Sunday, June 26, 2011

Golf Carts Should Be Outlawed

I ask for legislation making golf carts illegal, except for the handicapped or elderly.

This past Saturday I joined my parents and my brother Brett at the TPC River Highlands golf course in Cromwell, Conn., where we were volunteer marshalls during the Traveller's PGA golf championship. One of our jobs was to block pedestrians from a golf cart path so that forty or so golf carts driven mainly by 14 year olds could whiz by at ludicrous speeds without killing anyone.

About three in the afternoon, I noticed that most of the golf carts were empty. Some of them hauled food to the hospitality tents that lined the 18th fairway. But the overwhelming majority transported people and nothing else.

Now this might sound like I am whining about having to stand on my feet for 12 hours, lugging a chair, umbrella, sweatshirt and several other assorted items everywhere (I actually had a good time), but when exactly did walking fall out of style?

Today I woke at the family beach cottage in Old Lyme, Conn. My mom and I went for a walk. We walked by zero other people. No dogs, no kids, and nobody we recognized. Don't worry, there actually was an awful lot of activity. We were passed by about 10 golf carts. In one case two residents were sitting in a parked golf cart chatting with the owners of another cottage. They wrapped up their conversation, said their goodbyes, and whizzed away on the cart. Apparently it was too much for them to walk.

Later, one of my other brothers told one of his several anecdotes about golf cart drivers. He noted how at one particular campground in Conn., the visitors will line their golf carts up for a special event, configuring them in such a way so that they never have to leave the cart during the show. Their adult beverages of choice are in the basket behind them. How convenient.

Kids today drive golf carts like maniacs. On the golf course yesterday, they also were rather perturbed when they had to wait for attendees to pass by. During the most congested parts of the day, walking probably would have been faster.

At the beach, I see kids whizzing by on golf carts in front of the cottage, clearly overloaded. There's one in the passenger seat, and three or four clutching to the back of the cart, with various parts of their anatomy perilously close to danger. You can't help but say out loud, "Not safe," or at the very least, "Not smart."

No wonder kids today are obese (as are their parents). A pleasant walk on the beach is not possible without a golf cart. Taking a bathroom break while in a tent at the campground is too hard unless no physical exertion is necessary to get to the latrine.

Two of the kids on the golf course Saturday did have to exert themselves. The golf cart they were riding ran out of gas, leaving their mode of transport sputtering. They dismounted the cart and started pushing. Now it was hot, and within a few minutes they were breathing heavy, but they managed to get the cart moving on the way to somewhere-- I am assuming a garage of some sort.

A mere ten yards away, I couldn't help but smile a bit as I watched. Yes, I am going to hell.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's Michael Flaherty Against the World

The Boston Courant related it to the Iowa Caucuses, and one city council at-large candidate called it the "bell weather" of this election cycle. A forum for at-large Boston city council candidates packed a Back Bay community room this past Tuesday, kicking off the 2011 election season with a nice burst of interest.

My ward committee, the Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee, hosted the forum, which drew six of the seven candidates-- Incumbents Stephen Murphy, Felix Arroyo and John Connolly; and challengers Michael Flaherty, William Dorcena and Sean Ryan. Only Ayanna Pressley-- also an incumbent-- couldn't make it, and she had a very acceptable reason. Her mom is very, very sick.

Numerous outlets, including Universal Hub, Dorchester Reporter, Boston Courant and The Boston Phoenix, have written about the forum, so mostly to get things off my chest I add my own observations:

1) This race is Michael Flaherty vs. the world. Flaherty was an at-large city councilor until two years ago, when he decided to run for Mayor (and was defeated by Mayor Tom Menino by a large margin). Now Flaherty wants his old job back, and it's clear the incumbent councilors are not in his favor. Councilor Connolly was the most direct, basically telling the audience at the forum that the current slate of at-large city councilors was the best slate since the current City Council makeup was introduced. Flaherty followed by noting he is "beholden to no one." To me, Flaherty seemed a bit off during the night.

2) The First Church in Boston doesn't have air conditioning. The forum's venue, the First Church in Boston, became quite warm during the event. It also didn't help that the room was packed.

