Governor urges MBTA: Go inspect stuff

The Patriot Ledger reports Gov. Baker wasn't very happy with the way a Red Line car went boom the other day and said the T needs to do an even better job of inspecting stuff to make sure there aren't more Andrewgeddons waiting to happen with its superannuated subway cars.

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Hey governor!

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Mr. Baker:

Maybe you could just visually inspect the inside of a subway, trolley, or bus once in a while. You know, during your commute to work. #takethetpledge

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here's a better idea

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Maybe the House Speaker, Senate President, AND Governor all go with the inspectors for a couple of days and then appropriate the money to fix things?

Radical idea, I know!

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Shocking

Baker is great at finding ways to cut spending at the T. Not so good at making the system better.

Wasn't the financial control board suppose to fix all these problems?

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Gov Baker should fix the problem he created then.

When the Gov fished The BIG DIG out of the crapper (many years ago), he screwed the way the T was funded and now the system is falling apart. He needs to stop pointing fingers and fund it properly.

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Faker sounds like the so called president

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With Chucking Farley, it's always someone else's fault. And he's the first to take credit for the current spending on new cars that had nothing to do with him.
But somehow he remains Teflon Charlie and many of you think he's doing a great job, because he's not a frothing raving maniac like most Republicans. He does his dirty work silently and with a smile.

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Important Detail

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The Governor doesn't fund anything.

The Great and General Court controls the funding.

The Governor has veto power.

The Democratic Party has the numbers to override any veto.

Baker has messed this up, but his chorus happily cheers him on from the sidelines and has done nothing to fix it in the past two decades.

They are all responsible. We need to turn the screws on all of them.

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Father of "forward funding"

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Head of a Koch funded Pioneer Institute and asked by Weld to come up with a plan.

Look it up - not governor or legislator at the time, but he designed the problem and he owns it.

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Why do you keep repeating this?

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It's clearly not true.

Your logic is like if daddy said - you have to take a loan out to pay for college, but I'll pay it for you and then he does. Then when you turned 25, you said daddy, I don't have enough money even though you are paying for college loans - so he gives you an extra $1000 a month. and then when you turn 30 you say you still don't have enough money so he gives you $1000 a month additional. Now you are 35 and you say Daddy, I need a down payment for a house and you blame him because you don't have two nickels to rub together.

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Bad analogy

It would be as if your father didn't send you to college and instead added a new garage to his house. Then 30 years later you're still working low paying jobs because you didn't get a good education. Now your dad is now pestering you to buy a better house and car and ignoring you when you explain you just don't have money.

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Unfortunately

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That's not what happened. The state gave them a lot of debt - then they gave them the money to pay down that debt. then they gave them two separate MASSIVE annual inflows a few years later. And it still wasn't enough.

They spent the money on higher salaries, benefits and pensions instead of capital improvements. Now they don't have any money.

The analogy isn't bad, and it isn't good. It's perfect. May not fit your worldview -but it's correct. I've done this analysis out here several times by quoting their income statement chapter and verse. It's not an opinion. It's arithmetic.

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The state IS the MBTA. Failure is not an option.

What happened in the past doesn't really matter. The public is being shafted due to bad management and executive oversight by both parties over decades. The state has an obligation to fix the system irrespective of where the money comes from.

And before you say, "The MBTA screwed up" remember that the MBTA's leadership is selected by the Governor. Blame Walsh, Romney, Patrick, and Baker all you want. It's still the state's (Baker's) problem to solve. He's tried solving the problem by cutting budgets and outsourcing but that obviously isn't working.

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Most of this I agree with

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And the jury is still out on the last part. The problem is that Baker is in a race against time. The system was sinking before he got into office and he's bailing with all his might against an entrenched status quo.

You are right about management. Problems galore. But money is sufficient. It just hasn't been well allocated. See comment on management.

Bottom line, decisions Baker made 20 years ago are not the problem. Not sure they are a solution. I think it was rather neutral. The REAL problem is all the can kicking that came in between, as you note from govs of all stripes.

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Why do you over-simplify with such a weak analogy?

Just speak like an adult and to the subject at hand, whats with this fetish fiscal conservatives have with cute little stories that ignore so many of the nuances of the subject?

Its just so disingenuous because you built this straw-man of a parent giving money to their child, not so subtlety implying that the T just gets handouts and doesn't offer any value to our economy.

Nah, just keep parroting weak narratives that offer zero resolutions to the problem, that'll teach those silly liberals.

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Tried that

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three, four, five times by quoting the income statement chapter and verse. Then people come back that don't know how to read an income statement and tell me I'm wrong. So I dumbed it down for those that can't do math.

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So many flaws

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I could go on for hours - here's one glaring example where they rely on biased analysis of the T's budget. First they say it's "mired in debt" and then:

By 2015, 22 percent of the agency’s budget was going to debt service. In other words, nearly a quarter of the MBTA’s operating budget could not be spent on providing bus and train service.

