NEW METRO authorizes spending on settlement, rail cars

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The Examiner News posts this followup on the news it initially broke that NEW METRO has reached a settlement with Pauline Higgins:

As expected, Metro and Pauline Higgins settled their legal differences today with the transit agency’s former general counsel receiving about $100,000 in legal expenses and an apology.

“The new Metro regrets and disapproves of the inaccurate statements made about Ms. Higgins in the media regarding her departure from Metro,” Chairman Gilbert Garcia, said in a written statement this morning.

[snip]

In addition to Higgins legal fees, Metro records show roughly $300,000 has gone toward defending the suit, split about 50-50 between attorneys for Metro and former CEO Frank Wilson, who was a co-defendant. (Michael Reed, Higgins ‘proud’ Metro apology didn’t cost taxpayers more, Examiner News).

So, METRO treats employee Pauline Higgins badly, and taxpayers get off relatively lightly (although it’s still more money flushed down the drain). Employee Frank Wilson treats METRO (and customers and taxpayers) badly, and gets a golden severance package (more money flushed down the drain). Interesting moves by NEW METRO.

In other news, NEW METRO hopes to use 2009 shovel-ready-stimulus funds to purchase some additional trams from Utah (which may be available for use by end 2012 — “shovel-ready” and “stimulus” being VERY elusive terms to define!). Here’s a blurb from KUHF’s story:

METRO plans to buy the 19 cars from Siemans [sic] for no more than $83 million dollars. The cars would come off an order placed by a Utah transit agency, which ended up not needing them….

METRO says eighty percent of the cost of the cars will be paid with stimulus funds. But to get the money, the cars must be delivered by 2015. Greanias says METRO expects the first light rail car to ship by October 2012. But METRO critic Paul Magaziner thinks buying the cars is more about making sure the agency gets the stimulus money in time than about needing more cars on Main Street.

“METRO once again is signing a contract for $83 million, hoping and praying that the $64 million dollars from the 2009 shovel ready stimulus money will still be available to METRO in 2013.” (Wendy Siegel, METRO Plans to Add Nearly 20 Cars to Main Street Line, KUHF-88.7 News)

The Chronicle and METRO’s expensive blogger offer their perspectives on the purchase (oh, did we mess up those links? Hard to differentiate the new METRO reporter’s perspective from the NEW METRO PRblogger’s perspective).


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