CATS Officials Can’t Account For Missing Bus Fare Money
Robert Mirabito, interim chief executive officer of the Capital Area Transit System held a news conference Monday to announce that bus fare money is missing and may have been stolen. Mirabito said discrepancies between cash deposits and computerized fare collection totals go back three years. In some months, the discrepancy could be as much as $10,000. Then again, Mirabito said it’s possible that no money is missing, and that the problem is just a result of a glitch in the software.
The announcement came on the heals of two other scandals at CATS. Last week, a case of possible bid-rigging emerged.
CATS chairman Isaiah Marshall appointed a committee to evaluate companies bidding to manage CATS operations. In evaluating the bids, one member of the evaluation team gave zeros to Veolia Transportation, a major operator of transit systems across the country. Veolia, which operates the RTA system in New Orleans, narrowly lost out to a politically-connected Baton Rouge firm, SJB, which has no transit experience.
In the evaluation process, SJB had 468 points on a 600-point scale. Veolia had 464, MV Transportation had 439, and URS Corporation had 406. Sydni Lloyd-Shorter is the proposed project manager of SJB. She worked for Together Baton Rouge to campaign for the CATS tax and worked with the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission that recommended the tax. She is program director of Better Baton Rouge/Metromorphosis, a nonprofit created by Rev. Raymond Jetson, a major proponent of the CATS tax.
A member of the evaluation committee, Jason Wilson, gave Veolia zeros in three of four categories. Had he given Veolia any points, it would have prevailed. Meanwhile, Veolia is also politically connected, having contributed $5.000 to the pro-CATS tax campaign.
Also last week, CATS board member Montrell McCaleb was revealed to have paid his phone and cable bills out of the CATS bank account.