Former CATS CEO who pushed for bus tax: 'The public has been grossly ripped off'
BATON ROUGE- Former CATS CEO Brian Marshall, who helped push for a tax to fund the public bus system more than ten years ago, is stunned by the ongoing mismanagement at the bus company featured in numerous WBRZ Investigative Unit reports.
Monday night, the CATS Board fired Bill Deville as the CEO but opted to keep him on the payroll earning nearly $200,000. Dwana Williams was named the interim CEO. Williams was the second-in-charge at CATS and was earning close to $146,000 in her role.
Marshall, the former system leader, said he's been watching the failures unfold and believes CATS is not operating in the best interest of the taxpayers.
"It's really very, very, very sad that the system is in the state that it's in," Marshall told WBRZ in an interview Tuesday.
The WBRZ Investigative Unit exposed multiple problems at the Capital Area Transit System. Recent investigations have focused on comptroller John Cutrone who tested positive for methamphetamine and remains employed. CATS refused to answer questions about the selective enforcement of its zero-tolerance drug policy.
Also, WBRZ uncovered bills were paid so late, employees' health insurance lapsed at one point.
"The things [Bill Deville] did were highly terminable," Marshall said. "To cover up a failed drug test? Completely wrong. I don't know a system that would allow that. Those are federal standards. How do you get around that? You can't."
Earlier WBRZ reports this year showed the chief administrative officer on recorded audio suggesting Bill Deville helped cover up millions of dollars that went missing.
Marshall said when he was CEO, he helped dig the bus system out of debt, created the LSU Touchdown Express, and helped convince voters that a tax was needed to fund the bus system. Now, he does not feel like taxpayer money is being spent well.
"The public has been grossly ripped off," Marshall said.
"The chickens have come home to roost," Marshall said. "Change has not happened. Dollars are there and people supported it, but the overall administration of the system has not improved. If anything, it's worsened."
WBRZ requested an interview with interim CEO Dwana Williams. Instead, this written statement was provided: "Over the past decade at CATS, my commitment and dedication has been to the customers and community we serve daily. I look forward to continuing that commitment during this transition period."
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