Letter to the editor, Los Angeles Times, August 12, 1997
I take exception to your suggestion that the current MTA board should be replaced by "a board composed of elected local officials in their final term of office ... along with acknowledged experts in the field."
One of the greatest deficiencies in the present configuration of MTA's board of directors is a lack of accountability to the agency's constituency. Six of the directors are there by virtue of holding other offices (the mayor of Los Angeles and the five county supervisors); three of them are appointed by the mayor, and the remaining four are appointed by a consensus of the other incorporated cities in Los Angeles County. Not one can be recalled by a vote of the people, thus none of them have any incentive to make decisions in a manner that actually serves the public.
Was the MTA an issue in Mayor Riordan's reelection? Not to the degree that it would have been had he been running only for the office of MTA director.
What the MTA needs -- what the public needs --- is a governing board directly elected by the voters, by districts, with term limits. In this way every member of the public will have a representative mindful of the needs of his/her district. As for the "acknowledged experts," an advisory committee comprised of same would most certainly find a more receptive ear in an elected board than the current "we know what's best for you" one.