I’m taking it easy for August, but that shouldn’t stop you from discussing the key issues of the day.
Kytja Weir delved into the attendance records of WMATA Board members, a subject we’ve pushed on here in the past. Marcel Solomon, the Prince George’s alternate, has missed over half of meetings, including meetings on key Prince George’s economic development issues.
Meanwhile, Solomon was also the highest paid Board member, receiving $39,000 for his service. Only Maryland’s members receive any significant compensation directly for serving on the Board, according to the Examiner. But compensation isn’t at all correlated with attendance. Virginia’s voting members, Chris Zimmerman and Catherine Hudgins, have the best attendance records.
DC needs members that attend meetings to represent its interests. Councilmember Michael Brown, one of DC’s alternates, has the worst record on the Board, missing two-thirds of meetings and improving of late to missing only half. Neil Albert, the voting representative of the Mayor, missed 28% of full meetings and 29% of committees.
Alternate members may not vote at the full Board, but they participate in meetings and vote in committee. Both roles are very important. At a time when Metro needs strong oversight, the alternate members are a key part of that oversight.
And for Albert, a principal voting member, attendance is even more crucial. Albert told the Examiner that he makes sure DC’s voting is covered, but there’s a lot more than voting; the principal members negotiated over the fare increases, for example, and in several areas DC got a bad deal in the final negotiations, perhaps partly because its team wasn’t fully at the table.