DALLAS — After only a few months in the post, the chairwoman of Dallas Area Rapid Transit resigned last week following allegations about a purportedly forged document she presented to avoid repaying a personal debt.
Lynn Flint Shaw had been chair of the agency since her colleagues named her to the post in October. She had been a DART board member since 2003. Vice chairman Randall Chrisman will assume the post and finish the term, which expires in October.
In a letter to Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, the City Council, and DART board, Flint Shaw said that her “resignation is necessary to help ensure that the agency and its constituents stay focused on its current opportunities and challenges.”
She also resigned from her post as treasurer of Leppert’s fundraising organization.
The DART board moves forward with 14 members until the city of Dallas appoints someone to replace Flint Shaw.
“At least that’s my understanding of it,” Chrisman said.
Flint Shaw came under scrutiny after accusations surfaced that she sent a letter printed with the Dallas County district attorney’s letterhead and signature to someone to whom she owed $7,500, stating that the DA’s office was investigating the theft of a supposed payment sent to the person.
The Dallas County district attorney’s office would neither confirm nor deny published reports that the DA was investigating the allegations.
Flint Shaw also recently ended a $20,000 consulting agreement with Deloitte Services, an affiliate of Deloitte & Touche, to encourage minority high school students to take an interest in accounting as a profession.
Deloitte & Touche is DART’s auditor, and Flint Shaw, who also owns a speech pathology consulting company, didn’t disclose the agreement to the board.
“I believe that my personal circumstances have become a distraction to DART and the agency’s ability to work through these challenging times of budget shortfalls and increased public expectations,” Flint Shaw wrote in the resignation letter.
“Much has been said and written lately about my personal financial situation and past campaign for Dallas City Council,” she wrote. “I am not inclined to discuss these personal matters publicly again.”
Her departure comes as DART grapples with the recent discovery that expansion of its light-rail service will cost twice as much as initially projected.
Almost two months ago, officials said extensions of the Orange Line through Irving to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and the Blue Line from downtown Garland to Rowlett would cost close to $1.9 billion.
Previous projections pegged costs at $988 million, but spikes in the price of concrete, cooper, and steel resulted in the increase. Board members are considering various solutions to close the funding gap, including some sort of public-private partnership agreement, as well as increased debt issuance.
“We still intend to meet all our commitments and obligations,” Chrisman said.
DART officials expect to name the contractor for the Orange Line extension soon, awarding the notice to proceed in December. That timeline insures the first phase of the Orange Line opens in December 2011 with the Blue Line extension and the second phase of the Irving project opening a year after that.