T Union Reverses Course, Promises To Obstruct MBTA Fixes

BOSTON — The union that once pledged on radio spots that it is “here to help. We want to help” in the aftermath of last winter’s crippling storms, is now promising to obstruct efforts to fix the MBTA. The reversal of position from pledging “to help” to pledging to ensure the effort “isn’t going to be easy” comes after the Democratic-controlled legislature passed Governor Charlie Baker’s plan to increase efficiencies at the MBTA and pave the way for more public-private partnerships at the agency.

“For the union to break its promise and now openly obstruct fixing the T after crippling storms left people stranded in the dead of winter is disappointing,” said MassGOP spokesman Terry MacCormack.  “The Governor’s team is adding buses to the busiest of routes so people can get to work. Given the holiday the union plans to celebrate this weekend, they should be joining, not opposing efforts to fix the T.”

During the debate over MBTA reform this summer, the Carmen’s Union ran a major media campaign to improve its image with the public. “It’s been a surprise on the radio airwaves: A series of cheery ads from the Boston Carmen’s Union, Local 589, proclaiming, ‘We’re here to help. We want to help.'” (Scot Lehigh, “Is the Boston Carmen’s Union really here to help?” Boston Globe, 6/12/15)

Now, the union pledges to obstruct reform at every turn. “’We want to tell the governor and the MBTA that this isn’t going to be easy,’ [Boston Carmen’s Union President James O’Brien said].” (Nicole Dungca, “T workers to rally in Boston amid Obama visit,” Boston Globe, 9/4/15)

WRTC comments to Transportation 4 MA

March 19, 2015

images-7Mr. Jim Tarr

Transportation for Massachusetts

14 Beacon Street, Suite 707

Boston, MA 02108

Dear Jim,

The Westford Republican Town Committee would like to express its gratitude to you for attending the WRTC’s March meeting, continuing its ‘listening’ tour of issues and concerns with town leaders on the status of transportation in Massachusetts. Members found the discussion informative and instructive.

Concerns raised by participants are summarized:

  • Difficult to get the suburbs to agree to any new revenue since public transportation is neither available nor desired
  • Increasing the gas tax is a regressive tax hitting the low-income, suburban drivers/businesses harder
  • Lack of trust in the legislature with any funding source because the legislature has consistently been unable to adhere to a sustained commitment to use new revenue to address transportation in a meaningful way
  • Impact of economic stimulus program, where the federal government funded ‘shovel-ready’ projects, remains unexplained to the voters
  • MA is the least business-friendly environment and new fees will widen the gap with other states
  • Statement that 50% of all MA bridges are deficient but not all bridges are state responsibility is a scare tactic
  • Separate and address the problems, roads & bridges vs. public transportation, independently
  • Solve other cost drivers first such as pension disparity and procurement law
  • Answer the question, “why does it cost substantially more to maintain and repair roads and bridges in MA than other states?”
  • Emphasize safety on public transportation because it is a target rich environment
  • Public transportation includes all aspects including parking availability
  • Protect “Home Rule” in permitting for expansion projects
  • Know/understand the limits of revenue sources particularly the affect on individual property tax payers with regard to sidewalks and bike trails
  • Separately fund repayment of Big Dig debt and consider refinancing
  • Will not support fees for miles driven as a funding source
  • Work with regional planning organizations, such as the North Middlesex Council of Governments, to address transportation needs

The Westford Republican Town Committee emphasizes reform and transparency before additional revenue sources are to be considered.


Valerie A. Wormell

Chair, Westford Republican Town Committee

Letter to the WRTC Chair

The following is a letter received by Val Wormell, WRTC chair, on March 14, 2015, from a life-long Republican and Navy veteran (1962, Cuban Blockade).




Read your letter to the Lowell Sun pertaining to the meeting on transportation. Needless to say, your acceptance on fees for miles driven (tax) led me to some consternation; a weak republican. Are you for miles driven for the average Joe and Jane? If so, that mimics the left-wing democrats in Oregon and Washington. Look what happened to all the fees, gasoline taxes, excise taxes, the entire gamut {of taxes} just to drive on our roads. There should be more than enough, much more to cover the costs. Where did and does it go?  Into the general fund so the politicians can throw it about on a slew of social programs, pay raises galore for government hacks, pensions and thousands in programs for illegals.

You must know this state is corrupt from top to bottom. Nepotism galore in all areas, insane pay raises and pensions that can never be paid for, not even by {our} kids, which the same hacks will rely on. We pay more than our share in wallet theft now. Democrats live to take, take, and take and then elevate their salaries to ease their pain. Look at the loot the Organizers haul in on the Olympic Committee alone. Council members in Boston took a $25,000 pay hike at one time.  On and on it goes.

We have had 5, count them, speakers indicted in a row and could be 6. No other state can match that. There should be huge marches up to Beacon Hill to stop all the rot going on. There must be a new bill filed that leads to an “instant recall.” Patronization, nepotism must end. . .

Al from Lowell, MA

No Al, I do not support nor would ever support a fee for miles driven. Val


WRTC March Meeting guest speaker announced


The Westford Republican Town Committee welcomes guest speaker, Jim Tarr, from Transportation for Massachusetts at its March meeting. Transportation for Massachusetts is a coalition of nonprofit, community, and business organizations dedicated to promoting transportation and smart growth policies in the Commonwealth. The organization is engaged in a listening tour to hear concerns regarding area transportation issues and ideas for the future. Keeping the MBTA on track is their goal, while promoting efficiency, reliability, accessibility and affordability in an environmentally responsible manner for all daily and occasional riders.

