There are big problems, but there are fixes. Some require courage and vision. Fortunately both Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker are pretty new to their jobs. This is the time for both traits…if ever.
In my Left Ahead show today, I went on for 28 minutes about the major problems and some of my proposed fixes. I’ll sketch them here. If you need to hear me go on about them, click on the player below to get it on.
The outrageous snowfall merely highlighted some of Boston’s troubles. Consider:
- The city could not clear its streets.
- The T — subways, buses, trolleys, commuter rail — failed on many levels. It had days on end with no service and weeks with severely limited transit. (This coincidentally when it was trying to convince the IOC to pick it for summer Olympics games.)
- Following the Marathon bombings, what we like to call Boston Strong has really been Boston Weak and Cowardly. We sheltered in place, a.k.a. hiding and ceding liberty to authority figures.
- Likewise, among 10 cities, Boston was the only one crippled by Lite-Brite style toys. To this day, the then AG Martha Coakley, governor and state and city cops refuse to admit their failures.
Like so many US cities, Boston can lump along and pretend all is swell that we are absolutely the best at everything.
Instead, I propose:
Mayor Walsh must become the first in Boston to clear, actually clear the streets. Bostonians pay an ever increasing property-tax burden, as government, college, medical and other tax-exempt properties either ride free or pay minimal contributions. We should demand passable, safe streets. Walsh needs to become the savior mayor who uses snow melters, aggressive towing, and to-curb removal instead of asking each homeowner to do the work. Real cities like Montreal and Milwaukee have done this for decades. He will become a legend.
Gov. Baker must demand that the legislature correct its biggest blunder in saddling the MBTA with untenable debt on a fantasy of a neverending growth spiral of sales taxes. He doesn’t even have to admit that this scheme was his. He simply needs to inspire the legislature to stop the crap. Instead of funding maintenance and expansion, the T is paying debt service imposed by the commonwealth. Reverse the madness!
We all need to shake off passivity. This is the hardest, since the era of the World Trade Center attacks. We have given up so much to authority figures under the premise that they will keep us safe that we lose what makes us Americans. Obey authority figures and give up liberties has long been the norm. We can now look to frequent murder by cop to see how low this can sink. At the very least, we need to lobby for and champion civilian-review boards to ID and remove the rogue cops. Police departments won’t do it for us.
From these few examples, Boston is fixable, but only through guts that we have not seen from our current Mayor, Governor, or ourselves. None of it impossible.