Wednesday, February 24, 2010

After Having A Poor Attendance Record, Herrity Bails On Appointments to Transportation Boards

Transportation is one of the most important issues facing Northern Virginia and many of the elected officials who want to make a major impact on the issue are members of the board at either the Northern Virginian Transportation Commission (NVTC) or the Virginia Railway Express (VRE). Neither of these positions is incredibly exciting, but board members who take the time to really examine transportation issues in the region can truly make a difference. Despite the opportunity serving in these positions presented to help solve our transportation issues in Northern Virginia, Pat Herrity recently asked Sharon Bulova not to reappoint him to these boards.

Although it doesn’t necessarily get a lot of press attention and those familiar with the work the board does describe it as “wonkish,” the decisions made by NVTC have a huge impact on transportation systems in Northern Virginia. The commission is made up of 20 members from its six jurisdictions (Arlington County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Alexandria, City of Fairfax, and Falls Church) and its commissioners come together to make decisions regarding the buses in NOVA such as the Fairfax Connector and Arlington County art, Metro (both rail and buses), and it is a “co-owner” of the VRE. In other words, this provides its members with an opportunity to help craft policy that would greatly improve our transportation system in Northern Virginia and elected officials who are passionate about improving our transportation system try to get a seat on the commission or on the board of the VRE (Herrity gave up both).

What makes Herrity’s desire to no longer serve on these boards really interesting is the fact that he has been telling community members that one of the major reasons he should be elected to Congress is he wants to help address the area’s transportation woes. The fact that Herrity doesn’t even want to remain on these boards not only raises his questions about his interest in improving our transportation system but it really calls into question Herrity’s integrity regarding promises he’s making on the campaign trail.

This lack of enthusiasm about taking the time to set productive transportation policy isn’t a new development. A quick examination of the minutes of NVTC and VRE board meetings shows that Herrity apparently was never really interested in doing the work associated with these posts anyways. Of the 21 meetings that were held between when he was sworn in as a NVTC commissioner on February 7, 2008 and his replacement being sworn in on February 11, 2010, Herrity could only bring himself to attend 13 of them. In other words, he missed 38% of the meetings. That’s simply egregious and in any other job Herrity would have been fired because missing 38% of your work means that you’re not even doing the bare minimum required to perform your duties. What makes it even more outrageous is that the only time that Herrity actually attended four meetings in a row was his last four meetings, which took place when he was deliberating about whether or not he wanted to run for Congress.

Herrity’s attendance at VRE meetings was even worse. Like with the NVTC, he only attended 13 of 21 meetings for the VRE (which means he missed 38%). Of the meetings that he did attend, however, he could only be bothered to show up on time for four of them. This means that he only showed up on time (if at all) to 19% of the meetings. Considering how VRE is a vital part of our public transportation system in the region, Herrity’s attendance record doesn’t fit someone who supposedly is extremely interested in improving our transportation system.

Now when Herrity asked Bulova not to reappoint him to these boards, he claimed that it was so Supervisor Cook, a Republican on the Board of Supervisors who won a special election early last year, could pick up another committee assignment. This reasoning, however, simply doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. If that was truly Pat’s reasoning, one has to wonder why he didn’t give up the committee assignments right when Cook was elected. After all, Herrity missed several meetings after Cook joined the Board of Supervisors so his attendance record definitely suggests that Cook could have done a better job of representing Fairfax County on the boards at the NVTC and VRE.

We get a better glimpse at the potential motivation for Herrity’s request when you look at the political context of the situation. Herrity’s attendance at meetings only really improved when he was considering a bid for Congress and his request not to be reappointed came in the same time frame that he announced his candidacy for Congress. It doesn’t take a political genius to see how this suggests that he was only using the appointments for political gain and now wants to have more time to run his campaign.

By asking not to be reappointed to these posts, Pat Herrity has illustrated that he is not the type of leader that this region needs on transportation related issues. The plain and simple fact that he also never took his commitments serious enough to have even a half way decent attendance record also suggests that he cannot be counted on to take the time to set policy that’s truly in the best interests of his constituents. When you combine that with the fact that many of his decisions here appear to have his own political future in mind, Pat Herrity has proven that is not fit to represent Virginia’s 11th District in the House of Representatives.