Dear Mayor Menino:
You win! On behalf of all city residents who have been holding out for a better Boston than you’ve provided for us, I concede.
A few of us (a dwindling few) have always thought Boston could be better - that you could do better. We’ve seen the city grow and prosper during the past twenty years, but felt it was being held back from being a truly great American city.
Not that we aren’t happy to live here, just that you could help us make Boston a better place to live by building in our neighborhoods, by recognizing, respecting, and responding to residents’ about over-zealous developers and under-utilized zoning, by using the city's ever-increasing to give us safer, cleaner streets.
We thought if we argued, cajoled, begged (and, sometimes sued), that you’d listen to us.
But, I realize now why you haven't been listening to us. You do whatever you want, and it’s apparently okay - there’s never a public outcry, there’s never a protest, there’s never a vote against you at election time. You don't listen to us because you don't need to.
It’s time for us to give up, to accept that “your” Boston is the only Boston. In the fight of Man vs. Machine, Machine has won.
The Mayor’s Boston
What was the final straw for me? The Boston Globe article, “Mayor Menino reveals donors to city charity”, where it’s reported the mayor - sorry, his charity - has been collecting millions of dollars from anonymous businesses and individuals and then doling the money out to a secret group of organizations, a list of which was made available to the Globe only after it nagged him for six months.
The Fund for Boston Neighborhoods, Inc., a charity whose stated goal is “Maintaining and conducting educational, charitable, recreational, literary, scientific, artistic, theatrical, and musical functions for the residents and visitors of the city” has instead become, as I see it, a way for the mayor to shake down local businesses for money that is then distributed to buy votes from Boston residents.
Where did the money come from? According to the Globe:
“ … [C]ontributors include large corporations, developers, law firms, contractors, lobbyists, and others with business before the city,” (emphasis mine) including John Hancock / ManuLife (the people who run the Boston Marathon that shuts down midtown for a week every April), Suffolk Downs (owned by the guy who wants to open a mega-casino resort in East Boston), Mohegan Sun (owned by the Indians who want to open a mega-casino resort in Palmer), and Target.
Why would Target donate half a million dollars to Boston when it only has one outlet here? I dunno, but all I’ve been hearing from the mayor is how they’d be a perfect fit for Downtown Crossing. (Maybe they’re the ones who gave him the idea?) Meanwhile, Walmart, which contributed just $4,000 to the fund, has been shut out of the city.
Where the money goes
The money donated to the Mayor’s charity goes to a variety of causes. One of its largest programs is giving presents to children during the December holidays.
Only an angry, bitter man could see anything wrong with that, right? Which I guess I am, because all I see is a way for the Mayor to curry favor with voters. Instead of brightly-colored ribbons, each of the Christmas gifts comes with strings attached. What parent would want to get on the bad side of “Santa” and risk no presents under their trees? And don’t think those parents aren’t ready to thank him for his largess, next election day.
The mayor sees nothing wrong with it. “When we deliver [toys], my name isn’t on the bag. Nothing identifies it as the mayor’s office,’’ he said.
To which I reply, the program’s called the “Mayor’s Holiday Drive” - how much more obvious can it be?
Somewhere, James Michael Curley is smiling.
A Shining City
The mayor doesn’t see anything wrong with the way he manages the fund, or anything else that’s happened under his leadership, apparently. In speech after speech, he mentions only successes.
We’re about to enter the second generation of Boston voters who’ve had Thomas M. Menino (and, sometimes, only Thomas M. Menino) listed on their ballots. Here’s a thought: A child born the year the mayor was first elected is now old enough to vote for him!
The mayor’s influence is so pervasive in the city, it’s simply astounding: After receiving “gifts, clothing, and other necessities” from him at Christmas time, they sign up for the Mayor’s Youth Council; young professionals join his Onein3 organization; older professionals attend Boston World Partnerships meetings; immigrants find homes and receive legal advice through his Office of New Bostonians; and the city employs over 16,000 workers.
It’s cradle to grave coverage courtesy of Thomas M(ayor) Menino!
Somewhere, William Magear Tweed is smiling.
Resistance is futile
I ran for public office several years ago, for state representative. Even though it wasn’t a citywide office, I still suffered the consequences of running against the mayor’s favored candidate.
I had coffee with an acquaintance who worked for the mayor. After I asked my friend for help, he looked around nervously and responded, “I’d love to help you, but you know … I can’t.” A couple weeks later, I attended the Boston Pride kick-off and flag-raising ceremony at City Hall. Given that I’m gay, I figured I’d be welcomed among friends. Instead, I was ignored; the emcee announced my competitor - by name. Mayoral candidate Michael Flaherty turned to me and said, “Now you know what it’s like to run against the Mayor.”
In a Facebook status update last week, I complained about the mayor’s behavior regarding his charity and even went so far as to question his ethics. One of my smart-alleck friends responded, “We all know this, no one cares!”
And, he’s right!
Mayor Menino - It’s your world, we only live it.
Long live the King!
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