Metro’s future under CEO Richard Sarles; Evans issues budget warning; Patrick Mara is running

January 24, 2011 - 06:06 PM
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When the board that oversees Metro asked former New Jersey Transit chief Richards Sarles to run the agency after John Catoe, Jr., stepped down, he gave every indication that the gig would be temporary – and so did they.

But Sarles so impressed the WMATA panel in the time he’s been there, it now appears that he’s the man they will turn to – Thursday, officially – to run the agency long-term. 

Metro’s challenges have been well-chronicled. There are safety concerns. Equipment is aging. And the financial picture is loaded with questions marks. But those who’ve watched Sarles in action say he has the skill set to lead the agency effectively.

Today on NewsTalk, we talked about Sarles’ qualifications and the transit agency’s future. On our panel: David Alpert of the Metro Riders Advisory Council, Jim Dinegar of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, and Washington Post reporter Ann Scott Tyson. 

Part 1 of that discussion re-airs today at 4pm, 6pm & 8:30pm on TBD on NewsChannel 8. Part 2 is here:

We also talked today with Jack Evans of the DC Council. Evans chairs the panel’s Finance & Revenue Committee, and he again served notice that the council should not resort to tax increases to close the FY ’12 budget shortfall that’s been estimated at between $450 and $600 million. In fact, he said he would vote against any budget that requires city residents to pay more in taxes. (He was the only member of the council to vote no on the budget last year, because he felt the city was letting its reserves fall too low.)

Evans still hopes to lower parking meter rates. He said rolling back last year’s increases – which have drawn intense criticism – would cost the city about $6 million. And he still insists he’s identified a source of funds to offset the lost revenue:

Our Q&A with Jack Evans can be seen later today at the times listed above.
Lastly, we talked today with Patrick Mara about his campaign for the DC Council. Mara (R) was elected to the DC State Board of Education in November and has served on that panel only three weeks. But he’s decided to run in the April 26th special election to fill the unexpired portion of Kwame Brown’s old seat.

Mara acknowledges the awkwardness of his pursuit of a Council seat so soon after getting sworn in to the school board. But he says he was strongly encouraged to run by fellow Republicans, independents and some Democrats.

It’s clear Mara intends to stress education in his Council bid. On NewsTalk today he criticized Mayor Vince Gray for his stance on IMPACT, the Rhee-era teacher evaluation tool that Mara says is crucial to reform efforts.

The field of candidates in the special election could be huge – perhaps approaching 20. Political observers expect newly-appointed Council Member Sekou Biddle and former Councilman Vincent Orange, both Democrats, to vie with Mara for the top spot.

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