Director of Massachusetts Highway Safety Division Has Extensive Record of Car Accidents

It sounds like something from a bad libertarian parody of government. But it turns out that the Director of the Massachusetts state highway safety agency has a long record of traffic accidents and moving violations. She apparently got the job through political connections, even though she had no relevant expert qualifications for the job. But perhaps her appointment could be justified on “takes a thief to catch a thief” grounds:

Her driving record includes seven ­accidents, four speeding violations, two failures to stop for a police officer, one failure to stay in her lane, one driving without registration or license in possession, and one driving without wearing a seat belt….

There are 34 entries on her driving record, dating back to 1982.

Yet Sheila Burgess is director of the Massachusetts Highway Safety Division. Her mission is to reduce accidents by promoting good driving practices…..

Burgess’s most recent crash occurred on Aug. 24, as she was driving a state vehicle during work hours. At 1:16 on a sunny summer afternoon, her car veered off the road in the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton and slammed into a rock outcropping, a State Police report says.

Burgess was appointed to her $87,000-a-year position in July 2007, without any background in public safety, transportation, or government administration. Her experience was in Democratic Party politics. For almost two decades as a paid consultant and congressional aide, she had raised money and ­advised candidates for public office, including — according to her resume — Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, who had taken office six months earlier as part of the new Patrick administration….

A spokesman for Governor Deval Patrick and Murray said late Friday that Burgess was hired, in part, based on the recommendation of US Representative James McGovern, for whom Burgess once worked as a consultant. Brendan Ryan, the spokesman, said he could not address why Burgess was hired into the administration as head of traffic safety despite her record of driving violations.

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