Corporations are people, my friend. Speech is money. We’re data points, not citizens.
Still, this democracy thing is hard to kill outright.
Gloomy though I usually am about the state of our democracy (or as I like to call it our campaign finance farce-ocracy) some recent events have brightened my mood. On Tuesday we found that Boston 2024 has been forced to agree to a referendum; we also learned that Boston altered its plan and will now install protected bicycle lanes on a dangerous portion of Commonwealth Avenue.
The Boston 2024 Team has assembled the greatest array of talent since the East Boston referendum on a Suffolk Downs casino. It’s a match of political and business elites. Shirley Leung of the Globe captured it well in a tweet on Tuesday.
When I saw that I had another picture in mind, from the February 24 Salem Evening News:
No those folks are not queuing up for the corporate cocktail party after the Opening Ceremony. They are waiting in the freezing cold for the commuter rail, and they are ticked off. Many of them want to know why Boston 2024 is full speed ahead when public transportation is not . . . well, not full speed ahead. Since they’ve heard that modern Olympics usually come in well over budget, they also want to know that they as taxpayers will not be on the hook.
In February Boston 2024 opposed a referendum and hinted it would go ahead even if they lost one. Now, they say the voters have to agree in both Boston and in Massachusetts.
I don’t know what I think of the Olympics bid. But well done, citizens, well done.
Yesterday’s Globe brought news of a victory for cyclists, too. The city had planned to refurbish a stretch of Commonwealth Avenue, but not include a protected bike lane. “But after advocates continued pushing for more protections for cyclists, James Gillooly, the deputy commissioner of the Boston Transportation Department, said city officials knew they had to install cycle tracks.” Mayor Martin Walsh was reported to take special interest in the project. Lo and behold, Commonwealth Ave. will be safer for cyclists. Good for them and for the mayor and Transportation Department.
I actually have some other examples in mind, but I don’t want to make myself giddy. I’m sure when the money pours into television advertisements during the Olympics referendum, my heart will sink once again.
For now though I’m glad to see wins for people who are not corporations, for speech that is not money, and for citizens, not data points.