Category Archives: states

WMATA: Washington Council Of Government’s “Moving Metro Forward” Has Flaw–Lack of Evaluation of Metro’s Funding

While the Joint Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA or Metro) Governance Review Task Force produced a document (“Moving Metro Forward“) for discussion of the organization structure of Metro.  But the reason why the current structure is ineffective is that the people on the Metro Board do not control or govern revenue to maintain or operate the system. That responsibility is in the control of Congress, and the state legislatures Maryland and Virginia and the District of Columbia’s City Council. Because the Joint Council of Governments and the Board of Trade Task Force dismissed the critical effect of the funding situation, the document falls short on providing a way beyond the Metro’s challenges.

Other challenges facing Metro:

  • Metro’s Compact is designed for constructing the system as it stands, not for operating it. The Compact is long overdue for an overhaul (perhaps the Joint WMATA Governance Review Task Force could be helpful during that activity).
  • The WMATA is subject to jurisdictional budget processes (not necessarily coordinated).

The DC metropolitan area’s rail and bus system is a capital asset, requiring money to build and maintain, but also assists to produce money for the separate jurisdictions through the movement of people to the various points of destination. Despite this fact, the Metro system is left to beg for money for its capital goods and operations. This is an unacceptable situation given Metro’s contribution to the daily lives of many residents and visitors to the DC area and must be resolved.

2010 Election: Democrats Took a “Shellacking” Yesterday, but the GOP also Felt the Loss-of-Majority Pain

The Republicans took control (currently 239 R 186 D) of the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday. President Barack Obama called it a “shellacking” at his news conference, but in reality, the transfer of power is not that out of the ordinary historically speaking (see this PDF  U.S. H.R. control (also available at http://www.scribd.com/doc/41357483/Cong-Control)).

Apparently, a good number of the losses on the Democratic side came from the so called Blue Dogs.

WMATA: Virginia Governor Calls for Safety Oversight for Metro System; No Mention on Providing Funding

It is unfortunate that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) system has become a political football by those who are responsible for the system. It seems that denouncing Metro is seen as politically expedient while at the same time those same politicians refuse to provide funds that will allow Metro system to maintain and operate its capital plant.

For example, see this article about Robert McDonnell, Virginia Governor, calling for increased safety oversight for Metro. As I have mentioned before, this is a laudable and necessary goal, but it requires money (it was unmentioned whether Gov. McDonnell discussed how to pay for the oversight).

Subsidy Funding (fiscal year 2010) (Source: WMATA)

Maryland $215.6 million
District of Columbia $201.6 million
Virginia $129.4 million
Total subsidy $546.7 million (+27.5 million debt service)= $574.2 million

Passenger fares and parking fees: $702.7 million

Metro System Information

Metrobus 340 routes (breakdown by jurisdiction not available)

Metrorail stations (by state)

Total: 86

District of Columbia 40 (38.3 miles of track)

Maryland 26 (Montgomery County (11) and Prince George’s County (15)) (38.31 miles) [Note: The state of Maryland operates its own subway in Baltimore, Md.]

Virginia 20 (Arlington County (11), Fairfax County (6), and the City of Alexandria (3)) (29.47 miles)

Source: WMATA.

The days of expecting the ridership to cover the funding shortfalls has come to an end; the jurisdictions must step forward with additional funding. Metro is an instrument that many taxpayers use to get to work or social activities all around the metropolitan area. So providing money to Metro is not really a money drain but rather an input to capital which allows for the same jurisdictions to receive an output (tax receipts).

Post Script:

Fair Share for Metro

Evan Gargiulo: Found Guilty of Murder of Mazhar Nazir; Receives 15 Year Sentence

According to The Washington Post, The jury in Evan Gargiulo’s trial, where he stood accused of second degree murder has determined that Mr. Gargiulo is guilty. Mr. Gargiulo was sentenced to jail for 15 years, 12 years for the murder charge and 3 years for the gun.

Evan Gargiulo: Psychologist Concludes Defendant Insane

[Note: Persons accused of a crime in the United States are presumed innocent until proven guilty.]

The trial involving Evan Gargiulo has begun in Fairfax, Virginia.

According to The Washington Post, a psychologist, Stanton E. Samenow, testified for the defense noting that Evan Gargiulo, accused of murder, was insane at the time that the victim, Mazhar Nazir was shot. Dr. Samenow made this determination after interviewing Mr. Gargiulo for a number of hours.

Dr. Samenow stated that Mr. Gargiulo’s anger at being robbed and his fear of Mr. Nazir caused Mr. Gargiulo to shoot Mr. Mazhir, the Post reported.

Samenow said Gargiulo’s dismay at being robbed and his “enormous fear” of Nazir caused him to shoot without thinking of the consequences. “I haven’t encountered somebody with this level of fear,” Samenow said. He said there is no formal definition of Gargiulo’s mental condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the accepted reference book for courts trying to parse mental illness and criminal culpability.

A videotape of Mr. Gargiulo’s interview with the police was played at the trial.

