Archive for Housing

Boston Council President Podcast

smurphy.pngSteve Murphy, president of Boston’s City Council, joined us for an update on key issues. He’s a pivot for many heady problems (a.k.a. opportunities, to optimists).

We touched on the interlocking casino in Boston/hole in the ground at Downtown Crossing, where the city’s money will come from and go in these tight times, the PILOT moneys from universities and other non-profits, and the roles of the Council and Mayor Menino in the big issues.

Listen in as the ever ebullient Murphy describes the row of huge issues before him as “real exciting.” Where others might turn and run, he’s eager to engage in the battles and policy.

He describes what I termed as a tag team with Menino and him on pressuring the developer who left the huge hole where Filene’s used to be. He also goes to the heart of whether the East Boston ward or whole city will be in on the casino-siting vote (hearings first; evaluation of role of public money second; vote decision after the process advances).

We didn’t cover everything, but did have a wide-ranging check-in on Boston.

~Mike

icon for podpress  Steve Murphy [32:01m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Eldridge for Disclosure Podcast

Sen. EldridgeOne of our MA legislators who decidedly has our backs is Sen. James (Jamie) Eldridge. He is now fighting at state and national levels to overcome the awful effects of the Citizens United SCOTUS decision.

He joined us to explain why it’s not OK for corporations to be treated like flesh-and-blood human citizens with Constitutional rights. It’s not OK for unlimited money to be used for political advertising with no public disclosure of who’s funding it.

Rather than whine, he is working at both levels to overturn the effects of the ruling. In the commonwealth, he created and is working to pass two bills, detailed here. Among other things, these require that MA chartered corporations reveal such political expenditures in their quarterly reports and that they give two-third shareholder approval for such expenditures above $5,000.

On the national level, he is asking for Congress to pass and send to the states a Constitutional amendment “to correct the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. This resolution would clarify that Freedom of Speech is a right of citizens, not corporations. That bill is currently before the Judiciary committee.” He has begun working with MA’s Congressional delegation to advance this.

Listen in as describes what he’s done so far, where the bills, what the prospects are for both the bills and the amendment, and even what the conflicts are for legislators who would limit contributions that might come their way.

icon for podpress  Sen. Eldridge [32:17m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Warren: Elite Hick Podcast

With a charming blend of confidence and self-effacement, U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren handled all the three of us could throw her way in a half hour. Listen with the player below or download and play for the whole show.

We tried to cover some areas we had not seen her run through in her many recent appearances on news shows and debate-like events. We did concentrate on economic issues and her seven priorities for rebuilding the American middle class.

She can be colorful and trotted out a few metaphors she uses in stump speeches. “The house is on fire,” she said of the U.S. economy and its effect on the lower and middle classes. She presented a variety of solutions. That is a clear distinction between her and other Dem and GOP candidates for next year’s election. She defines herself as “a straight-up-the-middle gal,” and makes strong proposals.

Listen in as she answers in the affirmative when asked whether we needed an NRA/WPA-style effort to restart the economy. She explained how setting unemployed American, both in construction and the education and municipal sectors, to work immediately can create cash flow to inspire business rebulding and expansion, as well as repairing our crumbling infrastructure.

Asked bluntly whether she saw herself as a new version of the lion of the Senate as the driven Edward Kennedy was, she almost repliled yes. She spoke of meeting Ted meaningfully for the first time and getting a commitment from him to propel major legislation, on top of his already massive commitments. She said that was an inspiration for her and she tries to live it.

She was never short of humor either. For one example, asked about being derided by opponents for being from Oklahoma and on the other hand spending the past 17 years teaching at Harvard, she said, “I’m a new category, an elite hick.”

Warren sees possibities for important legislation passing, even with the existing filibuster potential and GOP blocking. Listen in as she defines how she got her consumer finance legislation enacted over dire predictions of failure. She describes being clear on the message, describing the issues, and getting a lot of people to go with it. “When people get engaged, yes, the Senate can move,” she told us.

Short-term, she also sees tough challenges as well as such potential. For one, she describes he current effort to roll back health-care gains passed recently. That would include overturning prohibitions on pre-existing conditions and coverage for students under 26 on parents’ plan and annual wellness checks (physicals) for seniors.

Warren was plain that her deciding to run was not for the glory or power of being in the Senate. “I’m running because there are things I want to change.”

icon for podpress  Elizabeth Warren [40:17m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Activist Lee Podcast

Looking first for a preliminary win next week, then to unseat the Boston District 2 Councilor in November, Suzanne Lee spoke about her broad, deep platform. The long-time educator and community activist has a detailed set of goals and ways to get there. See her campaign site’s Issues section for the nine areas.

Lee seems to bring her indefatigable attitude from her years as principal of two Boston schools and her avocation of community activism. She would apply what worked in both those areas, as well as draw on her considerable business, university, non-profit and institutional contacts. Listen in as speaks of getting non-governmental people to couple with the city in jobs, arts, environment, housing and more.

She would involve her district’s diverse neighborhoods (think South End, Chinatown and South Boston) with the whole process from major projects to early planning. She’s huge on transparency of government. She led on three major master plans here, just as a citizen. Likewise, she’d bring the parts of the district together for meetings to discuss common issues — something not common in Boston.

Click below to hear us hurry through many areas of her platform. Be sure to go to her website for the details.

icon for podpress  Suzanne Lee [32:45m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Consalvo on Boston Housing Podcast

Boston City Councilor Rob Consalvo joined us to talk status and future of housing in the Hub. He chairs the Council’s Housing Committee and is the trustee for the Neighborhood Housing Trust that collected and distributes millions in linkage funds for affordable housing.

