EVERYTHING WAS QUIET & BUSINESS-LIKE AT MATTAPAN TRANSPO MEETING, AND THEN …..

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^ the community has questions : last night’s Fairmount Line (MBTA) meeting in mattapan

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Last night “the community” filled much of the Mildred Avenue Community Center auditorium to hear an MBTA project team outline plans for a new Blue Hill Avenue – Cummins Highway T stop on the Fairmount Line. State Representatives Dan Cullinane and Russell Holmes were there, as was State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry. City Councillor Tim McCarthy came too. It was all set to be a very genteel, slide show presentation of the much-talked-of new Fairmount Line, featuring many local stops so that the line can serve Boston’s communities of color; through which the Fairmount runs and which, until recently, it had not served at all.

Genteel it was, as the project manager showed photos of new Fairmount stops at Newmarket, Uphams Corner, Four Corners, Talbot Avenue, Morton Street. Beautiful they were, and handsome, almost, the newly rebuilt bridges (there are 41 bridges on the Fairmount, said the project guy) over Columbia Road and Massachusetts Avenue. All of it done and the stations open, operating and doing just fine.

Then came the renderings of the proposed Blue Hill to Cummins Highway station.

Good-bye to genteel.

The audience was not happy to see what they saw : a T stop running between Woodhaven Street and Regis Road, all the way from Blue Hill Avenue (at SIMCO’s) to Cummins Highway (on the other side of Mattapan Square). Of course the line already runs that route and impacts those homes; the only new factor is the T stop. It seemed not that big a change, but to an audience waiting to pounce, it was big enough.

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^ They lined up at the microphone to ask questions. Well, not so much questions as to rant against the T in general.

“It seems to me that we’re always having stuff imposed on us,” said one woman. “We need honesty. we’re the abutters.”

Said another man, “We never get anything !”

“In 2005 they promised us cameras and a phone at the Morton street,’ said another. “Came 2007, the phone was in, but not the camera.”

“Why isn’t there even one station between Blue Hill and Fairmount avenue ?” asked a man. “Three mile stretch and you can’t do even one stop ?”

“i do not trust the T,” said an older woman, speaking to Russell Holmes directly next to her.

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^  St Rep Russell Holmes listens to grievances

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“Where were you when all this was being done,” a man asked of Holmes, who pretty soon had had enough. He stood up, addressed the questioner directly. “You’re for it,” he said to the man, who obviously knew Holmes — addressing him “Russell.” “And I’m for it. So what is the problem ?”

“If the community wants it, it should have it,’ answered Holmes’s friend. “if it doesn’t, then not.”

Holmes certainly was right to stand up a he did. the Fairmount has been in works for over three years now — as Senator Dorcena Forry pointed out in a fierce, extensive speech during which she challenged the nay-sayers and defended the project — which, as the T’s spokes-gal said, is wanted by at least 60 percent of local residents.

Her speech not only quieted the crowd but even garnered extensive applause. But then the questioning continued. There was much talk of the T stops being for “outsiders.” And so it went.

Silly me, I guess, for thinking that the Fairmount line’s addition of several local stops, to serve those who need public transit to get to work, was an unmitigated good thing. I should have realized that even indisputable benefits to a neighborhood look like an imposition to some when they are delivered from the State House by a government in which very few people of color have any direct voice.

The objectors were not, however, playing a race card. One woman loudly praised State Senator Jack Hart, of South Boston (who represented Mattapan before Linda Dorcena Forry) for his work with the neighborhood’s concerns. Rather, the race component lay far deeper in the anger than that. It was directed to the State House in general. And it was hard not to see that every one of the Fairmount Project staff was white — except for its “neighborhood outreach advocate.”

It was also hard not to agree with the woman who talked about promises made in 2005, when Mitt Romney was still governor. The disconnect between State plans and state performance is not Democrat or Republican. It is systemic. it arises from budget traffic jams, departmental conflicts, the constant buffeting, from one crisis to another, of governors by the public. It is very difficult for a complex, 21st century government to do anything quickly or well, and that is how it is with a democracy in which everybody votes and voters get listened to, as they should be.

Some call this performance traffic jam “waste.” I call it democracy in action. Community meetings and neighborhood input are now a core part of the process by which public improvements are brought from concept to built. Onward we go, anger and conflict and all that.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

below : “the community” gathers to listen and object

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BOSTON MAYOR : MARTY WALSH WINS

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^ Boston’s new Mayor : Marty Walsh of Dorchester

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Yesterday at about 10 pm the result was in : Marty Walsh is the new Mayor of Boston.

John Connolly conceded at about that time and, in his final speech to about 500 supporters at the Westin Hotel, said “I know Marty wants to do good things for Boston. He WILL do good things for Boston. He has my full support.”

And so the long campaign ended.

