FIXING THE T : CHARADES WON’T CUT IT

1 james o'brien

^ Carmen’s Union President James O’Brien : no T reform for him.

—- —- —- —-

Will MBTA reform happen or won’it it ? For a while, it seemed that the legislature would enact the reforms that  Governor Baker asked it for. Today, that’s not so sure.

The Legislature is enacting not reform but charades. It gives baker two governing bodies — full control of the Mass Department of Transportation (DOT) operating board and control of a new body, called the Financial Control Board, which supposedly will manage the day to day operations of the T. Unfortunately, the Legislature’s Boards will have only the name, the titles, and the ceremony, and none of the power to do what needs be done. That, dear reader, is charades.

Why is the Legislature proposing a lie ? Look no farther than the Carmen, the union to which most T workers belong.

The Carmen are perfectly willing to support T reform — as long as they don’t have to reform with it. No reform to their high cost protection act — the so-called “Pacheco Law; no reform to their Pension fund, which operates in secret despite millions of dollars of taxpayer funding;. no reform to binding arbitration; and, a threat by union President James O’brien to invoke the Federal Transit Act — which would strip the T of all Federal funds assistance, a significant number — if the Legislature and Governor enact reforms that involve the Carmen.

The Carmen want T reform to stop at their door and not intrude — upon missed trips, abuse of personal leave provisions, high poor performance by the T repairs operation, underfunding of the T workers’ pension — made quite clear in an article published in today’s Boston Globe — and no change to a collective bargaining process in which the Carmen get the final say. The Carmen’s view — touted in advertising purchased with union members’ funds ! — is that it’s all management’s fault.

As if.

None of this dog-whistling would matter a damn were the Legislature not buying it. So far the Legislature has simply refused to push back. Sure, it says : give the Governor all the stagecrafting he wants, but none of the star roles. Yes, by all means : give the Governor the parade of authority, but none of the marching bands that let it sound off.

This eyewash will not stand. The public demands real T reform, not fakery. To his credit, Speaker DeLeo understands this and seems to support giving the Governor the reality of reform. It’s mainly the Senate that so far stands for foolery at the behest of the Carmen and their $ 300,000 ad buy, masterminded by Democratic party consultant Michael Goldman.

Do i sound as if I am pointing the finger of blame ? I am indeed. At the state Senate, which talks the progressive talk but walks the reactionary walk.

Meanwhile, the Governor has shown himself u afraid to make hard choices. Delaying the $ 200 million purchase of new trains for Commuter Rail’s Fairmount Line hurts – hurts a part of the City that Baker is beginning to emphasize; but as he says, first $$$ priority is to fix the T infrastructure we already have.

This is leadership.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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