Friday, February 08, 2008

VTA Board to restructure?

Without having a separate agenda item on the topic during the VTA Board meeting yesterday, the VTA Board discussed various proposals to restructure the board after a consultant report was presented.

Margaret Okuzumi, executive director of BayRail Alliance, reported on last night's meeting at the VTA Riders' Union mailing list:

"Basically they are proposing to re-jigger the city groupings so that there are the same 5 city groupings, but now Morgan Hill and Gilroy get their own group with incipient city San Martin, and Milpitas to be grouped with Santa Clara and Sunnyvale, and the other two groups are modified somewhat also.

"There is also a proposal that representatives from each city group be elected to represent the group for 4 years instead of the current 2-year rotation...

"...It was stated that VTA staff member Jim Lawson is working to appear before all 15 city councils this month and present the proposal for their approval. So if you disagree with the proposal, now is the time to talk to your local council members!"

The restructuring, however, will not fix the conflict of interest between roles as a transit operator and as a congestion management agency (highway builder). Okuzumi has a alternate proposal that would split the current VTA into separate agencies with different functions.

Unfortunately, the new board chair Liz Kniss brought back the old Ron Gonzales tradition of scheduling the public comment at the end of the meeting. Gonzales originally began the practice in 2002 when he became chair. It continued through 2003 and was ended when Don Gage became chair in 2004. Scheduling public comment at the end of the meeting hurt transit riders because the meeting can take hours and transit services operate less frequently as the night goes on.

Kniss is expected to face a tough reelection battle to keep her County Supervisor seat this year. Will she join Dean Chu and Cindy Chavez and lose reelection while being the VTA Board Chair?

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