Pagliuca 1

Boston Bid Committee’s Steve Pagliuca outlined the new 2.0 version of its Olympic Games plan

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Yesterday the Boston Olympics Organizing Committee released its revised Games plan, dubbed “2.0.” Under the leadership now of Steve Pagliuca, owner of the Boston Celtics basketball team, the Committee has dramatically improved upon its first draft plan. Much detail has been added. The new version addresses a host of complex planning matters, from transportation and housing to games venues and financials, and from insurance protections to aftermaths. It’s an impressive improvement.

You should read Version 2.0’s 56 pages for yourself. Here’s the link :

The usual suspects of course criticized “2.0” as incomplete, or as bogarding the state’s priorities in favor of its own, or of pie in the sky projections of revenue, and what have you. These criticisms can be discarded at once, because for these crit9ics, any plan that the Games Committee comes up with will not be good enough. The objective of these usuals is to not have the Olympics come to Boston, no matter what. That is unacceptable, an insult to the City.

That piece of housekeeping done, what critiques deserve to be made ? First, let me say that I support bringing the Games to Boston — enthusiastically. We deserve it. We look forward to the changes the Games will initiate in our City, in its footprint and its thinking about itself. For too long Boston has entertained a mindset of no-change, of keeping things the way they are; attachment to old buildings, old smells, old streets, old ways of looking at where and how we live. That must change, because they will change whether we want them to or not, and it is far better that we command and direct the change than have the change directed upon us. These changes are already here, in work, education, social customs, economics, esthetics.

Almost every neighborhood in Boston is changing — rapidly. And almost every institution — grudgingly. The 2.0 version of  the Olympic Games plan for 2024 focuses almost all of these changes and gives them shape and dimension. The plan embraces today’s Boston dynamism. It enhances it.

Critics say the Olympics Plan is all about profit and white people. They are wrong on two counts. First, profit is a good thing. Profit is the life blood of business, and business is the arena of most jobs. Businesses serve customer demand at a profit. The more of that Boston can have, the better for all. Second, the Games are the last arena in which to play the race card. No part of American life is more multi-cultural than sport. The Olympics Plan engages every community of color directly. Several games venues locate in neighborhoods with a majority of-color population; jobs at the Games will be filled at least half by people of color, simply because that’s who lives in Boston and loves sport. And if the faces of the Games Committee and staff right now look mostly “white,” how can it be otherwise at the outset ? That is most of who has the money and the connections.

The Games will certainly change that because, again, how can it be otherwise ? Boston people today are everyone, from everywhere. The networking going on all over the City assures that Boston will become much more culturally integrated even without the Games.

Plan 2.0 now awaits the Governor’s judgment. Public support for bringing the Games to Boston polls quite divided; Baker’s opinion will make a difference. Will he encourage the Bid or discourage it ? I cannot tell. but Baker has made it clear that he respects “detail orientation.” 2.0 is quite detailed, but it is. as yet, incomplete — many Games venues have not yet been identified, and the insurance provisions have yet to engage an insurance broker. In addition, the Plan’s transportation infrastructure requirements have yet to pass muster with the State’s  Department of Transportation managers. At present the “DOT” is still scaling back commitments too aggressively made during Governor Patrick’s second term. It is far from clear how the 2.0 Plan’s T station upgrades and service improvements will be funded, or when, or if the Plan’s transportation priorities do not displace larger priorities involving the entire MBTA ridership.

Baker will require answers to these questions. He will want solid market research to back up the Plan’s anticipated revenue number : $ 4.6 billion. He may question the plan’s security arrangements (though these seem to have, in security expert Juliette Kayyem, exactly the right overseer) and he may have something to say about placement of Games venues yet homeless.

My feeling is that none of these concerns will prove too difficult for a planning staff capable of forging, in few months and under huge public pressure for which the Committee had been quite unprepared, a plan as complex as 2.0. The Plan makes provision for further refinement. At worst, in my opinion, Baker will hold off his imprimatur until those further refinements are made.

Eventually, however, and probably sooner rather than not, Baker will give the nod, and thereby unleash the huge and enthusiastic support already being accorded the Games by the thousands of volunteers already hard at work and recruiting thousands more. Boston is a sports city — the Governor too is a sports guy — and ultimately Boston’s love of sports will be the decider of this drama.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


Sam Alito

^ Justice Alito : on the question of religion and marriage in a same-sex context, dissenting from majority in Obergkefell case

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Justice Samuel Alito wrote most serious dissent from Friday’s majority opinion in the Obergkefell case that granted same-sex marriage full civil rights nationwide. The paragraphs that I now quote from his dissent (plus portions of it as restated from a news report) deserve a response a serious as his opinion. Alito wrote :

“The majority attempts, toward the end of its opinion, to reassure those who oppose same-sex marriage that their rights of conscience will be protected. We will soon see whether this proves to be true. I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.”