Doing this from memory - but I believe before Charlie even got involved they had like 30% of revenues going to debt service (and it's finally getting back up to that level after not investing in the system for over a decade.

The people that wrote these articles need to do some independent analysis. I'd happily sit with any of them for an hour and walk them through what really happened. They'd do a quick 180.

As I've noted elsewhere over and over - the T got literally billions of dollars in extra funding. Almost none went to capital improvements for years. They just kept larding on the gravy - higher salaries, unrestrained benefits and overly generous pensions. The LEAST of their problems was debt service which was roughly flat for 15 years and it's only in the last few years that it's started to grow as new cars finally are on order and they continue to dig out from snowmageddon 2015.

I don't quote secondary articles. Their actual income statement tells an entirely different story. Unfortunately, apparently nobody at the fake news can analyze an income statement.

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Why don't you quote from secondary articles?

Baker’s borrowing plan
With federal dollars dwindling and little political appetite for raising tolls or taxes, Baker engineered a two-track financing plan.

The first part relied on selling short-term bonds to investors that would be repaid by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and the Massachusetts Port Authority.

The second part of Baker’s borrowing plan was more complex and, at the time, more innovative. It called for selling up to $1.5 billion in Grant Anticipation Notes, known as GANs, which allowed the government to borrow money and pay back the principal using future federal highway grants to the state. The interest — an estimated $550 million over 18 years, which has since ballooned to an estimated $840 million — would be picked up by taxpayers.

from
http://archive.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/06/13/b...

A decade later, in an attempt to put the MBTA on more solid fiscal footing and relieve the state of its responsibility to cover the system's annual deficit, the Legislature adopted a “forward funding” mechanism that dedicated 20 percent of the state’s future sales tax revenues to the T. But it also transferred from the state to the T the burden of repaying the portion of Big Dig debt that was incurred for public transportation projects.

“These were decisions that were not made by the MBTA. These were decisions that were made in order to get the Big Dig done and in my opinion they are expenses that legitimately belong to the Big Dig and not the MBTA,” he said.

from
http://legacy.wbur.org/2012/04/08/debt-big-dig

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Well let's see

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The first two paragraphs have no impact on the T.

The third paragraph has to do w the state and is miniscule in terms of the state budget (plus the Baker probably had little control over future interest rates which nobody could predict), $%!+ happens.

The fourth and fifth paragraph is my point above. Forward funding gave more than enough to pay back that particular debt, even at low growth rates - see income statement if you don't believe me.

So if I inherit a loan that costs $1000 a month, but also an income greater than $1000 a month, why do you and others see a problem with that?

And if you don't believe me, I repeat, see the income statement.

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MBTA income statenent

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Google, you'll find it. Goes back to the 90s thru about 2014 or 2015 was the latest I saw. Might be a bit more updated now.

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Try this

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SORE Fy2016 Mbta

2016 was the latest I could find

And yeah, quoting stats and numbers and figures from Public entities directly from their websites is "vague".

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That’s funny

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It took me 10 seconds to track down the MBTA’s audited financial statements. You should fire up the Alta Vista and see yourself.

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oh I was able to track down

oh I was able to track down that too. But I want to know what exactly he is referring too, since the named description doesn't match.

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Sure

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Maybe he was getting his data from this report, which refers to this report (see page 42 for a nice graph.)

Still, I wouldn't challenge Stevil on budget things unless you've got some data yourself.

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why not challange him?

All he does is sneer.

You see by linking the report I can see that focus on labor costs. That is a particular point of view.

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Numbers are numbers

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And if I think his numbers are off, I do the footwork and show where his math is wrong.

Your turn.

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?

What numbers has he shown? Zero references is the problem with his criticism.

As forThe numbers you have shown, I would not presume that they are in accurate. However one of the problems they identified caught my eye. They pointed out that salary increases did not match revenue increases.

I am aware how expensive employees are. But wages, pensions and healthcare are not equal to fraud and waste. Fare revenue cannot fund the MBTA. Should fluctuations in tax revenue control wage increases? 3 to 4% is cost of living.

I also think that public employee cost is a separate problem from the debt that encumbers the MBTA.

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Since you are so hot and bothered

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Here:

https://cdn.mbtace.com/sites/default/files/2017-10/fy16-sore-history-bud...

Oh - and wage increases for the past 15 years for the private sector is zero - 2% and even the public sector is probably 1-3% (except in the city of Boston which is closer to 4%). As you've missed the headlines for 10 years, Inflation has been running about 2% or less (which is why the Fed drove interest rates to zero and other countries have the very hard to grasp "negative interest rates").

Umm - the T has a budget. If you spend more on debt - that leaves less for employees and vice versa. It's not a zero sum game because if they overspend the state bails them out - but they've just started to crack down on the overemphasis on employee expenses relative to debt service because it's literally falling apart and they need to borrow to rebuild/replace.

