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WAMU: MWAA Members Targeted Martire, Reiley

Three allegedly worked with GOP in Virginia to oust Democrats from the organization responsible for building the Silver Line.

Three members of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board of Directors allegedly actively worked with Republican officials in Virginia to orchestrate the removal of Mame Reiley and union supporter Dennis Martire from the board, according to a story published Wednesday on American University Radio's (WAMU 88.5) website.

MWAA and its board have come under scrutiny in recent years after an audit discovered questionable practices, including sweetheart deals for former board members, questionable travel expenses and nepotism. Martire was among those named for his activities, particularly an expensive trip on behalf of the organization. The Democratic members were removed, despite the internal review of MWAA raising much broader concerns.

MWAA board member Tom Davis denied the accusations in the report.

MWAA was tasked with constructing Metro’s Silver Line from Falls Church to Dulles International Airport and beyond to Ashburn. The organization came under scrutiny as it worked through the first phase of the project and U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-VA-10) requested an investigation by the U.S. Department of Transportation, which discovered the questionable practices.

After the IG's preliminary report, the MWAA board approved a new travel policy and code of ethics, revised bylaws for board members and its Freedom of Information Policy, and terminated contracts with former board members, but the final IG final report found those measures inadequate. MWAA promised to work with Sec. of Transportation Ray LaHood to make improvements. Since that time, LaHood announced he would step down as secretary.

Read the WAMU story here and check out WAMU’s audio report here.

