Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Deval's "Trivial" Pursuit

What If Massachusetts had it's own Mastercard Commercial?

Total cost to replace 17 "sick" toll takers

New hire Trellis Stepter, as "manager of special projects"

New hire Robert Rooney, as "assistant chief engineer"

Governor Patrick trying to use a traffic jam on the Turnpike to justify a massive gas tax hike?

Background Information

The Masspike could have spent $4,448 to replace the 17 missing toll-takers: The Pike would have shelled out $33 an hour to the toll takers to replace the 17 that called in sick or didn't show up Sunday, he said. Overall, 167 were scheduled to work, which LeBovidge called sufficient. (Boston Herald, 4/15/09)

No money for toll-takers, but plenty for the politically connected: The soon-to-be-defunct Turnpike Authority, which is poised to foist painful toll hikes on motorists, has quietly put at least two new high-priced staffers on its payroll - both of them retreads from the state transportation department, the Herald has learned. The two staff members were shuffled over from the executive office of transportation within the last three months, even as administration officials were telling lawmakers the Pike was in desperate need of cash. ``I find no excuse whatsoever to be hiring at the Pike unless there is a justified emergency,'' said Sen. Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford). ``The last thing we should do is burden this agency with more expenses.'' Trellis Stepter, who earned $84,000 as a legislative agent for former Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen, was hired as a $90,000-a-year manager of special projects shortly after Cohen stepped down in January. Robert Rooney, a former $123,000-a-year deputy secretary of public works in the transportation office, is now a $122,000-a-year assistant chief engineer with the Pike. (Boston Herald, 3/17/09)

Governor Patrick thinks this justifies a higher gas tax: Patrick labeled the delays ''unfortunate,'' adding, ''It upsets me, too.'' But rather than apologizing, both he and LeBovidge said Massachusetts residents and the state's all-important tourists should understand these latest annoyances only illustrate the severity of the state and Turnpike's financial distress. And, the governor declared, that means the public should not only support his overhaul package, but his gas tax hike. ''I mean, there are real consequences and hardship caused by the fiscal situation, and in the case of the Turnpike, it is part of what we have been trying to explain to people why we need both the reforms and the new revenue,'' the governor said. (The Associated Press, 4/15/09)