Thursday, August 07, 2008

VTA Board restructuring soap opera goes on

Last year, VTA's internal audit identified deficiency regarding its board structure, especially relating to the five members representing cities other than San Jose. Because the cities rotate to serve on the board every two years based on city groupings, the smaller cities have a comparative disadvantage compared to the county supervisors and the San Jose members who could serve eight years or longer.

Early this year, a one-man committee comprised of Greg Sellers of Morgan Hill proposed a series of recommendations. Recommendations like eliminating rotational representation and reelecting the same member for two consecutive terms were approved in May.

The recommendation that the board did not approve is the rearrangement of the city groupings. Sellers proposed a new grouping scheme where Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy would have its own representative. This plan did not go well with cities in other parts of the county because the south county would be over-represented with half of the population as other city groupings.

Since then, Sellers and director David Casas of Los Altos established a committee consisted of members from the policy advisory committee (where all cities are represented) and the citizens advisory committee. Most members of the committee recommended an alternative plan where members of the policy advisory committee would select all five non-San Jose members, with votes weighted by population. This ticked off Sellers and the VTA staff.

VTA staff argued that allowing PAC to select board members would require a change in the joint powers agreement, where the County and the City of San Jose have veto power. VTA also tried to amend the committee report that supports the plan of appointment by the PAC. Due to the opposition from other members of the committee, VTA attached the report in full but with a disclaimer of the staff's disapproval.

VTA will discuss the board restructuring tonight, right after the tax vote and before the Alum Rock-Eastridge light rail extension. This should be an interesting meeting.

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