East Boston Progressive Network — Questionnaire
Who we are: A group of active East Boston residents working together to organize our community around progressive issues and values.
Goal: To put candidates on the record regarding their views and values, also, to establish differences among the candidates on issues we care about with targeted, specific questions.
New developments often require political support (including that of our state representative) to secure zoning and permitting approvals. The City of Boston has an inclusionary housing requirement for new developments which requires developers of ten units or more to make 13% of the units affordable to households earning between 70% and 100% of the Boston Area Median Income (AMI). There is also a pay-out option for developers who choose to pay into a fund so that the units can be created elsewhere in the City.
- Do you believe that the current inclusionary zoning policy should be expanded, reduced, or kept the same? If you would like to change the policy, please describe what you would do to make that happen?
I believe it should be expanded. Advocate for the increase of affordable units and workforce units.
- Please elaborate and be specific in your goals and targets for maintaining affordability in East Boston; or if you intend to take a hands-off approach, please explain.
Work with developers and make them commit to the balance of our neighborhoods and the benefits that our neighborhood will receive by allowing them to develop their plans.
Development in East Boston is proceeding at an ever-quickening pace without the benefit of an updated master plan. Of chief concern to existing residents are new, large-scale projects which either trigger Article 80 review (+50,000 sf) or do not conform to existing zoning regulations (“as-of-right”). Either threshold mandates that a project be presented to the governing neighborhood association for review.
- Would you, as a candidate, commit to not issuing a statement either in favor or against these types of projects before the governing neighborhood association has reached a formal decision–and once reached, would you commit to adopting that position?
Absolutely. Our residents will be directly affected by new housing units. Taxes will increase, property values will change and the demographics of our neighborhood will inevitably change as well. We must ensure that the residents that are already here have an opinion on what’s coming to our community.
- If a project falls within East Boston but outside the boundaries of the existing Neighborhood Associations, would you commit to a public process for residents to learn about the project, its benefits and impacts, and voice their concerns/opinions?
Absolutely! Our residents need to know what is happening in our neighborhood. Our processes need to be transparent and open to the questions and concern of our residents.
- If multiple large-scale projects are proceeding within a compact area, how would you bring proponents together to jointly fund comprehensive, cumulative, and publicly accessible studies of anticipated impacts (traffic, noise, etc.) and possible shared public benefits/amenities?
There needs to be an implementation on the approval process for all projects. The impact on the community needs to be presented in a clear and concise way to all the residents in their language and the residents have the right to know what potential risks and impacts will happen as the result of a project. We must negotiate with developers and ask what their contribution will be for our community to alleviate those impacts.
We’ve seen this winter how important transportation infrastructure is to the stability and vitality of the Commonwealth. MBTA chairwoman Beverly Scott took the heat for the T’s poor performance during recent snowstorms, but she in turn blamed a lack of funding for the T, as well as leftover debt from the Big Dig project, as the root cause of the system’s failures.
- What do you see as the most effective strategies for increasing funding for transportation in general and for the T specifically? Please cite specific policy / revenue raising steps that can be taken.
Before any revenue strategy is implemented there needs to be transparency in with the current budget and expenditure. Once we know where the funds are being allocated, we should be able to distribute those funds in a better way. We all know there is overspending and I will not look/support any increase of budget or taxes without complete disclosure of the way the finances have been handled.
- Federal money has already been designated for ferry service to East Boston, and the state legislature has mandated the design and construction of a Red-Blue connector. As our state representative, what will you do to move these critical transit projects forward?
The Red-Blue connector should be a reality already. This will only decrease traffic in other stations and cut commuting time for the users. I will advocate and fully support the completion of these projects.
- The Massachusetts Trust Act would ensure that state law enforcement resources, facilities, and personnel are not being used to enforce federal immigration law, and would prevent non-citizens from being held on federal immigration hold requests. The Trust Act did not pass last year, but has already been refiled for the 2015 legislative session. If elected, would you actively work to support the passage of this bill?
Yes, I will actively work to support the passage of the Massachusetts Trust Act Bill. Our resources and funding for law enforcement should not be used to focus on following non- citizens. The cost of keeping a person in unnecessary custody takes away funding that can be use in other issues such as gang violence in our neighborhood.
- We commend all of the Democratic contenders for this seat for coming out in support of making driver’s licenses available to all Massachusetts residents, without regard to federal immigration status. With this in mind: Thousands of East Boston residents are expected to benefit from President Obama’s executive order last November if and when the temporary injunction imposed on February 17th is lifted. Do you support his executive order, and what do you think it means for East Boston?
I am in full support of the driver’s licenses and I support President Obama’s executive order as a temporary solution for immigration needs. There is definitely need for a comprehensive reform. East Boston has a large population that can benefit from such order and it will only allow that population to become active part of our neighborhood in many ways, but especially in the financial aspect where they can invest the money that they are either sending to their countries or saving in their homes. Their money will be able to circulate in our neighborhood significantly improving our local economy.
