Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Matthew Geary Responds to the Brighton Centered Questionnaire

Matthew Geary responded to the Brighton Centered questionnaire for the candidates for Boston City Councilor-At-Large.
  1. QUESTION: If you could reverse one decision made by the City Council in the last five years, what would it be and why?

    RESPONSE: Specifically, I would like to have seen approval for the democratic home rule petition, voting rights to all permanent residents, and collective bargaining for tenants. Additionally, the budgets that have been passed have been a glaring example of how misplaced the priorities of the city are. Funding for necessary services has been slashed, working people have continued to have seen their quality of life deteriorate as costs of living have skyrocketed. I would not approve and actively campaign against any budget cuts to social services, education, housing assistance and jobs programs which must be fully funded.

  2. QUESTION: What specific changes do you think should be made to Article 80 of the zoning code?

    RESPONSE: The review process is constantly being stepped over and neglects the needs of neighborhoods. Specifically, the ability of the BRA to waive neighborhood review, based on its own determination is a serious problem. The process of development needs to be fully transparent, with full disclosure of all impacts and disclosure of the full development plans. Developers should not have the ability to negotiate privately with the BRA, disregarding the desires of the community. The city should not be making vague promises that it will make sure the neighborhoods concerns will be addressed after approval, it should be empowering the process of meeting the communities development needs.

  3. QUESTION: Vancouver, British Columbia, requires 25% of their new housing stock built downtown to be “family-friendly.” What is your vision of the specific design elements that would make housing “family-friendly,” and should Boston adopt a similar requirement?

    RESPONSE: Boston needs a concrete plan to build affordable housing, and not just depend on what the city might be able to get out of developers. A democratically run Boston Redevelopment Authority would respond to the needs of working people in Boston and build the type of affordable housing that is needed. Developers currently choose projects based on what makes them the most profit, since the city has no independent planning all they can do is say they will try to make the proposed plans to respond to local needs. Neighborhoods should be making the decisions, telling the city what types of development are needed, not just hoping for a 25% influence.

  4. QUESTION: Some people have proposed that the BPS return to “neighborhood” or “community” schools. Do you support such a proposal? How would such a move impact the achievement gap?  

    RESPONSE: With an unaccountable, unelected school board it is no surprise that BPS schools have widely differing success rates. Boston needs a democratic, fully funded educational system, this would go much further to giving kids the opportunities they deserve then simply tweaking a dysfunctional system. As the war in Iraq continues, costing the city approximately $1,000,000,000 that could have transformed the BPS, I will continue in campaigning to make our schools no-recruiting zones for the military.

  5. QUESTION: Should Boston College be required to house all of their undergraduate students in on-campus dormitories? If so, where should the dormitories be located? On their 'Brighton Campus' (land recently purchased from the Archdiocese of Boston), on their 'Main Campus,' or both?  

    RESPONSE: Having affordable rental housing shouldn't be something that working people and students have to fight over, the city should be building enough to meet our needs. Freshmen often make their new away-from-home experience a burden for the community, it belongs on campus. The new land purchase by BC is one way to mitigate the impact of students, however, the fact that BC doesn't pay property taxes, means the bill for city services is being picked up by working people. The city must require the universities to disclose all land owned through shell companies, pay their fair share and live up to their past commitments.

  6. QUESTION: Have you ever used the Mayor's 24-Hour Constituent Service hotline, either the phone number or the online version? Is it an effective tool for delivering constituent services? What, if anything, would you change about it?  

    RESPONSE: I have used the hotline, and while new channels of communication are important, they are not sufficient in creating open, democratic, collective responses. Councilors are elected to respond to the people's needs and I have been a participant and organizer in past campaigns to improve city services, defend union rights and stop the "T" fare increases. By sponsoring hearings and drawing the city's attention the to needs of working people, I will go beyond the partial solution of a "hotline service" and be an tangible advocate.

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