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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Beacon Hill Zoo

You don't need to spend $10 and change on a movie to get great entertainment around here. Visit the Beacon Hill Zoo. It's free.

Responding to the media-created furor over the threatened closing of the Franklin Park and Stone zoos -- and the potential euthanizing of some residents -- legislative leaders say they will step up and override Gov. Deval Patrick's veto.

The move strikes me as similar to what gorillas do to express their displeasure. But that's apparently all part of the game on Beacon Hill these days as the war between Deval Patrick and the Legislature simmers at a low boil.

The Phoenix's David Bernstein offers multiple scenarios of what may lie in store when other advocacy groups employ Zoo New England's apparently successful veto override tactic. The Globe, which started this furor because it reported on Zoo New England's threat with some major context missing, belatedly weighs in too.

Yeah, there is a lot of blame to go around here -- Patrick, the Legislature, the Globe, Zoo New England all should help clean out the cages.

But if lawmakers override the veto based on phone calls, I'd give the head zookeeper badge to Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray to largest shovel if they roll over without so much as a whimper. There is a history here they are ignoring too.

As an anonymous reader correctly points out, (but probably not with the same context I'm using it), the Stone Zoo actually did close between 1989-1991 during a previous budget crisis, incurring costs without generating revenue.

Then there was the much ballyhooed arrival of Brian Rutledge in 1996 to once again save the zoos. His 2001 firing, "despite success," got a lot less attention.

The point is there is a pattern here -- of a private, not-for-profit entity falling into the same hole repeatedly. These are admittedly tough times for the sector -- witness the North Shore Music Theatre -- but how often can an organization like this fail and be bailed out?

The ultimate irony is Zoo New England was created in 1991 after one of the previous scares to secure a more solid future for the animals. How they doin' so far?

I think you can all the information you need to know when both president John Linehan and PR master Marlo Fogelman opt to go silent in face of the false storm they created.

Where, exactly, is the accountability that should be demanded in exchange for taxpayer dollars? Or does that only apply when certain ox are being gored?

I have no desire to see innocent animals put to sleep because humans can't manage. But I also have no interest in public policy by press release and peeved behavior. I hope lawmakers study Bernstein's scenarios carefully. I'm sure advocates will.

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Blogger Chris Rich said...

Well, may it please you to know that the disgruntled are gaining on the ditzes as the grifters lay low.

Commentariat streams at both Glob and Hairoil have now shifted significantly as a 'Hey..waita minute' moment dawns.

And, for once, the Phoenix helped with that funny send up.

It is looking like the Zoo NE grifters shot their fusillade a bit early and a bit low.

Now, their scramble to back peddle is fine entertainment and it may serve as a warning to the inevitable attempts of other grifters who would launch variations of the ploy.

The exaggerated public safety claims of cops about the preventative efficacy of flagging will hopefully take a hit.

And if this serves to undermine a time honored and heretofore successful grifter ploy, the transient damage to Gov. Patrick will not have been in vain.

Let us hope that this is a first step in a long march toward a wiser, more honest Commonwealth where the ditzes cool their heels, the disgruntled calm down and the grifters leave town in their socks.

But I won't hold my breath.

July 14, 2009 6:55 AM  
Blogger Chris Rich said...

Oh and maybe this will finally be incentive to ditch those expensive hack holidays now saved by obnoxious breast beating about 'history' and 'tradition'.

We should consider making a guide to grifter ploys in some kind of Commonwealth Con Primer.

It could be a valuable public service.

July 14, 2009 7:03 AM  
Blogger Americas Best Zoos author said...

Clearly Massachusetts Governor Patrick handled this very badly, but there was never any real danger of the animals being euthanized. Thankfully, the residents of the Boston area have responded -- pushing their elected officials to restore the Zoo's funding.

I've been to this zoo a few times and enjoyed it every time. It's definitely worth saving! Their Tropical Forest building is one of the nation's best indoor rain forest exhibits.

Allen Nyhuis, Coauthor: America's Best Zoos

July 16, 2009 12:04 AM  
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July 20, 2009 1:14 AM  

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