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Posted at 6:30 PM ET, 11/22/2010

McDonnell, O'Malley, Gray will meet on Metro governance issue

By Anita Kumar
Anita Kumar

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and D.C. Mayor-elect Vincent Gray (D) plan to speak this week to devise a "joint approach" to Metro governance following a recent report that recommends the three jurisdictions be given greater oversight of the transit agency and seats on its board of directors.

"If you look at the safety record and the performance record of Metro over the last couple years everybody knows there's room for improvement,'' McDonnell said in an interview Monday. "I think if the three chief executives have a little bit more say and have a little bit better goverance structure to hold people accountable we'll have better results. I think all of us agree on that."

The three men expect to speak by phone this week, then issue a joint statement.

Last week, a task force of the Greater Washington Board of Trade and Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments issued a 35-page assessment that calls for "dramatic changes" to how Metro is run that included a recommendation on its governance structure.

The 18-member task force, composed of business and political leaders from the region, recommended that Virginia, Maryland and the District change the Metro agreement to increase the number of members from two to three for each jurisdiction, with one member appointed by the chief executive of each jurisdiction.

McDonnell said he spoke to O'Malley last weekend at a National Governors Associaton meeting in Colorado Springs.

"I was with Governor O'Malley out at the National Governors Association meeting this weekend,'' he said. "He and I met one-on-one at some length about that I think he is extremely receptive to some of these proposals made by the Washington Board of Trade to have a revamping of the governance structure."

McDonnell said he has previously spoken to D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) about the issue, but has yet to speak to Gray directly.

"I think we are going to have a collective statement that we can make here in the near future. We hope to act quickly on the Board of Trade [recommendations],'' he said. "We hope to have a discussion among the three leaders soon."

McDonnell has long advocated for two state seats on Metro's board of directors, but has been thwarted by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, which has wanted local officials to maintain control.

This summer, he threatened to withhold Virginia's contribution to a $3 billion federal funding plan for Metro's capital needs unless the state received two of Northern Virginia's four seats on the agency's board.

The federal government agreed to give Metro $1.5 billion for capital needs over 10 years but required that Virginia, Maryland and the District match the money. Virginia eventually paid its share.

By Anita Kumar  | November 22, 2010; 6:30 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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