When it comes to the Olympics, vote early, vote often
The ancient Greeks liked their games. And they liked their democracy, opening up the rule of law to the people in the way of votes. Here in the Athens of America, we’re looking to emulate them in all ways, apparently.
There are potentially so many scenarios for voting on whether Boston should host the Olympics in 2024 that it could be considered an Olympic qualifying event. That doesn’t even include the number of polls in the field to try to gauge Bay State residents’ interest and assuage the jittery nerves of the US Olympic Committee.
The new Boston 2024 2.0 plan unveiled this week is clearly an attempt to cater to the pollsthat show a little more acceptance (barely a tick above 50 percent) for holding the games around the state, rather than the “compact” vision of 1.0 that focused on the Hub itself. The organizers of the bid also ratcheted down the need for public investment, focusing mostly on infrastructure upgrades that would need to be done with or without the world knocking on our door.
“”We’re very confident that the voters and anyone who looks at this will say it’s a sound, prudent plan,” Boston 2024’s chairman, Steve Pagliuca, told reporters Tuesday after presenting the revised plan to the USOC.
First up would be four questions on the Boston municipal ballot this fall, proposed by City Councilor Josh Zakim. Zakim proposed his quartet of referenda before bid organizers said they’d be open to a statewide referendum next November. Zakim hasn’t yet backed off his idea but it would need the support of the full council and the signature of Olympic cheerleader Mayor Martin Walsh if he puts down his pom-poms long enough to pick up a pen.
That could be followed closely by the first of the statewide referendums, if Gov. Charlie Baker is right. Baker reportedly told a group of business executives Tuesday that it’s possible to have voters weigh in on the question in the spring, possibly during municipal elections, in order to remove it from the clutter of presidential politics in November 2016.
An early 2016 vote would also have the effect of tamping down turnout, with far fewer voters casting ballots in the early elections than in the presidential balloting. It’s unclear who that would favor, seeing as the consensus is the more motivated voters are the ones who turn out for less-than-exciting elections and who’s more motivated than the anti-Olympic crowd?
But even if that happens, the leaders of a coalition looking to place a question on the ballot barring use of taxpayer funds for any Olympic-related expenses (save items such as infrastructure that are needed anyway) are vowing to go forward with their referendum despite Baker’s musings, which the group called a “gimmick.”
“We are full steam ahead with a true ballot question,” said Evan Falchuk, chairman of Citizens for a Say. “If I were to guess, I believe the reason they’re floating this idea is because they are afraid they will lose in November 2016.”
All of the posturing, though, may be unnecessary. All of the votes are scheduled to take place after the USOC has to submit the name of a city to the International Olympic Committee this September. Which is why the USOC is doing its own polling to see if they made the right choice.
After Tuesday’s presentation by Pagliuca and the rest of Boston 2024 to the USOC, which has been rumored to be looking elsewhere for a fallback city, committee Chairman Larry Probst said the group wants to see favorability rise into the 60-percent range.
“We’re focused exclusively on Boston,” he said. “Boston is our partner.”
But he didn’t add “Till death do us part.”
Sen. Mark Montigny is sounding the alarm over the MBTA pension fund, which a recent report suggested is burdened by as much as $470 million in overstated assets or understated liabilities. (Boston Globe)
The MBTA Carmen’s Union is leafleting at subway stations and bus stops, urging riders to pressure House Speaker Robert DeLeo to oppose Gov. Charlie Baker‘s T reform plan. (Boston Herald)
The Gloucester Times rises to the defense of the Massachusetts flag, dismissing the “politically correct crowd” claiming it is offensive. The Globe’s Yvonne Abraham raised the state flag issue initially, saying the banner is not as offensive as the Confederate flag but “still pretty awful.”
The Eagle-Tribune condemns the way the Peabody School Committee and Superintendent Joe Mastrocola agreed in private and with no public explanation that Mastrocola needed to go, accompanied by $100,000 in taxpayer money.
Activists with Black Lives Matter in Boston stage a wake-up call at Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s house in Dorchester, urging him to pull the city away from an Olympic bid.
Developer Sal Lupoli tours Lowell’s Hamilton Canal District looking for opportunities. (Lowell Sun)
A Christopher Columbus statue in Boston’s North End was defaced with red paint and had the slogan “Black Lives Matter!” painted on its base. (Boston Herald)
Cohasset teachers are protesting a move by town officials to increase new retirees’ share of health care costs to half the premium, up from 15 percent. (Patriot Ledger)
The developer of a planned restaurant in downtown Easton is threatening to sue the townbecause the planning board didn’t have sufficient members present to vote on a zoning variance. (The Enterprise)
The Lawrence City Council says it plans to consider a resolution supporting driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. (Boston Herald)
As Michigan pulls the plug on its film tax credit, the numbers are troubling: the state has spent more than $450 million but it has fewer film jobs today than in 2008, when the credit was launched. (Wall Street Journal) Efforts to rein in the Massachusetts film tax credit appear to be going nowhere.
A high-ranking Washington official has an op-ed in the Globe calling on Congress to reauthorize the US Export-Import Bank.
High-ranking officials in the Obama administration were aware of Hillary Clinton’s email practices as early as 2009. (Time)
The average home price in Manhattan is $1.87 million. (New York Times)
No laughing matter: Keller@Large says Vice President Joe Biden may be just the guy to run for president.
Don’t tell Fall River voters apathy rules when it comes to running for public office. More than 50 potential candidates have taken out nomination papers for this fall’s elections for mayor, City Council, and School Committee. (Herald News)
Apple Music promises to upend the music streaming business. (Taylor Swift has already fallen to the dark side.) (Boston Herald)
Donna Karan, the fashion icon who has dressed working women for decades, is stepping away from the clothing line that bears her name and the parent company will suspend production of the collection while it retools. (New York Times)
How much is too much when it comes to the speakers’ fees paid by nonprofits, like the nearly $12 million paid to the Clinton Foundation over the last decade for speeches by the family? (Chronicle of Philanthropy)
The presidents of the Berklee College of Music and The Boston Conservatory talk about the proposed merger between the two schools. (Greater Boston)
Partners HealthCare adjusts service on the North Shore with a plan to shut down Union Hospital in Lynn over the next three years and transfer most services to Salem Hospital. Emergency care for Lynn is up in the air. (The Item) An Item editorial calls the announcement an outrage.
Interest in medical marijuana dispensary licenses is….high. More than 50 applications were received this week by state regulators. (Boston Globe)
Attorney General Maura Healey issues a health care cost trends report on behavioral health. (WBUR)
Some Massachusetts health insurers are facing a big financial hit from new fees assessed by Obamacare. (State House News)
JetBlue adds a checked bag fee. (Associated Press)
The Berkshire Eagle wants solar to flourish and argues for lifting net metering caps.
Watertown‘s police chief says “self-deployed” officers who showed up at the scene of the backyard where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured got in the way of the operation and put other officers at risk. (Boston Globe)MEDIA
The Globe picks up on the controversy that has erupted following the publication last month by the Berkshire Eagle of an “inflammatory racial commentary” by a local Republican activist.