Some thought Brookline’s traditions of arrogant officials were laid to rest with election of Justin Wyner as moderator in 1970. Maybe not. A meeting of a moderator’s committee on taxi medallions that began at 7:00 pm on Bastille Day–Monday, July 14, 2014–bought back some of the worst of former days. Edward “Sandy” Gadsby, the current moderator, had failed to appoint the main petitioner for Article 26 at the 2014 annual town meeting to the moderator’s committee.
The main petitioner for Article 26, a Precinct 8 town meeting member, sponsored Article 26, seeking to rescind authority to sell taxi medallions, at the 2014 annual town meeting, which was referred to a moderator’s committee. In his arguments to town meeting, the main petitioner for Article 26 had cited a 2013 Boston Globe article alleging that contract taxi drivers were being abused by medallion owners and singling out Edward J. Tutunjian, the owner of Boston Cab. The Globe article is replete with political sleaze and official corruption.
Mr. Gadsby insulted not only the main petitioner for Article 26 but also Brookline voters in failing to recognize the town’s main opponent of taxi medallions with a seat on the committee. Joshua Safer, the Transportation Board chair and recently made the chair of that committee, compounded the insult by offering the main petitioner for Article 26 30 seconds to state his views and by cutting him off for trying to speak any longer. Dr. Safer owes residents of Brookline an apology.
The proposed taxi medallion program has been touted as a measure to stabilize a troubled business and to improve services. However, the anxiety that underlies the arrogance began around 2007, with the start of a deep recession, as Brookline searched for revenue to fund services. A taxi medallion program might yield a one-time injection of a few million dollars, against a budget that now runs nearly $200 million a year.
The main petitioner for Article 26, whom Mr. Gadsby and Dr. Safer have been trying to sideline, has been protesting taxi medallions as a hidden tax and a social cancer. Such a program would obviously run up costs of operating taxi services, and the increased costs could only be met through increased fares.
– Craig Bolon, Brookline, MA, July 15, 2014
Martine Powers, No quick action from Boston on taxi reform, Boston Globe, July 15, 2014
Note, July 17, 2014.
The main petitioner for Article 26 at the 2014 annual town meeting asked not to be named in this article. With reluctance, that request was accepted. The petitioner is obviously a public figure: an elected town meeting member and the main author of what became controversial business at town meeting. By seeking distance from a controversy, the main petitioner loses the arguments. Less inhibited opponents will quickly move in for a kill.