Dave Webster February 17, 2013 at 10:56 AM
Why should Dusty FOIA a report that will take months to obtain if you can send it to him today? Does the report have information damaging to Martire? I want to read the report. Everyone involved in this nepotism scandal should be let go, including Davis. Here is a Washington Post report detailing the scandal. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/dc-airport-authority-employment-is-frequently-a-family-affair/2012/12/08/e29ab88a-3eef-11e2-a2d9-822f58ac9fd5_story_2.html Davis's daughter by the way is, or was, a medical student who worked the summer as an Emergency Medical Technician at $17.36 an hour. She actually did something for the work unlike Martire with his Sardinia vacation. Another comment from the Washington Post: "In a statement, Mr. Martire defended the trip as “directly relevant to my duties as a Board member” and “fully legitimate and absolutely consistent with [airports authority] policies.” However, he did not explain how it was relevant or answer any of our specific questions — for instance, why he chose to attend a conference in Sardinia when the same sponsor holds almost 20 conferences and seminars in the United States and Canada each year." Comparing an employee who takes all 10 days of a vacation to someone who single-handedly spent more than $38,000 attending five conferences in 2010 and 2011 is laughable. Martire abused a system he knew had no internal controls.
Just the Facts February 17, 2013 at 11:32 AM
Again it was the WPost Editorial Board that you like to quote, not the actual Post reporters. You still try to justify Davis's daughter working at Mwaa. If she has this fantastic résumé, why once Congressman Tom Davis got on the Mwaa Board was his daughter hired? Then once it was exposed she was let go or quit? I'm not defending Martire either. But if most of these Board members traveled and it was approved or policy allowed it, then why were other members not removed for traveling? From what the Post reported( not the editorial board) other members traveled more then this guy did but were not subject of a removal process by a sitting Governor. This WAMU story shows they went after this guy and other Dems on the Board for positions they held regarding the alignment and PLA. This is where the bias comes into play. Between the Governor and MWAA , they spent over 2 million dollars trying to get rid of this one Board member and bought off Mame Reiley for $180,000/5 year contract for her seat. My tax dollars were used for something I feel was a waste of my money. If you did not like the MWAA travel policy, change the policy. It would have been cheaper and would not look like this was politically motivated. You have to agree that this would have been a much simpler way of handling this issue then to spend stupid money to take out a guy who's term only had a little over a year left on it. This WAMU story says this was a political witch hunt, which it clearly was.
Just the Facts February 17, 2013 at 11:41 AM
Also the hiring of Mame Reiley was a joke as well. No job existed. Once she was hired, no job announcement was made, no job description was given, she never attended any MWAA meetings, Board was never notified of the hiring. This is where Potter, Davis and Curto have blood on their hands. The MWAA Board did make this decision, it was these 3 that were in collusion to make this happen. Davis admitted it was a win, win. She needed something and he needed her seat. But they used MWAA money to make it happen. It smells of dirty politics and it looks like WAMU uncovered the real story here. If MWAA is ever going to regain the public trust, I do think you need to change the senior management and get a new Board. But you need to have more then Ray LaHood say all is well now when we all can see what really went on here.
Dave Webster February 17, 2013 at 03:19 PM
You say you're not defending Martire after writing a series of lengthy posts defending him? Send the Sardinia report to Dusty so we can judge for ourselves.
Just the Facts February 17, 2013 at 04:59 PM
It could be Martire or anyone else. You're missing the point. All Mwaa Board members traveled. Some more then Martire. Why just this one guy was the target? Why not Mike O'Reiley who is from Va and traveled more then Martire according to the Wash Post? Why don't you FOIA all Board members reports on on travel trips. I would assume some of them do not even provide any reports. Should they all be removed going with your junket theory? I like debating when you can see a bias is at play here. Rules apply to everyone not just who we want to apply them too.
Just the Facts February 17, 2013 at 05:04 PM
So do you think Tom Davis should be removed? A simple yes or no would be sufficient. Do you think Jack Potter, CEO should be removed? Do you think Michael Curto, Chairman should be removed? All are mentioned in the Federal IG report.
Bob Bruhns February 17, 2013 at 06:28 PM
Why didn't the MWAA Board travel to Fairfield Connecticut, and find out that a Metrorail station should cost less than HALF what we are being told for the Rt 28 Metrorail station? Who knows? Maybe they might have compared our Rt 28 Metro station to the Fairfield Connecticut Metro station that was completed in December 2011. Rt 28: 8 car trains. Fairfield: 12 car trains. Rt 28: normally less costly 'single island platform' design. Fairfield: normally more costly 'dual side platform' design (because it has express tracks between the local tracks). Rt 28: half length canopy. Fairfield: full length canopies on both platforms. Yet, the Rt 28 station is estimated to cost well over TWO TIMES what the Fairfield station cost! Maybe one of them might have asked WHY. Apparently the news media has been told not to discuss that, though - just like they were told not to discuss the $53 million FTA blunder, or the March 15, 2012 Audit (that is still under way) of Dulles Rail Phase 2, or the double price of the Phase 2 parking garages, or the 22% leap in the Rt 28 station price, or the 29% leap in the parking garage prices. One word: shame.
