The Capital Area Transit System is shaking up its board leadership, but the Metro Council, which appoints the board, is divided about who will take one of the seats.
The final decision, to take place at the next council meeting, could complicate things for the current CATS administration because one of the finalists being considered — a rider named Frank Lanasa Sr., is the CEO Bob Mirabito’s harshest critic who regularly calls for his dismissal.
Two of CATS long time board members, Deborah Roe and Dalton Honore II, are term limited and their seats have expired.
The Baton Rouge Metro Council on Wednesday voted to fill one of the seats with Lucien Cutrera Jr., an urban planner and landscape architect.
But the vote for the second seat was a deadlock between Samuel Irwin, a public relations consultant, and Frank Lanasa Sr., a retired bus driver and current rider. After several votes that failed to garner a majority for either candidate, the council deferred the vote to another meeting.
Lanasa rides the bus system, and has become a thorn in the agency’s side by aggressively taking aim at what he considers the failings of CATS under Mirabito. For several months, Lanasa emailed Mirabito, the CATS board and the Metro Council multiple times every day to angrily update them about buses that were late and other lapses in service.
Lanasa has heavily criticized Mirabito’s performance, as well as the rest of the CATS Board, and called for Mirabito to be fired. Mirabito has been mostly dismissive of Lanasa’s criticisms. But if appointed to the seat, Lanasa would be part of the board that Mirabito answers to as his boss.
At the council meeting, Councilwoman Donna Collins-Lewis, who is also serves as CATS board chair, repeatedly voted for Irwin over Lanasa. She has publicly defended Mirabito’s performance.
Councilman Chandler Loupe supported Lanasa and appeared to taunt Collins-Lewis with his vote.
“Big Frank, big Frank, big Frank,” he chanted toward Collins-Lewis, as he cast his vote.
Ryan Heck, Buddy Amoroso and John Delgado also supported Lanasa. The three of them have previously been vocal critics of CATS. Trae Welch, Chauna Banks-Daniel, Scott Wilson, Joel Boe and Tara Wicker supporter Irwin.
The Metro Council also voted to reappoint to sitting members: Jim Brandt and Antoinette Pierre.