Yay Boston

Boston dealt with right-wing speech the right way:

“I think it’s clear today that Boston stood for peace and love, not bigotry and hate,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said at a late afternoon news conference.

Walsh also thanked the Boston Police Department and other law enforcement agencies, including the MBTA Transit Police and the State Police.

“They carried themselves with dignity, and I’m proud of that work, and I’m proud of the fact that here in Boston we were able to have a very successful day,” the mayor said.

Police Commissioner William B. Evans said at the news conference, “We probably had 40,000 people out here standing tall against hatred and bigotry in our city and that’s a good feeling.”

Nearly all the demonstrators “were here for the right reason,” Evans said, though “we did have people who came here to cause problems.”

By early evening Saturday, police had made 33 arrests on disorderly conduct and other charges.

Violence is part of the whole Nazi existence. They thrive on victimhood and need an enemy to fight.  If you ridicule and whenever they rally, hold one that is much, much bigger–in Boston there were an estimated 40,000 counter-protestors to the, at most, a couple hundred ‘free speechers’. Mission accomplished.

Are they racists or trolls?

It seems there will be a Boston ‘Free Speech’ rally assuming they can get anyone to speak:

Organizers of the Boston Free Speech Coalition, which also identifies as the New Free Speech Movement, garnered attention for the rally by inviting speakers with known ties to white nationalism, white supremacists, and racist views.

Medlar said his group supports free speech for everyone, including those who are the most vile. He said his group denounces violence.

Here is part of their statement on their Facebook page:

While we maintain that every individual is entitled to their freedom of speech and defend that basic human right, we will not be offering our platform to racism or bigotry. We denounce the politics of supremacy and violence. We denounce the actions, activities, and tactics of the so-called Antifa movement. We denounce the normalization of political violence.

We are a coalition of libertarians, progressives, conservatives, and independents and we welcome all individuals and organizations from any political affiliations that are willing to peaceably engage in open dialogue about the threats to, and importance of, free speech and civil liberties. Join us at the Parkman Bandstand where we will be holding our event. We look forward to this tide-changing peaceful event that has the potential to be a shining example of how we, in the city of Boston, can come together for the common goal of preserving freedom of speech for all and respectfully discussing our differences of opinion without engaging in violence.

It’s just a complete coincidence that all of their originally planned speakers (Gavin McInnes, Kyle Chapman, Augustus Invictus, Joe Biggs, and Brandon Navom) are conservative and, at least partially, part of the alt-right. So, please don’t claim that they’re ok with racism even though some of their original speakers are outright racists.

Here’s the thing, there are only two reasons that you invite these type of abhorrent people to speak at your rally (notice it’s very different to support a person’s right to speak and giving them a forum to speak at; the first is something all free speech advocates should do, the second is not). First, because you have similar views. Second, you’re a troll just trying to stir up trouble for fun or profit. I’m not sure which fits the organizers of this event, but both reasons mark them as pretty bad people.

I deserve it, you don’t

The Boston Globe notes that the leaders of the Boston charter schools make a fair amount (the second compares to 13 charter school executives who make $160,000 or more):

The median pay package for the top leaders of the 16 charter schools in Boston was $170,000 last year, making most of them among the highest-paid public school officials in Boston, according to a Globe review of payroll data.

By contrast, three members of Chang’s Cabinet made more than $160,000 in 2016, according to a Globe review.

and their employees make a bit less:

The average earnings for charter-school teachers, guidance counselors, and other educators who work directly with students were roughly $55,000, according to the Globe review. Average pay for teachers in the Boston school system is about $90,000.

Now look at how the leaders talk about the pay of the leaders:

Charter school officials say the large compensation packages reflect the competitive market for top school leaders and the need for special talent.

Harris, in a brief phone interview, said his compensation package was well-earned and reflected the 42 years he spent in public education.

During her tenure, Lam oversaw the school’s relocation from Brighton to Dorchester, its expansion from an elementary school into a K-8 program, and the addition of high-profile programs like EL Sistema, a popular Venezuelan music education program.

“Diana’s unique talents and experience as an accomplished visionary were essential to establishing the school and were reflected in her compensation,” Gary F. Gut, chairman of the school’s trustees, said.

Benjamin Howe, chairman of the trustees at Excel Academy, said the salary the board set for its CEO, Owen Stearns, the third-highest earner, was fair and reasonable and in the best interests of Excel, which operates four campuses in East Boston and Chelsea.

And how they talk about the pay of the teachers:

Charter school leaders say they would like to pay teachers more but the state does not provide them enough money to cover facility costs, forcing them to make up the difference in their operating budgets. The teachers in the independent charters are not unionized.

