A personal remembrance of Mayor Thomas M. Menino

Tom Menino died yesterday at the young age of 71.  After having declined to run for a 6th term, he officially retired from office in January this year and was soon after diagnosed with advanced cancer.  He was my boss for some 13 years – I think everyone who worked for the City of Boston considered him that – but I was far enough up the food chain to have only a couple of layers between us.  Plus I was on committees and volunteered  in ways that put me in touch with him.

I believed it was when he was running for term number 5 that a poll showed that 57% of Boston residents had met him personally.  I assume that those polled were adults and not children as I have to believe an even higher percentage of kids had met him as he made the rounds of community centers, schools and other events.

Menino spoke with Edrei Olivero, 7, of Mattapan, before a neighborhood walk in 2010. (Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff)

Menino spoke with Edrei Olivero, 7, of Mattapan, before a neighborhood walk in 2010. (Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff)

In fact, my favorite memory of the Mayor was with a little girl.  I know I’ve told this story before but I’m telling it again.

I was at a Boston Housing Authority community day.  Early summer, late afternoon.  Some people were grilling and there were chips and stuff, but the big attraction for the kids was the ice cream.  If I remember correctly, Ben and Jerry’s had donated, or one of their stores or distributors had, ice cream and cones.  Some volunteers were scooping it out.  A little girl had attached herself to me and wanted some.  I got her a cone and we were walking away with it when the ice cream fell out of the cone and onto the ground – right at the feet of the Mayor.  She started to cry.  He picked her up and took her over the ice cream table and got her another cone.  Of course he cut into the front of the line.  One boy started to object and another whispered loudly, “That’s the Mayor.” She was happy.  The Mayor was happy.

And that is how I will remember him most.  He loved all the children of Boston and I think they loved him back.

 

Menino spent his last Halloween (2013)as mayor of Boston as he always did -- on his Hyde Park front porch giving out candy to neighborhood children. (Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff)

Menino spent his last Halloween (2013)as mayor of Boston as he always did — on his Hyde Park front porch giving out candy to neighborhood children. (Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff)

 

St. Patrick’s Day 2014

I’m not quite sure I understand the whole controversy about openly gay persons marching in a St. Patrick’s Day parade.  The parade is just a celebration of heritage and the Irish are just as diverse as any other group.  Boston’s old Mayor, Tom Menino, simply didn’t march in the South Boston parade because of the restriction, upheld by a Supreme Court decision, that the parade organizers could choose who they wanted to march.  But new Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is, along with U. S. Representative Stephen Lynch, doing his best to broker a compromise that would allow Mass Equality to march with a banner.  I think the parade organizers that include a fellow called Wacko Hurley fear that their parade would turn into another gay pride march if they let any LGBT groups march.  Presumably, the LGBT community knows the difference: March is not June.  Plus, there is a picture from the 1992 parade, pre-Supreme Court decision,  that shows there is nothing to fear.

The parade is only a couple of days away, and Mayor Walsh is making one last try.  Most Boston and Massachusetts state-wide elected officials have already announced they are not going to march.  I think the only exception is Nick Collins, the State Representative from South Boston.

The 1992 South Boston parade after a court order.

The 1992 South Boston parade after a court order.

Kevin Cullen has a wonderful column in today’s Boston Globe about the Boston and New York City parades.

So Marty Walsh, God love ’im, is going to make one last-ditch effort to hammer out a compromise so gay people can march openly in Sunday’s parade in Southie.

As they say in the Irish-speaking Gaeltacht, from where Marty’s parents are from, “Beir bua agus beannacht.” Look it up.

Down here in New York, where its St. Patrick’s Day parade is older than the Declaration of Independence and lasts anywhere from six to seven hours, there’s the same standoff, with organizers refusing to let gay people march with banners that identify themselves as gay.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, as the Irish say, couldn’t be arsed when it comes to forging compromise. He boycotted the parade when he was the city’s public advocate. He’s not going to start marching now.

De Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, of the Medford [MA] Bloombergs, marched in the parade but de Blasio is about as different from Bloomberg as the Irish are from Irish-Americans.

De Blasio, who grew up in Cambridge, is married to a black woman and has biracial kids, so he’s not really into exclusion. But neither is he into cozying up to the New York Irish, who were in the corner of de Blasio’s primary opponent, Christine Quinn, who was the city council president.

