Well, the knives are out — finally out in the open — for T General Manager Dan Grabauskas. Three MBTA board members have expressed a lack of confidence, essentially in Grabauskas' willingness and ability to keep the public safe. From the letter:
The NTSB Summary of Findings was critical of the MBTA for failing to ensure that's [sic] its fatigue educational awareness program is adequate for purposes of helping avoid the tragic crash that occurred May 28, 2008. The NTSB also cites “the lack of a positive train control system” and “inadequate requirements” for train operators to report signal failures on the Green Line. During the NTSB hearing, NTSB Board member Robert Summwalt said he was “fairly incredulous” that the MBTA does not have a formal system to check whether train operators are obeying signals and following other safety rules. He also spoke to the “lack of safety culture” at the MBTA. Given the report release date was scheduled months in advance, the Board and the public had the right to expect that the General Manager would promptly and fully respond to the NTSB's findings and recommendations.
It is very troubling that we have yet to receive a detailed response from the General Manager, especially since the NTSB is also investigating another major Green Line accident which occurred on May 8, 2009.
I had wished that there were another messenger for public frustration other than Mr. Warmth, Jim Aloisi. And now we have that. There's just no getting around the fact that the NTSB was incredulous that safety measures were not in place to prevent the 2008 Newton Green Line crash:
“Why would the Green Line not have everything possible that is going to prevent the accidents from happening?” said acting NTSB chairman Mark Rosenker. “I don’t understand that as an operator. I just don’t.”
I don't know … I really tend to doubt that the three board members would simply bow to the governor's wishes and just do his bidding willy-nilly. Here are their bios — it's Loux, Williams, and Alvaro who signed the letter. These are folks with real resumes, presumably with reputations to uphold. They don't look like your average hacks to me. Alvaro's a Republican. Are they paid?
So what justifies Sen. Steven Baddour's remarks here?
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.’’
“Obviously”, Senator? You've got the President/CEO of the Urban League, a Co-chair of the National Business Law Group, and a longtime labor organizer. Are they the governor's sock puppets? Is that what you're saying?
No, the “obvious” reaction is to respond with shock and dismay over a scathing report from a federal watchdog agency.
No comment on the NTSB report, Senator — except to wring your hands, say, “Gosh, it's a really tough job” — and then point the finger at the governor? Is that the best we can do?