Get out of town?
Your editorial “On Moving City Hall” shows a common misunderstanding: City Hall Plaza is not Mayor Menino’s to sell. The mayor gave it to the BRA in 1996, authorizing an eminent-domain taking and waiving compensation. The BRA then designated itself the redeveloper.
The BRA is not the same as the city. It doesn’t share its money (although it takes city money); and it can funnel its property to any developer free from competitive-bidding laws, serving as a land-laundering device for politicians.
Conveniently, the BRA is also the development-approval agency for the City of Boston (the only municipality in America that outsourced its land-planning and regulation functions to a quasi-public, off-budget — i.e., unaccountable — authority). It can approve density so as to create exactly the value it wants for its land. Press estimates have been around $400 million.
Not one cent of that sale or lease money will hit the city’s treasury, which is drawing millions in reserve funds to meet the budget. All will go to the BRA’s private budget. (Do not be fooled by soothing murmurs about putting it into good civic uses, affordable housing, schools, etc.; it won’t happen.)
The city, on the other hand, will have to find money to build a new City Hall, aggravating, rather than alleviating, as you say, Boston’s fiscal crunch. We, the taxpayers and our civil servants, will be homeless orphans while our land is colonized by a parasitic authority.
Catering to Carter
The second half of your editorial “Carter Chickens Out” is silly — and worse than silly, it perpetuates myths about Israel. If the Boston Phoenix wanted to show its displeasure with the substance of Carter’s book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, it could have attacked its substance in more than a few words. The readers of the Phoenix, for whom I wrote a number of stories many years ago during its more courageous days, are disserviced by having the only serious words in your editorial be, “the bloody and murderous dedication of Palestinian political leaders.” There are a range of political leaders in Palestine; there are many parties and an extensive civic society. Your readers would be hard pressed to find this out. You need to lose your tribalist blinders. Most of the world, including our European allies, sees plenty of blame on both sides — only the Phoenix and the Boston CJP crowd see a black-and-white story, which is why you have reacted with such fury to a more balanced analysis from a true friend of Israel who helped it to achieve the only successful treaty with the Arab world.
If Jimmy Carter’s recent book is “ill-informed” as you state, your editorial does it one better in being both ill-informed and shrill. A good twenty minutes of research would have shown you that Carter didn’t “fink out on a chance to debate Alan Dershowitz”, as you misleadingly write. It was Brandeis that imposed the condition of Dershowitz’s presence at any talk by Carter at the university, a highly unusual and unsettling infringement upon free speech that Carter was right to rebuke. Why, if the inadequacies of Carter’s argument are so transparently plain, would the university not trust its students and faculty to expose those in a public exchange? In insisting upon having their lawyer present, the leaders of Brandeis show where their real agenda lies, and it is not in the fearless exchange of ideas.