ACRI Ballot Initiative (Arizona): AZ Legislature Sends Initiative to the Secretary of State

The Arizona legislature has decided to send an initiative proposal from Ward Connerly to the Secretary of State.

The language of HCR 2019 is here. A previous move by Ward Connerly to get this proposal on the ballot through signatures failed.

It is unfortunate that a legislative item that can ill effect a portion of the population in Arizona is not fully researched and debated. Rather, it is placed on the ballot through a questionable strike all amendment process.

Post script:

Arizona Secretary of State

Evan Gargiulo: Preliminary Hearing Held 2/23; Case Forwarded to Grand Jury

According to the Fairfax Times, a preliminary hearing was held on February 23. Friends and family of the victim, Mazhar Nazir, attended the hearing.

The Fairfax Times did not provide details of what occurred at the hearing

The Fairfax Times reported that the case was forwarded to the grand jury (term date: March 17, 2009).

The Virginia Courts webpage, explains (under Procedure) what a preliminary hearing is.

A preliminary hearing is then held in district court to determine if there is probable cause to believe the accused has committed the crime charged. If probable cause is found, the case is certified (sent) to the grand jury.

The grand jury is a body which determines whether there is probable cause to believe that the accused committed a crime and should have a trial to determine innocence or guilt.

The Virginia Courts provide a handbook for grand jurors.

The Virginia Criminal procedure law is here.

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2008 Elections: Question 2 on Permitting Slots Gambling in Maryland Approved Decisively

I opposed this ballot question. But the voters have spoken and have approved the Constitutional Amendment. Whether the slots gaming can produce sufficient revenue to provide $660 million to the schools is an open question.

Vote results on Question 2: YES: 59% or 1,348,082 votes, NO: 41% or 976,926 votes.

I believe that it is feeling that one can get revenue increases without a tax burden that attracted voters. But, the fiscal note to the bill in the Maryland General Assembly assumes the 1.4 billion will be made to fund the $660 million to the education trust fund in 2013.

Regardless, Maryland now permits slots gaming.

Evan Gargiulo: Denied Bond at Hearing; Prosecutor Presents Evidence that Taxi Driver Was in Seat Belt

[Note: Persons accused of a crime in the United States are presumed innocent until proven guilty.]

[Note 2: See my previous post for an update in the Post's November 18, 2008 article.]

[Note 3: According to the The Daily Collegian (a Penn State University student newspaper), the final sentencing date is June 4, 2010. The newspaper also interviewed on of Mr. Gargiulo's attorneys.]

The Washington Post reported an update on the case of Evan Gargiulo, 22, accused of killing taxi driver Mazhar Nazir, 49, in a alleged fare dispute. Mr. Gargiulo states that he shot Mr. Nazir while defending himself from Mr. Nazir.

However, this claim of self-defense was questioned at the bond hearing. The Post stated that the prosecutor presented evidence that Fairfax police found Mr. Nazir in a shoulder and hip seat belt fastened. Thus, it would seemingly be impossible for Mr. Nazir to jump over the seat to threaten Mr. Gargiulo. At best, Mr. Nazir would only be able to turn his head and body a bit in his driver’s seat.

The judge denied bond to Mr. Gargiulo, the Post reported.

Mazhar Nazir: Taxi Driver Said to be Model for Other Taxi Drivers, Considerate to Passengers in Distress

The story of Mazhar Nazir, a taxi driver who was allegedly killed by the accused, Evan Gargiulo (a passenger in Mr. Nazir’s taxicab), has been obscured by coverage of Mr. Gargiulo’s arrest and ongoing court hearings.

The Washington Post, through reporter Tom Jackman, has provided some detail about Mr. Nazir’s life in its November 18, 2008 article.

Mr. Nazir’s life had many characteristics of an immigrant to the United States.

Nazir, 49, had been driving a cab in the Washington area for more than 25 years, his friends said after the hearing, and moved to this country from Pakistan 33 years ago. He was married and lived with his wife and 12-year-old son in the Baileys Crossroads area of Fairfax.

Drivers and friends told the Post reporter that Mr. Nazir was not a violent person and came to the assistance of passengers who were in distress. Also, Mr. Nazir was said to provide assistance to fellow taxi drivers.

Other drivers and longtime friends said that Nazir was not violent, did not argue over money and often waived the fare of people in distress. Altaf Anjun told the story of Nazir picking up a distraught Russian woman at 3 a.m. in Georgetown. She had lost all her documentation and had no contact information for anyone in this country. Nazir took her to his home, fed her and helped her contact the Russian Embassy later that day, Anjun said.

‘He was always a friend,’ Anjun said, known as someone in the Pakistani community whom people could call for help. He once owned his own cab company, Anjun said, and ‘all wanted to drive for him.’

The story in my previous post noted that Mr. Nazir lent Mr. Gargiulo his cellphone so that Mr. Gargiulo could call his friend. This story seems to confirm the story of Mr. Nazir’s considerate behavior towards passengers in distress.