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Good evening. Tonight a discussion of Massey's his viewpoint is on city politics a book written by Edward Banfield and James Q. Wilson. Both of the Joint Center for Urban Studies of MIT and Harvard published by the Harvard Press and the MIT Press. Our format tonight is a little different from other Massachusetts viewpoints in that we are focusing on a specific book. But our intention is both to deal with the book and how it applies in concrete terms to Boston and other metropolitan areas. To discuss city politics with us tonight we have then a mixture of people from the academic world and from practicing politicians and others interested in the legislative and political process around the table I have Mr. Thomas Moesha head of Community Development Department of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Christopher I am a Boston city councilor
who is chairman of the council's urban renewal Committee and is a past president of the council. And Mr. Henry Pratt an instructor in political science specializing in urban politics at Wellesley College. Let me turn first to Mr. Pratt and ask him to talk about city politics the book as a book and as a study in political research. Mr. Pratt what. What does City politics do in terms of increasing our knowledge about city government and city politics. Well this book was published just last year. And that means that it came out only about six years after the publication of an article in The American Political Science Review entitled The Lost World of the municipal government. The author writing at that time was making the point among other things that the study of local government had reached a low ebb. That there was
very little interest in the subject that most political scientists were devoting their attention to Affairs at the national level or the international level. And this was a subject which very much needed attention. Since that time this article was published in 1957. There has been a remarkable change in the picture. And a great increase in study of urban problems and metropolitan problems. I think that this book by Banfield and Wilson represents a major landmark in that movement. It is in the first place the first book that I'm aware of which attempts in a highly systematic way. To bring together information dealing with a large number of cities not just a single city but a number of cities. We have had other books in the
last several years which have focused very fruitfully and very helpfully particular metropolitan area. For example there was Edward Ben feels very informative and very stimulating study political influence which dealt largely with the politics of Chicago. There's also been a major analysis of the government of New York City entitled Governing New York City by professors Wallace Eyre and Herbert Kaufman. There has also been important new books come out on politics in Detroit Cleveland and a number of other major areas. But as I said the Banfield and Wilson book represents a truly remarkable attempt to bring together a large body of information. Good then our job tonight really is to take a book that is rather general in its outlook and apply it to a specific city a far better procedure than the
usual namely talking a great deal about a specific city and then trying to generalize. I think the advantage of the people we have here tonight is our ability to draw from the general to the specific and talk about the metropolitan area of most concern to us Boston. Maybe I ought to start a process of exposition here so that our listeners will have some sense of what the book says then later on we can get into some of the more controversial positions of the book and see whether or not among us there is consensus that Banfield and Wilson have something to say or not. If we were to look at Boston or any metropolitan area we would have to say that we are witnessing a major change in the city not simply as a political creature but the city as a place where people live. Certainly if you're going to summarize what happened to the city since World War 2 you would have to talk about a great influx of people from the farm or from rural areas to the central city. You have to
talk about absolute population growth in terms of increased birth rate decreased death rate and so forth. You'd also have to talk about the fact that there's been a tremendous technological change in the city. First the development of railroads is obviously long before World War 2 but the development automobile is having a major impact on what the city is like to put it more mundane like the development of the septic tank is making it possible for people to live farther out from the center of the city than before. A number of these things have drastically altered the shape of the city. Well what has happened then there's been a dramatic increase in the population of the urban areas. And this expansion has pushed people outward from the central city into suburbs. This expansion out toward the suburbs is first necessary just because of the increase in population. Secondly it's possible
because of some of the technological changes we've just mentioned and because of people's increased affluence they can now they become middle class. Many of them now they can move out financially. And third it's desirable for a number of psychological reasons. Many people think it has been desirable for them to leave the heart of the city and move out. Well this if you take this is a thumbnail sketch of what has happened in the city the job of the book city politics or the job that we have here tonight is to ask what impact have these broad trends have. Had on the politics of the area. One of the things that BANFIELD And Wilson say is that has had an impact of this sort that it has changed the politics of the city from a what he's called private oriented kind of politics where everyone is out pretty much for his own self interest to a public oriented one where there is more emphasis on middle class values of principle of serving the general
good and so forth. This I must say is a point which we will undoubtedly find some disagreement on but I'm simply saying the moment the author's point of view as a specific of the change from private to public orientation. BANFIELD And Wilson point out the change in many metropolitan areas from award based politics to an at large system. Mr. Arnault I wonder if I might ask you to discuss the shift from Ward based to at large based politics in the city of Boston. How do you view its impact on the politics of the city. Well Mr. seashells First of all may I say that. The people of the city in 1948 I believe it was voted plan a form of government which means that the councillors and the school committee people would be elected at large and prior to that time the council member elected by wards. And I think that the
