The Case of the Missing MATA Board Members



Officially, MATA has a nine-member board.

But its most recent meeting, on October 25th, was the first time in four years — at least — that even seven commissioners were at the table.

Looking back at data from 2006 to October of this year, the board has never included more than seven commissioners in recent history.

MATA spokesperson Alison Burton says the board changed to from a seven-member board to a nine-member board by city ordinance in August 2000. But in her more than two decade tenure with the transit authority, she says she can't remember a time when it had more than seven board members. (In fact, she says she always writes that it's a seven-member board.)

Of course, it's had fewer than seven members much of the time.

In 2007, board member Dick Walker passed away after the second meeting of the year and was never replaced, leaving the number of commissioners at six.

Vicki Cloud then resigned in 2007.

Both Marion McClendon and Reo Pruitt were appointed in February 2008, but Pruitt resigned two months later. No one was appointed to take his place.

Ray Holt then resigned at the beginning of 2009, and with no one being appointed to take his place, either.

But Cliffie Pugh, whose term ended this September, hadn't attended a meeting since April 2009.

Call it the case of the missing MATA board members (or one of those complicated word problems you see on the math portions of state tests).

With Pugh's long absence and the resignation of Holt, the MATA board dwindled to only four effective members for much of 2009.

Maybe it's a result of "out of sight, out of mind." MATA's headquarters are on Watkins, north of Chelsea, and built on an old landfill. Maybe no one wants to be on the MATA board. But I can't help but wonder if this isn't more evidence of a general negligence coming from city government at the time.

After Memphis mayor A C Wharton was elected, he appointed former City Councilman John Vergos to the board. After interim Mayor Myron Lowery appointed former City Councilman John Vergos, mayor A C Wharton appointed The New Teacher Project staffer Sheila Redick and Memphis Regional Design Center head Chooch Pickard, and there are still two open spots.

MATA's board and staff are scheduled to have a retreat later this week.

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