Letter: Mayor’s Casey stand is too little, too late

The following letter was sent to Mayor Thomas Menino:

Today I read a couple of news articles that disappointed me so greatly, I wanted to write to let you know personally (“Mayor: I would have kept Casey Overpass,” jpgazette.com, May 24). In the articles, you state an opinion on the Casey Overpass project, i.e., that you would prefer a replacement overpass to the so-called “at-grade” solution.

The fact that you might prefer one solution over another doesn’t concern me.  As a resident of Forest Hills, I understand the divergence of views as to the best result. What does concern me is that you waited until now, when the decision has already been made, to state an opinion. Your representatives have attended the public meetings and working group sessions over the past year. It defies belief that you didn’t make up your mind on this subject until today.

Worse, you seem to be washing your hands of the problem, stating that it’s the state’s project and “I don’t run it.”  With all due respect, are you kidding? I am astonished that you would shrug and walk away from such an important public works project in the very heart of the city. It’s impossible to imagine, in contrast, you abdicating to the state-appointed gaming commission the entire authority to determine how and where to locate a casino—even though it’s “their project” and you “don’t run it.” It seems like this just didn’t matter to you.

And then you tell us, your constituents: “I think you better be prepared for the second Big Dig.” Who is “you”?  How about: “We need to work together, under my leadership, to achieve the best outcome for our city”?

I am sure that your statements, however belated and irrelevant, will draw predictable reactions from the usual “pro-bridge” and “no-bridge” advocates. I am writing for a different reason. Jamaica Plain, an active, inclusive neighborhood with a deep civic spirit, is, on this issue, increasingly divided, engaged in an endless debate leading nowhere, over a confused process, led by a project team that remains largely unaccountable to the people most affected by its work. I blame all of that on a lack of leadership. Our system of city government, in which the mayor exercises great authority, requires a credible, trusted leader willing to exercise judgment, take positions and guide the public discourse. In the absence of that leadership, pretty much any viewpoint, no matter how irrational, ill-informed or downright bizarre, holds equal weight to any other. And we are seeing where that gets us.

Your strange passivity on this issue reflects poorly on your long record of service to this city. On behalf of your constituents, I ask that you reconsider and clarify your remarks to the press, and more important, that you decide whether you and your team have anything to contribute to this project.

Thank you for your attention to this letter.

Gerard P. O’Connor

Jamaica Plain

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