by Thomas Donoghue
The weather is droning on and the Atlanta continues its slumber throughout the remaining months of this most persistent winter. We all yearn for the sunny days that all Georgians are consistently promised by all “good for business” entities.
However, regardless of all the depression that sets in with the gloomy days, I think it’s safe to say: at least we’re not Boston. All of this is a long-winded approach to bringing me to the reason for writing today: Dr. Beverly Scott, the now former Chief Executive of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA, or better known as the “T”), and former MARTA Chief Executive.
It seems as if Boston got a little dose of classic ineptitude during these winter months imported from out very own MARTA of years past. The T probably didn’t know what they were in for in hiring Beverly Scott once the going got truly tough. On Oct. 8, 2012, our very own Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that MARTA had hired an outside consultant firm to peer into Beverly Scott’s leadership practices and that of her executive staff with the following findings: “Interview feedback gathered from the Executive Management Team (EMT) and the board during September and November revealed numerous opportunities for performance improvement for Dr. Beverly Scott and the other members of the executive team.” Simply put, Scott isn’t good at her job and y’all need to show her the door. However, by the time MARTA had finally seen the light, Scott was already on her way to head the T.
In fact, MARTA hired a psychologist at a cool flat rate of $144,000 to assist Scott with her leadership ineptitude.
This winter, Scott abruptly quit the T with little reason behind her decision, other than that she faced formidable questions from far better news agencies than the AJC requesting she answer to her poor performance as chief executive in light of this year’s most relentless snow storms. Of course, Scott blamed the quality of the fiscal infrastructure on her closing down the MBTA. Note that there is always someone or something else to blame when she’s under fire. Isn’t it the job of the chief executive not to pass blame? The ability to take responsibility is the reason for their position in the first place.
Let me recount the zingers that Scott chose to answer the Boston press’s very real and concerned questioning:
“…if you ever think that there’s anyone else that you think can do it better, they should do it.”
“But what you have to do is give that person, God Jr. or whoever, give them the resources…”
And my favorite: “Just take Bev out of the picture.”
It seems as if Bev took herself out of the picture. She resigned from the MBTA on Feb. 11, but not before she told the Boston metro area that it would take 30 days to bring the T service back to normal operations. And more recently, the Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has formed another panel to investigate what Scott did wrong and why. Like the woman said, this isn’t her first rodeo. After all, remember when Scott turned MARTA into an advocacy agency and had a red “X” spray painted on 30 percent of the buses then had them repeatedly circle the State House in protest. It’s no wonder past lawmaker’s decided consistently not to support MARTA, particularly a CEO who drives her buses off a cliff both fiscally and politically.
One daily commuter put it best to Radio Boston when he said, “As a rider, it is the small things that are so glaring [they] typify a management that is entirely out of touch with reality.” I only wish the MBTA would have asked MARTA riders their opinions of Scott before they hired her, particularly when Scott talked of cutting MARTA service completely on certain days of the week. WSB TV reported in 2012 upon Scott’s exit: “she cut jobs, cut bus service, froze pay, and increased employee contributions to healthcare.”
Scott’s consistent and well-documented record is completely contrary to the outside-the-box exemplary job of current MARTA CEO Keith Parker. Only this time, if the T comes knockin’, I hope MARTA doesn’t give him up without a fight. As for Scott, I assume the next transit agency whose desk her resume graces will check her references a little better. And lastly, from Atlanta to Boston, we’re sorry for the damaged export, though I don’t think we can offer a refund.