attend and vote in their stead.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if Alhambra Mayor Barbara Messina and Duarte City Council Member, and Metro Board Member John Fasana (the chief plotters in this attempt to delay Najarian’s reappointment) while surely will be voting no will not be working overly hard to prevent Najarian’s victory. This entire drama has received more scrutiny than they likely anticipated and is giving proponents a bad image by appearing to be bullying and intolerant of other views. And in any case they have already achieved their goal of making an effort to not let Najarian’s return be rubber stamped, the prospect of which evidently infuriated many of the proponents. Now, Fasana and Messina can say they fought the good fight (at least in the view of the proponents) until the tide turned against them.

BTW, some years ago I actually attended a meeting of the Los Angeles County City Selection Committee (held in Culver City) along with transit activist Ken Ruben. My impression was it was a very cozy grouping of what I call regional bigwigs, ambitious politicos of the type who often seek seats on local multi-jurisdictional/regional entities which can be a stepping stone upward especially in this era of legislative term limits. The vibe was definitely hail fellow well met. Having a public scuffle probably is not to the liking of many of the Committee members and they likely will be happy when this whole matter is resolved.

And I must admit most of the forgoing is conjecture on my part, albeit based on my many years observing these various processes unfold. Just another example of the Kabuki-like rituals that often shape the structure of local governance.

  • jepicone

    I am honored to have Ara Najarian represent me on the Metro board. If I could vote for this, I would vote for him, hands-down.

  • vlkea01

    Ara Najarian is a shining light in the muck Messina and Fasana have created. It is also obvious that the balance of the board and the committee members do not have minds of their own. They are swayed much to easily by Messina and Fasana. Ara Najarian speaks for his constituents. Since when is it okay to stem the wishes of the constituents, especially when they are not your constituents? Messina and Fasana have overstepped the bounds. Why they are allowed to run for any office or be on any committee is beyond my comprehension. I agree with jepicone, if I could vote, I would vote for Ara Najarian, I would with no reservations.

  • Unclechumley

    There is a problem with the selection process if someone as well qualified as Ara Najarian and with the overwhelming support of his constituecy can be so easily removed from office. This process must be changed. The Metro Board needs to condemn the actions of those responsible for using underhanded  tactics like these to deprive communities like mine of fair representation.

  • Paulashatsky

    Ara Najarian is a statesman with courage. He belongs on the Board of Supervisors to represent his constituents, and to protect the greater good of the people of the entire region. REINSTATE NAJARIAN.

  • calwatch

    There is a reason for the ratification, and that is to prevent people who would discredit MTA from a personal standpoint to get on. Think of David Wu or Larry Craig – people who have been charged with felonies. Not someone expressing a political opinion. What they want to relegate the anti 710 people to is those 60 second hate comments from the gallery, with the Mayor of La Canada Flintridge’s opinion equal to that of John Walsh or Arnold Sachs. 

  • Jane Demian

    Ara Najarian will be reinstated on the Metro Board.  His constituents and supporters are strongly in his corner.  Barbara Messina and John Fasana sought to oust Ara Najarian because his views were different from their own.  They decided that their agenda of lies and  disinformation about the 710 tunnel was more important than the democratic process of debate and discussion.  The public has a right to know the truth about this enormously expensive project, this toll tunnel, which  will destroy communities, and will not do anything to relieve traffic congestion.  Ara Najarian has demonstrated leadership and courage, has told the truth, and will continue to tell the truth to the people of this region.

  • CV Gal

    Calwatch, are you implying that Ara Najarian or Stephen Del Guercio are doing anything other than representing their cities well??  Shame on you.  These two men have been strong leaders who operate with integrity and honesty.  Their actions have always been above board, in front of the public eye, and representative of their constituents. They don’t have a personal agenda although I think you do. I am proud to have both of them represent me in their positions.  Now…as far as Fasana and Messina and their sneaking around, trying to sway the vote over one issue, we will let the readers decide who might be more inappropriate in their behavior.  Weren’t there campaign violation charges brought up on Messina in 2010???  We KNOW she operates in secrecy and is no where close to transparent with her bad behavior.  http://www.alhambrasource.org/news/alhambra-councilwoman-messina-pay-14000-violating-political-reform-act

  • My thanks to Damien for the update/clarification. And for further confusion, the Committee website has the meeting as cancelled, and one local activist tells me he found it so when he tried to attend…

    http://file.lacounty.gov/compub/agenda/2004/cms1_188027.pdf

  • Unclechumley, to change this process would entail passing legislation in Sacramento. Chances of that — little and nill.