Rob Whitfield February 18, 2013 at 12:47 PM
From the Washington Post's Cheryl Thompson December 8, 2012 article: "D.C. airport authority employment is frequently a family affair." “This is not a patronage mill,” said Davis, whose daughter worked in the fire department for two months in 2011. “Dozens of employees’ kids worked there.” Davis's remark is wrong, MWAA has been a Democrat patronage mill. Check out the parking lot next to the MWAA Administration Building at Reagan Airport. You won't see any Romney for President signs! This statement was by former MWAA Board member H.R. Crawford of Washington, DC. "Crawford, who has been on the board since June 2002, sees nothing wrong with MWAA hiring his relatives. In addition to his daughter-in-law, Curtistene, Crawford said two of his 17 grandchildren worked in the agency’s student program. One granddaughter, now 22, was paid more than $60,000 between May 2007 and January 2012, records show. Another, Rebecca Taylor, 27, collected more than $59,200 as a human resources assistant and student intern in 2007 and 2008. Taylor became a full-time employee in September 2008 and continues to work in human resources as a technician, according to records. She is paid $49,270 a year and has received more than $7,750 in bonuses and overtime. Taylor did not return a call on Friday. “This is a government town and an agency town,” Crawford said. “If there’s a possibility that you can hire a relative . . . it was the norm.” "
Rob Whitfield February 18, 2013 at 12:59 PM
Who is Lee? The Washington Post editorial on May 31, 2012 reported the Sardinia trip by Martire and his girlfriend as nine days "to attend a 36-hour conference." http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-05-31/opinions/35455140_1_airports-authority-airports-board-small-regional-airports Did Martire charge MWAA for nine days or three? Give us "Just the Facts" for a change please.
Dave Webster February 18, 2013 at 01:17 PM
Rob, That is a good question. My guess would be Project Director Ernie Lee but I don't know. Just the Facts obviously has inside information. I am beginning to think Just the Facts is either Dennis Martire himself or someone posting on Martire's behalf, in either event a violation of the confidentiality provisions of the settlement agreement Martire entered into with MWAA. Just the Facts keeps talking about FOIA requests but MWAA is not subject to FOIA. You could FOIA the Dept. of Transportation but would they have MWAA reports? My guess is no.
Rob Whitfield February 18, 2013 at 01:20 PM
Martire was a MWAA Board member, not a MWAA employee. Like other Board members, Martire was unpaid for his service except for expense reimbursements. "Just the Facts" give us facts to support your unsubstantiated assertions that Davis "has cost the Authority way more then Martire's travel where Davis and his family benefited directly." Two months pay for Davis's daughter as a MWAA fire department summer intern does not equate to the extravagance of Dennis L. Martire, who the Washington Post reported last year: "single-handedly spent more than $38,000 attending five conferences in 2010 and 2011, according to the agency’s records." I talked to Denny a half dozen times in the last three years. He is an affable guy who I like. In contrast to some MWAA Board members, he communicated well. That said, he exercised poor judgment in his travel expenses. I am totally appalled that legal expenses were reported to total $1.5 million in his case in December 2012. http://wamu.org/news/12/12/18/airports_board_spent_15m_on_martires_lawsuit I have asked MWAA, but not had a response, what portion of that cost was billed to the Dulles Corridor Enterprise as opposed to the Airports Enterprise.
Just the Facts February 18, 2013 at 01:20 PM
I think I lost Dave.
Just the Facts February 18, 2013 at 01:33 PM
To Rob Whitfields's question, MWAA paid for 3 days only. Please review all the records yourself. Actual records matter, not Wash Post Editorials.
Just the Facts February 18, 2013 at 01:42 PM
Ron Whitfield says he was appalled at what the litigation cost. But I sitting Gov attempted to oust a sitting member for traveling within the Boards policy and procedures. It would have been cheaper to change the policy if you did not like the policy. Martire is entitled to due process. He exercised his right and appears that he would have prevailed if you read the last judges decision. " he did not see the Commonwealth prevailing". It was a power play plain and simple. It has been reported that most Board members have traveled. Why only this guy was targeted? Other members traveled way more then this guy. Why him?
Rob Whitfield February 18, 2013 at 01:51 PM
