Last Monday evening, September 10th, I went out to cover what I thought would be a routine, paint-by-numbers story for Open Media Boston. But it turned out to be anything but routine. And I feel that the resulting conflict serves as an excellent cautionary tale for progressive non-profits, unions and co-operatives on how not to run their public relations operations.
A quick editorial for Labor Day. OK, the day after Labor Day, since I didn't ... you know ... labor yesterday. Today's Boston Globe had a nice news piece about some vile labor practices by 15 construction contractors working on the $18 million renovation of the Boston Marriott Copley Place hotel in Copley Square.
There have been a couple of related alarums sounded in the Boston press over the last few weeks. The first is that our fair city has crazy high rents. True, this is not precisely news to anyone that lives here.
Temp workers rights took a step forward last week with the passage of House Bill 4304 "The Temporary Workers' Right to Know Act" - sponsored by Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry (D - Dorchester) and Sen. Jack Hart (D - Boston) - into law by the Massachusetts legislature and Gov. Deval Patrick. Advocates from the Mass. Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, Community Labor United, Boston Workers Alliance and a host of other organizations did a great job of bursting through the longstanding State House log jam on bills that would benefit temp workers.
There aren't many moments in politics where a fast phone call can really make a difference, but this is one of them. Advocates from the Mass. Alliance Against Predatory Lending - a coalition of labor, community, homeowner and religious organizations - have fought for a state bill to "Prevent Unlawful and Unneccesary Foreclosures" (MA House 4096/Senate 2298) that would at last provide victims of toxic home loans in Massachusetts a modicum of protection against banks trying to seize their homes.
In an early May editorial, I mentioned that I'd be away for about three months over the course of this year while finishing my MFA in Visual Arts at an art school somewhere in the Boston area. Given that Open Media Boston is still a small operation with just your faithful Editor/Publisher as its sole paid staff, we tend to slow down a lot when I'm otherwise indisposed. And I've been quite busy for the last six weeks.
Like many other progressives, I watched the weekend of No NATO protests in Chicago with great concern. Not because - like the more ill-informed and/or right-wing media commentators - I was scared of "terrorists" or "The Black Bloc" (as the more ill-informed, right-wing and/or just plain lazy members of the fourth estate have been typing it recently ... as if the black bloc tactic were an actual organization). Rather because I believe in democracy. And therefore I believe in the fundamental democratic right to dissent.
For a time, most Americans believed theirs to be a liberal democratic republic respectful of individual freedoms, and many including some with authority, behaved as if it were. As long as there was a separation of powers—the federal authority limited by the power of states, while itself divided by across executive, judicial and legislative branches, and big business balanced by government regulation—it was believed that space exists for individual freedom. Where the individual confronted the state, due process would guard against abuse.
Greetings all. Regular viewers of Open Media Boston will likely have noted that I have periodically mentioned being an MFA student at a local university for almost a year and a half. Well, now that I'm angling towards my thesis semester, my editorials will be a bit more sporadic when I'm busy with schoolwork - as is the case this month. So much as I love holding forth on issues of the day, I've got a big project I'm working on and a thesis to write over the rest of the year.
Earlier this week, the Boston Bruins hockey team was knocked out of the NHL playoffs when Washington Capitals Winger Joel Ward scored a game-winning goal in overtime. And true, the Bruins were the defending champions. But, as the saying goes: too bad so sad. That would have been that. Were it not for the fact that Ward was black, and all but a small percentage of other NHL players and Bruins fans (and hockey fans in general) are white.