On June 21, 2019, pursuant to State Senator Steve Glazer’s SB1488, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Harriet Richardson from among three candidates selected by the BART Board to be BART’s first Inspector General (IG). The job calls for the IG to oversee and report upon BART activities and expenditures. What BART apparently didn’t anticipate was that Ms. Richardson would actually attempt to do her job. But the cat was soon out of the bag.
On July 7, 2022 the Alameda County Grand Jury released scathing 8-page report on how BART was treating its State-appointed IG, detailing how BART’s management and Board of Directors have aggressively interfered with, resisted and undermined the work of the IG. Anyone whose watches how BART goes through money will well understands the need for an independent BART IG. So what’s next? Will things get better?
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Unless the State Legislature steps up and changes the currently perverted selection process, not a chance. Unless BART’s Inspector General’s office is permitted to fulfill its responsibilities as clearly set forth in SB1488, to identify and prevent “fraud, waste and abuse”, as well as to take steps to strengthen internal controls and accountability, things at BART are likely to continue on their present course.
Ms. Richardson’s 4 year term is up next June. As things stand the Governor will then select from 3 prospective candidates submitted by the BART Board. So all the Board has to do is make certain that none of the three are wave-makers. It is not hard to discern who would benefit from a compliant IG willing to permit a continuation of current practices. Think consultants, contractors, suppliers, unions, real estate developers, fare evasion advocates, and special interests generally. Left entirely out of the process are a.) the taxpayers and b.) the BART riders.