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.