Battle of the Spendthrift Public Officials

1220556118Poor Dan Grabauskas. The second he so much as sneezes and grabs a Kleenex from the supply closet, the papers are accusing him of wasting the MBTA’s dwindling funds. The T’s general manager is under fire (again) for giving nonunion employees raises.

But he’s not the only official being accused of excess. The Herald tears into local politicians for going on junkets during these lean times, breaking the cost of Gov. Deval Patrick’s jaunt to California down to the latte.

So which government official is really wasting your tax dollars? Let’s review.

Dan Grabauskas
The Globe reports that the GM gave 33 raises, averaging about $5,000 each, since July 1, 2005. That’s about 11 raises per year, which costs the agency roughly $55,000 annually.

Justification: “We make adjustments if we find that there are inequalities regardless of whether you are in a union or not in a union,” [Grabauskas] told the paper.

Benefit to taxpayers: Happier MBTA executives, some of whom are actually earning less than their union underlings.

Why it’s bad: The T still has to figure out how to pay for that contractually-obligated 9 percent raise for its union employees.

Gov. Deval Patrick
The Herald says Patrick, economic czar Dan O’Connell, Senate president Therese Murray, and “nearly a dozen staffers” attended a five-day biotech conference in California, at a cost of $80,000. Assuming 14 people attended the conference, each attendee cost taxpayers about $1,142.86 per day.

Justification: “We are in the midst of a hyper-competitive environment where other states and countries are competing for limited economic development opportunities,” the governor’s office said in a statement. “Now more than ever it is critical that we fight for every job and investment dollar.”

Benefit to taxpayers: Movie studios (Patrick made a bonus stop in Hollywood to talk up the state’s film credits) and more biotech industry if the investment pays off.

Why it’s bad: $13,220 for 5,000 Massachusetts brochures? $14,663 in flights? You’re going to need to install a whole lot of lightbulbs to offset that carbon footprint.

And the biggest waste is. . .
Perhaps next time the governor goes on a junket, he can take a cue from Mayor Tom Menino and leave some of his staffers at home. Or at least he can have them watch the episode of $40 a Day dedicated to the city they’re visiting to help avoid spending $39 on toast and fruit.