Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The People beat the BRA tonight, glory days! & other stories

A soupcon victory tonight in the ongoing battle of the people vs. the BRA. The BRA has been trying to put a PDA into the RFP for Parcel 3. For those of you not up on acronym's, in English that means that the powers that be in City Hall want to have a backdoor to give the land to an insider to build whatever they want circumventing the community process.

Through the work of many community activists, councilor Turner, Shirley Kressel and in a tiny way me an amendment was passed by the advisory board tonight that excludes the PDA language from the RFP. It was the first time I've ever seen the BRA not snake their way into getting what they want. The vote was 4 for, 3 against, and 3 abstain. There was loud applause and celebration from the people. We'll see how they try and weasel out of this one. I really feel some momentum in people standing up and demanding a say in their neighborhood. I hope this isn't a phyrric victory.

I went to this meeting at 6 pm, then ran over to Brighton for the district candidates forum. Murphy and Flynn were there. Ed asked me if anything else was going on and I told him about the roxbury forum. I told Steve Murphy about it as well. He said "I didn't know about any BRA meeting." I told him, of course not, the BRA isn't going to tell you what they are doing, you're just a city councilor. Senator Tolman was hosting and was gracious enough to introduce the three of us.

I was in south Boston doorknocking today and met a woman who was a republican who was just as fed up with me with politicians just blowing smoke. She talked about the drug problem, and all the syringes on the beach. She offered to make phone calls and work on the campaign. She said she had 8 women friends her age (early 40's?) and of the 8, 6 of them had children in Detox. She lived next door to Jack Hart's family, and talked aloud about how he had forgotten his roots. She says she wished Whitey Bulger was still in South Boston patrolling the streets, because he wouldn't let anyone under 20 years old use drugs. She said he personally walked her home a number of nights to keep her off the streets. You know things are bad when the people are wishing for the return of one of the 10 most wanted.

The attorney I'm working with on this Pro Bono case with Mintz, Levin called me a few days ago urgently insisting that I do some work on the case as a deadline was approaching. Funny, I said, how you guys need me to do something quickly, yet I still have not received a phone call back from the firm about what Paul Scappiccio is doing for the company. Nor a return phone call for help on a zoning issue. (I'm sure I'm not rich enough for them to return my phone calls)
I explained how I really feel they are a bunch of greedy, rich white lawyers who try to allay their conscience by helping out one nice black guy. I said why don't you address the core issues. I said if you really care so much why don't you live in roxbury (I didn't know where she lived). I asked, "where do you live?" Sure enough, she lives in Arlington as she started to explain its because of family and other issues. I'm sure it is. Of course it is. She cares about her family so she moves out of the city to an affluent nearly homogenous suburb. If Mintz, Levin really cared about anything other than the bottom line they would file real lawsuits, for example why does roxbury only have bus service when they were promised rail service when the elevated orange line was taken down. Seperate but equal is not equal. Anyway, I don't know the woman personally, she has always been nice on the phone to me (why not, I'm doing free work for them with no quid pro quo) but it is all too predictable. Wash away that guilty conscience....

Someone was at the roxbury meeting tonight who said I stiffed him on a painting job years ago. I'm sure (as I've written about before) if I get closer and closer to victory, these people will come out of the woodwork. I've already had a number of people I've had disagreements with in the past come calling looking for money. Being a contractor is good practice for being a politician, there are always going to be disgruntled people: neighbors, workers, subcontractors. You can't please everyone, and lord knows I haven't been perfect. But, I paid everyone who did the work they were supposed to and I have a long line of people who will attest to that.

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