The irony in this — and it wouldn’t be Irish if there weren’t irony — is that Quinn is openly gay. Which means, even when she led the city council delegation in the parade she wasn’t allowed to identify herself as being gay.

So the New York Irish wanted to elect an openly gay mayor but wouldn’t let her march in the parade as openly gay.

And people in New York think we’re nuts?

Mayor Walsh, on the other hand, had support from both the gay community and South Boston so he’s kinda caught in the middle.  But he has said that if he can’t work a compromise, he won’t march.

Linda Dorcena Forry

Linda Dorcena Forry

Boston also has this breakfast before the parade.  Politicians come and roast each other and try to sing Irish songs.  Last May I wrote about South Boston and the election of Linda Dorcena Forry.  I predicted that she would bring some life back to the St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast.  Dorcena Forry is Hatian American married to an Irish man.  The City Councilor from South Boston tried to wrest control, but tradition prevailed:  The State Senator who represents Southie hosts the breakfast.  So Bill Linehan is taking his ball and going to Ireland for the day.  I hope he realizes that this will make him the butt of a lot of jokes.  Whatever.Linda is doing her best to live up to my prediction.  First she announced that the Dropkick Murphy’s, Boston’s very popular Irish punk group, would perform.  Then the Boston Globe had news today of  her most recent announcement about the breakfast.

State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry’s groundbreaking debut as the first woman, first Haitian-American, and first Dorchester resident to host the storied St. Patrick’s Day breakfast on Sunday is apparently drawing some international attention.

Dorcena Forry announced Thursday that Enda Kenny — Ireland’s prime minister, or taoiseach — has agreed to attend the ribald political roast in South Boston.

The visit by a sitting head of state is a coup for Dorcena Forry, who promised to raise the profile of a breakfast that in recent years seemed to have lost some of its star power.

“I am honored that Taoiseach Kenny will join us for this year’s breakfast,” Dorcena Forry said. “I have had the pleasure of meeting the taoiseach during his previous visits to Boston. His attendance at the breakfast is a wonderful affirmation of the deep bonds of friendship between Boston and Ireland.”

No word on whether President Obama will be appearing either on tape or by live feed, but I wouldn’t be surprised.  The Prime Minister is not marching in the parade.

The times are rapidly changing.  Boston Beer Company (think Sam Adams) just announced they have pulled their parade sponsorship.  Wacko and his veterans group are doing a great job of killing the parade.  Meanwhile, the breakfast thrives.  Is there a lesson here?

Photograph of GLIB marching:  Marilyn Humphries

Maps, urban planning, and open space: the saga of Long Wharf

When I was working, I would often take a walk from the office down to Long Wharf and look out at the harbor.  There is a small open shelter and some benches at the end.  Walking with co-workers, we talked about the plan to build a restaurant and wondered how it would change the peaceful quiet that one found there.  Years passed and nothing happened which was fine with us.

A bit of background.  According the National Park Service,

Construction of Long Wharf began in 1710, though the idea of building a new wharf over the remains of the Barricado—a 2,200 foot long defensive wall/wharf of stone and wood piles that encircled the harbor—had been discussed as early as 1707. The wharf extended from the base of King Street (now State Street) and provided direct access to the commercial center of colonial Boston. By 1711 a number of warehouses had been built atop the wharf, and by 1715 the last 600 feet of wharf were completed.

In its heyday, Long Wharf was 1,586 feet in length and 54 feet wide, providing docking facilities for up to 50 vessels. In the 18th century, Boston was the leading colonial port (it would be surpassed by both New York and Philadelphia by the end of the century). Long Wharf was the nucleus of Boston’s maritime trade—by the end of the 18th century it reigned pre-eminent among Boston’s 80 wharves, handling both international and coastal trade. Its extraordinary length allowed large ships to dock and unload directly into warehouses without the use of   small boats. Because the wharf served   private merchants and the public, who could buy directly from the warehouses and stores on the wharf, it was a marketplace long before the construction of Faneuil Hall (Quincy Market) in the 1820s.

In addition to the economic importance of the wharf, it was also associated with the military history of Boston. Among the events that occurred here were the landing of British troops in 1770 to enforce the King’s laws and the evacuation of the same troops in March 1776; the landing of a vessel from Philadelphia bringing news of the signing of the Declaration of Independence; and during the Revolution, privateers and blockade runners sailed from Long Wharf and military stores were kept in its warehouses.

