WMATA’s board of directors has been changing — both Prince George’s and Montgomery County have had new representatives appointed by Governor O’Malley.
CityBizNews and other outlets report that the new principal director representing Prince George’s County will be Alvin Nichols, while the vacant alternate seat reserved for the jurisdiction will be filled by Artis Hampshire-Cowan. Nichols had served as a commissioner of the Baltimore Port Authority and also as city administrator for Takoma Park; Hampshire-Cowan is a senior vice president at Howard University. Meanwhile, Peter Benjamin resigned as WMATA principal director from Montgomery County in February; the Chevy Chase Patch reports that he’ll be replaced by Michael Barnes, a former Congressman from Montgomery County. Click each new director’s name for their Citizen Lobby Sheet, with contact information and information (as it becomes available) about their position on the bag search issue.
The program hasn’t just gone away: a new round of bag searches took place in late February, with stations set up at Archives-Navy Memorial, Franconia-Springfield, and Huntington Metro stations on the 28th. And at Greater Greater Washington, Erik Weber reports that General Manager Sarles says it “would be inappropriate for me to speculate” whether or how the program will continue once the $26 million TSA grant money runs out — meaning that what has been arguably a “freebie” for WMATA (though not, of course, for taxpayers) until now would become part of their ongoing cost of operation.
Meanwhile reports by NBC4’s Tom Sherwood and others that WMATA would meet with ACLU-NCA appear to have been false. When I asked him about it last week, Barnes said of WMATA simply, “They lied.” It’s disappointing that WMATA isn’t just willing to infringe on our civil liberties, but is willing to play deceptive PR games (to put it charitably) with the media and the public as they do so.