23-year SamTrans director Lloyd reappointed without public review
- Published Monday, March 14, 2011, by PeninsulaExaminer.com
No public review of SamTrans appointment
By Bruce Balshone
Art Lloyd, 23-year member of the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) Board of Directors, is set to be reappointed to yet another term to a seat on the influential transit board without a public interview process and barely any public notice that such a vacancy existed. Lloyd has served on the SamTrans board since 1988 -- the longest tenure of any board member -- in a position held for what is termed a "transit expert". What's a transit expert? Who knows? Criteria for the position have never been defined since SamTrans was created in 1976.
The appointment, to be made by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, March 15, was advertised only on the San Mateo County web site, buried pages deep under board and commission vacancies and no public interviews were held for other potential applicants. Only someone who was actively tracking this would have even known where to look. But worse yet, unlike every other commission vacancy listed on the page, the SamTrans Transit Expert post contained no information, no link to detailed information describing what the position entails, what qualifications one may need or even whom to contact to make such an application. The deadline for application was inexplicably extended from Dec. 6 2010 to early January but obviously there were no takers over the holidays.
The SamTrans board oversees a $94-plus million annual operating budget and employs 765 people in the county bus, Caltrain and paratransit services for all of San Mateo County. The position pays approximately $400 a month and board members are eligible for health care benefits.
The current Transit Expert, Arthur L. Lloyd, has served in the same capacity for nearly 25 years, or somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 or 9 consecutive terms. Lloyd, 85, is a resident of Portola Valley and is a former Amtrak executive. By virtue of his position on SamTrans, Lloyd also serves as a director of the Peninsula Joint Powers Authority Board which directly oversees Caltrain.
The Transit Expert position has never had any defined criteria associated with it and the appointment has always been at the discretion of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. This is not the first time there has been controversy over Lloyd's appointment. In fact, in the spring of 2005 SamTrans and the supervisors were forced to explain why Lloyd had remained in his Transit Expert seat a year after his term had officially expired. Lloyd's current term is also expired.
At the time, officials from the Transit District and county officials stated that there was no impropriety in the extension of an expired term as Lloyd served at the pleasure of the Board of Supervisors under the rules governing board appointments. In other words, even an expired appointment could be maintained indefinitely. According to Lloyd himself at the time commenting in one local news report, he has never been asked to reapply or reinterview for his position. And it looks like the same thing is about to happen again.
But the fact remains that all of the seats on the SamTrans board are significant as the board is an important policymaking body that oversees a great deal of public money. It is strange that when terms expire for incumbent members that there is no review and no opportunity for new applicants to bid for the seats.
The "Transit Expert" seat is a particularly troubling classification as there has never been a defined meaning to that title, no criteria or any way for a would-be applicant to make an informed application in a competitive and public process. It appears that the Board of Supervisors is again embracing an opaque and anti-democratic process to install a friend to an important county post.
Note from the editor:
On the consent calendar without public discussion, the Board of Supervisors has unanimously reappointed Art Lloyd to another full term as a board member on Tuesday, March 15th, 2011. Congratulations Art on your new term. I wish you well on your reappointment.
Contact Bruce Balshone at bruce.examiner@...
[BATN: See also:
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