< .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Massachusetts Liberal

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

Monday, August 10, 2009

As the MBTA turns

Memo to Deval Patrick: When you fire someone, make sure there is a non-disparagement clause in the agreement.

That's about the only thing that is clear in the latest eruption in the story of Deval and Danny: The MBTA Years. OK, other than the fact the T would eliminate its deficit and run a huge surplus if they packaged this as a screenplay and sold it to Hollywood East.

Dan Grabauskas fired the first shot, declaring he lost his job because the Patrick administration, in the person of Transportation Secretary James Aloisi, wanted to blame the impending T fare hike on him.
"He wanted me to rush the fare increase process," Grabauskas said of Aloisi. "And I said I thought it was a bad idea. I'm breaking my silence because to say the MBTA staff was on its own, at my direction, is a lie."
Of course Aloisi is almost as easy a target as Grabauskas, having presided over the calamity known as the Big Dig financing plan before taking over the hot seat in Patrick's administration.

But I see a lot of revisionist history here, starting with Smilin' Dan himself and including members of the Great and General Court who are shocked, just shocked by a fare increase after approving a sales tax hike that carried far fewer dollars for the T than Patrick's gas tax hike proposal.

Let's start with the memory-challenged Grabauskas, conveniently about one year ago.
The MBTA's general manager gave a 9 percent raise to 240 executive employees this week after warning just a week ago that a financial crisis could spur a significant fare increase in 2010.
The fiscally responsible Smilin' Dan says the raises were just a matter of equity, but that drew a rebuke from one of current supporters.
"The agency's broke," said Senator Robert L. Hedlund, a Weymouth Republican who serves on the Transportation Committee. "It's amazing in this day and age [that] management is never asked to sacrifice."
No, that's what the public is for.

Let's fast forward a little to February, where Grabauskas said the T is broke, ruling out a fare increase on one hand while holding the other out to lawmakers.

That was also about the same time Patrick proposed a 19-cent increase in the gas tax -- with six cents of that going to "avoid service cuts or fare increases on the MBTA." Another 1.5 cents would have gone to regional mass transit.

But legislators who now profess to be "hoodwinked" by both Patrick and T management over the proposed fare hikes opted for a sales tax increase that would deliver about $160 million to close the deficit, less than what the gas tax would have brought in.

And of course they failed to hear Aloisi when he said the T would require both the sales tax cash and a fare hike.

A cluster-you-know-what? That would be an understatement.

And while it's really hard to pick the liars from the bozos, I think Aloisi, believe it or not, may be the most honest person here by publicly saying we needed both the fare hike and the sales tax. If he was making Grabauskas the scapegoat why did he go on the record on this score?

And the scapegoat image is a great way for Grabauskas to ignore the other issues that have hung over the MBTA like a Sword of Damocles: two Green Line crashes in a year, a capital improvement program that is a joke and equipment that break down with appalling regularity.

Which brings us back to Patrick. The legislative process has been equated to sausage-making and some of it must be public (no matter how hard our lawmakers try to pull things off behind closed doors).

But the executive process should be cleaner. When you croak someone they should stay croaked. If you can't get that right, are you surprised your credibility is moving in inverse relation to the MBTA fares?

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home