Letter to the editor, Daily News, August 15, 1997
(Portions of my original letter omitted from publication are highlighted in underlined italics.)
I agree wholeheartedly with the headline of the August 12 Public Forum, "MTA needs a more representative voice." However, the solution proposed by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich in his letter would do nothing to alleviate the real representation problem, as the lack of accountability to the MTA's constituency would remain.
Not one member of the MTA board of directors has as their primary concern the transit-riding members of the public, yet that is their constituency. Six of the directors sit by virtue of holding other office (the mayor of Los Angeles and all five county supervisors); three are appointed by the mayor, and four are elected by consensus of the city councils of the other incorporated cities of Los Angeles County. None of these can be recalled by vote of the public, since they were not elected to the position of MTA director in the first place. Thus there is no incentive for them to make decisions in a manner that actually serves the public.
If the state Legislature wishes to create an MTA governing board that truly is accountable to the residents of Los Angeles County, it should replace the current board with one directly elected by the voters, by district, with term limits.
Then each district would have a representative mindful of that district's transit needs and, because he or she could be removed from their position at the next election or by recall, with sufficient incentive to make the right decisions.
By the way, I do agree with Antonovich that the cost-effectiveness of surface-rail transportation makes future extension of the subway a non-option. I hope that his statement is an indication that he is now supportive of a light rail service on the Burbank-Chandler corridor, rather than his often-proposed monorail down the center divider of the Ventura Freeway.