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There is no money in that budget for upgrades and repair

The longer you wait, the more expensive repairs become. That's the problem with the fake "conservative" budgets. All of the USA is suffering because of infrastructure that wasn't properly maintained. Wages in the private sector are flat because profitable companies are too greedy to pay the workers that make them rich. People seem to miss the point that when a person works for 30-50 years and can't save for retirement they will end up on foodstamps and medicare. Then everyone can pay to care for private sector employees instead of expecting successful wealthy corporations to provide a pension to the lazy elderly people that don't work for them anymore.

This budget shows the problem this debt has created. This debt was part of the magic that Baker performed to finish the big dig. He needs to fix it and your link supports my argument.

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There's plenty of money

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If you paid people less or had fewer workers. But you're right - because they spent so much on people - now they have very little for "stuff".

The problem is, as others have pointed out, is that the T is a dependent of the state. So if you think they need more money, the only way to pay for it is to take it from the 75% of the budget that goes to education or health and human services. Everything else gets done on only 25% of the budget and you won't find enough room there to fix the problem.

So if you want more T - you need less healthy or less educated kids. Which to you choose O wise one?

Or you could raise revenue - as they say - rotsa ruck with that.

If you think you can solve the problem of low wage growth - you'll win a Nobel - good luck. Umm-all old people end up on Medicare - that's what it's for. Food stamps - some for sure - but most old people are poor because they spent their money - not because they couldn't save. You don't want to challenge me on that one - retirement saving and investing is what I do for a living and I've seen 60 year olds that make $50k per year with half a million to a million in the bank because they lived frugally within their means.

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you are missing the point.

you are missing the point. Taking away pensions and health care from state workers doesn't reduce the burden on the state, it just moves the numbers around. That plan made private industry rich by letting taxpayers pay for the care of retirees.

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He should show us "his" numbers then

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You put way too much faith in high school debate reasoning.

He needs to show actual numbers and link to them explicitly.

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Great, except

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I easily found a source to back up his numbers.

If you doubt the numbers, track down the real numbers, and provide a counterpoint. Otherwise, you've got nothing.

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I am a reasonable person. As

I am a reasonable person. As I acknowledged before, the mbta's finances are relatively public and so I was able to find the financial audit.

It is a usual troll tactic to be vague, tell your opponent to look things up and then weasel to other vague points when that person looks stuff up.

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“Troll”?

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He gave numbers. You doubted them, without a counter. That puts you more in the troll camp than he is. No offense, but from my corner, that’s how it looks.

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He eventually gave numbers.

He eventually gave numbers. Before that, he made snide comments without links. Asking him to be specific, is not a "counter".

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Great

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So why were you asking for citations? Also, his proven data shows that since the 1990s the debt load of the T in terms of overall budget, has decreased.

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?

I am not arguing to default on the debt, I am saying that it has prevented needed repairs and improvements. It is just like making roads from asphalt, instead of concrete.

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Stem To Stern? - Right Out of the Mitt Romney Playbook

It is very disheartening to have to get the governor to tell state agencies to you know "Look at what you are responsible for, and maybe fix it".

You would think after Melina Delvalle was crushed in the Ted Williams Tunnel and smiling Mitt walked around like he was Christ's Cousin blaming everyone but himself, even though he was the guy responsible for the guy who should have been making sure things were ok that we have to do this.

Charlie - You have been governor for over three years - You are the one that should have called for this before the accident happened.

Nice job lighting the fire under everyone's ass after the fact. That's not leadership, that's deflection.

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Baker to the Commonwealth

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"The buck doesn't stop with me, I'm just the Gov'nah after all!"

Has anyone tallied up just how much these daily delays that cause worker absences cost the metro region? I'm willing to bet it's cheaper to actually fund the MBTA than leave all that wealth generation frying on a broken third rail. Time is money, and people that can't get to work are not putting money into the state economy.

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T

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By next week this will all be forgotten. It's probably going to take a mass casualty event for there to be changes.

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It's a great idea

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And when we see either the rise in overtime costs or the rise in headcount at the T when more eyes are out there looking for defects, I am sure Baker won't turn that into a political issue.

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Better idea:

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Better idea:

fire the bloated headcount in the MBTA's inhouse legal department. Use that money to hire more people to inspect and fix things.

But it won't happen because LAWYERS!

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So

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Your claim is that by outsourcing things like reviewing contracts, the T will save money? Sure, and they'll save money by deferring maintenance, too.

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Urge?

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Charlie you are the Governor don't urge order the MBTA to do inspections. Are you afraid the response from the MBTA will be to say 'Governor if you want something done you have to say "pretty please"

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Good thing

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It’s angood thing the T has so many inspectors on the payroll then

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LOL!! OR ELSE WHAT? ??

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LOL!! OR ELSE WHAT? ?? Baker doesn't have the balls to govern the MBTA properly. Deval's long gone and it's still a fucked up transit "system" which riders keep paying money to put their lives in their own hands .

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