people who are elected by wards had a more provincial attitude about their city. I think there probably was a great deal of pork barreling going on during that time in other words one councillor would say look I'd vote for your project out there in West Roxbury if you will vote for me and ward once East Boston and get me a swimming pool. And as a result these councillors were acting only not so much for the greater good of the entire city but. But what was more important to them was what was good for their particular area. And now on the plane a charter when all of us have to run citywide among 700000 more or less of the residents of the city of Boston. I think that we have a more cosmopolitan broad attitude about the city and we tried to do what we feel is for the general good of all of us. And I think this is a better system. And I think that it's worked that way. May I say two in conjunction with what you mentioned about people leaving leaving the city at one time as you know
as Boston was an area it was a city of close to 1 million people. Today we've been reduced to 700000 and this has been Do I think the probably the war type of politics people lost faith in the government. People felt because of the high cost of the government the confiscatory taxes that were in existence at that time cost particularly young people who were getting married to feel that where were they going to settle and they always looked to the suburbs because their taxes were much lower at that time. And that's why of course the city of Boston has been reduced to the size that it has. But I think if we study this problem closely we will find that people are beginning to come back to the city. They're beginning to realize that there are many services which the city gives to them which the outlying communities cannot give and I'll be glad to speak about that a little further on in this program to broaden out this idea. And this is what I and I feel that this plan h out of this nine
man Council idea been like that it lie just for the greater good of the of all the citizens of our city. All right fine. The trends in population that we've already spoken of averages to problems in the central city. It has meant that the central city has become in many respects the dumping ground for the poorest people the people who are discriminated against and so forth not thinking necessarily of Boston so much as other metropolitan areas. The central city that is the city that gives the name to the whole metropolitan area has become the place where Negroes and Puerto Ricans are to be found in far greater proportions than their total amount in the metropolitan area for example. And in any case people of low incomes find themselves there as a result. A lot of persons have become concerned about the increase of poor housing and living conditions in the central city. At the
same time the move to the suburbs has meant a tremendous fragmentation of political power in the metropolitan area. As we all know the suburbs for the most part. Are independent municipalities each with their own vested interests and many people seek them out for this very reason because they have their own independence and so forth. As a consequence in both the central city as a unit and in the metropolitan as a whole there has been increasing concern about how in the world do you control the processes of city life in a central city how do you control such things as housing blight in the metropolitan area how do you control anything. Because you're dealing with 60 or 70 independent kinds of governments each with their own private interests. Well one answer is planning in a central city a city planning agency in the metropolitan area in Metropolitan Planning Agency. We're fortunate in having Mr. Thomas Moshe here because
Metropolitan and city planning have been his prime concerns in his role with the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Mosier what do Wilson and Banfield had to say about planning. What do you feel are its prospects in the Boston metropolitan area like Professor as to the author. They make a fairly good case for Planas the need for planners the need to adopt the planning process. But I think more important they make the case also that planning cannot be undertaken in a vacuum. Planning must appreciate the political the sociological factors prevalent in the community. As to the question of Where Do We Go From Here what is the what are the possible solutions to the problems of the core city as you spell them out. Well the problems of the metropolitan area. I think it's important to stop for a moment and reflect upon the factors that created this problem. As councillor as the council appointed out of Boston a number of people since the war have chosen to leave
Boston to go to the suburbs to find a place in the sun to find a barbecue pit to find a place to breathe. As a result of this they have left Philly all the housing and the housing was in a position where they lacked of sophisticated political processes had permitted to deteriorate to become blight. So as a consequence it's very attractive to them medically and agenda and the welfare cases throughout the entire commonwealth consistent with existing welfare laws this is the only type of housing that most of these people can afford. So in essence the city of Boston then became. Home if you will for the low income and the very high income and as pretty as professors state in their book the high income were influential at one time but their dominance in local politics has decreased substantially and they play a very little role. In fact as the press as one professor call them they are limited actors in the political process and any analysis of any political community suggests that the middle income person the person in that salary
range where he has problems he's facing in his community with his children in school. He is the one who participates in the mainstream of community life. This person for the most part does not exist in Boston. He's chosen to solve this problem at the town meeting in some suburban community which further. Accentuates the problem and deepens the vacuum. So there is a need now to translate the problem of Boston. Not only has its own problem but it has a responsibility and a problem the entire metropolitan area. The density per square foot per square mile rather the number of the amount of people living in this highly dense area. Their demand for services. Certainly they have an independent structural relationship with the with the government. But in terms of their terms of getting along with their neighbors they are extremely dependent one upon the other. So we must attempt to develop a a strategy in which these people can realize they have this dependency problem and that they can only by analyzing their own assets appreciating the
deficiencies planned for the future and hopefully together can provide the necessary leadership planning for the future where the situation can be corrected and also within a modicum if you will of tax rates. Jump in here. You've been talking primarily about the needs of the residents of a city for planning but you haven't said very much about the the structure of the planning organization in Boston whether you think it is the way that it ought to be set up. The reason I asked this question is that the authors of the book have a chapter devoted to what they call master planning and it raises a number of problems that I think we may want to spend some time on this evening but one that comes to my mind right at the moment is whether or not the authors are talking about Boston when they charge as they do fairly frequently here that planners have been.
