You Said It, JP! 2008 in Quotes

January 9, 2009
By

“JP is a unique place…[like small-town America] except a bunch of lesbians, gang members and property owners co-exist peacefully.”
—JP musician and artist Rick Berlin, co-creator of the documentary film “Jamaica Plain Spoken”

“This year’s race for the local 2nd Suffolk District state Senate seat is a case of déjà vu.”
—the first sentence in a Gazette article on Dianne Wilkerson’s re-election campaign in August. In October, Wilkerson’s campaign ended in FBI charges alleging she took bribes, in part to help a nightclub called Dejavu.

“We saw the wonderful affirmation from the voters that people don’t have to choose between progressive values and strong ethics and accountability.”
—Sonia Chang-Díaz after defeating Wilkerson in the primary election

“I know they didn’t have any evidence I was taking bribes. I know I didn’t take anything…It shows, to my mind, how corrupt the FBI is.”
—City Councilor Chuck Turner, revealing to the Gazette that the FBI attempted an undercover “sting operation” on him in Boston City Hall last year. Turner was arrested on corruption charges 11 days after the interview.

“It’s a great step forward. It’s great for the country and great for the philosophy that most people care about here.”
—US Rep. Mike Capuano on the election of Barack Obama, who won JP by a landslide, to the presidency

“There is no project right now that is taking form that is more important than this…I want to make sure we get it right and build consensus.”
—Boston Redevelopment Authority Director John Palmeri on the Forest Hills Improvement Initative (FHII), a massive and controversial planning effort for the area around the Forest Hills T Station

“We’re trying to look at this as a rebirth.”
—Kathie Mainzer, co-owner of the Bella Luna Restaurant and Milky Way Lounge & Lanes, on the businesses’ upcoming move from Hyde Square to Brewery Complex after 15 years as an anchor of JP culture and revitalization. The move was attributed to a dispute over a rent increase.

“We won’t sleep until we find you…”
—part of revenge-promising graffiti written on surface of a Southwest Corridor Park basketball court where a Dorchester man was shot to death in broad daylight on Patriot’s Day in a still-unsolved crime. It was one of eight reported homicides in the JP area last year, including five shooting deaths.

“I am talking about this as if it is a piece of cake to do this, and there are some challenges, but you get experts and they are artists.”
—David Harris of the Disability Policy Consortium on creating wheelchair ramps for Centre and South streets sidewalks. Contractors had to repeatedly tear up and re-install the ramps after the Gazette revealed they were doing them illegally.

“It is, for us, going to be a culture shock after 20 years of folding chairs.”
—Rev. Ray Hammond on the local Bethel AME Church taking over the former St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Forest Hills after decades of worship services held in a Parkside gym

“We have a strong position, and we’re leaving it…Say no!”
—resident Curtis Jones, pounding his fist on a table, opposing a Community Planning Committee for the Arborway Yard (CPCAY) vote to approve an expanded design for the MBTA’s proposed Arborway Yard bus facility in Forest Hills

“It may be hyperbole to say this, but I believe we’re at the point of either adopting this or letting it sit for an undefined period of time.”
—CPCAY design committee chair Merlin Southwick on the expanded plan

“Try my best to follow them. That’s all I can say.”
—former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, asked at a candidate forum about what she would do to uphold campaign finance laws in the future after acknowledging violating them for years

“For those of you who must be thinking, ‘There has to be more to this story,’ of course there is. But it is not a story that I am able or willing to lay out in the press.”
—Wilkerson in a press statement about the FBI bribery charges

“I think the picture that has gotten painted of the district has really not been the picture I’ve seen of the district.”
—state senator-elect Sonia Chang-Díaz on claims by some Wilkerson supporters during the campaign that the district is racially divided and that Chang-Diaz is not a person of color

“It’s like a Greek tragedy to me.”
—state Rep. Liz Malia on Wilkerson’s arrest

“The madness that has become my life.”
—Wilkerson’s description of her legal situation in a letter to the Senate

“Attempted extortion under color of official right.”
—the technical language of bribery charges against Wilkerson, in US Attorney’s Office documents

“You take the wife to dinner and…have some fun.”
—undercover witness, identified as Ron Wilburn, while handing a $1,000 bribe to City Councilor Chuck Turner, according to the FBI. Turner allegedly responded, “OK.”

