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MTA VALLEY PANEL GETS TO WORK.

Byline: Lisa Mascaro Staff Writer

VAN NUYS - The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's new San Fernando Valley sector council held its first meeting Wednesday, elected officers and got down to the business of governing before a small audience at Van Nuys Library.

After the council's nine members were sworn into office, Coby King was unanimously elected chairman and quickly started in on the issues, hearing reports on the state budget crisis and bus route planning.

``I'm excited,'' King said. ``The purpose of this council is clearly to increase service in the San Fernando Valley. I think we are going to be able to do that.''

The meeting represents a crucial, first step toward giving the Valley greater say in bus and rail operations after local leaders had complained for years that the MTA spent money and attention elsewhere.

But some who have likened the council to Los Angeles' Neighborhood Councils have said the sectors would be worthwhile only if they are given broad authority over budgets and operations.

``We'll take it step by step,'' said David Fleming, one of the new transit council members. ``If this is a neighborhood council, I'm not interested in sticking around. We're going to see if we can come to an arrangement that is fair and equitable for both sides.''

The new Valley sector is one of five across the MTA's 88-city area established over the past year as new CEO Roger Snoble sought to provide more local control once he took the helm at the MTA in 2001.

Valley General Manager David Armijo is one of five new sector managers who operate from local offices to provide more immediate attention and response to transit needs in the community.

The Valley's nine members were nominated by local elected officials from the county, the city and the small communities in the West and East Valley, and were approved by the MTA board earlier this year. They include: Fleming, King, Joan Leonard, Rafi Manoukian, Stacey Murphy, Jesus Ochoa, Bart Reed, Kymberleigh Richards and Brad Rosenheim. Murphy was elected vice chairwoman.

Less than an hour into Wednesday's meeting, council members already were fielding public comments, asking questions about bus routes and service, and making plans for their next meeting's agenda.

Members will serve for two or three years, won by lottery Wednesday night.

The council also agreed to hold its next meeting at 6:30 p.m. on May 7 at the library.

CAPTION(S):

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Photo:

At the Van Nuys Library on Wednesday night, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's San Fernando Valley advisory council holds its first meeting.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 3, 2003
Words:430
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