Letters:

April 14, 2017
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Funding for Jackson Square rec center needed

We are two youth from Hyde Square Task Force and we are writing to remind readers of a major issue. Sixteen years ago, the Jackson Recreation Center was promised for youth in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, but that promise has yet to be fulfilled. Currently, Urban Edge has developed a plan for this $21 million facility that will have ice on one level and indoor turf on the other. But there is one problem that we still need to resolve: only about half of the funds have been raised.

This center would not only serve the youth and families of Jackson Square, but it would also bring economic vitality to the area. There are countless numbers of people that walk up and down Centre Street which would be near the recreation center. Research has shown that recreation centers in urban areas increase the level of economic benefits. Even though the center may cost a lot to build, money would come back into the community and benefit not only the residents, but the business owners as well.

With all the construction going on in Boston right now, we should be able to get this center built. As of the spring of 2016, $7 billion of construction investment was underway in Boston. The Jackson Recreation Center needs $10 million more to be built– that is just a tiny fraction of the current cost of construction going on now in Boston. It is expected by 2030 that the city of Boston’s population will grow dramatically from 667,000 to 723,000 and the City has a goal of 50,000 new units of housing. What about investing in recreation for current and future youth so that this growing population will have a healthy lifestyle?

Mabel Gondres and Lorrie Pearson

Hyde Square Task Force Youth Leaders

Open letter to local state Rep. Sanchez

At a recent town hall meeting in Mission Hill I felt let down by your refusal to advocate for reform of the Massachusetts penal system.

I would like you to know my experience with formerly incarcerated people who are making the transition to life in the community. I am a retired resident of Jamaica Plain who, for more than a year, has been volunteering with the New Start Project (located at the Haymarket People’s Fund on Seaverns Street). I have seen the enormous difference a few key interventions can make. Many young men who are incarcerated for a non-violent crime learn from their mistakes and want to turn their life around when they leave prison. One man I met was convicted of a petty crime when he was 19 years old. Upon release he was bewildered and disorganized. He hardly knew where to begin because he had little life experience to aid him in establishing a positive lifestyle. He had no family to take him in. Not knowing how else to survive, he probably would have reverted to criminal behaviors. What made the difference in his destiny was the weekly Empowerment program at New Start plus the opportunity to learn concrete skills such as writing a resume and presenting himself at job interviews.

The Massachusetts penal system does not provide any re-entry services at the time inmates are released. I hope, Rep. Sanchez, that you agree that this omission should be corrected. The economic advantages to the Commonwealth are obvious. A re-entry support program would cost far less than re-imprisonment.

I encourage you to support the criminal justice reforms being debated at the State House.

Bill Himelhoch

Jamaica Plain resident

Airplane noise over JP still a problem

The Massport Boston Logan Airport Noise Study (BLANS) has been completed after years of analysis, hundreds of thousands of dollars and endless hours of community representatives’ volunteered participation. For the Jamaica Plain community and all other surrounding areas impacted annually by the thousands of jet departures off Logan’s Runway 27 the much hoped for relief that this Study was to have produced was not achieved. No consensus was arrived at by Study participants as to how to “equitably distribute” the aircraft noise off Logan’s seven runway ends over surrounding nearby communities.

Massport and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have signed off on the final BLANS and the accompanying Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with no sought after change in the runway use at Logan. The incessant Runway 27 departures starting 5 AM and continuing often all day whenever the winds are from the west were not successfully addressed or improved in any way in this comprehensive noise study. There appears to be no relief for JP in the foreseeable future.

To file a complaint about airplane noise call: 617-561-3333 and contact your Congressman and Senator.

Will Lyman

Jamaica Plain

 

DeVos funding problem

I have taught fifth grade in the Boston and Brookline schools for the last 9 years.  In this time, I had the great honor to teach dozens of undocumented ten and eleven year olds, who were rightfully and lawfully part of my classroom learning environment.  My “documented” students have all benefitted from being in a classroom that upheld the 1982 Supreme Court case, Player v Doe, ruling that all children are entitled to a public education, regardless of citizenship or immigration status.

Unfortunately, DeVos’ recent budget proposal seeks to create conditions in schools that will lead to inevitable budget shortfalls and the scapegoating of undocumented families. DeVos’ current budget proposal calls on districts to allocate funding only for students who are citizens, not for school population as a whole.  That means that hundreds of thousands of children currently enrolled in our nations’ schools—undocumented and recently naturalized—will not be considered in making school budgets. Obviously, if schools do not budget for the students in their classes, this will lead to budget shortfalls. This sort of budget crisis is the intention behind Devos’ proposal. Families in schools facing cuts may move to blame undocumented families for these shortfalls.  This blaming is what DeVos wants.

As citizens, it is important that we not fall for these divide-and-confuse tricks!  As citizens, we must stand with undocumented families and their children and call for a school budgets that provides adequate funding for ALL children, regardless of their immigration status.

Undocumented children and families are not–nor will they ever be–the cause of our underfunded schools.  Here is some information to offer perspective on the true cause of school underfunding: legislative priorities pay 25% of federal tax revenue toward beefing up our already enormous military while spending less than 4% of federal tax revenue on public education.  Our leaders’ misallocation of funds is the problem.  The blaming of undocumented people is a distraction from the real problem.

As citizens, it is our responsibility to stand against any policy that scapegoats our students.  Let us stand with the young people who deserve to have a place in our schools.  Let us stand against needless military spending.  Let us call on our government to spend money on teachers, facilities and resources needed to educate each child who enters a public school classroom in this country.

David Vitale-Wolff

Jamaica Plain residnet

My Sanity and AmeriCorps Funding

Full disclosure, my sanity depends on this funding.  Well, that is really only partly true.  15 years ago I became an AmeriCorps member out of college.  I wanted to learn more about the world, “help people” and travel.  Those were my requirements.  Then I heard about AmeriCorps from a friend’s older sister.  And it changed my life.  To the degree that as I stood in my house last week, I noticed that my wedding invitation noted both my and my husband’s experience in AmeriCorps.  Which ultimately, we believe, brought us together.  I can talk about the people I met during my time as a service volunteer, the hard skills I developed learning from people with vastly different life experiences than I, or how now, our small non-profit that runs an after school program in a Boston Public School in Roxbury heavily relies on 2 AmeriCorps members to sustain our programming for over 165 kids every day.  But really, the message I’d really like you to walk away with is to ask yourself, what can I do?  What can I do to ensure my story continues with the next generation, that our nation continues to provide opportunities to serve and not just through our military.  Civil service is an important to our democracy.  To learn more, please read about the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

Sara Kilroy

Jamaica Plain resident

Step up, Charlie Baker

 

It’s time for Charlie Baker to step up.

Ours is a politically volatile era in which the Massachusetts public demands—and deserves—unequivocal leadership to oppose the reactionary conservative siege of Washington. Governor

Charlie Baker is not providing that leadership.

Let’s weigh Baker’s merits and demerits.

Merits (to be fair): 1. Gov. Baker has voiced his support for progressive causes popular with Bay State voters, such as women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ civil rights protections, and pay equity legislation. 2. He supports state transportation improvements. 3. Baker urged Congress to retain key provisions of the ACA before Republicans botched their ill-intentioned “repeal and replace” of the healthcare law. 4. In summer 2016, Baker enshrined in state law protections for transgender citizens – a prescient move considering the 45th President’s hostility to transgender civil rights protections.

But Gov. Baker’s similar passion and leadership are severely lacking in three key areas.

Demerits: 1. In the contentious 2016 presidential election, Gov. Baker did not support candidate Trump – but neither did he support candidate Clinton. Massachusetts citizens expect their governor to be a leader, yet Baker would not lead. 2. Concerned citizens across the country rose up to organize the impressive throngs at the

Women’s March following the inauguration. An estimated 175,000 attended Boston’s march. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey and state Attorney General Maura Healy addressed the crowds; Boston Mayor Marty Walsh declared unremitting support for the march’s coherent causes. Where was Baker? –He was a few steps away inside the State House, and he can’t even recall if he sent a representative to attend the popular, peaceful protest. Surely the march’s support of pay equity, LGBTQ protections, and rejection of fear-based targeting of our immigrant populations are in line with Baker’s own policy record. Yet Baker would not lead. 3. And there’s the question of whether Massachusetts will serve as a sanctuary state — whether or not our state law enforcement officials will cooperate with federal agencies in targeting undocumented immigrants for deportation. Despite state legislators’ support of a “santuary state” bill, Baker says the decision should be up to each city, town, and village to decide. The Commonwealth needs its chief executive to take a stand on a statewide level. Yet Baker does not lead.

Here’s how the Governor can redeem himself: 1. Governor Baker must regularly (verbally and through legislation) oppose the dangerous agenda of President Trump. 2. Baker has signed legislation to promote electric vehicle ownership, but he must also rebuke Washington and follow California by upholding statewide vehicle emissions standards consistent with the 2015 Paris Agreement. 3. Baker must stand with state lawmakers and protect our vulnerable neighbors by making Massachusetts a sanctuary state. 4. Baker must join our US senators, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and Attorney General Maura Healy in their attendance at peaceful demonstrations such as the Women’s March – gatherings that proclaim egalitarianism, mutual respect, rejection of fear, internationalism, and the responsibility to combat the causes of climate change. If Baker can correct his wanting leadership, he may deserve reelection 2018.

Governor Baker, will you finally lead us?

 Jonathan Ellowitz

Jamaica Plain resident

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