Boston 2024 is an unelected, unaccountable organization which appears to be positioned to have a significant influence over the City and the Commonwealth’s priorities for the next nine years if Boston is selected for the 2024 Summer Games. East Boston may have special reason to be concerned. In November 2013, East Boston residents voted against a casino at Suffolk Downs. The results of this historic vote and the voice of the people was largely ignored by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Given these recent events and that the possibility of an Olympics stadium in East Boston, we may bear a disproportionate amount of the burden from the airport as well as the potential use of Suffolk Downs.
- Recently Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim has proposed the following non-binding ballot questions for a citywide referendum. Very briefly: As a resident of Boston, how would you vote on each of the following, and why?
- Should Boston host the 2024 Summer Olympic & Paralympic Games (the “Games”)?
We need to project longer than the Olympics. Once the Olympics are over, what are the spaces going to be used for? If we have guarantees that the constructions will not become a burden for the city, yes it will be a great event to attract more investors to our city.
- If Boston were to host the 2024 Olympics, should the City commit any public money to support the Games?
No. Our public money must be allocated to the benefits of our residents. Sponsors can join and fund the Olympics if they want them in our city (after the public approves it).
- If Boston were to host the 2024 Olympics, should the City make any financial guarantees to cover cost overruns for the Games?
The city should negotiate the impacts and overruns in a way that the city is not affected.
- If Boston were to host the 2024 Olympics, should the City use its power of eminent domain to take private land on behalf of the Games?
No. In a fair process, residents should be heard and not impose something they have not agree with.
- Frederick Law Olmsted’s Wood Island Park was one of the only “active” parks he ever designed. Piers Park was given to East Boston in mitigation for the loss of Wood Island, but the designated “active” portion (Phase II) has been stalled for nearly two decades with no reason to believe that it will be funded or built in the near future. What will you do to ensure complete funding and construction of Piers Park Phase II?
We have many developers interested in building their large projects in our neighborhood. We should receive benefits in exchange of the approval of their projects.
- Massachusetts Speaker of the House Robert Deleo previously supported term limits for his office, but recently reversed his stance as his own term was nearing its end and pushed through a change to the House rules which eliminated them. The Massachusetts legislature has one of the most closed-door lawmaking processes in the nation, and the conversation surrounding this controversial rule change was no exception.
- Do you agree that this position should not be subject to term limits?
Every public position should have a limit on term. There should be transparency in lawmaking process and opportunities for all citizens to participate in the legislature.
- What will you do to directly encourage open voting in one of the least transparent legislatures in the country? How will you commit to publishing your vote on each and every decision that you make in the State House?
Transparency has to be a priority and everything is done in the legislature. I will demand full transparency in the process and disclosure on the way we vote in different issues that affect our residents.
- Do you feel that the most recent Massport Logan Airport Health study’s methodology and findings were consistent with what was ordered by the legislature? If so, why? If not, what would you do to ensure a comprehensive study that addressed its deficiencies? Regardless of your answer to this question, what would you propose to begin to address the known health issues raised by the study?
I believe that we must do more studies and specific ones. One study is a general way of determining many factors, but with specific studies we will be able to certainly know how our community is being affected by Logan Airport.
- Massachusetts has made significant strides in offering affordable health coverage to low and middle income residents. As East Boston’s state representative, how would you make sure that MassHealth and other subsidized health care programs remain affordable for consumers? How will you commit to ensuring that there are no service cuts to the MassHealth program or changes that would negatively impact eligibility and access to health care for MassHealth members?
We should look into increasing contributions from the private sector. Pharmaceuticals and labs receive great revenue from the medications that patients need on a daily basis. These industries should contribute to funding of accessible health care as well as the tobacco and alcohol industries.
- Mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders have recently been reduced by the legislature. Would you support legislation to repeal mandatory minimums entirely in these cases?
Yes. I believe people deserve second chances and sentencing someone for one of these crimes the first time will continue to incubate criminals that will become repeat offenders. If they are giving a second chance with the commitment to join a rehab and vocational program we can reduce the number of offenders and the large number of inmates for minor crimes.
- Although Massachusetts has the fourth-lowest rate of incarceration in the United States, the Commonwealth still jails nearly twice as many of its citizens as developed nations such as Canada, Japan, Germany, and Italy. What sort of legislation would you propose that would refocus law enforcement and corrections on rehabilitation rather than incarceration?”
Absolutely. We also need to create opportunities for people, especially our youth, to improve their skills and prevent their participation in criminal activities.
- Would you support legislation to ensure that all Massachusetts students are eligible for in-state tuition, regardless of their federal immigration status?
Absolutely. We have children that are growing up in our school system that have already obtain high school educations, know English and want to obtain an education to open a business or work in different fields. This initiative will reduce the expense of bringing international talents to fill jobs that can be filled by people who have gone to school in the US.