Monday, July 27, 2015

1 David vs. Goiliath: How Big Money Is Being Defeated by Unfunded Citizen Activists in Boston

Boston, MA July 2014: For months, years really, the public was fed misinformation.  There were campaigns, and millions of dollars were poured into countless political coffers. There were non-profit organizations, (Stand for Children, Families for Excellent Schools and others) whose purposes were supposedly to help income-challenged families and students advocate for their schools, but were really fronts for those trying to destroy those schools and profit off of public funds.  Then there were millions more spent on flashy campaigns crafted to make the public believe that only education reformers and charter schools would solve the public education "crisis" we supposedly face in America. This was our Goliath (aka Democrats for Education Reform, Massachusetts Charter Public School Association et al.) Unfortunately for Goliath, David gave him a beating he didn't see coming. 

This was accomplished in much the same way the colonists of Boston achieved their goal of freedom from England: by organizing, coordinating, planning and never backing down. 

First it was just a few "naysayers" at meetings and on the social media fronts - easily and clearly dismissed by the paid lobbyists and those funding them. Very soon though those few became many, students, parents, educators and concerned residents, who worked together, each contributing selflessly to the cause. Utilizing raw data, pure and provable facts, and their many talents, these activists held meetings and attended the meetings of those who wished to acquire public funds to bolster private treasure chests. They researched, blogged and utilized social media - especially Twitter. They rallied, knocked on doors, coordinated meetings with legislators and leaders, and worked with real public education groups to inform, educate and activate others across the state. All of this was done without one single cent. 

On July 16, 2014, much to the dismay of the education reform groups heavily invested in the campaign to lift the cap on charter schools, the Massachusetts Senate voted against the Bills before it which would have decimated our public education system. Score 1 for David.

Boston, MA: Again, for over a year residents were fed misinformation. There were secret documents, citing "confidentiality," which residents were not allowed to see, millions of dollars spent to be chosen as the USOC's city of choice for the 2024 Olympic bid and to market it to the citizens. There were lightly veiled threats that without the Olympics our public transit, highways, infrastructure and other public needs would not receive the upgrades necessary. This was all being done by politicians and Boston2024, a group that made the decision to push for the Olympics bid without ever having asked the residents of Boston beforehand if they wanted the Olympics in Boston. The fact that Boston2024 had several incestuous relationships with the political leaders of Boston and Massachusetts certainly did nothing to assure residents that anyone was truly watching out for the needs of the city or its citizens.

As soon as the push to bring the 2024 Olympic Summer Games to Boston was out in the open, citizens across the state started raising questions about the lack of public input and dialogue. They asked about the money needed to get the state prepared to host such a large scale, albeit short time-frame, event and the impact which the event would have on residents livelihood and neighborhoods, etc. Groups formed: No Boston 2024 and No Boston Olympics became the "face" of the skeptical residents who demanded answers. Soon Boston politicians joined in on questioning Boston2024's lack of transparency, refusal to listen to the concerns of so many, and they too pushed for answers and the truth.

Boston 2024 and the politicians who were part of the plans from the beginning, felt the heat of the uprising that grew. Then there were the polls which continuously showed that the people of Boston and the entire state, did not support the bid for the 2024 Olympics. Despite the revamping of Boston 2024, and the release of the original bid documents submitted to the USOC, the poll numbers never moved. Yet still, those hyperbolic and clearly malcontent naysayers not only continued to object, but also expanded their ranks.

On July 27, 2015, the USOC made the decision to pull the bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics in Boston. Much to the dismay of Goliath, he was again beaten by David. David 2, Goliath 0.

Some would argue that a first of its kind Olympics debate on TV, the failure of Governor Baker to signal his support, and then a traitorous statement by Boston's Mayor Walsh refusing to sign a contract which would put taxpayers on the hook for the expected overruns the Olympics historically have, is what led to the Bid’s withdrawal. Surely, this did play a small part in the USOC’s decision. 

However, anyone who believes that the above are the only reasons for the downfall of Boston2024's bid, is sure to continue the trend we see across the country. That where political leaders, corporate sponsors and those wearing the guise of "community groups" discount the clear voice of the people who elected those political leaders, the workers who assist the corporations in acquiring their billions, the families and "little people" who live in this country, who are clearly fed up with what is going on, is sure to be part of their downfall.

These are only two examples of how citizen activists are working to protect their beloved schools, cities, public services (transportation, infrastructure etc) and their rights and freedom from those in power. Those in power seem to have forgotten who they are truly answerable to, not those who strive to line their own pockets with the money of the hardworking majority. And despite Mayor Walsh's claim that “The opposition for the most part is about #10peopleonTwitter and a couple people out there beating the drum beat.” clearly the multiple polls show that to be false.

Maybe it is time that some of our politicians - here and in D.C. - wake up and start working for those who elected them. Much like the small actions that took place before the "shot heard 'round the world" and the defeat of tyranny from England, I believe these latest defeats to those with deep pockets are just the small skirmishes leading to something much bigger. 

I will always put my money on the "Davids" of the world, especially the residents of Boston and Massachusetts, because we are educated, informed, outspoken, demanding and willing to put our talents, sweat and yes, if necessary, money, into protecting our people and our cities. Of course, as has been shown many times over, Massachusetts residents, and especially those of us lucky enough to live in Boston proper, also tend to be a bit of a rebellious bunch too!

I look forward to continuing to advocate, collaborate and educate with all the great residents of Massachusetts. For though this battle is over, the war is not yet won!


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