Ascher Candidacy for MTA Chief

I am writing to correct the record about discussions held this summer relating to my candidacy for the position of chief executive officer of the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority ("N.Y. Transit Official Spurns Top MTA Job," Aug. 22).

No contract talks were ever held. I apprised only my L.A. counsel and the executive search firm of the kinds of issues--institutional and economic--that I desired to put on the table. In order that our contract talks move forward at a deliberate pace, I authorized counsel to share these issues and several options for resolving them with members of MTA's negotiating team before we were set to meet. One of the items to be dealt with was the disposition of a boat owned jointly by my wife and me.

Due to the significant cost involved to relocate our boat, my wife and I considered the possibility that selling it in the Northeast might be in everyone's best interest. In any case, we did our homework and knew the options and costs involved, but had not discussed with anyone at the MTA to what extent and in what form these costs would be covered, if at all.

I truly believe that had the parties advanced to the discussion stage, we would have been able to resolve any and all concerns through sensible negotiations on this as well as the other issues. Your sources unfortunately reacted prematurely based on hearsay. Their allegation that there were back-room deals being struck on a contract with me is preposterous. They certainly had a grand time pitching boating metaphors. Aren't these the same folks who helped--vis-a-vis political interference--to put their own ship (MTA) on the bottom?

MICHAEL C. ASCHER

New York

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