CAT leaders use CARES Act cash to present enormous bonuses to administrative workers however small rewards to bus drivers

This is a column by opinion editor Adam Van Brimmer.

Chatham Area Transit employs “substantial” people.

They are the bus drivers, the men and women who keep the service running, putting their health at risk by getting behind the wheel and their neighbors, including frontline medical professionals and their neighbors, in the scary early days of the COVID-19 pandemic First, convey. Responders to and from work.

In terms of the risk premiums, however, these drivers were less “important” than the managers and administrative staff at CAT, who continued to work last spring and summer but could do so from home or isolated workplaces.

Much less important.

As reported by Savannah Morning News journalist Katie Nussbaum in a story posted on SavannahNow.com Thursday, CAT records showed office staff saw risk payment bonuses in excess of $ 9,000. Executives received additional compensation of $ 20,000 or more.

The drivers averaged $ 2,563 apiece.

This inequality creates a jolt that resembles a bus passenger pressing the emergency stop button.

CAT history:Changes in leadership and operational challenges have characterized Chatham Area Transit over the past 15 years

The distorted distribution is incomprehensible, although probably not criminal. The additional funding came from a CARES Act grant, and a federal official said no allegations of abuse had been filed with the Federal Transit Administration, which is the regulator.

But there is the letter of the law and the spirit of the law, and few would wonder who among the CAT staff deserved the risk payment.

Two who weren’t getting any big bonuses seem to have been forced to quit their jobs as a result. Top executives Michael Brown and Terri Harrison resigned in July and August for personal and health reasons. Her resignation coincides with the arrival of then CEO Bacarra Mauldin, who came on board in June.

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Mauldin admitted “cleaning up the mess I found … in the way funding was managed,” pointing to “two former executives, both of whom were non-essential employees,” who ” approved for themselves and other senior administrators ”. ”

A review of the org charts reveals that Brown and Harrison are the two executives who left CAT last year.

Your now public departure serves the purpose of justice – not that it means much to the bus drivers. Brown and Harrison don’t have to repay their bonuses, which ran to nearly $ 48,000, while the bus drivers union battles over $ 600 per driver.

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The situation should further undermine confidence in the CAT Board of Directors. This happened on their watch and they have since fired Mauldin for no reason – or explanation -. If Mauldin’s legitimate anger and actions over the payout of the CARES Act funding caused the board to terminate it, someone should fire some board members in kind.

Such changes could come. Legislators in the Savannah area stand ready to introduce laws in the coming weeks that will require a reorganization of the CAT board of directors. The details are still being worked out, but some members of the Chatham Legislative Delegation are unhappy with the continued follies of CAT.

Legislative aside, Savannahians have to thank the CAT bus drivers and let them know that we know who the real “essential” workers are.