Trump Regime

Report: Top Rail Safety Official Wasn’t Even Doing The Job

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Here's a story that deserves a lot more traction than it's probably going to get.

The acting director of the Federal Railroad Administration, the agency responsible for railroad safety, has resigned following a string of accidents and deaths, but you may say it doesn't matter.

You say it doesn't matter because, according to Politico, he literally wasn't doing the job.

Heath Hall became the Federal Railroad Administration's acting chief after being appointed deputy administrator in June. But he subsequently appeared at least twice in local media reports last summer as a sheriff's department spokesman in Madison County, Mississippi, where he has long run a public relations and political consulting firm.

The firm also continued to receive payments from the county for its services from July through December, despite Hall's pledge in a federal ethics form that the business would be "dormant" while he worked at DOT. And Tiffany Lindemann, a former FRA public affairs official who left the agency in September, told POLITICO this week that she had fielded at least three requests from a Mississippi television journalist seeking to speak with Hall during the summer. [...]

Hall’s company even got a no-bid, $75,000 public relations contract from the county Board of Supervisors the same week he joined DOT — a move that brought objections from two of the five board members, who wondered why the county wasn’t letting other firms compete for the work. The supervisor who pushed the contract was one of Hall’s firm’s clients, the Madison County Journal reported at the time.

It appears that Hall was serving as the railroad administrator in name only, but it's possible he also wasn't fulfilling the terms of his contract with Madison County. One county supervisor who objected to his no-bid contract reportedly said he wasn't showing up to meetings.

It seems like an open question what Hall actually does with his time, but he certainly wasn't taking railroad safety seriously. In any case, it appears he was drawing a salary as the acting administrator even if he wasn't doing anything.

The state of passenger rail in America is legitimately dangerous and embarrassing and it's only going to get worse with time. The infrastructure "plan" unveiled by Trump this morning would do nothing to improve the situation. More on that later.

  • muselet

    Hall has been on an extended leave of absence since last month due to what the FRA has described as a family emergency. But DOT officials said Saturday, after reviewing POLITICO’s latest questions, that his departure is now permanent.

    Is “family emergency” the same code phrase as “spend more time with his family”?

    I’m happy enough to see the back of Heath Hall, but this is distressing:

    Since January, the agency’s reins have rested in the hands of chief counsel Juan Reyes, a New York attorney with a background primarily in public-private partnerships, who became the acting deputy administrator in January.

    I guess when an administration doesn’t care about trivia like industry regulation, any available warm body is as good as another for filling the big chair.

    Only the best people.


  • Badgerite

    With a corrupt grifter we get grifters and self dealing through out government. What else is new.

  • Aynwrong


    • Nefercat

      “One that believes in the hard, unexciting, laborious, painstaking work known as governance”
      I remember we had a presidential candidate who personified this understanding of governance.

      But people whined that she didn’t “excite” them, and that she didn’t visit them, personally (because how else could you possibly find out anything about a candidate?), and even that she “over-prepared” for various projects and events. Boy, did we dodge a bullet, amirite?

      • ninjaf

        Wow! Just imagine what a “disaster” that might have been! Whew!

        • Christopher Foxx

          Just imagine how much better off we’d all be if we’d managed a Clinton-Gore-Obama-Clinton run.

          Actually, given the total loss of reason the GOP and deplorables have shown for since ’92, I suppose we’d be in even more trouble. Hard to believe there is some sort of release silver lining to Bush Jr and trumpy.

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