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?
Maintaining and increasing access to the city’s affordable housing stock is extremely important to me and the entire City of Boston. I believe that we should regularly be looking at ways to provide affordable home ownership opportunities for residents.
- 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.
As State Representative, I will play an active role in the zoning, permitting, and licensing process. While some State elected officials choose not to get involved in these issues, I think it is an important part of the job. It is of the utmost importance that residents do not get priced out of our neighborhood and I would be an advocate in the community, at City Hall, and on Beacon Hill.
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?
- 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?
- 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?
I believe that developing a comprehensive master plan for East Boston is imperative for the future of this neighborhood.
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.
This is a systemic problem that needs to be addressed at the highest levels. As your legislator, I will look at additional sources of funding by closing tax loopholes for corporations and making sure the top 1% are taxed accordingly. In the short term, we need a contingency plan to ensure that MBTA riders are able to get to work if trains are delayed. In the long term, we need to actually prioritize funding for public transportation and investments in its infrastructure. We cannot ask people to rely on public transportation if transportation is unreliable.
- 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?
YES, I have been on record supporting both the Red-Blue connector and connecting East Boston with the rest of the harbor with ferry service.
- 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?
- 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?
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?
At this point in time, I have very serious concerns about Massachusetts’ capacity to host the Olympic Games – especially as it relates to the use of tax dollars being diverted from our priorities (education, transportation, public safety, and infrastructure). I would sign on to legislation proposed by Representatives Moran and Michlewitz that would require greater public scrutiny, transparency, and oversight.
- Should Boston host the 2024 Summer Olympic & Paralympic Games (the “Games”)?
- If Boston were to host the 2024 Olympics, should the City commit any public money to support the Games?
- If Boston were to host the 2024 Olympics, should the City make any financial guarantees to cover cost overruns for the Games?
- 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?
- 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?
I have been a tireless advocate for our parks and open space during my time working for Senator Petruccelli. I played an active role in the creation of Bremen Street Park and was Chair of the Constitution Beach Association, where I worked with neighbors, non-profits, and businesses to enhance amenities at the beach. With increased development along our waterfront, it is more important than ever that we protect and create additional access to our waterfront, including the full funding of Piers Park Phase II.
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?
I do not support term limits as a principle. One of my political heroes, Sen. Ted Kennedy, was able to accomplish so much for Massachusetts and the entire nation due to his grasp on the political process from decades of service.
- 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?
I support greater transparency in government, and will push for stricter ethics laws and more open procedures and processes in the House of Representatives.
- 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?
As former Chair of the Constitution Beach Association, I worked with organizations like Save the Harbor Save the Bay and the Metropolitan Beaches Commission to fund water quality testing for Boston Harbor. There are grave concerns related to environmental impacts of Logan Airport. I worked with the Mass DPH on the original Logan Health Study. Unfortunately, funding cuts under Gov. Romney delayed the study for far too long. I do not believe the study was as comprehensive as it could have been, and therefore, I will work to fund an in-depth and detailed study with community participation if elected.
- 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 must make sure that our most vulnerable citizens have access to quality health care and I will fight to protect that right.
- 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?
- 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?
Massachusetts needs to do more to treat those battling addiction and facing mental illness. I would prioritize increasing funding for treatment programs.
- Would you support legislation to ensure that all Massachusetts students are eligible for in-state tuition, regardless of their federal immigration status?