3) The three candidates who earned the ward committee's endorsement all contacted members directly. Ward 5 dems endorsed Connolly, Arroyo and Pressley. Arroryo sent committee members a letter. Connolly called members ahead of the forum, and Pressley both made calls and submitted a letter that was read aloud to the membership.

For the record, I cast my endorsement votes (as a member of the committee) for Pressley, Connolly, Arroyo and Murphy (the four incumbents).

Thanks to all who made the forum an overwhelming success!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Oldie but a Goodie

With the demise of the local movie store, I sometimes can't satisfy the whim of watching a movie I enjoyed as a child. One such movie is "Legal Eagles." No, it's not available on Netflix. Not yet, anyway. Today, I spotted it as a free movie available via COMCAST on demand.

It's scenes like this one that likely compell me to watch. Random scenes that have no bearing on the plot but give the movie a comfortable feel. I just wonder how long it took them to cast "Ed."

Saturday, June 18, 2011

"First in the City" City Council Forum Tuesday

If you look at elections as happening in four year cycles, this year's election should be a sleeper. There are no federal or even state elections on the ballot. The only elected officials voters will choose this fall are the city councilors who will represent them in the City of Boston.

Then former City Councilor Michael Flaherty decided to run, and the race suddenly got interesting. Flaherty was an at-large Boston City Councilor, and then two years ago he decided to run for Mayor (and got trounced by Mayor Tom Menino). Now, Flaherty wants his old job back.

Who am I kidding? In reality, this year's election is still a sleeper. The Flaherty vote provides the only real drama. Truth be told, most people don't care about local elections, which is sad, since the local officials tend to have the most impact on issues that people actually care about: crime, education, and affordable housing, to name a few. The people who do vote this year will be special; not many will go to the polls. If you say you are voting, I guarantee you will get special attention from those running for city council in Boston.

Certainly this election season really matters for the four incumbent at-large city councilors, who would like to keep their jobs despite Flaherty's decision to run. For that reason and for those candidates, this Tuesday's "First in the City" City Council candidates' forum is very, very important.

My ward committee, the Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee, has a history of hosting the first city council candidates' forum for at-large candidates every two years. This year's forum promises to upstage the event's all-ready significant legacy. David Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix will be the moderator. Boston Neighborhood Network will tape the event to broadcast it at a later date on COMCAST cable. Reporters from the Beacon Hill/Back Bay Patch, Universal Hub and the Dorchester Reporter, among other outlets, are poised to cover the event.

If you would like to go, the forum starts this Tuesday, June 21 at about 7 p.m. at the First Church in Boston, which is at 66 Marlborough Street (corner of Marlborough and Berkeley Streets) in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston. The forum will be an hour long. All seven of the presumed candidates for at-large city council have confirmed to the committee that they will be there: John Connolly, Ayanna Pressley, Felix Arroyo, Stephen Murphy, Will Dorcena, the previously mentioned Michael Flaherty, and Sean Ryan.

I have been a member of my ward committee for three years now, so I have some free advice for the candidates. Two simple suggestions:

1) Show up. Certainly the members of my ward committee have their quirks, but the group assembled Tuesday will be comprised of very motivated, active voters. If you impress, you will earn volunteers and donors... maybe even an endorsement by the committee, which brings other benefits given the committee's sizable bank account. As State Treasurer Steve Grossman reminded me last weekend, it was Woody Allen who said, "Ninety percent of life is just showing up." That could not be more true on Tuesday. I know there are members of my committee who will literally write off candidates that don't bother to appear at events like this.

2) Make your thoughts local. The forum is being hosted by the Ward 5 Democratic committee, so make sure you know geographically what Ward 5 includes and cater your comments to the concerns of that geography. We're talking Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Chinatown, part of the South End and part of Fenway. If you talk about trash, keep in mind that we don't have room downtown for large trash receptacles. If you talk about crime, remember that Fenway Park rests inside the ward. I know this sounds simple, and I know it sounds like I am preaching, but you don't know how many times candidates have appeared before the group and talked about their experiences in South Boston or West Roxbury. Not gonna work. As Speaker O'Neill said, "All politics is local."

To the candidates, thank you for agreeing to be at the "First in the City" City Council candidates forum. I am looking forward to it. Good luck.

