Last week biomass opponents were despondent. Kateri Walsh resorted to parliamentary procedure where the power of persuasion has failed--miserably--and delayed a vote to appeal the building commissioner's decision to issue permits. Meanwhile, the hearing officer for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection had ruled that the challengers to the commonwealth's air permit to Palmer Renewable Energy lacked any standing to oppose the air permit.
Since then all the bad stuff has been upended. At-large councilor Kateri Walsh still opposed the council voting to assert its own legal rights, but her parliamentary did little to actual stop the council. It passed its resolution to appeal the building commissioner's decision to the Zoning Board of Appeals with seven days to spare under state law. Only Walsh and at-large councilor Jimmy Ferrera opposed the measure. All other councilors voted to appeal At-large councilor Tim Rooke and Ward 5 Councilor Clodo Concepcion were absent. Each had historically voted in separate directions on the issue meaning their absences did not substantively change the vote's outcome.
At Occupy Boston, protesters were dealt a blow when a judge entertaining an injunction against the city prohibiting a surprise raid by police turned down their request and terminated the preliminary injunction. Although the judge's opinion actually left significant grounds for appeal, protesters appear to be as resigned as ever to leaving the encampment. The city has successfully blocked winterizing efforts and openly admitted it never really tried to address health and safety concerns. That said, Occupy Boston, or at least its true activist members seem willing to move on to Occupy 2.0.
The problem at Occupy camps are well-documented, although often misinterpreted because the camps reflect ills in society at-large not an propensity for drug use and violence. Indeed, the effort to expel such troublesome members, although often barred by the general assemblies' 3/4 majority needed for passage of anything, mirrors the same in society. Cities, towns and states cannot exile drug addicts, the homeless or mentally ill any more than Occupy camps could.
The library, food and medical tents in Boston have been packed up and many protesters have removed valuables. Although it is not know if Boston Mayor Tom Menino will move on the camp after his midnight deadline, both sides have to take stock. Although Menino plays to the powerful quite often from his perch in City Hall, he has a point that more energy needs to be directed at Washington, DC or at least Beacon Hill. To that end, protesters, if they want a peaceful end to this, even one that may include arrests, CANNOT throw anything or fight with cops that come into to clear the camp. As to the city, do not repeat the mistakes made in New York. No media blackouts. No violence and no needless skull-thumping. Just go in. Drag off the diehards and move on.
The world will be watching. Any blatant assault on civil liberties the judge did not exclude from the First Amendment will be a scar upon Boston it does not need and can certainly avoid. However, the world is watching Occupy Boston and its sister groups, too. Whatever unfairness directed at the camp and it is there, it is time to evolve and grow beyond that to make an impact beyond the simple, physical boundaries of Dewey Square.