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Bribery is such an ugly word

The Globe takes a look at developers in this overheated town making payments to neighborhood associations and institutions that support their projects before city boards.

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This has been going on for years.

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It is, without a doubt, reprehensible that some neighborhood organizations, or worse, miscellaneous wannabe power players that purport to represent neighborhood organizations, have been doing this particular nasty dance with the developers.

With that said, this article is great news for the developers, in that it discredits-by-association all neighborhood opposition, rendering anybody's opposition to any given development somewhat questionable, and handing the developers the "they're only opposing me because I didn't grease their palms" card to play at the ZBA.

Now why would the Globe push this agenda?

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I expect Carmen Ortiz to investigate, indict the 70 year old neighborhood gadfly, find a way to pin the blame on the Walsh administration then attend her bust unveiling at the new Globe headquarters.

This is Globe porn. Taking down uppity and loud Boston neighborhood people in an effort to assist the downtrodden development community.

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Sounds good to me, since it's risibly undemocratic for "public support" to be bought with 5000$ of cash deposited to a foundation headquartered out of someone's house. Since the globe provided abundant examples of clear unethical behavior by several of the groups, and you've presented nothing to contradict the globe, or even to show "the good ones", I'll remain on the side of wanting to bring to light and stop cash bribery.

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Thanks for your comment anon (not verified)! We all should be in favor of greater transparency!

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Doesn't require paying thousands of dollars in cash to me under the table, I feel little compulsion to reveal any personal information.

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Those neighborhood associations that solicit or accept bribes, and those individuals representing fake neighborhood associations, ought to be hung out to dry. But let's not discredit all neighborhood input into development projects, much of which is driven by hardworking volunteers who do their homework and genuinely, in good faith, seek solutions that work well both for the developer and for the neighbors.

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Yep, many of them are just looking out for the interests of those who will still be there regardless of what gets built and made the neighborhoods nice enough to invest in.

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These are developers we are talking about. The reason they wrote these emails was to make sure that their was a paper trail. They are willing make donations to neighborhood associations for reasonable amounts.

What is implied that the person mentioned was asking for direct payments to himself. This article doesn't prove that.

The whole city has these associations and only a few presume to ask for money. Less residents realize that this goes on.

These associations are made up of nice hardworking people, I agree with you on that. But I have never been to that meeting ( and I have lived in several Boston neighborhoods), where the association was interested in seeking solutions. These nice decent people seemed to feel that that is their duty to imagine every possible obstacle to building, or changing anything.

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I'm sorry you haven't encountered the more positive interactions. Off the top of my head:

  • Neighbors: "Could you and the other school up the block share a single drop-off / pick-up area to reduce the total area in which little kids and moving cars interact? School development team: "Sure, we hadn't thought of that."
  • Neighbors: "If you moved the garage entrance for your proposed hotel around the corner, it would be on a wide commercial street instead of a narrow residential street; easier to get in and out, and better for the neighbors, too." Developer: "OK"
  • Neighbors: "That's not a great place to put that crosswalk. Further up the block would accommodate the elderly living in that big building over there." City: "OK, good idea."

Nothing dramatic or glamorous, but the people who actually live and work in a neighborhood know a lot more about the details of traffic patterns, access, noise, etc. than the developers' outside consultants, and their input often makes a very positive difference.

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Neighbors: you have to create a parking lot using 1/4 of your total space only for specific neighbors to use but none of your occupants

Neighbors: you can't put more than three houses on that acre lot, despite the existing density of the neighborhood being 40 units per acre

Neighbors: you have to do what we say and scale down to ten units from 32 (despite the lot being zoned for 51) or we will keep suing you.

Neighbors: You have to solve all the flooding problems despite your development not causing any because we said so.

Neighbors: the zoning board and city have acted in an arbitrary and capricious way because they ruled that 32 units for land zoned for 51 is okay.

This was all aimed at "Evil DEVELOPERS", aka a group of people, several from the neighborhood, trying to build a place where they could live together on a lot that formerly housed a printing company..