And today, the NPS describes Long Wharf this way

The Long Wharf and Custom House Block, a National Historic Landmark, is located at the end of State St. and east of Atlantic Ave. in Boston Harbor. The wharf buildings have been converted to residential, commercial and office spaces. On the northwest side of the wharf, a wood planked walkway is lined with benches, and at the end of Long Wharf, there is a large plaza, a covered shelter and a pink stone compass rose, which is  set into the ground. Various tour boat operators are located on the wharf and dock their vessels here.

The plans of the BRA to build a restaurant on the historic wharf may have been ended by the discovery of a National Park Service map.  The story of how the map was found is a fascinating one.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority was so close to realizing its vision of a restaurant on the tip of Long Wharf that you could almost smell the fried clams.

For nearly five years, BRA officials had fought a group of determined North End residents who had raised objections in administrative hearings and state courts.

The BRA spent close to a quarter of a million dollars on legal bills. Last year it finally won a Supreme Judicial Court decision almost certainly clearing the way for a private company to build Doc’s Long Wharf restaurant on the dramatic public space jutting into Boston Harbor.

But it seems that BRA officials, in their zeal to promote waterfront dining, failed to take into account an old map outlining the edge of Long Wharf as protected space. According to a 1980s agreement, the BRA had promised to forever preserve it for outdoor recreation.

Map of Long Wharf with the proposed restaurant marked.

Map of Long Wharf with the proposed restaurant marked.

It took a retired National Park Service employee to read an earlier Globe story, get a map from archives and bring things to a halt.

A retired National Park Service manager, reading about the controversy in the Globe, remembered the map and made a call. Sure enough, the Park Service found the 1980s map in a federal archive in Philadelphia, prompting a state judge to put the restaurant plans on hold in late December and leaving the BRA with ketchup on its face.

“The strange manner in which the [newly discovered map] came to light requires this court” to allow the map into evidence “in the interests of justice,” Suffolk Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Fahey wrote in voiding the restaurant’s state environmental permit and calling for the BRA to reapply, this time using the correct map.

But the  BRA being so convinced that no one else can ever be right seems to be pushing on.

Opponents of the proposed restaurant, many of them neighbors untrained in the law who spent countless hours preparing legal briefs to counter the BRA, said Fahey’s ruling probably settles a debate that should never have begun in the first place. “To us, discovery of the right map means we definitely should win,” said Sanjoy Mahajan, an MIT electrical engineering professor, a former neighbor of the site, and a restaurant opponent. “We think this undercuts the entire BRA case. We only wish it had come to light earlier.”

But the BRA appears determined to plow on. It requested court permission to conduct its own investigation into the map, describing it in court filings as a mere “sketch” and as a “roughly drawn rendering” made by “an unknown individual . . . allegedly found” in archives.

BRA spokeswoman Susan Elsbree said: “We are following the process in good faith, and we will get to the bottom of this. Our mission is to get people to enjoy the waterfront, and not let a few neighbors trump the public interest.”

But people do enjoy the park.  On a nice day to sit and watch the boats and the gulls while the breeze blows and it is quiet is a wonderful thing.  I understand the goal of the BRA is development, but one does not have to build everywhere.  When I was working for the City of Somerville, there was a fire and a house was destroyed.  Someone asked Mike Capuano, the Mayor at the time, what he thought should be built there.  His response, “Probably nothing.”  Somerville was, at the time, the most densely populated city in Massachusetts, if not the United States.  It needed some green space and the lot became open space.  Once does not need to build on every square inch of land.

“I don’t know what map they were using before, but I provided them with the one we have on record for that project,” Jack W. Howard, a National Park Service manager, said in an interview.

The new map, pulled from National Park Service files, shows that the proposed restaurant lies squarely within the bounds of a park financed under the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund Act. Federal law prohibits such restaurants in these federally funded parks with few exceptions. Apparently no one had previously asked the Park Service for a copy of the map.

Edward Rizzotto was a young National Park Service manager in the 1980s when a deal was struck for the federal government to provide almost $1 million to clean up the tip of the wharf. He says — and documents later uncovered by restaurant opponents bear this out — that the BRA agreed to record an easement guaranteeing it to be open space for 99 years.

“This was always intended as public open space in perpetuity,” Rizzotto, 70, said during an interview on the park site.

The park reaches into wind-swept Boston Harbor, a 35,000-square-foot plaza paved with granite flagstones, with a bronze plaque proclaiming Long Wharf Park and bearing the BRA’s  name. On one side of the site is an open air brick pavilion that provides shade for summertime picnickers.

