Relearning the Lesson

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Its been painful to watch the situation with Transportation Secretary Mullan play out over the past two weeks. As an observer of transportation in this state, I have had the opportunity to interact with him and he’s been gracious enough to appear at one of our events. I’ve found him to be smart, knowledgeable, and dedicated. Further, given two false starts at the position and the importance of managing major structural reforms, the administration could ill-afford another transition at the Secretary level.

So its been painful to watch as we review the same painful lesson once again: its not the ‘crime’, its the coverup. The inability to get a story straight on a hot button issue related to the Big Dig allowed a significant problem (that wasn’t their fault) to become a much bigger problem.

My (uneducated, unsourced) hunch is that the engineering types treated it as an engineering problem, not as a PR/public safety problem, then got sloppy in what they had to disclose. What’s puzzling for me is how the relatively well-stocked communications shop over at MassDOT didn’t get this right from the beginning.

It’s a bad mistake, no doubt. But it shouldn’t be a firing offense. At the senior manager level in transportation, MassDOT lacks bench strength and can ill afford to lose more people.