JP Observer: Four important issues revisited

October 28, 2016
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Maybe all neighborhoods have them, but it seems like Jamaica Plain has more than its share of issues that don’t go away. Now is a good time to look at a few of the crises that have turned into problems for JP and our city, state, and nation. This column has addressed these topics and how to deal with them before.

Community Preservation Act: Please vote “yes” on Question 5 on the Boston ballot this fall. For a small property tax surcharge, Boston would get millions of dollars of its own matched by the state for affordable housing, historic preservation, and outdoor recreation and open space. JP could really use that support. Voters in 160 other cities and towns in Massachusetts have chosen to adopt the CPA since it was instituted in 2000. We should, too.

Tree Removal Regulations: The tree massacres keep coming, on public and private land in JP. Boston, unlike many cities, still has no ordinance(s) regulating the cutting down of healthy, non-hazardous trees (except for anti-vandalism laws, of course). This is quite a boon for developers, who don’t have to go through any public process before they start up the chainsaws. Street trees are no substitute for the hundreds of trees growing more naturally throughout the neighborhood that are currently in danger.

The T and Snowmageddon: Turns out, yes, we got a little hysterical in 2015 when we totalled 108-plus inches of snow for the winter. Gov. Charlie Baker and others yelled “Unacceptable!” at the T for its performance when he should have been shaking his fist at the sky and urging employers and colleges to give nonessential employees and students a break.

Every rail system in the world has trouble dealing with that much snow and cold. The Boston Globe revealed earlier this month that the T later waived nearly half the original amount in fines announced back then levied against commuter line operator Keolis— without disclosing it publicly

Apparently, Keolis’s contract says it can’t be expected to maintain routine service when the weather creates extreme conditions. The T now also has a “Severe Weather” disclaimer on its website and on posters. Better…

Never Again: No matter who we favor in the presidential election or who wins, we can agree that this election season has made us all into losers. Instituting order and common sense to the primary system would help prevent future debacles.

Parties need to do basic vetting of anyone who wants to appear on their ballot. Candidates should be required to release their tax returns and answers to health questions provided by an objective medical expert. Candidates should have some public service work experience. The free-for-all where any crackpot with money and a desire to be “in charge” can run in a major party primary needs to end.

The primary season needs to be much shorter, and states and parties need to follow similar primary processes and procedures. Right now, they are very different, causing unnecessary expense, chaos, and suspicion. There’s much more wrong with our primary process than there is with the people of this country.

[Sandra Storey is founder and former publisher and editor of the Jamaica Plain Gazette.]

 

 

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