Lisa Falkenberg’s most recent column for the Chronicle reports the sharpest criticism yet from Mayor Annise Parker of METRO under the nontransparent, arrogant reign of David Wolff and Frank Wilson:
“The reason federal funding is in jeopardy today is because of decisions that were made by Mr. Wolff and Mr. Wilson that either deliberately misled the FTA or mistakenly assumed that they could get variances from the FTA on a very clear set of guidelines called either Build America or Buy America that are required for transit funding,” Parker said.
Now that the mayor herself has said that federal funding is in jeopardy, we suppose that may discourage these sorts of Chronblog posts explaining why any given media report to suggest as much isn’t accurate.
This snippet from Falkenberg’s column amused us:
Wolff, who was vacationing in Istanbul, took time to call Chronicle reporter Mike Snyder, and unload about news that Metro officials are likely to send Wilson packing by Friday. Metro officials are trying to work out a deal whereby Wilson would get some of the compensation promised in his contract, though not all, in exchange for his resignation.
“[Mayor Parker] knew so little about Metro that she had to have 40 people study it for three months before she knew what was going on,” Wolff said.
We’ve heard from reliable sources that even Mayor Parker’s staffers and task force had a tough time getting information out of METRO, which is one reason among many that we now refer to it as the area’s rogue transit organization. Normal citizens who ask for the public‘s information were frequently stonewalled by the organization over the last six years, as we’ve documented from time to time, and a host of Chron transit reporters (save for Rosanna Ruiz, who was laid off–message there?) have tended to prefer covering the agency more like its public relations arm than the public’s watchdog, as we’ve also documented from time to time. So we are not surprised that it took time and effort for Mayor Parker’s staffers and task force to get even small amounts of the information they wanted.
We’re not sure why Wolff thinks he can make the mayor look bad by whining about her to one of the Chron‘s least skeptical/curious reporters that nobody knows much about the nontransparent transit organization he once headed. That’s precisely the problem! The Chron transit reporter and his editors may persist in structuring their “coverage” so that Wolff is given the last word in stories and can continue to offer praise of Wilson, but the fact is that ship has sailed. The Wolff/Wilson tenure looks worse by the day, and we suspect that no amount of phone calls to “unload” to a receptive transit reporter at America’s Worst Big City Daily is going to change that reality all that much at this point. But perhaps it’s good, cheap therapy for the two of them!