Speak Out: Should McDonnell Continue Pursuit for Martire's MWAA Removal?
As Virginia GOP pushes for control of panel, resistance continues with court ruling against governor
As legislation proposed by U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10) works its way through Congress to rework the membership of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, Virginia leaders and the existing board remain tied up in court over the current membership.
A Fairfax County Circuit Court judge ruled against Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) on Monday, leaving one seat on the MWAA board vacant as the parties resolve the dispute. McDonnell attempted to remove Dennis Martire — a Democratic appointee who has come under fire for a $9,000 plane ticket to Prague for a transportation conference that MWAA authorized — and replace him with Caren Merrick, a Republican who lost her run for delegate in the 31st District last fall.
At issue is whether McDonnell had the authority to remove Martire before his term ended. Sec. of Transportation Sean Connaughton told the Washington Post that Martire was removed for his "abuse of ethical issues."
Martire, who Republicans have blamed for MWAA's push to require a project labor agreement for the Metro Silver Line's Phase 2, has sued to keep his seat. Part of the issue stems from whether expense concerns highlighted by a recent review of the board by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Inspector General constitute abuse, despite having been authorized. The entire MWAA board had previously backed the PLA, with the apparent coordination of Virginia Sec. of Transportation Sean Connaughton.
So while the dispute is resolved, Virginia has one less representative on the board, which Wolf hopes to transfer almost entirely to Virginia control.
"We continue to maintain that there is no legal or factual cause for my removal from the board, which is the requirement set forth in federal and Virginia statute," Martire said Tuesday. "The governor once again has failed to present any evidence of cause for removal, and we look forward to moving forward with our case."
Tell us: Should McDonnell continue to push for Martire's removal from the MWAA board?