Addicts on the Common

CarPundit calls the mayor's office this morning to demand action after reading the Herald report on druggies on the Common:

... Our crown jewel public parks should be for children, and families, and tourists, and concerts, and plays, and summer fun, and winter sledding. Not for junkies, their scumbag dealers, or the piss-covered homeless addicts whose presence encourages the narcotics trade.

The photographer and the dying junkie.



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      Carpundit likes to complain

      By on

      Carpundit likes to complain about a lot of things. He seems like the kind of guy who has the Mayor's office on his speeddial.


      ...his name does begin with "carp" .

      I prefer to think of it as decreeing

      No, not decrying. Decreeing. Like: [this] is the way things should be, but aren't. Therefore, I broadcast the error. No need to thank me.

      As for the speed-dial, no. I had to look the number up. But I did commit it to memory. When you spend as much time and money in the city as I do, you have a right to expect responsive government.

      Crown Jewel Parks

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      And Ronan Park in Dorchester or Malcolm X Park in Roxbury should be left of the drug users and dealers? I resent that the attention is drawn to the "crown jewel public parks" when the same problem afflicts public parks that don't have a Beacon Street address.

      I am sorry that your local park has a heroin problem, Carpundit; and the park and neighborhood does deserve better. However, the city shouldn't lift one finger for Boston Common until it agrees to keep every other public place equally as drug free.

      all parks aren't equal

      Bullshit. No one travels from Europe to see Ronan Park. No one comes from Japan to ride a Swan Boat in Malcolm X Park. No hotel guests take an after-dinner stroll through Dorchester or Roxbury to enjoy the sights of Boston.

      The city should pay more attention to the parks that generate traffic, travel, and income. Ronan and Malcolm X Parks just don't matter as much.

      Sorry. That's the way it is.

      Tourists don't just go downtown

      They also go to Jamaica Plain, to see Jamaica Pond, the Arnold Arboretum, and other links in Olmsted's Emerald Necklace.

      Some go to the Zoo at Franklin Park, which is in Newstead Roxbury.

      A few surely find their way to the South Boston beaches, Castle Island, and Piers Park in East Boston (the best place to see the Boston skyline in its full glory).

      Not to mention that Boston citizens and taxpayers live near all of these parks and deserve to have them kept in good repair.


      I'm sure some tourists do travel to those places, and -yes- I think they should be maintained as well. But it shouldn't be the priority. Ideally, all city property should be clean, well-kept, and crime-free. In practice, that doesn't happen in any city. So let's maintain what's already good before we worry about correcting what isn't.

      Tourists, hell

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      I know, I know, they spend money here and, yes, they should feel comfortable in the Public Garden. And I bet it wouldn't really cost much to roust drug addicts from the Common - I'm really not thinking there's a serious shortage of beat officers downtown.

      But, to be honest and, if you want, parochial, when some poor guy who'd spent several years of his life cleaning up a park near his Dorchester home gets murdered there, I suddenly don't care as much about Japanese tourists. I'm not talking about fulltime patrols of every park in the city, but, yes, dammit, I expect my (rapidly rising) property taxes to help pay for clean, decent facilities everywhere in the city (and here I speak as somebody who lives in a part of town where the parks are, if uninspired, safe and, for the most part, maintained OK). Then again, I also expect my taxes to help pay for decent schools, too, so maybe I'm just hopeless.

      Tourists - WTF?

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      Tourists? No one flies from Europe to see Boston Common, either. When they do see it, it is probably from the window of a cab or a Duck Boat.

      Tourists spend one to four days in Boston; they are guests. The city's first responsibility is to its residents, its taxpayers, and its voters. Because I live and work in the Boston, my entire paycheck flows through the city's economy.

      Who has a bigger impact on the economy as a whole - a life long resident of the city or a tourist? Allow that lifelong resident of the city to fall prey to drugs at an early age and his/her contribution to the city decreases significantly.

      Neighborhood parks are also a gathering point for youths; how can you possibly imply that Pedro from Madrid deserves better than the kids growing up in Boston? The needs of my child (if I had one), Adam's children, my neighbors' children or any child in Boston trumps any needs of any tourists. 10,000 times over.

      People won't stop coming to Boston because of a few junkies in the common; this pretend excuse is used in lieu of expressing outrage that someone's pricey corner of Boston doesn't resemble the suburban utopia of his or her youth.

