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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Amateur hour

Is it just me -- or should you be available 24-7-365 if you are the head of a public agency making enough money to merit a $327,000 buyout?

And, correct me if I am wrong, if you are a communications "expert" for an agency subject to public records laws, should you be discussing strategy in e-mail? Ever hear of a telephone -- or face-to-face meetings?

The new e-mails unearthed by the Globe through a Freedom of Information request add some color to the dust-ups between Transportation Secretary James Aloisi Jr. and former MBTA General Manager Dan Grabauskas.

But they do little to change the images of two Gangs Who Couldn't Shoot Straight.

Aloisi's decision to compare himself Poland in 1939, overrun by Hitler and sold down the river is, well, appalling. Same for the unnamed deputy suggesting he be "more Churchill than Chamberlain."

Equally pathetic was an apparent e-mail from Aloisi spokesman Colin Durrant saying Grabauskas had been "in a bunker" since the release of a National Transportation Safety Board report highly critical of T safety practices in the wake of the first of two Green Line crashes.

I have no problem with communications people conferring to get their talking points in order. That's standard operating procedure in the private sector too. But how about some discretion?

First rule of e-mail -- whether you work in a corporation or government -- never put anything into e-mail that you would not want to see printed on the front page of a newspaper.

Unless of course you did.

There is a legitimate question that has never received a satisfactory answer: if you are the chief executive of any entity, are you ever truly on vacation? Or furlough? Or are you responsible for the operation of the organization at all times except when under anesthesia (or in some utterly remote outpost where they have never heard of BlackBerries or iPhones, let alone have them).

Was Grabauskas in either of these two scenarios when he failed to be available to comment on a report harshly critical of the agency he was running?

Aloisi was right to ask “Why didn’t Dan respond more forcefully? This looks like we are ducking.’’

And he was right to agree to a media interview. The public deserved a response from the state's transportation officials and the man in charge was nowhere to be found.

Until he surfaced to call his boss a liar.

Grabauskas deserved to be canned, for his performance or lack thereof of an agency that has consistently failed to provide safe, timely service. Bosses need to be accountable for their charges.

The same standards apply to Aloisi. And so far he has made a complete mess of just about everything he has touched from the Turnpike to the T. Not easy to make a bid situation worse -- but he's succeeded with flying colors.

The clock is ticking.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charlie Baker has now been inoculated from attacks by the Patrick camp about Charlie's role in the Big Dig. Aloisi was a major player in that project, too.

August 19, 2009 5:41 AM  

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