More than 25 years passed before the BRA decided in 2006 that more people would enjoy one of the city’s premier outdoor spots if the pavilion were converted into a restaurant and tavern. Agency officials envisioned indoor and outdoor tables, live entertainment, takeout service, and food and alcohol until 1 a.m.

After years of hearings and a pile of legal briefs, a story on the restaurant battle published on the front page of the Globe on Oct. 10, 2012, caught the eye of Rizzotto, he said. He wondered why the restaurant plan had gotten so far when he recalled that the entire area was protected. Rizzotto eventually contacted Howard, the National Park Service manager, with whom he once worked. A search of the archives dredged up the one-page map now central to the case.

By then, the case had been argued before the Supreme Judicial Court but had not been decided. The map circulated among the Park Service, the Environmental Protection Department, the BRA, and restaurant opponents, but no one informed the court of its discovery. Fahey, who ruled on remaining state issues in the restaurant fight nine months after the SJC decision, noted that the BRA did not alert the SJC “that the material it was then considering may be incorrect.”

The Long Wharf area already has the Aquarium and hotels.  I hope that the end of the wharf remains the equivalent of open space.  As I learned 18 years ago, there is no need to build on every square inch of land.

Mayor Marty Walsh has called for a financial and programmatic audit of the BRA.  I hope the auditors look at this incident and ask why so much tax payer money was spent of legal fees.  Maybe it could have been spent on some new benches instead.

Map is from court filing and published in the Boston Globe.

Kids and guns

Yesterday a nine year old boy was shot by his fourteen year old brother.  It is an old story here in Boston as well as throughout the country.  After every death, officials, neighbors, clergy vow “Never again.”  But it does happen again.  And again. We don’t know exactly what happened in that apartment in Mattapan, but there are some things we need to look at and questions we need to answer.  The Boston Globe story has some of the details.

In what police described as a horrific tragedy, a 9-year-old boy was shot and killed in his family’s Mattapan apartment by his 14-year-old brother Friday morning, anguishing neighbors and prompting a plea from the city’s mayor for residents to surrender unwanted guns.

Just before noon on a school day, the older brother was playing with a gun when it fired, striking the younger boy in the chest, police said. The boy was rushed to Boston Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The older boy left his Morton Street home, but was apprehended nearby still carrying the weapon police said was used to shoot his brother.

Question one:  Why weren’t the kids in school?  At least one of the schools left a message that the child was not in school, but the mother evidently wasn’t home.

Police investigating the fatal shooting of a Mattapan boy outside the Morton Street home where he was shot.

Police investigating the fatal shooting of a Mattapan boy outside the Morton Street home where he was shot.

Authorities charged the 14-year-old with unlawful gun possession and involuntary manslaughter, saying that he was handling the gun recklessly when it fired.

There was no evidence that anyone else in the home knew he had the gun, they said.

Authorities were quick to call the shooting an apparent accident, but homicide detectives continued their investigation Friday.

But was it an accident?  I’m not so sure.

Last June, police responded to the same address for a domestic violence report in which the 14-year-old allegedly slapped his younger brother in the face and threw him to the ground. His older teenage sister told police that he then pushed his mother to the ground and threatened to kill her.

In a police report on that visit, the sister stated the brother had “been very aggressive toward the family lately and that this was not the first time the police were called to their residence.”

The mother also told police that it was “not the first time” she had problems with her 14-year-old, according to the report. The older brother was charged with assault in the June incident.

Neighbors and police also said that officers had been previously called to the three-decker on Morton Street because of loud parties and, in one case, a shooting.

Question two:  Why were there no places to which the police could refer the boy?  We know that the Massachusetts Department for Children and Families is under a lot of scrutiny right now but we also know that generally the social workers are underpaid and overworked.  I expect that the independent study of DCF will show this.  DCF has refused comment on this incident.

At the scene, Mayor Martin J. Walsh called the death a tragedy and urged residents to turn in guns to police.

“A 14-year-old should not have access to a gun,” he said. “There are far too many guns in our streets.”

“I’m calling for the community to step up to the plate and report these guns. Parents, siblings — we need to get these guns off the street,” he added.

Daniel Conley, the Suffolk district attorney, said investigators would work to determine how the boy acquired the weapon.

“In the meantime, I want to make something crystal clear: If you know about an illegal firearm in this city, help us prevent another tragedy like this one,” he said.

