(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.