He argued that states should have been allowed to legalize same-sex marriage on their own timetable, and with possible allowances for religious people to discriminate against same-sex couples.

The majority’s rush to “invent a new right” and extend equal protection to same-sex couples had undermined the foundational rule of law, Alito warned.

“By imposing its own views on the entire country, the majority facilitates the marginalization of the many Americans who have traditional ideas,” Alito wrote. “Recalling the harsh treatment of gays and lesbians in the past, some may think that turnabout is fair play. But if that sentiment prevails, the Nation will experience bitter and lasting wounds.”

Alito has summed up quite accurately the views of serious opponents of same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is, in fact, a new thing. Only about twenty years ago did it begin to be seriously argued for; the first legalization — in Massachusetts — took place in 2003. Until 20 years ago, those who used the term “marriage” envisioned a man and a  woman. (Polygamy was known, but as a special, and usually rejected, case.) The change in marriage’s meaning has in fact taken place rapidly.

Alito empathizes with those who do not accept the change in marriage’s meaning. Responding to Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion, he advances the objection by many religious people to the change.  And were the connection between marriage and religion, that both he and Kennedy make, true, Alito would be right to argue that those who object to same-sex marriage should be allowed to work out, at their own pace, the coming to terms : because the First Amendment does guaranteed the free exercise of religion, and we cannot make law that requires religious people to accept tenets that their faith does not sanction.

The proper response to Alito’s dissent is this : marriage is not a matter of religious precept.

That almost all religions sanction marriage does not mean that marriage is theirs. Marriage of one arrangement or another existed, and continues to exist, in almost every society, quite apart from religious precept. In America, a Governor or Lieutenant Governor can marry people. So can a justice of the peace. So can a city or town clerk. Even when marriages have been sanctioned by churches, that sanction is often more civil in nature than religious. For example, the bishops who sanctioned marriages in the Merovingian and Carolingian families in early Medieval France did so as kings’ officials — bishops were the only kings’ officials in that time when only clergy could read or write, and the duties they were called to perform were almost all acts of state — including leading armies into battle !

Most people who married in early Medieval Europe did so without benefit of any clergy; and marriage was always seen as a contract of finance and obligation. So it still is.

In no way does the Obergkefell ruling obligate any religious officer to perform a same sex marriage. Any more than any Supreme Court ruling can obligate a church official to perform a divorce if the faith at issue does not recognize divorce. Despite which, divorce is fully authorized in law in all states and statutory provisions govern it.

Alito ‘s dissent avoids the real issue : that some states have enacted religious precepts into their public law. This is the situation which Obergkefell rules upon. A state, after Obergekefell, cannot regulate marriage according to the precepts of a religion. The law of marriage must accord to the same principles as all American law – inckuding the law of divorce —  and pursuant to the Constitution and its civil rights protections.

Alito argues that the Obergkefell ruling may cause traditional religious people to be vilified for advancing the opposite policy. He is right to worry. Discussions involving religion readily lead to vilification, because religions purport to sanction or condemn people’s personal conduct. People rightly object intensely. Nobody likes having his or her business minded by others. I understand Alito’s worry that people who cannot separate marriage from religion will be deeply troubled and have difficulty figuring out what acts they can do and cannot do when confronted with a same  sex marriage. The issue has already arisen, and it will continuer to arise, in commercial arenas in particular.

But that is an issue for another day. For right now, it is sufficient to understand that Obergkefelll stands for the principle that marriage is not perforce an act of religion.

—- Mike Freedberrg / Here and Sphere


1 james o'brien

^ Carmen’s Union President James O’Brien : no T reform for him.

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Will MBTA reform happen or won’it it ? For a while, it seemed that the legislature would enact the reforms that  Governor Baker asked it for. Today, that’s not so sure.

The Legislature is enacting not reform but charades. It gives baker two governing bodies — full control of the Mass Department of Transportation (DOT) operating board and control of a new body, called the Financial Control Board, which supposedly will manage the day to day operations of the T. Unfortunately, the Legislature’s Boards will have only the name, the titles, and the ceremony, and none of the power to do what needs be done. That, dear reader, is charades.

Why is the Legislature proposing a lie ? Look no farther than the Carmen, the union to which most T workers belong.

The Carmen are perfectly willing to support T reform — as long as they don’t have to reform with it. No reform to their high cost protection act — the so-called “Pacheco Law; no reform to their Pension fund, which operates in secret despite millions of dollars of taxpayer funding;. no reform to binding arbitration; and, a threat by union President James O’brien to invoke the Federal Transit Act — which would strip the T of all Federal funds assistance, a significant number — if the Legislature and Governor enact reforms that involve the Carmen.