Even my own state representative, Gloria Fox, called for tighter gun control measures.  Massachusetts already has some of the stricter laws, but this doesn’t seem to have really dealt with the problem.

Question 3:  Mayor Walsh has talked about treatment for all victims of gun and street violence.  Why didn’t he use this opportunity to call for more programs instead of asking people to turn in their weapons?

Yes, guns are a problem, but what troubles me about this incident is that there were clear warning signs.  We don’t know yet if there was any attempt at intervention, but I wonder if a nine-year old really had to die.

Photograph:  David L Ryan/Globe Staff

The state rep and domestic violence

He was convicted of two counts of domestic violence resulting from a date – or a hook-up – gone very wrong.  State Representative Carlos Henriquez was sentenced to 2 and a half years and has to serve 6 months.  This happened on January 15 and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  Much of the debate centers around his sentence since in Massachusetts most first time offenders are told to stay away from the victim and go to a batterer’s program.  Henriquez is planning to appeal.  The Boston Globe reported

State Representative Carlos Henriquez will spend six months in prison after a jury convicted him Wednesday of holding down a woman and punching her in the chest after she refused to have sex with him.

Jurors convicted Henriquez of some of the acts of violence he was accused of, but acquitted him of others.  The lawmaker was found guilty of two counts of assault and battery, but he was acquitted of a charge that he had struck the victim in her face. Jurors also found Henriquez not guilty of witness intimidation and larceny.

Dressed in a dark suit and tie, Henriquez was without expression as Cambridge District Court Judge Michele Hogan said she was sending him to prison in part because of the serious nature of his crime and because of his refusal to accept responsibility for his actions.

“When a woman tells you she doesn’t want to have sex, that means she does not want to have sex,” Hogan said. “You don’t hit her. You don’t punch her. . . . I’m very concerned that you’re not remorseful.”

State Representative Carlos Henriquez of Dorchester looked toward the jury Wednesday.

State Representative Carlos Henriquez of Dorchester looked toward the jury Wednesday.

I have to interject here that I worked for Carlos’ mother, Sandi, for a number of years and he occasionally stopped by the office.  She is now a high-ranking official at HUD.  His late father was a community activist and very involved in the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative not too far from where we live.  Carlos had a promising career ahead of him but something happened.  The incident for which he was convicted occurred not too long after his father’s death and with his mother mostly in Washington, perhaps he felt adrift.  The family always appeared to be close and he lived in an apartment connected to the family house. But this does not excuse what happened.

A few days after his conviction, Farah Stockman wrote a compelling piece published in the Globe opinion section.

You know your political career is on the rocks when the evidence that is produced in your assault trial is a fake fingernail. Bright pink.

What’s the jury going to think when they see that fingernail, found in the Zipcar you drove when you picked up the 23-year-old college student who accuses you of hitting her after she refused to have sex?

Are those jurors thinking: “A Zipcar! What an ecologically conscious elected official?” Probably not.

You know your reputation as an up-and-coming politician is bound to suffer when the most compelling evidence in your favor is a series of racy messages between you and said college student, sent from your VoteforCarlos e-mail. Katherine Gonsalves picks you out of the crowd at a community meeting, and asks to interview you for a class paper. Days later, she’s asking: “Are you still coming out to play tonight?” You’re a 35-year-old man. You’re Carlos Henriquez, representing the 5th Suffolk district. You’re the son of a well-known political family. A man whose endorsements are sought in mayoral campaigns. But you answer: “For Sure. I hope you are ready.” And you spell it F-O-S-H-O. Then you misspell her name in your phone.

Five months later, she’s begging you to come over. “Babe, I miss you,” she texts. You’re too busy, making the kind of neighborhood appearances that got you elected. Late into the night, she’s still trying to get you to pick her up. She describes partying with her sister and her sister’s friends, drinking. Your response: Send the address if you want to have sex.

Monica Lewinsky, anyone?  Anthony Weiner?  Elliot Spitzer?  Or even worse, Chandra Levy who ended up dead in Rock Creek Park.  Even though someone else was convicted of her murder, suspicion ruined the a California Congressman, Gary Condit with whom she had been having an affair.  Sex and politics are a lethal combination.  Elected officials seem never to learn and in the Henriquez case, there is not only political ruin but jail time.

