IN THE CITIES, WE GET IT DONE

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^ stuff getting done, in the city : Governor Baker has a smile on his face as he presides at the re-opening of Government Center TY station

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Yesterday at noon Governor baker5, mayor Marty Walsh, Lieutenant Governor Polito, a host of City Councillors, and two hundred MBTA workers and managers gathered inside the glassy and glossy new Government Center T station — which they then proceeded to formally re-open. Not long after, the first Green Line train to roll into said newly open station stopped, and onto it stepped both Governor and Mayor.

It was a celebratory time, a party, a time for laughter and high fives. As Baker told the assembled multitude : “this job was completed on time and within budget !”

There was also duty. “This is the last of 80 T stations to come into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act,” baker reminded. So it was. Until the re-opening, Government Center’s T station had been almost entirely inaccessible to people in wheelchairs — completely so when the escalators weren’t working, which was often.

Work remains. Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack enumerated all of the infrastructure upgrades that remain unfinished, all the T station detailing that awaits, all the rolling stock that has yet to deliver. Here list wasn’t easy to hear, but perhaps one should feel encouraged that she listed them all as can-do, not as how can we do.

One gets the impression that Baker’s mission to bring the entire MBTA into full dependability isn’t merely here and gone, that his resolve will see the entire job done, and on budget and on time. Certainly Mayor Walsh seems to think Baker the guy who gets things done. He accorded the Governor as much congratulation as he had in him. (Whatever kudos he had left went to “the building trades who got this done,” after which he thanked Congressman Mike Capuano for assuring the needed Federal funds.)

Capuano, in his own speech, almost screamed a plea to complete Green Line expansion, which ,m as he extolled, will connect the people of Somerville and Medford — the core of his District — to the new Government Center destination. Mike knows that he has to insist, that if his wheel doesn’t squeak — a lot —  it won’t get the Green Line grease.

But all of that is normal. Not quite so normal, in today’s politics of opposition, is that until now I have not once used the words “Democrat” and “Republican.” Had you noticed ? I think that’s because the reopened T stop lies in the center of our state’s biggest city. It’s in cities that America now gets things done; and if that city happens to dominate its state, as Boston does Massachusetts, then Boston things done are also Massachusetts things done. And when things are done in cities, p[artisan politics has no place : because partisan politics are a way of preventing things from getting done, and cities have no time or tolerance for things not getting done. Which is why cities succeed.

If only the same could be said, these days, of our Federal government ! Unfortunately, cities do not dominate it. They don’t have much clout at all in Congress, which i8s almost completely dominated by regions rural or small town; and the very essence of rural is that things not change at all, that what works stays as is because in crops and the weather there is no margin for error, and change to it means letting error in the door. Rural life is a kind of NIMBYism in itself, an economic and residential situation fragile to the breaking point.

NIMBY exists in cities, tool, but the momentum, of city economy gives all power to innovation — to creative destruction, as Joseph Schumpeter famously called it — and thus in cities one gets stuff done : the bolder the stuff done, the stronger the city.

My friend Ann posted the following comment on one of my facebook posts. I reprint it here because it shows great insight on what cities in America are doing, and on what tyhey cannot, unfortunately, do :

“WE may feel that way in the urban centers of the Northeast .. .and WE understand that WE need sweeping changes in Congress .. but the Democratic Party, in general, has lost touch with the citizens of the US – outside of those big urban centers where a diverse population has allowed the Dems to win – but the middle class in the rest of the country is feeling disenfranchised and the GOP listened and worked its magic in the locals all the way up to D.C. – until the Democrats eliminate their rhetoric and start acting more like Bernie Sanders and actually listen to “WE, the People”, and act in our collective best interest and not in earning millions for themselves, then WE can expect these reactionaries to continue to reign – WE all ONLY have 3 votes, our Congressman and 2 Senators – its past time for soul searching and self reflection. why does the other side feel the way they do ? how did we get here? what needs to be done ( seriously needs to be done – its not empty promises, nor is it a continuous genuflecting to Wall Street and corporate lobbyists…) its understanding the needs, and acting upon them for WE the people and not corporations .. then we will continue on the road for sometime ( I fear)”

I don’t accept her arguments in favor of Bernie Sanders — far from it — but Ann’s other points merit serious reflection. Opposing is not a strategy for progress; but it is also difficult at this time to name a “common interest” that citizens of cities and of rural and small town areas can agree on. Change is like that. It cannot leave alone that which wants to be left alone. Not in today’s borderless social economy. We will simply have to accept that cities are the places where stuff gets done, and thus where people want to live so that they can help do it.

—- 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.

1 thought on “IN THE CITIES, WE GET IT DONE”

  1. Actually, it was a model of how the Building Trades get stuff done when a Project Labor Agreement is in place. Charlie Baker has said he will never sign a PLA. This project is just one of many that proves him wrong.

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