Thursday, March 27, 2008

Saved from Voting Republican

It's puerile. It's emotional. It's personal. Yet, there's a Republican I could vote for.

Fortunately, Ralph Martin has saved me from my weakness. He again took himself out of consideration for a political office.

According to the local rags, this time it's Boston mayor he isn't running for. The Globe has the straight off the press conference mic story — he'll run the local HQ of his gigantic law firm. The Herald claims to have spoken directly with him. Over at the Phoenix, David Bernstein lets loose a short pseudo-lament, "Will nobody step in with a serious campaign to enliven the tedium of the suffering political journalists?" To this I add and the voters. If Menino runs for another term, it would be a yawner.

He has the record for longest tenure in the job (elected in 1993 in his own right after four months as acting mayor). Give it a rest. He's not a bad mayor, just out of ideas and effectiveness.

A lot of good stuff has been hanging and not likely to get any resolution or advance with him. We had a shot to be an early free Wi-Fi town. We might have gotten out of the smothering monopoly of Comcast, as most suburbs have already. We could have been a bicycling city. We might have gotten clean and efficient cops and firefighters. Name the initiative and the answers range from no to not yet.

Thomas Michael Menino is our English Channel swimmer who doesn't swim. He's looking across the Strait of Dover, but not only isn't he in the water, he's still dressed in one of his lumpy suits. He's not going anywhere. He doesn't have the wit or political capital to pull off great innovations or even proper maintenance of existing systems like schools.

He's a dust devil when we need a tornado. It's past time for greater energy, a mandate for sweeping changes, and some big, honking new ideas.

Personally, I like Ralph Martin, enough to forgive his being a Republican. Yet, we should not base our votes on knowing and liking someone. Sure, in town meeting and other forms of direct democracy, personal affinity and identification can be the decision points.

Yet, Ralph has always had insight and the ability to implement, notably as Suffolk DA. Oddly enough, that insight appears to be the final deciding factors here.

He's 55 and figures if he got the mayoralty, that would take him up to retirement. He's a superb manager (the city has long needed one of those), but he's also a top business attorney. Taking over the huge Bingham McCutchen LLP office here means he can pick his drives and fights. He can run the show and still get fascinating cases.

That's refreshing to hear that he doesn't have the fire and vanity for politics, and is willing to leave it for someone who does. That's a welcome alternate to Menino, who has often said, "What else would I do?"

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