Letters:

April 28, 2017
By

Tomahawk missiles and our beleaguered President

On Thursday April 6, President Trump interrupted his regularly scheduled retreat to balmy Mar-a-Lago in South Beach, Florida, to address the nation on his recently ordered missile strike on a Syrian airfield. Evidence indicated that the Syrian government had ordered a chemical attack on its own people. “It is [a] vital, national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” Trump said. “We hope that as long as America stands for justice, that peace and harmony will in the end prevail.”

In the hours that followed, pundits, politicians, and media outlets fell over themselves heaping praise on the President. On CNN, Fareed Zakaria practically forgave the President all of his shortcomings. “I think Donald Trump became President of the United States,” he gushed.

It was as if 59 Tomahawk missiles fired from the deck of a ship meant we now had a commander-in-chief ably steering the ship-of-state; as if somehow this single action indicated a coherent foreign policy, one that might help us navigate what Trump called “the challenge of our very troubled world.”

Hardly.

If anything, Trump’s missile strike and the outpouring of praise that followed confirm two worrisome things.

The first of these is that this Administration has no coherent foreign policy. On the campaign trail, Trump said he wanted the U.S. to “stay out of Syria.” Since the missile strike, Trump has offered no roadmap as to where his actions might lead. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had some tough words for Russia, little more.

Now we’re on to other things: saber rattling with North Korea; the Iran nuclear deal.

The President has tweeted nothing about Syria since April 8.

From Trump, the silence is deafening.

To be sure, his Twitter feed had plenty in the way of aggrandizement and self-praise immediately following the missile strike. If your appetite demands jingoism, you’ll find there a feast of American flags and military uniforms.

But lacking any semblance of coherence, we (and the rest of the world) are left to conclude that the only principal to which our foreign policy adheres is that there is no principal.

That hardly seems a recipe for “peace and harmony.”

Second, the outpouring of praise lavished on President Trump in the immediate wake of his April 6 announcement confirms that in our desperation for some semblance of “normalcy” from this man, we remain willing to grade his performance on a far-too-generous curve.

It cannot be that President Trump launches 59 Tomahawk missiles and we forgive and forget his too-many-to-count trespasses.

“If there was anything that Syria did,” Eric Trump recently told The Daily Telegraph, “it was to validate the fact that there is no Russia tie.”

That cannot be the standard to which we hold this President.

Andrew T. Jarboe

Jamaica Plain resident

Hockey rink shouldn’t be a dog park

There has never been a society, ever, that has prioritized domesticated animals over children. Why do some JP residents think our children deserve less?

Our societies and norms are human constructs, and while we share this planet with many other species, all human values are built around the safety and healthy development of our children.

We have been in JP for 15 years. We have raised our two boys here, played sports here, and we’ve played in that hockey rink more times than I can count.

While the safety and development of our children and the coexistence of dogs in JP needn’t be at odds, it often is.

Though there are “no dog” signs at Johnson field, they do nothing to deter the dog owners from grazing in the outfield. Why should we trust that the necessary maintenance will be upheld by dog owners in the hockey rink when they have consistently disregarded the clear signage in our current kid spaces?

As coaches in the Regan Baseball league, we have scooped up dog poop from Johnson field and cleaned it off of our young players. Each trash day our empty trash cans are filled with the poop bags of dog owners and “commercial” dog walkers. Dog owners increasingly allow their dogs on our front yard to do their business.

Why are children, for whom laws exist exclusively for their protection, becoming second-class citizens to dogs in JP?

I appreciate that for some people, their relationship with their dog is a special one. However, to say that such a bond even comes close to that of a child is simply ludicrous. To think that government has any business advancing the interest of domesticated animals over children is misguided at best and frightening at worst.

I love dogs, I grew up with dogs, but I also didn’t grow up in the city. Dogs do not belong in the city, they do not belong on a leash, and they do not belong in a cooped up hockey rink built, appropriately, for kids.

My dogs ran, played, rolled in manure, and slept on the front lawn; as we used to say, “a dog’s life.” If a dog owner truly cared about the wellness of their canine friend, they would not coop them up most days only seeing the sun for an hour a day from the end of a 4-foot leash. Treating a dog in that way is, honestly, inhumane.

Dog owners proposing to take already diminishing kid-friendly square footage away from JP’s children to appease their own guilt of keeping a latch-key dog is not an answer. Such an idea is also, honestly, inhumane.

We are adamantly against the conversion of the rink, or any other public place designed for JP kids, to be used as a dirty and noisy dog park.

Chris Wirth

Jamaica Plain resident

Mordechai Levin’s Washington Street project

After attending several public meetings regarding Mordechai Levin’s proposed 203-209 Green St. / 3353-3359 Washington St  project, I will not disagree that the development of housing in the communities of Boston is necessary, however, I strongly believe that these developments should better serve the existing communities by ensuring housing that is first and foremost, affordable.