Transportation for Massachusetts is calling on the state to raise new revenue for transportation systems, invest revenues fairly and wisely, and make all spending decisions transparently and with accountability. They consider all revenue sources on the table, from increased tolls to fees for miles driven, to provide a sustainable funding source, for immediate repair and expansion of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation System.

All area residents are invited to join us in what promises to be a lively discussion. The Westford Republican Town Committee’s meeting takes place on Saturday, March 14th from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm in the main meeting room of the J. V. Fletcher library, 50 Main Street, Westford.

For more information on the status of public transportation in Massachusetts, initiatives of the Baker-Polito administration, opinions and Beacon Hill reaction, visit the Westford Republican Town Committee’s website at http://www.westformagop.org.

$9 billion debt part of dire MBTA financial problems

BOSTON — The Senate committee on bonding heard from transportation officials on Thursday during a fact finding hearing on the dire condition of the state’s largest public transportation agency facing more than $9 billion in debt as it continues to recover from its worst month in memory.

Repeated severe snowstorms battered the MBTA physically, causing suspensions and delays in service.

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack and future Interim MBTA General Manager Frank DePaola were on hand for an overwhelmingly civil interrogation by state senators on the system’s finances and its future plans.

Pollack outlined a dire picture of the MBTA’s finances and current operating problems, noting that the system is one of the most indebted public transportation agencies in the country with total debts, including interest, amounting to over $9 billion. The agency is trying to understand where all its debt came from and what it was spent on, said Pollack.

“So at this point we’re still trying to understand what the debt has been used for to date and what implications does it have,” said Pollack.

When state Sen. Thomas McGee asked Pollack about the possibility of moving the debt off the MBTA’s books and onto the commonwealth, Pollack said that there’s still a lot of questions that need to be answered.

“We don’t know the answer to whether it makes sense to pay down that debt, does it make sense to refinance it, should we be paying annual debt service? All that’s on the table. Right now we’re just trying to figure out what all this debt was spent on,” said Pollack.

Approximately 22 percent of the MBTA’s budget is dedicated to debt service according to Pollack. The two largest chunks came as a result of the 2000 budgeting shift known as forward funding and from projects required by the Big Dig.

“While this is a large and problematic part of the operating budget, it is actually an amount that is declining as the MBTA’s operating budget because at this point the T issues less in new debt each year that it pays off through its debt service program,” said Pollack.

While the MBTA issues about $200 million in new debt each year for upkeep of current assets, the majority of expansion projects are increasingly funded by MassDOT and the federal government, not the transit agency.

Still, Pollack said that the biggest problem facing the MBTA right now is that nobody is really sure what all its problems are.

“I am convinced and I know the governor shares my view: one of the impediments to really making progress to solving the problems of the T is there is not a consensus on what the problems are,” said Pollack.

Pollack addressed the commission created by Gov. Charlie Baker and said that its “rapid diagnostic” of the MBTA will review its finances as well as its maintenance, culture, and expansion issues.

Pollack as well as DePaola declined to say whether or not they support the issuance of refunds for T riders. Both said that refunds would dramatically affect the MBTA’s finances.

by Garrett Quinn, MassLive


images-5      by Dennis Galvin

It is estimated that 50% of the people in the Greater Boston area put their hopes in the MBTA to get them to work every day. This winter the “T” failed them.

There are many to blame. There is the deeply imbedded racketeering culture within “T” management and the employee union. Powerful legislative leaders carefully nurtured this culture over the years foremost was William Bulger. It operates under a simple principle; employees first, citizens second.

There was also the “Big Dig.” A creation of Governor Michael Dukakis and Congressman Tip ONeil, it resulted in the payout of $14B to Boston’s construction unions and contractors. Addressing strategic transportation needs got lost in the frenzy to reward political constituencies. Imagine the transit system we could have had if the “Big Dig” had included a mass transit overhaul as its centerpiece. Alas, the constituents, who were served, did highway, not mass transit construction. There were promises made by the Dukakis administration to the Conservation Law Foundation committing the “T” to significant expansion without identifying funding sources.

There were failures of successive Governors, both Republican and Democrat, who dodged the problems at the “T” Each shied away from imposing effective management practices and increasing employee accountability because the political cost was too high.

Finally, there is our legislature. As the “crème de la crème” of patronage havens, the political clout of MBTA employees and contractors is legendary. Members of the Greater Boston delegation know that “T” employees are a force to be reckoned with; they have chosen not to reckon. This is why the legislature dragged its feet on releasing “T” pension information during the last legislative session, and why they have consistently balked at establishing independent financial oversight over the agency.

The MBTA is proof that when a government agency gets too large and lacks oversight, it becomes an interest unto itself. You, the taxpayer not only lose your revenue, you also lose service. To be sure, there are hundreds of individual “T” employees, who work hard to serve the public, but as an organization, the “T” has unquestionably failed.   Only a radical and drastic transformation of our transit services can fix this.   This transformation can be summed up in one word receivership.