Friday, November 30, 2012
MTA Cannot Recover Cost of Buses Used for Obama Fundraiser—Lawyer
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority cannot recover the cost of 15 buses provided at Secret Service request when President Obama visited Los Angeles for a recent campaign fundraiser, a top lawyer for the county has opined.
In a memo responding to a request by Supervisor Michael Antonovich, whose office provided a copy to the MetNews, Chief Deputy County Counsel Richard D. Weiss wrote:
“Based on information provided to me by our Transportation Division, the request for the buses to be provided for this Presidential visit was made by the United States Secret Service to MTA staff. The request specifically asked for confirmation back that there would be no cost incurred by this request. I am informed that prior to the event, verbal confirmation was made by the MTA’s manager of Bus Operations Control to the Secret Service that there would be no charge by the MTA for the buses provided. In light of this representation that there would be no charge, I believe it would be somewhat difficult under principals of contract law for a demand for reimbursement to be made at this point in this instance, since a good argument can be made that the MTA would be estopped from requesting reimbursement after it had previously affirmatively indicated that there would be no payment required.”
Weiss went on to explain that in the absence of a declared emergency, “the MTA has no formal rules or policies that dictate under what conditions, buses are loaned to other public entities without cost,” but has generally done so when a “public purpose” was involved.
In this instance, he said, it was “determined that there was a valid public purpose in loaning buses to aid in providing security for the President of the United States, apparently without specifically considering the specific purpose of the actual event.”
He also noted that “the MTA is highly dependent on the receipt of federal funding for a variety of its programs and wished to be as accommodating as possible.”
He emphasized that the MTA is free to adopt policies requiring reimbursement for the use of its buses by the federal government or other governmental entities.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company