GET board members refuse to resign because of bus strike

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - The 35-day Golden Empire Transit District bus strike has come to an end, and now some Bakersfield City Council members say there is more to the problem than just a labor dispute.

In a recent letter sent to two city-appointed GET board members, the vice mayor, Ken Weir, calls for their resignation.

In that letter, Weir writes that the strike was "only a symptom of the real problem," and that "there are problems at GET much deeper and broader than a labor dispute."

Other members of the City Council agree.

"GET has an issue," said Bakersfield City Councilman Russell Johnson.

The two city-appointed GET members on the hot seat are Howard Silver and Norris Ledbetter.

Ledbetter said he's disappointed in the City Council, and he refuses to quit.

"I hear they'll have the votes to remove us," he said. "I'm not going to resign. If they want me out, they can vote me out. That's what they'll have to do."

Ledbetter doesn't expect the councilmembers to budge.

"I would love to have left on happier terms," he said.

Between Ledbetter and Silver, the two have around 38 years of experience with GET. They say that replacing them would be a mistake for everyone in Bakersfield.

"I've got news for whoever is going to follow in our steps, if that's what the council decides - it is not that easy," said Silver, who has been on the board since January 1984.

Silver claims the change may have little to do with the City Council being upset. He said in the 30 years he's been on the board, nobody has been so frustrated, except with recent route changes.

"Improving our transit systems by trying to make them more efficient, we have done that," said Silver. "And we've been criticized for doing that."

CEO Karen King's job could be in jeopardy, as well, if the council appoints new members willing to oust her.

"I hope not. She's a good CEO, she's a wonderful person," said Ledbetter. "They don't deserve this."