Thursday, April 01, 2004

A bit of news from Boston -- security precautions for the Democratic convention are starting to seriously worry people. North Station -- a major commuter-rail hub right underneath the convention venue -- will be closed; that had been announced for months, though it's now being portrayed as a response to the Madrid bombings. Additionally, subway service to North Station will be shut down (even though the subway station is at least a hundred feet away from the walls of the convention venue), and the major highway artery, a/k/a the Big Dig, will be shut down during rush hour for the duration of the convention.

Needless to say, this is resulting in a certain amount of bad publicity.

Similar measures for the Republican convention in New York at Madison Square Garden would involve shutting down Penn Station, and possibly the two subway lines beneath it, paralysing New York. Yet, remarkably, the Secret Service has not yet seen fit to order that.

Don't expect them to explain the discrepancy. Their spokesman in Boston is on the radio saying that he will not explain what threats he's trying to respond to, or justify anything.

Of course, we could avoid a great deal of this here if the Convention weren't held at the FleetCenter, right over a major commuter-rail hub, but instead at the massive new convention center now being finished in an asphalt jungle between the financial district and Southie; there's no rail nearby, just access roads for the newest of three harbor tunnels, and we got by for decades with the first two. But instead, it's downtown -- for what? Better hotel access, if the attendees can fight their way through the traffic? And the new center itself is chronically underbooked, and could certainly use the publicity. Why not? It's almost as if Mayor Menino were embarassed by the thing...

More on that: it turns out that there is a reason -- convention organizers want good TV angles, and the FleetCenter, designed as a sports arena, makes it easier to give the networks good shots. As if the amount of network coverage will be determined by camera placement. Perhaps these folks should give half a thought to what "respected Boston media figures" like radio troglodyte Howie Carr and lying ex-Globe columnist Mike Barnicle will be saying on national air about "Democratic arrogrance" shutting down businesses in the area for a week. And perhaps not be so quick to brush off the prospect of police picket lines in front of the building as Mayor Menino's problem, elsewhere in the same story...


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