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Candidates agree: In Hyde Park, the T is awful, housing prices are out of control and Cleary Square is full of trash

Arroyo, Farrell, Graham, Murad, Powell, Tuchinetz

At forum: Arroyo, Farrell, Graham, Murad, Powell, Tuchinetz.

At a candidate forum at the Blue Hills Collaborative tonight, six candidates for the District 5 (Hyde Park, Mattapan, Roslindale) seat being given up by Tim McCarthy agreed in broad strokes on almost everything, differing mainly on the specifics of how they would accomplish their goals on specific topics.

Six of the eight candidates in the Sept. 24 preliminary attended the forum, sponsored by the Friends of the Hyde Park Branch Library. Jean-Claude Sanon and Yves Marie Jean did not attend.

The one major issue on which candidates disagreed was on the idea of an elected school committee. Candidates Ricardo Arroyo, Ceciliy Graham, Justin Murad, Alkia Powell and Mimi Tuchinetz all said they supported having at least some committee members elected by the public, saying that would lead to increased accountability and transparency. Arroyo said he could also support a "hybrid" committee in which some seats were reserved for experts in certain educational specialties, for example, special education. Turchinetz agreed, but said she would like to see seats reserved for students, parents and teachers.

Only Maria Esdale Farrell said she would oppose an elected school committee. Farrell, who works as an education advisor to McCarthy, said she is not sure candidates for elected seats on the committee might "not have the best intentions" and could use the committee only as a stepping stone to higher office.

Other issues:

Transportation

All the candidates agreed the current commuter-rail zone system, in which riders getting on at Readville or Hyde Park pay far more than people getting on at Fairmount, is unfair.

Murad called for lower fares in general.

"I think we can all agree that the MBTA currently is a disgrace," Turchinetz said. She said that the Fairmount Line should be electrified, the frequency of the trains increased and CharlieCards be allowed for use on it. She added that something needs to be done about the 32 bus.

Graham, who worked as an intern for former T General Manager Beverly Scott, called for free fares across the T, which she said could be paid for by increasing the system's efficiency, electrifying commuter-rail lines and by reducing costs through increased used of solar power. She said the T also needs more bus routes and more dedicated bus lanes. She said she would bring in consultants from places that have figured out how to run good transit systems, such as the UK.

Arroyo said he would also support free fares on the T, said he would push for new bus lines that let riders get around the neighborhoods rather than just go to and from Forest Hills and would push for more bus shelters at stops. He added the success of a morning bus lane on Washington Street in Roslindale shows the area needs more dedicated bus lanes.

Farrell also supported free fares - and a 32 express bus from Wolcott Square to Forest Hills - but said transportaton also means figuring out how to increase bicycle ridership - she noted Hyde Park has no Bluebike stations and said it needs more bike lanes - and speeding up car speeds on main streets and lowering them on side streets. She added she wants to look at clustered "community" school-bus stops, which she said would both reduce the number of places where school buses stop traffic and which would create a new sense of community among the parents and kids who use the new stops.

Powell also called for free fares.

All the candidates acknowledged it will be hard to get the T, a state agency, to change, but said they could use their seat as a bully pulpit to call for change. "The squeaky wheel gets the oil," Murad said. Farrell noted the city now pays an MBTA assessment of $89 million and could use that as leverage to seek improvements.

Climate crisis

All the candidates supported changing city zoning regulations to require new construction to adopt "Net Zero" techniques that would bring their carbon footprint down to zero.

Arroyo said he would want to adopt a Watertown regulation that requires new construction above a certain size to include solar panels.

Turchinetz said that in addition to requiring Net Zero for new construction, she would look at how to begin to help owners of existing buildings retrofit to achieve a net-zero carbon footprint. She said she would make this a part of rewriting Article 80 - the section of city code which establishes standards developers have to follow to win BPDA approval.

Graham said she supports the Green New Deal and will not take any donations from energy and other carbon-generating industries.

The disgusting condition of Cleary Square

Candidates all agreed Cleary Square is currently a litter-strewn mess, despite the best efforts of local volunteers to keep up with local litter pigs.

Powell said the city needs to stop up its recycling programs and educational programs to help homeowners and merchants recycle more to reduce the amount of stuff that now winds up on the street.

Farrell said the reason Roslindale Square is so much cleaner than Cleary Square is because of the "incredible activism" by Roslindale resident and merchants to keep the place spiffy. She said one answer might be community-service programs at local schools in which students could be sent out on litter patrol.

Graham said she would work to help small businesses better clean up the sidewalks in front of them.

Turchinetz said the problem in Hyde Park and Mattapan Square is that they "don't have equity in basic community services," that she would push for better attention from Public Works - and from the DCR, which owns so much land in Hyde Park and which she said also does a poor job of litter control. "We can't 'volunteer' our way out of it," she said. "Logan Square, Cleary Square, there's trash everywhere and it's a disgrace."

