Between the lines

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Taylor Rapalyea
Staff Writer

It is hard to admit that we have little to no idea about what’s going on around us. There is a lot of information hidden from the general population in many aspects of life, from personal relationships, to what really goes into the burritos at your local taqueria, to U.S. politics.

This is the partial premise of “Winner Take All Politics,” a book written by two economists who overuse the phrase “that said,” but shed some important light on the state of the American government. The authors note that there are corporations of near unimaginable size running much of what makes up the lives of the general public. These unseen mechanisms are the key to understanding how politics work in our nation.

It’s not enough to read the news – one must also read between the lines. Again, it’s not easy. As a journalism major and news junkie, it can be a struggle to keep up on all the headlines, let alone their implications. It’s not as though it’s actually written between the lines: no dropped hints, no fine print.

Local politics are a particular mystery, as headlines are rarely as attention-grabbing as the antics of Anthony Weiner. However, the inner workings of local government are important to our city, our state, and our lives. In this aptly named column, I will seek to look past the flashy elections and National Enquirer breaking news, deeper into what governs America, locally, nationally, and sometimes globally, while taking note of the headlines.

Boston is currently in the midst of an intriguing situation. Mayor Thomas Menino, the city’s longest-serving mayor, announced earlier in the year that he does not plan to run for a sixth term. Whether by a buildup of hopefuls or simply by chance, there are 12 mayoral candidates looking to be voted in on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013.

Elections are the pinnacle of politics in the public eye, barring sexy marketable scandals. They mimic sports in a lot of ways – you have points, winners, losers, and, if the news cycle is lucky, some fouls. It is for this reason that I would normally suggest looking past the election, but here I make an exception. There are a few key issues on the table that are very relevant to Boston students, namely the funding of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority.

It is no secret that a major complaint in Boston is regarding the T’s lack of late-night service. People who want to use the subways have to use them before midnight and after 5 a.m., something that hinders a lot of service-industry employees. But who is actually going to do something about it?

John Connollly, one of Boston’s current city councilors, has taken a strong stand for extended T hours and expressed his belief that they will in turn enrich the city’s cultural scene. Bill Walczak, a community leader, has also voiced in favor of a solution for late-night transportation, in support of the service-industry workers who are forced to walk in unsafe areas or take expensive cabs after-hours.

In fact, most of the candidates are in favor of a late-night MBTA, but few outline actual solutions. John Barros, previously a school board member, told that he would look to work with the governor to improve the MBTA capital program and get them proper funding and expand how its systems are utilized prior to lengthening the T’s hours. Mike Ross, another Boston city councilor, actually helped to implement a late-night bus service called the Night Owl in 2001. However, it later failed due to underuse.

With 12 candidates, many overlap on issues, so it is important to look further into the individuals’ stance on other vital issues – such as the anti-LGBT St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston and their positions on education – and their experience in government before deciding on a vote. It should also be noted that if students can’t vote in Boston, they can still work on campaigns and show their support. After all, chances are high that you will be sticking around for a few years. You should capitalize on the opportunity to dictate who dictates you.
Tune in to Simmons College Radio to hear further discussion of Boston’s mayoral race. Questions and comments can be sent to