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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Local Review

MTA Invokes Lottery Provision of Conflicts Rule

May 09, 2000

LOS ANGELES — After pulling names out of a hat to conform with a 2-year-old state conflict-of-interest law, Metropolitan Transportation Authority directors Monday approved $228 million in contracts with independent bus operators.

The unusual random selection process resulted from seven of the board's 13 members declaring they had conflicts because they have received campaign contributions worth more than $10 from a subsidiary of Laidlaw Transit Services, a losing bidder for the big contract.

Laidlaw raised the conflict issue before the MTA board April 27, forcing the transit directors to postpone voting on the contracts.

The law allows the full MTA board to act on urgent matters even if a conflict exists, but only when all 13 directors are present. Consequently, when all 13 board members were present, names were drawn to determine who would vote with the six members who were not in conflict.

The name of County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who earlier had declared himself to be in conflict, was drawn Monday and so he voted with six other directors to unanimously approve the contracts.

The contracts will allow three bus lines, First Transit Inc., Coach and USA/Progressive, to continue service along 13 lines. In addition, Coach, USA/Progressive and MV Transportation were awarded contracts for three new pilot lines.

On a second vote, Director Jenny Oropeza drew the short straw and joined in a 7-0 vote to approve a new $26-million contract with Laidlaw for the continuation of service on six local bus lines.

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