A “complete failure” of internal controls allowed a top MARTA aide to charge several thousand dollars of personal expenses to the transit agency, auditors reported Thursday. The aide, the executive assistant to general manager Beverly Scott, was fired in August. Auditors blamed, in part, “an unacceptable deference to positions of authority” for the long delay in detecting the problem.
MARTA hired a lobbyist Tuesday, moments after a union official accused state Rep. Jill Chambers of trying to force a state takeover of the agency. MARTA’s board fears a projected $80 million deficit will result in disastrous service cuts without state relief. “If we don’t get something done, a year from now we’re not going to be providing anything you could reasonably call transit service,” Chairman Michael Walls said. UPDATE: New lobbyist Bernard Reynolds will have to earn his keep, judging from Chambers’ latest e-mail today.
MARTA officials will meet Tuesday to talk about waiving the transit agency’s conflict-of-interest policy for a vendor that hired a state legislator earlier this year. But for the lawmaker, state Sen. Doug Stoner of Smyrna, his job with the vendor may be just one of the potential conflicts.
MARTA board members who vote to hire a $160,000-a-year lobbying firm could lose their seats come 2010. So says state Rep. Jill Chambers, the transit agency’s chief nemesis in the Georgia Legislature. As chairman of the MARTA Oversight Committee, she fired off an e-mail over the weekend threatening to eliminate the seat of any board member who supports the contract when the board meets Tuesday. Board chairman Michael Walls terms Chambers’ saber-rattling “outrageous.”
MARTA’s general manager and its chief legislative overseer locked horns today over the transit agency’s plan to spend up to $400,000 on outside lobbyists. Then, state Rep. Jill Chambers butted heads with a member of her MARTA Oversight Committee. Chambers grilled MARTA officials this morning about several million dollars in spending that she regarded as unnecessary. When Sen. Doug Stoner objected to her tone, Chambers cut off his microphone. “I’m very disappointed in us as a committee,” Stoner said. “We’re playing games.”
A conflicted committee of the MARTA board today recommended hiring a company that employs the daughter of one of its members. Edelman Public Relations is clearly the best choice to run a marketing campaign aimed at marshaling public support for MARTA during the 2010 state legislative session, agency staffers said. The problem: Board member Barbara Babbit Kaufman‘s daughter is a senior VP at Edelman.