The other night while in the car, I caught on WBUR part of the speech John Fish gave a week or so back to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. It was immediately clear Fish passionately believes in the Olympics– and sees value for Boston and Massachusetts in the bid process itself.
But one thing he said truly struck me for what it says about the political machinations that have already taken place. And a couple days later, the point was truly driven home.
During his talk—which you can hear here–Fish mentions that just the night before the speech he spoke to both Mayor Walsh and Gov. Baker on the phone.
Fish is, of course, a millionaire many times over (personal net worth estimated at $425 million) and has a track record of using that political wealth to influence the political process. (His 2012 political donations totaled $150,000 and he gave more than $200K last year) . He and his firm (Suffolk Construction) has helped transform the city in recent decade and he is a longtime philanthropist doing good for the city.
It seems to me the reason Fish is able to get a Democratic mayor and a Republican governor on the phone in the same night has more to do with the first two factors surrounding his wealth than any of those other factors.
The importance of this fact wasn’t fully clear to me until a couple days later when I read this Boston Herald story about a new 2024 opposition group forming.
This line in particular struck me:
“If the Olympics happen here, we will keep going to 2024, even if we are protesting behind barricades and fences.”
How’s that for political symbolism: John Fish can get Baker and Walsh (and no doubt, DeLeo, Rosenberg, et al) on the phone anytime he wants to plead his case; the opposition has to wield its political power from “behind barricades and fences.”
To me this- in addition to being a symptom of a the larger political process being unwell–is is why Boston 2024 has been able to co-opt the state’s entire political machine to work with it– as a partner–on the bid, all without any official decisions to do being made or votes taken.
Not a watchdog or a check and balance, or to represent the vox populi — but in conjunction and cooperation.
The mainstream press likes to talk about Boston 2024′s political stumbles, but if so, they’ve stumbled into a pretty good situation: Access to key decision-makers long before any of us even have a chance to say our piece–or even knew we had something to say our piece about.