A post in which I take the side of the Romney administration…? Would-be gubernatorial candidate and Swampscott selectman Charlie Baker threw down with some Romney aides the other day at a business roundtable, taking them to task for their supposed ignorance on the limits of what towns can do to accomodate the non-super-rich:
Eric Kriss, the governor’s wonkish secretary of administration,argued that the state’s cities and towns need to find a way toaccommodate more growth or look harder at costs. Kriss’s point:Building multifamily and affordable single-family homes makes economicsense for communities. Places like Cambridge are succeeding at growingrevenues and building housing. Why not others?
That’s when Harvard Pilgrim chief executive Charlie Baker spoke up — and things got heated, say those who were there.
Baker,who had Kriss’s job in the Weld administration and is now a Swampscottselectman, said municipal officials he knows don’t believe buildingmodestly priced housing makes fiscal sense, because of the addedpressure on schools and other services. He pointed directly at Romneyand Kriss, calling them two ”very smart guys," but said the”mythology" of what is good for communities is very different thanwhat they were describing. And he differed with Kriss’s numbers.
”The governor was not too happy about it," says one executive.
It was like throwing a bomb on the table, said those in attendance.
Note to Charlie Baker: You want "added pressure"? Try paying for the median family house in Swampscott on a median family income. Or paying the property taxes when you’ve lived there for 30 years and didn’t imagine the all-time real estate bubble would make you paper-rich and cash-poor.
That’s not mythology. That’s the reality that’s making young families leave Massachusetts in droves. The pull-up-the-drawbridge mentality of many communities in our Commonwealth isn’t helping them stick around.