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Home | From Bob's Cluttered Desk | When Your Highway Safety Chief is a Crappy Driver

When Your Highway Safety Chief is a Crappy Driver

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When Your Highway Safety Chief is a Crappy Driver

Let's say that you have an employee that has a driving record that includes seven accidents, four speeding violations, and two failures to stop for a police officer. Now let's say that this employee not only must drive as a part of their job, but is actually responsible for highway safety in your state. Could that be a problem?

That is apparently what is happening in Massachusetts, where three state representatives have asked Gov. Deval L. Patrick to fire Sheila Burgess, the state's highway safety director. The Boston Globe recently revealed Ms. Burgess' less than stellar driving record, and the fight is on to have her removed.

Of course, this is a state whose motto seems to be “If you don't like the way we drive, stay off the $#%&! sidewalk!” Too bad they can't fit that on their license plates.

Ironically, it sounds to me like they could improve highway safety significantly by getting her off the road. Perhaps a desk job. On a convenient bus route.

The lawmakers are making this the centerpiece in a greater investigation into patronage in the Patrick administration, so clearly there are political influences at play here. Burgess apparently spent 20 years as a "political operative and fundraiser" before being given her current position. Still, I would think that a "Highway Safety Director" should have the ability to drive to her job without embedding her neighbors rose bushes in the front grill of her car. I am sure this is an important position; it's not like she is doing something meaningless like driving a school bus or ambulance.

She is responsible for highway safety in her state. I've heard of leading by example. I suppose there is something to be said for leading by bad example.

State public safety officials have responded by saying that Ms. Burgess, a former fundraiser for U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern and principal in a firm that worked for Lt. Governor Murray when he was a candidate for mayor of Worcester, would be reassigned to another position in the state Office of Public Safety and Security.

Now, lest I be negligent in the arena of clarity, this woman, according to the Boston Globe, has had SEVEN car accidents, FOUR speeding violations, and has TWICE been cited for failing to stop for police officers. Based on that alleged record I would suggest that the only position she should have in the "Office of Public Safety and Security" should be as the poster child for the Defensive Driving Training Division. Kind of a "Have you seen me?" poster sort of thing.

A spokesman for the state public safety office, Terrell Harris, says she has not yet been reassigned, and that they “are trying to evaluate the situation to see exactly where she might fit in.” Perhaps she could run the Drivers License offices in that state. She's managed to hang on to hers this long, so she may have something to show people there.

Her detractors are saying that reassignment should not be an option. They say that she does not have the qualifications to justify her $87,000 salary plus benefits. If they fire her they need to do it properly. Maybe they could just text her the termination while she is driving home.

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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.

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Subscribe to comments feed Comments (1 posted)

dan miller 11/26/2012 15:25:37

Thanks for the article. This is another example of the outrageous political patronage that goes on in Massachusetts. Can't imagine this story to be true any where else. Her qualifications NONE!!!

The only time it is safe on Massachusetts highways is when the Highway safety director is not behind the wheel.
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