Amid dis­putes,

Crit­ics say dis­putes over re­li­able fund­ing path im­pede tran­sit agency

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY FAIZ SID­DIQUI AND ROBERT MCCART­NEY

Rep. Gerald E. Con­nolly of Vir­ginia and Mary­land Gov. Larry Ho­gan pressed Jack Evans to re­sign as Metro board chair­man.

Pres­sure grew on Metro board chair­man Jack Evans to re­sign Thurs­day af­ter he threat­ened to ex­er­cise a rarely used veto in a strug­gle between the District and Mary­land that crit­ics said ex­em­pli­fies the parochial dis­putes ham­per­ing the tran­sit agency.

Rep. Gerald E. Con­nolly (D-Va.) joined Mary­land Gov. Larry Ho­gan (R) in call­ing for Evans to step down. Con­nolly is the first Demo­crat to urge the de­par­ture of Evans, who rep­re­sents the District on the Metro board and is a Demo­cratic D.C. Coun­cil mem­ber rep­re­sent­ing Ward 2.

Con­nolly blamed Evans for in­flam­ing ten­sions within the re­gion as Metro seeks re­gion­wide sup­port for in­creased, re­li­able fund­ing.

“I think the time has come for Jack Evans to step down as chair­man and from the board,” Con­nolly said. “He has now be­come a light­ning rod that can only cre­ate, frankly, op­po­si­tion to any at­tempt at forging a re­gional agree­ment on ded­i­cated fund­ing.”

The es­ca­lat­ing crit­i­cism of Evans high­lighted the ten­sions among the District, Mary­land and Vir­ginia over how to gov­ern Metro and led to re­newed calls to shrink the board and make it less po­lit­i­cal.

The board is made up of eight vot­ing mem­bers and eight al­ter­nates, evenly di­vided among the District, Mary­land, Vir­ginia and the fed­eral govern­ment. Evans was re­elected as chair­man in Jan­uary de­spite hav­ing aroused ire in Mary­land, Vir­ginia and Con­gress for his out­spo­ken rhetoric, such as fault­ing the states for re­sist­ing a penny-per-dol­lar re­gion­wide sales tax to fund Metro.

Con­nolly spoke af­ter Evans warned that the city would ex­er­cise a ju­ris­dic­tional veto to hold up trans­fer­ring Metro prop­erty to Mary­land, which the state needs for its light-rail Pur­ple Line, un­less Mary­land sup­ports a board re­or­ga­ni­za­tion that the District fa­vors.

Un­der board rules, two vot­ing mem­bers from the District, Mary­land or Vir­ginia can block a res­o­lu­tion oth­er­wise sup­ported by the ma­jor­ity. For years, the veto has been crit­i­cized for al­low­ing in­di­vid­ual ju­ris­dic­tions to ob­struct mea­sures in the sys­tem’s over­all in­ter­est.

Ho­gan’s of­fice con­demned Evans’s veto threat as “tan­ta­mount to ex­tor­tion” and used stronger lan­guage than in the past in

urg­ing the Metro chair­man to quit.

“This lat­est stunt by Jack Evans is fur­ther proof that he is out­ra­geously un­fit to serve on the board and should re­sign im­me­di­ately,” Doug Mayer, Ho­gan’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor, said Thurs­day.

Ho­gan’s of­fice had pub­licly called for Evans’s de­par­ture last Fri­day, ac­cus­ing him of “con­tin­ued ju­ve­nile out­bursts.”

Evans, in a phone in­ter­view, de­clined to com­ment on Con­nolly’s crit­i­cisms, but at a news con­fer­ence ear­lier in the day, he sug­gested that Ho­gan’s re­buke seemed be­neath the of­fice of the gover­nor.

“Do you be­lieve that the gover­nor of Mary­land is is­su­ing a state­ment about this?” Evans said. “I find it some­what as­ton­ish­ing that the gover­nor is en­gag­ing in this kind of name-call­ing.”

Vir­ginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) ex­pressed un­hap­pi­ness over what he called the “un­for­tu­nate” dis­pute between the District and Mary­land but stopped short of urg­ing Evans to step down.

He said the dis­agree­ment demon­strated the wis­dom of a pro­posal by for­mer U.S. trans­porta­tion sec­re­tary Ray LaHood to oust the Metro board and re­place it with a tem­po­rary, five-mem­ber “re­form board.” LaHood, who was re­cruited by McAuliffe to study Metro, is sched­uled to is­sue a re­port this month in­clud­ing the board pro­posal.

