By Judy Locchi Jacobs
I wondered if Joe ever played the board game Monopoly as a child—and what it would be like to have Joe as an opponent. We have already witnessed this in the media, haven’t we? I came across this interesting study of the game Monopoly and what is believed to be gained by playing it–
5 lessons – Monopoly teaches us about finance and investing:
Always keep cash on hand; Be patient; Focus on cash flow; The most expensive asset is not always the best; and Don’t put all your eggs in one basket (source investopedia.com)
If we break this down in terms as it’s applied to the city revenue and budget:
How much cash does the city have on hand? Didn’t Bill White warn us years ago? With regard to the promises of GLX and dangers of over-extending without having adequate commercial tax revenue?
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket =GLX
By the way, about GLX—there talk about the fact that it’s already been cancelled. I was told by a reliable source since his family member works for one of the contractors. That’s all I will say because I am loyal to my sources and I also believe that there could be retaliatory actions—I have no proof other than the fact that I am treated with scorn because I speak out about what’s going on the city. I find it interesting that the mayor is now wording his statements in the media regarding GLX, slighting different than prior articles I’ve read. Now he adds, “if GLX doesn’t come, we are still going forward with the development”. Unless he begs Steve Wynn for an extra billion and gets it—I find it highly unlikely it will go forward. Remember who’s president – it’s not Hillary (Thank God).
I’ve had some small fines on lack of shoveling (2”inches of snow which froze overnight) and lack of barrel covers ($50 fine turned into $80, then they offered to let me go to court to pay a non-refundable fee of $125) Hard to believe isn’t it? Could this be viewed as retaliation? Possibly – let’s see how many residents get tickets on a regular basis and post their names and addresses online. That may improve their situation.
Back to Joe’s Monopoly —
Would we consider Joe to be a patient man?
Is there much focus on the budget’s cash flow?
The most expensive asset in the city? I don’t have an answer for this question because all I see is expense so it could be any number of things – If I had to guess I’d say the decades long neglect of crumbling city owned buildings that have been left in disrepair for decades—the land it sits on is our greatest asset, but if we keep selling everything off to big development, what will our greatest asset be then?
With regard to small to mid-size home and business projects that —The administration won’t solve this problem by stalling these projects and making the process an unbearable experience for the new or existing owner. That tells the public at large that Somerville is the worse city to do business with and it could potentially sour future prospects.
Mistakes, Miscalculations and outright Carelessness:
Lawsuits which were posted in the media with the City of Somerville:
Wynn Casino (undisclosed amounts due to lack of transparency) City hall disclosed to the Boston Globe that they paid $400k and with no further comments. How long was the lawsuit against Wynn, 3 years or more? We can all do the math—I highly doubt $400k was the final number. Joe should have played nice with Wynn.
Next lawsuit, I haven’t heard much about — Union Square 279 business and homeowners fighting eminent domain with the Institute of Justice advocating on their behalf.
And the former SHS Soccer player wrongfully accused and maligned in the media over 4 years. Some claimed city employees were threatened with job loss if they came forward about what really happened at the soccer camp. We can’t find out because they go to court and then it is dealt with behind closed doors with lawyers and clients. The administration damage control unit uses their favorite line every time there are serious allegations of a crime being committed and the public is told, “It’s a private matter”.
Hell no, it’s not—politicians are held to a higher standard because they are civil servants to the public at large and we pay their salaries. Yes, families have problems, scandals, divorce, and criminal activity….it’s all part of life.
No one can stop the media from writing stories about events that surround a public official. However, journalism of today is changing. In my opinion, many are now glorified public relations firms who get paid to write what they are told, not what is happening.
Allegations of domestic violence involving a relative of the mayor, counterfeiting claims of another relative, the incident at the soccer camp which was one of the worst stories to break in the media—these are real crimes. In my opinion, the SHS soccer player who was wrongly accused and maligned in the press for years, with the possibility of not being eligible for a career in soccer or being accepted to college was facing 25 years for his being wrongly accused and years later cleared of raping two minors and these stories should just be buried? Have they gone mad? Have they ever heard of the term, “Obstruction of Justice”. Maybe they should ask Hillary what it means.
The local media and the city will be lucky if this case doesn’t bankrupt this town and their worthless news reporting. Maybe they too should vet these stories before taking the mayor’s word on it. They are serious offenses and are treated like it’s not a big deal. Well it is for some of us.
