Who owns CATS? Why is there a governing board? Who appoints the board? To whom is the board responsible?
The Capital Area Transit System is a public entity created by the Louisiana Legislature. The CATS board of directors was established by state law. The nine CATS board members are appointed by the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council. The council also gets final say on changes to bus fares and routes. The council can remove CATS board members with a vote.
While many of us have followed the controversy ongoing with CATS, I have not seen any follow-up to the lawsuit pending as to whether or not the tax was constitutional. Has there been any forward movement with this case? What is its status? If still pending, when is it anticipated that it will be heard and ultimately ruled on?
The Capital Area Transit System is being sued by businessman Milton Graugnard, who is alleging the CATS tax violates federal and state equal protection rights. If Graugnard is successful, his lawsuit would invalidate the April 2012 tax election. In an October 2012 hearing in state court, CATS attorneys argued that Graugnard’s lawsuit should be dismissed because it was filed after a state deadline to challenge election results. Under state law, opponents have 60 days to challenge an election once the results have been promulgated, or officially declared. The lawsuit was filed on May 18, 70 days after the tax election results were promulgated. However, Graugnard’s attorneys argued that the 60-day provision didn’t apply to their case because a state law cannot ‘limit the rights that a plaintiff has in a federal claim.’ State District Judge Todd Hernandez ruled in favor of Graugnard, saying the case can go to trial. However, CATS appealed the decision to the state’s 1st Circuit Court of Appeal, and is still awaiting a decision.
Send questions to Ask The Advocate, P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-0588; or fax to Ask The Advocate, (225) 388-0297; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.