McAuliffe “be­lieves this un­for­tu­nate episode is a clear ex­am­ple of the need to re­place the cur­rent [Metro] gov­er­nance struc­ture with the non­po­lit­i­cal five-mem­ber in­terim con­trol board,” McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said. “The in­abil­ity of cer­tain board mem­bers to re­solve in­ter­juris­dic­tional squab­bles over pol­icy should not de­rail progress on projects that are im­por­tant to the en­tire re­gion.”

Vir­ginia Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Aubrey Layne, asked specif­i­cally whether Evans should go, said, “I won’t get into per­son­al­i­ties, but this kind of be­hav­ior is not help­ful to us.”

Evans said the re­struc­tur­ing plan has broad sup­port within the board. He con­ceded it may seem triv­ial to use the ju­ris­dic­tional veto for this pur­pose but added that Mary­land had been first to in­voke it by sug­gest­ing ear­lier that it might use the veto to block Evans’s de­sire to stream­line the board’s com­mit­tee struc- ture.

Evans and the District’s other vot­ing board mem­ber, Cor­bett Price, want to re­duce the num­ber of board com­mit­tees from seven to four and al­low al­ter­nates to chair com­mit­tees. Mary­land wants only vot­ing mem­bers to serve as com­mit­tee heads and dis­likes the plan be­cause it could have the ef­fect of ex­tend­ing Evans’s term as board chair­man by six months.

“Four­teen mem­bers of the board plus the gen­eral man­ager want this re­or­ga­ni­za­tion,” Evans said, cit­ing con­ver­sa­tions with Gen­eral Man­ager Paul J. Wiede­feld and other board mem­bers. “Cor­bett and I, as the District’s two vot­ing mem­bers, will veto any­thing else un­til they agree.”

But the threat dis­mayed Mary­land, which says it needs ap­proval soon of trans­fer of prop­erty rights at three Metro sta­tions so construction can be­gin on the light-rail Pur­ple Line link­ing Mont­gomery and Prince Ge­orge’s coun­ties.

“For an author­ity that’s in need of rid­er­ship, in need of rev­enue, that’s a very parochial, self­ish and un­for­tu­nate po­si­tion for the District of Columbia rep­re­sen­ta­tive to take,” Mary­land board mem­ber Michael Gold­man said.

The prop­erty trans­fer also was em­broiled in a dis­pute Thurs­day over whether Mary­land was pay­ing Metro enough for the land rights at the New Car­roll­ton, Col­lege Park and Sil­ver Spring Metro sta­tions. The prop­erty is val­ued between $24 mil­lion and $37 mil­lion. It would be given to Mary­land in ex­change for a 450space state-owned park­ing lot and nearly 500,000 feet of state prop­erty, val­ued to­gether at $17.1 mil­lion.

In a sur­prise move, a board com­mit­tee ap­proved a sub­sti­tute res­o­lu­tion that gives ten­ta­tive ap­proval for the trans­fer — but only if Metro and Mary­land ne­go­ti­ate to come up with a new fig­ure for “fair com­pen­sa­tion” on the ex­change by the end of De­cem­ber. Mary­land said the ac­tion threat­ens to de­lay the project.

Top D.C. of­fi­cials ap­peared to con­tinue to back Evans. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and D.C. Coun­cil Chair­man Phil Men­del­son (D) em­pha­sized that the key is­sue was not chang­ing the board, but find­ing ded­i­cated rev­enue for the tran­sit sys­tem.

“We all must stay fo­cused on the long-term health of Metro, and that comes through ded­i­cated rev­enue,” John Fal­ci­c­chio, Bowser’s chief of staff, said.

“The mayor has agreed with the con­cept of a smaller board with mem­bers ap­pointed by the ex­ec­u­tives of the District, Mary­land and Vir­ginia, and it is time for Mary­land and Vir­ginia to agree to ded­i­cated rev­enue,” he said.

The D.C. Coun­cil ap­pointed Evans to the Metro board, and Men­del­son said he didn’t fore­see any change there.

“Last I checked, I didn’t see any­body here in the halls at the Wil­son Build­ing ad­vo­cat­ing a change in our coun­cil ap­point­ment,” Men­del­son said.

“This lat­est stunt by Jack Evans is fur­ther proof that he is out­ra­geously un­fit to serve on the board.” Doug Mayer, Mary­land Gov. Larry Ho­gan’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor

KATHER­INE FREY/THE WASH­ING­TON POST

The height­en­ing ten­sion sur­round­ing D.C. Coun­cil mem­ber and Metro board chair­man Jack Evans high­lights con­cerns among the District, Mary­land and Vir­ginia over how to gov­ern Metro.

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