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Driven Out Of Office Transportation Commissioner’s Driving Record Wasn’t On Resume

Sat., May 11, 1996, midnight

Even in a city like Boston where traffic laws are ignored with a devilish pride, William Luster’s hands-on experience was too much.

Boston’s new transportation commissioner was driven from office after it was revealed that he had failed to tell City Hall about two recent parking tickets - one for blocking a handicap ramp while in town for his job interview.

The man in charge of traffic safety and parking already had at least five speeding tickets and three accidents on his record.

He resigned under pressure Thursday after only eight days on the job.

“I believe that my future effectiveness in the job has been damaged beyond repair,” he said in his resignation letter to Mayor Tom Menino.

Menino, who learned of his appointee’s driving record only after Luster took office, until recently defended him, saying, “We all make mistakes.”

In accepting Luster’s resignation, the mayor said: “It’s about judgment. It’s about being forthright. It’s about credibility. This isn’t a standard I want a department head to be.”

The two latest tickets were both issued to a vehicle that belonged to the city of Salem, where Luster was planning director before taking the Boston job. One was issued for blocking a handicap ramp in March. The other, written in April, was for parking in a resident-only spot.

Before his appointment, Luster was on a list of drivers who could not renew their licenses because he had not paid a Boston parking ticket from last year; he paid the fine when he was under consideration for his new job.

Luster could not be reached for comment Friday.

Luster won little sympathy from other drivers regularly confronted with gridlock and impossible parking in the crowded city.

“I think it’s ludicrous” that he was ever given the job, said Marge Pearlman, who plucked a soggy parking ticket from beneath her rain-soaked windshield wiper upon returning from an errand. “Politicians should set an example.”

Pat Dutch, who takes the train to work rather than drive in the city, faulted the Menino administration for being caught by surprise by Luster’s record.

“If you apply with any law enforcement agency, they run a check,” he said.


 
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