In is not sufficiently sensitive to the political realities of the city not sufficiently sensitive to the feelings and attitudes of the people who are affected. Do you feel that this. This type of analysis applies to Boston. I think it has general applicability in any metropolitan area and in any core city having had some experience of the city of Detroit as well as in the city of Boston I found this I find this indictment to have extreme validity. Fundamentally I think it's important to realize that planning as a discipline of or if I may call it a subsidiary study of political science has not come into its own until the post-war period and as a result of this we have not developed the sophistication within the process or even of the academic level of an understanding that you cannot separate planning from the political process. And now even less so from the human process. Now we're developing a new concept in which we not only consider the political structure but the attitudes the environment in which people will play a
part in this new city will tend to bear such as A B C D action for Boston commuter development which is a human planning agency so that we authors are quite right in pointing out that this is a problem. But I think I want to read as an end in defense of the comment I made I want to revert back to say that the only people who can pass judgment on the effectiveness of the planning process in the city of Boston are its residents primarily or the other community actors as the as the authors choose to call them such as the newspapers. So the gaijin say such as I was so for. And yet as I said. We're a two type PETA type community where very well-to-do and we're very poor to the poor to do have enough just keeping care of their own problems the well-to-do just don't care. When you mention the two cities of Boston in Detroit. And I think these are good examples. In Detroit you have an independent city planning commission which is charged with the responsibility of drawing up a master plan for the city and and attempting to get this master plan and acted
in Boston you have quite another arrangement. If I'm not mistaken the the Boston City Planning Board has been now incorporated and has been for the last decade or more incorporated in directly into the urban renewal process and the rehabilitation and we did well as four years four years for the last four years three years really. Now it seems to me this is an extremely important difference in the one case where you have a completely independent agency. Another place in Agency which is fitted in not only related to urban redevelopment urban renewal but also responsible at least indirectly to the mayor. How do you feel about that threat. I think I can answer that in two ways one of them I say I completely subscribe to the thesis that a planning agency should be independent that it should be somewhat removed from any specific line function of government that it should be sort of an umbrella or agency looking down upon every facet of the community. But I think Boston has a unique problem and I think in retrospect is perhaps the only way to look at it.
This town suffered from a lack of construction on the ground in any large city in the world. It went to a period subsequent to the war in which there were no major construction of any type downtown. And during this process the mayor at the time times and various civic leaders and planets felt that there was something that something was necessary some psychological stimulant was necessary to get people to invest in Boston. There was a high tax rate that was rather slack and slovenly enforcement of building procedures. So in this time someone suggested that there were these 33 acres of land in the Back Bay area which had potential industrial redevelopment. This is now the Prudential Center. At that time though the tax rate was so prohibitive that if a piece of commercial property was assessed at full market value at $100 tax rate a developer was in fact paying for his building twice in 10 years. So some sort of inducement some mechanism some vehicle had to be created to permit this one person to commit an investor's money.
