WMATA Board Officials: Stupid and Evil

For those who don’t get the “stupid or evil” reference, there is a tradition, more often on the left, of trying to understand if someone is espousing a certain policy because he is stupid or is evil. Well, in the case of the WMATA Board, which runs D.C.’s Metro, it appears they’re both (boldface mine):

WHEN QUESTIONS were raised last month about a consulting contract given to Metro’s former general counsel, transit officials moved quickly to end the arrangement. However, they refused to release a copy of the contract or provide any information about payment terms…

At issue is a consulting contract given to Metro’s then-general counsel Kathryn Pett on Jan. 23, the same day she resigned from Metro. Documents recently obtained by The Post’s Lori Aratani show that Metro had agreed to pay Ms. Pett $311,300. Ms. Pett’s 2014 salary as general counsel was nearly $203,000. In addition to what was essentially a one-day jump in pay of $108,000, Ms. Pett was also slated to receive about $36,000 for travel expenses between Utah, where she had returned for family reasons, and Washington. The contract was canceled after concerns were voiced by new members of the Metro board as well as Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn; Ms. Pett received $152,261.70 for her work, including $3,417.60 to reimburse canceled airline reservations.

Metro officials had justified the contract as necessary because of what they said were Ms. Pett’s unique skills in helping Metro address problems identified in a Federal Transit Administration oversight review. Given that Ms. Pett had been Metro’s general counsel for just 18 months, and Washington is not known for its lack of lawyers, it’s hard to believe a replacement couldn’t have been found….

But, as a Metro spokesman clarified to us, Interim General Manager Jack Requa had no role in approving the contract and, in fact, was not comfortable with a long-distance employee. That means the board and its top leaders were the ones who thought it was a good idea to pay someone a lot more to do a lot less. Given that they are the ones who are supposed to be fixing Metro’s problems, that’s a disturbing conclusion.

Having returned to where I was born after twenty-five years in the Northeast, it’s the double-whammy of staggering incompetence and corruption in the D.C. Metro area that gets to me. I learned to make my piece with the notion that beloved idiot nephews will receive jobs–such is the order of things. But much of the time, the job got done, and reasonably well. In D.C., it doesn’t seem to get done ever–and worse, they make it harder for the next guy to fix.

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