This week’s editorial would have been released on May 1st, but I decided to hold it up for a couple of days; so I could think over how to approach my subject, which - appropriately enough - is May Day and the American labor movement.
The eyes of a growing number of Bostonians are doubtless locked on the growing media frenzy surrounding the wedding of William Mountbatten-Windsor and Catherine Middleton. The wedding of a young couple does not normally occasion such excitement in the local press - especially the wedding of a couple in another country. But this is a royal wedding. And not just any royal wedding. A British royal wedding. The wedding of the son of the late Diana Frances Spencer - better known as Diana, Princess of Wales, just as her son is better known as Prince William of Wales.
Gandhi famously said “A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” The same sentiment can certainly be applied to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts - and its leaders Gov. Deval Patrick and the state legislature. And I can think of no better time to do so than right now as those worthies move to slash the budget of the Women, Infants and Children program by 20 percent in the Fiscal Year 2012 budget - following three years of nine percent annual cuts to WIC. Dropping the WIC budget from $12.4 million to $9.8 million in one fell swoop.
Since we're playing catch up this week after days of meeting and greeting and public events, I'll limit this editorial to thanking to all the folks who made the 2011 National Conference for Media Reform such great time for us - and over 2500 old and new friends. Starting with Candace Clement, Libby Reinish and the whole crew at Free Press.
Now that the media circus is over, the tremendous price being paid by former Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner and his family following his conviction on charges of taking a $1,000 bribe from a government informant is only under discussion at the grassroots level. Fortunately, his supporters have made it their business to circulate information about the facts of his incarceration at a federal penitentiary in West Virginia - and other relevant updates - throughout the Boston progressive community.
The scene at Northeastern Law School yesterday - as Chuck Turner gave his last speech before starting a three year term in federal prison - was sad on a number of levels. First, NU students did a very poor job of organizing the event - with the result that over 100 people were forced to leave the building where the event was being held, after a number of reasonable proposals to provide overflow space or use another facility on the large campus were rebuffed by the students and a couple of administrators who happened to be on hand.
It's hard to believe, but Open Media Boston is celebrating its third anniversary today. On March 20, 2008, I wrote our first editorial and kicked off a big project ... launching a new kind of online community news weekly. A publication that was open to viewer participation, but that held to professional journalistic, editorial and production standards. A publication that used a fairly traditional Associated Press style when reporting the news, but had an openly left-wing editorial stance.
The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center recently issued an interesting corrective to the last couple of years of fierce attacks on public sector workers by conservatives here in the Bay State and around the nation. It came in the form of a paper with a rather dry title, Workforce Characteristics and Wages in the Public and Private Sectors, that packs quite a wallop upon even a cursory review.
Open Media Boston is working on a couple of fun events that we thought we should encourage everyone to attend … and hold off a bit on talking about issues that are much on our minds. Like skyrocketing food prices. Or the ongoing imposition of austerity at every level of government. Or that business with Charlie Sheen. [OK, maybe not that last one.] First, on March 22nd, you can check out a panel we helped put together to build local turnout for the National Conference for Media Reform - only about five weeks away now.
It has been great to see the outpouring of support for the unionized public sector workers of Wisconsin over the past couple of weeks. Really great. The Republican governor of that state, Scott Walker, has made it his mission to wipe out the only wing of the labor movement that has something like the power that unions once did in general when large numbers of private sector workers were unionized in the 1940s through the 1960s. And when unions could and did wield tremendous political and economic power relative to their current position.