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Council urges ban on city-worker travel to Indiana

The City Council voted 12-0 for a resolution by Councilor Tito Jackson (Roxbury) to block city workers from traveling to Indiana on official business due to its new law allowing companies to discriminate against lesbians and gays.

The council passed a similar resolution related to Arkansas - even as that state's governor was vetoing a similar law.

The resolutions go to Mayor Walsh.

"I don't believe money from the residents of the city of Boston should be expended in those states while these laws are on the books," Jackson said.

"I'm proud to stand in the state of Massachusetts, where you can marry anyone you want to marry," he said. "I'm proud to stand in the city of Boston, which had a mayor, in Mayor Menino, who took on organizations who didn't accommodate the people we know and love. ... It's incumbent upon us to actually defend the things we believe."

City Councilor Josh Zakim (Fenway, Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Mission Hill) strongly supported the measures.

"I strongly share [Jackson's] outrage and, I think, the outrage of millions of Americans" at the Indiana law, Zakim said, adding he found it "troubling in this day and age that we're fighting battles like this."

"In the year 2015, in the United States of America, we need to say we are open to business for everybody," he said.

Councilor Matt O'Malley (West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain) agreed with Jackson and Zakim on the "odious" Indiana law. "Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, ought to be ashamed of himself."

Councilor Steve Murphy (at large) left before the vote on Jackson's resolutions, which were not listed on the official council agenda and which were added to the agenda only at the end of the meeting.

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Comments

Presuming this is on business travel, not personal?

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Councilors don't think city money should go to support states that discrimate.

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Are they flying via Indiana Air, or staying at The Indiana State Hotel. It's an empty gesture because one would have to assume that every private entity in the State supported this measure.

It's only going to hurt private business, many of whom don't support it. It would be like me hacking your webpage because you were domained in Indiana.

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If private entities that oppose the measure lose business because of it, they will get their state government to repeal the law. Or they will leave IN and AZ for more tolerant states.

See also, South Africa.

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The Supreme Court has made it clear through such rulings as Hobby Lobby and Citizens United that corporations are more important that individuals, and the buck is in fact almighty. The only way to effect political change is through the wallets of businesses.

And it's effective; the Governor of Arkansas has done an abrupt 180 after Walmart expressed some displeasure over that state's proposed "religious freedom" law.

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It would be nice if Marty doesn't sign off and scolds the Council for wasting the City's time.

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As a resident I'm ok with this and don't think this is a waste of time or money. Grow up.

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To be a half-term mayor?

They don't want our tax dollars being spent on official business in a state run by troglodytes.

I know you think it's a waste of time and with that we get to see your true colors.

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Thank you to Councilor Jackson for this. But why isn't the Mayor leading on this issue? Too busy trying to shove the Olympics down our throats?

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St. Patricks day parade.

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.

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Hurrumph!

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Seeing people type out "Hurrumph" or its variations, to me, is hilarious. I'd like to see this on a Uhub t-shirt.

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Gov. Le Petomane: I didn't get a "harumph" outta that guy!
Hedley Lamarr: Give the governor a "harumph"!
Harumpher: Harumph!
Gov. Le Petomane: You watch your ass.

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I needed a bit of Mel Brooks to make me smile this afternoon!

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Gentlemen, we must protect our phony-baloney jobs!

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What useful networking and knowledge will the City of Boston potentially be deprived of by passing these resolutions?

Say an important national conference in (name any government dicipline) is being held in Indiana or Arkansas. Should city workers in the applicable field be denied the right to attend these conferences just because we happen to disagree with another state's ideology?

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Say an important national conference in (name any government dicipline) is being held in Indiana or Arkansas.

Bwaaaahahahahaha.

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Or is that just arrogance fueled by ignorance? Why don't you think public health is important?

Is it better to give money to a Massachusetts bigot or a quality business in Indiana?

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I've got more than two choices.

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Its only empty if you don't care about equality. The Indiana governor is already stepping back from his original statements on the law after Conneticut passed a similar ban and several companies and the NCAA expressed their problems with the discrimination this law is intended to legalize. So, similar bans have had an effect, so its not empty.

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wallow in their ignorant bliss. It seems to be working out really well by conservative/libertarian standards.

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>"Please send the Stenographic Records of Public Meetings of Boston City Council including March 25, 2015 and April 1, 2015 and after...

