Airport board split over new chief executive candidate
The governing board of the Washington area's two main airports and the project to extend Metrorail to Dulles International remained divided Wednesday, taking no action to name a new chief executive.
The leading candidate for the job -- Nathaniel P. Ford of San Francisco's transit agency -- has split the 13 members of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board, who met behind closed doors for more than two hours to try to reach consensus.
"The process of finding a new chief executive officer is in motion," board chairman Charles D. Snelling said after the private meeting. "The board is working hard to face and solve the problems that face us."
Snelling said the selection process is confidential and he would not comment on the status of Ford's candidacy.
Ford, who leads San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency, has come under scrutiny for personal financial troubles he did not initially disclose in an interview with board members.
The board has been criticized for allowing one of its members to take a critical preliminary vote on Ford's candidacy even though he has not participated in interviews or attended a board meeting since 2009.
That nonbinding vote, with seven members in favor of Ford and six opposed, allowed the board to proceed in making Ford a tentative salary offer of at least $375,000, according to sources close to the search.
Board members are appointed by the president and the governments of Virginia, Maryland and the District. In response to articles in The Washington Post, Virginia Del. Joe May, who chairs the House Transportation Committee, called for a hearing to examine the board's operations, in part because of concerns about the role of board members whose terms have expired.
In a letter to Snelling, May said the board's role in overseeing the multibillion-dollar Metro extension is critical and must be able to "withstand the strongest critics."
Snelling said he would "fully cooperate" with the lawmaker's request.
Ann E. Marimow
| March 2, 2011; 2:03 PM ET
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