Don’t tell me the end of summer isn’t until the third week in September. Virtually everyone understands summer ends on Labor Day (or the Friday before for those who want to beat the rush.) The leaves are beginning to turn. Crickets are making a racket at night. Returning college students are clogging the streets with rental vans. Increased traffic makes roads already clotted with construction work even more impassable.
To intensify those seasonal downers, certain news stories have darkened the mood. One of the most infuriating is the Boston Herald’s series on the excesses permitted by the MBTA pension system. Reporter Matt Stout detailed how more than half those receiving T pensions retired before the age of 60; 35 percent, before 55 years old; and fully 17 percent retired in their 40’s. Wish I had gone to work at the T. I could have retired years ago and might even have gone on to yet another state job with a pension funded by the taxpayers.
Another Herald story also prompted a scowl. Outlining the $52 million that Boston could gain from having a casino built at Suffolk Downs, reporters Stout and Dave Wedge explored the controversy over having a referendum wherein just East Boston voters weigh in on the casino rather than voters citywide. At a press conference, Mayor Tom Menino said, “Why should people in Readville or West Roxbury have a say in what happens in East Boston?” (His office confirms the quotation.) Does the Mayor really think that worsened traffic, impact on local businesses and the lottery, and increased crime (even if it’s only check kiting and prostitution) doesn’t affect the entire city? If the Mayor’s surprisingly parochial attitude held, why then would we elect any city councilors at large? They would be elected only by their neighborhoods! That’s nonsense!
Then there’s Joan Vennochi’s story in the Boston Globe about how the venerable Freedom House is planning a September 10 mayoral forum only for candidates who are “persons of color.” This means John F. Barros, Charlotte Golar Richie, Felix G. Arroyo, Charles C. Yancey, Charles C. Clemons Jr., and David J. Wyatt. Not one of them apparently protested this form of discrimination based on race. Any one of them could have distinguished himself or herself from the pack in a Sister Souljah moment. As Vennochi noted, can you imagine their reactions if some other organization invited only white candidates? Why not invite all and get everyone to weigh in on issues affecting minorities, who, by the way, are the majority in the city?
We’re already dealing on a national and international level with the looming debt ceiling crisis, the use of force in Syria, and other profound and troubling problems. Nice to know our state and local pols are keeping pace with the bad news of the season!
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