What’s interesting is that while Joe uses the press to his advantage for political career advancement, he avoids confrontation at all cost – just try getting him on the camera to discuss any of the serious issues effecting unaffordable housing and the surge in real estate taxes, water and sewer while our sewer system continues to drag along while being termed as “over-capacity”, by an experienced plumber who works in the area.
There are too many vacant and stalled projects in East Somerville to include Patsy’s Bakery, Star Market on Broadway, The site of the East End Grill, Cobble Hill and more.
On the west side, in Davis Square, the owner of the block which housed The Office of Social Security, had a dispute with the mayor that resulted in near panic inviting news reporters and camera-men in the evening, who raced to our town in overcrowded vans.
Joe eagerly awaited their arrival to interview him with blinding camera lights to discuss the severity of a crumbling facade which left an entire neighborhood paralyzed for days – no cars, no pedestrians, no baby carriages, dogs or cyclists could go through this area of Davis for a couple of days as I recall, then it was down to one lane for weeks. There were also full-time SPD assigned to monitor the building and foot traffic most days. I wondered if it had happened in a different part of town, would the mayor have reacted with such a heightened state of vigilance. It’s Davis Square after all—and the networks know their ratings will soar if the gentrified crowd see “Davis Square building façade crumbling to the streets below”….hey that’s headlines and Joe knows it’s his 15 minutes of fame this for now, next week, it will be something else. I truly believe it was a gross exaggeration in the state of the structure.
The entire area was then sectioned off with cement blockades in place for months as the owner got tied up in court with the city as reported by the media. I suspect this incident provided the leverage the mayor needed to move the Brookline Grocer into that building about a year or two later. I wonder if the former retired alderman of that ward, who moved back to her home of Brookline provided some assistance. The timing of those events appeared suspect, and we learned just recently that she received an executive position in healthcare (MPHA).
It was shared that the former ward 6 alderman, who then became gainfully employed by an executive position at MPHA, is the daughter of a long tenured MGH -Partners Cardiologist – the very same MGH of Partners Healthcare, our most recent tenant of Assembly Row, which boasts $400+ billion in profits, was granted a 10,000 car garage (free of charge) for their 10,000 employees who relocated from an office in Boston. So the bull about there being new jobs for residents of Somerville—let’s sees the names of those who get hired if any at all do. There were no promises of jobs when the deal was made so what makes us think they will follow through now? Show us in print or don’t bother saying anything at all.
Just connecting the dots here—this all could very well be a rare coincidence, but when you read the continued articles and see formed alliances, relocations, early retirements– It does beg the question—is there more going on here that the taxpayers and those investing in our city today, should know about?
Joe’s Lego Land
As I traveled throughout the city, yesterday, snapping up photos, I noticed some new taller buildings on Highland Avenue. I can’t help wonder if there was ever a real plan – or did Joe just take a bunch of legos, toss them in the air and see where they would land?
Take Assembly Row for instance – it doesn’t seem to have a sense of style or identity of its own. Maybe the goal was to create a city within a city, environment. I see a poorly designed area filled with stores thrown together – like scattered flea market tables haphazardly placed at an abandoned drive-in filled with desperate sellers eagerly awaiting cash-in-hand customers. I don’t find anything appealing about it. There is just too much there and it appears there is no end in sight to the continued building.
I’m reminded of a retired politician who was not in favor of this project. We had a conversation about it years ago and he shared that his discussion with the mayor ended in a heated argument. Their argument was over the fate of Winter Hill Yacht Club (WHYC). Joe made it clear that he was planning to take everything away for his big project to include low income housing at the far end of the parcel. The retired politician I supported for 3-4 campaigns, stated that putting low income housing in that area of Assembly would be a bad idea. His greatest concern was that the low income high rises would soon become unsafe due to their isolated location, so close to the railroad tracks and with poor access and visibility.
Why wouldn’t the mayor adopt the Cambridge model of encouraging big business to buy properties and create sustainable jobs for our community? The projects have proven their success by stabilizing the residential tax base, something home and business owners desperately need.
Maybe some might enjoy the Assembly Row shopping experience, but I don’t get the fascination. I enjoy driving to the Natick Mall. The stores have better quality and it’s a relaxing experience.
I call Assembly Row poor planning, due to an act of desperation, or impulsiveness of the mayor –trying to get random start-ups, copy-cat retail and corporate outlets which can be found almost anywhere across the state.
Initially, I had great expectations only to be disappointed by the bottle-neck of congestion with too many buildings and narrow passage for daily consumers and patrons at dining establishments.
