Image by Tak Toyoshima
On Christmas, after my mom and I polished off our Buzzfeed-inspired bangers and mash wrapped in pastry dough with a bottle of wine, we sat down to consider what personal hurdles we would attempt to clear in 2016. It’s that time of year, after all, when we try and slow time down a little to decide what we want to be in the future. I can’t imagine what kind of comparable exercise, if any, is happening behind the gates of the State House on Beacon Hill, or inside City Hall, but I have some thoughts about how some politicians can do better in 2016 …
Break bad habits
It seems that Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has developed a strange habit of trying to push sporting events on the people of Boston. I mean, for a town that loves sports, he sure has made some people loathe sports. No one needs to be reminded of the whole Boston Olympics debacle. Walsh ultimately dropped the games, but to paint him as a hero in the story is like congratulating someone for kicking a dead horse. Unable to take hints, Walsh also caught flack for his move to bring an IndyCar race to the streets of South Boston. “We’re trying something different and new here, and I don’t understand the pushback,” the mayor told reporters. Next year, Walsh should quit trying to turn Boston into a literal playground.
Bolster housing stock
Home improvement is an admirable resolution. On a municipal level, that should mean the addition of roofs over the heads of Bostonians who need them most. We all know that the Long Island Bridge, an artery for Boston’s homeless communities, closed around this time last year. What less people may know is that those beds and services have not been entirely replaced. With a new year upon us, as the Commonwealth remains mired in an opiate epidemic, Boston needs more than a bare minimum of replacement properties for vulnerable residents.
On a different note, the city still hasn’t figured out how to address the student housing situation that is forcing families out of neighborhoods and creating death traps. No one has been punished under the ‘no more than four’ ordinance—a misguided attempt to keep students safe and neighborhoods ruly—while there is an apparently endless boom in luxury housing development, and the burden of proof for no-fault evictions continues to fall on the tenant. All things considered, this coming year will be a crucial one for housing in Boston.
There are countless issues on which Walsh and his team at Boston City Hall should probably focus in 2016, plus hundreds if not more ways that politics on Beacon Hill could improve. Last year, I wrote more than two-dozen columns about areas that need help—from transgender rights, to police reform. On that note, here’s a goal that any pol can take on: Shut me up! Help me run out of things to complain about. I’d gladly put down my pen. Unfortunately, I probably won’t be so lucky.