Biggest issues facing the district

Turchnietz said they were inadequate affordable housing and the lack of community control over local development, such as the two large residential projects planned for either side of the Readville train station. Turchinetz, a board member of the Southwest Community Development Corp., which last year cut the ribbon on a 27-unit affordable apartment building at the Fairmount T stop, said people keep telling her of local rent increases of $300 to $700 a month.

Powell cited affordable housing and public safety - she said she personally knows too many people "lost to the streets" and called for more anti-violence programs.

Arroyo cited housing affordabilty and transportation. and said he would work for "community benefit agreements" with developers as well as increases in the number of affordable units and "linkage" funds developers have to provide in exhcange for city approval.

Murad cited tranportation and education - Boston, he said, needs to provide both more schools and more resources for them.

Farrell also cited transportation and education. She said education is the main reason new parents leave Boston.

Graham pointed to housing displacement and education. She called for a 2% real-estate transfer tax to help fund more affordable housing and said schools need more counseling, language services and teachers of color.

Earlier:

In District 5 race, voters will get to decide whether to go more progressive or stick with the status quo.

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Comments

Turchnietz said they were inadequate affordable housing and the lack of community control over local development, such as the two large residential projects planned for either side of the Readville train station.

Housing is already too expensive so let’s put up more “community control” roadblocks to prevent the creation of more housing on vacant land next to the commuter rail. God help us that this is what passes for an actual policy proposal from a self-describe housing advocate. Welp.

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And then let's add a 2% tax and all kinds of environmental restrictions on top of that.

That'll solve our housing crisis.

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I fixed my Orange line and 32 bus problems after a turnstile jumper intimidated me at the Mass Ave stop. MBTA redshirts nearby did nothing. The 32 was unreliable. Enough complaining, I bike.

Those waiting for government to solve their problems seem to get stuck in ever-growing lines. Good luck with that.

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Red shirts and T employees are prohibited by management from stopping fare jumpers or engaging them in any way. Only T police are allowed. It is a dumb rule.

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It’s possible that’s a smart policy, Bobp. It cost the T this full-fare-paying rider.

May I brag about how beautiful my nature-filled, serotonin-boosting bike commute is? Seven miles, and I arrive at work not stressed and scared any more but confident and healthier.

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Do they agree that Readville should be Zone One?

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They all said it should be the same fare as the rest of the Fairmount Line, which is the same as the subway.

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I live around the corner from Readville station but it is too much money so I schlep it on rt 32 from Wolcott every day.

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Exactly. And the proponents of the multi unit apartment buildings they want to put all over the Readville train station area claim that the tenants will take the train. But it's out of their price range and not getting any cheaper any time soon. Fares just went up again this summer. Most towns are all one Zone, not split into two or more. Except Hyde Park. I'll never understand why the elected officials of HP don't fight this.

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Where are we with putting a dedicated bus lane on Hyde Park Ave? Currently it's a mix of 50 mph drivers with occasional clumps at stop lights.

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..biking with those 50 mph drives (on their phones) along with a non-dedicated bike and bus lane.

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It's wide enough that really this more permanent bus lanes should be feasible by eliminated parking on the west/north side of Hyde Park Ave. I don't know that bike lanes could be accommodated as well but in this case I think the bus lane would do more for the folks in Hyde Park.

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Bikes are pretty compatible with buses. Dozens of people ride in the Washington St. bus lanes on weekday mornings without issue.

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I am guessing that you have never had to do anything on Hyde Park Ave.

Between Metropolitan Avenue and Forest Hills, there is no problem with traffic congestion. The business owners on that stretch might disagree with you that they don't need on street parking by their businesses.

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I go down it almost every weekday and get passed by people doing 50. It doesn't need to be a two lane road both directions and should have dedicated bus lines to Hyde Park with increased service to alleviate traffic and increase access to the MBTA from Hyde Park.

Between Metropolitan and Forrest Hills I can't think of a single business on the west side of the street without a parking lot. So... I'm guessing you have never frequented a business on Hyde Park Ave?

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...there are many houses along HP with no driveways, simply due to the fact that they were built on mounds surrounded by retaining walls during the mid-to-late 1800's when there were NO CARS.

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100% Delicias. Hey, that’s 3 businesses within 100 feet of each other.

Of course, there are also residences and a BPS Center too.

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The T is a disaster, Cleary Square is a dump, the schools are terrible, housing is too expensive, climate change is the shiny object. It is almost like Liberal Democrats have been running the city for the last 90 years.

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Have you seen what the current District 5 councilor just filed for this week's meeting? Scroll down the UHub front page a lil bit. He might be a Democrat but definitely ain't no liberal. So try again on this one.

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It's fun to forget that the governor runs the T and the Republican solution to schools is to continuously cut funding because rich kids don't go to public schools anyway.

