Rep. Jill Chambers will be giving up her job as MARTA’s top watchdog after losing in Tuesday’s election by about 275 votes. As chair of the MARTA Oversight Committee, Chambers had questioned the transit agency’s spending on lobbyists, pay raises, consultants, fitness equipment for employees, intricate bond deals and much more. And that was all before lunchtime.
MARTA’s risky venture into complicated leaseback transactions with insurance giant AIG and others has turned a $15 million profit, at least so far, state auditors said today. Dozens of U.S. transit agencies took part in the leaseback deals, which offered a profit for MARTA and a tax shelter for the investors. The deals seemed safe until AIG lost its AAA credit rating a year ago, leaving MARTA on the line to pay termination fees that could have totaled hundreds of millions of dollars.
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.
Atlanta’s rapid-transit agency, which warns of drastic service cuts on the horizon, approved at least 114 pay raises ranging from 10 to 40 percent for 2007-08, according to a legislative oversight committee. More than half went to managers. MARTA is asking the General Assembly for permission to tap into $65 million reserved for capital projects […]