‘Reform before revenue’ claims another TeamTrans victim

In a predictable coda to the Mother of All Traffic Jams, Massachusetts Turnpike Executive Director Alan LeBovidge politely told Gov. Deval Patrick to take this job and shove it.

"Given today’s circumstances, I cannot in good conscience say to the members of the Board, or more importantly our toll payers, that my daily contribution to this mandate is cost justified when measured against my compensation," LeBovidge wrote in his resignation letter.

LeBovidge, a wealthy retired accounting executive, donated his annual $160,000 salary to charity. Having been fired once by Patrick (from the post of revenue commissioner), he no doubt saw the handwriting on the wall.

"When I was recruited for the position of Executive Director," he wrote, "I did so under the conditions that… that I would have the authority…to hire and fire employees and to have overall operating responsibility." Having that power was key for LeBovidge.  “I just wanted to make sure I have the right to hire and fire,” he told Boston University State House reporter Evan Lips last December. “I am not going to be beholden to anyone.”

Patrick may have scored a few political points by reversing LeBovidge's decision to lay off up to 50 toll takers after the fateful Easter weekend when the former executive director decided not to pay overtime to workers to replace people who'd called in sick. But his move undercuts the "reform (or change) before revenue" message which has become a slogan in search of a workable program.

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Gabrielle Gurley

Senior Associate Editor, CommonWealth

About Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle covers several beats, including mass transit, municipal government, child welfare, and energy and the environment. Her recent articles have explored municipal hiring practices in Pittsfield, public defender pay, and medical marijuana, and she has won several national journalism awards for her work. Prior to coming to CommonWealth in 2005, Gabrielle wrote for the State House News Service, The Boston Globe, and other publications. She launched her media career in broadcast journalism with C-SPAN in Washington, DC. The Philadelphia native holds degrees from Boston College and Georgetown University.

About Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle covers several beats, including mass transit, municipal government, child welfare, and energy and the environment. Her recent articles have explored municipal hiring practices in Pittsfield, public defender pay, and medical marijuana, and she has won several national journalism awards for her work. Prior to coming to CommonWealth in 2005, Gabrielle wrote for the State House News Service, The Boston Globe, and other publications. She launched her media career in broadcast journalism with C-SPAN in Washington, DC. The Philadelphia native holds degrees from Boston College and Georgetown University.

And if there is no money to pay overtime, then the message to Massachusetts residents should be "there is no money to pay overtime." (One alternative to paying overtime — waving drivers through tolls in the absence of toll takers — deprives the state of much-needed revenue. Notice New Hampshire doesn't wave through too many people at I-95 tolls during its predictable miles-long summertime backups.)

Welcome to the new austerity, drivers of Massachusetts. Don't say Alan LeBovidge didn't try to warn you.