First out of the blocks

Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim says he’s encouraged by the call for a statewide referendum on the Olympics but still wants a Boston vote this fall.

You were the first to formally move for ballot questions on the Olympics for Boston voters. The Boston 2024 organizers have now called for a statewide referendum. Does that affect your plan? I’m very encouraged by that. But I’d want to take a look at the language before making any decisions.

Could there be two votes, Boston-only and statewide? Again, we’d need to see the language. Also, their plan is for a vote in [November] 2016, while ours would be for this fall.

The four advisory questions you want to put on Boston’s municipal ballot this fall would test support for hosting the Olympics, using eminent domain to obtain property, and tapping public funds to either support the Games or guarantee cost overruns. Do supporters of the Games need to win all four? The decision is up to the people of Boston. In general, people have felt left out of this process. As for what the numbers need to be, is it 51 [percent], is it 60? I don’t think that’s as important as people wanting their voices heard.
ZakimJosh
[Boston 2024 executive director] Rich Davey says your four ballot questions are confusing. What do you think? I think they’re fairly straightforward and I think they are worded neutrally. I think Boston has some of the most educated, civically engaged residents in the country and can certainly understand these four questions.

Are you opposed to the Olympics coming here? No, not at all. I’m open-minded but I would like to get better answers on the financing. Before this city decides that we should be doing this, we really need to know what’s our financial exposure.

When [City Council President] Bill Linehan formed a special committee to study the Olympics bid, you were left off. Did that surprise you? A little bit. I was certainly disappointed. I would have liked to have had a role there.

Have you asked him why? I have not. Not a conversation we have had yet. He’s made his committee assignment and that’s his prerogative.

There’s an argument that winning the bid could trigger MBTA upgrades. Wouldn’t that be a rationale for going forward with the Olympics bid? I think that would be an incredibly sad commentary for the people of Boston and the Commonwealth, even if that’s what it takes to upgrade a necessary piece of public infrastructure. I think this last winter is the catalyst, more than anything, for us needing to upgrade the T. Improving the T is something that is long overdue and the fact that some of these trains were around in the Blizzard of ’78 is shocking.

Do you use the T or do you own a car? I just bought [a car] in the last year, but if I find a parking space [in the Back Bay], I’ll leave it there. I use the T, Uber, Hubway.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

What do you think of the argument by the city’s cab companies that Uber is an unregulated livery business that undercuts their business and is unsafe? I think Uber as a new company needs to make some changes, [address] some of the safety issues. Uber is sort of irrelevant to the taxi issues the city has. There’s not enough supply. I think there’s room for both. It’s a service that is needed in Boston.