2017 Legal Affairs Seminar - Program

This page is an overview of the conference schedule and subject to change.


Sunday, February 26


9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Welcome & Seminar Overview

10 - 10:30 a.m.

Presiding Officer
  • Marla L. Lien, Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP

Legislative Update

10:30 - 11:15 a.m.

A review of current and potential legislative activity affecting the public transportation industry.  With a new president and the 115th Congress getting to work, 2017 promises to be an eventful year in Washington, and APTA will be advocating strongly for greater federal investment in our industry.
  • Mark Hybner, Sr. Legislative Representative, American Public Transportation Association, Washington, DC

Break / (Pick up Lunch)

11:15 - 11:30 a.m.

Round-Table Discussion

11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.

This is an informal session for public transit agency attorneys to introduce themselves and share information and strategies for handling legal issues facing their agencies. Come with questions, ideas, and news about the legal challenges your agencies have asked you to solve.
(The round-table discussion is intended as a forum for transit agency attorneys and their outside counsel to exchange information in a non-attribution, confidential setting.)

Legal Writing Workshop

2 - 3 p.m.

We all must communicate effectively in order to help our clients. The quality of our writing matters regardless of whether we draft an email, a contract, or a complaint. Yet we lawyers are the only professional writers who do not benefit from professional editing as a matter of course. Becoming a better writer is a never-ending process and there is always room to improve. This interactive session will highlight how to avoid common writing pitfalls and will also provide tips to becoming better writers and editors.
Attention to this workshop is particularly important because prizes will be awarded for the accurate identification of the number times the passive voice is used in this sentence.
  • Steven D. Miller, Partner, Hanson Bridgett LLP, San Francisco, CA


3 - 3:15 p.m.

CEOs, Board Members and the General Counsel

3:15 - 4:15 p.m.

CEO’s from three major transit agencies will speak about their view of the General Counsel’s role, how the relationship between the Board, General Counsel and the CEO is structured, the General Counsel responsibility for ethics compliance, and their view of what makes a good General Counsel.
  • Marla L. Lien, Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP
  • Dorval R. Carter, Jr., Member, APTA Executive Committee; Chair, Legislative Committee; President, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago, IL
  • Joan L. Cassman, Partner, Hanson Bridgett LLP, San Francisco, CA
  • Nathaniel P. Ford, Sr., Chief Executive Officer, Jacksonville Transportation Authority, Jacksonville, FL
  • Daniel Lacomis, Shareholder, Berenbaum Weinshienk PC, Denver, CO
  • Roger Sherman, Chief Operating Officer, CRL Associates, Inc., Denver, CO

A Conversation with the FTA Chief Counsel

4:15 - 5:15 p.m.

FTA’s Deputy Chief Counsel will provide a retrospective summary of significant FTA actions in 2016 and a preview of what’s on the horizon in 2017.
Guest Speaker
  • Dana Nifosi, Deputy Chief Counsel, Federal Transit Administration, Washington, DC

Opening Reception

6 - 7 p.m.

Sponsored by: Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell  

Monday, February 27


7:30 - 8:30 a.m.

Sponsored by: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP

FTA’s New Approach to Safety: Applying the New Rules on Safety and Asset Management

8:30 - 10 a.m.

This panel will explain the FTA’s recently published rules on safety including agency safety plans and state safety oversight. The panel will discuss FTA’s safety policy – Safety Management Systems (SMS) – as well as how agencies may implement SMS. The panel will explain the rules that outline FTA’s procedures as well as the roles and responsibilities for transit agencies and state safety regulatory bodies. The panel will discuss the rules on asset management and how those rules might interact with a transit agency’s safety program. The panel will focus on practical considerations, identifying key risk areas and best practices. As the expanse of safety investigations grows, the panel will offer advice on gathering and reporting data, and responding to requests pursuant to a safety investigation.
  • Jenifer M. Ross-Amato, Secretary, Legal Affairs Committee; Deputy General Counsel, Regional Transportation District, Denver, CO
  • Candace Key, Director, Office of System Safety, Federal Transit Administration, Washington, DC
  • James P. LaRusch, Secretary, Standards Development Oversight Council; Vice Chair, Business Member Programs Committee; Corporate Counsel, Raul V. Bravo + Associates, Inc., Reston, VA
  • Stephanie Stuart, Deputy City Attorney, City Attorney's Office, City & County of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA


8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.