“Everyone I know wants to hire great teachers and pay them as much as possible,” said Shannah Varon, executive director of Boston Collegiate Charter School, who also leads the Boston Charter School Alliance. “I don’t know of any executive director who is trying to pad their paychecks and in doing so is hiring teachers who are green or paying them less.”

Somehow they are able to find the extra money to pay the leaders but it’s impossible to find it for the teachers. You might be surprised to learn that the teachers aren’t unionized.

For fun, let’s look at the school Shannah Varon works for, Boston Collegiate Charter School. It has, according to its website, nearly 700 students and has 7 executives on the list of people who make more than $100,000 per year. The top 7 executives earnrd a total of $849, 298 with Shannah topping the list at $166,496. I’m curious why paying  the executives a lot doesn’t reduce the amount that could go towards the pay of the teachers.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

I went to the Gardner Museum, so here are some pictures:

It’s an impressive little house in the Fenway. The building is also nice but they’re fixing it up right now so you can mostly only see construction.

Boston welcomes immigrants

Boston telling Trump they support immigrants:

16252342_1222306784483554_628314893867629630_o

Government works, with a big push

The court case for the clean up of the Boston harbor has been declared finished:

US District Judge Richard G. Stearns last month issued the 239th compliance order in the 1985 lawsuit that led to the Boston Harbor cleanup project, declaring an end to the construction phase of the massive combined sewer overflow project.

Stearns issued the order after a presentation in March by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority — which was created as a result of the lawsuit — showed how three decades of litigation since have transformed the harbor into one of the country’s cleanest with people boating, kayaking, and swimming in its waters again. With the project completed, all that remains is a mandated three-year post-construction monitoring program.

The litigation dates back to a time in the 1980s, when Boston was known nationally for its dirty water, and public health officials warned that anyone who fell into the Charles River or Boston Harbor should go to a hospital to be checked.

Following the merger of several cases in 1985 — in which the Environmental Protection Agency was alternately a defendant and a plaintiff — the Conservation Law Foundation of New England became a lead plaintiff.

The EPA, which initially had been blamed for failing to enforce environmental regulations, allowing the pollution to occur, then took a leading role in demanding cleanup efforts. The Metropolitan District Commission, which used to run sewer operations for Greater Boston, became the lead defendant.

What followed was a series of federal judicial orders mandating a timeline for the completion of cleanup projects, first set by A. David Mazzone, the initial judge to oversee the case, and later by Stearns, who took over just before Mazzone died.

This is how government works. There were powerful forces aligned against doing anything, but citizens with the levers of power put into the government were able to get it done. The process wasn’t pretty, but the end result is one of the cleanest harbors in the country. Without the government, this would not have happened, without the citizens push this would not have happened, without the courts this would not have happened. Thanks to all three.

Green Line Extension to move forward?

The MBTA has released its report on the Green Line Extension (with summary here). Here’s a statement near the end:

 If the GLX project is to move forward, the next step would be to enter into detailed discussions with FTA to seek approval of the redesign, the new cost estimate, the identified risks and risk mitigation strategies, and the overall process for releasing the New Starts funding (e.g. the Full Funding Grant Agreement).

You might notice that ‘if’. This is curious since:

And since the state is required to complete the project as part of a lawsuit settlement to mitigate the environmental impacts of the Big Dig, canceling it could leave the state open to litigation. However, an attorney for the T said Wednesday the state has legal alternatives — such as replacing the Green Line extension with a project that “provides at least 110 percent of the air quality benefits of the original project.”

Rafael Mares, with the Conservation Law Foundation, the group that negotiated the original commitment to build the project, says any alternatives would have to be built in the same service area — something he doesn’t see as feasible.

It would be interesting to see what a court would do if the state decided not to build the extension–would the court step in to make the state proceed?

The report says there is still a $73 million gap in funding and the state has emphatically stated they will not pay any more:

The $300 million difference between the prior $2 billion budget and the new $2.3 billion figure would be filled in part by $152 million in federal funds that had been allocated for a later phase of the project, which would have brought further expansion to Medford, and $75 million combined from the cities of Somerville and Cambridge.

That still leaves a budget gap of $73 million with no source so far. Under the terms of a rule set by the two boards late last year, that additional funding can’t come from the state.

Here’s one of the cuts:

A vehicle maintenance facility has also been trimmed down significantly, accounting for $115 million in savings.

Well, it’s not like there are maintenance problems with the T now.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: