MBTA General Manager Dan Grabauskas finds himself under fire from Governor Patrick and his Transportation Secretary James Aloisi, having three members of the MBTA Board firing off a letter that essentially is a vote of no confidence in his continued tenure. From the Globe:
“We have certainly lost confidence in the general manager’s ability to take ownership of the failings of an agency he has led for five years,’’ said the letter, signed by board members Darnell Williams, head of the Urban League; Janice Loux, a union leader recently reappointed by Governor Deval Patrick; and Ferdinand Alvaro, a Republican lawyer appointed by Patrick. The board has eight members.
“Nor do we have the confidence that he can execute a plan that will address our concerns at this critical juncture,’’ the letter stated. “Sadly, the general manager seems to be out of touch.’’
Grabauskas had engaged in a very public spat a short time ago with Secretary Aloisi, calling him a liar publicly. While his fate was likely sealed before that spat this assault by the Governor is an outgrowth of that, in my opinion, and is the begining of the long dance that will drain time, energy and money from the transportation portfolio. The Governor weighed in directly in today’s Globe, just about calling for the ouster of the General Manager.
Governor Deval Patrick left scant hope that Daniel A. Grabauskas will retain his job as general manager of the MBTA, saying yesterday that he has serious concerns about “the competence of the leadership and the adequacy of the management’’ at the troubled transit agency.
“We’ve had two serious accidents within a short time frame,’’ said Patrick, stopping just short of requesting Grabauskas’s ouster. “We’ve got serious fiscal issues at the T, so serious that even with some infusion of new state dollars they are still considering a fare increase, something that could not come at a worse time.’’
Grabauskas will be vunerable on the NTSB findings from a political perspective, but even politics won’t be able to provide a fig leaf to the Governor on the hilarious charge that Grabauskas is responsible for advocating fare increases.
In his comments, Patrick did not note that Aloisi has backed a substantial fare increase and that Aloisi and the T board directed Grabauskas to raise fares at a public meeting.
The Governor might have forgotten that salient fact. It appears however that the Legislature will remind him of that as well as other facts, including the Grabauskas success at the Registry, which contrasts with the transportation history of Secretary Aloisi.
“He’s been a good head of the T,’’ said Senate President Therese Murray, speaking at a lunch forum on the Boston waterfront. “But he’s from a different party, and the governor and his people would like a different person in there.’’
From House Transportation Chair Joseph Wagoner:
The head of the House Transportation Committee took it a step further, joining his Senate counterpart in accusing the Patrick administration of “gamesmanship.’’
“What I am watching unfold here strikes me as very political,’’ said Representative Joseph F. Wagner, a Chicopee Democrat. “I have a concern that the focus of the administration should be to try and move forward and implement the new transportation reform law.’’
And some of the heaviest artillery came from Senator Steve Baddour.
Senator Steven A. Baddour, a Methuen Democrat and cochairman of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, said board members are playing politics and called the letter a “cheap shot.’’
“It’s ridiculous,’’ he said. “Obviously, these are Patrick appointees doing the bidding of the governor, and it has nothing to do with his job performance, or his ability to manage a very difficult agency.
“I know it’s a tough election year,’’ he said. “I know the poll numbers are sagging, but we shouldn’t be looking for scapegoats.’’
The NTSB findings should be fully vetted, and a specific critique of the Grabauskas response made. The public deserves no less. If his actions (or lack of) merit criticism so be it. But the Governor ought to step up and clearly state his goals, and the secretary should be telling us what his response is to those findings. Does the NTSB report recommendation(s) require additional funding, and if so what is the Governor’s plan to raise that money to ensure rider safety? Grabauskas is going to be gone, but it does not appear to me that all the china in the room needed to be broken.