I'd like to see Tom Menino step aside for the next generation of local politicians, but the mayor announced yesterday that he is running again. It'd be nice to see the 66-year-old Menino, who will become Boston's longest-serving mayor in July, leave office with high favorable ratings and serve as an elder statesman of sorts. Some people -- especially athletes -- try to hang on too long, and so I fear the same is true with the mayor.
I'm also not happy with Menino's stance on bringing casino gambling to Suffolk Downs. Earlier this week a group of union leaders and elected officials, dubbed the Massachusetts Coalition for Jobs and Growth and led by the mayor, sent out letters to line up support for legislation that would legalize casino gambling in the state. In tough economic times it makes sense to bill this as an issue of "jobs and growth." There will be some mediocre- and low-paying jobs for local residents, but more money will be sucked out via a nearby casino than pumped in.
The real growth will occur in Richard Fields' bank account. The millionaire principle owner of Suffolk Downs is giddy with excitement now that slots and/or casinos would seem to be a foregone conclusion. Visions of dollar signs are dancing in his head.
The mayor and other elected officials should think carefully about what they are doing to local communities and should engage in some conversations with people who live in places that will be greatly affected by casinos in Massachusetts. All that glitters is not gold.