The Carmen want T reform to stop at their door and not intrude — upon missed trips, abuse of personal leave provisions, high poor performance by the T repairs operation, underfunding of the T workers’ pension — made quite clear in an article published in today’s Boston Globe — and no change to a collective bargaining process in which the Carmen get the final say. The Carmen’s view — touted in advertising purchased with union members’ funds ! — is that it’s all management’s fault.

As if.

None of this dog-whistling would matter a damn were the Legislature not buying it. So far the Legislature has simply refused to push back. Sure, it says : give the Governor all the stagecrafting he wants, but none of the star roles. Yes, by all means : give the Governor the parade of authority, but none of the marching bands that let it sound off.

This eyewash will not stand. The public demands real T reform, not fakery. To his credit, Speaker DeLeo understands this and seems to support giving the Governor the reality of reform. It’s mainly the Senate that so far stands for foolery at the behest of the Carmen and their $ 300,000 ad buy, masterminded by Democratic party consultant Michael Goldman.

Do i sound as if I am pointing the finger of blame ? I am indeed. At the state Senate, which talks the progressive talk but walks the reactionary walk.

Meanwhile, the Governor has shown himself u afraid to make hard choices. Delaying the $ 200 million purchase of new trains for Commuter Rail’s Fairmount Line hurts – hurts a part of the City that Baker is beginning to emphasize; but as he says, first $$$ priority is to fix the T infrastructure we already have.

This is leadership.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


Love Wins

Love Wins : a win owed especially to business reformers, who now rule American politics

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The term “business reformers” hasn’t been heard much, these past decades. in American political talk, but right now reform of the nation’s ways by business leaders is the big big story. Really. It’s been quite a year :

1.the Indiana situation. One still amazes at how quickly that state’s “religious freedom” discrimination law was deep-sixed once business leaders weighed in on the side of LGBT civil rights. This decisive move should actually have not come as much of a surprise. Pride parades feature dozens of businesses represented by employees marching in support of LGBT equality.

2.As quickly as anti-trade Congress members killed President Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership initiative, so the killing was undone and full authority given to the President to negotiate his new trade treaty.

3.the rapid move by South Carolina’s political leaders to call for taking down the Confederate battle flag from State House grounds, in response to the tragic Charleston shootings, was bolstered significantly by business leaders in that state.

4.Despite all doubts, and against the loud objections of the anti-ACA crowd, the Supreme Court, by a vote of 6 to 3, reaffirmed the health care law, much to the pleasure of most Americans — including the hospital and insurance industries.

5.Just an hour ago, the same Supreme Court, by a 5 to 4 majority, held that marriage equality is the law of the land. As Justice Kennedy said, “the Constitution ensures liberty to all within its reach.”

How has this impressive run of victories for business interests acting as soldiers of major reform come about ? That’s a question well worth analyzing. I cannot help but attribute it to the oft-criticized Citizens United decision, that opened the flood gates of campaigns to big corporate money.

We have thought of big corporate money as a bad thing, a regressive force in politics; and to be sure, some regressive money forces do matter — the Koch Brothers being the best-known example. But there is far, far more money in the coffers of businesses who prefer to enhance their customers than bulldoze them; and the enhancers have come to the fore now almost unstoppably.

That’s because our politicians now receive the bulk of their campaign funds from big business interests; and so if business money tends to the side of reform, reform is what politicians will deliver, and have.

Supply siders not only get the economics of an economy wrong, they also misunderstand its politics. Most businesses understand that their prosperity derives from customers — the more customers, the more prosperity. Thus the Indiana move : few businesses want to tell a large body of prospective customers — the LGBT community — that they aren’t welcome. For the same reason, many reformist businesses are upping their minimum wage significantly; and the businesses that make big cities what they are — beehives of busy, culturally diverse prosperity — support the move, in many cities, to mandate a $ 15 per hour minimum.

We like to think of the $ 15 an hour wage as a “socialist” initiative, but its coming to pass is the result of reformist business understanding its market : people who earn enough to buy into the discretionary economy are customers.

Business reform is also the driving force behind the transformation of education. We educate children for two purposes : citizenship and employment. Business reformers have taken the lead — despite enormous opposition — in transforming education systems, curricula, and purposes in order to have graduating kids who are able to do the jobs that businesses in the technology era need done. One reason they have been able to succeed in this terrifically difficult fight is the same reason that I cited above : business donations drive today;’s political campaigns.

The prevalence of business reformers matters hugely as we head to the 2016 presidential election. Already business reformers have crowded out most of the anti-business and regressive business contenders. All things right now point to Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush being the two major party nominees. At least in part that’s because big-donor business reformers see them as the two candidates most likely to bring about what business reformers want : trade, prosperous customers, inclusion, best practices education. The Koch Brothers differ; but their time has passed. Today the center ring of American politics belongs to the reformers set free by Citizens United.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ Headmaster Terry Brennan of Roxbury Latin School addresses many supporters and some opponents at a recent design review hearing

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Two nights ago, at West Roxbury High School’s auditorium, about 250 people gathered to support, or oppose, Roxbury Latin School’s revised proposal to add an enclosed hockey rink to its campus along St. Theresa Avenue. The proposal — by an entirely private owner of land, please note — was subjected to public review and comment because that is the BRA’s process, and the School wanted, smartly, to apply BRA procedures earlier rather than later.

