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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Not playing fare

As if on cue, the promises of pain likely to emerge without a tax package are coming to the forefront. But the MBTA's threats, while real, provide perfect fodder for the reform before revenue movement given short shrift by Transportation Secretary James Aloisi.

And that's because the real news comes in the sidebar -- prominent online but not equal to the Page One play in the dead tree edition -- the latest example of pension abuse that turns the public totally off to the concept of any tax increase.

I really won't dwell on the notion that after five years and $48 million the Kenmore Square station project is "nearing completion" even though it may take until the end of the year to install elevators for the disabled.

I will make some snide asides about the fact I rarely see anything resembling "customer service" so I won't miss any of the 304 agents who work in subway stations at a cost of $18.4 million. Let's face it, they are people given new assignments after the CharlieCard system eliminated the need for their jobs as token booth attendants.

It's a tough economy out there, but the jobs seem superfluous to me given the number of folks I see hanging around subway stations wearing safety vests.

But the real problem is not people trying to grind out a living. The problem is the outrageous benefits that keep them in the jobs -- starting with the ability to retire after 23 years on full pension and start a second career. Often at the same agency they "retired" from.

I'll leave it to Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer:
"Is there no end to the indignity?" he said. "I'm speechless. It's amazing. It's the entitlement and the creativity. And it's all done out of public view. They have done these things for years with a wink and a nod of the Legislature."
No, Mr. Secretary, reform before revenue is not a silly concept.

A $160 million budget deficit is no laughing matter. The virtual elimination of evening and weekend commuter rail service is no joke.

But it's impossible to take the threats seriously until the T cleans up its own house by eliminating the waste and abuse of the pension system that allows "retirees" to make more as consultants doing the same job they did on the public payroll only long enough to collect a pension.

And I sure as heck hope that this isn't the report that Smilin' Dan Grabauskas paid a consultant $86,000 to come up with.

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Anonymous John Galt said...

Clearly the function of Massachusett's state government is to provide for friends of the politicians and the politicians themselves.

Providing services is a SECONDARY or perhaps TERTIARY responsibility if and only if there is any money left.

Now where did I put my pitchfork?

April 12, 2009 9:12 PM  

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