Metro Board Members Skip Many Board Meetings

The Washington Examiner has two stories today about Metro board members skipping Metro board meetings -- a big part of Metro board membership.

Six of Metro's 14 directors have missed at least 20 percent of Metro board meetings, Kytja Weir reported, the worst offenders being alternates.

Half of Metro's board members are full members who may vote during board meetings. The other half are alternates, who vote only when full members are absent. Board alternates are skipping committee meetings, where their votes do matter, according to the Examiner.

The alternates have full say during Metro board committee meetings, during which the board hammers out important Metro policies. Weir pointed to D.C. alternate board director and At-Large D.C. Councilmember Michael Brown, who missed half of Metro's full board meetings in the first half of this year.

His poor 2010 attendance record in fact shows marked improvement, Weir reported. Over a longer 18-month timeframe, Brown missed two-thirds of all Metro full board meetings and almost as many Metro committee meetings.

The highest-paid Metro director -- a full board member -- misses more full board meetings than he attends. Prince George's County Metro director and Vice Chairman Marcell Solomon has skipped 51 percent of Metro's board meetings since January 2009, Weir reported. Solomon earned $39,656.90 as a Metro board member last year.

The Examiner said that attendance at Metro meetings is fuzzy even when board members do make the effort. Weir cited D.C. City Administrator Neil Albert, who was given full credit for attending a May 13 finance committee meeting -- though he showed up an hour-and-a-half late. Albert's attendance record is the worst among any Metro board director with a full vote, Weir reported.

Representatives from D.C. do not draw a salary for their work, though all Metro board members are granted free Metro ridership for life.

For his part, Albert told the Examiner that he coordinates with the two D.C. alternate Metro board members to ensure that the spread is covered during Metro board meetings.

The Examiner's reports come at a time of increased scrutiny for Metro's board. Last week, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman said that Metro's culture contributed to the June 2009 Red Line accident that killed nine people.

"Metro was on a collision course long before this accident," she said.

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