(While I’m promoting this post as being of general interest, this shouldn’t be seen as a BMG endorsement in this race – Charley)
Boston is at a crossroads. Tuesday’s election is fundamentally about what kind of city we want this to be.
For wealthy financial industry employees and startup bros who’ve gentrified Southie and work in the Seaport, Boston works very well. For the suburbanites who commute in and think the 80-times-yearly street fair on a privatized Yawkey Way represents the “real” Boston, the city has never been better. There are great restaurants everywhere, plentiful Ubers and Lyfts to get you around, abundant luxury housing, and new Soulcycle and Sweetgreen locations popping up everywhere.
For many of the rest of us, Boston is a city in crisis. It’s a city that does not work well for the majority of its residents.
Boston’s transportation infrastructure is crippled. The MBTA, once a reliable (if not sufficiently extensive) transportation network, is now a daily crapshoot. Will I get to work on time? How long will it take me to get home? Not being able to answer these questions with any degree of certainty makes it more difficult to live here. The MBTA is, of course, a state agency, but Boston’s mayor should be raising hell with the state every day about the state of the MBTA. Our Republican governor refuses to fix the T until he has broken its unions, and instead of berating him every day about this critical issue, the current mayor asserts that the T works well on most days and makes love song videos for the governor.
The Southwest Corridor bike path is crowded with bikes at rush hour, but the city has been slow to invest in additional bike infrastructure as our current mayor, a self-professed “car guy,” cannot seem to envision a Boston with significant non-car transportation options.
As a coastal city with a great deal to lose from rising sea levels, Boston should be leading on green transportation. We are not.
Suburbanites understand that great communities are built on great schools. As someone who put three children through the Boston Public Schools, I can attest that the schools are capable of providing high-quality education. I value not only the skills my children learned in the BPS, but also th BPS’ unparalleled diversity and what it did for my children’s understanding of their city and country.
Instead of building on the BPS’ successes, our current mayor continues to cut the BPS budget. The fact that he dissembles about this by asserting that he hasn’t done it shows that even he understands budget cuts to the schools that serve some of the highest-need students in the state make no sense. (For the record: the absolute dollar amount has gone up every year but has not kept pace with the needs of the schools. So schools have had to make cuts.) BPS students walked out of class to protest the cuts forced by the budget proposed by him and passed by his lapdog city council, and our current mayor fled from them (in a black SUV of course), refusing to hear their concerns.
Despite what the Globe might have you believe, there are plenty of people who want to send their children to the Boston Public Schools. The current mayor is making it harder and harder for people to make this decision, since parents can’t count on the school they choose today being the same school (or even being open) next year. It’s clear that the current mayor is running the schools in accordance with a plan from The Barr Foundation, The Boston Foundation, The Gates Foundation, or whatever non-public entity is currently driving Boston’s education policy. We need–desperately–a mayor who will run the schools for the benefit of the students and not according to some hidden ideological agenda.
Finally, Boston faces a crisis of affordable housing that our current mayor has failed to address. Or perhaps more accurately, our current mayor seems to be acting on the theory that building more and more high-end units across the city will somehow cause rents and housing prices to become more affordable. The last four years have shown pretty conclusively that this is a bad strategy. (Sorry, YIMBYs). Rents are higher than ever and housing prices are through the roof.
Boston is losing people every day because they cannot afford to live here anymore. Lifelong Boston residents are being displaced, and Boston stands on the verge of losing a generation of young people. There are precious few neighborhoods in Boston where one could reasonably get a starter apartment, so young people who don’t want to work in tech or finance will simply have to decamp to a more affordable location. My own children, native Bostonians all, will soon face a choice: live with their parents forever or leave Boston. Boston is on the path to becoming another Manhattan: a place where one can be wealthy enough to afford the unreasonable housing prices or poor enough to afford public housing with nothing left in between.
Boston is facing serious livability challenges that our current mayor has either failed to address or has exacerbated while he grasps, magpie-like, at shiny objects–GE! Olympics! Amazon!–meant to burnish Boston’s national image (and, one imagines, his own career).
