Maggie Brooks, executive vice president for customer and community engagement at the Regional Transit Service, will retire in April. (Photo11: LAUREN PETRACCA/@laurenpetracca/, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
When former Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks parachuted out of office at the end of 2015 and gently landed four days later on the public bus company’s pension pad for aging Republican loyalists, her new job appeared to have been tailor-made for her.
Now that Brooks has announced she will retire in April, having had her fill at the public trough that’s sustained her for 23 years, it raises the question whether Regional Transit Service will replace her.
Recall that RTS first named Brooks to the newly created position of vice president of strategic initiatives at $114,000 a year, and later to an even newer position of executive vice president for customer and community engagement at an annual salary of $150,000.
Both jobs came with the potential for tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses.
Transit service spokesman Tom Brede described Brooks’s latter role as an expansion of her first job and said the bus company would fill the vacancy she leaves behind.
“We are not sure of the timing yet, but we will need to replace her role,” Brede said. “Whether it is replaced from inside or outside the organization is not yet known.”
Excerpts from the job description on file at the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority, the body that oversees RTS and its affiliated bus services across eight counties, offers some insight into what the authority may be looking for in a replacement for Brooks.
Job Summary: “This position will have a lead role in development of new resource opportunities and mobility option products for RTS to expand/enhance our customer experience.”
Don’t be intimidated by the jargon. All that means is finding new ways to suckle the taxpayer teat to buy new shuttles to replace buses in the suburbs.
More: What to know about overhaul of suburban bus services
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Brooks had a lot of experiencing mining “new resource opportunities” as county executive.
She once hid a new snow removal tax in the county property tax bill to continue paying towns to plow county roads and give her customers a “mobility option.”
She also outsourced public services to local development corporations whose boards were stocked with corrupt county Republican toadies. Like the traffic on county roads in winter, the never-ending shell game was always moving.
Brooks claimed the LDCs, as they were known, would save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars before her husband and a handful of other crooks were convicted on bid-rigging charges.
Her successor, Cheryl Dinolfo, dissolved the corporations, claiming the move would save taxpayers millions.
Robert Wiesner, former security director at the Monroe County Water Authority and husband of former County Executive Maggie Brooks. (Photo11: TINA MACINTYRE-YEE staff photographer)
Essential Functions: “Manage a robust ‘voice of the customer’ program that captures feedback in a unified platform to improve customer understanding which allows RTS to take action on data.”
If you’ve ever organized a SurveyMonkey poll, you’re good.
Toward the end of her tenure in office, Brooks had her administration survey millennials to learn how to attract and retain them. It was called monroe200 — the lowercase conveyed just how cool county government could be.
The survey found that millennials think restaurants are important (100 percent), enjoy music (97 percent), like nightlife (92 percent), have wanderlust, want good jobs, and are basically a lot like any young person ever was.
Knowledge, Skills and Abilities: “Creative thinker with a vision to see what’s possible, confidence and know-how to get it done and tenacity to help achieve impactful and meaningful results.”
Brooks demonstrated her creativity and stick-to-itiveness in cheerleading for the failed Renaissance Square, which envisioned a new Monroe Community College campus, a state-of-the-art theater, and a bus station rolled into one giant ball of taxpayer-funded largesse.
She also found creative ways to keep her stubborn attachment to her promise to not raise the tax rate, although the tax levy kept climbing.
One was to keep sales tax money destined for suburban school districts. Brooks called it her Fairness, Accountability, Innovation and Results (FAIR) plan. Districts sued the county, which eventually relented and restored the funding.
The job description also calls for an “ability to interact and establish effective working relationships internally.”
This element of the job is easier to enact when two-thirds of the RTS executive management team was in your cabinet as county executive and owe their careers to you.
Monroe County Republican Chairman Bill Reilich and newly re-elected County Executive Maggie Brooks celebrate her historic third-term win in 2011. (Photo11: Annette Lein)
RTS Chief Executive Officer Bill Carpenter and Chief Financial Officer Scott Adair worked as county budget directors under Brooks, and Dan DeLaus, RTS’s general counsel, was the county attorney under Brooks. All have long histories in county Republican politics.
Candidates lacking these specific attributes shouldn’t despair. The job description contains many other bullet points that may be applicable to people who aren’t Republican party loyalists.
Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to be one.
David Andreatta is a Democrat and Chronicle columnist. He can be reached at [email protected].
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