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Lawyers Discuss Future of Metro Board Makeup

As officials throughout the D.C. region laud last month’s historic agreement for $500 million in annual funding for Metro, lawyers for the transit agency are determining whether the structure of its board of directors must change.

Besides Virginia lawmakers approving $154 million, the legislation also comes with conditions that the eight alternate members of the 16-member board cannot vote or participate in meetings. However, they can when a principal member isn’t in attendance.

Maryland lawmakers approved $167 million, but the secretary of transportation or a designee must serve on the board. In addition, Gov. Larry Hogan would appoint representatives from Prince George’s and Montgomery counties that would alternate.

“What we’re going to do is proceed as we are until we’re instructed to do otherwise,” said Metro board chairman and D.C. Councilman Jack Evans. “We’ll have our general counsel work with the two jurisdictions to see how we want to move forward.”

Malcolm Augustine, who represents Prince George’s County, said the board will always have two members from the county. But Augustine himself may need to be replaced if his bid for state senator is successful.

However, it’s unclear whether Hogan appointee Clarence C. Crawford would remain on the board. The governor appointed Crawford three weeks ago to replace Keturah Harley, a lawyer from Prince George’s County who attended her final board meeting Thursday, April 26.

“That’s the part that would need to be looked into,” Augustine said.

Crawford, also from Prince George’s, works as a financial and management specialist with Addx Corp. in Alexandria, Virginia. He also works as an adjunct professor at American University in Northwest and teaches courses on budgeting, ethics and risk management.

A Hogan spokeswoman said Crawford’s experience complements board member Michael Goldman of Montgomery County, a lawyer with expertise in antitrust, administrative and transportation law in the airline industry.

The Maryland legislation, scheduled to go into effect July 1, appoints a person with skills in transportation. The bill also permits the board’s governance structure to prohibit elected officials from serving, and to enhance transparency and input from Metrorail and bus commuters.

“At the end of the day, we will comply with what we need to comply with so that we make sure we get the funds,” Evans said.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed a bill April 13 for the city’s $178.5 million portion to honor the District’s commitment. Taxes would slightly increase in the District for ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft. Council plans to finalize that and other proposed taxes on sales, commercial property and other businesses before the budget is approved in June.

The $500 million for the transit agency serves as the first time the transit agency would receive dedicated money since Metro trains began serving the region more than 40 years ago.

In other business, Metro’s board approved objectives to encourage transit-oriented development within a half-mile of Metro stations and a quarter-mile at bus corridors.

The objectives call for jurisdictions to update zoning codes and ordinances to achieve higher densities of development, invest in improvements to Metrorail stations and entice commercial and other development to suburban Metrorail stations.

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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