WBUR is still owning the Ramirez/MBTA story: Turns out that the T’s Fiscal Management and Control Board seems not to have been informed about Ramirez’s shall-we-say dicey history at Global Power Equipment Group. Nor did they seem to have a tremendous amount of curiosity about his GE background. From an interview with FMCB member Monica Tibbits-Nutt:
Did you speak with anyone from GE about Ramirez’s tenure there?
I did not personally.
Was the committee aware of the lawsuit against Ramirez, or the fact that his former company had to restate financial statements he had signed?
I didn’t know about the Global Power lawsuit, the SEC investigation or the financial restatements. That wasn’t disclosed to me.
With regard to that first part: Were the FMCB’s impressions based solely on testimonials from GE, provided to them by Lochlin, the headhunting firm? Tibbits-Nutt says “I think the feedback we got from people he worked with in previous positions was really, really good.” Was there any interrogation of that record? Apparently not. Tibbits-Nutt:
We were not a selection committee. Our job was to give the potential candidates a really thorough understanding of what the MBTA needs.
(… which, again, was fairly explicitly not transit experience. They were going for experience with “complex organizations”, whatever that means.)
So the FMCB gave Lochlin a list of wants. They met Ramirez, but fairly briefly — an hour. The actual hiring was solely at Sec. Pollack’s discretion; but one would imagine she wouldn’t have hired someone to whom the FMCB members were adamantly opposed. The FMCB members apparently didn’t know about Ramirez’s ongoing troubles with regard to Global Power: Lawsuits, SEC investigation, etc. The T has said, vaguely, that Ramirez disclosed the lawsuits against Global Power; but to whom? Pollack? Lochlin? Apparently not the FMCB.
Again, you have to wonder about a process that intentionally disregards typical credentials, and then hires someone with such a massive credibility gap in his one purported strength. And it’s one thing to give the Secretary of Transportation sole discretion in hiring a GM for the T; quite another for the FMCB — even in a purely “advisory” capacity — to have seemingly taken such a passive role in the search and hiring.
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the Mr. Fixit administration doesn’t actually know what it’s doing at the T, after all.