Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Judge Declines to Issue TRO in MTA Strike Voting Dispute
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge yesterday declined to order the Metropolitan Transit Authority to allow two city councilmen who sit on its board to vote on transit strike issues.
The councilmen, Antonio Villaraigosa and Martin Ludow, are excluded from voting on issues involving the strike by members of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents MTA mechanics, because they took campaign contributions from the union. MTA General Counsel Steve Carnevale ruled last year that the exclusion is required under Public Utilities Code Sec. 130051.20.
Villaraigosa and Ludlow asked Janavs to rule the section does not apply to union contributions.
The law provides that a board member may not “participate in, or use his or her official position to influence, a contract decision if the member...has knowingly accepted a contribution of over ten dollars...in value in the past four years from a participant, or its agent, involved in the contract decision.”
Other subsections of the statute specify they apply to any “construction company, engineering firm, consultant, legal firm, or any company, vendor, or business entity seeking a contract with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.” But the voting ban subsection does not include any list of particular types of entities.
Janavs declined to issue the temporary restraining order sought by the councilmen, but set a Nov. 7 hearing on their request for a preliminary injunction. Carnavale said she “didn’t seem to be convinced on the law” by the arguments of D. William Heine of Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dohrmann & Sommers, who represented Villaraigosa and Ludlow.
But a spokesperson for Ludlow, Sharon Delugach, said she discerned some sympathy on the judge’s part for the contention that the law was not intended to apply to union contributions.
Delugach said her impression was that Janavs wanted more time to consider the arguments on both sides before deciding whether to intervene.
The exclusion also applies to Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn and county Supervisor Gloria Molina. Both are also members of the MTA board and have accepted union contributions.
Delugach said Ludlow and Villaraigosa probably will not ask this district’s Court of Appeal to overturn Janav’s ruling on the request for a TRO.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company