“Trust, but verify”

Ah, another Massachusetts-bashing post…

Massachusetts, like so many states, uses private contractors to supplement highway department workers in clearing snowfall. In recent years, though, there have been scandals of plow-drivers taking the state’s money and simply not doing their job. In response, the state issued drivers GPS locators, so they could track them and make sure that areas that needed plowing got plowed.

Drivers protested at the requirement, but the state’s simple answer was this: you want our money, take our trackers. A few said to hell with it, but most swallowed their pride and took the gadgets.

But a few still decided they could cheat the system. One fellow, Paul V. Gratta, allegedly decided he could “beat” the system.

On at least one occasion Gratta stuffed his tracker in a paper bag and left it in a snowbank and went off and plowed a few private clients. Another time, he had one of his employees take the tracker in his private car and drive Gratta’s route (sans plowing, of course) while Gatta again went off and did a few private jobs.

The irony here is that Gratta didn’t have to go to those lengths. Highway department workers noted the discrepancies at the time, but didn’t bother to report it to anyone. Gratta was uncovered when a private tipster turned him in.

Gratta has collected over $68,000 from the state for (allegedly) plowing over the last two years.

The state is now reviewing all the GPS records over all the past storms, looking for all the times the trackers went red (indicating they’d been sitting still for over an hour).

It’s a pity the people who were watching them at the time didn’t actually DO THEIR JOB and catch them in the act. But I guess that’s asking too much of state employees.

There’s an old saw that if you make something foolproof, all people will do is make a better fool. Nice to see Massachusetts’ public employees are continuing to prove the truth of that.


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