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February 10, 2015

MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott held a barn burner of a press conference on that began 30 minutes before Governor Charlie Baker was scheduled to speak on Tuesday.

Baker has been critical of the MBTA in recent days, and by implication Scott. Scott was unbroken and unbowed. Her bottom line is that the T is as much a victim of underfunding as it is of historically punishing snow.

 

Listen to the full presser above. Here are my immediate, less than coherent, impressions (subject to future revision):

1.     Scott put a face to the MBTA. That’s good.

2.     Like Tom Brady at his Deflategate press conference, Scott went on too long.

3.     Don’t forget Howard Dean’s 2006 meltdown. Scott didn’t melt down. But the lesson to take away from Dean’s episode is straight out of Marshall McLuhan: it’s risky to be too hot on an essentially cool medium.

4.     Women, I suspect, will find her more sympathetic than men. Maybe I’m captive to gender stereotypes. I hope not. Scott’s candor, openness, and honesty are rare – almost without precedent – in local political life. Women seem to have less tolerance for BS than men.

5.     I’ve always liked Scott, but I never thought she had the operational savvy to tame and redirect an operation as dysfunctional and screwed up as the MBTA. Bad unions on one side, two-faced legislators on the other. We’ll see.

6.     In terms of political gamesmanship, Baker is playing this well.

7.     It’s an interesting match, the Scott versus Baker match up. Hot versus cold, Democratic appointee versus elected Republican.

8.     David D’Alessandro, the former John Hancock CEO who sat on the blue ribbon commission that studied the MBTA, said that the job of T chief is so tough and thankless that even Warren Buffett couldn’t do it.

9.     My gut tells me this is more about ritual than politics. The ritual of offering a sacrifice, in the form of Scott, in the name of moving forward.

10. If Scott is in her job a year from now, she’ll have proven to be one formidable political force.

Beverly Scott, MBTA

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