Archive for Environment

Zero-Fare Mass Transit Podcast

Fairmount LineI’m not the first to propose fare-free mass transit. I’ve done it before, shall do it again, and won’t be the last. Yet, the proposal and concepts behind it continue to astound those who accept the current unnatural order of things transportation.

The shock to many is shifting from the it’s-only-common-sense idea that sure, a bus, commuter rail or subway has to charge for a ticket. Otherwise, who’ll pay for the expenses. Well, the commonsense thingummy almost always means, “I have nothing. I’ll just deal in cliché and stereotype.”

After our last terrible winter when the mass transit in Boston (the T as we call it, for MBTA) failed us countless times. The newish Gov. Charlie Baker set a task force to defining how to fix it. Not surprisingly, they wanted to do the same things, just cheaper and more efficiently. They never asked what we expect from mass transit.

I talk a bit in a short show (19 minutes) on why we should have zero-fare transit. There are many advantages in clearing road congestion, minimizing pollution, noise and wrecks, all by shifting the governmental (you taxes) expenditures from conductors, ticket vendors and such to the fares. I’d bet that be done for the same or less.

Then drivers who often disdain mass transit have to look at the huge subsidies they get in road building and maintenance, gas price supports and more. The are more heavily riding on our taxes than T riders would be. Let’s get real, boys and girls.

Many library as well as internet sources cover the topic. You can start with our 5-year-old Left Ahead chat with MA Gov. Mike Dukakis, here. Of course, Wikipedia as a multi-page recap of cities who are offering free transit, here. An excellent think piece on the subject by Henry Grabar appears in Salon, here.

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Matt O’Malley Podcast

Matt O’MalleyA relentless and sincere activist Boston City Councilor, Matt O’Malley keeps his eyes on many prizes. He reaches for and works for them, but never despairs when he can’t grasp one.

He has represented District 6 — West Roxbury, most of Jamaica Plain, and slivers of Roslindale, Mission Hill and Roxbury — for four two-year terms. While young for the job, he earned his way working for or to elect many pols, including Steve Grossman and Tom Menino. He spoke of some of the important lessons. For example, Mayor Menino would see him in City Hall and immediately scold him, saying to get out of the building and go talk to the constituents. He quipped that he judged his success for a weekend when Menino was Mayor by how many times he ran into Tom. If its three or four, he figured he was hitting enough of the right events and locations.

We had a rambling talk, though we never got around to the Pats. Click below to listen to a half hour or so of his views on the Summer Games 2024, casinos, schools and even compost.

O’Malley chairs the Council’s environment committee and is vice chair of its education one. His fingers are in many other pies and he does not hesitate to research a topic and render a judgment. For example, for his main committee, he is proud of having worked with the late Mayor Tom Menino on crafting and passing BERDO, the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance. That pioneering act requires the city’s medium and larger buildings to track and report energy use, and then makes those data public.

It’s likely that his counterparts in many cities don’t do much with environmental responsibilities. O’Malley on the other hand drills down also into such quality-of-life matters as making drinking-water filling stations available for seniors, joggers, everyone. Likewise, he’s driving curbside composting and pushing to up rates of single-stream recycling (WR and JP, two of his district’s neighborhoods lead the city).

On the controversial topic of the bid for the 2024 Summer Games, he’s a believer. He sees it as a real opportunity for the city. However, he is detail oriented enough to demand much greater “sunshine’ in making the process going forward to be truly transparent. He doesn’t believe, despite organizer and promoter claims that there won’t be public funds required. He’ll push for candor and specifics.

On another hot topic, casinos, he is close to my skeptical view. He tried unsuccessfully to get Boston’s citizens a vote in the propose Everett one. Listen in to hear how he thought the approval process should have gone.

He now hopes Gov. Charlie Baker will put a hold on all casinos except Springfield’s. He thinks that city stands to get the greatest benefit from one and wants to see it as a test case before other development goes forward.

He calls himself a skeptic “at best” on casinos. He says Mayor Marty Walsh was right to sue over the Everett one. Listen in to hear what he would have liked to have seen in terms of affected municipalities having a say.

In the main, O’Malley is a Walsh supporter. We both knew and respected Menino. We figure Walsh has some on-the-job learning to pick up more of Menino’s savvy. Yet, O’Malley finds the new mayor competent, open and accessible.

This sow has some of some of this, some of that. Expect more of these as I line up other city councilors.


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Boston Councilor Matt O’Malley Chat

Popular Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley comes on Tuesday, January 27th. We’ll talk a range of topics from his very positive Environment Committee efforts to the plans for the city schools. We’ll surely get to the Olympics bid and maybe a Patriots’ scandal.

He represents District 6 — West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain and slivers of Roslindale and Mission Hill. That makes for a very diverse and demanding set of issues and constituents.

If you can join us live, click here at 2:30 on 1/27. Of course, you can listen to him on demand later at that URL, back here at Left Ahead or on our iTunes channel.