Calling the pink tie incident the last straw, Dick Austin, the Springfield Mass Transit District’s second-in-command submitted his resignation Monday. The factor that made him resolved to leave, he said, came after Austin received a “verbal dressing down” from managing director Linda Tisdale for not supporting her decision to discipline a driver for wearing a pink tie to work.
Calling the pink tie incident the last straw, the Springfield Mass Transit District’s second-in-command submitted his resignation Monday.
Dick Austin, 61, said he hasn’t seen eye-to-eye with the district’s managing director, Linda Tisdale, during most of his two-year tenure as deputy managing director.
But the factor that made him resolved to leave, he said, came after Austin received a “verbal dressing down” from Tisdale for not supporting her decision to discipline a driver for wearing a pink tie to work.
Just two days before the incident, Austin said, he had told Tisdale that his youngest daughter, Lora, has Stage 3 breast cancer.
“She could have cared less,” Austin said of Tisdale. “When the thing blew up about the tie, she thought it was appropriate to reprimand me or chide me because I didn’t support her idea. That really was kind of the sealing, or deciding blow for me.”
SMTD bus driver William “Bill” Jones received a one-day unpaid suspension for wearing a pink tie during a Friday shift in recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The incident received national media attention.
Tisdale recently wrote a letter to the editor of The State Journal-Register in which she apologized and announced she had reversed her decision to suspend Jones. He has been reimbursed for lost pay.
Austin said his time and energy will be better spent helping his daughter and wife.
Austin said he gave the SMTD 90 days notice, as required by his contract. His last day will be Jan. 29.
“I’m just trying to leave as quietly and peacefully as I can,” he said.
Austin, a former Sangamon County Board chairman and former director of the federal General Services Administration, was a finalist for the managing director spot in 2007. Tisdale was selected.
Tisdale referred comments to Frank Squires, chairman of the SMTD board.
Squires called Austin’s resignation a personnel issue and said he hopes to convince Austin to stay.
“I think he’s a great asset to the city of Springfield and the county,” he said.
If Austin can’t be persuaded to rescind his resignation, Squires said the SMTD board will decide how to fill the vacancy.
Deana Poole can be reached at (217) 788-1533 or email@example.com.