The Biden administration’s nominee to head up the Federal Aviation Administration has an extensive history of pushing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, according to a memo obtained by The Daily Wire.
Phil Washington, Biden’s nominee to head up the FAA, is the CEO of the Denver International Airport and previously served as the CEO of the Los Angeles Metro Transit Authority. During his tenure as CEO of LA Metro, Washington pushed an aggressive DEI agenda, while allegedly engaging in discriminatory behavior himself.
Beginning in 2020, as CEO of LA Metro, Washington used the COVID pandemic to push for the city’s transit system to stop charging fares, saying it had a moral duty to do so despite LA Metro’s increasingly dire financial straits. “LA Metro has a moral obligation to pursue a fareless system and help our region recover from both a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic and the devastating effects of the lack of affordability in the region,” Washington said at the time, via transportation magazine ITS International.
But even at the time, LA Metro was struggling to make ends meet. ITS International reported that in 2019, the system made between $250 and $300 million in fares, against an operating budget of $1.9 billion; a fares-to-cost ratio of about 13%. That rate had been declining for 20 years and would continue to decline as operating costs rose, Metro noted. But instead of increasing revenues, Washington planned to use federal grants and advertising to fill the farebox gap, claiming that public transit is “no different than other public programs funded by the public purse such as firefighting, policing and other public infrastructure that serves as a public right and common good.”
Washington touted his equity priorities in a letter to Metro staff in 2020, reacting to the shootings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Philando Castille. “The hallmark of my tenure at Metro has been ensuring equity both in the services we provide to the community and within our agency,” he wrote. “This has been evidenced by my standing up an Office of Race and Equity, advancing the Equity Platform and ensuring diversity on my senior leadership team.”
At an employee town hall later in the year, Washington made his DEI agenda very clear. In response to one employee question, Washington said that not identifying people by their races “can actually be discriminatory in that while people want to simply call everyone the human race, it erases part of people’s identities and histories that are very much tied to lived experiences.”
He also claimed that a colorblind society ignores the lived experience of black people and other minority groups. “It feels like an unwillingness to recognize that there is systemic racism, that black people have been oppressed,” he said. Washington told another employee that systemic racism exists at LA Metro, and touted the corporate offices and initiatives intended to address systemic racism among riders and employees. Another employee demanded that the company affirm the statement, “Black Lives Matter!!!”
“I agree!” Washington replied. “I might add too that all lives cannot matter, until Black Lives Matter first.”
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One employee asked Metro to implement a mandatory “undoing racism” training across the entire agency. “Yes!” Washington responded enthusiastically, adding that the training was one of the goals of the then-newly-created Diversity & Inclusion Unit.
Despite all of the efforts he put forth at LA Metro, it seems that Washington might be a hypocrite. He was involved in a discrimination investigation during his tenure at the agency; according to a report from one of the attorneys in the investigation, he was involved in an “informal networking group” called “Chicken Bone.” The group is men-only, and excludes white men.
Furthermore, during his tenure at LA Metro, Alex Wiggins, LA Metro’s Chief System Security & Law Enforcement Officer, was investigated for creating a hostile work environment. A letter from the Los Angeles County Counsel said that Wiggins led a department “riven with racial tensions, cutthroat competition among managers, extremely low morale and serious rifts between employees and managers.”
The FAA and the aviation industry are already under heavy fire for pushing DEI at the expense of efficiency and safety. In January, The Daily Wire reported that the FAA endorsed woke ideology and pushed LGBTQ representation; those internal communications resurfaced after a computer system outage that grounded all flights on January 11. Last week, Fox News host Tucker Carlson blasted the aviation industry for pushing woke diversity policies in hiring and training pilots, which he said contributed to at least one major plane crash.