He has his hand on the throttle of the complex machinery of keeping and expanding affordable housing, policing banks and other agents of foreclosure, and trying to balance mixed use housing throughout Boston. Listen in as he speaks with great enthusiasm and hope of the housing stock here.

Disclaimer: Mike is in Rob’s District 5 and knows him.

Rob describes current efforts, including:

  • Maintaining affordable housing as expiring use allows landlords to convert units to market rates from subsidized ones (reducing Section 8 housing)
  • Augmenting the three successful Hope VI public-housing rehab projects here.
  • Ensuring financial institutions maintain the structures and appearance of foreclosed properties to avoid the broken-window syndrome.
  • Sharing lessons learned and best practices with other MA cities and towns.
  • Using all public available means and methods to maintain tenant/owner respect and pride of place.

The complex housing challenges look like nearly intractable issues and problems from the outside. Hear the head of the committee describe why he’s optimistic about the future of Boston Housing.

icon for podpress  Rob Consalvo [30:04m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Grace Ross Podcast

Of course, we spoke of AG Martha Coakley and of the Tea Party and of Israel. Today’s guest was Grace Ross, after all.

We were just Grace and Mike, but we covered her analysis of the recent election, which led to many topics. While a professional and relentless activist, she has run for MA Governor twice — first as the Green-Rainbow nominee and recently in an effort to get on the Democratic ticket. She chomps and nibbles at the powers through advocacy, filing (often successful) legislation, and sometimes running for office.

She helped found the Mass Alliance Against Predatory Lending. Her principal economic and political positions are available in her book Main St. $marts.

Listen in as she speaks of:

  • The vastly misunderstood and best champion at the state level against major corporate interests run amok (Martha Coakley)
  • How she was smeared as an anti-Semite in 2006 for poorly worded Green-Rainbow platform statements
  • The worst of the Bush 2 legacy — “We fear our neighbors now.”
  • How the energy ridden recently by the Tea Party is not right wing, rather populist energy
  • The commitment to the revolutionary spirit alive and well in MA
  • More than ever, we need real people, not sexy campaigners, running for office
  • Populist candidates having a shot at office if they do enough groundwork between major elections

We spent some time on how in the recent election, the GOP did well in General Court and some local elections and were shut out of statewide races. She admits she has “a bunch of friends who are Republican elected officials” and that she misses “the traditional Republican candidates we had in Massachusetts.” She thinks too many of the Dems and Republicans here do not identify with ordinary citizens, who are concerned with jobs, mortgages, education and such.

Listen in as she explains what she sees as ways for them to present concrete examples of alternatives.

icon for podpress  Grace Ross [60:02m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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MA Nov. Choices Podcast

Empty promises have hit the fan…again. The Nov. election in MA may have even more important matters than the pick of governor. In particular, ballot question 3 would slash the sales tax from 6.25% to 3%.

Two of the usual LA suspects, Ryan and Mike, spoke of what that might mean. The only good angle to its being on the ballot is that it might increase voter turnout.

They also kicked around the chances of Gov. Deval Patrick’s re-election, even in the swirling winds of a recent poll of questionable worth showing a very tight race with GOP challenger Charlie Baker. Listen to hear what we think.

icon for podpress  MA Nov. Choices [33:55m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Worcester Check-In Podcast

Social activist (podcaster, blogger, video maker and on and on) Mike Benedetti joined us from and to talk about Worcester. That helped keep us from our usual speculation and judgments of politicians. He is much less rarefied and concentrates on real issues of real people, like the homeless and immigrants. His own real life is after all with the Catholic Worker community.

Listen in as we figuratively walk through Worcester to talk about what matters there, how it is the same and different from other Massachusetts cities and what has been changing there. We deal with the impact (and lack thereof) of having the lieutenant governor and one of the most influential members of Congress in Jim McGovern.

You can learn more of Benedetti in this The Pulse Magazine profile (about the middle).  You can also see more of his craft and labors at Pie and Coffee and WCAATV’s 580 show.

He discusses such progressive issues as the surprising effectiveness of placing group homes in Worcester. He also walks us through the slow economic recovery of the central downtown. Listen in to hear what is and what isn’t happening…and why Worcester is a fine place to be a vegan.

icon for podpress  Mike Benedetti [49:08m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Trashing or Tweaking 40B

Lowell’s City Manager Bernard (Bernie) Lynch joined us to lead a discussion of the 40B law and affordable housing. Midway in the show, a 40B advocate joined us. It was a lively session that did not lead to totally solid conclusions.

This issue is almost certain to be on the November ballot and has far-reaching effects. Listen to the show and let us know whether you’d like more on this little covered topic.

Lynch has dealt with 40B requirements that have let developers go ahead with projects, so long as they include certain percentages of affordable units. This has worked differently in different places. Lowell for one has increased its affordable housing stock since the law passed way back in 1969. Many tonier towns have been far less eager for higher density and mixed housing.

Speaking for the Protect Affordable Housing group,  Francy Ronayne puts out some strong numbers in support of keeping 40B. She and Lynch agreed that this 41 year old law is due for some tweaking, but the ballot question put up by Repeal40B does not offer that option, rather dumping it entirely.

Listen as they and we discuss the underlying issues and problems. Unfortunately, no one seems to have a clear path to more affordable housing in Massachusetts. We pioneered this type of law but now may face the outcome of doing away with it.

icon for podpress  40B or not 40B [46:24m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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