Supporters of the proposal audibly outnumbered opponents, by about 5 to 3. Clearly the School has gone many lengths to marshal paramount neighborhood support, and it showed, as one supporter after another spoke. As for opponents, they too spoke : in detail and either passionately — the spokesman for Bogandale Road’s twenty or so abutters — or in ridicule — a man from Redgate Road on the other side of the School grounds. The Redgate Road man poo-pooed the School’s need to build a hockey rink, saying that Roxbury Latin provides great education even without a rink and so did not vitally need to build one. The Bogandale Road spokesman viewed the Rink — which will front Bogandale Road its full length — as an insult to the neighborhood, placed where proposed intentionally to injure the Bogandalers. He promised a legal fight every step of the way.

This, readers, is how it is in the densely settled neighborhoods of Boston. An entirely private owner of land, long established and strong in the community, cannot use its own land for purposes it thinks best without having to pass through a fight, or many fights. Not once did anyone at the hearing say these dreaded words : that a private owner of land has the right to use its own land as nit sees best fit. Quite clearly, today, an owner of land does not fully own his land. his abutters own it too.

That’s the basic consequence of zoning laws, which were enabled in Massachusetts by a 1956 statute. Yet the fight against Roxbury Latin went beyond the restrictions of Boston’s zoning code. Opponents take the position that what they do not want Roxbury Latin to do on its own land is the rule, whether or not zoning restrictions have been complied with.

No doubt the new hockey rink will, if allowed, change the relationship-p between the Bogandale Road home-owners and the School. Will it devalue their homes ? They seem to say that it will, but predictions of this kind don’t always take place as feared. The Bogandale Road homes may actually increase in value; for walking proximity to a school that takes in boys of all backgrounds and sends them to great colleges is no small amenity. This very point was a major argument advanced by the supporters of the School’s proposal.

Were Roxbury Latin not a hugely respected institution, with thousands of influential alumni, most still living in the area, and were the school less shrewdly led in this fight, there can be scant doubt that their proposal would crash., It still might, though my sense is that approval is likely. The School addressed every environmental issue, every zoning condition, every traffic and conservation concern. It has thoroughly prepared its case, and it has the funds and expertise to do so.

That’s what it takes, these days, for a private owner of land in the City of Boston to get to use his own land as he deems best.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


1 Baker and Walsh

^ Mayor Walsh and Governor Baker : Massachusetts is lucky to have two leaders both boldly reformist and respectful of each other. Usually the mayor goes it alone.

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It’s no surprise that Hillary Clinton delivered her masterfulo speech on the Charleston shooting and the entire wave of gun violence to an audiece of America’s Mayors. Addressing the Mayors — of both political parties and some of no party — Clinton could be blunt and candid and pull no punches, and know that her hearers would applaud every sentence.

To watch and listen to her speech in full, go here —>

America’s Mayors work the front lines o our national battles. they can’t deny, or hide, or belittle, or condescend, or demonize the vast diversity of people who live in cities. They can’t embrace perverse politics, such as the gun-rights’ distortions of what the Second Amendment meant and means. Mayors cannot shut out the many, many undiocumented immigrants who loive in their city. They can’t stand by while police forces, or jail guards, assault, torture, kill unarmed citizens or jail inmates. Mayors can;’t cavalierly blame poor people for needing public assistane, because a great many city residents need these. Mayors can’t look upon residents of color as suspects first, becaue in many citi9es residens of color form a majority. Nor can Mayors do the bidding of gun manufacturers, because it is in cities that gunsmost find their way into the hands of shooters.

Mayors have to be realistic about policty. Unlike the Federal governmenthey can’t mint money. Unlike Senators, they can’t just talk a good game. Unlike Congress members, they can’t marry a lobbyist or two and ride the connection to a permanent career of loud bstruction. Mayors, like Governors, ponly more intensely, must answer to crioses every day, often many crises at once. Mayors must be responsive to neighborhoods, institutions, businessses, everybody — because even the big cities are small enough that everyone can know the mayor personally, some even more closely; the personal connection raises everybody’s expectations.

Fortunately, most Mayors are willing and ready to rise to these occasions. In Boston, we have a Mayor, Marty Walsh, who actively seeks challenge, aman who instead of deciding major matters in private conference brings his presence direcgtly onto the battllefield, like a King in the Middle Ages, personally leading and building a persional loyalty that becomes his chiefest weapon in fighting the many, many battles or issues passions that he faces : school reform, public safety, unruly demonstrators, wage-action rallies, loud opposition to this or that, and hundreds if not thousands of land use flare-ups big and small.

