^^ Could Sal LaMattina be making a comeback ? (here, kayaking on Boston harbor — a very East Boston adventure by a very East Boston guy)
—- —- —- —-
Now that Lydia Edwards is on her way to representing the First Suffolk and Middlesex Senate District, the voters of East Boston, Charlestown, and the North End will be electing a new District Councillor. Whoever seeks this office — and at least four are talking about it — he or she will want a platform to run on.
I propose one now.
The job of a District Councillor, as opposed to those who serve city-wide, is to voice concerns specific to the DISTRICT.
For East Boston, those concerns are not hard to figure; First, over-development. I propose that the City cease granting zoning variances to all and sundry, by which all manner of neighborhood-undermining projects get approved and built. Enforce the zoning code. Variances should be allowed only in case of actual hardship. No exceptions. East Boston is a community that works, a place for families and large group social connection. Such are difficult to realize, if at all, when the residential preference is for hotel-like or college dormitory “units” in 20 to 200 “unit” mammoths. These should never, ever be permitted anywhere in East Boston. Second, public safety. East Boston is losing several veteran officers. Citywide the police force is about 500 short of optimum numbers. I propose hiring the 500, accepting the State’s $ 850,000 training grant, and prioritizing the gang unit. Third, city services. East Boston is under-served by Inspectional Services, by the city’s ambulances, and by monitors for speeding traffic on Bennington Street. Time to deploy the needed vehicles and manpower.
Charlestown : increase City support for local drug addiction support groups, of which the neighborhood has several and excellent; increase the City’s arts allocations for entertainments in City Square Park; oversee the massive One Charlestown project to a successful build-out.
North End : remove bureaucratic impediments to easy outdoor dining at the neighborhood’s many restaurants; restore to its rightful place in St Leonard’s Park the statue of Christopher Columbus vandalized last year and then ordered removed by Mayor Walsh; open up waterfront parcels to light industry as well as houseboat piers.
Overall, District One’s next Councillor must tackle the vast problem of Boston’s public schools : the inefficiency, the over-capacity, the incompetence, the lack of safety for teachers and staff. Every school building should have security personnel present. The $ 135,000,000 busing allocation should be ended and repurposed. Under-utilized schools should be closed and the remaining schools be brought closer to capacity. The next superintendent should be in-house, not a stranger hired for a few years until the next stranger is hired. Look : Boston is rapidly becoming a playpen for young, well heeled singles. If the City hopes to once again be a place for families, it cannot accept a school system in which potential parents have scant confidence. If this fundamental disconnect cannot be righted, Boston as we know it is finished, and I would hope that no future District One Councillor would settle for that.
Good luck to all who seek this office now. I shall be holding your feet to the fires lit in this platform. Count on it.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere