WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

MWAA Board Member Resigns After Legal Fight

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The agency running the $6 billion Silver Line rail project to Dulles Airport is finally out from underneath a costly legal battle involving one of its boardmembers.

Dennis Martire, a member of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board, has reached a settlement with the Commonwealth of Virginia, ending litigation that was costing the authority tens of thousands of dollars to defend him in court. 

"There's no doubt that my travel was singled out and there is no doubt that people were unhappy with the project labor agreement," says Martire.

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) tried to oust Martire from the board after reports that the labor union leader was taking lavish business trips on the authority's dime, but a court refused to appoint McDonnell's proposed replacement.  

Martire also supported a controversial pro-union provision for the Dulles rail project, which the McDonnell administration vehemently opposed. 

At this morning's MWAA board meeting, Martire took his seat only to announce moments later that he will resign in October, after he, the authority and the Commonwealth settled litigation that was costing MWAA tens of thousands of dollars to defend him in court. He says he did nothing wrong by traveling to overseas conferences.

"You come on this board, you are not an expert in airline travel or the airport transportation business," says Martire. " The only way to get knowledge is to go to those conferences."

His case garnered attention as an example of what's wrong with the Airports Authority, but the agency says it is taking steps to overhauls its ethics policies and improve transparency.

Details of the settlement are not available.

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