Ashley Halsey III and Lori Aratani explore the profound questions raised over the ability of the board of the largely autonomous MWAA to manage the $6 billion rail extension to Dulles Airport, amid allegations of a long list of improprieties led by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and other government officials. Among the concerns raised by critics, note Halsey and Aratani, are accusations that the board has spent lavishly on its own entertainment and handed out jobs and contracts that benefited friends and family.
"I have serious questions about how the board has operated," LaHood said Friday. "I want the people of the D.C. area to know that we don't agree with what they've been doing."
Although efforts are underway to improve oversight of the board and terminate questionable contracts, critics contend the problems originate with the process by which members are selected.
"The board's problems arose because the four people who appoint its members - the president, the two governors and the mayor - gave seats to too many political cronies, said Leo J. Schefer, president of the Washington Airports Task Force, a non-profit group that promotes the two airports."