November 19, 2012

Mass. highway safety director removed over driving record

The director of the Massachusetts Highway Safety Division has been on medical leave since she suffered a head injury in an August crash.

The Associated Press

BOSTON — The director of the Massachusetts Highway Safety Division lost her job Sunday after a newspaper reported that her driving record included seven accidents, four speeding violations and one failure to wear a seat belt.

Secretary of Public Safety and Security Mary Elizabeth Heffernan told the Boston Globe in a statement that Sheila Burgess will be assigned to a "different role" within the department. Burgess has been on medical leave since she suffered a head injury in an August crash. She told police she swerved off the road to avoid an oncoming vehicle and wasn't cited.

"Given her driving record, it is clear that Ms. Burgess should not have been hired as the director of Highway Safety in 2007," Heffernan said in a statement.

The Globe reported Sunday that Burgess has 34 entries on her driving record since 1982. The status of her driver's license status was "nonrenewable" until Nov. 1 for failure to pay local excise taxes.

Burgess declined to answer detailed questions about the accident and her $87,000-a-year job.

Burgess had no background in public safety, transportation or government administration when she was appointed highway safety director in July 2007.

She had worked for two decades in Democratic Party politics as a paid consultant and congressional aide, raising money and advising political candidates including Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray.

In the August crash in Milton, state police said Burgess was driving a state vehicle during work hours when her car veered off the road and slammed into a rock outcropping about 1:15 p.m. on a sunny day.

 

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