10 - 10:15 a.m.

Environmental Litigation, Capital Projects, and Potential Directions under a New Administration

10:15 - 11:15 a.m.

How have plaintiffs been litigating transit capital projects?  Will the new administration change National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements? Why is 4(f) important to NEPA? Join us for a lively dialogue with environmental litigators for 5 different transit projects. Each will share their first-hand accounts into the projects they defended. The panel will also provide a special focus on 4(f) law, transit agencies’ pitfalls in this area, and how urban parks, historic, or cultural resources laws have affected transit project delivery. The panel will conclude with predictions on the new Administration’s potential directions for NEPA environmental review in transportation projects.
  • Minming Wu Morri, Assistant Regional Counsel, Region IX, Federal Transit Administration, Washington, DC
  • Tyler Burgess, Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC
  • Fred Wagner, Partner, Venable, LLP, Washington, DC
  • Tiffany K. Wright, Partner, Remy Moose Manley, LLP, Sacramento, CA

Break / (Pick up Lunch)

11:15 - 11:30 a.m.

Working Lunch

11:30 a.m. - 12:20 p.m.

Sponsored by: Hanson Bridgett LLP


12:20 - 12:30 p.m.

Hot Topics in Procurement

12:30 - 1:30 p.m.

This panel will explore three key procurement issues: (1) challenges of implementing Buy America requirements to the utility relocation scope of federally funded projects; (2) dealing with constituents pressuring an agency to make “socially conscious” procurement decisions; and (3) Federal Transit Administration updates.
  • Julie Sherman, Partner, Hanson Bridgett LLP, San Francisco, CA
  • Micah M. Miller, Regional Counsel, Region 4, Federal Transit Administration, Atlanta, GA
  • Bart Simmons, Utah Transit Authority
  • Tim Spangler, Chief Counsel, Sacramento Regional Transit District, Sacramento, CA

Labor Panel

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

  • Jane Sutter-Starke, Partner, Thompson Coburn LLP, Washington, DC
  • Keira McNett, Amalgamated Transit Union, Silver Spring, MD
  • Tim Spangler, Chief Counsel, Sacramento Regional Transit District, Sacramento, CA

Rail: You know that curse about living in interesting times?

2:30 - 3:30 p.m.

Safety. Reliability. Cost-effectiveness. These are all key concepts in the planning for any transit service, and the rail sector has faced a number of issues over the past year that brought increased focus on all three. For Amtrak and states that sponsor intercity so-called short distance intercity service, the Congressional mandate for improved reliability and for changes in the way states pay Amtrak for use of Amtrak’s assets have led to litigation and unresolved disputes over how to manage these mandates. Ensuring on-time performance, and allocating costs and access to corridors in a rational manner are all components of these debates. On the safety front, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has imposed new obligations on states for developing system safety plans that have led states, while supporting the emphasis on improved safety, to push back on the allocation of responsibility mandated by FRA because that allocation increases the cost of delivery of service but does not have a direct causal link to improving safety. These are indeed interesting times on the rail side of the passenger and transit industry.
  • Charles A. Spitulnik, Partner, Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP, Washington, DC
  • Scott Beaver, Assistant Attorney General, North Carolina Department of Transportation, Raleigh, NC
  • Allison I. Fultz, Partner, Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP, Washington, DC
  • Kevin M. Sheys, Partner, Hogan Lovells US LLP, Washington, DC
  • Kevin P. Martin, Partner, Goodwin Procter LLP, Washington, DC
  • Teresa Moore, General Counsel, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Pompano Beach, FL


3:30 - 3:45 p.m.

