Letter to the Editor:Matt doesn’t know what the hell the mayor is capable of….

Matt doesn’t know what the hell the mayor is capable of….

Matthew McLaughlin

Judith — 

The Board of Aldermen met this Thursday, June 8 at City Hall. The agenda can be found here.

The most important item we took up was Union Square zoning, which was passed after weeks of meetings that often went to midnight and beyond. I was the only no vote on the zoning. I will explain my position in a later piece as it is quite complicated. My vote was mostly based around the decision making process and lack of faith in deals that the Board has no authority over and can be changed without our consent. I want to thank all of my colleagues for working really hard for the community. We took a bad deal and made it as palatable as possible for the betterment of the neighbors. I only wish there was more we could have done.
I placed an order that the Director of SPCD provide all cost estimates and data used to support the affordable housing waiver for the 500 unit apartment complex at Assembly Row. The planning department told us that they did analysis of costs that led to their unprecedented decision to reduce on site affordable housing from 12.5 percent to 6 percent, with a cash payout for the rest. This was despite community demands that the current 20 percent law be applied. I requested this informaiton, which the Planning Board did not look at, so we can have a transparent process that we were denied.
I placed an order that the Director of SPCD work with Partners Healthcare to create a local jobs program for available jobs onsite. Partners is now the largest employer in the city. Most of the jobs are already filled from other regions, but I would like to work with Partners as jobs turnover to give priority to Somerville residents. 
I placed other orders regarding potholes, a Slow Children Playing sign, fixing greenways, traffic issues by 240 Pearl Street and other maintenance. 
Matthew McLaughlin

One thought on “Letter to the Editor:Matt doesn’t know what the hell the mayor is capable of….”

  1. First let me address Partners Healthcare at Assembly – After given a pass on real estate taxes, an agreement to pay $200k in lieu of, Partners, a triple billion dollar company was also provided with a garage of 10,000 parking spaces for their employees who relocated from their Boston office. Reliable sources shared, that a former alderman, was given an executive position MPH and is related to a Cardiologist at MGH (Partners). That is quite a coincidence.

    We knew then there would be NO JOBS for Somerville Residents at the time Partners signed on to take a big section of Assembly Row at a discount rate.

    Again, why didn’t the aldermen do their homework before allowing these projects (free RE to billionaires and luxury condos) to go forward? Haven’t we given enough charity to non-profits (Tufts) and those who don’t deserve handouts? Because they can well afford them, unlike the struggling home, business owners and residents of our city.

    We should be taking care of our residents. Part-time jobs don’t help families remain in city that has become unaffordable. The alderman should have been focused on bringing commercial business to our town as Cambridge and demanding affordable housing. We have been promised high end commercial tax income for over 20 years, to offset our rising residential tax burden.

    The Union Square Development deals have been in the works for a long time. I don’t know why Matt is surprised about the way things have turned out. There have been other widely publicized cases on eminent domain which have threatened home and business owners.

    I have provided a link below for those interested to read further.

    Some claim the GLX (postponed until 2027, which I don’t believe will be completed based on feedback from contractors) doesn’t need 279 properties in Union Square or additional land in Ball Square (former Bowling Alley).

    But we know why the administration is pushing to take these “land grabs”– for their developer friends, who else?

    For the past 2 years, 279 Union Square home and business owners continue to fight eminent domain, supported by organization, “The Institute for Justice”, to fight the city for their properties. Another similar case is the Ball square Bowling Alley which you can read about on Somerville News Weekly.

    From the NewBostonPost, March 31, 2016

    “In the aftermath of the Court’s ruling, more than 40 states adopted laws either banning or restricting the application of eminent domain rules to economic development projects. In 2007, two years after Kelo, the Institute for Justice’s Castle Coalition — a Virginia-based anti-eminent domain advocacy group — delivered Massachusetts an ‘F’ grade when it came to private property rights”.

    Last spring state Sen. Richard Ross (R-Wrentham) proposed a constitutional amendment relative to eminent domain. The language of the bill stated:

    “With just compensation paid, private property may be taken only when necessary for the possession, occupation and enjoyment of land by the public at large, or by public agencies. Except for the privately owned public utilities or common carriers, private property shall not be taken for private commercial enterprise, for economic development or for any other private use, except with the consent of the owner. Property shall not be taken from one owner and transferred to another, on the grounds that the public will benefit from a more profitable private use.”

    http://newbostonpost.com/2016/03/31/eleven-years-after-kelo-somerville-seeks-to-take-279-houses-by-eminent-domain/

    You can also google: “Reddit 279 Union Square homeowners eminent domain”, for comments, debates and additional information.

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