AATA Board Bids Farewell to Robben

At its Jan. 19, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board bid farewell to board member Rich Robben, who had submitted his resignation in November 2011, but had agreed to serve through January 2012 to allow some time to find a replacement.

Robben’s departure was early – his four-year term had started last year. In his resignation letter sent to mayor John Hieftje, Robben wrote, “… other factors have risen that will interfere with my time commitment to this endeavor.” Appointments to the AATA board are made through mayoral nomination, and confirmation by the city council.

Robben received the traditional parting gift for departing board members – a mailbox marked up to resemble an AATA bus. Colleagues on the board offered their praise and gratitude for his service. David Nacht called Robben “a terrific guy” who had been of “incalculable assistance to the community.” Robben responded to his colleagues in similar fashion and then turned and literally applauded the AATA staff members who sit behind the board during meetings.

Robben’s resignation is the second early departure from the board in two months. Sue McCormick’s last meeting was Dec. 15, 2011. Her replacement on the board is Eli Cooper. He attended his first meeting as an AATA board member since his confirmation by the Ann Arbor city council on Dec. 19, 2011.

Cooper is the city of Ann Arbor transportation program manager, and his nomination to a position on the board – on which he’d also previously served in the mid 2000s – was for the city council somewhat controversial, due to his employment with the city.

Not able to attend the Jan. 19 meeting was board chair Jesse Bernstein – and that resulted in the need to appoint an acting secretary. Charles Griffith acted as chair in Bernstein’s absence. But Griffith is also the board’s secretary. The board’s resolutions approved at the meeting need a signature from the chair and the secretary, without those signatures being from the same person. So Robben served as secretary at his final meeting of the AATA board.

Originally on the Jan. 19 agenda were items to elect new officers and make new committee assignments. Just four months ago, the board elected new officers, on Sept. 15, 2011: Jesse Bernstein (chair); Charles Griffith (secretary); and Sue McCormick (treasurer). But with McCormick’s early departure from the board in December, the board needs to identify a treasurer. Also at the Sept. 15 meeting, the board had divided its committee responsibilities. The committee chairs were determined to be: Rich Robben (planning and development committee), and Charles Griffith (performance monitoring and external relations). So the board also needs to identify a new chair of the planning and development committee.

However, the items on officers and committee assignments were pulled from the agenda before the meeting.

This brief was filed from the downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library at 343 S. Fifth Ave., where the AATA board holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link]