There was a great article in the Boston Globe over the weekend. The link is here but that may be behind a paywall, so here’s the summary: a lieutenant in the Boston Police Department who was a pretty big supporter of Michael Flaherty’s most recent attempt to unseat Mayor Menino was passed over for a captain’s position within the department on multiple occasions. Non one was hired for the position, the lieutenant sued claiming he was being punished for supporting Flaherty, and the case was just settled out of court, but the settlement agreement states that the payment is not an admission of wrongdoing.
To keep things simple: this is NOT the kind of thing that should be happening in Boston. I understand that politics is a risky business and that there are winners and losers. But there needs to be a line: elections need to be kept separate from governing, and more importantly, elections and politics should be kept out of public safety decisions. As the Globe article states, the lieutenant in question had scored highly on the captain’s exam in 2008. Do we really want to discourage him from continuing his public service?
There is a lot to be said for consistency, and staying the course, but that this kind of thing can happen in Boston in 2011 shows why it is so important that politics in this city get shaken up, and soon. Boston is a young city, but you wouldn’t know it to look at municipal government. Where are the young people who have the guts and the talent to run for office? Increasingly they are going into other sectors. Why take a shot at running for office when the entrenched powers that be will go to great lengths to beat you? And when they beat you, they then go to work on anyone who in the city who might have supported you. This kind of thing makes the culture of City Hall that much worse because anyone who disagrees is afraid to say so.
We need to see the wave of entrepreneurship and innovation that has been building in this city start to include politics. If everyone in this city between the ages of 18 and 35 took the time once a year to get out and vote, we could have a new City Council and a new Mayor without needing to do more than fill in the right box on the ballot.
What will it take to really bring people our age into the fold? Will it be a specific candidate? A certain issue? Whatever it’s going to be, we need to figure it out and make it happen.
Until then, we have no one to blame but ourselves.
- Nick Downing, Future Boston Program Manager