‪BOSTON 2024 CANNOT BE A PARTISAN, POLITICAL OPERATION, OR IT WILL FAIL

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^ an overflow crowd of citizens, many of them concerned (and rightfully so, unfortunately) attended Boston 2024’s first community meeting. Mayor Walsh, who has committed himself va banque to the Games bid, answered many of the questions posed.

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Full congratulations go to Joe Rull on becoming Boston2024’s Olympics administrator. Mayor Walsh had no better aide, none more effective or knowledgeable. News reports say that the Mayor suggested Rull’s move. It shows Walsh’s total commitment to the project — for which we all should applaud him.
That said, it would be most unwise for thr Mayor to make Boston 2024 an adjunct of his political operation, as he seems to be doing. Opponents on the Left are already digging in their heels, hardening their opposition. It can’t help Walsh to equate his 2017 re-election to the Olympics bid, and it can’t help the Olympics bid either.

The Boston 2024 Olympics committee did not arise from Walsh’s circle. Nor did its Games bid. it was born of its own momentum, and that was a strength. Now, however, Mayor Walsh has made the bid so completely his own that he threatens to overwhelm it. Much of its key staff came to it from Walsh’s political circle. Rull is only the most obvious of a group which includes political consultant Doug Rubin and forner Walsh press aide Kate Norton.

Granted that Rubin’s brand did not begin with Walsh — his ftrst Boston Mayor commitment was to Felix G. Arroyo — but with Governor Deval Patrick. But is it a benefit for boston 2024 to be attaching itself so prominently to politiocal people ? The power of Boston’s Olympics bid is its sportsmanship, its community outreach, its universal appeal. These attributes do not arise from political wars, nor should polirical warriors seek them.

It would also be smart of Boston 2024 to not stock its shelves with political partisans, yet right now its top names suggest that the games are an initiative of the Democratic party — and of only one aprt of it. This is a silly face for an initiative of universalist appeal to pose as.

Does this Democratic party posture realize that Massachusetts’s Governor is now a Republican ? A Governor who will have a huge say, if he so chooses, in whether the Games bid succeeds or not ?

Probably the Democratic biggies now running Boston 2024 don’t care. That is remarkably short sighted. To the virulent opposition already organized, Boston 2024, by its insiderist hiring, risks arousing opposition from the right and center. Such opposition would be well justified. After all ; if Boston 2024 is basically a manoeuver by Democrats, why should Republicans get aboard ? or voters who aren’t exactly enamored of political parties, period ?

Governor Baker has expressed mildly favorable but not all-in support for the Games. Given the opposition already afoot — skepticism by the non-union Left that the Games’s big business bent and huge money bombs mean very little good for ordinary people — it hardly benefits the games to wear the portraits of Doug Rubin, Mayor Walsh, Steve Kerrigan, Juliette Kayyem, Rich Davey, Joe Rull, and their staffs. All are superior public citizens; two of the six i call friend; but they need to use their reputations wisely. I don’t think that’s happening.

The Boston 2024 committee needs to elevate its business leaders, sports celebrities, and fan-base staff to the front — make them its public face. They need to do it quickly, before the eight rermaining public discussion meetings take place. If Boston 2024 isn’t about sports, fans, games, a party to which the world is invited — just fun and sweat, OK ? — it will not win over the skeptics ; will, if anything, fully validate their skepticism. In this respect, hiring Joe Rull was a huge mistake. Wrong, too, were hiring Rich Davey, a veteran transportation administrator, and even Doug Rubin.

Until the Games’ fans win over the public, they should steer entirely clear of politicals.

It may already be too late for them to do it…

I doubt that Boston 2024’s deciders grasp my point or even accept that it is one. I think they consider it a coup to have added so many top politicals.I think they miss entirely the negative implications of their Democratic Party round-around.

It’s truly amazing how very bright and supremely accomplished people like Boston 2024’s core leaders can completely misjudge how ordinary people think, or why they think as they do.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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