“If you took out all corrupt politicians, you’d take out 90 percent and be left with us 10 percent.”
—Turner in an interview with federal agents, according to the FBI

“The US Attorney’s charge is not that I accepted the alleged money from Mr. Wilburn. Cash contributions below $50 are legal. Even if the alleged money was $1000, I would be guilty of a campaign finance violation, not extortion.”
—Turner, giving a theory of his case in a press statement

“We here in Jamaica Plain still believe in democracy. There is no problem too great to overcome.”
—Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation Executive Director Richard Thal at the organization’s Equitable Community Neighborhood Summit

“This has been a process about what is OK with the community, but we have to accept that not everyone is going to be happy.”
—John Dalzell, JP resident and Boston Redevelopment Authority senior architect, on the Forest Hills Improvement Initiative as the planning process was extended

“Why not just call me a racist and get to the bottom line?”
—Bernie Doherty of the Asticou-Martinwood Neighborhood Association on accusations he was anti-affordable housing for opposing greater density of proposed housing in the FHII process

“I am not now, nor have I ever been.”
—Felix G. Arroyo, resident and vice-chair of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, using Red Scare lingo to say he has never been professionally involved in affordable housing advocacy at an FHII meeting. A supporter of affordable housing in FHII plans, he was alluding to criticism that many supporters have ties to nonprofit developers or housing activist organizations.

“This is ugly. Is it going to get uglier?”
—resident Anastasia Lyman on the cell phone poles that went up around JP with no community notification or input. The citywide plan was revealed only by the Gazette and led to city funding of a new Centre and South streets redesign process.

“I must be in Jamaica Plain because it looks this way.”
—Michael Epp of the JP Centre/South Main Streets Design Committee on what people should be able to say after the Centre/South streets redesign process is complete

“In common with the majority of our Northern Churches, we have long been painfully exercised in relation to the existence of slavery among the churches of our faith, in the southern part of our country. We have regarded its existence as a gross violation of the rights of man, and the law of God…”
—the congregation of First Baptist Church of Jamaica Plain to the national Baptist church leadership, writing in an 1844 letter that was discovered to have survived the 2005 church fire inside a safe

“Pure water, more street lamps and better light, public music and the advantages of the renowned public library.”
—what JP (then part of West Roxbury) was promised in exchange for agreeing to be annexed to Boston in 1873, in a historic newspaper article cited on the web site “Remember Jamaica Plain?”

“Urban Edge is currently in a fiscal crisis that has been developing for several years.”
—an internal memo revealing a crisis in the local community development corporation that resulted in significant reorganization

“Diversity is not hard. Diversity has a lot to do with birth rates and things that are actually fun. What is hard is inclusion and equity.”
—PolicyLink associate director Ruben Lizardo at the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation’s Equitable Community JP Neighborhood Summit

“I don’t show big fangs with dripping blood.”
—journalism student Jonathan Berk on the tone of his web site JamaicaPlainCoyotes.com, which mapped local coyote sightings

“They are no longer playing Ninja Turtle types of kicking games.”
—Hennigan School headmaster Eleanor Perry on the positive influence of the JP-based structured play organization Sports4Kids on her school’s recess time

“VxRx.25.”
—the formula used to calculate PILOT, or payments in lieu of taxes, paid by the nonprofit Showa Boston Institute of Language and Culture. While Showa’s PILOT formula is hard to understand, PILOT formulas for many larger institutions are not explained at all, part of a major controversy about them.