Tito Jackson understands both Boston’s greatness and the hard work needed to ensure that Boston remains livable for its current residents. It’s no accident that the majority of Marty Walsh’s staggering war chest has come from outside the city: he is creating a city that works well for the suburbs while turning a deaf ear to the concerns of his actual constituents.
For those of us who live here and want Boston to be a model city, the choice is clear: please vote for Tito Jackson on Tuesday, November 7.
I’m voting Tito.
I am a Boston (Roslindale) resident and plan to vote for Walsh. Here are some thoughts:
Education: The take on Walsh in this post is puzzling to me in light of how the Walsh/Connolly election played out. Then, Walsh was the champion of the traditional public schools, the teacher’s union, etc. In office, he’s lengthened school days, increased pre-K, and increased spending after accounting for inflation, though not as much as Jamaicaplainiac would like. He promises a billion-dollar facilities improvement plan in his second term.
Transit. The MBTA is an obvious problem, but as Jamaicaplainiac points out, it’s not run by the city. I don’t bike to work, but I have to say that over the past few years I’ve seen a large increase in bike lanes, signage, those green boxes for bikes at stop lights, etc.
Affordable housing. Of course we need more affordable housing, and of course it’s problematic that many Bostonians find it hard to stay in the city. I think that much of the problem is the result of economic forces that frankly are not within the City’s control–it results from the demand for housing, which in turn results from Boston’s desirability, which we have to remember is a good thing, not a bad thing. I think I have a sometimes forgotten perspective on this as a long-time homeowner in a socio-economically mixed neighborhood (Roslindale). We’ve seen and lived through the dramatic improvements in Roslindale square and along Center Street in West Roxbury, our neighborhood’s two main shopping districts. Of course I understand the need for more housing, but politically I think it’s difficult to try to appeal to voters by saying, “your neighborhood (or your city) is too desirable!” Any incumbent hears that and smiles all the way to the bank. In any case ,Walsh has increased the obligations of developers under the city’s Inclusionary Development Policy.
TL;DNR I think the mayor is doing a pretty good job and deserves reelection.
Yes, Walsh hates public schools marginally less than Connolly did. He was the lesser of two evils 4 years ago. That’s no longer true.
He’s eager to find money to throw at GE, the Olympics, and Indy Car, but does not seem to feel that Boston’s students are worth spending money on. Students and parents were crying at budget hearings. Students walked out of class. The cuts went through anyway. With luxury condos and apartments all over town, there’s no way these were necessary cuts.
The mayor chose to cut schools in a time of abundance while throwing money GE. Shameful.,
We spend almost $20,000 per student, more than almost any town in the Commonwealth. Just sayin’.
That still doesn’t mean cutting $30 million from the schools and giving GE almost the same amount of money in tax incentives is a good idea. It’s not. Boston should spend the most per pupil in the state and it doesn’t. It should also target the money to the schools that serve predominately disenfranchised communities of color rather than simply doubling down on the magnet and exam schools.
There would not be mile deep waiting lists for charters, tuition free parochials. and METCO if BPS was serving all students. Tito listened to the parents and the student strikers-Walsh told them to take a hike.
Here’s a post with some great info on the BPS budget http://ihadthreechairs.blogspot.com/2016/05/bostons-mayor-walshs-campaign-of.html?m=1
According to DESE (As of 2014), Boston spends $18,318 per pupil. This is actually less than 43 other towns and cities in the Commonwealth. Just sayin’.
Sorry, don’t mean to quibble about figures. I was looking at these figures, which I think are more recent and which put Boston at 6th with $19,246 per pupil. Happy to accept a correction if this is wrong.
Here is the link again
Argh, the link doesn’t seem to work, not sure why. One last try
I’m pretty sure the problem is a dangling double-quote at the end.
I think you’re looking for these figures.
Wow, the word-press editor seems to be doing very unusual things to links.
this time for sure.
The above works, at last.
