The long process of reconfirming Ara Najarian to the Metro Board of Directors has come to an end with the Glendale City Councilman still standing. Flying in the face of tradition, a group of cities that support the 710 Big Dig Project, allegedly at the direction of Supervisor Mike Antonovich, attempted to squash Najarian's nomination from the North County cities he represents.
At a December meeting of the City Selection Committee, fellow Board Member and Duarte City Council Member John Fasana and Alhambra Mayor Barbara Messina managed to get Najarian's nomination rejected. Every L.A. County City, excepting Los Angeles, votes in the City Selection Committee with weighted votes. Cities such as Culver City and cities in the South Bay rejected a nomination from the North County in December. Last night, the opposition to Najarian vanished. His nomination passed by a weighted vote of 3,160,000 to 290,999.
"I'm very happy that I've been confirmed to take my seat on the MTA Board," said Najarian. "L.A. is moving in the right direction in terms of transit, subway and light rail. I look forward to working with my fellow directors and community leaders to continue to make L.A. a good place to live, work and travel."
Najarian is currently a member of the Metro Board of Directors and chaired the board in 2009. He was also a member of the Metrolink Board of Directors until he was removed by Antonovich last year.
After his rejection in December, a heated campaign that included the No on 710 Coalition, Congressman Adam Schiff, and Najarian himself ensued. Eventually, the Los Angeles Times' Jim Newton weighed in on the Najarian nomination and pointed the finger at County Supervisor Antonovich for the confusion. With the wind at his back, North County cities met to re-consider the nomination and refused to nominate anyone else for the position except Najarian.
With the media paying attention and North County holding firm, Najarian's nomination seemed assured at last night's meeting. Of course, nobody expected his earlier nomination to be held up.
"I actually reviewed the minutes of the past 11 years of City Selection Committee meetings and found that no unopposed nominee has ever failed to be ratified -- not just for the MTA Board, but for all the Boards that are ratified by the City Selection Committee," writes Jan Soo-Hoo, one of the leaders on the No on 710 Coalition.
"Unlike some others, Najarian has been a good and conscientious representative of not only the North County/San Fernando Valley sector cities, but also an advocate for good transportation projects in all sectors of the County. I am very glad that he will retain his seat on the MTA Board for at least the next four years and am confident that he will continue to work in the best interests of the entire region."