John Catoe

The Washington Post‘s Bob McCartney today serves up a fine column on the missteps of Metro General Manager John B. Catoe, who’s had trouble reassuring the public about the rail system ever since the fatal June 22 Red Line crash. The highlight of the piece comes when McCartney airs a certain complaint of Catoe’s:

In particular, the National Transportation Safety Board typically doesn’t give Metro much advance notice before publicizing important information about its investigation into the crash. Catoe said he was as surprised as anybody when the NTSB announced Thursday that a track circuit at the site of the crash had been malfunctioning since December 2007, when a key piece of equipment was replaced.

“There was no pre-warning, no heads-up. I found out the same moment everyone else found out,” Catoe said. “I did not have a chance to be proactive and communicate it.”

Aw, poor guy. Didn’t have a chance to get out in front of the news. To spin it, to preempt it.

I say good on you Deborah Hersman, chair-nominee of the NTSB!

Why does Catoe have any right to get a look-see at NTSB’s findings before the fine taxpayers of this region do? We’re talking here about an an investigative/oversight agency, Catoe. In releasing its findings to the whole world in one heave, that agency is doing its job.

What do you expect NTSB to do, Catoe? Confer with you about factual findings, so that you can convince the panel not to release them? Keeping Metro out of the NTSB investigative loop is precisely what protection of the commuting public requires. Keep it up.

Photo By Darrow Montgomery