As he began speaking at last week's Transportation Conference, Bill McKenna joked that when he first came to Jefferson City as a state representative, he "didn't like MoDOT very much."
McKenna later would be a state senator, the Senate's president pro tem for two years and - after leaving the Legislature because of term limits - a member and chairman of the Highways and Transportation Commission.
"What I learned, probably more while I was on the commission than in the Legislature," he said, "that politics doesn't drive decisions there.
"It's driven by need and economic opportunities ... which I don't think is the case with states that are not run by independent commissions."
Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah - and a former House Budget chairman - told colleagues on the new "Governmental Accountability" Committee last Wednesday: "We, essentially, have two departments - the Department of Transportation and Conservation - that really don't have much accountability back to the Legislature or the executive branch.