The Globe’s Dear Jeff letter
The Boston Globe published what it called a “newsroom commentary” on Sunday that borrowed the theme of John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address. Instead of asking what Boston can do to convince Amazon to open its second headquarters here, the commentary laid out what Amazon can do for Boston. The headline for the whole package was “Dear Jeff.”
“You could chase bigger tax breaks and cheaper real estate in any number of cities,” said the four-page newsroom commentary, which in the print edition wrapped around the metro section. “But how about a true partnership that reimagines the relationship between a city and the big companies it hosts? If you choose Boston as your second home, help make our city better for those of us who already live here.”
The big asks focused on transportation, housing, and education. There were some “think big” ideas and then some recommendations for what Amazon could do immediately. For transportation, the think big idea was to expand rail service on two existing, unused lines and to build an underground rail link connecting South and North Stations. For housing, the commentary urged creation of an Amazon Town with offices, housing, and stores. On education, Amazon was asked to lead an effort to raise $1 billion over four years for education and training.
The shorter-term requests were more specific, urging Amazon to buy T passes for all of its 50,000 employees; to work with Gov. Charlie Baker on zoning changes that would permit more transit-oriented development and senior housing; and to rally around Madison Park Technical Vocational High School and Northeastern University’s co-op program.
Columnist Shirley Leung, still peeved that Boston didn’t pursue the 2024 Olympics, sees Amazon as the next, best opportunity to overhaul the city on a grand scale. “The dream of the Olympics was about having a deadline to get things done. Bidding for Amazon’s North American headquarters gives us the same sense of urgency,” she wrote.
It’s hard to know what to make of the Globe’s newsroom commentary. Were the ideas the newspaper’s editorial position, or just the positions of the eight employees who worked on it? Is hosting an Olympics or a second Amazon headquarters the only way to get things done in Massachusetts? Or is slow, incremental improvement over time the better approach?
Some of those who commented on the special section embraced its spirit, engaging in a discussion about what it would mean to land Amazon’s second headquarters. But others, like the commenter who went by the name ShankMan, were also appalled at the commentary’s naivete.
“Dumbest piece of writing that I’ve seen in the Globe in a while,” ShankMan wrote. “Tell Amazon about all the problems Greater Boston has and then ask Amazon to pay for solving them. Brilliant.”
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Sen. Elizabeth Warren endorsed Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for reelection, drawing the ire of some black leaders. (Boston Herald)
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Tufts University promotes the African American Freedom Trail project. (WBUR)
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John DeVillars said it’s time to put the pedal to the medal with electric vehicles. (CommonWealth)
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