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EDITORIAL : AN MTA TURNAROUND?; OUSTED WHISTLE-BLOWER REINSTATED.

IT was encouraging to hear from Julian Burke, chief executive officer of the MTA, that a contract manager who was fired after she submitted material dealing with waste, fraud and other matters to investigators has been reinstated.

The treatment accorded Amelia Earnest by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority smelled from the beginning, and not simply because of the MTA's sorry record of cost overruns, sloppy bookkeeping and other abuses, either.

The MTA's inspector general, Arthur Sinai, had described Earnest as ``an honest person who came to the Inspector General's Office with some real concerns as to the integrity of the MTA, and I consider her a whistle-blower.'' That statement should have set off alarm bells many weeks ago.

Burke disclosed that Earnest was back on the payroll during a meeting Tuesday with Daily News reporters and editors. ``I did it because I wanted a more comfortable picture of whether our process worked properly.''

A searching and objective inquiry into Earnest's treatment is essential. Burke needs to get the facts and report his findings to the MTA board and the public.

Burke was brought to the intensely politicized and grossly mismanaged MTA to turn the agency around and establish its credibility in the eyes of federal officials who control the flow of transit funds.

That isn't likely to happen if word gets out that nothing has really changed, and the Inspector General's Office is little more than window dressing because wheeler-dealers can get away with intimidating whistle-blowers.
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Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:May 1, 1998
Words:245
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