In a shock to state legislators and advocates of mass transit alike, state Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Marie has abruptly resigned in what appears to be more of a sacking by an unnamed Rell administration official.
According to a report in the Hartford Courant, Marie was summoned to the state Capitol Tuesday for a meeting with the unnamed official. Before he got there, he was out—his access to his state e-mail account blocked, his key card to the DOT administration building in Newington and Bradley Airport deactivated.
Later in the day, the Rell administration seemed to be unable to choose between the boilerplates “he wants to spend more time with his family” and “he was looking forward to new opportunities.” So they combined them. Gov. Rell said Marie left to “pursue long-term employment opportunities and spend more time with his family.” Not exactly deserving an “A” in creativity. Short of the governor herself, the only “senior administration official” with the juice to fire a commissioner is Chief of Staff Lisa Moody who has a history of not only ordering around commissioners but telephoning other branches of government to bring in line their employees to her liking.
It’s well-known that the next several months will see the departure of many commissioners and agency chiefs who serve at the pleasure of the governor who won’t be there past the end of this term. But the circumstances surrounding Marie’s departure seem unusual nonetheless.
To Marie’s benefit but not so much the taxpayers, he will continue to be paid his $170,000 salary through the end of the July although he can’t even get in his own office.