What’s in a name?
The long debate over the name of the street running alongside Fenway Park’s third base foul line may finally come to a close this month. But it won’t settle the complicated question of how to treat ignoble history, and the distinction between acknowledging it and revering it.
The Boston Red Sox have finally made good on team owner John Henry’s vow to push to rid the street of it current designation, Yawkey Way, named for former team owner Tom Yawkey. The team has filed a formal request with the city to switch the stretch of road name back to its original name, Jersey Street.
The official statement from the team was cryptic. “Restoring the Jersey Street name is intended to reinforce that Fenway Park is inclusive and welcoming to all,” it said. The more direct argument for the change: Yawkey was a racist.
Henry, in an email last summer to Boston Herald baseball writer Michael Silverman making clear his support for the change, said, “I am still haunted by what went on here a long time before we arrived.”
Boston Globe columnist Adrian Walker, says the street renaming push is long overdue and that anyone looking to see Boston move past its legacy of turning a blind eye to intolerance should “loudly cheer” the development.
One place from which no cheers are emanating is the Yawkey Foundation, the philanthropy set up by Tom Yawkey and his wife Jean, which has helped fund, among other things, a Boys and Girls Club in Roxbury and the ambulatory care center at Boston Medical Center. Foundation officials have long opposed the idea of changing the name of Yawkey Way.
Ray Hammond, a prominent black Boston minister who is a foundation trustee, tells the Herald’s Jessica Heslam that changing the street name would be a “terrible decision.” Hammond says the charge that Yawkey once yelled a racist slur at Robinson has been debunked. And while Walker says a name change would put the city on the right road, Hammond says it would be “another example of how we don’t get it right on the issue of race in Boston.”
Hammond doesn’t suggest Yawkey was any kind of crusader for racial justice. “No one’s saying that Tom Yawkey was Branch Rickey,” he said, referring to the Brooklyn Dodger executive who signed Robinson to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier. “He wasn’t. But by God, he definitely was not David Duke, in spite of what people think.”
Some have recently argued that another prominent Boston name should be stripped from prominent public use by renaming historic Faneuil Hall, named for 18th century Boston merchant Peter Faneuil, who donated money to build the iconic structure and was, like many better-off Bostonians of his day, a slave owner.
State Rep. Byron Rushing, a past president of the Roxbury Historical Society, is among those opposing the idea. He said he favors the approach of the National Park Service, which oversees Faneuil Hall but is very explicit in its materials in noting Faneuil’s ties to the slave trade. Last year, Rushing told the Bay State Banner that “historic buildings are different from statues.” The latter, he said, serve more as “propaganda,” while “taking the name off a building is erasing history.”
Next step for this debate: Brookline, where some are pushing to rename the Edward Devotion Elementary School because its namesake was a slave-owner.
Sen. Cynthia Creem of Newton was named Senate majority leader. Sen. Stan Rosenberg, the former Senate president, still has no committee assignments. (State House News)
Rep. David Nangle of Lowell is pushing an amendment to safe communities legislation that would increase the amount of time local police could detain someone sought by ICE from six hours to 12 hours. (Lowell Sun) A Lowell Sun editorial urges the Baker administration to stand firm on a longer detainment period, saying the bill’s sponsors, if they had their way, wouldn’t detain anyone wanted by ICE for being an illegal immigrant. “That’s their recipe for safe communities. It’s not ours, nor we suspect for the vast majority of the state’s residents,” the editorial said.
Rep. James Miceli of Wilmington was taken by ambulance from a House Democratic caucus. (Lowell Sun)
Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse defends the decision to spend $10,000 on an artificial Christmas tree. (MassLive)
Telegram & Gazette columnist Dianne Williamson has an interesting and heart-wrenching tale about love and the legal system.