“You can eat from any nation in the world on this street, or get a $1 million apartment…Service-oriented businesses are soon going to be a thing of the past in JP.”
—Chuck King, owner of the former Jamaica Cycle & Sports, which closed this year and became the new location of Boing! JP’s Toy Shop

“I know you can get a $1 sweet potato pie and the best fish sandwich in town for $2.69, but I don’t know what other things are going on.”
—Carlos Icaza, head of the JP Business and Professional Association, on his knowledge of Egleston Square at a meeting calling for more communication among JP’s business districts

“People love their El Banquito. That’s what they call it, El Banquito.”
—Roxbury Highland Bank of Jamaica Plain board member Juan Lopez on the “Little Bank,” which merged with South Boston’s Mt. Washington Bank in a deal that avoided the massive controversy of a previous merger attempt

“They would not like my greeting.”
—Herbert Pratt, owner of Herb’s TV, which closed this year after 40 years, when an employee joked he could become a greeter at a Wal-Mart

“There couldn’t be good art if there wasn’t bad art.”
—resident Michael Frank, curator-in-chief of the Museum of Bad Art and co-author of “The Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks”

“[The plan is to] work out the kinks here…If it is successful, in a couple of weeks, we will go into other neighborhoods.”
—Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis on the Safe Home Initiative pilot program in Jackson/Egleston Squares, controversially encouraging parents to invite police into home to look for guns

“The NRA is so afraid of our little organization that they had a mole in our organization. That mole we have snuffed.”
—Mayor Thomas Menino on an alleged undercover gun-rights activist revealed within his Mayors Against Illegal Guns organization

“The police were so close [they] could smell the gunpowder.”
—E-13 Police Capt. Christine Michalosky on a Jackson Square drive-by shooting that happened right after a police car passed by

“What they might need to calm down is to have some food and water, but instead they are getting drunk and talking about shooting people.”
—Seth Kirshenbaum, one of many local activists who received “second responder” training in counseling youths who have been traumatized by violent crime

“Nobody has money set aside in case her son gets shot.”
—Jacqueline Rue of the Martha Eliot Health Center and a youth-violence counselor, on one of the many impacts resulting from violent crime. Rue’s own son was shot in 2006.

“I stood there stunned—just the shock of seeing a face that pale.”
—resident Bill Mitchell, who witnessed the death of shooting victim Garibaldis Peña outside Peña’s house

“It’s better to have a break and do something bigger next year.”
—Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) community organizing director Juan Gonzalez on the decision by various organizations not to hold the annual Jamaica Plain World’s Fair this year due to lack of staff and funds. JPNDC held block parties at its Brewery Complex instead.

“I should have worn shoes.”
—JP athlete Jeffrey Ferris, who competed in San Francisco’s Escape from Alcatraz prison-island triathlon, and did so barefooted

“I just don’t like to get spanked that many times in my lifetime.”
—Midway Café owner David Balerna on his seventh and eventually successful attempt to get city approval for an expansion after previous mysterious denials

“I really struggle with the fact that after 19 years I’m suddenly being told I am in violation, with no warning.”
—resident Barbara Gibson, one of many people who received Inspectional Services Department citations for illegal driveways that had not been enforced for years

“It’s usually a bad accident when they have an accident.”
—Sgt. Thomas Manning of the E-18 Police Station on illegal drag racers, after a drag racer hit and maimed a pedestrian on Hyde Park Avenue

“If I had a safe, I would be a happier person right now.”
—resident Susan Specter, one of several burglary victims in the Moss Hill area

“That is why there are all those dirty spots on the face of the Moon. That is the dough from her mother’s hand.”
—JP storyteller Diane Edgecomb, recounting a Kurdish myth that the Moon is a beautiful girl who fled to the heavens after her mother slapped bread dough on her face as punishment. Edgecomb published the first English-language collection of the culture’s folktales.

“It’s hard to see that as Christian. It’s more about nationalism and fear. I can’t believe Jesus would deport people back to countries where they’d be killed.”
—Rev. Terry Burke, pastor of First Church in Jamaica Plain Unitarian Universalist, on fundamentalist right-wing Christian groups

“Please do not consider us a ‘cost standard failure.’”
—Earl Eutsay, president of the 125 Amory Street apartment building’s tenant task force, complaining about MBTA plans to kill the JP Loop bus

“I’ve fallen in love with Jamaica Plain.”
—Alan Safran, head of the MATCH charter school, which opened a middle school at St. Andrew’s Church and is looking for a permanent JP home

Compiled by John Ruch