I have observed MWAA and Dulles Airport development activities for over 25 years. Prior to February 2003, when Jim Wilding announced his retirement, few complaints were evident, other than aircraft noise near Reagan National and the nuisance caused by construction at both Reagan and Dulles. After Mame Reiley was appointed to MWAA's Board by then Governor Mark Warner in late 2002, Democrat politics became dominant in MWAA decision making. Until the MWAA Board size was recently expanded from 13 members to 17 members, my count was 10 Democrats to 3 Republicans. I have praised Martin DiCaro of WAMU in the last year for his transportation stories. Knowingly or unknowingly, DiCaro appears recently to have allowed himself to become a Democrat political pawn. From his February 13, 2013 WAMU article http://wamu.org/news/13/02/13/mwaa_board_members_involved_in_colleagues_ouster " "Given all that has gone in the past couple of years with the board, it really seems like the best course of action would be a clean sweep and an entirely new set of board members," said Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington." Suggest readers google articles on Melanie Sloan. Given her involvement with prominent Democrat politicians and the DNC, somebody should investigate her connections to Mame Reiley and Denny Martire. Time for the actions of the real witch to be identified. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2007/01/house-wrecker
Just the Facts February 18, 2013 at 01:55 PM
Davis daughter worked for just a few months until it was exposed by the Examiner or the Post. If it was not exposed, she would still be there. Also Davis did the Mame Reiley deal. He used your and my money to pay for this no show job position. That was $180,000 for 5 years. Martire traveled while an MWAA Board member like other Board members. If his expenses were not justified then he would be in violation. But that is not the case. He only billed MWAA for actual expenses for travel. Most of it was airfare. I don't think he sets the price for his plane tickets. These facts matter. You can't say Board members can travel and then use it against them if they do. Changing the policy was the correct action here. The Gov picked this route. They hired outside counsel because as Sean Cannaughton was quoted in the Post, because it was A very complex issue". If Martire was in violation it would have been clear cut. It was complicated because it was political.
Just the Facts February 18, 2013 at 02:12 PM
Connaughton said the state paid the law firm Thompson Coburn $500,000 for work on the case. He said the governor chose to have the matter handled by outside counsel because of the “complexity of the litigation.”
Just the Facts February 18, 2013 at 02:20 PM
http://youtu.be/25nTDQvy5F4
Rob Whitfield February 18, 2013 at 02:50 PM
In 2008, the Wash Post ran two articles on MWAA Board travel expesnses. It appears that the MWAA Board did not impose sufficient restrictions to curb abuses. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/12/AR2008101202148_pf.html http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/graphic/2008/10/13/GR2008101300075.html?sid=ST2008120302025 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/03/AR2008120301320_pf.html Found this WAMU article on Martire's comments in October 2012. http://wamu.org/news/morning_edition/12/10/17/embattled_mwaa_board_member_defends_his_record “It was a three-day trip [the Post] made into a nine-day trip," Martire said of the accusations. "The conference was only three days. I flew from there to somewhere else on my dime, not on MWAA's dime. "We have a policy that allows us to go to airport conferences," he continued. "It's not like we pull out a globe, spin it, and say, we're going here today." Agree that the MWAA travel policies should have been clarified earlier. The Post having highlighted excessive travel expenses in 2008, prudence dictated that Martire should have used better judgment in his travel planning, particularly as Dulles Rail capital costs were double to triple those forecast a decade earlier.
Just the Facts February 18, 2013 at 03:10 PM
You're making my point with the list of articles you posted. Of all these Board members listed for traveling, how many were removed? Answer "0". To spend 2 million on legal fees to get rid if this one guy is absurd. The State used taxpayer money to get rid of this guy. MWAA money was not taxpayer money. But still was a waste of money. Change the policy was the correct action here if you want to curb Board travel. Mr. Whitfield provided very good information.
Rob Whitfield February 18, 2013 at 03:12 PM
For the Martire case, MWAA and other legal fees are shown in an attachment to the WAMU article of December 18, 2012: http://wamu.org/news/12/12/18/airports_board_spent_15m_on_martires_lawsuit MWAA (and other similar unaccountable bodies) needs to make public and limit all legal expenses in future. The $855,000 paid to Williams and Connolly for their work on the Martire case shows just how out of control Washington has become. Who was the "third party neutral" person or entity who determined that these were "reasonable fees and expenses?" It is time for MWAA to stipulate that in future, as the airports and Dulles Rail are within Virginia and not Washington, DC, only prevailing legal rates from Northern Virginia be permitted - not the highest priced lawyers in the land.
Rob Whitfield February 18, 2013 at 03:29 PM
With the exception of Margaret McKeogh, who is MWAA's Chief Operating Officer, the others highlighted in the Post 2008 report are no longer serving. As of February 2013, only one MWAA Board member has served more than two years. I happen to believe that a per diem should be paid to MWAA's Board members for their service. Yes, the whole episode was a gross waste of Virginia taxpayer money. That's precisely the plan of schemers like Melanie Sloan and George Soros. Readers, please don't believe "Just the Facts" claim that taxpayer money was not involved in payments by MWAA. If any Dulles Toll Road user revenues were used, they are paid with the after tax toll payments of (mostly) Virginia taxpayers.
Bob Bruhns February 18, 2013 at 03:33 PM
