Obama names 2 to troubled airports board

Local,Virginia,Transportation,Liz Essley

President Barack Obama nominated two new members to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board -- one to replace former chairman Charles Snelling, who committed suicide in March, and one to replace Bob Brown, who has remained a vocal member of the board even though his term expired in November 2011, the White House said.

The president named William Shaw McDermott, a Boston-based lawyer, and Nina Mitchell Wells, a former New Jersey secretary of state, to the board that is overseeing one of the largest public works programs in the country, the construction of Metro's Silver Line to Dulles International Airport.

McDermott and Wells, whose nominations require Senate approval, would join a board that is in the midst of rewriting its ethics policies after a storm of criticism - including complaints from Obama's transportation secretary, Ray LaHood - over its travel policies and contracting practices. Among the problems cited by federal, state and local officials was the $180,000-a-year job the authority awarded a member a day after she left the board.

The authority includes representatives from Virginia, D.C., Maryland and the federal government.

A U.S. Department of Transportation spokesman said the administration is not replacing Bush appointee William Cobey, whose term has also expired, because of a rule that requires Obama, a Democrat, to appoint a Republican as the federal representative on the board.

Brown, appointed to the airports board by the-President Bill Clinton in 2000, will have to leave the board if the Senate confirms his replacement. He declined to comment on the change.

"I don't know either one of these people. I'm sure they're very well qualified," he said.

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