We had in Massachusetts then a vehicle which in effect gave him half his answer namely Chapter One twenty one a of the general laws which is so called Limited Dividende urban renewal corporation law which which suggests that if you involve yourself in the renewal process then you may then select and choose to get a reduced tax burden. If you agree to it to accept a limited return on your investment. But this reply only for current residential property. Prudential came in and felt that they could not invest the hundred million dollars in Back Bay on the concept that they would pay a hundred dollars tax rate on a hundred on full market value of 100 million dollars. So this arrangement this law was subsequently amended in which it established that the this this is the one twenty one a chapter 121 a could be applied for commercial purposes but the attorney general of the Commonwealth said that this then becomes a redevelopment project. There must be some measurement that must be some value there must be some criteria but
determining that this is blight. So in essence to bring all of us together to motivate the whole community to eliminate as many legal and structural frameworks structural bottlenecks that created a turnaround I took the planning board away from its independent status and I made it a function of the Redevelopment Authority and that's where it stands now. Mr Moshe is there are you know and feel and Wilson point out that this idea of a master plan in his brain no. And even the plane is themselves don't know much about this problem that they're sort of feeling their way through I mean let's face it they haven't had too much experience to take in Boston. It's only been a resurgence of this city within the last five or six years. So what's happened here. You're suggesting for example that these planners be independent. Unfortunately I don't know. Then feeling wells and take a different approach is that but on the other hand the federal government gives this city those of us in the city government the
responsibility of passing on these matters we have a condition preceding to pass upon these and so we have to have some say about it. So how can the how can the plan is be independent of the politicians as it were they just cannot meet the federal law permitted for one thing. Take the government Senate to be specific and you saw what happened there. And there was a lot of tremendous controversy about that. Yeah they was. Much debate on the subject I think I took the position that the government center was essential for the city of Boston whereas five the council has said no this Government senators shouldn't go there and we don't need it. There's a deal here. And they fought they knocked it down. Now this is tremendous power that the Boston City Council in particular has in every other councillor all over America for that matter because the federal law is the same it's applicable all over the country. And so what's happened you kind to disassociate yourself completely from the politician. Maybe you're right. Maybe utopia
should be that the plan as it should be away from the political influences but I'm not so sure that after all it's the man in public life who is close to the to the people he knows that policy knows what they want and we can have some steri I dream of for example who wants to plant a city in a certain way which is impractical to the to the needs of a community. And so that practicality the human it the human aspects the compassion point of view of this program is necessary and I think that you get that through the men who are close to the people and they are the men who have to run every two years for public life. And and I think that they both essential and frankly they have to work together for what for the common good has been feeling Wilson's points out. Counsellor I didn't mean to to create the impression that I was wanted to put the planet in a vacuum or put them free from review. On the contrary the point I was trying to make was that planning
is a process only in the fact that it has an advisory influence or an advisory capacity. The ultimate decision in any political process and here I'm in complete agreement with the authors is that it should be done by the elected officials but nevertheless we must recognize that the complexities of modern urban government are such that we have now got to develop. It's a fundamental principle we have to develop that we are now dealing in a rather sophisticated disciplined and rather sophisticated problems of city government and that we must attempt to get the those people in those lines of staff functions within the city structure who can provide us with this direction but I want to emphasize that the ultimate decision is that of a politician and I don't use the word politician in any derogatory way not only then it's not only that but they have. I wish that some of our listeners could come to a hearing of the. Boston City Council with particular reference to urban renewal in the city of Boston. And when you see several of the antagonist in a go at it and Mr. Loeb sometimes
probably wonders whether he did a good thing to come to Boston at all. But on the other hand I think that this controversy that goes on and some of these fellows take the attitude that they probably cross-examine is a I'm not so sure that it isn't good for the public good because it keeps these planets on their toes. And I wonder if I might pick that up and ask this question since we're talking about the interplay of planning and politics workable programs are fine when you're have an application before the urban rural administration in Washington. But what happens to all of them at light it. Doesn't define hand of politics get in there somewhere. In other words what effect on the workable program of the Boston renewal Authority has opposition at the grassroots I would say in Charlestown had or the threat of opposition in South Boston had. Well Mr. seashell First of all.
I think this is true of nature and human nature in general that people are interested in the status quo. They know they don't like change. This has been my experience in the 14 years I've been in government. No matter how good it is for them they are opposed to change. And then when that change does happen they recognize and they realize how wrong they have been. So the same way with Reno a lot of people don't want to be uprooted. I was up rooted I used to live in the West End I know how difficult it is I know the emotional complications to this problem particularly with old people and I can sympathize with them but on the other hand this is a no city it's a blighted city. Our tax base has constantly gone down. We cannot afford to remain just as status as static in this question. We must go forward in the only way that we can do so is to take advantage of the federal funds that are made available to us. None of the Federal Housing lot of 949 and recently amended on several occasions now
with respect to Chiles done first of all I don't know about challenged and in specific there's nothing before the city council. We know that some people are opposed but let's look at it specifically. Mr. Collins says chows down you should have an urban renewal. There's been tremendous controversy yet he just came out of a mayoral election. His opponent said I'm opposed to the urban renewal program for chows down the people should be left alone. And yet if you analyze the votes and this is one way of doing it you'll find that Mr. Collins took chows down. There's nothing the forest with respect to South Boston. Mr. Collins is supposed to be the exponent of the renewal program in the city of Boston. He was on the left he was reelected by an overwhelmingly majority big majority. His opponent has been constantly opposed to the urban renewal program. So I'm not so sure that the people of Boston are really opposed to this problem of ethanol. Let me just press a little farther on that then maybe we'll turn to some other subject. Mr. Wilson one of the co-authors of this book says elsewhere not particularly in this
book that urban renewal obviously is properly subject to political pressures and that the pressures are getting to be such that the following priorities are emerging that the best place for an urban renewal program to get started is where there are no residences or businesses let's say the waterfront and Gavino the next best places where there are no residences and marginal businesses. Let's say the government center skali square the next best place is where there are indeed residences but the people are because of low income and so forth poorly organized politically let's say the Negros in Roxbury and Dorchester and then finally you attack the places where there is high political organization and where you think you may not succeed let's say the north then. Do you think that's a fair analysis of the kinds of priorities we're seeing actually emerge in Boston as a result of political pressures. I don't I disagree entirely with that because that's not the case in Boston.