Transportation Networking Companies and Public Transit – Resolving Legal Concerns to Foster Innovation

3:45 - 4:45 p.m.

This session will be an interactive discussion of the opportunities and various legal concerns that arise when public transit agencies partner with transportation networking companies. We will take a look at the structure of transit agencies’ recent dealings with TNCs and will evaluate the risks and unknowns associated with such partnerships.  Topics to be discussed include: accessibility; liability and indemnification obligations; disclosure of information and management of public records; public safety; Title VI; procurement; and options and best practices for contracting.
  • Dana A. Henderson, General Counsel, Pierce County Public Transportation Benefit Area Authority Corporation (Pierce Transit), Lakewood, WA

Tuesday, February 28


7:30 - 8:15 a.m.

Legal Affairs Committee Meeting

8 - 8:30 a.m.

TAM/SOGR and Grants/Management: FTA and Agency Perspectives -- and What Transit Attorneys Should Know

8:30 - 10:30 a.m.

Recently, the FTA promulgated regulations to establish requirements for Transit Asset Management (TAM) 49 CFR Part 625), and issued a new Award Management (former Grants Management) Circular (5010.1E). This session features FTA attorneys and Agency representatives discussing these initiatives, how they are implementing them, and what attorneys (who may not often get involved in these issues) should know in order to assist their clients.
Demystifying the Super Circular: In late 2013, and effective for grantees on December 26, 2014, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) streamlined the OMB Circulars on Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for all Federal awards into one set of rules, which has been dubbed the "Super Circular."  What does this mean for transit agencies?  What has changed? Where do I find these rules? The FTA will answer these questions -- and more that you may have.
  • Robin M. Reitzes, Deputy City Attorney, City Attorney's Office, San Francisco, CA
  • Joel Cutler Goldberg, Grants Procurement Manager, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, San Francisco, CA
  • Candace Key, Director, Office of System Safety, Federal Transit Administration, Washington, DC
  • Jennifer S. Riess, Equal Opportunity Specialist, Federal Transit Administration, Washington, DC
  • David M. Springstead, Chair, Systems Engineering Subcommittee; Chief of Rail Operations, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, Atlanta, GA


8:30 - 11 a.m.


10:30 - 10:45 a.m.

Ethics & Professional Responsibility

10:45 - 11:45 a.m.

The stated policy intent to find innovative financial means to build and re-build infrastructure, along with huge funding demands growing out of the huge cost of attaining State of Good Repair and implementing DOT’s Safety Initiative, means that there will be heightened emphasis on innovative financing and Public Private Partnerships.
The FTA Master Agreement requires recipients of transit funds to establish and maintain written Standards of Conduct covering conflict of interest that apply to certain individuals who have a present or potential financial interest, or other significant interest, such as a present or potential employment interest in the selection, award or administration of a third party contract or subcontract.
Among other things, the Standards of Conduct must prohibit certain individuals from engaging in any activities, including selection, award, or administration of a third party contract in which the individual has a present or potential financial or other potential or other significant interest; and from accepting a gratuity, favor, or anything of monetary value from a present or potential Third Party Participant in the Recipient’s underlying Project “unless the gift is unsolicited and has an insubstantial financial or nominal intrinsic value.”
The potential for increased reliance on private financing and dealings with sophisticated private equity organizations will place an even greater emphasis on organizational conflicts of interest and gift policies as part of required Standards of Conduct.  On top of that, these complex financial negotiations must be handled with great care, so as not to run afoul of another significant objective of an effective Ethics Code that there be no secret dealings.
This interactive ethics session will present actual scenarios encountered by transit agencies and their counsel.
  • Bruce M. Smith, Member, Apperson Crump PLC, Memphis, TN
  • Fred Wagner, Partner, Venable, LLP, Washington, DC


1 - 1:15 p.m.