Pushcart Vendors in Need of Upgrade Face Eviction. I Could Be Next.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

You are a political heavyweight in the City of Boston when the business group you represent kicks in more than $3 million a year for civic improvements.
That status will not protect you, however, from one of life’s most common failings: political miscalculation.
Just ask Rosemarie Sansone, a former Boston city councilor and president, since 2010, of the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District (BID).  Her group gave the 26 pushcart vendors in Downtown Crossing an eviction notice late last week and all hell broke loose.
In serving notice to the vendors, the BID told them they would have to depart when their licenses expire on March 31. The BID subsequently softened on that deadline a bit. 
I read about the eviction decree this past Saturday and my first thought was, “The mayor must not have known about this in advance.  He never would have OK’d it. ”
Tom Menino is always with the little guy.  It’s his stock in trade.  Remember how he allowed the union representing those fired hotel workers at the downtown Hyatt to set up a command post in a trailer directly across the street from the main hotel entrance, and to keep the trailer parked there for months?  (I wonder how much rent the union paid on that parking space?)
Sure enough, Tom Menino was blasting the BID before the weekend was over.
“Why are we displacing these vendors, some who have been there for 30 years?” Menino asked during an interview Sunday with the Boston Business Journal.
“These guys,” the mayor said, “have been struggling, and now the good days are coming and the association wants to bring in other vendors from elsewhere?  I want to take care of the vendors who kept Downtown Crossing alive in the difficult times.”
Sansone reportedly told Boston.com, “Vendors have always been a staple of the Downtown Crossing area for many years, but many of the carts and merchandise need to be upgraded as the area is revived.”
I’m in need of a serious upgrade, too.  I guess I could soon be barred from spending time there with my fellow malingerers.  Well before it was named Downtown Crossing, Washington, Summer and Winter was one of my favorite spots.
The Globe reported today that Menino has arranged a 60-day extension on those licenses, meaning the pushcarts, in all their funkiness, will be around at least until May 31.  Thinking of that union trailer near the Hyatt, I won’t be surprised if that 60-day extension lasts until February 28, 2014.

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