The Reilly Factor – There is no substitute for experience

Thursday, August 6, 2009
By Cary Shuman

There is no substitute for years of experience in any profession or endeavor, and never was that more evident than when the subject at Tuesday’s council meeting turned to the MBTA and the possible elimination of bus service in town.

Town Council President Thomas Reilly addressed the issue. It was music to old-time Winthrop residents’ ears to hear Reilly speak of serving on the Board of Selectmen 30 years ago with a young selectman named Bob DeLeo, and then to hear Reilly talk about how Winthrop was a member of the original MBTA district in 1979 and how the town had its own bus contract then, separate from other MBTA communities, as it does today with the Peter Pan Bus Company.

Tom knows from experience that Winthrop’s service has its own distinct line item in the MBTA budget and that’s why it is an easy target for elimination by MBTA officials. But Reilly saved the best wisdom-filled story for our reporter when he told him of a similar situation in 1980 when the MBTA was thinking of eliminating Winthrop’s bus service at that time.

Reilly, DeLeo, Executive Secretary Marie Turner, and Town Accountant Lester Towlson requested a meeting with the then-MBTA executive director, Barry Locke, with the aim of trying to convince Locke not to cut Winthrop’s MBTA service.

The meeting finally took place. But just as all of the participants were sitting down, the door opened, and in walked a familiar face, Winthrop’s own Governor Edward King. After King shook the hands of the Winthrop group and greeted them all on a warm, first-name basis, he asked Reilly how everything was going, and Reilly responded, “A lot better now that you’re here, Governor.”

Needless to say, Governor King, who lived on Dix Street, did the right thing for Winthrop residents. And somehow, we think when word of this possible cut gets to Speaker DeLeo’s desk, everything will be all right.

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