The Mayors of other cities do the same. it was Indianapolis’s Mayor, Greg Ballard, a Republiocan, who forced a resolution of the Indiana “religious freedom” discrimantion law flap by instituting a city ordinance garnting full civil rights protections to LGBT people. In New York, mayor Bill deBlasio, recovering from a very bad beginning, who is implementing a Federal consent decree reforming the outrage that is Riker’s island jail. Many Mayors are enacting a $ 15.00 min imum wage for their city. The Maor of Philadelphia, Mike Nutter, had to confront the tragic train derailment that killed six people in the North Phiuladelphia neighborhood,. Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, has had to deal with a teachers’ union strike, horrific gun gang violence, and a budget deficit. Then there’s M ike Duggan, mayor of Detroit…

We in Massachusetts are so very liucky. Mayor walsh finds an ally in Governor Baker, a reformer no less bold than Walsh, albeit cool where walsh runs hot. Other Mayors haven’t such an ally. Imagine the plight of Mayors in “red” states governed by punitive legislatures, spiteful governor, or both. I think of Mitch Landrieu in New Orleans, or the Mayors of Milwaukee, Birmingham, Atlanta. Or Joe Riley in Charleston, South Carolina.

In the Middle Ages, Kings often allied themselves with the merchant rulers of cities — the original “bourgeois,” the French word meaning “city resident” — to defeat the revgressive power of landed nobles. They were wise to do so, but fior many there was no other choice. Barons of the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries just as often despoiled the kingdom as protected it. 13th century cities could not prosper if the trade routes to them were so unsafe that traders could not, or would not, travel them. And if there was no commerce, the king could raise no revenue for his government.

As early as the 1070s, kings and city leaders were agreeing to peace, protection, and trade pacts, keeping the castle barons at bay. By the mid 1150s, it was almost a universal feature of European politics. “The King in Parliament, with his knights and burgesses” ruled England, against the Lords, from the 1350s pretty much till the 19th Century.

It’s kind of the same in today’s America. The President and the Mayors make sense of,a nd keep order and trade prospering in, the nation’s cities, where most of our people — of our innovative, optimistic, productive people — live, work, and become a community going forward.

DISCLOSURE : In my daily political life, I strongly support both Mayor Walsh and Governor baker..

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



Governor Baker has an extra $ 500 million to dole out, maybe. Where will it go to ?

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The report issued by Auditor Suzanne Bump this week, that our state spent about $ 500 million for Medicaid billings, unnecessarily, has further tarnished the reputation of former Governor Patrick. He was already the butt of blame for a $ 250 million Health Connector failure; for mismanagement at Department of Families and Children; and for numerous Transportation confusions and collapses. Now this.

Less commented upon is that the $ 500 million duplication frees up quite a bit of state budget dollars for other needs. Governor Baker’s fiscal year 2016 budget identified about $ 161 million in  duplicative or ineligible Medicaid Spending. The Auditor found an amount more than triple that much. Some of the excess funds will surely be applied to the $ 1.8 billion shortfall anticipated for 2016; but I am thinking that many of the extra dollars will be applied now to pressing pr9ogrtajmns.

I don’;t really have to guess at this, it is happening even as I write. The Governor as allocated some $ 82.7 million for MBTA winterization work. Just today his office announced some $ 5 million for regional school transportation (link here : ) . Yesterday he announced some $ 1.25 million to fund the Shannon Grant youth safety and anti-gang initiative. (Link here : ).

Fall River is getting $ 56,000 to combat gang violence ( link here : ) and Taunton, $ 45,000. The City of Lawrence is to receive extra funding for community outreach efforts. Clearly these grants will not be the only. Clearly Governor Baker is awarding state funding to cities on a case by case basis.

That’s how Baker operates : careful decisions, one by one where possible. Granting funds to communities separately allows the public to recognize (and judge) them separately — as I am doing in this column. This is part of the baker system for creating transparency.

That said, the bulk of the $ 500 million found by Auditor Bump seems available still; so, where will it be allocated to ? The Governor has not yet said — at least tome — but surely much of that money will go to the following : conservation, probably including Cambridge’s magazine Beach reclamation; early education expansion, where feasible; addition chapter 70 funding for public school districts, especially to foster growth of charter schools and other school innovation; and some money, surely, to pay for the infrastructure that will be needed first by the Boston 2024 Olympics, later by all the rest of us.

Allocating this money, if it happens, will relieve the fiscal year 2017 state budget of some of the new funding demand s sure to be made after two budget years of retrenchment. That’ll be welcome political news to Speaker DeLeo as to the Governor; because in a fiscal year in which state funds are available, there’s a long long line of supplicants wanting to have at it, each with a wri8ttem justification sure to rend your heart.

