Photo by John Schreiber.

The Metro Board of Directors unanimously opposed a state Senate bill Thursday that would drastically overhaul the makeup of the board.

The Metro board consists of 13 voting members and a non-voting representative of the governor. All five members of the Board of Supervisors are members of the Metro board, along with the mayor of Los Angeles, three appointees of the mayor and a representative from each of the county’s four sub- regions.

SB 268 would eliminate three members of the Board of Supervisors from the Metro board while adding three members from the county’s sub-regions. It would also eliminate the Los Angeles mayor’s three appointees in favor of five City Council members.

“This is wrong on so many levels,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

“The one that’s most damaging to me and just kills this before it starts is that we’re the only board in the state receiving this. If this is about good governance, then do something and have a conversation about every board.”

The Los Angeles City Council also voted earlier this week to oppose the bill.

The bill is Sen. Tony Mendoza’s third attempt in two years to overhaul the board of the county’s transit agency and increase the representation of cities in areas outside the city of Los Angeles.

Mendoza, D-Artesia, contends the county’s other 87 cities are underrepresented on the board and its projects often benefit Los Angeles at the expense of smaller cities.

The bill also calls for one of the county supervisors on the Metro board to come from the area that represents the largest unincorporated areas, making the argument that supervisors only represent those areas, which is about 10 percent of the county, although they are elected by all of the residents in the entire area of their district, including by those that live in cities.

“To maintain that the supervisors only represent 10 percent of the county is nuts,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, who is also on the Metro board.

“That’s an alternative fact sheet, it’s not a fact sheet. This is just a bad piece of legislation.”

The board also opposed the bill over the fact that it would lead to some residents of county not having any representative of their area on the board, because the Board of Supervisors represent the entire county.

Mendoza introduced two bills last year that sought to increase representation of the smaller cities, including one that would have replaced three of the county seats with a post for Long Beach and for appointees of the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the Assembly, and another that would have added 10 new seats. Both were shelved by the Senate.

“The primary reason for the bill is to ensure that there is fair and equal voting rights for other parts of the district. The communities that currently don’t have as much influence on the board will have more ability to have a larger voting percentage,” Tim Kirkonnell, communications director for Mendoza, told City News Service earlier this week.

Mendoza had been a strong opponent of Measure M, a voter approved sales tax estimated to raise $120 billion for transportation initiatives, and Los Angeles City Councilman and Metro board member Paul Krekorian said he believed that was Mendoza’s motivation behind the bill.

“This is childish. This is the legislative equivalent of taking the football and going home because you didn’t get to play quarterback,” Krekorian said.

–City News Service

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