The City Selection Committee meets tomorrow evening to vote on appointments to a number of regional governmental bodies, including the Orange County Transportation Authority Board of Directors.
Quick tutorial: there are three OCTA directors from each supervisor district: the county supervisor; the one-city/one-vote seat; and the population-weighted seat. In the Fourth Supervisor District, the population-weighted seat is held by Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Gail Eastman, who was elected to the seat a year ago to fill the remaining year of the term when Lorri Galloway was termed off the council.
Here’s how the City Selection Committee voting for the city-representation OCTA Board seats in each supe district: for the one-city/one-vote seat, each city in the supervisorial district has a single vote, cast by mayor or the mayor’s designated proxy. In the population-weighted seat, each city has a weighted vote equivalent to its percentage of the supe district’s population. Anaheim has a little more than 48% of the Fourth District’s population, and has 48% of the vote for the population-weighted seat. In practical terms, it means that Anaheim’s mayor, in tandem with the mayor of one other Fourth District city, determines who has that seat ion the OCTA Board.
The OCTA Board is deliberately structured that way in order to ensure the large cities, which tend to be bigger users of both transit and transportation, have a strong voice in setting OCTA policy – while balanced by small city representation in the one-city/one-vote seat. It’s analogous to how the House of Representatives and the Senate were set up the balance the interests of small and large states.
Since the current OCTA Board structure was instituted, a member of the Anaheim City Council has had the population weighted seat. Gail Eastman has it now, and Lorri Galloway, Tom Tait and Curt Pringle preceded her.
Gail Eastman has served well and honorably for the last year, and ought to be re-appointed to a full two-year term. Being an OCTA Director isn’t like sitting on the Vector Control District board. It takes time for directors to get their feet wet and come fully up to speed with what OCTA does, in order to become fully-effective directors. Three different individuals have held this seat in three years (Tait, then Galloway, then Eastman), so stability and continuity is in order.
Of equal consideration is the importance of preserving Anaheim’s direct presence and voice on the OCTA. Anaheim is Orange County’s largest city, both size and population, and it more “multi-modal” in terms of transportation than any other city in OC. It would be self-destructive for Anaheim to surrender its seat on the OCTA Board.
Anaheim isn’t the first and will not be the last city council to be troubled by political and personal conflicts, and there is a time and place for those conflicts to play themselves out. No one can reasonably dispute it is in Anaheim’s interest for the population-weighted seat to be represented by an Anaheim councilmember – which the city has now in Gail Eastman – which makes this one of those matters which reasonably remains outside the gravitational pull of council politics.
That was the was reasonable, common sense mindset that prevailed last year, and will presumably do so again tomorrow night at City Selection Committee.