Years of inadequate public transportation and an inefficient CATS board could finally be coming to a head. After two scandal-ridden resignations, a faction of the Metro Council is looking to clean house at the CATS board even further with an Aug. 14 vote calling for the resignation of the entire board. Even before that, the CATS board could call a special meeting to bump Chairman Dalton Honoré from the leadership position just days after he assumed it. Another resolution before the Metro Council would set guidelines, including one mandating transit experience for future board members.
The demands for change come amid a slew of problems that almost ensure a first quarter 2014 deadline for an overhauled system will not be met. Voters approved a dedicated tax last year with the promise of a new route system and better service by the first quarter of next year. CATS board member Jared Loftus says it will be “a tall order” to meet that deadline, adding he thinks taxpayers “have every right to be upset that their money isn’t going towards the system in the time frame that they were told.”
Tensions were simmering after a scandal-filled July. On July 18, CATS board member Montrell McCaleb said he would resign for health reasons amid accusations that he misused agency funds. CATS interim CEO Bob Mirabito previously confirmed the allegations were first brought to then-Chairman Isaiah Marshall’s attention in May, though weren’t made public until July 18. Marshall then resigned July 25, just days after Together Baton Rouge called for changes in leadership.
Earlier in the month, the board was forced to delay a decision on a $1.5 million management contract after questions arose over the selection process, and must now start from scratch. Adding to the system’s woes, Mirabito announced an investigation into fare box collections. Councilwoman Ronnie Edwards, who supports the calls for resignation of the full board, says it’s time for a “fresh start, a new foundation on which CATS can start.”