Cap Metro board to reveal CEO finalists at Monday meeting


Highlights

The board winnowed a short list down to at least two finalists in a closed session Monday, a member said.

The transit agency referred to the attoroney general a Statesman request for the names on the short list.

A similar request in 2010 was decided in the Statesman’s favor, but only after a final choice had been made.

The Capital Metro board will announce at least two finalists Monday to be the transit agency’s new president and CEO, the board chairman said Wednesday after the directors met for almost two hours in closed session.

The board will interview the finalists in closed session Jan. 8, followed by a forum later that day where the general public will be able to talk to the contenders. Board chairman Wade Cooper said the board on Jan. 9 will “deliberate” about a final choice, who would then go into negotiations with the agency’s staff on an employment contract.

The board will vote on that contract in late January. Cooper said that person’s identity would likely become public before that point.

“I expect we will have one antecedent vote to designate the candidate” for negotiations, Cooper said.

Cooper said that, yes, the board behind closed doors made a decision about who to cull and who to keep from among a field of semifinalists, whose names have not been made public. Cooper, an Austin attorney, said that decision did not constitute a violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act, which says that a “final action, decision or vote on a matter deliberated in a closed meeting” must be held in open session.

Beyond that, the Texas Attorney General’s open meeting handbook says that case law has established that board members in closed session may express opinions or even indicate how they will vote later when that “final” decision is made in public.

The board’s search for a new president and CEO to replace Linda Watson, who retires at the end of this month, comes as the Austin City Council searches for a new leader of its work force. That city search, and the secrecy attending it, has generated a lawsuit by the Austin American-Statesman and coverage of an escapade in early November when council members and short-listed candidates for the job decamped for interviews to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport terminal’s secure area to avoid reporters.

RELATED: Austin’s case for secrecy in the city manager search

As with the city search, the Capital Metro board and its search consultant have sought to shield the identities of applicants until deep in the process on the theory that promises of confidentiality yield a more qualified field of applicants. The eight-member Capital Metro board includes three members of the Austin City Council.

The Capital Metro CEO and president oversees more than 300 agency employees, as well as several outside companies that provide drivers and mechanics for the agency’s more than 80 bus routes and one rail line. This year’s budget is about $350 million, much of its supported by a 1 percent sales tax levied by the agency.

The Statesman on Nov. 29 asked for the names and application materials of the short-list candidates for the job.

Capital Metro notified the Statesman Wednesday that it is withholding the candidate information, and sent a request to the Texas attorney general’s office to rule on the issue, based on exceptions in the public records law for confidential information, competition or bidding and trade secrets.

The attorney general decided in the newspaper’s favor for a similar request during Capital Metro’s 2010 CEO search, but only after Watson was tapped for the job.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

TRAFFIC ALERT: Tie-ups on I-35 slowing Tuesday commute times
TRAFFIC ALERT: Tie-ups on I-35 slowing Tuesday commute times

A four-vehicle crash near Stassney Lane has northbound traffic on Interstate 35 slowed and backed up just south of FM 1327. The accident has been moved to the shoulder, but a 12-minute delay is expected. Police said there were no injuries. Meanwhile, what TxDOT is calling a minor accident on I-35 southbound had left the left lane blocked at Howard...
FORECAST: Sunny Tuesday with a high of 66, chances of rain later this week
FORECAST: Sunny Tuesday with a high of 66, chances of rain later this week

Austin forecast for Tuesday: Austin will see a sunny day with temperatures reaching 66 and 5 mph northwest winds turning northeast later in the day, according to the National Weather Service. For Tuesday night, expect a low near 35 with northeast winds of 5 mph returning northwest after midnight. The trend continues Wednesday, with sunny skies and...
Austin ISD adopts 2018-19 school calendar. Here’s what changed
Austin ISD adopts 2018-19 school calendar. Here’s what changed

The Austin district board Monday night approved the 2018-19 school calendar, and students will attend school one less day than this year. Here are the highlights: • Students will be back in class Monday, Aug. 20, but summer will come early as they get out May 24, 2019, the Friday before Memorial Day. • Students will attend school 176 days...
Car strikes motorcyclist, SUV then runs over motorcycle; both flee, police say 
Car strikes motorcyclist, SUV then runs over motorcycle; both flee, police say 

Austin police are looking for two drivers who left the scene of a hit-and-run early Sunday after the first one struck a motorcyclist and the second one ran over the victim’s motorcycle.   The motorcyclist was heading north on South Congress Avenue about 2 a.m. when someone driving a black Lexus in the opposite direction hit him while...
Group takes aim at Austin schools with names tied to Confederacy
Group takes aim at Austin schools with names tied to Confederacy

Days after one Austin district trustee was criticized for publicly calling out his peers for delaying a vote on changing school names with ties to the Confederacy, more than a dozen community members Monday night announced the creation of a work group to push the changes forward. The group of 15, formed by the East Austin Coalition for Quality Education...
More Stories