A couple of years ago, when Grady Hospital’s financial troubles could no longer be ignored even by suburban Republicans, a series of compromises was made on all sides to place Grady on tenable financial footing. The major concession by Grady was a complete reconstitution of its board of directors.
Marta stands next in line for the Grady treatment, according to the AJC, with an amendment to SB 22 poised to remake the Marta board. Again.
House Speaker pro Tempore Jan Jones said that the legislation (an amendment to SB 22) would reduce the current MARTA board from 18 to 13 voting members, with three appointed by the state. The governor, lieutenant governor and speaker would each appoint one voting member to make up that three. In addition, the Department of Transportation commissioner and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority director would have non-voting seats.
Jones said it was to ensure balance on the board and make sure Fulton and DeKalb taxpayers were protected.
According to a copy of the amendment, this is how the 13 voting seats would break down:
State – 3
City of Atlanta – 3
DeKalb County – 4 (at least 1 from north DeKalb, at least 1 from south DeKalb)
Fulton County – 3 (1 from south Fulton, 2 from north Fulton)
Jones pointed out that nearly all of Fulton County’s population lives in municipalities, so it only made sense for mayors to make the appointments. She also said it was about protecting taxpayers.
I recommend clicking the link and reading Ariel Hart’s entire article, to get the true flavor of the points of contention, and the motivation for the change.
Jan Jones is still trying to deliver fiefdoms for a still non-existant Milton County, making Fulton/Milton significantly “more equal” than DeKalb in the allotted board seats, presuming that the City Of Atlanta doesn’t select board members who live in the sliver of Atlanta that encroaches into DeKalb.
There is also the question of what MARTA receives for this new board setup. When Grady was forced to accept a new board, it came with new funding avenues. There was a nice carrot to accept that stick. The changes at MARTA seem to be mostly stick. I’d love to be a new board member at MARTA who would understand with my new appointment that I would be running an organization where the beatings will continue until Morale improves.
Should this amendment pass and become law, I have a quick suggestion for one of the appointments at the State level. The Gov, Lt. Gov, or Speaker should appoint Dick Williams to one of the seats. He would balance the ratio of DeKalb/Fulton ratio, lack of transportation planning is one of his greatest pet peeves, and it would give him some quality time with Representative Jill Chambers, should she be re-elected.
The material that this appointment would provide may not change MARTA one bit, but it would certainly liven up Sunday mornings again.