CA: GET Board Members to Address Call to Resign

Aug. 27--Embattled Golden Empire Transit board members Norris Ledbetter and Howard Silver will hold a press conference Thursday to respond to a demand they resign.

What they'll say -- and whether they will step down -- is unclear.

On Wednesday, GET spokeswoman Gina Hayden said only that Ledbetter and Silver will read a joint statement at the bus company in response to Vice Mayor Ken Weir's Aug. 21 letter calling for their resignation.

Weir gave them until 5 p.m. Monday to resign and warned if they don't, the City Council will consider removing them at its Sept. 10 meeting.

The two men are the City Council's appointees to the five-person GET board of directors and can be removed by a majority vote.

Neither responded to telephone messages left requesting comment.

Silver's son contacted The Californian to protest his father's treatment by the community he has served for more than 30 years.

Jacob Silver, 41, a Navy veteran, said his dad is not known for "kowtowing" if he thinks he's doing the right thing, but cares deeply about the low-income or developmentally disabled riders who lost stops during route changes in October 2012.

"I don't really like to talk about myself, but I know my dad cares about the disabled because if he didn't, he wouldn't care about me. I'm a disabled war vet. I have arthritis through a good chunk of my joints. I also have Gulf War syndrome," said Silver, a former petty officer stationed in the Persian Gulf. "I realize part of this is a son defending his dad, but it's also a person trying to give a full view of a man who's been treated unfairly and made out to be a villain."

Weir, who represents Ward 3 in the northeast, also did not return calls.

City Council members have lambasted GET for route revisions made 23 months ago, which they said moved or eliminated stops used by customers of Clinica Sierra Vista and the Bakersfield Homeless Center.

Ledbetter, Silver and GET CEO Karen King reported to the council Aug. 13 on GET's financial condition and its efforts to resolve a five-week strike that stranded tens of thousands of riders.

The council was unhappy with the attitudes of King, Ledbetter and Silver -- and was not placated when bus service resumed Aug. 19.

Ward 1 Councilman Willie Rivera, who asked for the update, said Aug. 13 the council should remove Ledbetter and Silver, but two motions to do so failed.

Ward 7 Councilman Russell Johnson helped craft one of the motions, and said Wednesday King is what's wrong with GET.

"My position has not changed. It was abundantly clear to me at the last meeting that a leadership problem exists at GET. We need solutions or leaders who can solve things and get things done." said Johnson, like Rivera, a member of the city-county transportation committee that demanded change in March but didn't get it.

Ward 5 Councilman Harold Hanson voted against removing the two men at the council's last meeting, but said Wednesday he thinks it's time for them to move on.

Change has to include King, he added.

"Ultimately, it has to come from Karen King," Hanson said. "She has to be responsible for her own actions."

Two of the other five GET board members are appointed by the Kern County Board of Supervisors, and while one has resigned, chairwoman Leticia Perez said she'll ask the board to remove the other, board member Annazetta Henderson, appointed in 2013.

"I think in the spirit of consistence and the spirit of a new era, it's time for a broad change," Perez said, citing an "overwhelming amount of complaints, issues and problems that were brought to all of us ... ."

Henderson did not respond to a telephone message requesting comment.

Hayden declined to comment on charges against the board or King.

Ledbetter's second four-year term on the board expires in January. He has been a member since January 2007.

Silver's term expires in January 2017. He has been a member since January 1984.

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