No. 2 at Metro Regrets Outburst at Investigators
Blomquist, Brian, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Metro's second-highest official apologized yesterday for intimidating, stonewalling and cursing investigators who are looking into a Jan. 6 crash that killed a train operator.
Deputy General Manager Fady Bassily, considered a top candidate to replace outgoing General Manager Lawrence Reuter, declined to speak directly about a flare-up with investigators Jan. 16.
Metro spokeswoman Cheryl Johnson said Mr. Bassily regrets the incident. "Tempers did indeed flare," she said. "But the issue has been resolved to the satisfaction of everyone involved."
Mr. Bassily's tirade - he cursed at subordinates, degraded his superior and accused them all of conspiring to deny him a promotion - may have come at a bad time.
The 12-member Metro board is planning to meet today to begin a process of selecting a replacement for Mr. Reuter, who is leaving in March to take the top transit job in New York City.
As Metro's No. 2 official, Mr. Bassily would be a "logical" replacement for Mr. Reuter if the board decided to promote someone inside the system, said D.C. Council member Jack Evans, a Metro board member.
But Mr. Bassily's recent conduct could affect the selection process, Mr. Evans said. He and other board members said, however, they will reserve judgment until they have seen the results of internal and external investigations into the crash.
A crash at the Shady Grove station early in the Jan. 6-8 blizzard killed train operator Darel Wayne Callands, who had complained of icy tracks and asked controllers for permission to switch from computerized control to manual control of the train.
Permission was denied, based on Mr. Bassily's policy that manual operation of trains was wearing out brakes and parts.
Mr. Bassily, who was born in Egypt and educated in the United States, has worked for Metro since 1975, with the exception of three years in the early 1980s when he managed the Saudi Public Transport Co. in Saudi Arabia.
Employees have complained in lawsuits that he makes a practice of berating and demoting subordinates who challenge him. …