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Salci out as Metro CEO

By Tom Weber, KWMU

St. Louis, Mo. – Larry Salci's five-year run as the head of the transit agency Metro is over. His departure was confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley says Metro is a success: There are more riders and people like the new Metrolink line.

But he says Salci was a distraction. Just days after being caught on tape calling a reporter a clown, while also using an expletive, the agency suffered a major setback when it lost a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the contractors it originally hired to build the extension. Salci had for months claimed Metro would win. "I believe when this goes to trial... the agency will be vindicated," Salci told KWMU in an August 2006 interview.

Dooley refused to say whether Salci quit or was fired; he called it a mutual decision to terminate his contract.

"The loss of the trial definitely takes away from what Metro is really trying to do to move our community forward," Dooley told reporters. "And we think it's important for us as a transportation area we need to be successful. And this is the best we think can bring the credibility back."

Credibility is key, especially because voters in the county will decide in two months whether to give Metro more money by raising the sales tax.

"What we're trying to do, let me be very clear about this, is separate the system from the individual," Dooley added. Salci will get $250,000 in severance pay, equal to one year's pay from a five-year contract extension he recently signed.

Dooley says he has an interim replacement in mind but won't name him until next week.