On Blue Mass Group, Ayanna Pressley was kind enough to answer some of my questions. She is for lifting the cap on the Charter Schools, she doesn't know that 6 councilors are allowed to meet behind closed doors, she has proposals she wants to introduce that will be paid for by that evergreen 'efficiency and collecting unpaid stuff' line that all politicians use (apparently she doesn't think Menino is doing a good job of collecting all the money that is owed to us), and she won't cut anything, or say how she will get anything done until she has time to meet with all the parties and analyze everything. She has learned from the best (Joe Kennedy, John Kerry) how to promise everything while saying nothing, and she will get elected as I predicted in February. I am impressed that she took the time to answer, and I look forward to her being as accessible as she promises which will be a nice breath of fresh air.
Thanks for the questions. I'll do my best to answer them as thoroughly as my time allows. And don't forget, I'm #8 on the ballot- hope I can earn one of your four votes.
1) Are you for expanding the Charter School Cap or opposed to it?
I was fortunate enough to have a mother who cared deeply about my education, and fought hard to ensure I got the best education possible. Today I see the long wait lists for a number of our city's charter schools, and those wait lists only exist because there are so many parents who take personal pride and responsibility for their child's education. It is the job of a City Councilor to support those parents who have decided this is what's best for their children. So while I do support lifting the existing cap, I am concerned that there could be some fiscal "blowback" on BPS.
2) Where in the Back Bay/Beacon Hill are you going to advocate for diverse, mixed use housing?
I believe development must include community-input that is respected and taken seriously by developers and the city. I don't have specific locations in mind and would be uncomfortable imposing my views, at this time, on a process I really believe should be driven by neighborhood residents.
3) Do you agree with the current city council rules which allow for 6 councilors to meet behind closed doors and discuss issues? If not, will you introduce new rules in your first 100 days?
As far as I know, Council rules do not allow for 6 councilors to meet behind closed doors. I support the work that has been done in the last few years to improve and ensure that the Council is fully educated on and compliant with the Open Meeting Law requirements.
4) Counseling for victims of violence is a good thing. What will you propose cutting from the budget to pay for it?
I think it's a bit irresponsible to advocate cutting programs before I am elected and before we have a clearer idea on where the city stands fiscally next year. There are opportunities to collect unpaid taxes, fees and tickets that could amount to tens of millions of dollars. Some may see my answer as pie-in-the-sky idealism but I think making rash announcements in October about budget cuts is more about political posturing than anything else.
5) How will you pay for a Green Jobs workforce?
In the budget section of my post, I spoke about a few places where we can improve on revenues. Longer term, I believe we need to be thinking about economic development as a way of sparking our economy and generating revenues. But "paying" for a Green Jobs workforce isn't our immediate challenge- educating a Green Jobs workforce is and that can be achieved through creativity, innovation and commitment on the part of our educators and teachers, and not necessarily out of the city's checkbook.
6) What penalties will you impose on contractors who don't enforce the Boston Jobs Policy? Will you introduce legislation in your first 100 days?
Adherence to the Boston Jobs Policy is a priority. If I'm fortunate enough to be elected, I will definitely start work on issues like this. I don't want to make a promise today about legislation that I may write, or tie myself to an immediate timeline, these issues are too important to rush into without talking with all the parties involved. If it takes 101 days, but that extra day makes the difference between O.K. legislation favored by a few and comprehensive legislation favored by most, the important thing is achieving the ultimate goal of better enforcement of the policy.
7) Will you refuse to give any funds to the BRA (as we do now) until they are as transparent as you think they need to be, which means voting against the budget if need be?
Transparency is absolutely essential. But I don't believe in making threats, particularly before I have even been elected, and I don't believe it is productive to hinge my entire budget vote on one issue and in effect abandon all the other priorities that I have for the city.