Is there an ADA requirement that Boston City Council records be available in a format compatible with text to speech screenreaders for vision impaired folks?...

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I mean, I don't think he has that pull.

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*face palm*

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Second *face palm* from him in the past couple of days.

It's OK. ((pats cybah on back)).

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Michelle Wu told me that they will start pulling captions April 6th, and format them into a transcript.

Also, the disability commission has installed/ mounted 2 large TVs on the walls of the Ianella Chamber. WGBH provides captions.

Went to a hearing the other day, and everything worked beautifully.

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WGBH Captioning indicated all they need from the Client at City Hall is an address for email to send, as they do ordinarily after every production, the FullText of the Captions from the Webcast of the Public Meeting of Boston City Council.

Then the Client at City Hall would in turn make available the FullText of Captions for hard of hearing folks, tinnitis ringing in the ears, deaf, ESL English as Second Language folks, concussion recovery, stroke recovery folks, folks with cognitive difficulty, dyslexic, ADD attention deficit, elderly, folks in city neighborhoods far afield of City Hall, Hyde Park folks, Mattapan folks, Orient Heights folks, folks with difficulty to tolerate hard aggravating public seats of the Council Chamber, et al sidelined for lack of access to the Plain Text full Stenographic Record of the Public Meetings of Boston City Council
http://main.wgbh.org/wgbh/pages/mag/services/captioning/

A City Contract for Captioning or whatever Memo for Captioning has been hidden contrary to the transparency ideal of new administration practices.

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Doesn't MA technically have the same sort of law?

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But it only applies to government action - a school that wants to ban yarmukes and hijabs, say. And it's against state law to discriminate on basis of sexual orientation by non religious entities.

The Indiana law gave all private individuals and companies the right to discriminate against gays. That's a major difference and why Pence is now back pedaling in the face of economic boycotts.

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when $$ enters the equation.

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Last I read, he was still defending it.

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Plus, Mass. has laws protecting sexual orientation as a class. Indiana doesn't.

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Are there any examples of Indiana gays who wanted to patronize the business of some homophobes and were refused?

This is an actual question. I imagine some business owners want to ban gays in order for them to get the law written and passed. So, who are they? Shouldn't we boycott those businesses nationally?

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http://www.abc57.com/story/28681598/rfra-first-business-to-publicly-deny...

They didn't have actual people inquiring to be denied yet, but they are stating up front now.

Also, this type of bill was defeated in Florida, a few years back. Once a legislator proposed that businesses choosing to discriminate based on their religious beliefs be required to post who they wouldn't serve on the door, that was the end of that bill.

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This pizza parlor is so upset over letting gays marry that they will refuse to cater gay weddings. That is such a crushing blow to equal rights. They probably don't even have arugula for a topping.

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...but I'm not surprised that that's your interpretation; after all, every media outlet has tried to frame this as, "So, if a florist didn't want to provide flowers for a gay wedding..." So it's not surprising that members of the public haven't thought it through any more thoroughly. The law states that a person (or corporation, those are people too y'know) may claim a religious exemption to a generally applicable law. It is not specific to gays and certainly not to "gay marriage", at least not in its language...but it is transparently catering to the "ew, gays are icky" throwbacks in Indiana.

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That example is gay rights, but it could be for anything that people claim their religion is against. It wouldn't be the first time christians claimed interracial marriage was against their beliefs. And it doesn't have to be gay marriage, it could be refusing to serve gay and lesbian customers at a restaurant, prominent republican/libertarian Rand Paul said that private businesses should be allowed to refuse service to blacks, even if he wouldn't.
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2010_05/023889.php
So its about more than gay marriage. But I don't know why that isn't enough of a reason to find the law disgusting.

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Whats about the other 19 state, ahhh the Faux outrage.

Why is this now a HUGE issue, because the alphabet soup news networks like MSNBC brought to your attention?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/03/01/where-in-the-u...

Even MA has a similar law protecting religious freedom.

*Note: Im in now way endorsing this law.

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Even MA has a similar law protecting religious freedom.

Did you, by chance, bother to read what that MA law and the Indiana Law says?

MA law says that GOVERNMENT can't discriminate (e.g. a school can't deny the right of students to religious head coverings or wearing crucifixes, etc.)

