I spent the day campaigning in East Boston. It is edifying and enjoyable meeting people from the different neighborhoods, and seeing how different the characteristics of each place are.
One of the defining characteristics of the Eastie people is that they are not afraid to voice their opinion. They don't mince words and a meme I heard repeated often today is that "all the politicians are crooks", "they are all bums", "I don't trust any of them", and "they get in there and promise us things and then they don't do nothin'". The frustration and cynicism is palpable, and is hard not to agree when one sees the condition of the streets and the trash on them.
I had a very interesting conversation with one of the on duty fireman who came to the Shaw's with his crew to get groceries. He said "Our budget is 135 million dollars and we could cut 30 million dollars with no letdown in services". He talked about how inefficient things are, and how top heavy the department is. I find in talking to city workers that they have an excellent grasp of what is going on, and really know many places that we could save money. We need to engage them in this process to make Boston more efficient, make our workers communal owners of the City we serve, not make them feel as if it just doesn't matter because everything is so corrupt and there is no way to change it.
Finally tonight I spoke in Allston where the Mayor's community liaison Daniel Roan was furiously writing down in his notebook everything I said. I wonder if he was on political time or city time while he was doing that? Anyway, Dan is a very nice guy and well liked in the community, and of course anyone is welcome to write down my thoughts and ideas, just make sure you give me credit for them!
One of the ideas which seems to get a lot of heads nodding is my proposal to put trash cans in any community which would like them, and then to empty them in a timely manner. People are fed up with trash, and can't believe that we can't take care of this basic public service. We have many underused people in our society right now, training them to clean up our city would be a productive way to put jobs and money back into the economy on the lower end of the pay scale which is being hit hardest by the recession.