Kennedy funeral cleaning spurs dust-up

The late Sen. Kennedy (D-Mass.) would have wanted the city to refrain from cleaning up the neighborhood surrounding the “Mission Church,” which attracted the eyes of the world for his Saturday funeral, says a Boston City Councilor.

“If something big happens then there’s a lot of effort to make it look really sparkling and have everybody impressed,” said Councilor Chuck Turner.

“The reality is that I think Senator Kennedy would have thought it would have been appropriate to not do anything, to carry him from the church in the conditions that were there. I think he fought all of his life against the hypocrisy that makes things look good when they really aren’t.”

Kennedy’s funeral attracted scores of lawmakers - international, federal, and local – who mixed with A-list celebrities, while news cameras shot the morning’s images around the world.

In the days leading up to the somber event, the city embarked on a cleaning spree of the surrounding Mission Hill neighborhood, which sits in the larger Roxbury community of Boston, scrubbing graffiti from buildings, cleaning trash from streets, and expediting the repair of the sidewalks in front of the Church.

But City Council President Michael P. Ross, who lives in the Mission Hill area, said he sees nothing wrong with the city trying to put its best foot forward, and likened the attention that Kennedy’s funeral drew to the 2004 Democratic National Convention, which spurred city cleaning crews to action for weeks beforehand.

“When the eyes of the world are on the city, I think it’s totally acceptable that we be shown in the best possible light,” he said.

A manager of the Mission Hill restaurant, Chachos Pizza & Subs, which sits one block away from the church, said there was an influx of cleaning activity.

“Everything was cleaned,” he said. “During the week they were working all the time, doing a lot of work. There was a lot of change. They always do it, but that day there was a special event so they did it more often.”

It’s in a politicians best interest to make the city look good for the momentary eye of outsiders said Turner, adding that by doing so, the real problems of the city, and the country, aren’t being acknowledged.

“The glamorizing or trying to make a neighborhood really look pristine that isn’t that way everyday, I don’t know that that’s helpful,” he said.

“I think we people really ought to begin to look at the reality of America, because the country is falling apart. So, I think the cleaning up for Kennedy’s funeral just goes along with the unwillingness to look at the dire situation the people of the country are facing.”

As a resident of the neighborhood though, Ross said that the clean-up surrounding Kennedy’s funeral was just more of what already occurs and though it was done in a hastened manner, there’s nothing wrong with that.

“Overall there’s a tremendous sense of pride in the neighborhood that we were chosen for Sen. Kennedy’s funeral and that Mission Church was chosen,” he said. “We’re a community that organizes it’s own cleanups two or three times a year and keeps up its parks…and I don’t mind the city trying to put itself in the best possible light.”

The Boston mayor’s office did not return calls for comment by press time.