The first red flag of things to come – was story of IKEA. There were those who were excited about its arrival and the other side who demonized big-box stores. I felt as though the owner of IKEA had been misguided and eventually mistreated and forced out—but not before providing support for the much needed Orange Line stop.
So it’s better to have a couple hundred small shops that don’t really do a lot to improve our shopping experience or bring in enough commercial real estate dollars to offset the tax burden to thousands of struggling business and homeowners.
As I said at the recent budget meeting, while addressing the BOA – “You say this is all progress – but progress for whom?”
In other words, which segment of the socio-economic chain is benefiting by all of this glass and granite? It’s certainly not the men and women who work the lower end of the pay scale– at jobs that pay just enough to keep them from drowning into the pool of despair.
It’s the same for city planning and urban design on every project — If you’re going to sell it to the public it has to be good, better than good. The people they left out of the equation are the most important of all – the hard at work taxpayers of our city who should be included in every step of the process.
I’m not talking about those who will unanimously agree with the mayor—because that’s not a democratic process. However, if you attend even just a few of the alderman meetings, you will see it is a rare occurrence they will vote against the mayor. The most important vote they had last year was Pay-to-Pay and they blew it. Those opposed have been Joe’s greatest allies. One even failed to show, claiming to have the flu. His was the deciding vote. I’m sorry but there are just too many of the same patterns that can no longer be ignored.
The city seems be run more like imperial rule—or a corporate takeover. It’s our money that allows the city to build these projects—projects that are suppose to last for decades into the future. Shouldn’t we get it right the first time?
Wynn’s Win – Joe’s Loss
I followed this story close enough to know that this was one of Joe’s worst mistakes, not to discount the other blunders; some were just as bad if not worse in some cases. I’ll get to those later.
But building a relationship with Steve Wynn, in my opinion, could have meant benefits for our city and relief for the over-burdened taxpayers. I was pleased to learn in local media articles, that Wynn promised to redo the Sullivan Square rotary and surrounding roadways. He has also created thousands of jobs for tradesmen and other areas of employment. I’ll be honest, initially, I wasn’t sold on the idea of a casino coming to our area for the obvious reasons cited by professionals who do the research on the negative impacts, but the more I read—the more I sided with Wynn.
It’s just like the home and business owners in our town—if a person has a right to buy, remodel, sell to whomever – it’s their right under the law. Joe behaves as though he is sole owner of our city—instead, he’s suppose to manage our city and work with the alderman who also have a responsibility to say NO to the mayor if they feel he is not acting on the best interest of the city and its people.
This is not Joe’s Kingdom to do what he wants. It’s not his own personal real life Monopoly Board Game.
He’s messing with the lives of good people and it’s about time we tell him, “Enough is Enough, Joe!”
I can’t speak for all locals, but those I knew were happy about Joe’s victory and his becoming our mayor. At first, he seemed ok. Due to my support of several local politicians during their campaigns, while attending political fundraising events, I would run into Joe as others would—it’s still a small world here in some circles.
Let me tell you a story about my first of several interactions with Joe—I can’t go into great detail, only to say that there were a few things that disappointed me about him, this one exchange was my first lesson in the ways of Joe.
One evening, in 2011, we met at a local event in Teele Square; while attending the re-election celebration of our sitting Alderman Bob Trane. As I was leaving PJ Ryan’s, he greeted me outside and asked how I was doing and where I was working.
We shook hands and I told him where I landed. The events which occurred earlier that day at work left me not only shocked but embarrassed at what I learned of how our mayor had responded to an important request regarding a delivery of extremely heavy equipment thru the city and Joe was asked to provide support—he declined.
When I told him where I worked, in rather a sharp and sarcastic tone, he responded—
“Judy, don’t forget where you came from”.
I told him to have a good night, turned and walked away.
Maybe it would have been better to respond, “Really? You actually believe I’m not proud of where I came from–Unlike you, I always will”!
But I ask you, would it have mattered?
From then on, I just couldn’t look at him the same way. From the very beginning when he was first elected, I truly believed he was going to do good things for our city and be fair and reasonable. I was wrong–he hasn’t lived up to those expectations.
What good is all the wealth it brings to a small group of people who have zero interest in our city and the long time residents who have lived here with their families for over 5 generations?
It’s not worth the sacrifice of sending thousands packing to venture out into unknown territory. I view it as cruel and inhumane.