We've had tremendous pressure in the West and I was in the legislature at the time for example of what we we failed in the effort. We failed in that endeavor to maintain the West-End renewal program in the Washington Park area that you referred to the negro area. We put that through and there was some opposition but most of the people in the city in that area wanted it. The only place we're going to have some opposition is challenged on this island as I see it. With respect to what Ben feel and say that we should have been all in those areas where there aren't any people out there. There are no such places for the simple reason that Boston is small an area that's why we have our tax base is shrinking constantly and we have to make available every piece of land that's there and this is one way to do it. No no I I say that this question of urban renewal must be faced up to. We
have to make tough decisions. But those of us in government recognize this that we can't please everyone I believe in the old adage that he will please us all please us not and I think this applies even more so to this question of urban renewal. And these decisions must be made for the good of the city. Even though some people will suffer by it. OK let me interrupt right now simply for the benefit of any of our listeners who may have tuned in after the beginning of the program. This is massive Matthews's viewpoint. I am Dr. Bradbury seashells director of political studies at the Lincoln filing center at Tufts University and moderating a program on a city politics using as our focus. A book by that title by Edward Banfield and James Q. Wilson. We have around the table discussing this book and discussing politics in the city of Boston. A number of persons who are experts in the academic field of urban politics and who are skillful
practitioners in practical politics in the area. Dr. Henry Pratt of Wellesley College. Mr. Christopher Ryan Ela city councilor of Boston. And Mr. Thomas Moshe of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. Well without interruption Let's continue I see a written note here next to me from Mr. Moshe. Can I make one comment. Go right ahead. The comment I want to make to the observation that you made concerning a statement by Professor Wilson as to how we select better legal communities or how we select projects Rather I can't help but thinking that that as the professor says the political pressures certainly play a dominant role here and I think in Boston and in some of the surrounding communities perhaps more appropriately in Brookline that political pressures of I have suggested areas which perhaps the planners have not wanted. Have suggested areas where due to one reason or another the administration has not look favorably upon and also has attempted to use it as a political vehicle
rather than as a a a process or a little thing I want to be specific where the political pressure is exerted that urban planning and has now been put into effect which as a practical matter should not have been let's be specific which. This debate is very good point. I had planned to point in my trying to make is that there are occasions when I went through the contact combination of pressure groups within a community that urban renewal is injected into certain areas where that if a more pragmatic appreciation were made of the process and the amount of financial contribution and the amount of public investment it could be found that these funds could be more appropriately and more. Well-received in other areas I give you a case in point the suggested certain areas in West Roxbury which suggest that we should take down certain areas and and build 2:39 housing those who don't know what to 21 D3 housing is this is a new process in the urban or laws which permit low income low rather low interest loans to developers to provide
so-called relocation housing. I think that perhaps let me say this and maybe I misunderstood your comments. The point I'm trying to make and I'm trying to and I want to give our listeners the impression that first of all take the Boston City Council and even in fantasy it was one of the MIT every program we have acted upon have been those programs that have been recommended to us by the plaintiffs. By the Boston Redevelopment Authority These are the experts. No program in the city of Boston to my knowledge in the seven years I've been in the Boston City Council has been initiated by the council and in the beginning not but not by as on of these have been as programs that have been submitted to us as a result of studies and as a result of planning as a result of a large expenditure of federal and private US state to state and and city funds so that I don't want to give the impression to Olenin listeners when we say political influence here that say that we of the Boston City Council of the same wanted the so then straight so we have the Boston City Council
for a political motive it motivation wanted the Castle Square all the Washington Park. That isn't true and I stand to be corrected on this program. Let me interrupt lest this program become an hour not on city politics but on planning for same river no fastenings that subject is that all of us. Mr. Pratt Banfield and Wilson have something to say about the role of ethnic loyalties and so forth in city politics. The old city city the turn of the century characterized by strong ethnic loyalties including all including Yankee of course. Is this politics a politics of the past. Maybe we can refer not just to Boston but to places like New Haven and so forth where studies of city politics have been done in some depth. Well this gets back to a point that you were making to Cecil's earlier in the evening where you were remarking that we're in a period when our big
cities are becoming increasingly influenced by middle class values and as a part of this change there has been a considerable modification a change in the in the way that local politics are set up. The classic pattern. Pattern which prevailed at least for a century up until quite recently was it won a decentralized political system with power resting heavily in the hands of Ward and precinct leaders sometimes with a local political boss who could bring together a large pocket a large number of small pockets. This was a structure of politics very well suited actually to the assimilation of immigrants because it gave them a sense of identity with the community gave them a sense of being a participant in the local affairs of the city and it gave them a number
