Building block

Letters to the Boston editor, January 15, 2010
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  January 13, 2010

Your editorial, “Menino’s Promise,” about Mayor Menino’s inauguration, stated: “He must shelve his reservations about becoming more involved in private development.” I was not aware of any such reservations; in fact, it was my understanding that the Boston Redevelopment Authority had assisted the Filene’s demolition effort through an expedited and inappropriately abbreviated permitting process. Stories in the Boston Globe have often highlighted Menino’s borderline micromanagement of real-estate development in Boston, choosing the type of roof he wanted on a Back Bay skyscraper, etc. Menino, through his inadequate and shortsighted review of the Filene’s project, bears a good share of blame for the fiasco. He’d damn well better figure out how to fix it.

Dan Farnkoff
Hyde Park

Not his brother’s keeper
I appreciate your insights into the biography of James Michael Curley: A Short Biography with Personal Reminiscences, written by former State Senate president William Bulger. The parallels between the author and his subject are intentionally obvious, but I do not believe this was Bulger’s motivation for publishing the book. I have read everything written on Bulger. I authored an independent study on the former president as part of my master’s degree coursework, and have produced a documentary about his lengthy career. I wanted to produce the first piece about him that did not impart the name of his brother, and I think my work was original in that regard.

Bulger’s power in the legislature was used to enrich public and private education, and to eventually give greater prestige to the University of Massachusetts. In that way, he has demonstrated an understanding of the parable of the faithful servant “from everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required.” He is, however, not his brother’s keeper. Billy and Whitey Bulger are two different men who share only a surname. Neither is responsible for the actions of the other, no more so than I bear responsibility for the actions of my own brother.

I think your story was well written and perceptive — very nice work overall. I had not been an avid reader of the Phoenix, but I will look for your stories more regularly.

John J. Burke, MPA
Beverly

Checks before wrecks
Regarding “In the Drink," about the threat that random sobriety checkpoints pose to civil liberties, the introduction of random breath testing for alcohol in Ireland has reduced the number of deaths in automobile accidents by more than 25 percent in the past two years. They are now at their lowest levels since records began in the 1960s. People have slowly come to the realization that if you drink and drive you will get caught (and you will be banned from driving for two years).

You can talk about rights as much as you like, but have you considered the easiest way of avoiding a difficult confrontation at a sobriety checkpoint? Don’t drink before you drive. I’m all for civil liberties, but you’re not just putting yourself at risk when you drink and drive — and that’s the difference.

Gearoid McMahon
Brookline

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