IN law says that I can kick you out of my restaurant because my religion says that I can't serve or be in contact with black people, gay people, or even willfully stupid people.

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With comments from three city councilors. Sorry I didn't do that initially: For some reason, my laptop doesn't work with City Hall WiFi, and filing a story on my phone is really painful, so I had to wait until I got home.

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They're still using a 56k modem!

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update the drivers and/or if you have an Intel Wireless Card, uninstall the Intel Wireless Pro software (but leave the driver). I think City Hall uses Cisco Meraki hardware, and it doesn't like Intel Wireless Pro very much (or the software at least)

OR we need to show you how to use your phone as a hot spot!

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And I'll try reinstalling the drivers. Wicked Free and the BPL system are the only WiFi system I have trouble with, too, grr.

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I don't know how much business MA has in Indiana, but I do know that my .org and others are being clear about not holding conferences there - and some are even being moved.

This is for similar reasons to why my .org won't take its conferences to Arizona: we don't want our attendees being harassed. In Arizona, it was their illegal enforcement of their own home-made immigration laws that made us wonder if our visiting scientists from around the world would be harassed. In Indiana, it is people who are gay or might be accused of being gay.

These are good places to stay away from if you don't want your employees or people attending your events to be harassed.

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The last time a Councilor traveled to IL or AK?

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You mean AR?

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for that matter. You also mean IN.

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"Religious freedom is perhaps the most precious of all American liberties, called by many our 'first freedom.' Many of the first European settlers in North America sought refuge from religious persecution in their native countries. Since that time, people of faith and religious institutions have played a central role in the history of this Nation. In the First Amendment, our Bill of Rights recognizes the twin pillars of religious liberty: the constitutional protection for the free exercise of religion, and the constitutional prohibition on the establishment of religion by the state. Our Nation's founders knew that religion helps to give our people the character without which a democracy cannot survive. Our founders also recognized the need for a space of freedom between government and the people -- that the government must not be permitted to coerce the conscience of any individual or group." Governor Mike Pence (R-IN) President Bill Clinton.

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Never would have pegged you as a Clinton fan

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Bill Clinton signed this law to prevent the government from interfering w/ American Indians who used small amounts of peyote, a controlled substance, in their religious ceremonies. It was originally crafted to only prevent the government from messing with people's free practice of religion, within reason.

It was never intended for corporations or people to use this law to claim that they have the right to deny service to people due to their religious beliefs. Once the law became used for this discriminatory purpose, other states that had passed this law explicitly outlawed discrimination by service providers, as did the federal government, by executive order. Except Indiana, which just passed their own right to religious freedom law.

So nice try. Context matters. Today is not the same environment as over 20 years ago, and neither is the intent of this law.

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They go together! Check out this new Cannabis Church in Indiana: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/03/30/the-first...

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Pining for them good ol' days with the good ol' boys at the lunch counter, before those black agitators ruint everything!

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If it truly was the same as the Federal Law signed by Clinton, there would be no need for the Indiana state law. That alone shows they are not the same. Secondly, all men are created equal is in the first sentence of the declaration of independence, which precedes the constitution. This law seems to think otherwise, that some are not as equal.

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...the Declaration of Independence is not the law of the land. It's a historical document of principle (with some principles conspicuously absent), but in no way legally binding.

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Funny, I thought Republicans understood markets.

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The Clinton administration cleaned up the deficit that Reagan left behind, and then some.

Not sure what your head is up this time.

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The dot.com bubble disagrees with you.

Since FDR's New Deal the exponentially expanding federal government has had no interest in balanced budgets and repaying the national debt.

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...does "the dot.com bubble" have to do with the federal deficit?

Moving goalposts in 3...2...

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I guess it depends what color glasses you have on....

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So Stevie Murphy was too scared to vote, so he just booked it out of there? A real hero, like good ol' scotty brown who hid in the restroom to avoid taking a stance.
http://www.mediaite.com/online/scott-brown-hides-in-bathroom-to-avoid-re...

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As I mentioned in the post, the two resolutions were not on the official agenda and came up at the very end (which is common for agendaless items).

As long as the topic isn't pre-1974 racism, Murphy actually has a decent civil-rights record and I would guess he had somewhere else to be and didn't know about Jackson's resolutions.

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I have to say I really appreciate the City Council's effort to do something whether it's a little bit of an empty gesture or not.

