The Week I Missed

Picking out just a few things from the week that was….

1.    By backing out of the BPS superintendent job, Manuel Rivera has popped open a fine bottle of political chardonnay that we’ll be sipping from for quite some time. Regardless of what really caused the turnabout, this is a huge slap at Tom Menino. Menino shut a lot of critics’ yapping pie-holes (including mine) by landing Rivera, showing that the Mayor really can and will bring talented, top-notch people into his administration and give them the authority to do their thing. Or, maybe not. Now it looks like, just maybe, the critics were right in the first place on a few things. Meanwhile, the non-elected school committee – both as theory and in its specific current makeup – is heading into its most intense public scrutiny yet. And there is nothing that stokes local politics like the schools, or as a potential ’09 Menino challenger might put it, the educational hopes of all of Boston’s young people and their families. Hmmm, I wonder whether any ’09 mayoral wannabes will stoke this debacle as long and loudly as possible? Saddle up, former president Flaherty!

2.    John Kerry opted out of the 2008 Presidential race this week, and the Herald inexplicably wants to make this into a golden opportunity for Republicans to win his Senate seat. Um, no. As if Kerry’s in-state popularity, his campaign war chest, and the GOP’s recent track record in statewide races isn’t enough, consider that on the election day in question, Bay Staters will be swarming the polls to vote roughly 2-to-1 for the Democrat for President (maybe 4-to-1 if Romney’s on the GOP ticket). The state Republicans will be lucky if they find a serious candidate to run. Actually, they might be luckier if they don’t; they’d probably do better writing off the Senate race and using those resources at the lower levels.

3.     Speaking of the state GOP, Kerry’s announcement was a sort of coming-out for new chair Peter Torkildsen, and boy is it nice to see a grown-up back in control. Instead of the usual bitter, sarcastic, mean-spirited spewing of tired old insults we’ve come to expect from that office, Torkildsen put out a very brief release looking ahead to the Senate race and “taking this case to the voters.” Then he got the local media talking, at least a little, about the state’s prominent Republicans. Welcome Torky!

4.    So, how come Ed Davis gets to waltz into town and say that it’s important to “make the BPD homicide… more diverse because more minority detectives will increase trust in the Police Department and help solve cases,” according to the Globe – and the Mayor and the BPD don’t jump all over him like they’ve done with everybody else who’s suggested that the last few years? It’s because he’s so tall, isn’t it? Davis also gets away with saying that the BPD needs more and better training, more sensitivity to perceptions of harassment, and, oh yeah, the homicide arrest rate really needs to get better. (Dianne Wilkerson in particular took a heap of abuse for saying the same things a year ago -- but after her late filing of bills earlier this month, I'm disinclined to say anything nice about Wilkerson until she demonstrates that she's got her $%&#! under control.) Also while I was away Menino named his new civilian review board for the BPD, and announced a plan to buy a fancy-pants gunshot-tracking system.

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