Quincy officials are eyeing the creation of a municipal broadband service to compete with Comcast, the city’s sole provider. (Patriot Ledger)
Bourne Selectman Michael Blanton was arrested and held without bail after he was charged with attacking a woman, slamming her head against the floor several times and threatening to beat her with a baseball bat. (Cape Cod Times)
Proponents of the new city charter that was overwhelmingly approved by Fall River voters last November are filing suit against the mayor and City Council because they say the officials are ignoring key elements of the charter. (Herald News)
Dennis selectmen, wary of a repeat of an incident last summer when a group of teens was having sex and drinking within plain sight of a family beach area, have finalized plans to station monitors at the town’s beaches to help keep peace. (Cape Cod Times)
Brockton’s personnel director, who was at the center of a suit over discriminatory hiring practices that cost the city $4 million, is retiring. (The Enterprise)
There’s momentum for changes in the country’s gun laws nearly everywhere — except in Congress. (Boston Globe) Local gun advocates are also among those not clamoring for change — and they lashed out at Dick’s Sporting Goods stores for its decision to stop selling any assault-style rifles and to restrict all guns sales to those 21 and older. (Boston Globe) Trump stunned lawmakers on both sides of the aisle when he appeared to embrace gun control measures that had been previously rejected by Congress. (New York Times)
The state of Washington approves the nation’s toughest net neutrality law. (Governing)
A Herald editorial lambastes President Trump’s attacks on his own attorney general and says he acts like the ruler “some banana republic — where every head bows down and every official pays homage.”
Hope Hicks, Trump’s communications director who told House investigators she has told “white lies” for the president, is resigning a day after her appearance before Congress but the White House insists it is unrelated to her departure. (U.S. News & World Report)
Democrat Allison Gustavson, a founder of an Indivisible chapter which has as its goal resisting the Trump agenda, plans to run against Republican Rep. Brad Hill of Ipswich. (Salem News)
Walmart raises the age limit for buying guns and ammunition to 21 and stops selling assault-style weapons on its website. (Associated Press)
The state-appointed board intended to lead the transition back to local control of the Lawrence schools held its first meeting, and already there was grumbling from school committee officials who wondered what their role would be. (Eagle-Tribune)
Oxford Police Chief Anthony Saad briefs officials on how the town would respond to a shooter at a school, and said he is not averse to teachers carrying guns if they are trained in the use of firearms. (Telegram & Gazette) Gloucester officials discussed ways to protect students from shooters. (Gloucester Times)
Massachusetts public higher education students are taking on added student debt at a rate greater than anywhere in the country except Delaware, according to a new report. (Boston Globe)
Gloria Larson, the outgoing president of Bentley University, talks about her tenure as the school’s first female president and the strides she made — and the gap that still exists — in bringing gender equality on campus and in higher ed in general. (Greater Boston)
A major revamp of the state’s Medicaid program takes effect today, with some 800,000 enrollees assigned to one of several “accountable care organizations” aimed at providing better coordinated, and lower cost, care. (Boston Globe)
The Springfield Public Health Council declared a public health emergency because of the opioid epidemic and approved a needle exchange program. (MassLive)
Kevin Hill, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says we need to make evidence-based, not ideologically-driven, decisions on marijuana policy, and he points to research showing a decline in opioid overdoses and in prescriptions for pain medicine in state’s that have adopted policies allowing medical or recreational use of marijuana. (Boston Globe)
A study finds an increase in pedestrian fatalities over the first half of 2017 in states with legal pot compared with those that have not legalized it. (Boston Herald)
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell thought he had a commitment from the state to build a new transportation hub in his city but a week after he made the announcement, state officials say they’re still studying the request. (Standard-Times)
Milton officials are pushing Massport and the FAA to spread out flight paths to and from Logan to reduce the impact of planes flying overhead in limited communities. (Patriot Ledger)
Eversource Energy makes a last-ditch appeal to save its Northern Pass project, which was selected by Massachusetts to deliver hydro-electricity from Quebec. (CommonWealth)
A study by researchers at Boston University and Clark University gives some support to claims by some parents in Holliston that drinking water contamination has contributed to a high incidence of children born with unexplained and unusual medical problems in some neighborhoods. (MetroWest Daily News)
Attorney General Maura Healey says the Everett casino, at a minimum, should not bear the Wynn name, and that she’s “not convinced” Wynn Resorts should retain the casino license. (Boston Herald)MEDIA
WBUR received its largest donation ever — a $5 million gift from Bain Capital’s Jonathan Lavine and his wife Jeannie to help buildout the station’s new cultural events space. (Boston Globe)