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Request your own original copy of the PlainText Stenographic Record of today's April 1, 2015 Public Meeting of Boston City Council at
http://www.cityofboston.gov/contact/?id=12

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Say the City sends a worker to Indiana to attend a conference.

Say that worker is harassed by some 'phobes who cite their religious freedom as an excuse.

Is the City of Boston liable for putting a worker into a situation where harassment is possible? Would that worker have recourse under MA law?

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IANAL, but the worker is considered on city business just about the entire time on a trip for business purposes.

Could the worker sue... sure, but he/she is covered by other policies while "at work" like workers compensation. Might it be considered negligent of the city, maybe, but that seems to be a bit of a stretch... it's not Mogadishu.

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Harrasment would be a crime in Indiana regardless, and I think everyone is looking at this law the wrong way and it should work itself out. Once a court rules (and it should rule), that marraige isn't a religious institution, then the businesses in Indiana won't be able to refuse gay couples from services. There are also going to be exceptions and special cases that courts are going to have to look at on an individual basis.

The Massachusetts Law also has many exceptions. Before my time, there was a Hasidic or Conservative Jewish man who became a police officer. He had requested not to work on Saturdays because of his religion, and wear his hair and beard in a style contrary to the rules and regulations of the department. I don't remember the particulars, but he was not allowed to do either. I'm not sure if he fought it and lost, or if there was already case law across the country that had established the governments right to restrict certian religious freedoms. I do know the beard issue has been ruled in favor of departments (the government) over religious freedoms though.

I'm going to guess that this Indiana law will go forward, but people should still have the right to sue for damages if they feel their civil rights are violated. This will at least put businesses at the whim of a judge to decide. Since there will be so many special circumstances, I don't see how any other way is possible.

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Harrasment would be a crime in Indiana regardless

First of all, this isn't JUST about being gay - this would also apply to the sort of harassment where a gay person or black person or a jewish person would be forced to leave a restaurant.

That IS harassment - only it is LEGAL harassment in Indiana. If somebody's MA job put them in such an environment, then they may have a case in MA against their employer.

And if you say that somebody being forcibly removed from a business due to their "non pure" nature, be that being black, gay, jewish, whatever, isn't harassment, then what the hell is?

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It may be semantics, but you are probably thinking of violating someone's civil rights, not harrassment.

I'm not sure anyone in Indiana would be able to get away with refusing a black or Jewish person service either. If you did refuse service to one of those groups claiming some sort of religious exemption, it would probably not pass any sort of test that I assume even Indiana courts would rule unconstitutional.

For instance, if here in Massachusetts, you owned a store and refused service to a black man and said your religion says blacks are not equal, you wouldn't be sued under any sort of harrassment statute.

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That IS harassment - only it is LEGAL harassment in Indiana.

It's legal in most states in the US. In most US states, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is perfectly legal in areas of employment, housing, or public accommodation, It is discrimination (not harassment as you say), but it is legal, because in most states sexual orientation is not a protected category.

SURPRISE!!!

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I was also talking about the fact that the Indiana law makes it possible to discriminate against a wide range of people, while hiding behind religion.

It isn't ONLY about sexual orientation.

SURPRISE.

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Except current Indiana law protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, national origin. Sexual orientation is legal to discriminate against now, under Indiana law, no religious exemption needed.

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... a conflict with federal law, which can be used to attack federal gay anti-descrimination laws and regulations -- and ultimately take the issue to the Supreme Court (andaalso to help raise campaign funds for far right wing candidates). It looks like this was prepared and disseminated by ALEC (given the fact that it has sprouted up in near identical form in several states) -- it really is part of a broader agenda -- not a bona fide attempt to "defend religious freedom" (unlike the original RFRA, which was intended to undo a Sup. Ct decision which held that it was okay to send American Indians to prison for using tiny amounts of peyote in their religious ceremonies).

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Once a court rules (and it should rule), that marraige isn't a religious institution

Never gonna happen. No one will waste their time bringing such a case. Why? Because almost everyone in America believes, erroneously, that marriage IS a religious institution, and specifically that their religion owns the definition of marriage. Of course it's transparently nonsense -- human beings were getting married long before any religion you can name existed -- but they believe it.

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... human beings were getting married long before any religion you can name existed ...

Can you cite proof of this? I think it would make an interesting read.