of more tangible benefits such as welfare and other types of things that they very much needed. Now we have been in a period particularly in the last decade or so where these old types of political structures have began begun to decay largely as a result of the fact that the lower income groups are now moving up into middle and middle middle income status. Now there are a couple of consequences of this that I'd like to say a word about one of them is that at the very moment when our political machines are not that strong. Powerful entities that they were at one time. We have a new type of newcomer a newcomer to the city namely the negro. This is not quite so much a problem in Boston although we've had a very dramatic evidence of Negro happiness recently. But it certainly is a problem in cities like Detroit Chicago New York and so
forth where the negro feels in large measure left out of the political system. Indeed then Filon Wilson at one point in their book and this is a point that they come back to several times say that the negro stands to gain from a political system of the old type and that one a result of our new type of middle class politics is that the the newcomer no longer has a ladder a political ladder to climb up on in the same old way. I think I could say more about this but the recent Boston school sit out could be analyzed in somewhat these terms as a an expression of a widespread feeling of alienation a widespread feeling that decisions were being made without proper consultation with with these newer residents. Mr. Arnault may I say. How about this have a comment about this with respect to the
immigrants and the idea of the ward boss the political strong political party and on a local what basis but now you take some exception with profess a pride and also profess. Been feeling well because I think that people are better off really if they are not subject to this idea of a strong Ward community political atmosphere and the old days came from the West Stand For example there was a real political boss there by name of my master and I never got to know him. I never had the pleasure of knowing him and yet I followed that district in the legislature. I think it's fair to say that if that if I had lived in the days of Martin let Massa me that probably I would never have been elected to the Massachusetts legislature.
The people elected me because I probably wouldn't have allegiance to a boss I don't believe in and even though I'm a Democrat by political party and yet on the other hand I believe in the independence of the individual. I think that people are better off today than they were in those days if in those days if you didn't do what the ward boss told you of the strong idea of the political war party and they knew how you voted. There was no merit system of the civil service idea system wasn't as strong as it is today. Make sure that you would be let go from your job which is wrong. And. I have a certain measure of success in Boston the people of my city at least have been kind enough to elect me for four consecutive terms I think that it was an independent judgment of theirs that if I depended on the ward bosses I wouldn't be where I am today. And I think that this is a representative government belonging to the people and this is the way it should be. And I don't believe that that's a more ideal situation I think that people are getting away from that.
It makes them more independent of the politician. And and some of the benefits like Professor Pratt are referred to about getting welfare benefits. These are benefits that these people are entitled to when they have ward bosses or otherwise and that people today know their rights much more than they did 40 or 50 years ago and this is good for America. I wonder if I could raise a couple of things that came up early in the program. I break in at this point to do so because I think we may lose track of the main thread of the book city politics. That threat is that middle class values of politics this public orientation do what's good for the general for the general good rather than for specific private interest. The theme of the book is that middle class values of this type have triumphed over earlier forms of politics. This is a theme which I think needs some exploration
because I think it betrays a rather serious bias. BANFIELD And Wilson at another point Talk of the middle class in these terms that they aren't by any means so publicly oriented that it's the middle class for example that will vote time and again against any legislative pay raises or anything that smacks of increasing taxes that in fact the strong powers for real welfare programs are the very poor who don't pay taxes and the very rich for whom paying money isn't that crucial or their money isn't as marginally important to them. Well this brings me back then to the characterization of Boston that you used earlier as a city of the very poor and the very rich. This may not be so bad. It also raises a question of urban renewal is it not urban renewal essentially a program and metropolitan planning for that matter that has been pushed by the very rich in the metropolitan area. Are these not the people who at least want
to act in the general interest whether or not their view of what the general interest is is correct or not. Dr. Mr. Moshe part of that answer to your question is that I think that if I may say the haves have now realized once again that they have got to play a role in this process that they're developing a sophistication and a realization that we are involved in a rather significant community problem such as disposition of welfare cases of land values of zoning or transportation. And so now they have chosen to use either they or their own family names their traditions their reputations in the communities. So the business concerns and their influence on the newspaper to play a role. I think it's I think it's also terribly important to take a look at the comment about middle class values and in the light in which you project them. We talk about that the middle class anomaly is the group that votes against pay raises it's also the middle class that votes an awful lot of money at town meeting for public education. The public that it is a middle class group that defends education I'm not trying to suggest for the moment that I want to
attack education. I think that education is one critical area that I think education is one critical area where I think we ought to look more prudent in terms of finances. This is a very significant problem and some of the communities in the in the town of Scituate over 65 percent of the tax rate is for educational purposes. We still look at education as a MY TOWN problem which I'm sure we choose to ignore it as a regional problem. We don't want it as a regional problem we're afraid that we may end up lowering or even degrading the standards of our education. We have certain power structures within our PTA all of which act as a an effective barrier if you will to resolving or attempting to resolve this problem on a regional approach and I think Mr. Press just sees within the middle class that at the one hand they're willing to give certain aid for certain kinds of education but on the other hand they deny legislate towards the kinds of compensation that they ought to have to do a good job.
