Heck resigns from CATS board

Another member of the parish bus system’s board of directors resigned Tuesday, leaving four unfilled vacancies and only five members left.

Councilman Ryan Heck submitted his letter of resignation to Mayor Pro Tem Chandler Loupe, effective Oct. 1, saying he feels his “purpose on the board has been fulfilled.” Heck joined the board of the Capital Area Transit System in January.

Last month, the Metro Council established a set of qualifications recommended for future CATS board members and a citizens committee to vet future candidates.

“While my term has been brief, I feel my purpose for being on the board has been fulfilled, and that with the new board member selection criteria now in place, I am confident that my successor will be a highly qualified individual that will bring much needed experience, professionalism, and integrity to the CATS board,” Heck wrote in his resignation letter.

Heck was a vocal critic of the CATS tax passed in April 2012, before he joined the board. He has said that despite being opposed to the tax, he wanted to ensure that CATS officials were held accountable for using the tax money effectively.

While on the board, Heck was critical of some of his fellow board members, working behind the scenes to remove former CATS Chief Executive Officer Brian Marshall and to contract out parts of management.

“In the past 8½ months, CATS has been through some turbulent times, for sure,” Heck wrote. “Most, if not all, of that turbulence was well deserved. However, I believe the house at CATS has now been significantly cleaned up due to the efforts of many working feverishly to do so, and I look forward to hearing some positive news about CATS in the future.”

Heck also wrote that he is still skeptical CATS can be a viable public bus system that will attract riders of choice, as it has promised taxpayers.

But he said he’s comforted that CATS is finally in competent hands.

“I do have the utmost faith in our CEO Bob Mirabito and our Board Chairman Marston Fowler to deliver a transit system that utilizes the taxpayers’ dollars in an efficient manner, and I wish them well in their efforts,” Heck wrote.

Last month, board member Jared Loftus resigned, citing frustration with his colleagues. In July, both board President Isaiah Marshall and board member Montrell McCaleb resigned. McCaleb resigned amid allegations he was using public funds to pay some of his private expenses; Marshall subsequently resigned after critics asked him to step down for failing to report McCaleb sooner and over other issues in the agency.

Two CATS vacancies are expected to be filled by the Metro Council on Oct. 9 and another on Nov. 13.

Heck’s vacancy will be filled at the Nov. 26 meeting at the earliest, according to Casey Cashio, council administrator.