Virginia's governor and some lawmakers are taking aim at a Northern Virginia transportation commission after being rebuffed in a bid to win state seats on the Metro board. Two bills in the Virginia House call for changes to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, which picks the four Virginia members on the 14-person Metro board of directors.
One would consolidate the commission with two other boards, while the other would create two seats on the board for the governor, plus require the others who serve on the Metro board to have "significant experience, separate from any experience in government, in mass transit planning, finance, engineering, construction, or management."
The first would dissolve its power, while the second could knock out the current four Metro representatives, all elected officials.
"Just because you're an elected official doesn't mean you can do the job," said Del. Jim LeMunyon, R-Loudoun, who sponsored the bill.
The moves are the latest in a fight that started in June, after Gov. Bob McDonnell threatened to withhold $50 million from Metro unless the state was able to appoint two of the four Virginia representatives to Metro's board.
Virginia's Metro slots are chosen by the 20-person NVTC. Maryland and the District each have four seats, and two are reserved for federal appointees. Virginia's seats are given to two elected Fairfax County officials, one Arlington politician and one elected official from the cities of Falls Church, Fairfax or Alexandria.
The battle heated up this month when NVTC members sent a letter to McDonnell saying they would support expanding the number of seats on Metro's board, but not give up seats.
Within days, the legislation was introduced. "I'm sure there's political gamesmanship here and that's unfortunate," said Metro board member and Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay.
McDonnell's office sent a letter to the commission saying he was "very disappointed" by its action to not give him a seat. "For the state of Virginia to have no seat, when Maryland, D.C. and the federal government do, is simply not right," he wrote.
Kala Leggett Quintana, the NVTC's outreach director, said Virginia's local jurisdictions, not the state, pay the bulk of Metro's costs. "Maryland and D.C. pay 100 percent, so of course they get seats," she said.