James Shearer
Spare Change News

As fall closes in, I have been watching a few things. Maybe you have, as well.

1. This whole Occupy thing.

The Wall Street protests have finally reached Boston, big-time. The protests, which started off as a small rally at an area of the Greenway near the financial district, have turned into a full-on protest over the last couple of weeks, complete with raids, arrests, and a little of the “Hell no…we won’t go” attitude from the sixties.

The whole Occupy thing is all about people like me and you standing up against corporations and political greed. It all started overseas in places like Egypt, Rome and Greece. Meanwhile, Wall Street, and the politicians who were in their pockets, held their breath, and prayed that Americans didn’t get any ideas. Well, guess what? We did.

The mayor of Boston has sent out the Boston Police Department in force as crowds continue to get larger. Menino has made it a point to let the city know that he will not tolerate civil disobedience in Boston — but hold on a minute, your honor. Much of your beloved city was founded on civil disobedience. You of all people should appreciate that the only way that this Occupy thing is going to end (not only in Boston but around the country) is for Wall Street and all those corporations to end the greed and share the wealth. As of press time, there seems to be little chance of that happening.

2. An invasion of privacy?

A while back I wrote a column on an effort by the city of Boston to make public housing smoke-free. After a general outcry from advocates on both the left and the right, the city backed off … sort of.

The Boston Public Health Commission has created a registry that will allow city landlords to list their properties as smoke-free. While I applaud the efforts to create a smoke-free community, there just seems to be something wrong with telling people what they can or can’t do in the privacy of their own homes.
This just isn’t Boston, folks. Across the Charles, Cambridge has been talking about banning smoking in public parks. This isn’t just about health, it’s about infringing on people’s rights.

Meanwhile, back in Boston, our favorite mayor is advocating for the smoke-free housing. How can someone who is against civil disobedience be all for encroaching on people’s rights? It makes no sense to me. I doubt if it makes any sense to you folks, either.

3. No one at the helm.

It’s been a couple of months now and still the MBTA has yet to hire a General Manager. In fact, no one has even applied for the job since the T sent out ads for it.

The MBTA is the fifth-largest transit system in the USA, according to its ridership records. It’s a wonder why anyone hasn’t wanted to jump all over an opportunity like that.

But maybe that’s just it. The MBTA has made a reputation of eating its young, or its GMs, as it were. Granted, the last GM, Rich Davey, left to run the larger agency MassDOT, but you’ve got to wonder if he bailed out because he thought dealing with MassDOT would be easier than dealing with the T and its many problems, most of which are financial.

Besides, who wants to be the head of this agency when the words “fare increase” are mentioned?

4. From the what-were-we-thinking department.

I just couldn’t end this column without taking a poke at our beloved Boston Red Sox after what was supposed to be a championship season. At one point, the Sox were the best team in baseball, and blew not only a first-place lead to the dreaded Yankees, but also lost the wildcard race to Tampa Bay.
Ironically, Tampa Bay lost a salary race trying to resign one of their big stars, Carl Crawford, to Boston. Crawford turned out to be a bigger bust than the Red Sox. Now that the Sox have lost both their manager and GM, you’ve got to wonder what John Henry and the rest of the Sox ownership were and are thinking.
Meanwhile, Theo, there is a job opening at the MBTA.

JAMES SHEARER is board president and a co-founder of Spare Change News.





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