Letter: JPNC is a laughingstock

Oh, how the times have changed! At its creation by appointment in the mid-1980s, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council was a dedicated, responsible and hard-working group of citizens who did their best to judge the needs and desires of the community and make appropriate recommendations to City Hall as to what was good for Jamaica Plain. Their conscientious and thoughtful work earned the respect of the Mayor’s Office, and even though the names and faces have changed over the years, the relationship has endured and the various councils could be counted on to act with good faith and judgment.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of today’s JPNC. It has deteriorated from an advisory panel that made constructive recommendations and suggestions to a de facto quasi-elected group of self-promoters who feel empowered to impose their own views on issues of the day on Jamaica Plain. In doing so, they have embarrassed themselves and lost the goodwill and cooperation of the legitimate powers that be. By holding elections on an irregular basis, which attract no more than 5 percent of the eligible voting population nor a full slate of candidates; by enfranchising teenagers and aliens; by voting on issues that come before it with 60 percent of their membership absent, etc., they have clearly abdicated any claim to legitimacy. Add to that the absurd lawsuit they are now pursuing against the City of Boston with the ridiculous demand that they be compensated, by the taxpayers, for their time and trouble. A mockery of community representation has evolved. The objections to the locating of Whole Foods Market on the site of the defunct Hi-Lo Foods fiasco has become a sad joke. The assault on The Home for Little Wanderers’ attempt to improve its clients welfare is a sick joke.

Jamaica Plain is well-served by a number of legitimately elected men and women who represent its interests before city and state governments, and all are highly regarded by their peers and constituents.

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council has made itself into a laughingstock and no longer has the respect of those it needs to function. The Mayor’s Office should withdraw its recognition of it. Our reps., including the talented and dedicated staff of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, know what needs doing and do it well. Let’s move forward to the good old days.

Bob McDonnell

Jamaica Plain

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