Dear Royal Rooters, welcome to the blog. Whether I win or lose, I really feel as if I'm making at least a soupcon of a difference. Today, the BRA cancelled their monthly secret behind closed doors meeting without any explanation at all. When I spoke to the woman at the BRA who is responsible for letting all the councilors know about the meeting she replied in a stern voice:
"let me be perfectly clear. I am not answering your questions. My name is ____ _____" She refused to say anything else. All I did was ask whether the meeting was on or off. Certainly doesn't sound like open, honest government to me.
I officially signed up to be on the ballot today. Registration papers are next tuesday. We can use help getting signatures.
I went to the BRA event in Allston-Brighton tonight. The crowd was 100% against the changing of the zoning code. Not a single person spoke up for it. Susan Tracy and a gentleman from the mayor's office were there but they didn't comment. Councilor McDermott was there, as he said, to listen to the constituents concerns. I spoke about my concerns: why the BRA can't tell how many properties are affected, why a piece of legislation that has only had one problem in 41 years is being revised, especially when it was not a problem, it was just ZBA issuing a permit they should not have, and that the BRA is having secret meetings about zoning which should not be happening in an open democratic society. I handed out copies of the dorchester reporter article about the affair, which was well received. I was invited to the A/B community meeting next Thursday.
I suggested to the BRA that they take into account the citizens who are not for this exemption, and change the zoning code to read that there will be no exemptions to the minimum lot frontage requirement. They obfuscated....
I told Andrea Estes at the Globe today about how mysteriously the policy of the Inspectional Services Department changed between 1998-2001 when the permit for the infamous house was issued. Previously if one went before the ZBA, there would be a 20 day "holding period" before any permit was issued from the time the application was received at ISD. This was the appeal period. Essentially this buffer was put in to keep people from building things at risk. For some reason this policy was changed under the former commissioner Kevin Joyce who was let go after causing taxpayers over $500,000 in legal and other fees when Julie Fothergill refused to fix a contract for him. By the way, under state law the head of ISD is supposed to be a registered engineer which has not been the case in a long time. It has been headed in the past by non construction industry people with political ties. If this 20 day buffer time idea had still been in force, the project never would have received a permit.
I met with councilor Turner today and had a nice but brief meeting. I told him of my idea to have the City bid to build over the mass pike, and create thousands of median income housing, connect the city and have a limited number of high end, and low end housing units. We need to build more housing for the working class!!! Of course, we would need to have competent accountable construction managers which seems to be difficult in this city and state. This is obviously a long term idea to be studied, not one of my pressing issues.
Someone warned me that my opposition may try and portray me as a disgruntled developer who hasn't won BRA contracts. On the contrary, I am a happy developer who made a fair share of money in my dealings with the BRA. But that doesn't mean that I don't think the BRA should be abolished and a voter accountable city planning agency should be established.