Yesterday John Catoe, the suddenly retiring general manager of Metro, sat down with 11 local bloggers, including folks from Greater Greater Washington, We Love DC, and Prince of Petworth. Some of these people have already written up their meetings.
“I’m a little dumbfounded,” says We Love DC’s Tom Bridge of Catoe’s resignation. “We had no indication at all that he would even consider it.”
“I’m sort of speechless right now” says Prince of Petworth’s Dan Silverman. Catoe, he says, sat down with the bloggers at around 5:15 last night and talked with them until about 6:30. Silverman says they talked “about everything under the sun.” There wasn’t, he says, “the slightest indication of an announcement of a retirement.”
At one point, Silverman says, Catoe told the group about a new program to move Metro supervisors to “at will” status, meaning they can be fired more easily if they screw up.
“There was a point where he kinda jokingly said ‘some people might ask why am I not at will,'” Silverman says.
“On a scale of zero to very very strange, I would say we’re at the top of that scale,” says Bridge.
Dave Stroup, who has called for Catoe’s resignation on why.i.hate.dc, says he was initially surprised at Catoe’s candor yesterday. “I thought maybe they decided they should put a human face on him
that drone,” he says. [15:59: Stroup says I misheard him.]
“I will say he did seem genuinely bothered—-like it was getting to him,” Stroup says. “That he was taking it personally that the system was not running. References to the June 22 crash, you could tell it got to him and it was hard for him to deal with that.”
Stroup’s been pounding on Catoe for a while, putting a ticker on why.i.hate.dc dating from last June’s Red Line crash with John Catoe’s picture below it. He didn’t talk about this with Catoe yesterday, even as the two shared an elevator on their way out of the building. “I’ve definitely learned tact can wait,” Stroup says.
Matt Johnson of Greater Greater Washington says he’s pleased that Catoe’s resignation didn’t come up yesterday. “I’m sort of glad,” he writes in an e-mail. “It would have dominated the conversation otherwise.”
You mean you’re pleased you could talk about fares and at-will employment policies instead? I replied.
“I think so, yes,” Johnson writes. “While Mr. Catoe’s vision for Metro is no longer as relevant, we were able to discuss how the situation of the present will affect any possible future Metro can have.”
He adds: “I am concerned about how a replacement will deal with the budget crisis. It certainly a situation no one wants to come into as a GM.”