Letter: Focus on developers, not critics

November 9, 2012
By

Your recent editorial “JPNC chair should resign” (jamaicplaingazette.com, Nov. 1) as well as your article “Developer’s donations stir debate” (jamaicaplaingazette.com, Oct. 31) cast a critical light on JP residents volunteering to improve our neighborhood. Why didn’t you choose instead to aim your attention at heavyweight luxury housing developers rapidly encroaching in JP? The nearly 400 small luxury apartments planned for S. Huntington (with monthly rents in the thousands) have alarmed scores of residents, and they’ve been scorched by opposition in multiple community meetings. Yet the BRA is moving quickly, apparently (and strangely) eager to approve them. That Benjamin Day would take the initiative to look behind the scenes, informing our city of the developers’ campaign contributions timed while their projects are under review, is something to be appreciated. Whether he inadvertently spread this news on behalf of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council due to the way it was perceived is a matter of the council defining its own policies around this. Similarly, representatives should be defining their policies around campaign contributions from developers whose projects are under public review. Bravo to Councilor Ross for taking the lead on this.

While the council’s chair could have been more transparent with other council members, he nonetheless stuck his neck out to keep us in the loop on an issue that affects us, and I wouldn’t call that “self-centered.” Nor would I say, “The fact is, anyone who gives money to a candidate’s campaign—including Day himself—expects some sort of personal benefit in return.” Some donations may be made in solidarity with another demographic or community, not just for personal gain. But it’s abundantly clear that personal gain is what motivates S. Huntington luxury developers—they turn a deaf ear to neighbors while handing money to elected officials.

Helen Matthews

Jamaica Plain

Editor’s Note: The writer was involved in publicizing the campaign contributions information.