Not everyone has a trust fund waiting for them after they pack up and leave town. Our elderly need medical services and care, only a place this close to mayor hospitals can provide. Some don’t have large families who can take them in and many would rather live peacefully on their own in a safe, clean environment without daily disruptions or feeling as though they are a burden to others.
When I see the project with the big footprint in the ground, next to the VNA, I wonder—what will that place be like in 2-3 years. Will the 60-75 tenants/condo owners be encroaching on the VNA in ways that may impact their quality of life?
Our city is a special place only for the fact that it has good people who live here. Our long-time local numbers might be diminishing, but it doesn’t mean we will give up.
I think most of us working class locals are reasonable people and not all that are wealthy are blood sucking vultures—lots are, but not all. I’ve met some; generally, they started out poor and were just motivated enough through hard work and perseverance to succeed in their goals.
It’s those who make money in different ways that I have a problem. For example, there was a homeowner struggling to pay the bills and asked for help in finding a solution from a local alderman/realtor. Instead of explaining it’s out of their area of expertise, they try to trick them into losing their house to a greedy local lawyer who would, in-turn, “allow them to live there”. All one has to do is, “sign everything over”. This is a true story. I leave out the names in order to protect the innocent.
Second— as public officials, they promise affordable housing but don’t provide evidence to back up these promises. After months of neighborhood meetings, we are disappointed to find that 1.5 unit of affordable housing equals a donation from the developer to go into a fund for affordable housing somewhere else at a later time. Whatever happens after that, to my knowledge is undisclosed. The number of the units always changes.
You would think by now, their patterns would change – the criteria at the beginning of some of these projects will change by the time they are ready to build.
In my opinion, after the project is approved, things change. It’s hard work going to city meetings to try to understand the complicated projects and which each entity is trying to accomplish. Even if you happen to work for architects, construction workers, lawyers, and other people in this type of business – the language they use is really difficult for the general public to understand who have not been immersed in this world since their college days. In some cases, it’s intentional – the less you know, the less you can argue their true motives.
Getting back to the VNA –
So the lawyer (former alderman) who represents clients looking to modify their homes and businesses—well he was also my ex-husband’s lawyer. Every time I see this guy, it brings me back to that nightmare. He pulled something in court which placed one of my children in an emotionally charged situation between parents. That’s the best way I can explain it without divulging the nature of the incident since I too understand some things should be kept in the privacy of families. When it comes to politics, I find that is even more difficult. You may find some bad things that happen to good people or not so good people, that are true—but you also understand it’s more important to protect the innocent. Of course, a lot depends on the situation.
I was lucky to have an experienced judge who understood the nature of the case before him. He saw right through the attorney’s play and exposed his inappropriate maneuver, a really low blow in order to try to win his case. In the end, the judge reprimanded the attorney for his deceptive tactics and told him never to come back with his client again to his courtroom. I’ll always admire the judge for his professionalism and kindness.
Mr. Mayor – Mr. Hollywood
It seemed there for a while; Joe was looking for a job in Hollywood instead of being mayor. I mean seriously, how many mayors in the region have you seen on the news more than a few times during a year? Except for Marty Walsh, who might be eyeing for the same Hollywood stardom—I would guess none.
How could we forget the protest of out-of-town students who blocked Route 93 with arms encased in cement inside metal barrels then lined up and stretched across the highway—while our mayor defended them? They weren’t even Somerville residents – most were local college students living in different towns, namely Brookline.
The controversial Black Lives Matter banner hanging from city hall, the debate over Sanctuary City status—when does it end? It’s always drama central with Joe. He gives us no peace! If it’s not him disrupting our lives in one way or another, it’s his unsuspecting following who fill our streets with booze parties and weekend traffic jams that cause 3 mile back-ups.
Those who don’t really know him, as do the long time residents and others he’s pushed around, may not understand his real motives for placing himself in front of a news camera at every opportunity – but some of us do. It has more to do with a strong drive for political advancement, than random acts of kindness or to save the underdogs of society.
As I travelled the city yesterday in search of oversized projects –specifically new condo structures, something occurred to me as I approached them on foot instead of driving past in my car. The large structures appeared to be 4 times bigger than the modest Somerville 1-2 story house next door. It wasn’t so much the size, it was something else. I viewed it as something symbolic—as though they were comparing bank accounts or the story of David and Goliath—one bigger and more powerful than the other, that now seemed like a lonely garden ornament left abandoned on the lawn.