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 , 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  — 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? 

Bob Bruhns August 16, 2012 at 11:25 PM
I'll agree that just because the old management was no good, that doesn't make new management any better. But sometimes it is necessary to remove rotten apples, before they ruin every other apple in the container, and now appears to be one such time. Those members of the MWAA Board who stood by, and said and did nothing about the abuses that went on, need to be sent to Hollywood to make comedy movies or something, instead of jacking up the costs of item after item of this rail line. Whoever controls this rail project from now on, should be (1) competent in rail transit and (2) concerned about the effects of their handiwork on the people of Northern Virginia. The mistake that loaded the Board with various political operatives and fund-raisers must not be repeated - we simply can not afford it.
Rob Whitfield August 17, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Bob Bruhns is correct. Congressman Frank Wolf did not speak at the WATF 30th anniversary luncheon. I walked in near the end of brief opening remarks by Ray LaHood. He may have opened with a joke about Wolf before I arrived. Leo Schefer, long time head of WATF said that there are two challenges facing us: 1. How to arrange funding for Phase 2 to complete the project to Dulles. 2. How to achieve reform of MWAA Board. Rob Jackson had it right when he talked about the transfer of wealth from the middle class to a few wealthy landowners but he omitted to mention the transfer of wealth from Outside the Beltway to Inside the Beltway. $$ billions over the next 50 years thanks to incompetent politicians and smart growth advocates. The USEPA (and smart growthers) wants to suck $$ billions more of your money for worms! In answer to Rob Jackson's comment about funding of Dulles Rail, the original WMATA compact jurisdictions, having received about $10 billion in federal grants to complete the first 103 miles of Metrorail, voted circa 2001 to not fund any future extensions of Metrorail.
Mark Carolla August 17, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Dave - I consult in the field of international airline operations and constantly get invited to attend such costly conferences they are, after all, run to make a profit. Unlike the MWAA Board I don't have the pockets to attend because of other expense priorities. But, in this case my only objection would be business class air fare. In this case, for air fare there seems to be a semblance of impropriety and inadequate stewardship of the taxpayers money. However, a bit of criticism appears unfounded - "A 36 hour conference?" As I doubt the conference was around the clock, 36 hours would be pretty reasonable for a 5 day Monday-Friday conference. Most conference fees for that type of airline or airport related event run at least $800 if not to three thousand dollars. If that 10K included a conference fee AND hotell bills at a seaside Italian resort, the taxpayers got a bargain. Your comment that the conference "was a tangential topic for U.S. airports...and...the forum was irrelevant to U.S. airport executives" is way off base. If you go out to Dulles or any other "hub" in the US you'll see that "regional" (out sourced small aircraft airlines) make up much of the traffic to places such as Scranton, Charlottesville - small regional airports - Dulles's operations are intertwinded with those. Their operations, infrastructure, and issues are highly relevant & affect the IAD business and operational models, and small regional airports in Europe have much to teach us.
Dave Webster August 17, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Mark, Those words I quoted were from the Washington Post. They weren't mine. Nevertheless, what did Mr. Martire report when he got back? That smartphones can be usefull tools for airports to communicate with passengers. That's what we got for the $10,000 vacation to Sardinia.
Mark Carolla August 18, 2012 at 01:55 AM
@ Dave Webster - Thanks. Apologies for attributing the Post comment to you. It is my opinion and that the Post's (and other media) transportation reporting is sometimes lacking in an understanding and presentation of real issues. I'd be interested to see the entire report Mr. Martire wrote because the use of smartphones in ticketing, passenger boarding facilitation, rebooking in case of delays and cancellations, etc. is a current high interest - and sometimes controversial - issue in the airline industry. The Post is writing this trip up as if it were the GSA follies...I'm not trying to argue with Congressman Wolf or our Governor...and as even several MWAA Board members have indicated, some board members have not exactly been the best stewards of the public money but much of this travel is legitimate and timely.


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