ALEXANDRIA — Virginia’s favorite conflicts continued this week with additional fallout from the dismissal of University of Virginia president Teresa Sullivan, and Gov. Bob McDonnell continuing his public spats with the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority.
In other transit news, Metro’s new rush hour plan, Rush+, is in its first week and the verdict on its success is still out, but that didn’t stop commuters from venting Vesuvius-like frustration on social media platforms.
It may be unfair to call the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors commitment phobic, but its on-again, off-again business relationship with outgoing president Sullivan shows the board is at least confused.
Two weeks after the board forced Sullivan from her post, the Faculty Senate stepped up the heat by protesting the removal, announcing a candlelight vigil and calling for the sacking of board Rector Helen Dragas.
Things did not improve for the board as the week wore on, Vice Rector Mark Kington resigned while emails between him and Dragas surfaced, showing the pair had been plotting Sullivan’s ouster for weeks.
The board appointed reluctant interim president Carl Zeithaml to take Sullivan’s place, but he suspended those negotiations when reports of a Sullivan-reinstatement surfaced.
Now the board will meet Tuesday to decide whether it will reappoint Sullivan to her post, proving that it just can’t quit her.
Last week’s surprise move by McDonnell to ouster MWAA board member Dennis Martire has turned the normally frosty relations between the governor and the airport authority downright glacial.
McDonnell appointed businesswoman and former state Senate candidate Caren Merrick to take Martire’s place, but he filed a lawsuit in Washington, D.C., district court, saying the firing was unwarranted.
Uncertain about who actually is on the board, MWAA also filed a lawsuit seeking clarity on whether Merrick or Martire should be voting in the meetings, and thus a legal game of musical chairs has ensued.
Meanwhile, Loudoun County has decided it will vote July 3 on its participation in the Silver Line metro, settling one issue about the $2.7 billion project while the rest may lie in shambles.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority debuted its rush hour metro train plan, Rush+, on Monday, and while its success has yet to be measured, commuters expressed blistering critiques on the Internet.
A search of the Twitter hash tag “#rushplus” returned complaints of overcrowding, delayed trains and unquenchable anger toward WMATA and its new plan. While comments cooled by Friday, the spinoff hash tag “#rushminus” sprung up to further describe commuters’ dissatisfaction with the plan.
Rush+ shifts train service from two of WMATA’s five lines to extend rush hour service to Washington, D.C. The transit authority budgeted $3.1 million in signage, station improvements and a marketing campaign to inform commuters of the service changes.