He came to his chairmanship of the Capitol Area Transit System board through something of a palace coup this spring, and his short tenure was replete with graft and incompetence leading to the resignation of one of his allies over revelations CATS was paying his household bills and the discovery of some $123,000 in vanished revenue compared to what the farebox software said should be in the bank account.
The heat in Marshall’s kitchen finally overwhelmed him, so last night this statement went out…
“As many of you know, CATS has been in the media a lot over the last couple of weeks. As Board Chairman, I am disheartened by many of the things that have been said about our city’s transit company. I have worked hard as a board member to help deliver a better transit organization. I believe CATS’ best days are ahead. I also believe we are headed in the right direction. Unfortunately, this will occur without me as a board member. Effective immediately, I am resigning from the chairmanship and the CATS Board. It is clear to me that media attention on me will continue to be a distraction to the system that I have worked very hard to help improve. This is unfortunate. However, the system is bigger than me and the cause is greater than one board member. I have enjoyed my time on the board and do not regret choosing to serve this system. It is my departing wish that CATS will become the system that I believe it can be. A system that serves the needs our city and her citizens. I will be forever grateful to the men and women who work every day to improve the Capital Area Transit System. It has been my great privilege to work with you.”
Marshall was all set to be forcibly removed from the board by the Metro Council. Little wonder that his resignation statement is 15 sentences of meaningless argle-bargle. He certainly wasn’t going to talk about how his focus as CATS chairman was to grease his pals.
Will Marshall leaving mean things will get better? Not particularly. CATS still has a revenue stream through property taxes which is much larger than it needs to sustain itself and is not driven by ridership, which means it’s an unaccountable honey pot. It’s inevitable, given those circumstances, that Marshall’s successor and the recast CATS board will ultimately go right back to sweetheart contracts and outright graft.
That’s what the public sector is. That’s what urban socialism is.
And CATS is nothing if not urban socialism.
Transportation is a private good. You can bargain with another person to receive it in a free market, or you can secure the means to provide it yourself in the free market.
Anytime you put the public sector in charge of a private good you will distort the market, waste money and let in dishonest people who will divert resources away from the stated purpose of providing that good.
Marshall is neither the first nor the last person you’re going to see caught in such an endeavor. Don’t expect much to change now that he’s gone.
UPDATE: Especially, don’t expect much to change, because as the Baton Rouge Business Report points out Marshall’s replacement as CATS chairman is Dalton Honore, Jr., who is as deep into the sewers as Marshall was.