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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Friday, September 11, 2009

If a debate falls in the woods...

The weather may be cooling off rather quickly, but things appear to be getting hotter for Tom Menino. But is it going to really matter?

The Globe and the Herald report on a seemingly rock'em, sock 'em debate among Menino, city councilors Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon and developer Ken McCrea in a debate broadcast on WFXT-TV. It was the third debate leading up to the Sept. 22 preliminary and Menino has taken heavy fire in each of them.

But does it matter?

This one took place at 5 p.m. in a Dedham TV studio. Lots of eyes glues to the set at that hour I'm sure. The earlier efforts took place at 7 p.m., a little better, and an invitation only affair hosted by advocacy groups.

In each debate, Menino was seen on the defensive over where the city is after his 16 years in office. He's also finally attracted the attention of the sleeping giant on Morrissey Boulevard, who has been looking at his record in favoring developers, starting with a major Sunday piece in late August.

I was at the beach.

There have been ample signs the Menino administration is showing the wear and tear of a lot of time in office. The hole on Washington Street where a downtown shopping icon used to be is classic visual proof (although I do think the top to 101 Huntington is a nicely hideous alternative).

The problem is the Boston political system is rigged. Not in terms of vote counting, but in a charter that totally skews power toward the mayor and away from the City Council. In the time I have lived here, and I am eligible for an AARP card, there have been three mayors -- Kevin White, Ray Flynn and Tom Menino.

Add to that a man who, despite some significant accomplishments, takes a decidedly personal approach by remembering slights forever and you have a stagnant mix.

To his credit, Menino takes grudges and not cash, well at least not of the illegal kind. His time in office has been remarkably clean of corruption. But it has also been remarkably clean of innovation, debate and challenge.

The Phoenix's David Bernstein offers a solid view of what is really at stake on Sept. 22 and it's sad the future of the city rests on the 50 percent threshold.

Boston City Hall doesn't need to be torn down, it needs to be swept. And there's only a 50-50 chance of that happening when debates are scheduled for times when the fewest eyes will be watching.

But that's what happens with powerful mayors.

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Blogger Judy Meredith said...

Sorry, I just don't get it. Why is it wrong, in principle, for a good corruption free person in public office to have and use power to do good things for too long. What's too long again?
I also liked yesterday's editorial in the not so sleepy Globe. Wish I knew how to link on this site ;(

With hands on, for good or ill, mayor tends to neighborhoods.


September 11, 2009 8:55 AM  
Anonymous KG said...

Read the post on "Marry in Massachusetts" about the debate and about Menino, right on track. His opponents are just not ready for prime time.

September 12, 2009 11:02 AM  

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