Certain to head the list of fiscal year 2017 supplicants is the T. It faces almost $ 7 billion of deferred maintenance, upgrades, repairs, and perhaps expansion. Baker’s top to bottom reform agenda for the T seems almost decided upon and ready for implementation now. If so, demands for new T funding will definitely follow. The mantra for ,most people has been “reform, then revenue.” With reform full in place this year, revenue cannot be put off.

And one other thing : the Carmen’s union threatens, if its present advantages are curbed, to invoke the Transit Act of 1974 and cut off Federal financial assistance to the T operation. The threat will portend much less if the Governor has a big part of $ 500 million extra dollars on hand to fill in where the Federal assistance pulls out.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


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^ banking on LGBT pride — and giving the GOP the forward economic advantage in 2016

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Did you watch Boston’s Pride parade on Saturday ? Or perhaps you marched in it ? Because it was certainly long and loud, thousands of people marching and cheering.

I did watch, on Clarendon Street, and I got the Parade’s big, big point : the huge presence in it or businesses big and small. Banks, biotechnology, technology, and small firms of all kinds, all marching to celebrate LGBT Bostonians.

It’s the same in other Pride Parades. You quickly see that businesses think it good for business to embrace LGBT people in a big, public way. Pride parades might as well be a Chamber of Commerce party.

This may come as a surprise to those who think of big business as the mossbacked Koch Brothers, or as anti-social security Scrooges. They are mistaken. The recent events in indiana, where that state’s business community immediately and crushingly defeated a law that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT people on “religious freedom” grounds, made clear that the established business community is a powerful, determined friend of LGBT people.

The Indiana battle was decisve for the Republican party. Outside of the South, it showed that the business community will not tolerate, and can and will turn back, attempts to legislate Americans into second class status. When push comes to shove, the party’s religion folks cannot prevail over the interests of inclusion.

Every Republican candidate with any chance of winning the 2016 nomination now sees that point clearly. There will be no repeat of 2012, when the party’s church radicals forced Mitt Romney out of bounds and almost won the nomination. Though the radical church voters still enjoy great strength — and control much of the South (but not all) — the GOP’s future lies not with them but with a welcome to all. And that now includes immigrants, at least by implication : because business interests support mainstreaming every immigtrant of good will, knowing that, like every LGBT person, every immigrant is a customer.

Meanwhile, an intra-party fight equally decisive has just occurred in Washington. I refer to the House Democrats, who last friday sank President Obama’s Trans Pacific trade agreement (“TPP”), and did so by suicidal means, killing a component bill that they once unanimously supported.

In the TPP fight, the House Democrats, unlike the Indiana GOP, surrendered to the party’s most backward interest group, the AFL-CIO. Indiana’s Governor was forced to do the right thing; President Obama was denied the right thing. That is how I see it, but you do not have to agree with my vision to get the underlying point : that even as the Indiana mess wrecked Governor Penmce’s chances of becoming vice president (or higher), so the House’s defeat of the President calls into serious question whether a Democratic President can do what a president needs to do, set the nation’s international order. How can Hillary Clinton do any better on this battlefield than President Obama ? There are plenty of Democrats who underrstand the vital necessity of strong trade agreements — and of financial cionsolisation, the “big banks.” But the TPP vote puts their party into the hands of isolationist, protection-minded associations.

i do not know how Hillary Clinton responds to this. She could be — should be — a most effective, forward-thinking President; but she, like President obama, understands the stakes involved in TPP; stakes that her party has decisively rejected.

thus the opening for Job Bush, above all, a candidate as forward as any on immigration and education and as attuned to trade and business boldness as one would like, as he leads a party commanded by its most advanced segment.

Business in America is adjusting rapidly to the new, transformed world of work. They have to, because it is happening TO them. New businesses, lean and mean, innovators nimble and small, crop up every day to challenge business orthodoxies. Unions should be equally nimble, but for many it is too easy to do just the opposite : protect the jobs we have rather than embrace the jobs that might become. It’s a policy of defeat, because the economies of work and innovation are changing ever faster, no matter what unions may striuggle to do, and it is happening internationally as well, spearheaded by powerful governments that do not have to be delayed, or otherwise hindrered by democratic debate from grabbing economic opportunity wherever and whenever.

We in America do not seem to get this. For example, while the world’s economic tigers are cionsolidating their big banks and establishing their currencies as world reserves, many of our politicians are calling for breaking up the big banks. Do they even know ? Only three of the world’s 20 biggest banks are American — only one of the top ten. Financial power now lies with China, Germany, Japan, Dubai, and even France, which has two banks that are bigger than any american bank. And don’t think size doesn’t matter. The more money that flows through a financial institition, the more the institution gets to decide where it goes to, and by what route and means.