Congrats to the Bruins

I admit I am not really a Bruins fan, but I did watch the Stanley Cup Finals, and there really isn't a sporting event like playoff hockey. There also really is no other sports town like Boston.

Seven championships among the four major sports franchises over the past ten years, including at least one for each of the major four franchises (Hockey, Baseball, Football and Basketball). Will the MLS New England Revolution be next?

Congrats to the Boston Bruins on their 2011 Stanley Cup Championship.

When the Bruins Won
(Clock struck zero when you hear me say, "There it is!")
June 15, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

There are Boston People and There are Cambridge People

Quick geography lesson. There is a river that runs through eastern Massachusetts. It's the Charles River. If, like me, you come to Boston from somewhere else, you live on one side of the river or the other. Sometimes it's by choice; oftentimes it's by chance. Whatever the case, the side of the river you live on changes your life forever.

There are Boston people and there are Cambridge people. Boston people live south of the Charles River; Cambridge people live north of it.

My apartment is almost right on the river, a couple blocks from the Longfellow Bridge, one of the few crossing points that connect the Boston and Cambridge worlds. I can walk to Cambridge in about five minutes, or I can take a two-minute T ride, yet Cambridge may as well be a different country.

For whatever reason, I am not a huge fan of going to Cambridge. If I had the choice of going to a restaurant in Kendall Square, one T stop north of where I live, or a restaurant in Dorchester (four or five T stops to the south), I would prefer the Dorchester destination. Dorchester is a part of Boston, and Kendall Square is on the other side of the river, in Cambridge.

I honestly don't understand why psychologically I prefer Boston over Cambridge. It might have something to do with one of the biggest pet peeves of any Boston University student. While I was there, my friends from my hometown in Conn. used to say, "Oh I was in Boston and had fun recently." When I asked where they were in Boston, they would respond, "Harvard Square."

Harvard Square is not Boston, and I don't think it wants to be. And it's so far away from my apartment on the Boston side of the river, that I never go there anyway.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Scared I Might Cause Bruins Defeat

The Boston Celtics lost last year's NBA Championship series four games to three. During the three games the Celtics won, I was in the air, flying somewhere. I was on the ground for each defeat.

This year, the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks are level in the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, with each team having won two games. That's right, you guessed it. I was indeed in flight for the two Bruins victories and on the ground for the two Bruins losses.

Over the past 13 months, Boston teams are 5-0 in title series when I am in flight. They are 0-6 when I am on the ground.

I am not planning to fly anytime in the future, including tonight, when Vancouver hosts Game 5 of the series, or on Monday, when the B's and Canucks play Game 6.

I am scared to death that I might be the reason the Bruins lose the Stanley Cup.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Newton Mayor Setti Warren
Mass. State Democratic Convention
Lowell, Mass.
June 4, 2011

State Dems Gather In Lowell

Hats off to the Massachusetts Democratic Party for getting more than 3,000 fellow Democrats motivated in Lowell yesterday. The state party convention was a significant feat, given that it's not exactly a busy political year. To get people motivated, the party proposed an "action agenda." In reality, the convention essentially was a pep rally for the party faithful (myself included) to get ready for the battles that await in 2012. And it achieved that purpose very well.

It was also the chance for me to see and meet the candidates running for U.S. Senate next year against Senator Scott Brown. Each candidate was given five minutes to speak (which means each spoke for six). Among the takeaways from the convention, for me:

-- Among the Senate candidates, I thought Newton Mayor Setti Warren gave the best speech. He spoke of returning to values that Democrats care about. He also mirrored some of the themes put forth by Gov. Patrick earlier in the day, which is a good idea considering the audience.

-- Senate candidate Bob Massie has a lot of energy. He spoke before Warren. Massie also has very cool hats that say "Massiechusetts" on them. Also, one of his supporters gave me a donkey pin. Not saying I will vote for him, but at conventions, chachkis speak volumes. [And I would like to have a hat, too.]

-- Gov. Patrick gave the best speech of the day. He was able to relate the causes Democrats care about to real-world events, such as the recent tragic tornadoes that struck in central Massachusetts. Lt. Gov. Tim Murray's speech was also very good.

Overall, a good day to be a Democrat in Massachusetts. Thanks to Chairman John Walsh and the rest of his team that organized a very informative convention!