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High-Fives and Dope Slaps: At least Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren are thinking clearly -- unlike some casino opponents

Posted by Alex Pearlman  January 31, 2012 05:50 PM

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mayor kevin white.jpgBy Jeff Fish

Flags are at half-staff across the city to commemorate the death of former Boston mayor Kevin White. But even as Bostonians remember their late mayor, life goes on.

The race is on in Florida as the Romney campaign blankets the state’s airwaves, and one ad in particular has Tom Brokaw riled up. Locally, the casino issue has reared its head again, this time in Holliston. And in the spirit of bipartisanship, I’m giving high-fives to both Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren.

High-Five: Kevin White remembered. Since the former Boston mayor’s death last Friday, political figures and regular ol’ Bostonians alike have been sharing their memories: Mayor Thomas Menino praised him for revitalizing the downtown area and improving neighborhoods. Barney Frank said that the four-term mayor made City Hall a place that welcomed minorities and that he embraced the gay rights movement. Seeing as I was born well after White left office in 1984, I don’t really have my own opinion of him, but by all accounts, he was a transformational -- though, at times, controversial -- mayor that led the city during one of its most turbulent periods (including overseeing desegregation busing, an issue still debated today).

White’s reaction to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, death is perhaps one of the moments for which he’s most remembered: After arranging to televise an already-scheduled James Brown concert at the Boston Garden, he appeared on stage and asked Bostonians to be peaceful even though other cities had broken out in riots -- and they listened. That anecdote alone highlights the kind of character White must have had. He was clearly a highly influential mayor that helped develop Boston into the city it is today.

Dope Slap: NBC is trying to make Mitt Romney’s camp pull Tom Brokaw ad. A new Romney ad being broadcast in Florida uses a 1997 news report, featuring Tom Brokaw, about the ethics scandal that drove Newt Gingrich out of the Speaker’s office. Brokaw said that he is “extremely uncomfortable” with his image being used for personal gain from a political candidate, and NBC has asked that the campaign pull the ad.

I don’t blame Brokaw for feeling uncomfortable with this ad, but as the Romney campaign has said, using the clip seems to fall under fair use standards: The commercial only uses 30 seconds of the broadcast, and it brings up a legitimate issue. That ethics scandal is definitely something voters should be aware of during the primaries.

High-Five: Scott Brown-sponsored STOCK Act to be put to vote. STOCK, in this case, stands for “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge,” and Brown is championing the effort to ban lawmakers from voting on bills based on insider knowledge from congressional briefings. The no-brainer bill seems to be gathering bipartisan support: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has filed the STOCK Act to be voted on, and President Obama supported it in the State of the Union, saying, “Send me a bill that bans insider trading in Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow.”

An additional exchange about the bill between Brown and Obama at the State of the Union, caught on camera, shows exactly the kind of dialogue we need between politicians of the two parties. Brown is working across the aisle to get things done, and moves like that could really help him during his reelection campaign.

Dope Slap: More complaining about casinos.... This time, Holliston residents are placing a road block against a casino proposal for -- no, not their town, but for neighboring Milford. Similar to those fighting the Foxborough proposal, these casino opponents are concerned that a casino could lead to a decline in property values.

Because building an $850 million resort-style complex is really going to send the area into a downward spiral. It’ll attract hoodlums and lowlifes, not rich tourists and a plethora of new restaurants and businesses. I know I’ve already talked at length in previous columns about the jobs new casinos will create, but I’ll say it again: Let these casinos happen now! Nearby residents might have their reservations, but instead of outright resisting the inevitable, they should try working with developers to help curb the issues they’re so worried about.

High-Five: Elizabeth Warren says Congress members shouldn’t own stock. Speaking of stocks, Elizabeth Warren wants to ban members of Congress from holding any at all. She believes that Congress members either shouldn’t own stocks, or their stocks should be put into a blind trust to prevent lawmakers from passing legislation that could benefit their own investments. Warren herself only owns stock in IBM, which she said she would get rid of if elected.

In a year where, nationally, we have to choose between the current president, who hasn’t done such a great job, and whomever emerges from the sideshow that is the GOP primary, it’s good that we at least have two solid Senate candidates.

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

Photo by WBUR (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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