Bloomington transport board secures new chairman in controversial election

Serious acrimony accompanied the election on Tuesday night of new officers to the board of directors of Bloomington Public Transportation Corp. By a 3-2 vote, board members elected James McLary as the new board chair, demoting former chair Nancy Obermeyer to secretary.

Board member Marilyn Hartman had proposed the changes, and she, McLary and member Doug Horn voted in favor, while Obermeyer and Vice President Kent McDaniel voted against.

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The leadership changes on the board appear to be unusual, as Obermeyer held the post for six years and said his predecessor had held the post for decades.

Obermeyer objected to the move and said McLary had spoken to everyone on the board – except her – about her intention to run for the leadership position.

“It seems sexist to me,” she said.

McLary said his desire to serve as president was not a reflection on Obermeyer’s leadership.

He then also proposed that McDaniel be removed from his post as a board representative on the policy committee of the Bloomington-Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization, on which he had served for many years.

McLary has said he wants to take a different direction, given the recent retirement of Lew May, the longtime BPTC chief executive, noting that new chief executive John Connell is doing things a little differently.

McDaniel pointed out that his service on the DFO committee preceded May’s arrival as CEO and said institutional knowledge can be important.

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Hartman suggested that McDaniel could still attend policy committee meetings as a member of the public.

“It’s pretty lame, Marilyn,” McDaniel said.

The board removed McDaniel from the MPO committee and replaced him with Horn in the same 3-2 vote with which he ousted Obermeyer as chairman.

At the end of the meeting, McDaniel said he was “very disappointed” with the board atmosphere on Tuesday night and said it was very different from the board’s past, in which he generally worked cooperatively and without serious disagreements.

One of the best things a board can do, he said, is pick a good CEO and stay out of the way.

“I am afraid this is not the case,” he said.

“Jim has mentioned at least three times that he is not a micromanager. I don’t agree with that, ”McDaniel said. “I think he is a lot.”

“I am very concerned about the new direction we have chosen,” he said.

Hartman and McLary also praised Connell for his leadership and for providing them with timely information.

“And I want to thank Nancy,” McLary said, “for all the effort, time and energy she put into it. I appreciate that.”

Obermeyer and McDaniel were appointed to council by Bloomington City Council, all Democrats. Hartman and McLary were appointed by Mayor John Hamilton, also a Democrat.

Horn’s seat is normally a board nomination, but, according to a previous story from HT, the board left the post vacant for more than 90 days, which transferred the nominating power to the county chairman of the member’s political party. of the outgoing board. This allowed William Ellis, then chairman of the Monroe County Republican Party, to fill the vacant position by appointing Horn in November 2020.

State law requires that the board of directors have divided political representation.

Boris Ladwig is the municipal government reporter for the Herald-Times. Contact him at [email protected]

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