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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When it comes to avoiding spending city money in another state, the council (and mayor, presumably) are ready to act within a week and unanimously.

When it comes to avoiding spending city money on John Fish's ego project by allowing non-binding ballot questions on this November's ballot to gauge public interest, there is silence and stalling.

Where are their priorities? In Boston, or in Indianapolis?

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If they waited 6 months to act on this new law, the momentum for the boycott kind of will have passed. Therefore, immediate action is warranted (and this written by someone who doesn't agree with the action, but still.)

As for the Olympics, not a penny of public money has been spent (so far), so the government really has nothing to do with that until (1) Boston is selected or (2) they need money for someone. They can in fact wait until this fall or even the fall of 2016 to act on that.

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While the city hasn't made huge investments as of yet, to say the "not a penny of public money has been spent (so far)" is absolutely false. The city has hosted three meetings so far, all after hours, so they have, at the very least, spent money on staffing those.

Then there are costs associated with submitting the bid itself, which included, by the mayor's own admission, city attorney review of the bid (although he still won't answer whether he actually read the bid, which is surprisingly underreported: http://baystateexaminer.com/has-marty-walsh-ever-read-the-boston-2024-bi...).

These are just two examples I've pulled out of my head that are public. If you don't think there is other city worker time being allocated on a daily basis to this issue, then you have a wonderful sense of naivete that I wish my cynical self could have wrt this issue.

So while we're not talking big money so far, I'd say it's on par with sending a city worker to Indy for a conference for a week.

And my argument is that they should act to move this onto the ballot for *this fall* as you note, because if we wait for the tablets from Mt. Sinai of Boston2024 in November 2016 the bid process will be that much further along. And by that point, city money will DEFINITELY have been spent.

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has committed to hire an outside consultant to do an "independent and unbiased" review of the City's bid to the USOC.

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Start griping at the General Court when they start meddling in Indiana politics. My property taxes are not going to that particular review.

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(and yours as well) ARE going to fund that review. And I raised the point in response to the previous comment about public funds being used for the Olympic bid, so it is relevant.

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Craig was commenting on the swift action of the Boston City Council, so I am only looking at Boston

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The facilities for the meetings already existed, and the staff working on meeting ( along with the law department) are salaried, so unless they hired staff for the Olympics, you are talking pennies from the budget.

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Even if it is "pennies", it is still an expenditure.

Sorry, but I hate "It's only such-and-such out of a huge budget" arguments as justification for spending. It's usually (although I'm not saying you necessarily meant it this way) an argument designed to make someone feel like a miser and a cheapskate, emotionally-fueled.

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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Photocopying, electricity for the rooms along with heat, assuming the meetings were in otherwise closed buildings.

I welcome people to offer other costs born by the City with these meetings, but it's definitely been less than the cost of, say, a special election.

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My point is it's probably as much as the city might spend to send a staff person to a conference in Indiana. Which is what they were making a stand against.

The issue is that the council was ready to take a quick and unanimous position with regards to city funding when it didn't really matter and wasn't really going to impact anything or anyone directly.

But when it comes to at least gauging their own voters' interest (non-binding, mind you) in a project that could be the single-greatest expenditure of discretionary city money over the next decade-- silence and stalling.

It just looks weak. Weak in that they don't seem to take their fiduciary responsibility to the residents of their city seriously, and weak for Boston2024 because I'm pretty sure they're being pressured to hold off because the vote (non-binding) would be a resounding defeat for the bid.

Meanwhile, my own city just across the river has to now think about setting aside decades of planning and community engagement on major developments to possibly deal with an ego-project that they had nothing to do with. Boston took a "bold stance" by forcing this on everyone, but now won't take the "bold stance" to see if their own citizens want it.

Weak.

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Do we think the Olympics are cool? (good chance of winning)

Are we willing to write a blank check to the IOC? (good chance of losing)

I'm neither a Boston2024 hater nor booster. I'd like to know what the deal is, exactly. There should be hearty debate on this. My social conservativism aside, I see the idea of the quick vote on boycotting Indiana, and overwhelming support for the position. Remember the first poll on the Olympics? Not quite reflecting of the denezins of Universal Hub. Should that be the poll we accept, or the poll taken after the meltdown of the T? At that, a third of Bostonians still support bringing the games here.

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