Friday, July 12, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #116 - Part 4

Clown Award: MA State Police Colonel Timothy Alben

Now for the Clown Award, given for acts of meritorious stupidity.

This week the big red nose goes to State Police Col Timothy Alben, who, because he handled a lot of the press relations, stands in for the entire security complex at this year’s Fourth of July events at the Esplanade.

Forces from the Boston police, the Cambridge police, the Transit Police, the state police, the FBI, and the National Guard were out there by the hundreds, in unprecedented numbers, because they wanted to, in Alben’s words, make people “feel like this is a safe place to come.”

To that end, beyond the swarms of cops and troops, there were what was said to be “an exponentially larger” number of surveillance cameras watching your every move. There was a special number where you could anonymously (supposedly) text tips to the cops about anything or anyone you thought suspicious. There were fewer open entrances to the Esplanade, new security checkpoints on the Esplanade, and tough new bans that prohibited visitors from carrying in backpacks, coolers on wheels, cans, glass containers, premixed beverages, liquids greater than two liters, or any sharp objects. All to make you feel safe.

In fact, people were made to feel so safe that a lot of them decided not to go at all. Turnout was down by an estimated 40% over previous years.

Officials made all sorts of excuses for the low turnout. When a Boston Globe photo of the area in front of the Hatch Shell, taken at about 5:30 p.m., showed what the paper called “an unusual amount of green space,” Steve MacDonald of Boston4 Productions, which produces the event, predicted “a late-arriving crowd” and “a large influx of people” after the sun went down.

Alben blamed the temperature, as did Governor Deval Patrick, who claimed that an aerial view showed the outline of the crowd matched the outline of the shade - which is a pretty bizarre argument since the event takes place at night, when shade would not seem to be an issue.

Obviously realizing the crowd was proving embarrassingly small as the day wore on, officials kept encouraging people to come. It’ll be great, they said, it’ll be wonderful, come one, come all! Never mind the soldiers, the searches, the cameras, the restrictions. Come celebrate America!

Alben actually summed it up rather well, admittedly unintentionally: “We want you all to come and enjoy this celebration which is at the heart of America,” he said.

Unfortunately, to an increasing extent, that is true.


No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');