By David Schultz
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is demanding more authority over how Metro spends the Commonwealth's money. He wants to appoint his representatives to Metro's Board of Directors. But McDonnell is backing off threats to withhold funding from Metro until it agreed to his demands.
Metro had to approve its funding agreement so it could honor a contract to purchase new, safer rail cars. It couldn't do that until McDonnell acquiesced, and he did so with just hours to spare late last night.
Metro Board Member Chris Zimmerman, a Democrat from Arlington County, says McDonnell was trying to play hardball, and lost.
"They clearly had not looked into it very well," says Zimmerman. "They hadn't talked to anybody. They sprung this within the last month. And so, they didn't know what they were doing."
Not so, says Thelma Drake, director of McDonnell's Department of Rail and Public Transit. She says this was not a loss for the Governor.
"Governor McDonnell never thinks that it's a loss to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth and the citizens of our great nation who might be using the Metro system," says Drake.
Drake says the McDonnell administration will continue to lobby for the ability to appoint people to the Metro Board.