June 18, 2024

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The Trouble With Transitions

The Trouble With Transitions

by: Blackstonian Publisher/Editor Jamarhl Crawford

As a voter, taxpayer, concerned citizen and political buff I have been very closely watching everything surrounding the departure of our double decade Mayor Menino. Of course as a result of Menino’s departure the City of Boston gets a new Mayor in Marty Walsh. Out with the old and in with the new. Now far be it from me to be a naysayer and I really want to give Walsh a chance to make good on the campaign promises and the vision for the “New Boston” that everyone keeps talking about. At the same time my critical and analytical mind plus my commitment to my community makes it impossible to remain silent when I see things that cause me concern and could be potential indicators to my community of what may come.

Here I will just focus on two points:
1) The overall Transition Team
2) The Transition Town Hall Meeting held at Reggie Lewis Center on Dec. 14

1) The overall Transition Team

Please take a look at the Transition Team as listed on the Boston 14 website. Its too long to list here, so please take a moment to look at the link.

A few things that stuck out to me in regards to the Transition Team Committee Members upon looking at the list is that the vast majority, in my estimation 98%, are all making significant amounts of money. On the low end probably $60k per year and on the high end over $100k per year.  The team is made up of executive directors, attorneys, academics and other high profile positions from the non-profit and corporate sectors. Where are the regular people? Where are the unemployed? Where are the youth? Where are the seniors? The Committee members reads more like a Who’s-Who list of Boston power brokers rather than a body reflective of the city it intends to serve.

Most notably lacking from the listing is the absence of Black/Latino & Cape Verdean men from 18-45 which also happens to be a group in Boston which is under-served in many areas and facing a litany of issues.
On the committee you have Felix Arroyo (former City Councillor), Tito Jackson (current City Councillor), Carlos Henriquez (current State Representative), John Barros (former Mayoral candidate) and Rob Woodson who worked on the Walsh campaign and just about every other Democratic campaign in recent years.  There is also one young man on the list who happens to be my neighbor and serves on the youth committee.  What this says to me is that plain ole regular average Joe Citizen types have little to no chance of being heard and even if they came on board their voices would be drowned out by the hundreds of other people clamoring for the attention of Mayor-Elect Walsh.

Men of Color 18-45 are at the epicenter of some of the most pressing issues facing our city and at the same time almost always left out of the discussion. Issues around Fatherhood, Mass Incarceration, Education, CORI, Police Brutality, Gun Violence and more are discussed, plans are made, solutions are proposed all without this very critical group.  It has been my experience that this is the very group that the larger white society is most reluctant to deal with.  When diversity becomes an unavoidable issue most often the powers that be choose Latinos & Asians to deal with as they are perceived to be easier to deal with ie control.  When the powers that be absolutely has no other choice than to deal with Black or African-American people they choose Women and older Men because they are perceived to be easier to deal with ie control.  The group that is the most difficult for the larger society is that marginalized group 18-45 year old Black, Latino & Cape Verdean men.  The Walsh administration needs to remedy this oversight if we are to build a meaningful partnership between the diverse population of Boston and city government.

2) The Transition Town Hall Meeting held at Reggie Lewis Center on Dec. 14

The Town Hall meeting was held on Saturday, Dec. 14th from 10am to 5pm and attended by about 1,000 people.
After opening remarks from several panelists and comments from Mayor-Elect Walsh the crowd was instructed to attend various break out groups according to their interests.
There were 11 break out groups focused on various issues of concern:
1) Arts & Culture 2) Basic City Services 3) Economic Development 4) Education 5) Energy, Environment & Open Space 6) Housing 7) Human Services 8) Public Health 9) Public Safety 10) Transportation 11) Youth

Each of these Break Out Groups were facilitated by 3 individuals for a total of 33 facilitators.  Of those 33 facilitators the vast majority were facilitated by white people and there were NO groups facilitated by any Black, Latino or Cape Verdean men.  Group facilitation is a key to gatherings such as these and in a city which is 53% people of color, the lack overall of facilitators of color is problematic and the total exclusion of Black, Latino & Cape Verdean men is alarming.  What this indicates to me is that everyone is allowed to voice their concerns and share their ideas but the process and the final product will be controlled by the white minority despite the notion of a “New” Boston or “One” Boston.

Not only was the diversity of the facilitators troubling but also the stacking of the deck in certain cases.  For instance the Public Safety group was facilitated by Andrea Cabral (MA Secretary of Public Safety and former Suffolk Sheriff), Robert Dunford (former BPD Superintendent) and Christine Cole (Harvard Kennedy School).  So here you have a group on Public Safety with 2 people from law enforcement and an academic from across the bridge.  Since this is a Boston Town Hall I had hoped that they could find someone from a Boston Institution like Northeastern, Boston University, U-Mass Boston or dare I say Roxbury Community College.  More worrisome for me was that there were no “regular” people, activists, ACLU, community members, who often are at the forefront advocating around public safety issues. We cannot have a real conversation about public safety when the facilitation team is in the system and has an obvious bias.  The Walsh administration should seriously consider a more grass roots approach to bring in the everyday hard-working and far too often unemployed citizens to have a real exchange of ideas and concerns.

I hope that as this transition winds down and we usher in the new Mayor of Boston that we can all learn from this process that diversity and inclusion are key to the future of this city.

About The Author

Jamarhl Crawford is the Publisher / Editor of the Blackstonian. @jamarhlakauno on twitter.

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  1. Kay Bourne

    There you have it and well put too.Since I don’t live in Boston, but on the very edge of Boston, I guess my opinion counts little if at all, however, I would take a look at two funding sources that need a closer examination. The the first is the General Fund. When the Lottery first started up, I recall Melnea Cass say while she personally didn’t hold with gambling she recognized that her people, that is black people, would be heavy players. And that being so, she felt the dollars earned by the city (General Fund)should go back to Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan accordingly.As far as I can determine, the spending out of the General Fund is not publicized. Second.The Brown Fund offers money for artists’s public projects. Very little has gone to artists of color. I have in the past dealt with who-ever was running that fund for the city and it was like visiting Alice’s Wonderland. At the moment, I am reading in the “Globe” that the Brown Fund has put lots of cash into rehabbing the late Mayor Curley’s mansion on the Jamaica Way and the article fostered the notion that project should continue. I’m not that fond of the project to begin with although I remember my grandmother thouught the world of Curley. However, where would you park??? It’s no place for a museum at that very dangerous curve where there are been so many car accidents. I am dumbstruck at the dollars already spent that I hadn’t heard about to begin with while so many othet projects that would benefit the lesser served populations of Boston have not been so promoted. So those are the two mysteries from a supporter of the arts and artists I would hope a new, more open Boston might think about: the General Fund and The Brown Fund. Kay Bourne

  2. Joesmith

    Too bad the ministers couldn’t steal enough tithe $$ to buy the election for Connelly, who actual cares about inner city issues…they shoulda enlisted Groover over at A>M>E for that grab..smh….

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