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High-Fives and Dope Slaps: It's party time in Mass., but time's up for Occupy camp

Posted by Alex Pearlman  December 13, 2011 09:06 AM

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casinos in massachusetts.jpgBy Jeff Fish

Let’s discuss this week’s issues, shall we? In brief: Foxborough may be getting a casino, and the T might get some later hours on the weekend, both of which would allow for harder partying in the Bay State. Also, I’m giving Occupy Boston double coverage because it was so important this week, and I couldn’t help but mention Mitt Romney -- a.k.a., the “panderer-in-chief” (my new favorite nickname), as Jon Huntsman, the only good Republican in the race, calls him.

Dope Slap: Foxborough residents up in arms about proposed casino. And so it begins. Like I said, passing the casino bill was just the first step to actually building casinos in this state. Foxborough is the first town looking at the possibility of a casino, and, unsurprisingly, people are unhappy about it. On Wednesday, just two days after Patriots owner Bob Kraft and casino mogul Steve Wynn announced the proposed casino, a group called “No Foxboro Casino” (I know, very inventive) formed to combat the proposed measure. The group thinks their town will be “drastically changed” if this casino is built.

I can understand their concerns to an extent. Any sort of large-scale project like this one usually means major changes to a town, but I’m not really buying it in the case of Foxborough. The casino would be built on land that Kraft already owns, in an area that has already seen major development with Patriot Place. Plus, the proposed location is along Route One, not in a residential area. The pros -- new construction jobs while it’s being built and many more to follow afterwards -- outweigh the cons, which might include some increased traffic.

High-Five: The T may extend weekend hours. The MBTA received a proposal last Tuesday that would extend hours until 2 a.m., from about 12:50 a.m., on Friday and Saturday nights. State Rep. Sean Garballey and Dave Andelman, president of the Restaurant and Business Alliance (better known as one of the brothers on “The Phantom Gourmet”) spearheaded the proposal. They say that the measure would increase funds for the state and businesses by allowing passengers to stay out later.

And I think it’s a great idea -- something students have wanted for a long time. The costs of running the T later will mean higher prices during the extended hours, but it’ll still be cheaper than a cab. Also, under the proposal, the T would only come every 20 minutes, rather than every 12, beginning at 11 p.m., which is another way to compensate for the extra costs. I have to say, this plan seems pretty well thought out. The only change I would make: Stay open until 2:15 a.m.; since bars close at 2 a.m., passengers could stay for last call before hopping on the T.

Dope Slap: Occupiers evicted from Dewey Square. Tensions between Occupy Boston and the city have become more apparent over the past few weeks, while encampments around the country have been forcefully shut down. The Dewey Square encampment was temporarily safe thanks to a court injunction, but the city was making the case against Occupy the whole time -- namely, that they were causing fire hazards and breaking health codes. Finally, early Saturday morning, after days of a “will they or won’t they?” guessing game, Boston police broke up the camp.

The city had a point, but Occupiers tried time and time again to bring the camp up to code; they attempted to bring in items like a sink and a flame-retardant, military-grade, winterized tent, but the police wouldn’t let them. The whole thing demonstrates clear hypocrisy on the city’s part: They complained about the sanitary conditions of the camp and at the same time blocked efforts that would have improved those conditions. It was clear that Mayor Thomas Menino wanted the protesters out, and after that pesky injunction was lifted, he got what he wanted.

High-Five: Keep on truckin’, Occupy Boston! While it’s a shame that the nation’s longest-lasting continuous Occupation was broken up, I want to give the dedicated protesters some props. The end of the Dewey Square occupation doesn’t mean the end of the movement, and the true diehards behind Occupy are proving that by meeting at the Boston Common and figuring out how to move forward. While no concrete plan of action has taken shape yet, they have discussed some ideas, like posting fliers around the city and continuing to bring the issues they have been fighting to light.

Occupiers, don’t hate me, but I’m going to give Mayor Menino and the BPD a little credit, too. While the circumstances that led to the eviction were a result of the city’s hypocrisy, the manner in which the raid was conducted was effective without the levels of police brutality we’ve seen in other cities -- something Menino said he wanted to avoid. Police handled the raid appropriately, as did protesters; the Dewey Square Occupation ended in dignity, and now it’s time for the next phase of the movement. Menino, who has said he supports the sentiment behind the movement, just not the tactics, has suggested focusing on one issue through which Occupy could really harness its political power, and I agree. If they focused, for instance, on the issue of big banks getting bailed out while the rest of us get screwed, the movement could garner an even broader following and accomplish even more.

Dope Slap: Mitt Romney makes $10,000 bet with Perry. In the latest circus act that is the GOP debates, Mitt Romney again showed how awful of a candidate he really is. When Texas governor Rick Perry called him out for a line about the Massachusetts health care plan in his book, Romney -- in an act that showed just how inconsequential $10,000 is to him -- made a bet with Perry that the line he was talking about doesn’t actually exist.

That line was, in fact, in there, but was taken out in a later edition. Romney had to have known it could present a problem, though, in his defense, I think he would win the bet: Before the line in question, Romney states it would be his preference for Massachusetts’ model to be used by other states, not the nation as a whole. He did talk about the possibility of a national model, but whether he advocated for the mandate is questionable. Although I’m more or less on Romney’s side with this one, I still want to point out how awful a candidate he is and how sad it is that Newt Gingrich is currently ahead in the polls -- NEWT GINGRICH! And that’s all I have to say about that.

‘High-Fives and Dope Slaps’ is TNGG Boston’s weekly Tuesday politics column, written by Jeff Fish.

Photo by fr4dd (Flickr)

About Jeff -- I'm a senior at Suffolk University, majoring in journalism and political science. I'm the editor-in-chief of my college newspaper, The Suffolk Journal, and I did a six-month co-op at The Boston Globe. I love politics, reading, movies, TV, and anything pop culture. My mind is a font of useless knowledge.

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