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I want to echo what SwirlyGrrl said. I have been to many of these meetings (of the JPNC in my case) and a tiny minority of the concerns are easy, low-impact requests like moving garage entrances around a corner. The vast majority of the time the requests are exactly the same: Less density, more parking, and more affordability. If it wasn't for all of the arguments about these three things, the entire "community involvement" process would be over in 30 minutes or less instead of being drawn out over months or years (and guess who pays for that).

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Meetings are the worst way to decide anything. These people are mostly nice normal people. But I have watched people bring up the most random requests for changes that literally have nothing to do with them. It is if because it is a public meeting that have to bring up something or the poor developer will feel like they came to the meeting for no reason.

There are people that attach some kind moral value to changes without acknowledging that they are being selfish. (smarmy is the word).

I think that the zoning board needs to make some changes to prevent neighbors from asking to basically set new restrictive standards. More density is needed. if you want to live in the suburbs, then move to one.

We need less luxury condos. It is a kind of housing that is very vulnerable to bubbles. We need basic one bed room apartments for single entry level professionals. To love a neighborhood, you need to live there and know it.

The zoning board needs to disregard neighborhood approval if they ask for changes that exceed zoning requirements. if the requirements are too lax, then they should be changed.

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Well said. That article doesn't describe all of those groups.

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While the rich neighborhoods bribe and build, poorer neighborhoods are full of vacant buildings. Rents would not be so high if the rules allowed reasonable growth.

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Vacant buildings and lots everywhere from Roxbury and JP to Dorchester are being developed and built on, and every community meeting with developers is full of neighborhood residents who say frankly "what will you do for us?" And certainly here on the JP/Rox line there's a core of "anti-gentrification" people who show up to loudly protest every development claiming--even on vacant/abandoned buildings and lots--as if someone was building luxury condos on their grandmother's grave. It's not like I love developers but it's starting to feel like damned if you do, damned if you don't.

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That influence will be taken away if it continues to be unreasonable. In Dorchester one dumb guy tried to make his house a two family and people went nuts. They started a thread called "developer gone wild!" And begged everyone to not let him get away with it. We need permitting process for safety.

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Was it in a neighborhood without any two family? If so, it's understandable that people don't want neighborhoods to start being changed in that way if it makes a place with small parcels much more crowded compared to when they bought.

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Where does that neighborhood exist in Boston?

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The subsidized housing people regularly receive payoffs so they will support private developers. A developer on South Huntington recently paid a huge amount to the JP Neighborhood Council, or some bogus neighborhood group, for project approval. Back when Stop & Shop was built in the 80's, the developers had to set up a fund in case nearby small businesses were negatively impacted by the big store. No store owners ever requested money, so it was all used by the neighborhood activists to support their friends. Extortion by the subsidized housing people, and their politically correct friends, is a way of life in JP.

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Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation is hardly a bogus group. You really don't know what you're talking about.

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If you knew what you were talking about or maybe slowed down to read, you'd know that the JPNC (Neighborhood Council) and the JPNDC (Neighborhood Development Corp) are totally different entities.

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you replying to me? Because I was making the point that it was the JPNDC and not the JPNC. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

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And I'm not sure why the JPNDC enters into the topic at all. I'm pretty sure that Patricia was referring to this. http://www.jamaicaplainnews.com/2015/05/01/olmsted-place-developers-150k...

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what she was referring to. But she didn't know what she was talking about. I was mistaken in saying JPNDC and not City Life. The point is that neither are bogus neighborhood groups.

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not the JPNDC (which you injected wrongly and rather snootily into the conversation) and she is not alone in thinking that the JPNC is totally bogus and has played a very dubious role in working with developers in JP.

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always agree with decisions of the JPNC but the members are elected from the neighborhoods, their board meetings and committee meetings are open to the public and those attending can speak to the issues on the agenda.

They often fill vacancies so if you or anyone else wants to help with neighborhood issues you are welcome to participate. Volunteer to make things better. (I am not nor have I been a member though I have attended meetings to speak to an issue.)

As I said before, I was mistaken above. I wasn't being snooty. I'm puzzled by the hostility.

