Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Trip Down Transportation Memory Lane

It’s kind of a slow news day, so we thought we’d do something a little different today on The Capitol View- take a trip down transportation memory lane!

As you may recall, the Republican Caucus was extremely critical of Governor Patrick’s decision to appoint Jim Aloisi Transportation Secretary. Aloisi recently resigned from the post and it’s a good thing, because his mere presence was toxic.

While at the Executive Office of Transportation and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, Aloisi was a key architect of the Central Artery/ Third Harbor Tunnel project. And make no mistake about it, Aloisi, a Patrick-Murray appointee was the author of the funding scheme that is now crippling our state’s finances. Aloisi even told reporters shortly after his appointment that while serving as a lawyer to the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, "It wasn't my job to tell people the truth." Perfect fit for the Patrick-Murray Administration!

Those are some examples of his incompetency prior to being appointed Transportation Secretary. Here’s a recap of all of his mishaps while serving in the Patrick-Murray Administration.

• Failed to adequately monitor the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority’s fast lane contractor resulting in 113,940 Fast Lane overcharges last year, for a total of $190,441 in improperly tolled charges against turnpike motorists.

• Ordered that the distinctive lights on the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge be turned off at a savings of less than $5,000 a month, despite the willingness of interested parties to make donations to ensure that the decorative lights remained illuminated.

• Ordered that staffing levels for toll booth operators be cut to below minimum acceptable standards for periods of high traffic resulting in dangerous traffic gridlock on Easter Sunday, which unnecessarily and knowingly placed public safety in peril for the distinct purpose of creating public support for your gas tax increase proposal.

• Pursued a plan to implement a big brother like tolling procedure whereby the RMV would continually track motorists and bill them for vehicle miles traveled.

• Reprimanded Massport officials for proposing a $1 parking fee increase after voting as a Massport board member to designate the power to raise/lower parking fees to Massport administrators, while at the same time proposing a $2 “carbon fee” that would have been added to Logan parking rates.

• Advocated for and implemented a plan at the Registry of Motor Vehicles to significantly increase license, registration and records fees.

• Instituted a policy at the RMV eliminating extended and weekend hours of service.

• Instituted a politically charged plan to close approximately one-third of the Registry service centers without conducting a cost-benefit analysis, or an analysis to determine if service levels can be maintained within a streamlined RMV

This is just a sample of the many poor policy decisions he made, but let’s not forget all of the public relations fumbles that led to an even greater mistrust of government.

• Called Senate President Murray’s “reform before revenue” theme a meaningless slogan

• Ousted MBTA General Manager Dan Grabauskas at a cost of $327,000 to the state and then lied about his involvement

• Took to Blue Mass Group in an angry rant to defend his sister’s $60,000 a year, no show job

All of these instances combined should have been enough for the Patrick-Murray Administration to call on him to step down and to apologize to the people for making such a poor pick. However, both Governor Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Murray continued to praise Aloisi. In fact, Lieutenant Governor Murray told the Boston Globe on September 12th, 2009, “This administration, with Jim Aloisi’s leadership, has been able to effectuate something that has been talked about in the corner office for the past 20 years. They (critics) can say whatever they want, but this [transportation reform] is something the Patrick administration has accomplished and not just talked about and Jim Aloisi was a big part of it.’’