  • Numan Parada

     I for one would like to support searching for (and finding!) the truth about a $6 billion or so project, this toll tunnel, which will destroy no one and do plenty to spread traffic away from the congested 101 and 5 Freeways, take traffic off Alhambra and South Pasadena streets (as this former Cal State LA student can attest to), and provide a meaningful regional solution for people driving around the city. Ironically, this can only happen if Najarian stays around to keep the project in check and ask the necessary questions to keep Metro honest.

  • Joanne Nuckols

    Numan, I find your comment that the toll tunnels “will destroy no one” very uninformed.  Obviously you haven’t been following the issue closely enough.  

    The children at the schools near the portals (including Cal State LA) in Pasadena and Los Angeles, the employees and patients at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena the residents near those same portals would beg to differ with your erroneous assessment.  A tunnel expert has stated that those living near the portals, particularly during construction, will be unhappy for a long time. The cranes, lights, noise, dust will be horrible.

    Thank you Ara Najarian for being informed and asking the tough questions that are a necessity for any responsible elected official, particularly one on the Metro Board.  Eventhough I can’t vote for you, I’ll make sure our mayor does.

  • Numan Parada

    Construction for any project of any magnitude is temporary. Since there are already stubs of the 710 at both ends of the proposed, where construction will presumably be staged, construction vehicles can use the existing freeway system to do what they need to do. As for the light, noise and dust issues, there are ways to mitigate that, to which whoever is chosen to build the tunnels will have to provide.

    And all of this is coming from a transportation advocate who supports bringing multi-modal choices to the public, has followed issues on both highway and transit developments including this one for years, and takes a more overall view of what is necessary and doable in terms of Southern California transportation.

    Also, with the 210 Freeway already built, aren’t the communities you supposedly side on already “destroyed” by your definition?

  • The real subtext is this sow’s ear of a project will never happen, despite all the inflated promises and dubious toll road/tunnel proposal. That looming reality as the process works its way is making the proponents slowly face the end of a mult-decade fantasy. No wonder they are trying to scapegoat Mr. Najarian when they should have accepted reality and begun closing down their impossible to achieve obsession years ago. Poor mis-guided souls.

  • calwatch

    You need to read for context CV Gal. I never said such thing. Najarian has a right to speak his mind. The rest of the Metro Board can overrule him, but he is an equal, and not someone to be dispensed with through the clock expiring.

  • calwatch

    The toll road can pencil out financially, at least operationally, but it runs into the leftist sentiment that this would create a “Mercedes Tunnel”. 

  • “The toll road can pencil out financially”

    I wouldn’t be overly confident about that. The track record for these sorts of big projects staying on budget is dismal — can you say BIG DIG? YEOW!

  • Joanne Nuckols

    I would hardly call 9-12 yrs of construction temporary!  I doubt that you’d want to endure the constant assault of construction noise, harsh lights at night, dust for years, most of which cannot be mitigated.  Then you would have to contend with the noise and bad air of triple the amount of vehicles than what’s there now using the tolled facility, including noisy polluting trucks which Metro denies would use the toll tunnels. (previous reports state that you cannot filter gases)  Oh, almost forgot the trucks hauling out the millions of cubic yards of dirt from the tunnels.

    Unfortunately, we can’t do anything about the freeways that are already constructed except for trying to not make them worse.  The extension of Rt 30 (210 east) has definitely increased the traffic, including trucks, on the 210.  Adding over 100,000 more vehicles to the 134/210 interchange would produce gridlock.  Note: the stub in Pasadena is a ramp of the 210, not a segment of the 710. 

  • Joanne Nuckols

    How could the toll tunnels possible pencil out financially when there is not an accurate cost estimate.  With Metro’s estimate of $1 billion (clearly a lie) to SCAG’s $11.8 billion (more accurate), any attempt to make this Big Dig financially feasible is invalid.

    Clearly there needs to be an accurate cost estimate in the equation somewhere when BILLIONS of the public’s tax dollars are being spent.  Najarian’s attempts to get this done have met with stonewalling.  Obviously, Metro is trying to hide any financial facts about this “Failing” project.

    The San Gabriel Valley would much rather see our tax dollars spent on the extension of the Gold Line or fill the shortfall of the ACE projects.

  • calwatch

    You have to read for context… I said operationally. You can keep the lights on and the fans running with a toll, there’s no doubt about that. The question is if you spend $4 billion (my estimate, based on rail construction costs in the area) on the tunnel, how much transportation work that would benefit versus some other project. Unfortunately EIRs always evaluate things in a vacuum. 

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