My biggest complaint is that Walsh seems to be hooked on being a deal maker, and spends too much time on deals that are not very good for the city. It’s concerning also that he has kept the old Boston Redevelopment Authority around under a new name. I agree with TedF that Boston has a reputation now as a pretty desirable place to live, so it’s alarming that Walsh went out of his way to extend the urban renewal powers of that agency.
Absolutely agree with Bob Gardner that it’s a question of priorities and vision. Menino was a great mayor precisely since he was sweated the small stuff like fixing potholes and loved the job he had instead of viewing it as a stepping stone. He lacked the Daley like obsession with edifices and downtowns, but his last term agenda was dominated by developers and trending in that Daley esque direction. Connolly seemed like a continuation while Walsh was a rupture.
To those of us who backed Walsh in 2013, we saw a grassroots progressive populist from a peripheral neighborhood bring together white working class voters with working people of color. This was a rainbow coalition unheard of in city politics up to that point. He promised to focus on public education, affordable housing, and transit.
Instead we have had a Mayor who’s acted like a beagle chasing after the scent of any deal that would bring him prestige and elevate his national profile. Many of them have been vetted poorly like Indycar, Boston 2024, or GE. Since he hasn’t focused on solving transit, housing, or schools it is unlikely the city could absorb the new residents from Amazon deal without exacerbating those unsolved problems.
Walsh has been on the Daily Show and spent far more time on becoming a nationally visible leader in the Resistence than focusing on his day job. This is a guy who sees a Senator or a President when he looks in the mirror instead of focusing on being Mayor.
This is a guy with a Trump like capacity for lying about his record and flip flopping on the issues. In the last debate he took on the mantle of Olympic foe while anyone in the No Boston 2024 movement could tell you his office intimidated foes while Tito Jackson was the only councilor to listen to us and actually force transparency into the bid process. The only councilor with the courage to say no.
Tito is humble, self effacing, and real. He takes the T to work and is from a neighborhood that could use attention from City Hall. I walk by his office every day on the way to work and see it staffed with black youth, including some of my students, filled with hope and change. We need some of that inspiring stuff in 2017. He still shows up to the annual adoption party at Jordan’s Furniture and personally meets kids just like him. No press releases, I only know about it since he met my brother as he was adopting his new family. Walsh isn’t a bad guy, but he is a bad Mayor. Tito would be a far better one.
I’m missing why the big vision stuff and the more mundane stuff are seen as mutually exclusive. It seems if the cards are played right, the former could end up funding the latter. In general, don’t you need a whole range of things to make for a thriving city?
I don’t see big vision or mundane stuff. Just chasing after one bright shiny object after another at taxpayer expense while schools, housing, and transit* gets worse.
*Yes that’s the states fault-but isn’t this guy best bros with Baker and a former legislative insider? Shouldn’t he be the guy to get it done instead of being so non chalant about its chronic failures?
Maybe I wasn’t clear. Big vision as I used it refers to GE or Amazon, stuff that you dismiss as shiny objects, but I see as bringing jobs and a tax base. By mundane I meant the less glamorous albeit necessary matters of housing, schools, and potholes.
The problem in Boston isn’t a shortage of jobs-it’s a shortage of affordable housing for people to live in and transit to convey them to those jobs. GE has not lived up to its jobs promise and it’s hard to make the tax base argument while the subsidies to GE outweigh the revenue those jobs would net.
Charley on the MTA says
“Trump-like capacity”, nope nope nope. Look, take your shots at Walsh — he’s a big boy, politics ain’t beanbag, etc. Hold him accountable by all means. But save the hyperbole. Trump is really another level of malevolent.
He lied about a major policy decision anyone with access to google could disprove. Spicer like then? Romney like? A bold faced lie about his first major policy initiative is not indicative of principled or ethical leadership. He’s personally a good guy in a manner Trump never could hope to be, but he is just as in over his head and surrounded by swampy associates. And he has the same tendency to lie about decisions he makes when they become unpopular or untenable.