All these things, the business establishment has no choice but to compete with and, hopefully, triumph against. They are right to do so. America must win this fight. We cannot let the Asian Tigers, Arabic merchants, and Germany’s “mittelstand” dominate the world’s new businesses and reserve currency. We must create and foster the new jobs, educate for the new world of work, support its coming to be, forge it into a system, AND finance it.

The business community gets that AND is the nation’s most powerful guarantor of LGBT inclusion. The implications for the 2016 can only be huge.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


US President Barack Obama leaves after speaking about trade policy at Nike Headquarters on May 8, 2015 in Beaverton, Oregon. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

^ President Obama seeks the economically bold, finds his party prefers the old.

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On Friday the House voted to kill a key provision of the Presient’s Trans pacific trade pact, and thus the pact itself.

House Democrats, bullied by labor unions, killed a provision — “TAA ” for short — that provides for worker protections in the context of trade pacts. TAA is much disliked by Republicans, and thus when the House Democrats also voted to kill it — a bill that they previously had passed unanimously ! — the TAA died, and with it, the entire trade pact : because the Pact version passed by the Senate includes the TAA provisions, makinng recociliation unlikely.

That’s the procedural story, all of it. It sounds rather dry, but it is not dry at all. It was an act of shocking selfishness on the part of organized Labor. Our nation badly needs to partner with the thirteen other Pacific rim nations participating in the Pact, in ordetr to dramatically expand our exports and thus compete with China, the world’s largest economy, fastest growing, and one of the most innovative. Now we will not have that chance.

We need tariff relief, we need cross-border corporate governance; we need international education; and we need cross-order standards for contracts, intellectual property protection, and innovation procedures.The Trans Pacific pact seeks a foothold of acceptance for all of these. ow that task becomes infinitely more distant.

Instead of working to improve America’s economy for tomorrow, as we transition to a fully world-wide economy in which the entire world of work transforms, labor has seen to it that we will safeguard, for a few more years, jobs of the old economy, jobs that are going away whether the Trans Pacific Pact is signed or isn’t.

Labor did this, let us note, to a Democratic President. We often think of organized Labor as the core of the Democratic party, but its work on Friday shows that that isn’t true at all. The AFL-CIO is as selfish — irresponsibly selfish — an organization as any in American politics, as willing to demean and degrade as the vilest Right Wing vigilante and every bit as defensive of the indefensible.

I will, never forget hearing a local AFL-CIO leader talk — at a funeral no less ! — about how the deceased, were he still alive, would find a way”to take down Charlie Baker.”

If this is how an AFL-CIO leader speaaks at a funeral, imagine what he thinks of the world of politics. The NRA at its most disgusting, anti-gay bigots at their vilest, offer nothing more destructive.

That is the mindset that, on Friday, saw to it that the President’s work to gain American goods and services a powerful international partnership for tomorrow would be killed so that yesterday might gasp for one more day on life support.

This is not to say that the AFL-CIO can’t be a powerful ally when it sides with maor policy initiatives. Boston’s Olympics Bid enjoys the support of the AFL-CIO just as it does of all labor unions that I am aware of. Labor’s support here is bold and economically smart, because the Olympics plan will transform the City as it must be transformed for the new economy.

So why this time clinging to the old, the dying, the obsolete ? I am at a loss to explain it.

America’s old-economy industrial jobs are not coming back. Why should they ? That’s not where the economy of tomorrow will be. Tomorrow’s economy will be run by innovators and small technology shops, platforms like Uber, Lyft, alibaba, and ebay; by biotechnology researchers; by educational experiment; and by the vast numbers of service workers who will supply the needs and desires of the innovator entrepreneurs. Work in 2020 and 2030, much less 2050, will look nothing like the work, that the AFL-CIO protects. What blindness !

If the AFL-CIO wants to do something useful for tomorrow’s workplace, it can advocate for a
$ 15,00 an hour minimum wage, maybe even a $ 21.00 an hour wage, so that the legions of new-economy service workers will have sufficient money to buy the same stuff that the innovators will be shopping for. After all, these service workers are going to need unions — smart, forward-thinking unions like Local 26 Hotel and Hospitality Workers — to fight or them, just as their industrial predecesoors needed craft unions back in the 1930s-1960s.

But no, that’s not how the tape-rewinded AFL-CIO thinks. Just as the religious fanatics who have spoiled the Republican party impose outdated “family values,” so, evidently, does the AFL-CIO seek to impose outdated economic values. When will American political interests stop rewinding a silent movie and start shape-shifting the digital future that is coming whether or not Americans like it ?

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


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^ Mayor walsh at an Olympics hearing : did we elect him to lead with bold leadership or to be Jeeves ?

