After Mayor Menino rescued the annual First Night celebrations, it appears that Mayor Walsh wants to get out of the responsibility of First Night essentially because it is too difficult:
“We are not in the business of running events like this,’’ Walsh said. “We can handle small events. First Night is logistically a fairly large event with many different moving parts.”
While I don’t necessarily object to the City trying to find someone else to run the event, I do find this statement inconsistent with Walsh’s insistence that the City has the capability to actively plan and monitor the development of the 2024 Olympics. Even the planning of the City’s own responsibilities for the Olympics will dwarf that for First Night.
First Night has been a popular annual event in the City for almost 40 years. Unlike the Olympics, it caters primarily to the local population and involves mostly local artists, musicians and dancers. If Marty Walsh truly believes that an important and popular local event such as First Night is too onerous a responsibility for the City to bear, then he should admit that the City has absolutely no business taking on the 2024 Olympics.
The chutzpah of this guy
Trickle up says
HR's Kevin says
The issue isn’t whether or not it might be appropriate for a private group to run First Night. The issue is the Mayor’s stated reason for doing so. First he states that First Night is “too difficult” to manage even thought the City has in fact done the job proving that it clearly isn’t too difficult. Second, he has clearly stated that he intends for the City to play a big part in planning the Olympics and overseeing the planning of the Olympics, a part that would surely be larger than that of planning First Night. Third, even if the City does not take a big part in the planning or oversight, it will still have very large responsibilities in implementing the security, transportation, and infrastructure projects that will be required by the Olympics and those will also be much larger than First Night.
The Mayor could have and should have made the same request for an outside party to take over First Night without making the ill-conceived statements about it being too big or too hard for the City to manage. He also should have stated very clearly that the City will make sure that First Night continues whether or not an independent organization adopts it.
So the question remains: is Marty Walsh being honest when he says that First Night is too big or is he being honest when he says that the Olympics are not too big, or does he simultaneously believe both things and therefore should not be trusted as to what the City can or cannot do?
Peter Porcupine says
The city HOPES to make oodles of money out of the Olympics – new roads, tourist money etc.
First Night reliably loses hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. That EXPERIENCE makes them want to hand it off pronto.
HR's Kevin says
Any new roads Boston gets are going to be paid for by the City. Tourism is certain to go down during the Summer of the games and may or may not go up afterwards. If it goes up then the city would get a modest cut of the action, but nothing to drool over. No one in the City government actually believes that the City will make money off of the Olympics.
The fact is that the Olympics are going to cost the city way more than it can ever get back.
Now from Marty Walsh’s personal perspective, the situation is a little different. First Night, while popular has been going on for years so he doesn’t win any points for keeping it going. Furthermore, in addition to it costing money, it doesn’t generate lots of union jobs nor does it bring him any personal recognition. The Olympics on the other hand is a massive opportunity for him to distribute patronage goodies and hopefully make a big name for himself.
I am not at all surprised that Walsh wants to get rid of the responsibility of managing First Night. But the fact that he made up transparently bogus reasons for doing so is a clear indication that he (or people in his staff) realize that it would sound bad if they gave their real reasons.
Like I said, I don’t have any problem with the City trying to restore First Night back to its origin as an independently run event actively supported by the City. There are good reasons to do so, but those weren’t the reasons that were cited. And the bogus reasons they did cite undercuts their Olympic ambitions.
BTW, good luck to whoever takes this on. It is going to be hard to raise corporate money for First Night with Boston 2024 hoovering up every available dollar.
Occasionally, the truth slips out.
The Mayor didn’t say First Night couldn’t happen in Boston, just that the City shouldn’t be responsible for it. Maybe for those concerned about the Olympics this is a glimmer of hope that the Mayor doesn’t want the City to be responsible for the Olympics in the sense of costs or such, but simply provide the space. (OK, that’s admittedly quite the spin, but just a thought.)
HR's Kevin says
The point is that the the absolute minimum amount of organization work required by the City of Boston to manage the Olympics, even under the most optimistic scenario, would still be far, far more than that required by any First Night celebration we have ever seen.
The Mayor knows this perfectly well.
HR's Kevin says
Boston could take over the quarry in Hyde Park. We could fill it with snow in the winter and use it as an Olympic stadium in 2024 😉