After two long years of ignoring residents’ objections to moving their government headquarters to an isolated location on the South Boston waterfront, Mayor Thomas M. Menino has said he would shelve his plans — for now, anyway — because the economic market told him so.
But just two weeks ago, when the economy was just as bad, the mayor was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying that the city could still get $300 million or more from the sale of City Hall: “It’s one of those landmark sites for the city … Even now the market would take it right away.”
So has anyone asked which one is it? The mayor is in the Wall Street Journal saying one thing one week, and the next week in the Boston Globe saying something entirely different. Perhaps the mayor is practicing some John McCain economics?
Or perhaps the mayor has picked up a paper and read about the city’s languishing development projects that need infusions of new cash, or the city’s rising unemployment rates, or declining property values and office/retail rentals.
Or perhaps Menino’s change of tune has more to do with the results of the poll he conducted that probably told him what City Councilor-at-Large Michael F. Flaherty has been hearing across the city and at residents’ kitchen tables: Don’t move the current City Hall from its accessible location; get City Hall moving again.
Instead of building a better view for himself, the mayor should have been building a better school system for Boston’s children. Instead of making our City Hall sparkle on the waterfront, he should have been making our filthy streets sparkle. Instead of reviewing blueprint designs, he should have been reviewing the alarming statistics of violent crime among youth.
Mayor Menino is citing economic reasons for putting his lofty plans to move City Hall into a “holding pattern.” What is his excuse for putting the rest of the city’s woes in a holding pattern?
Mayor Menino wants this decision to be seen as an act of fiscal responsibility. But here’s what would have really been fiscally responsible — listening to residents’ objections all along, taking the millions of dollars spent on numerous land studies and redirecting it to programs that would actually help Boston students, workers and families.
For the last 16 years, this mayor has served during a fairly strong economy. But right now, what Boston needs is a leader who has a vision for how to lead this great city forward during a challenging recession. We don’t need an administration whose version of fiscal solutions are big calls for hiring freezes — which they ignored just a week later — and shelving a development plan that was a bad idea from day one.
And we certainly don’t need a mayor who puts his own goals for a legacy on the waterfront ahead of a commitment to best serve the people of Boston.