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Clearly the Bid Committee that proposes to bring the 2024 Olympics to Boston did not anticipate that it would face opposition, much less the firestorm of vitriol that has befallen it.

I suspect they imagined that this most sports-minded of cities would take to the Games as it has taken to the Patriots, the Bruins, and, in good times, the Celtics and Red Sox. This expecation was not a foolish one. Why, then, did the opposite come to pass ?

Three situations come to mind.
(1) As the project of a business elite backed by City hall, the Olympics Bid became a third rail for all those who distrust government and business leaders — “not the job of millionairs, private corporations”, as one prominent, Left-leaning critic of mainstream policy put it to me (2) over the past 50 years, development projects in Boston have become ever more subject to what we call “community review,” meetings at which only opponents of a proposal show up, where they can nitpick, delay, and thus kill every proposal that seeks to change things.
(3) the Bid Committee did not expect that what for it was a first draft would be taken, by the mdedia and opponents, as a final edition.

The second and third factors overlap. Every development does cause a ripple in the mindset of neighborhood equilibrium; and if one six-family residential project is occasion for 60 people showing up to quibble about shrubbery or what rent price to set– an everywhere fact in Boston civic life — it should have been easy to anticipate that a development as massive as the Olympics would cause pandemonium in no-change circles; and easy also for the Bid Committee to have foreseen that releasing a first draft, very sketchy and full of poorly researched details, would pour sulfuric acid into the souls of anti-change folks.

Perhaps the Bid Committee assumed that because its leaders are also major Boston developers, accustomed to winning over “community review” thing-ies, they would be accorded respect and room for initial error. They were wrong.

When crunch time came, supporters of the bid compounded their misread. Instead of thinking through about why opposition arose on both the far Left and the entire Fight, they called upon political leaders to endorse the Bid. If your opponents oppose you because, basically, they don’t trust government leaders or “millionaires and private corporations,” adding more of these to your Bid team simply confirms that The Mark of Cain is what you are.

As it happens, the opponents of Boston’s Olympics Bid were few, only the far Left in Boston and the anti-tax Right in the Route 495 region; but what they lacked in number they made up in decibels. They were very loud, and very disruptive, and many in the greater public got the impression that the Olympics Bid was a crazy show run by circus promoters hiring a bevy of ill-mannered pie-throwers : hardly the image wanted !

If the brickbats and insults being hurled by “NoBo’s” at the Bid Committee’s “millionaires, private corporations’ and political machers were strictly a Boston tornado, there’d be not much more to say. But as we have seen, protest against big government and big corporations has become the prevailing weather pattern. Government in America has become the plaything of a most anrchic el nino.

From the vigilante guns of Cliven Bundy to highway-blocking by radical Occupyers, there is a whole lot of weather out there tending to tear apart our citizen democracy.

If elected leaders are not elected to make bold, comprehensive decisions, what are they elected to do ? Be a kind of Jeeves ? That won’t get the job done, because, for example, it’s the mayor of Boston’s job to take the entire City ito the future — a future that will take us if we do not take Boston to it.

The same thing nationally : If the President can’t have executive wiggle room to take necessary steps, as he has recently sought on matters of immigration, wages, and trade, it isn’t just his record that suffers, it’s the nation’s.

The world is moving fast. It will be moving faster still. We in America have been gridloocked for a decade now. Meanwhile China, Southeast Asian natiions, and even Dubai and india have moved fast and efficiently, commanding new businesses and inventing networks of commerce, education, and knowledge. These nations are not impeded by the delays of a democracy.

These forces will not be deterred by a failure of public planning. They canot be denied by NIMBYing. No union, lashed to the mast of old systems created for bygone sitautions, can stop them. The new economy is already here, transforming every block of our City even if we cannot see it.

The Olympics bid rides this tidal wave. I think the committee sees that now. That the bid has put at issue whether Boston’s leadership has legitimacy to get things done, or does not have it.

The Bid Committee understands that Governor Baker is watching g. Nothing now but a thorough, detailed ground-up plan will pass muster.

Upon a positive answer to that challenge, and the larger question, depends our ability to move our city forward by means of government.

Some have said that the Olympics will benefit only contractors and unions. This is false. Hosting the games will benefit the hotel industry, transportation businesees, restaurants, entertainments, retailers. It will even benefit networking, in real time with people from all over. It will force us to reimagine how Boston feel, smells, sounds, its shape and its dimensions. Reimagining all these, we will be that much more able to reimagine our economy, employment, housing and education. Add to all this a $ 15.00 hourly wage for service workers — a policy initiative that I fully support — and we will have a very different City from the Boston of now.

The huge planning effort required by the 2024 Olympics bid will put Boston leaders at the forefront of the change. We’ll have a circle of knowledge about how to do it, and as a City we will all gain the confidence to create the next Boston.

—- Mike Freedberg ? Here and Sphere