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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Of old dogs and new tricks

Mayor for Life Tom Menino wants you to believe he is refreshed and energized as he stares at the start of his fifth term -- brimming with new idea to tackle the problems of education, public safety and city administration.

Of course this same new vision suggests the e-mail controversy surrounding top aide Michael Kineavy was simply a tempest in a teapot that will disappear now that the election is over.

The problem with both visions is they are coming through rose-colored glasses that suggest waves of new cash will come washing through the city, along with brilliant ideas on education reform. It presupposes the Boston Firefighters Union will roll over and cry uncle.

And it assumes Attorney General Martha Coakley will sit on pretty clear indications that the state's public records law was violated in the destruction of e-mails.

We've heard this talk before. After his 2005 inauguration, Menino called for the construction of a 1,000-foot tower downtown as part of his "bold vision." The site for this landmark is the Winthrop Square garage, not from from the one development project that will mark his fourth term: The Filene's Hole.

This time, Hizzoner is calling for a medical research and residential complex on the South Boston Waterfront.
“Researchers love to get together,’’ Menino said. “They speak their own language. They like to hang out together.’’
Work-play space?

Again, a slight problem. There are at least two research buildings on hold (including one hole in the ground) in the Longwood Medical Area where the majority of researchers ply their trade near the institutions that employ them. It's always possible another life sciences firm will decide to join the overbuilding, but live-work space?

The grim reality facing the suddenly upbeat mayor is that schools, public safety and infrastructure require money for improvement and that is one thing his government, the commonwealth nor the federal treasury have. And won't have for awhile.

But the commonwealth does have money for law enforcement -- and a decision on the e-mail flap is likely to put a major blemish on what is admittedly an otherwise spotless record. There are no bags of cash lying around under desks in City Hall but there has been an attitude of "l'etat, c'est moi" that can be just as harmful.

One good thing on the cash crunch-vision thing: the move of City Hall to an inaccessible corner of the Waterfront won't be happening any time soon. So those researchers won't have easy access for getting city business tended to.

Congratulations and good luck Mr. Mayor. You'll need it.

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