Letters:

October 12, 2018
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Kavanaugh hearings

Many across the country view the Supreme Court Justice Confirmation hearings as the latest revelation related to the #MeToo movement. While it is certainly that, there is a sub-narrative playing out as a painful reminder of the entitlement of the white male in this country and it’s contrast with the subversive way women are still treated in the workforce.

In this narrative, it matters less whether Dr. Ford’s (and others’) testimony is true; it matters more how Kavanaugh and his supporters have reacted to barriers, threats and allegations against his confirmation as a Supreme Court Judge. Kavanaugh, for his part, has been quoted as “angry” and “frustrated” at what he sees as a political con job against his confirmation. And while that may prove to be true, what some are missing is the entitlement he has displayed at a time when people of color, women and other minorities continue to be marginalized at best and outright attacked at worst.

What is frustrating to Kavanaugh is ubiquitous for women especially in the workplace. Out of the spotlight, women continue to face unfair barriers to promotion or positions of power. 26 women are in CEO roles at Fortune 500 companies. Few, if any, structural accommodations exist for re-entry into the workforce after hiatus; women unequally bear that burden. Inexplicably, wage gaps persist to the extent that just recently, pay equity laws passed in this state prohibiting employers from asking applicants their current salary, all in an attempt to value workers – including women – by their merit. The implications of so few women in power are troubling: most instead are white men. What unconscious bias does that generate to our children about what a leader looks like in this country?

How would Kavanaugh react to being ruled out before he knew it?

Too little attention is paid to this issue, but it is not too late.

Let Brett Kavanaugh’s petulance move you to action. And while he may yet still be confirmed to a position of power, be reminded that it is not about the man, but the moment. I am proud to live in a community that grapples with diversity and equality. I am proud to see women of color unseat longstanding men in our local government, and I am proud that our community recognizes the dire need for more women to show up not only in representing our communities, but advocating for other marginalized parties therein. We must continue to push. We must find ways we as individuals can make a unique difference. We must shine the light on coalitions such as the Boston Women’s Workforce Council, so that their work to enroll Boston’s largest employers in a program dedicated to eliminating barriers to womens’ advancement in the workplace is noticed and supported. Just imagine how the Kavanaugh hearings would be playing out differently if the Senate Judiciary Committee was composed of anything but a majority of white males in long-held positions of power. Justice could very well have been served there.

Jason Silver

Jamaica Plain resident

Response to Elugardo election letter

Julie Koehler’s letter in praise of Nika Elugardo’s election victory was deeply offensive.  To imply that Jeffrey Sanchez’s voting was morally equivalent to the Nazis was so insulting that she should apologize personally to him. I too was frustrated with Jeff’s seeming inattention to the progressive issues valued by so many of his constituents. I too was excited by Nika’s challenge but then I began thinking about the nature of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and the challenges it places in front of anyone trying to accomplish good change; challenges that will sorely test all of  Nika’s resolve. There is a reason that the three past speakers have had serious legal issues; the House is controlled by conservative vested interests that resist change at every turn. Jeffrey accomplished a lot but it is now too late to know whether he would have been able to do more of what we wanted. Now we will have to see if Nika can navigate the power structure and accomplish anything useful without compromising her values. One way she could start is by reaching out to Jeff’s supporters and healing the wounds of his loss.  Perhaps Ms.Koehler could assist her.

Alan Wright

Roslindale resident

The Kavanaugh debacle

First we thought of the Senate hearing as an investigation, but were told it was more of a job interview, which, ultimately turned into what appeared to be an intervention.  No matter the circumstances, the instability exhibited by the judge under pressure should have automatically disqualified him, not to mention his not-so-clever distortion of the true meaning of adolescent drinking and sexual terms when asked to define them by Senator Whitehouse and others. To many of us, this kind of obfuscation would appear to be an act of perjury, but somehow he not only got a  pass, but praise to point of absurdity by his adoring GOP senatorial base.   After all, the judge is their last best hope to ensure the process of turning back the clocks through the Supreme Court.

Michel L. Spitzer

Jamaica Plain resident

Response to 73 Sheridan St. article

As a resident at 60 Sheridan Street, Unit 2, I live diagonally across the street from the proposed 73 Sheridan Street development.  Like my neighbors, Lisa Gonsalves and Andy King, I feel strongly that our neighborhood needs to support affordable housing development for low and middle income residents, not just the wealthy.

As an architect who has practiced for 30 years, I know from experience that local zoning laws directly influence the cost and environmental impact of housing.  As a general rule, lower lot density in a city increases the economic and environmental cost of housing units built.  As with any desirable commodity in a market, the fewer available, the higher their value.

As Boston’s population continues to rise, so will the price of land.  Since residents want our street to retain housing affordability, we should embrace – not discourage – higher density housing.  Reducing the number of units built at number 73 from eight to six will only further limit access to affordable housing in our neighborhood.

Where the cost of land and construction is high, there are two ways to make a project economically viable:  1) build a few, large high-end units that will sell for a very high price, or 2) build more smaller, modestly-finished units that can be sold for reasonable prices.  In both cases, the builder typically constructs the same amount of building area, however in the latter case, more people can live in the development at accessible prices.  The other major benefit of higher density housing is that it is more ecologically sustainable – more people sharing a plot of land reduces the per person impact on the fragile environment.

I appreciate that my neighbors want to preserve green space and promote environmental sustainability.  However, for every unit not built in high land-cost JP, another one will built by a developer on cheaper land:  usually suburban farmland and rural habitats, which increases car-dependence, long commutes, and per capita carbon footprint.  Therefore, higher density on our street will support not only economic justice, but also environmental stewardship.

In the interest of sustainability, I urge the developer to apply for a zoning variance to reduce the number of parking spaces from 1.4 spaces per unit to 1 or fewer.  JP is well served by the T, Hubway bike share, bike lanes, Car-share, and nice sidewalks.  We should be discouraging, not encouraging, car ownership.  Parked cars take up green space; rolling cars increase traffic and generate carbon.  Furthermore, limiting the number of parking spaces will reduce development cost at 73 Sheridan, thus potentially increasing housing affordability while abutters and buyers will see more green space and less asphalt.

Lastly, I believe Lee Goodman and his architects have proposed three generally attractive development schemes for our consideration.  The designs are contemporary, rather than faux Victorian, and maintain the scale of adjacent buildings.  I also agree with Gonsalves and King that the front of the buildings ought to sit closer to the street.

Peter Herman

Jamaica Plain resident

The transportation issue

Regarding transportation, the greatest challenge Greater Boston faces at this time in history involves mustering up the courage to admit that the Automobile Age, as Americans know and love it, is over, at least at this time, in this place.  This is not a “win” for non-drivers, as all will suffer until the region’s politicians and citizens can accept and adapt to the changes required, and develop a collective vision that serves us all.  This involves letting go of outmoded zero-sum attitudes which regard service and infrastructure changes  –  and the budgets these demand  – in terms of winners and losers.  For better and for worse, the greatest burden falls on the motorists, which includes   –  let’s admit it   –  most politicians and others in positions of power.  The notion of giving up the miraculous blessings of the automobile  –  the convenience, speed, comfort and safety  –  comes hard.  Except for the fact that in this congested city, these blessings are much eroded or nonexistent at crucial times, and trending negative.  All Bostonians know this.  Which puts us in a unique position to collectively adopt a vision for transportation that can inspire necessary changes in individual lives, and compassion for those for whom these changes will not come easily, which is most of us.

John Dabrowski

Jamaica Plain resident

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