More from Stockman

You pick her up. You both climb into the backseat of the car. What happens next defines both of you, maybe for the rest of your lives. She tells you she can’t go home with you as she had planned because her mother caught her sneaking out of the house. You complain that she dragged you all the way over here. You argue. She pulls out a cell phone and tells you she’s recording you. Do you struggle over the phone? Steal the SIM card? Do you backhand her, punch her, and choke her — and then climb into the driver’s seat and drive into Boston, without ever giving her a chance to get out of the car?

Or did everything happen differently? We don’t know your side of the story because you never take the stand. All we know is that your defense itself is unflattering: Your lawyer says you only wanted sex, but Gonsalves wanted more, and went “Fatal Attraction’’ when she didn’t get it.

I heard the evidence at the trial and I’m still not sure exactly what happened in the car that night. Justice, at its best, is an approximation. In the end, the jury — five women and three men — had an easier time picturing Carlos Henriquez beating a young woman than that young woman making it up, bruises and all.

Carlos Henriquez is clearly guilty: if not of assault, then of really poor judgment. In court, Gonsalves looked miserable in the witness box. Henriquez looked miserable at the defense table. Once, she stole an awkward glance at him. I felt sorry for them both.

So why sentence him to jail time?  On the surface, the only difference between Henriquez and other men who are convicted of domestic violence and get sent to a batterer’s program is that he is an elected official.  Unfortunately for him, the incident comes on the heels of the Jared Remy case.  Jared Remy was in court for beating up his girlfriend and mother of his child the most recent in a series of incidence with increasing violence.  He was released and, the next day, she was dead.  I think the trial is this summer.  The DA has said that releasing him was an error.

My question is this:  why have men been let off the hook so easily in the first place?  If I am right and the Remy case served as a wake-up call to the criminal justice system, the sentence of Henriquez to jail time was fallout.  When other men are also given jail time, we will know that things are finally changing for the better.

And a final word to Carlos:  Please resign.

Photograph:  Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Predicting 2014

I don’t have a crystal ball and haven’t thrown the I Ching, so I can’t really say what will happen. but Mark Bittman had an amusing column in yesterday’s New York Times about years ending in four.  Bittman seems to be of the opinion that nothing much that is good happens during such years, but we can hope that he just has a selective memory.

Bittman begins with 1944, but I’ll add 1914.  That was the year Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia to begin World War I. On the plus side, the Panama Canal opened and the Boston Braves won the World Series.
Bittman writes

1944 Those of us who don’t remember this year are lucky; a soldier cited in Rick Atkinson’s brilliantly horrifying saga of the last two years of the war in Europe, “The Guns at Last Light,” quotes King Lear: “The worst is not, So long as we can say, ‘This is the worst.’ ” The end of the war was in sight; getting there was the trick, and millions were killed in the interval. Things have not been this bad since.

1954 If there was a golden era of United States foreign policy, it ended here, as Eisenhower warned against involvement in Vietnam while espousing the domino theory. Good: Joe McCarthy’s power began to ebb. Not good: The words “under God” were added to the Pledge of Allegiance.

1964 The last year of the baby boom was mind-blowing. In the 28 months beginning that January, Bob Dylan made five of the best albums of the era — and there were the Beatles.

Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison, and Lyndon Johnson single-handedly sent everyone into a tizzy by signing the Civil Rights Act, sending more “advisers” to Vietnam, talking about bombing North Vietnam and proposing the Great Society. Huh? The first anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and draft-card burnings took place. Pot smoking officially began. (Not really, but sorta.)

1964 was also the year my husband graduated from high school.  I’ll call that a plus.

Skipping to 1994

Whoa: Not only did Nelson Mandela not spend his life in jail, but he became president. The Brady Law went into effect, and Bill Clinton signed the assault weapons ban. (It expired in 2004.) O. J. Simpson spurred a national obsession. Four bombers were convicted of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.

Reagan was implicated in the Iran-contra cover-up, but it seemed more important to torture the Clintons over a bad real estate investment. (Still, Paula Jones wasn’t the Republicans’ fault, was she?) Clinton fired Joycelyn Elders for discussing masturbation.

The first credit default swap was created. Nearly everyone in Rwanda became either a killer or a victim, or so it seemed. And there was that messy thing in “the former Yugoslavia.”

Netscape Navigator was released.

1994 was an important year for me.  We got married and I moved to Boston.  Thomas Menino was mayor but not yet The Mayor.

Which brings us to 2004.