Seems to me that if you take all of the MWAA Board improper contracts, nepotism, questionable hiring and questionable contracting, and even if you add the legal fees for Martire, etc, it probably is low on a scale of $59 million of overcharge for the Rt 28 station alone. But which story do you always see in the news - and which story do you NEVER see in the news? And are all six of the near-clone Metrorail stations $59 million overpriced? The Rt 772 station, the Rt 606 station, the Rt 28 station, the Herndon station, the Reston Town Center station and the Wiehle Avenue station are near-clones of each other - are they ALL $59 million overpriced? That alone would add up to $354 million of overcharge - where are our so-called 'leaders', who used to claim that they were looking for ways to lower the tolls? Also ask those so-called 'leaders' why the Phase 2 parking garage estimates are two times what they should be. That adds up to another $146 million overcharge. In fact, somebody might ask our so-called 'leaders' why they never called out the cost estimators to have them justify the double prices of the Dulles Rail / Silver Line project, that appear to add up to a staggering $2.5 Billion to $3 Billion of overcharge. That might have produced more charges that could be brought against the old MWAA Board - except, of course, that the motive for all of this is merely to control those Billions, direct them to the 'right' people, and collect revolving-door rewards later.
Just the Facts February 18, 2013 at 03:41 PM
If you look at the legal bills. The Commonwealth's lead attorney billing per hour was higher then the Williams and Connonnly highest paid lawyers. Bottom line is this should have never been in the courts. This was a Board policy that needed changed. But it was used to remove a sitting Board member. I don't know if WAMU favors republicans or democrats and I don't care. I think the reporting is accurate in this case. Virginia taxpayer money was used in this case by the Commonwealth. I don't believe MWAA money is taxpayer money.
Bob Bruhns February 18, 2013 at 04:15 PM
Seems to me that if you take all of the MWAA Board improper contracts, nepotism, questionable hiring and questionable contracting, and even if you add the legal fees for Martire, it probably is low on a scale of $59 million of overcharge for the Rt 28 station. But which story do you always see in the news - and which story do you NEVER see in the news? And are all six of the near-clone Metrorail stations $59 million overpriced? The Rt 772 station, the Rt 606 station, the Rt 28 station, the Herndon station, the Reston Town Center station and the Wiehle Avenue station are near-clones of each other - are they ALL $59 million overpriced? That alone would add up to $354 million of overcharge - where are our so-called 'leaders', who used to claim that they were looking for ways to lower the tolls? Also ask those so-called 'leaders' why the Phase 2 parking garage estimates are two times what they should be. That adds up to another $146 million overcharge. In fact, somebody might ask our so-called 'leaders' why they never called out the cost estimators to have them justify the double prices of the Dulles Rail / Silver Line project, that appear to add up to a staggering $2.5 Billion to $3 Billion of overcharge. That might have produced more charges that could be brought against the old MWAA Board - except, of course, that the motive for all of this is merely to control those Billions, direct them to the 'right' people, and collect revolving-door rewards later.
Rob Whitfield February 18, 2013 at 04:35 PM
Just the Facts wrote: "I don't believe MWAA money is taxpayer money." Whose money is it that you believe is being used by MWAA?
Rob Whitfield February 18, 2013 at 05:04 PM
Mame Reiley's health situation was first reported by the Washington Post in 2010. I was at the MWAA Board meeting when her resignation was announced in February 2012. I recall little or nothing was said at the meeting about her being hired or her terms as a "consultant." It transpires that MWAA had hired other consultants and contractors(including lawyers) on a non-competitive basis before. Jack Potter has admitted to a lack of judgment in the process used to hire Mame. I viewed Jack Potter's action as an act of compassion in allowing her to obtain health care coverage during a major crisis for an unspecified period. Very few people, certainly not I, knew about the $180,000 annual salary which shocked most when it was revealed. It is worse than poor taste to claim that "Potter, Davis and Curto have blood on their hands." Since MWAA took over the Dulles Toll Road in late 2008 and the building of Dulles Rail, the MWAA Board workload has essentially doubled. At each Board and Board Committee meeting, members have huge ring binders with hundreds of pages of papers to review on everything from snow removal contracts to complex financial transactions. The meetings often last more than four hours. Most MWAA Board members have exhibited a high degree of professionalism during the almost five years that I have attended meetings. However, excessive secrecy has prevailed and too often between 2008 and 2012, Executive Sessions were used to keep unpleasant facts from the public.
Just the Facts February 18, 2013 at 05:22 PM
It's money from concessions is what I was told. It does not come from taxes or the federal government.
Just the Facts February 18, 2013 at 05:31 PM
This is from one of the Washington Post stories you posted.
Just the Facts February 18, 2013 at 05:33 PM
Several board members have defended their travel and said they attended worthwhile conferences at which they marketed the Washington region to airlines and learned about an industry trying to survive in financially challenging and fiercely competitive times. The money being spent comes not from tax dollars but from concessions and passenger fees. Board members are not paid.

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