As of now, there will be 8 affordable units, 6 of which would require an average annual salary of $50,000, and 2 that would require an average salary of $70,000. Is that truly a realistic idea of what is considered affordable? No. Not for the majority of individuals and families who live in this neighborhood. This is 17% affordability. The JPNC wants 25% affordability. Why is this not attainable? Well, according to Levin’s attorney, they simply could not afford to build this with such a high affordability rate. Well, simple, don’t build it. What he really meant is that they won’t make as much money at 25% affordability. The Green Street Renters Association, made up of residents and small business-owners surrounding Mordechai Levin’s proposed development, is circulating a petition for more affordability in this building that has quickly garnered over 500 signatures (See petitions.moveon.org/sign/mordechai-levin-make).

Furthermore, at the last meeting, a question was raised regarding the number of bicycle racks that would be available. Are you kidding me? There are more important issues to be dealt with other than the number of bicycle racks. What about traffic patterns or parking? How would this affect parking availability for visitors or where would one seek parking in the event of a snow emergency? In the current proposal there will be .5 parking spaces for each of the 44 units. As many of you may know, this intersection can be an absolute nightmare during morning and evening rush hour and parking availability as it is now is rather limited.

I sincerely hope that the JP Neighborhood Council will not approve this project on April 25 (Editor’s note: The council meeting is after the Gazette deadline), until these issues are properly addressed. In addition, when this proposal goes to the City of Boston’s Zoning Board of Appeals on May 9th,  I hope that they will also consider these very legitimate concerns and vote according to this community’s best interest and not solely on the interest of profit.

Brendon Wood
Green St. Renter’s Association

 

  • mike021

    Wow Mr. Wirth. Where do I even begin to confront your sense of entitlement. Let’s begin with your comment, “Dog owners proposing to take already diminishing kid-friendly square
    footage away from JP’s children to appease their own guilt of keeping a
    latch-key dog is not an answer. Such an idea is also, honestly,
    inhumane.” (1) “Already diminishing kid-friendly square footage”. How so? Please explain. Name one, just one kid-friendly space that has been taken away? On the contrary Mr. Wirth, as a long time JP resident I have seen playground after playground after playground, many within a few minutes walk of one another along the Southwest Corridor park, rehabbed so as to be kid-friendly. All of this done at taxpayer expense. But what happens when a dog park is proposed? The first thing is that for a dog park to be approved the dog owners must support the cost. What is fair about that? Dog owners pay taxes too, and those of us without children have supported the cost of the many playground rehabs to no benefit to us, and have done so without complaint. So listening to you whine and rant about your kids and how unfair this is to them is rather frustrating. (2) Your opinion about your dog’s life vs. a city’s dog life is just that, an opinion, and a pretty uninformed one in that. Mainly, your notion that dogs these days still are allowed to roam free outdoors in the suburbs or rural areas is antiquated and outdated. You should know that. Secondly, it is not inhumane to have a dog in the city if the dogs are walked regularly (as little as two times a day for most dogs). Most city dogs I know, by the way, are happier than their suburban/rural counterparts because by being walked to the park, for example, they are generally given more opportunity to interact and socialize with other dogs which appeals to their pack nature. Furthermore, the fact is that many people (the elderly and single people without children, etc.) rely on dogs for companionship and to get them out of the house, and the benefits of human/canine companionship are well documented. The vast majority of dog owners want their dogs to be happy which means that the dogs have at least some amount of exercise every day. It is not too much to ask for one large dog park where dogs can run free and socialize with other dogs or better yet, to have off leash hours in certain under-utilized areas of a park like some areas of Franklin Park (even Central Park in NYC has such off leash hours). Finally, Mr. Wirth, I guess the irony of your rant is lost on you. I could make the very same argument about your desire to raise kids in the city and the downside for them that you make about dogs- poorer schools Mr. Wirth, less green space and woods to run around in (like I did growing up in the suburbs), no place to ride a bike safely, higher crime and traffic and dangerousness in general. Shame on you Mr. Wirth for not raising your children out in the suburbs so that they could enjoy those benefits. I suppose you chose to stay in the city so that you could have a shorter working commute and could walk to all our wonderful restaurants and shops? Perhaps you, and not the dog owners, are the one who should be feeling guilty.

  • tommy bosh

    dear chris wirth, ive never read such a insecure beta letter in my life. you contradict yourself like 5 times- first you dong like seeing dog waste around, but you also dont like it in the trash can, and you also think its inhumane to keep a dog on a leash. Then why not have a dog park? Most dog owners in JP came from other places and are making due till they finish school or a temporary work position. Instead of ruining every dog owners life in JP, why don’t you focus on trying not to be such a beta minivan driver.

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