Expensive housing is the free market at work, BTW. Looks like the city "liberals" run is too popular.

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the Republican solution to schools is to continuously cut funding because rich kids don't go to public schools anyway

You live in a state with a 50+ year Democratic super-majority in the legislature and at city/town level.

If your schools suck it's because a political party with a guaranteed monopoly on power has no incentive to do anything well. Because what are voters going to do? Vote for the non-existent opposition? How often do you see politicians running unopposed in general elections or primaries in this state? Quite frequently. How often is voter turnout less than 25%? Quite frequently. We get the crappy quality of government we deserve because better people don't want to run for office and most voters can't be bothered to even show up to vote.

The House Speaker and Senate President don't give a shit and they are the ones that matter. Those two are the real power in the state besides the AG when it comes to exercising power. The Governor is fairly weak executive that appoints department heads which themselves are limited in power due to Civil Service rules and oversight by the legislature or interpretations by the AG.

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They love to talk trash but fail to recognize that we have the best economy and the most open jobs in the country. In a deep blue city in a red country. How about that? It's almost as if investing in social safety nets and education gets us where we want to be. Sure we have problems but we don't have economic problems that deep red states face in the rust belt. Republicants are the biggest hypocrites and it's sad really. Their new strategy is to attack, attack, attack but they're throwing stones while living in glass houses.

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You forgot to comment on low election turnout in Boston.

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And went to the DOE school and district report card.
Here are the results ..

Total Dollars spent per student in this school. $22,283

Total dollars spent per student in this district $20.777.

Total dollars spent per student in Massachusetts $15,450

Accountability percentiles (1-99) indicate how a school is performing overall compared to other schools that administer similar MCAS tests. They are calculated by combining information related to achievement, growth, English learner progress, chronic absenteeism, high school completion, and advanced coursework completion. Schools with higher percentiles are generally higher performing, and schools with lower percentiles are generally lower performing.

5 of 99 Overall, our school is among the lowest performing high schools statewide.

We can't blame republicans or funding cuts for the state of a lot of schools in Boston

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The data you shared points to a high probability that it's a school focused on a learning challenged population. That is going to cost more to generate less result. You cannot simply compare one school to another without understanding the student population.

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"The Community Academy of Science and Health (CASH) is a small, college-prep high school. Our mission is to prepare students from diverse backgrounds to pursue advanced studies and careers in the fields of science and health"

If you go to the BPS website and click on a random High school you are pretty certain to find similarly high costs and low performance. Not all but the majority are under performing.
Boston has a serious problem educating students and there are many reasons why, but republicans cutting funding isn't on the list.

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Their student population is heavily weighted to English language learners, low income families, and learning disabled. The mission statement you quote represents the idea that even heavily challenged students should strive for college readiness.

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The school serves Grades: 9-12
School Type: Regular

If what you said was true wouldn't it be a Title 1 school?

It does have a high number of low income and English learners but it is a regular school which is failing, it offers AP classes and for the last year measured, 0 students passed any AP classes.
Regardless of all that, my point was it's failing and it has nothing to do with funding cuts by Republicans.

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Only Maria Esdale Farrell said she would oppose an elected school committee. Farrell, who works as an education advisor to McCarthy, said she is not sure candidates for elected seats on the committee might "not have the best intentions" and could use the committee only as a stepping stone to higher office.

Unlike city council. World class hypocrisy, just what we need.

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My wife had to snort at the forum, because of the surprise calls for eliminating the T fare. I've advocated for that for over a decade and she noted that I wasn't the only voice the wilderness anymore.

While candidate Graham's reply to the inevitable what-about audience question about paying for such subsidies did not seem complete, she was headed right. We need to consider both what the savings are in health, noise, congestion and so forth, as well as the absurd levels of driver subsidies we have long paid as a nation (many citations, like this study).

Some mass-transit fans, like Mike Dukakis, agreed with my free-fare arguments at public hearings and a decade ago when the Railvolution conference was in Boston. In fairness, he quibbled on fair fare, saying it should be a dollar per trip, so riders had some skin in the game.

Regardless, it looks like District 5 will produce another free-fare advocate for the Council.

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Left 8 years ago. At that time, traffic in and around Clearly Sq and HP Ave was HORRIBLE. Truman was good. As for T service; There are 2 commuter rail stops located within blocks of each other between HP Ave Clearly Sq and Fairmont & Truman. The Fairmont Line is a fantastic deal. Zone 1A up to Fairmont. They just opened another new station in Mattapan. I loved taking to and from work. Very nice ride. I also routinely clocked going from the HP commuter stop in Clearly Sq to Back Bay at less than 15 minutes. 12 minutes wasn't unusual. But the Attleboro and Providence trains are routinely late. The HP Ave bus to and from from Forest Hills and Readville runs every 15 minutes or so (depending on traffic). It operates late into the night, too. Service is as good as it gets, better than other neighborhoods.

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