I was actually up at Franklin Park last weekend with my wife, campaigning and visiting a friend having a cook out. While we were there we went over to the zoo. (by the way, it is having a free day on July 24th (I think) for all to visit)
A few things struck me about the article. One is how the “public/private partnership” which runs the operation won’t tell how much they are being paid for the movie rights. Not very public or transparent. Another public/private partnership, the Conservancy taking care of the Rose Kennedy Greenway pays its director, Nancy Brennan, more than the Governor or the Mayor get paid. Somehow, I believe the politicians jobs are more difficult, but it is our tax dollars paying her salary.
More importantly, is how close the budget of the zoo is to the tax break given each year to the One Beacon Street tower for being in a blighted area. Every year they receive a tax break that was initially designed for affordable housing in blighted areas of between 5 and 8 million dollars. It is a Chapter 121A tax break. The juxtaposition of the One Beacon tower on beautiful Beacon Hill, just down from the State House and Franklin Park which is in the heart of Dorchester and Roxbury is striking.
The crowd at Franklin Park was over 95% minority. As we were walking towards the zoo, we experienced a heartbreaking encounter. A young boy of about 4 came up to me, grabbed my hand and said “I want to be your friend.” He would not let go of my arm. His sister, who was no more than 6 or 7 came over and said matter of factly: “our natural mother kicked us out of the house so now we have to stay with someone else.” We stopped to talk with them for awhile, and I tried to teach him to tie his shoe. He was so adorable we wanted to take him home with us, and as we left he just stood and waved and watched us go.
I have been working and campaigning on Beacon Hill for years, and met many children but I’ve never heard a story like that from any of the kids that live there or go to Hill House for their recreational activities at the multi million dollar Ebersol Field.
When will our society stop giving tax breaks to the rich, while crying poor and shutting down cultural attractions in poorer sections of town? Let’s eliminate the 121A tax break for the One Beacon tower given by the BRA, let the Tower pay its fair share of taxes like the rest of us, and maybe we won’t have to close down the zoo.