Chill out, bro

My first letter to the editor was published in the Boston Sunday Advertiser back on March 3, 1968 and the topic I wrote on was President Johnson’s Vietnam War policy. I’ve never stopped writing since then. I also love reading letters to the editor too. Recently, I have looked forward to reading  Michael Spitzer’s in the Jamaica Plain Gazette. Not because I like them but to read his latest liberal spin on things.

It is one thing for a writer to criticize President Trump as Spitzer loves to do but going after anyone who supports or voted for Trump is pretty much both rude and boring (Immigrants in the US). We all have our right to speak out. It’s in the Bill of Rights.

I am a baby boomer. Perhaps Spitzer is too. I don’t know. I’ve been around for a while with my opinions. Opining is a hobby of mine. Ad hominem attacks are silly. Just because you might have overheard a  nursing home client insulting a housekeeper perhaps from Haiti doesn’t mean the patient is a racist and it equally doesn’t mean he or she is demented or senile.

President Trump is not my mentor. I both agree and disagree with things he has said or done. However, I do not believe you can just call him a racist because he doesn’t talk like you.

I look forward to reading more opinions from Mr. Spitzer but perhaps he should chill out a bit more before starting banging away on his laptop. This is America where both Michael Spitzer and I have the same freedom to express our opinions outloud.


East Boston

Who will celebrate Franklin Park?

Who will celebrate Franklin Park? ( “ celebrating Jamaica Pond”. Gazette. Jan 26.)

Developers celebrate Franklin Park.

In 1973, Martha and I moved into 269 Forest Hills St across from the Williams St entrance to Franklin Park; we paid $135 a month. In 2017 the same apartment was listed for $436,000.

That a developer could command that price is in large part because of the beautiful park entrance. Forty years ago that entrance was commonly used for burned cars, the fires from which scorched trees, and contractors evading dump fees dropped piles of rubble in part damaging the 99 Steps.

In a partnership of the original Franklin Park Coalition and the Boston Parks Department the entrance and the steps were completely restored as part of a $400,000 capital improvement project.

At 17 -19 Sigourney Street on the edge of Franklin Park at Glen Road entrance, Gary Martell built two fine condominium homes and renovated the adjacent 82 Glen Road in 2002. The units were listed at $559,000.

This was not the case twenty years earlier. In 1981 after years of stolen and burned cars, contractor dumping and at least one reported rape, the original Franklin Park Coalition and The Boston Park Dept closed Glen Rd. Three years later a new entrance was built as part of a second $400,000 capital project ( $150,000 of which was raised by the Coalition). The entrance has been twice greatly improved by the Parks Dept. All of which made it possible to market half a million dollar homes.

Around the corner at 2- 22 Sigourney Street, Maplehurst built Sigourney Homes, twelve condominiums located in what was described in its marketing as “abutting Franklin Park, an incredible expanse of green space.” When completed in 2003, the homes were listed at $500,000.

Developers found Stonybrook and Parkside ideal in large part because Franklin Park – once the shame of Boston- had been beautified and its restoration begun by a partnership of the original Franklin Park Coalition and the Boston Parks Dept. which in seven together raised over $900,000 for Franklin Park landscape improvements. The original Franklin Park Coalition raised $50,000 a year for high school summer work crews ad professional tree work and mowing.

In recent years the Boston Parks Dept has done great work in restoring and improving entrances and walkways in Franklin Park. But it does this in the face of a sullen community who sits on its hands. They do not celebrate these improvements.

People confuse complaining with caring; I complain therefore I care. Jamaica Plain complains. They want tennis court parking lots, off leash dog runs, and “things to do” in the park. A nationally recognized landscape masterpiece is boring.

No one loves Franklin Park. No one celebrates the improvements and the beauty of the largest park in Boston.

All the money spent to improve and beautify Franklin Park over the years could not make people love and celebrate this great park.

Richard Heath

Jamaica Plain resident

It is time to stop talking about more pipelines

Predictably, natural gas proponents are leveraging this winter’s cold snap to renew their push for new pipelines, repeating the myth that gas is a clean fuel, and that more gas is needed to meet our energy needs. Well, I don’t buy it. Gas is a fossil fuel with many harmful impacts, we have become if anything over-dependent on it here in Massachusetts, and the sooner we wean ourselves off of it, the better. As a mother of two teens, I am deeply concerned about the world we are leaving for our children. Burning more gas is not in the interest of our children, health, environment, or economy today, and it certainly isn’t in the interest of a livable climate tomorrow.

