If Cincinnati’s mayor doesn't want him, Hamilton County commissioners will gladly use his expertise instead.
Commissioners last week unanimously approved Lamont Taylor as one of the county’s appointees to the governing board for the regional transit agency that operates the Metro bus system. Taylor had served on the board for the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) as the city of Cincinnati’s appointee since 2003, but a political dispute with Mayor Mark Mallory caused his ouster as board chairman in October.
Multiple sources have told CityBeat that Mallory was upset by Taylor’s role in pushing for an investigation last year of the Cincinnati Empowerment Corp. (CEC).
The investigation about how some federal grants were spent prompted city council to temporarily suspend funding to the CEC and led the CEC to dump Dale Mallory — the mayor’s brother — as a consultant. Dale Mallory ultimately had to return $225 of the money he was paid, creating a public embarrassment.
Taylor replaces local attorney Steve Goodin on the SORTA board, who was a county appointee until he recently was called for duty as a U.S. Army reserve.
Technically, Taylor’s city term on the SORTA board was expired for more than a year, but members continue to serve until they are replaced. Mayor Mallory had asked at least two people during the past year to serve on the SORTA board as Taylor’s replacement but each refused, not wanting to step into the dispute, sources said. Taylor also had irritated City Councilman John Cranley, who heads council’s Finance Committee, by his lobbying for a recent Metro fare increase.
During his first year in office, Mayor Mallory appointed his father — former state lawmaker William Mallory Sr. — to serve as a city appointee on the SORTA board. The position is voluntary and doesn’t pay a salary.
A Corryville neighborhood activist, Taylor was appointed to the SORTA board in November 2003 by then-Mayor Charlie Luken. He was elected board chair by his peers in January 2006 and was reelected as chair this past January even though his SORTA term had lapsed.
Based on his SORTA work, Taylor was selected as an Emerging Leader of the Year in 2006 by the American Federation of Transit Authorities.
Metro has more than 950 employees, and operates using local, state and federal funds. The system operates 430 buses on 51 routes and provides about 23 million passenger trips per year.
Also, Metro provides about 9,000 rides per day to Cincinnati Public School and parochial school students on weekdays.
— Kevin Osborne