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CATS board confident in CEO despite resignation call

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BATON ROUGE - Members of the Capital Area Transit System board expressed confidence in CEO Bob Mirabito Thursday after calls for his resignation from a Metro Council member and bus drivers.

"A sense of fear has come voer the people at CATS and amny of them call and say don't call my name," Councilwoman C Denise Marcelle said. "If you speak out and tell something, you may be fired or suspended."

Marcelle held a press conference Thursday morning with members of the drivers union to air complaints about Mirabito's performance. Drivers called Mirabito incompetent, claiming he hadn't done enough to fix buses which the drivers said were leaky and unsafe. Drivers made similar complaints in a demonstration last week about bus safety. Marcelle claims some of those employees were suspended for participating, and therefore their rights were violated.

"We call in a safety issue, that means keep going," Bus Driver and Union Representative Katie Guy said.

The CATS board released a statement Thursday morning which said all their buses are safe, and that Mirabito has demonstrated he's committed to serving transit riders' needs.

"We are committed to making sure our riders remain the focus of all that we do as an agency. Bob Mirabito has shown us through the improvements made over the past year that he has that same commitment," said CATS Board Chair and Metro Council member Donna Collins-Lewis. "We have protocols and procedures in place to address any employee relations concerns that may rise to the surface. Any issues that occur will come to the board's attention in the proper manner, following those protocols."

Collins-Lewis said under Mirabito CATS has expanded its routes, cut down wait times, improved online access to information and enhanced customer service efforts. Mirabito said last week they were taking a closer look at bus maintenance now that $5 million in new routes and buses had been seen to.

Mirabito inherited a mess when he took over in May 2013. The Investigative Unit has reported on corruption within the agency over the years. A former board member was accused of using CATS money to pay personal bills, and thousands of dollars in fare money went missing.

"CATS has been making tremendous progress over the past year, and now is not the time to derail that progress," Mirabito said Thursday.

We reached out to all of the Board Members.  None of them wanted to go on camera, however one did say the board is pleased with Mirabito's performance.  In fact, the board will discuss offering him a longterm contract at their next meeting.

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