The following letter was sent to Mayor Thomas Menino and Boston city councilors:
A recent Boston Globe article quotes you, Mayor Menino, as saying about Occupy Boston, “You know, mayors can’t do much about what they are talking about. It’s Congress and the U.S. Senate that can make these decisions, but nobody is talking to them at all.” You are right in your assertion that much of what needs to be done lies at the feet of our national (and state) elected leaders. Nevertheless, if you are struggling to think of what city government can do to help the 99 percent of us struggling, may I recommend implementing any of the following?
- End the obscure, opaque payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) system that allows so-called not-for-profit universities, museums and other institutions to avoid paying their fair share;
- Increase government transparency for PILOT deals and in general;
- Break the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) back into two agencies, one for development and one for municipal planning, so that conflicts of interest can be kept in check by a checks-and-balances system;
- Share more power with the City Council and with other city agencies;
- Address the inequity, economic and racial, in our schools and public transit. Advocate on behalf of the people in Dudley Square before MassDOT and the MBTA;
- Enact stronger anti-foreclosure laws, as housing advocates have pushed for in the past and as Springfield passed last year;
- Refuse to build the Boston University biolab, pointing to the recent nuclear accidents in Japan and Iran as evidence that “never events” can indeed occur and threaten public safety;
- Work with other mayors to advocate for greater tenant and homeowner protection at the state and national level, including bringing back rent control.
I hope you will take all of these under consideration and realize that, with the power you wield, there is indeed much you all can do.