It has not been a pretty day at Metro headquarters. The regular monthly meeting of the agency’s Board of Directors has been interrupted several times by noisy protests from the Bus Riders Union and it appears that two members were arrested by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies shortly after 3 p.m.
Board of Director Chairman Ara Najarian had previously told the BRU that if the protests continue, he would start having BRU members removed from the room. The sheriff’s department subsequently told the BRU that they had illegally assembled and told the BRU they will be arrested if they do not leave. Most left, two didn’t and they were escorted from the room by deputies.
In a nutshell, here’s what happened today: The meeting began this morning with public testimony from the BRU, which has been protesting the upcoming fare increases and calling for a public hearing and vote to rescind the fare hikes. No hearing or vote was on the agenda — nor has it been on previous agendas.
After some public testimony — which included a fair amount of yelling and chanting — Najarian moved the Board of Directors into closed session for consideration of other items. He also told the BRU that public testimony would be allowed to continue later in the meeting after discussion of items on the agenda that other members of the public had come to hear.
The meeting later resumed and discussion of an item involving launching studies on the 710 gap was well underway when the BRU’s chants forced the Board to halt the meeting. After a delay of more than two hours, the Board of Directors tried to resume the 710 discussion in a back room with the audio piped into the regular Board room — but BRU chants and singing prevented other members of the public in the Board room from hearing.
“I wanted to hear your remarks…I was fully intending to let you speak and let you urge the Directors to take any action that was appropriate to the fare increase,” Najarian told the BRU members while asking them to allow the meeting to continue. He reiterated that he was going to return to public testimony on the fare increase but after the 710 item was heard.
Which brings us to where we are now.
With the room cleared of the BRU, the Board of Directors have continued their discussion of the 710 gap. More on that later.