What classic example is an emotion. Right now I've been literally working night and day on this Brahma tempting to create some sort of public understanding and recognition that we are now involved in a area wide transportation problem. There's not just a problem of such Sure it's a problem facing all of the 78 cities and towns in the standard metropolitan area and I get up I went to a meeting in which I frankly believed that I was involved with people who were decision makers at least not perhaps in the Boston within the political front structure but least in their own communities their representative town committees representative boards of select. People I thought that in their respective communities had a measure say and I spent 20 minutes advancing this thesis of an area transportation system and how we could do it what it would cost. The approach we have to take and I left the room I was asked by one person. First we have an awful lot of respect for. Is there anything we can do right now to keep one train running. So this is the inconsistency I took a look at what's asked of me I know some of them talking about pay raises.
The legislature in its wisdom last year given the cities and towns of this commonwealth. The necessary home which I think we're entitled to know these matters but specifically since the question of a pay raise in the city of seven is a city which is even larger than the city of Cambridge it's over a hundred thousand people. The councillors in that city were getting a salary I believe of 400 or 800 dollars a year. This is ridiculous I don't know how do you expect these men to give you a good public service a pittance for a salary comparable city but it's even smaller than that say Cambridge Council has a proportional representation of government they get $4000. And since the legislature gave various counselors the right to raise their salaries the some of the people gave themselves a raise from $400 to 4000.
And you saw the man I understand signed the legislation so that it became effective. But now because the house is in the protest. Righteous people in the community said this is too much of a race for the thousand and I understand that they have voluntarily rescinded this. Now frankly I believe this that if you want good public service you should pay for it. And actually it means nothing on the tax rate. And I and I say this in all honesty and and I think that I have a record in the in the in the Boston City Council of being a conservative but on the other hand I feel that people should be paid well and there's no reason why men in political life should be paid well. And I think this is wrong on the part of people to take the attitude that they do and then coverage graft and corruption by by doing this. This is an interesting point of view and I must say one that I heartily concur in. Isn't this really a reflection of what Banfield and Wilson we're talking about a
rejection of. The paid politicians and the salaried politician in the local suburban communities feeling that politics is something you must give self-sacrifice. That in any case it is a service thing it's not a political matter and so forth. You can't give any more of self-sacrifice because most of us are not independently wealthy we don't have any independent sources of income. I have for example the constant pressures from every group in this city. I get it from the Catholic community from the Jewish community from the Protestant community every every social organization looking for a contribution for example to be specific I said to one lady once as she was looking for a contribution from me from me. An agency of hers or rather one of the civic organizations which were about five miles from where I live in the city of Boston and I said to her
Unfortunately madam my name doesn't happen to be a Rockefeller or Jesse James and I said why do you constantly call me on this matter but frankly I finally had to give her a contribution of five or ten dollars whatever it might be because she was constantly calling my house and this is the sort of pressure that we're getting all the time now. How can I possibly I have four children and a wife to support and I get $5000 with it if it wasn't for my profession as a lawyer I couldn't possibly support my family on that kind of money. And people say well you don't give much of your time. Well my only answer to this is simply this. Those of you who don't think there is much time then you want to run for this job. But it isn't enough to run for it. You want to get elected and see for yourselves what the job entails when people call you at seven o'clock in the morning when they call you at 11 o'clock at night when you have to make many appearances all over the city. These are part of this job and these are necessary part of the job and if you don't do it you don't stay in office very long.
