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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, August 07, 2009

What price failure?

The cost of failure apparently is $327,487.

The MBTA Board of Directors decision to give Dan Grabauskas the heave-ho comes with a hefty but necessary price tag. Hefty, but cost-effective in the long run.

The political grandees like Senate Transportation Secretary Stephen Baddour, who suggest the move by Gov. Deval Patrick to oust the Grabauskas was "trying to settle a political score at taxpayer’s expense when we have so many serious matters that need focus’’ are seriously out of touch with what passes as "public transportation" in eastern Massachusetts.

Let's look at the performance record of a system with maintenance problems out of control. (As if on cue, yet another power failure).

A system, in the words of the National Transportation Safety Board which is plagued by a "lack of a safety culture."

A system where construction projects run, Big Dig-like with endlessly blown deadlines and budgets, when they are not threatening the stability of historic church buildings that was trying to be a good neighbor above an MBTA station under endless renovation.

The only area where I am willing to give Grabauskas a pass is in dealing with the financial problems caused by the debt which saddles the MBTA. Why? Because it was the very same Legislature that expresses oneness with Grabauskas who saddled his predecessor with it.

The political scores on display here are those involving legislators like Baddour who are at war with Patrick, who has run up a few solid wins in the area of pensions and ethics that have undoubtedly chapped some comfortable butts. Perhaps Sen. Baddour could pay closer attention to Boston and not always worry about our New Hampshire neighbors.

Transportation Secretary James Aloisi Jr. is no doubt aware of Colin Powell's Pottery Barn Rule. He broke it and now he owns it. The fate of the MBTA is in his hands -- and those of Patrick. They should be comforted by the fact there is only way the MBTA can go and that is up.

The top-to-bottom review ordered by Patrick is a necessary and long-overdue step. Aloisi is correct to say any final decisions on a fare increase must be made only after that review. I'm not foolish enough to think it will prevent one -- let's not forget the legislatively-assigned debt.

But rider recognize what lawmakers who use cars to travel to work fail to understand. It was necessary to hold someone accountable for the mess. It was imperative to get Danny off the MTA.

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