      Its a shame that some peoples' vested intrest in the city lies only within the bounds of the neighborhood in which they currently live.

      wrong, wrong, and wrong

      Tourists do come for the Common/Garden as part of Boston's sights. I was there today, surrounded by tourists, speaking ten different languages. (Er, they were. I was sticking with English.) Cities that attract tourists are cities that have thriving businesses, and cultural centers that attract well-heeled residents, who pay taxes. You can't support the poor without the rich contributing to the economy. Scoff at tourists if you like, but the first neighborhoods to slide back into unliveable hell are ones like JP.

      Smaller neighborhood parks shouldn't have junkies in them either. My point is that we need to stop any parks from becoming newly-infested with junkies before we go clean junkies out of parks that already have them.

      If we allow the clean, crime-free parts of the city to become dirty and crime-ridden, we won't have the base from which to repel the crime elsewhere. Think Detroit.

      Your other, ad hominem, arguments are premised incorrectly, but that's as far as I'll respond to those.


      By on

      I wrote to the mayor's office about drug use too. I asked that our city do better in providing afterschool programs, counseling, tutoring, identification of students with learning disabilities, programs to keep kids in school, programs to help kids transition from school to work, day programs and career training programs, childcare, and healthcare. It's really sad that so many people in our city are in life situations where the choice to engage in heavy drug use is appealing.

      it's never the junkie's fault, is it?

      It's the fault of bad schools, or lack of sports, or a learning disability, or lack of childcare, or poor access to doctors, or the phase of the moon. Bah.

      You want to improve city services? Great, me too. Let's start with sanitation in the public parks - pick up the garbage. I don't care how it got there.

      Blame doesn't solve anything

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      We don't need to blame anyone. That doesn't solve anything.'s pretty well known that people who are into their education, feel financially secure, have good social supports, have the skills and resources to deal with problems that come along, and who feel generally positive about their future do not usually abandon all this and go live under a bridge and shoot up. I mean, face it, drugs are great. I'm actually really stressed out right now, and I'd go get high in a second, except that I really value my career and family and home and community connections, so I don't want to risk that for a quick escape from the crappy morning I'm having. If I were someone who didn't have all these things to value, and didn't have the ability to convince myself that I can get through this and things will be fine in a few days, drugs would be the more appealing option.

      I'm someone with a lot of education, a decent amount of financial resources, and a modest amount of free time. It better benefits society -- which includes me -- if I give time and energy to helping others develop coping skills and practical abilities and self-esteem. I feel like it's my duty to do so. I didn't have great parenting, and I'm intrinisically really a pretty neurotic person, but there were people and resources in my community that helped me to (um, eventually) value education and believe that I could succeed. People did it for me, so I think I should pass it along. People could have decided when I was a dropout living on various people's couches and going to raves and moshpits that I was bothering the community and needed to be sent elsewhere. But they didn't. I really couldn't have gotten where I am now without a LOT of help, which I really didn't deserve, but which people gave me for some reason. Any of the people living under the bridge or shooting up in the park really aren't any different from me. They just haven't gotten the help I have.

      An ounce of pervention...

      By on worth a pound of cure. Ridding the parks of current "junkies" does not stop future "junkies" from setting up shop.


      I won't argue that. Let's get rid of the ones we know about, though.

      It's not about "fault"

      By on

      Something interesting in today's Herald article...

      [Police Captain Bernard] O'Rourke acknowledged there has been a "huge increase" in reports of drug activity in the two parks since late spring. He attributed it partly to a crackdown in Chinatown, where a nightly crime watch and increased patrols have led to a 64 percent decrease in reported drug incidents.

      So if we crack down on the Common, where do these people end up?

      "Picking up the garbage" is a charming way to phrase it, but garbarge doesn't melt away -- it'll end up in another part of the city, like, say, on Carpundit's lawn. I think that's what eeka's getting at when she advocates long-term solutions.

      That's an excellent point

      Jonelle is absolutely correct.

      The Chinatown sweep, it seems, is pushing these people to the Common. The Common sweep will push them somewhere. Continuing the trend, I'm sure they'll end up on the Commonwealth Mall, even closer to my home. I assure you, the residents of those first six blocks won't long stand for that.

      So they'll get pushed somewhere else. I have two suggestions: push them across the Massachusetts Avenue bridge into Cambridge (Cambridge loves homeless people, as is widely known by homeless people across America); or push them across the Commonwealth into New York.

      This is a time-honored method of policing, used by local and state authorities for years. Simply push the crime problem into someone else's district, and your district is crime-free.

      I'm all for it, whether I conceive of my district as Back Bay, or Boston, or Massachusetts.