I'm not the one that called neighborhood groups bogus.

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a Jamaica Plain neighborhood group. Sorry but it doesn't fit the agenda of targeting a certain ethnic and parochial group within the 02127 Zip Code. Jamaica Plain gets fluffily lifestyle pieces on social progress. The other neighborhood, not so much.

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whom, I know just from her posts here, has lived in JP for 30+ years "You really don't know what you're talking about" is what's hostile, especially when it's YOU who misread her post and confused two separate neighborhood groups. We don't all need to agree on local politics but there's no need to be snotty about it.

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I didn't misread the post. She said JPNC or some other bogus neighborhood group. I took issue with "bogus." Putting the JP groups in the same category as the groups mentioned in the Globe article.

The how long have you lived here game isn't relevant. But I've been here almost as long.

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If you compare the voter count to the JP population, the Neighborhood Council is elected by maybe .0001% of the JP population. And they fill the vacant seats with their friends when the "election" is over. The JP Neighborhood Council does not speak for, or represent, the residents of Jamaica Plain. They are indeed one of the bogus neighborhood groups, though not the only one.

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JPNC meeting. They were asking if anyone in the audience was interested in filling some of the vacancies. They asked people to contact them. (I don't know anyone except by sight on the current board.) Most neighborhood boards don't fill all their positions. People don't volunteer, because it is time-consuming and involves more work than attending a once a month meeting.

I agree that few bother to vote for JPNC representatives in their elections. But not many people bothered to vote in our latest primary either. It's a general problem.

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JPNDC is themselves a developer, so I doubt they've been the payee in any of these quid pro quo schemes.

That said, the JPNC has totally been guilty of this in the form of demanding donations and road improvement projects from developers as a condition of their support. The money rarely goes directly to the pockets of the neighborhood council, but the resulting effect is still pretty problematic.

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sweetheart. I wrote the JP Neighborhood Council. They aren't the same as the JP Neighborhood Development Corporation--though the NDC has its own problems. The JP Neighborhood Council is absolutely and certainly a bogus group.

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The North Cambridge Stagnation Committee made it very clear that they had a twofold mission when it came to development:

1. extract trinkets (aka they actually demand bribes to stop filing frivolous lawsuits)
2. further the political ambitions of their leadership

Guess who can pay the bribes? Big developers. Guess who can't? Community groups or locals who live in the neighborhood trying to build in ways that are sensitive to the needs of their neighbors.

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And out of this grew a system of bribery and graft? You don't say.

Also, at what point do you just blow somebody up as a developer? Somebody asks you for a bribe, why not publicly trash the guy? When does pride surpass making a buck? How many bucks do you have to have?

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"Murad wrote to City Hall to announce a deal with developer Joseph Hassell"

Oh cool, what election did this guy win? I didn't know I could be the head of an organization invented out of thin air and negotiate the use of somebody else's land. Sounds like a sweet gig. Where do I apply?

"Murad shot back: “I welcome hearing who has issues with our 501c4 receiving money,” a reference to the civic organization’s nonprofit tax status."

"We don't pay taxes." What a (expletive) piece of garbage. Don't we rip Trump for tax dodging? Can we do that with this guy too?

It's like Bill Maher says: "We don't make anything anymore." Maybe the developer is greedy, but at least he makes things. The neighborhood association manufactures literally nothing.

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Hold on, my phone is ringing. It's a cop, telling me not to drink and drive. I get these all the time, phone calls from people telling me that things I may or may not endeavor to do are illegal:

“No one called me and said you can’t do that,” Murad said. “If someone [from the BRA or elsewhere] would have said, ‘Dude you can’t do that,’ I would have been like, ‘OK. I didn’t know.’ ”

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Mahoney told the Globe. “I wrote something, and I’m being crucified for it.”

That's because you lied about the guy, you stupid (expletive). I guess you fail at both being a cop and a journalist.

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A better word is linkage. Anybody coming to town to make money should donate.
What better way than youth groups

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"Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself." Shaming the giving (or lack thereof) of others is not the point of charity.

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