2004  Barack Obama spoke at the Democratic convention and there seemed reason for hope; then John Kerry went windsurfing and W., incredibly, became president again (what were 62 million of us thinking?) several months after endorsing a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, which Massachusetts had already legalized. (By 2013, even Utah is on the right side of this issue.) W. also promised to improve education and access to health care; we all know how that worked out. Lance Armstrong won his sixth Tour de France; we all know how that worked out, too.

And also in 2004, the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years ending the mythical curse of Babe Ruth.

So, 2014.  I know what I hope for:  the Democrats retain control of the Senate and, at a minimum, creep closer to a majority in the House. I hope the ACA enrolls so many people who like their benefits that we don’t have to listen to Ted Cruz reading “green eggs and ham” again.  I hope, though it seems unlikely, that we get tax and immigration reform.  I hope that President Obama has a better year. And I hope everyone comes home safely from Afghanistan.  I wish Marty Walsh all the best as he becomes mayor and I hope that Michelle Wu gives up her crazy idea of voting for Bill Linehan for City Council president and picks Tito Jackson instead.  Most of all, I hope that all of us have a safe and healthy year.

2014

Election Day in Boston: Will the unions rule?

Since my pick for Mayor, Charlotte Golar Richie is not in the final, I will vote for Marty Walsh.  Some of the reasons are in Kevin Cullen’s column in today’s Boston Globe.  [Warning:  This is a subscriber link so I will quote more of it than I normally would.]

Mercifully, the campaign for mayor of Boston is over, and while I have no idea who will emerge the winner at the polls, I am quite certain who lost most in this race: union workers.

If there was a message, both explicit and subliminal, in all the debates and some of the news coverage, it’s that the city’s unions and unions in general are peopled by greedy, unreasonable, insatiable Bolsheviks who would gladly make Boston go the way of Detroit as long as they can get Bunker Hill Day off.

Funny, but I don’t know union workers who think like that, but then I’m in the tank.

My father was able to raise a family, and my mother was able to be a stay-at-home mom, because he belonged to a union. I belong to a union, and at one point, for reasons that remain a mystery, was elected president of the editorial workers at the Boston Herald back when Ronald Reagan became the darling of free marketeers everywhere by busting up the air traffic controllers union.

I grew up in a union household.  We were taught not to cross picket lines.  I joined SEIU 888 when I had the opportunity and helped negotiate one contract with the City of Boston.  I’m with Kevin.

With all due respect to Tommy Nee from the patrolman’s association and Richie Paris of Local 718 of the firefighters, if they think they had it hard with Tommy Menino’s minions, try negotiating a contract with the union-busting lawyers Rupert Murdoch flew in and sicced on us at Herald Square back in the day. I was just a kid and naively suggested to one of those Armani-clad lawyers my earnest wish that we could agree to add a dental plan because many of my members didn’t earn enough to get their cavities filled. He looked down his glasses at me and sniffed, “Maybe they should get a second job.”

That’s exactly the attitude of McDonald’s and Walmart and any number of corporations that pay their leaders millions and their workers so little that they have to get a second job or, in many cases, file for government assistance. Taxpayers subsidize corporations that pay their people off in the dark.

“Look,” Tommy Nee was saying, “unions built this country. They built this city. And right now union members make up a big chunk of the middle class in Boston. But they are stereotyped and disparaged in a way that would be considered deeply unfair if you were talking about any other group.”

I’m not sure that people know that if you work for the City you have to live in the City for at least the first ten years of your employment, but if you are priced out of the housing market, it can get tough.

The Globe and the Herald editorial pages can’t agree on what time it is, but they agree on the danger of electing a mayor who is a union activist.

It’s perfectly legitimate to ask if Marty Walsh would be beholden to unions, especially given the amount of money that unions have given his campaign, but both candidates should have been asked just as often if they’d be beholden to developers or law firms or any number of other monied interests.

The emphasis on the threat that unions pose to the future of the city left many union workers wishing they were only half as powerful as their critics believe them to be.

Martin J. Walsh at a Central Boston Elder Services meeting Thursday in Roxbury,

Martin J. Walsh at a Central Boston Elder Services meeting Thursday in Roxbury,

But I’m not just voting for Walsh because he is a union man.  I like his proposal to re-do the Boston Redevelopment Authority and what he has said about changes to education. There is also evidence from his time in the state legislature that he knows how to built coalitions.

I don’t know if Walsh can win, but I think he is the best man to make changes that will transition the City from the Menino Era.

Photograph:  Jessica Rinaldi For The Boston Globe