No doubt Mike Antonovich has done good things for northeast Los Angeles County during his career as supervisor of the 5th district. However, his latest move as the new chairman of the MTA Board of Directors has left many in his district, and around the county, wondering if he really has their best interests at heart.
Within one week of taking command of the MTA Board of Directors, Antonovich summarily dismissed MTA board member and Glendale City Councilman Ara J. Najarian from his long-held position on the Metrolink Board of Directors. This in spite of the fact that Najarian has labored tirelessly on advancing service on the only Los Angeles County Metrolink line, the Antelope Valley line. This shake-up at Metrolink comes at a critical time, as Metrolink is currently without a CEO after the recent resignation of former CEO John Fenton. Najarian’s replacement on the Metrolink Board is Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Oddly enough, the supervisor was appointed even though there are no Metrolink lines in his supervisorial district, and he has no commuter rail experience.
Why did Antonovich dismiss Najarian? One can only guess that Najarian is perceived by Antonovich as a threat to the so-called SR-710 Gap Closure project that has long been supported by Antonovich and most MTA Board members. The MTA Board has repeatedly authorized tens of millions in expenditures to move the proposed tunnel project forward. Najarian has vehemently opposed the tunnel project. Instead, Najarian has long supported fiscally and environmentally responsible solutions to Los Angeles County’s transportation problems, recommending modern technologies to move both people and goods.
Najarian has consistently held MTA accountable for its actions by insisting on transparency in the decision-making process — to no avail. The SR-710 Gap Closure project is being financially bundled behind the scenes by InfraConsult with the I-710 Freight Corridor and the High Desert Corridor, a pet project of Antonovich. MTA is not being honest when it tells the public this is not a proposed goods-movement corridor.
In addition, Najarian has taken a neutral stance on the Measure R extension as presented to the MTA Board, expressing a desire to let the voters make the decision on the extension.
We can only conclude that Najarian’s removal from the Metrolink Board is retaliatory in nature due to the differing positions he and Antonovich hold on these two pivotal issues in the county.
La Cañada Flintridge
Editor’s note: The writers are members of the No 710 Action Committee