Unofficial City results give Walsh 72,514 votes to John Connolly’s 67,606. The margin of victory for Walsh was 3.49 % : a small margin but a telling one.

John Connolly won only the following :  the reform-minded “new Boston” Wards — 3, 4, 5, 9, and 21 plus Fort Hill (Ward 11, Precinct 1) and the Seaport Precinct in Ward 6 ; his home Wards 19 and 20; and his special, personal bastion in Charlestown (Ward 2). The City map of results suggests that he also won Ward 22. Everywhere else it was Walsh’s day.

Walsh won large in South Boston and huge in Dorchester, took about a 15 to 20 point majority in Wards 12 and 14, carried Wards 8, 10 and 11, held Connolly’s margin down in some parts of Roslindale west of Washington Street; and then defeated Connolly in the decisive Wards : very narrowly in East Boston (Ward 1 — by 3803 to Connolly’s 3739) and strongly in Hyde Park-Mattapan (ward 18). Walsh did especially well in the Readville part of ward 18, where Tom Menino lives but also Angelo Scaccia, the long-time State representative whose endorsement of Walsh may well have proved the most significant of all. Next most significant was surely the quiet blessing given to Walsh by Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, who won twice yesterday : he helped Walsh carry Ward 1 (albeit narrowly) and he now gets Walsh out of the House, where he has been a thorn in the side of the last two speakers.

This result is no surprise. it has been in the cards for three weeks at least.

Walsh won because :

1.he had almost unanimous support in his “traditional Irish” base

2.vast money and people support from Labor (although not from all Unions; Local 103 stayed neutral)

3.even vaster national Labor PAC support in money

4.endorsements by three of the Primary season’s major mayoral candidates — all of them of color, and thus significant to the City’s voters of color; but also all of them tremendously beholden to labor unions, SEIU 1199 especially. Charlotte Golar-Richie, Felix G. Arroyo, and John Fl. Barros together gave the Walsh campaign an air of racial inclusiveness. Who will ever forget that iconic picture of them and Walsh walking together up a Dorchester street ?

5.endorsements by State Legislators , several community groups, and two (2) Congressmen, also answering to Labor constituencies, one who cam aboard early (Stephen Lynch) and the other (Mike Capuano), who saw the above endorsements happening and calculated that they had better get on board too

6.the decision by many people on the margins of work that they need a better job first, better schools later

7.institutional and money support from developers and contractors whose profits depend on the Boston building boom which requires building trades workers in order to build

8.even more entrenched institutional support from the colleges, zoning lawyers, BRA administrators, and lobbyists whose profits, epansion plans, and just plain connections and co-operation in planning and zoning matters help each other to do their do’s

9.endorsement by about 22 “progressive” Legislators, whose support allowed Walsh to magnify his limited, albeit genuinely heroic, “progressive” credentials

10.his own, low key personality and confidence in his authenticity, which stands out maybe best when  he doesn’t have a ready answer for a question — moments that happened a lot in his campaign.

11.the campaign’s 40 position papers, written with contributions from (says the Walsh campaign) 600 people, who thus became invested in their success and so part of Walsh’s GOTV army. These position papers, unleashed in the last two weeks, made Walsh look authentically Mayoral.

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^ conceding : John Connolly speaks

Against this vast array of established support, John Connolly could muster only (1) a citizen reform movement, one that had barely existed until his campaign coalesced it (2) his two personal neighborhood bases, West Roxbury-Roslindale and Charlestown (3) demonstrable mastery of the City budget and (4) his opponent’s binding arbitration bill, which almost derailed the Walsh campaign and gave Connolly a major issue.

Connolly also raised big money. He actually raised a bit more than Walsh did, though less in the campaign’s “crunch time.” He obviously looked a winner to many.

But it was not to be.

The newness of the citizen reform movement begun by Connolly’s campaign, its vulnerablity to entrenched push back, its untested status, and Connolly’s own air of high-mindedness — so long unheard in Boston’s municipal politics that many voters, likely, did not know what to make of it — all put Connolly on the shade side of the election sundial as soon as the Primary was over and voters started to look closely at what was what.

Frankly, that Connolly came so close to actually winning yesterday sends a strong message, i think, to Marty Walsh that he has a lot to prove; and to entrenched Boston power that while its strength remains barely good enough to win, its days are almost surely numbered as we move forward into the new era of non-union work ; of nightlife and nerdy ways ; of  schools that either do their best or see themselves lose all public conscience (and rightly so); and of  small innovative units collaborating competitively via conferencing and social media — as un-institutional a life as one can possibly imagine.

The break-up of entrenched power is coming. The power knows it. This time, it has held on — just barely. Next time, the liberation.

—- Michael Freedberg / here and Sphere

STORY UPDATED 11/06/13 at 7:55 PM