Metro’s protracted search for a new general manager hit another major snag Monday as the transit agency and its top choice for the job, corporate financial expert Neal Cohen, ended their contract discussions.
Cohen, a highly compensated chief financial officer in the private sector who has no experience in public transportation, emerged as the board’s top pick for Metro chief executive last week. Officials familiar with the search said the executive committee of Metro’s board of directors were in contract discussions with Cohen.
But the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration announced late Monday afternoon that board members and Cohen had called off their talks.
It is unclear what role the leaking of Cohen’s name mid-process had on the breakdown in talks, though a source said he was taken aback by the public scrutiny, which will be a constant for whoever ends up taking the job.
Reaction was swift and the disappointment in some quarters was deep. . . .0WTOP reports Governor McAuliffe's reaction to the latest fiasco:
“I am outraged by the latest setback in a process that would be comical if the need for new leadership at Metro were not so great,” McAuliffe said in a statement Monday.
“Identifying and hiring a qualified General Manager is the WMATA Board’s chief responsibility and the first step that must be taken in order to oversee the safety and operational changes that are essential to Metro’s long-term sustainability. The leaks and petty political sniping that have come to define the work of this board are harming the Metro system and the economy of the region it serves.”We agree that hiring a qualified General Manager for WMATA is the Board's chief responsibility and the WMATA Board of Directors has failed miserably in carrying out this responsibility in a timely manner, identifying a highly qualified candidate suited to the severe challenges facing one of the largest public transit agencies in the country, negotiating a responsible contract, and keeping the fact and identity of a possible selection confidential.
We believe that it may be worthwhile for the leaders of all the WMATA jurisdictions to seriously consider replacing their representatives on the Board because the current Board membership is clearly unable to carry out its most important responsibility in a professionally responsible manner serving the interests of a better WMATA and regional transportation.