50 YEARS AGO TODAY ……

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On August 28, 1963, speaking to half a million of his fellow Americans and more, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke words that every American since that day has known by heart. “I have a dream,” King said, “that my children one day will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Every phrase in it counts; but today, perhaps, the phrase most poignant is that first part : “I have a dream.” A dream : in other words, a vision, a hope, not yet present but still to come.

America’s very existence arises from the dreams of men and women, for a life better than the one handed to them. America never gets to the finish line. we always have more work to do, progress to bring, as we move always forward toward social justice and civil rights and dignity for all. We may never get all the way there ? Perhaps; but every generation of Americans must keep on keeping on. We live in the future, and it is ours to make.

That is what America is. And we are all in it, all of us.

And yet ….. the progress forward is not unbroken. Often we as a nation stop moving forward; sometimes we even step backwards. Because there are some of us who do NOT believe in the dream. Oh the fine words, yes; the reality, not so much.

And so we struggle. Today we struggle. 50 years after Dr. king spoke calling us to move forward boldly, many parts of America are moving resolutely backward.

If there was any civil right that Dr. King cared for most of all, first of all, it was the right to vote. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was as much his doing as it was President Johnson’s. Yet today, 48 years after the VRA was enacted, there are several states that have legislated — or are trying to legislate — making it much more difficult for many of us to vote. Especially the poor and the isolated among us. Those who need the right to vote most of all — because it is the one thing that people disadvantaged can do as well as people with all advantages — are to have a “voted ID” — often next to impossible to get, and costly, or they will not be registered to vote. Those who live far from a polling place, or who work two or three jobs all day long and so cannot vote on polling day, will have early voting hours cut down. Anything to keep those who most need the vote from voting.

Nothing legislative could be more immoral, not to mention un-American, than efforts to impede any American from voting. Yet that is what we see going on in NC, in TX, in KS and, to a less rigorous extent, in several other states. We abhor the “vote suppression” movement.

The Department of justice is moving to block Texas’s vote-suppression laws. It has signaled that it will soon sue to block North Carolina’s even more onerous vote-suppression laws. his we thoroughly applaud. Nonetheless, it is a shame that it has come to this, 50 years after Dr. King spoke his dream, 48 years after our Congress and President enacted the most all-encompassing Voting Rights act ever adopted by our nation.

We cannot turn back. We dare not allow the nation to turn back. We must not stand by and watch any state turn us back. Our destiny as a nation demands we move forward, always forward, until every one of us has the civil rights, the respect, and the protection that our nation has always, on its truest days, promised to all.

—- The Editors / Here and Sphere

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BOSTON MAYOR RACE : THE EAST BOSTON CASINO DEAL

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^ Suffolk Downs casino resort : looking likelier now

The deal is in place now. An agreement has been reached, between Mayor Menino and the Boston casino developers, a partnership between Suffolk downs race track and Caesars Entertainment of Nevada. The terms of this deal include $ 33.4 million for East Boston development and a promise of 4,000 full time jobs. All that is now needed is a favorable vote in a referendum, as provided in the State legislation that enacted three casino zones offering one casino license per zone.

As the City of Boston / Suffolk Downs deal is now in place, why do we write about under fhe “Boston Mayor Race’ rubric ? After all, the new mayor won’t take office until well after said refendum must, be state law, be held.

The answer is simple : that such a significant deal could be made, basically, by one man, and announced in the climax month of a campaign to choose his successor, makes oh-so-crystal-clear just how powerful a Mayor of Boston really is and how huge the election campaign portends to be, even if many Boston voters don’t realize it. The Mayor of Boston runs the City, decides its future, commands its shape, tone, life style, parameters. The Seaport District, the Downtown waterfront, the Greenway, city workers’ union contracts, the taxi scandal, and, yes, the mega-million-dollar casino, all owe their coming to one Mayor — and to the voters who have returned him to office four additional times.

The next Mayor will have no less dominace than Tom Menino has put forth for everyone to see.

That will be true unless the City’s charter is amended. No one is proposing to try this. The last charter change was done in 1981, and it changed only the method of electing the City Counjcil and of choosing the City’s school committee. The mayor’s power was not diminished; indeed, it increased. The school committee moved from being elected to being appointed by the Mayor.

The Suffolk Downs / Boston casino now heads to a referendum in which all signs point toward approval. It’s a big deal. And an emotional one. Casino gambling is opposed by many on -principle. Locating a resort casino in this or that community generates “NIMBY” opposition — we recall only too well the town of Foxboro repulsing a proposal by billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn partnering with New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft. Still, it would run contrary to the power of Boston’s Mayor to bet against his seeing the East Boston casino referendum generate a favorable vote.

At that point, the new mayor takes over. And will be faced with the ultimate casino question : Boston or Everett ? We seem to forget that the Suffolk Downs deal is not the end of this saga. It isn’t.

The next Mayor of Boston will have to decide : shall Boston go to war with the competing, Everett casino plan, already approved by Everett voters and powerfully advocated their Mayor, Carlo diMaria, on behalf of Steve Wynn and his billions ? Because Boston’s next mayor can overpower Wynn — at the gaming Commission, which will decide who gets the one zonal license — if he or she really insists.  

Or does the next Mayor decide to let Everett and Wynn go first –and East Boston settle, instead, for the “innovation district” that Mayoral hopeful Bill Walczak — alone of all those running — has proposed ?

Maybe someone will ask this question of the twelve Mayoral candidates in one of the many Mayoral Forums coming up.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

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^ jobs, $ 33.4 million, and gambling.