What’s the matter with gas? It is not healthy for our planet or our bodies. The pipes it is delivered through are riddled with leaks – 16,000 at last count in Massachusetts (75 in Jamaica Plain). What leaks out is methane – a greenhouse gas on steroids, 84 times more disruptive to the climate over its first 20 years in the air than carbon dioxide. Some estimates show that this leaked gas alone is responsible for a full 10% of our state’s carbon footprint. When you factor in the leaks, gas is no cleaner than coal. And when you breathe in this gas, whether walking down the street or cooking on your gas range at home, you get a dose of the nasty chemicals in gas like benzene, formaldehyde and nitrogen dioxide, which have been linked to diseases including asthma. This is why a growing number of parents, caregivers, and health professionals oppose new gas infrastructure.   Building pipelines that will last for many decades to address 10-40 hours of “peak demand” per year is a fool’s errand, benefitting only gas industry profits. We will never meet our greenhouse gas reduction goals if we keep building new fossil fuel infrastructure. Nor will we be able to ensure our children get the clean air and water they deserve.

There is much that we can do right here in Jamaica Plain to move from dirty to clean energy.  Start by better insulating our homes, increasing energy efficiency, and switching to renewably-powered electricity.  Insist that the utilities fix gas leaks and that our legislators implement policies encouraging a swifter movement to new renewable energy sources.  End this tired conversation about new pipelines, and focus on moving quickly and steadily towards the goal of ensuring a healthy, clean energy future for children everywhere.

Viki Bok

Mothers Out Front member

Jamaica Plain resident

Jamaica Plain jobs, part II

The letter “Jamaica Plain jobs” in the Gazette’s January 26 issue explains the goals of the Boston Resident Jobs Policy and the need to make more people aware of construction job opportunities on the projects along the Washington St corridor. Two current projects are called out for being out of compliance with the City’s hiring goals “with women workers being the furthest from compliance.”

In point of fact, one of these projects, 141 McBride St (being built by SSG Development and Construction), is very far out of compliance with only 3.5% women’s hours. The second project at 3200 Washington St. (being built by Berkeley Investment and Reynolds Construction) has almost 10,000 work hours as of Jan 20, could not be any more out of compliance. It has zero hours worked by tradeswomen.

We all due respect to the letter writer, my friend and activist brother Dick Monks, this failure will not be corrected by sending individuals to construction sites to fill out walk-on applications. Solutions require comprehensive outreach and communication to the women – especially women of color – who want and need these jobs. This has been the strategy of the Boston building trades unions for the past decade. In partnership with community, business, government and academic representatives, the unions have developed and evaluated comprehensive approaches to reaching women to make them aware of career opportunities in the trades. As a result, the number of women in union construction apprenticeship has tripled and women are averaging more than 7% of hours worked on union construction sites. More than half of these women are women of color.

This past November, the unions and partners stepped up their outreach to women with the launch of the “Build A Life That Works” campaign. Women interested in exploring careers in the union building trades can check out information and resources at BuildALifeMA.org. They can sign up at the contact link to get monthly updates on training and job opportunities. In person information is available at Tradeswomen Tuesday info sessions. Hear about opportunities and meet working tradeswomen on the first Tuesday of every month, at 5 PM at 2201 Washington St, Roxbury and the third Tuesday of each month at 4 PM at Boston Career Link, 1010 Harrison Ave, Roxbury.

Susan Moir, ScD

Jamaca Plain resident

Director of Research

PGTI: Policy Group on Tradeswomen’s Issues

UMass Boston Labor Resource Center

Clean energy is the answer

In the past year we have watched flooding in Boston, fires and mudslides in California, and devastating hurricanes in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico. News coverage of the extreme weather brought images of parents from all over the country struggling to keep their children safe from rising waters and fires. It was horrifying and heartbreaking. It made me fear for my own children’s future.

Burning fossil fuels contributes significantly to climate change and the extreme weather events that come with it. We must move to clean energy sources. That is why I support a bill before the Massachusetts legislature that requires a 3% annual increase in the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). This bill will add more renewable energy to our grid, which will in turn provide clean air and local jobs for our communities. In Massachusetts, the clean energy industry employs over 100,000 people and continues to grow.

Since 2002, our Massachusetts RPS has provided a cost-effective foundation for developing markets and increasing demand for renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, landfill gas, and biomass. Currently, the RPS requires all electricity suppliers to source at least 12% of their supply from renewables. Under the current law, each year that percentage increases by 1%. However, a recent analysis by Synapse Energy Economics found the current annual RPS increase will not meet Massachusetts’ legal obligation to reduce emissions 25% by 2020, and 80% by 2050.

Analyses show an annual 3% increase in the RPS is essential to ensure a balanced market for new renewable projects and meet our climate-related mandates. It is the fastest, most cost effective way to increase a clean energy supply and enable the electrification of transportation and heating. It can reduce electricity prices, hedge against volatile fossil fuel prices and add thousands of local jobs per year. With an annual RPS increase of 3%, residential electricity consumers will likely see only small cost impacts, estimated between $0.15 and $2 per month. With an increase in the RPS, the only thing we as individuals will have to do to have more clean energy in our homes is flip on the lights.

Please support an annual RPS increase of 3% by contacting your state legislators. It’s good for the Massachusetts economy, for public health, for the climate, and most importantly, for our children’s future.
Andee Krasner

Volunteer with Mothers Out Front

Jamaica Plain resident


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