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Posted at 12:54 PM ET, 01/19/2011

Metro negotiating with new GM

By Washington Post Editors

Metro officials are negotiating a contract with their top choice to become the new permanent general manager and hope to announce the appointment at transit authority's Jan. 27 meeting, according to board members.

The members declined to name the three candidates interviewed at an all-day session on Saturday, after which the board arrived at a consensus on the front-runner. The news was first reported by the Washington Examiner. One of the three candidates is known to be current Interim General Manager Richard Sarles.

"All three people interviewed did a good job," said Jeff McKay, a board member from Fairfax. McKay said said deliberations on the candidates lasted until late on Saturday. He said it would be inappropriate to name the candidates because the final outcome remains uncertain. If negotiations with the front-runner fall through the board may turn to the second or third choice for the job.

Metro Board Chairman Peter Benjamin is leading the contract negotiations with assistance from Metro's staff, McKay said.

"The process is still underway, if we can make an announcement next Thursday, hopefully that will be the case," said William D. Euille, a board member from Alexandria. Metro's board must vote to install a new general manager, using the same procedure it does to take other board actions.

The uncertainty over who will run Metro has persisted since former general manager John B. Catoe Jr. abruptly announced his resignation a year ago, and extends beyond the top job to key staff positions at the transit agency as well as the board of directors, which is currently undergoing major turnover.

Catherine Hudgins of Fairfax is expected to be voted in as the new board chairman on Jan. 27, under the usual practice of rotating the board chairman between the jurisdictions each year. However, the board has come under pressure from the leaders of Virginia, Maryland and the District to appoint a regional chair with a longer term of office.

"I have no reason to believe Cathy won't be appointed as the chair on the 27th," said McKay. Metro's governing compact requires that a board chair be named annually, he added. The board plans to discuss whether and how to implement recommendations on Metro's governance issued in two recent critical reports and recently endorsed in part by the region's three transportation secretaries.

Original post: Metro's board of directors has chosen a new general manager, according to a report in The Washington Examiner.

The Examiner quotes board member Jeff McKay, a Fairfax County supervisor, who said Metro has to finalize a contract and the board would take a final vote at its Jan. 27 meeting. The board is scheduled to meet in executive session at 9 a.m. on the 27th followed by a regular board meeting at 1 p.m. Discussions of personnel and contracts are often discussed in executive sessions. The board also needs to elect a new chairman and to adopt new procedures on Jan. 27.

The Examiner said McKay and another board member declined to name who was selected.

Metro's four-person search committee, together with an executive search firm, came up with a list of a couple of dozen candidates and narrowed it down to the three interviewed by the full board at a private location.

Metro Interim General Manager Richard Sarles and two other candidates - one with a transit background and one from the corporate sector - were interviewed by Metro's board of directors on Saturday.

"I came as interim. The way I've acted is I'll be here forever," Sarles said in a recent interview with The Post. "That's the way I managed. I did not want to just sit here and be a caretaker. ... Hopefully nobody feels that I've done that."

Metro is in the middle of a sweeping change in leadership. Sarles has been the interim general manager since the departure of John B. Catoe Jr. in April. The board is also undergoing a major turnover; eight of the 14 current board members have left or are departing, and the federal government still needs to appoint two alternates.

Some of the changes are due to recent elections as new leaders appoint their choices, but the departures have also been a response to criticism leveled against the board for being too parochial and for lacking accountability to the public as Metro has struggled with deficits and safety issues.

This post will be updated.

From the Post's archives:

For Metro's interim chief, tenure may turn into tryout

By Washington Post Editors  | January 19, 2011; 12:54 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Comments

Anyone but Sarles.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | January 19, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

This just in:

Nothing to report, will follow up later.
----------------------------------------

Seriously, how about you annouce they've made a choice... when a name is known.

In Sports, do they write columns like:

Redksins signed a player. This paper doesn not know who was signed. Here is a brief recap of how players are signed.
----------------

Posted by: Greent | January 19, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Why the secrecy? How much are we going to pay this person to not fix the system?

Posted by: jckdoors | January 19, 2011 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Hopes its Sarles. Steady wins the race!

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | January 19, 2011 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, Metro cannot adequately plow or clear their parking lots. The Shady Grove East surface lot is still a skating rink, more than 36 hours after the icing. Seriously, do they want another personal injury suit? First they use too much salt, then they don't bother using any. How can people walk from their cars to the station?

Posted by: altoECH | January 19, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if it'll be a caucasian. What are the odds?

Posted by: TooManyPeople | January 19, 2011 3:05 PM | Report abuse

TooManyPeople-

You're part of the problem. I don't care one bit whether the guy is caucasian or any other race. All I care is that he does his job well and brings some actual change to Metro. He could be purple and I wouldn't care so long as he does his job.

Posted by: Razor04 | January 19, 2011 4:45 PM | Report abuse

And since the Metro board is unelected an unaccountable, none of this really matters.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | January 20, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

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