What I'm trying to say to your listeners professor is that that this job of the city of state of national government is a 24 hour operation today. I don't think you get any disagreement on that around the table. Our listeners may disagree. Mr Moshe when a doctor if I could ask to you and or Dr. Pratt some observations as to as to how the young do it and coming through school is as easy as his politics of attractive feel to him. Is there increased increased interest in the study of political science I'm a political science major. Do we feel that many of the stereotypes impressions of politicians of being of being assumed by this college student high school student. Is he developing his own individual character as you attempting to find out if there's more more beyond a legislative salary or is it more beyond. And then going to the Constitution to eliminate the governor's council. These key issues. I mean generally is there is there a feeling from the academic community that political science is becoming a sophisticated discipline and that we can look to the next
generation at least let me just want to comment on this the motion with respect to that and I say this listener is in a very humble way. I went to Boston College in the Harvard Law School. But I want to say that I have and I want to tell this to the young people of America that the greatest education I've learned is when I became when I was became a member of the Massachusetts legislature in particular and also a member of the Boston City Council. It has enhanced my knowledge and my education immeasurably and I would and I would hope and pray that more young people follow the example of going into public life. I mean how hard is to read right I know you could probably elaborate this a little bit more than I but the situation at the Wellesley College is rather interesting sort of paradoxical in a way. What we try to do the members of the political science department I think is to stand. In a somewhat intermediate position between the student and
the events going on in the world outside there is a real problem I think for the college student who thinks that you can understand everything just by reading the newspaper every day. Actually some of the what's going on in the world is a good deal more complex than that and we've been very pleased recently in the last couple of years by the great increase in the number of students at Wellesley who are signing up for political science courses and and taking a real interest and indeed majoring in this field. Another hand I think there's some cause for concern in the sense that the amount of interest in local government state and local government is not what it ought to be. This is something that I've worked very hard on since I've been on the staff. It is a problem particularly when national and international affairs are very dramatic and very exciting. It is just a problem and one that I think causes a good deal of concern to get students more involved and more interested in the fairs of their local communities.
Let me simply add. Yes yes. Yeah yeah yeah. And say that the interest in local politics I think is increasing partly because of the kinds of books such as Banfield and Wilson which takes a much more realistic approach doesn't just talk about the structure of city government at all. And partly because of their willingness counsellors such as Mr. Arnault if I may say so in your presence that they do you know kids in campaigns may I say a Mister C show with respect to this book of Banfield and Wilson I think it's a well written book treatise type of college text. But on the other hand I was sorry that he didn't go into more specifics in this question. For example Boston. It's no different than any other major city in America. But some of the problems that we have in Boston is that we don't have sufficient land good land in the city. And yet the sometimes the people or the
best intentioned well-intentioned people doing more harm to the city of Boston and many probably other light cities and then they realize to be specific the major problems that we have here in Boston that was that when touched upon in this book is that. Is the question of the tax exempt institutions in the city of Boston Take for example I've been an advocate of student dormitories being taxed and they say they can't possibly compete. There are people in the real estate can't possibly compete with institutions. They gobble up the best lands in the city. We have for example the big bay is the only area of our city which is fruitful for for an increase in the tax base and yet it's been turned into a university town. Our hospitals are doing the same thing. Our communities that we talk about the suburbs all call when they want an important operation and I hope to God that none of them need it. Where do they
come they come into Boston and they use up our tax exempt institutions. I think what. BANFIELD And we also would say in this case that. It's very important for people of wealth of good intentions of this story to understand more thoroughly the problems of the city and I'm sure those authors felt that they were contributing to that understanding by their approach to the problems of the city and the way the political system has responded to those problems or regrettably in many instances has been unable to respond to them. In summary I guess what we would have to say we've been able to talk about this evening is that since World War 2 there has been a major changes in the city of asocial logical nature an economic nature which have had impact on the politics of the area. There has been the flight to the suburbs. There has been a flight from the kind of politics that used to be known in the city to what Banfield and Wilson
call I think perhaps in appropriately the middle class values of public spiritedness whether they're right or wrong in that respect there has been a shift away from the private interest of the earlier times. Another good and bad effects of this shift to the public oriented kind of philosophy one is that there is a rejection of the notion that local issues are in fact political and that there are legitimate pros and cons to be fought out by interested groups. There is an as septic quality to the politics of the urban area these days. On the other hand there has been a greater consideration possibly of the broad interests of the metropolitan area expressed perhaps more in the upper classes and the lower classes than in the middle. Well this is a note of some ambiguity to end on that is what is the ultimate prospect for political control over the way the city develops. But at least we have I think
Series
Massachusetts Viewpoint
Episode
City Politics
Producing Organization
WGBH Educational Foundation
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WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
AAPB ID
cpb-aacip/15-13mw6x6v
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Public Affairs - Politics - Local
Massachusetts Viewpoint is a talk show featuring a panel of experts discussing a key problem facing the people of Massachusetts each epsiode.
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Talk Show
Topics
Public Affairs
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Sound
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00:58:20
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Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
Production Unit: Radio
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WGBH
Identifier: 64-0015-03-18-001 (WGBH Item ID)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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Duration: 00:58:20
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Citations
Chicago: “Massachusetts Viewpoint; City Politics,” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 19, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-13mw6x6v.
MLA: “Massachusetts Viewpoint; City Politics.” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 19, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-13mw6x6v>.
APA: Massachusetts Viewpoint; City Politics. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-13mw6x6v