Ousted Najarian Mulling Whether to Fight Back on MondayBy My Opinion @ 10:00 AM August 01, 2012
From Mark Kellam
Re “In Metrolink Board Shakeup, Is It Ridley-Thomas’s Turn Next?”
[Editor’s Note: The reporter is affiliated with the Times Community News/Glendale News-Press, where this story originally appeared.]
Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian is considering putting a motion before the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority in hopes that seven of his colleagues will vote to overturn a decision to replace him on a rail oversight board.
County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, the incoming chairman of the MTA board of directors, is moving to replace Mr. Najarian as a Metrolink director with County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose district comes nowhere close to having the rail infrastructure of the Burbank/Glendale corridor.
That has riled Mr. Najarian and other public transportation advocates who say Mr. Antonovich’s decision smacks of politics.
Mr. Antonovich has said that he and Mr. Ridley-Thomas share the same vision for regional transportation in the County, which is why he selected him.
Mr. Najarian says the decision may be in retaliation for his support of placing a Measure R tax extension before voters and publicly opposing a tunnel connecting the Long Beach (710) and Foothill (210) freeways.
Mr. Najarian said he needs a majority of the 13-member MTA board, which holds a special meeting on Monday, to side with him to overturn Mr. Antonovich’s selection — if he decides to float the motion.
“I think that will probably be enough time for me to decide,” Mr. Najarian said.
Meantime, he wants to confer with fellow City Council members, city staff and members of the community before making a decision.
Najarian Knows Why
“I don’t take the action lightly,” Mr. Najarian said. “But I do feel strongly that the removal was made for political reasons. The MTA board should move past political “vengeance,” he said, when dealing with transportation and safety issues regarding Metrolink trains.
An MTA spokesman, who called the situation “unusual,” said he was not aware of a specific procedure regarding the changing of board appointments. If a motion is brought before the board on Monday, he said the general counsel, who attends all MTA meetings, will be asked how to proceed.
MTA bylaws place constraints on the chairman’s powers, particularly once the board has approved a resolution or ordinance, which is how Mr. Najarian would theoretically block his replacement.
MTA members declined to comment on how they would vote should the motion to overturn Mr. Antonovich’s selection be made.
Richard Katz — the board’s second vice-chairman— called Mr. Najarian a “valued” member of the Metrolink board.
“He’s been a big, big part of Metrolink’s progress toward being the safest railroad in America,” Mr. Katz said.
Likewise, Pam O’Connor, a Santa Monica City Council member, said she was not aware of Mr. Najarian’s potential motion, but called him “prepared and knowledgeable” on Metrolink issues.
“What I do know is that council member Najarian has been a thoughtful [MTA] board member, dedicated to helping his city, the sub-region and the county improve transportation options, highway and transit, and relieve congestion,” she said in an email.
Mr. Najarian has suggested in a letter to Mr. Antonovich that he remain on the Metrolink board and someone from Palmdale be appointed as his alternate.
Mr. Antonovich’s communications deputy, Tony Bell, said he did not know if the supervisor planned any response.