Bad Boston

By PHOENIX STAFF  |  January 17, 2007

Skate away
It’s been six months since I sat with my dog in the Underground, talking skateboards, Bloc Party, and Jarrett Barrios’s run-in with Fluffernutter. Six months, and I still think about the Underground guys, their punk-kid regulars and punk-mom groupies, bringing soy chocolate milks to the indoor pipe — the only indoor pipe in Boston. I asked Underground manager Travis Leary about the Charles River skate park, which has been “in the works” for several years. But the funny thing is, the skater guy doesn’t complain. “Yeah, there’s plenty to complain about,” he says. “But too many people sit back . . . nobody gets out there and raises the money, or writes the letters.”

SKATERS NEED A PARK — some stuff that’s low and smooth, with a little curve to it. So what can we do? Visit the Underground, talk to the skater dudes about getting this park stuff done — while you’re at it, consider bringing back the roller-rink parties. This city needs more small wheels.

A taxing advantage
Every two years, a bunch of Boston City Council candidates wax indignant about the fact that the city’s colleges and universities throw paltry amounts of cash at City Hall, under the terms of THE P.I.L.O.T. PROGRAM instead of paying honest-to-goodness property taxes. Somehow, though, the problem never quite gets solved. Harvard has more money than most medium-size nations; Boston University pays people millions of dollars not to be president. Surely we can figure something out — maybe before Harvard annexes Allston?

Cop plea
Enough with the MANDATORY POLICE DETAILS at construction sites, already. The Beacon Hill Institute estimates that Massachusetts taxpayers and businesses could have saved up to $67 million in 2003 using civilians instead of municipal police at work sites. (Factor in State Police working on highway jobs, and that figure would be even higher.) Still, the practice continues — and as often as not, the police officer in question is just jawing with the construction workers over a Dunkies or staring off into space, instead of, you know, directing traffic. We should set an example for the rest of the state — and start bringing Massachusetts in line with the rest of the US — by changing the status quo in Boston. What say you, Mayor Menino?

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Rigid boundaries
Boston isn’t much of a cab city; taxis are notoriously expensive and difficult to find. But given most commuters’ alternative — the god-awful T — you’d think cabbies would attract a steady league of riders. And maybe they could, if they weren’t at the mercy of one of the stupidest laws in the world. Like so many other hare-brained schemes in our fair city, the police department, which controls cab licenses, has ruled CABS CAN’T PICK UP ANYONE OUTSIDE THEIR OWN CITY LINES. Think about that next time you’re freezing your butt off in Cambridge, as 20 empty Boston and Brookline taxis whiz past.

The police department, it seems, would rather leave you stranded on the side of a dark road than let a Boston driver poach a Cambridge driver’s fare. We’ve tried bribing cabbies, but for $50, you’re better off buying a winter parka and trekking over the Longfellow Bridge. Plus, cabbies have reason to be scared. If they break the law they face utterly ridiculous and exorbitant fines. Petition the police department, if you dare; until then, let the Zip Car revolution begin.

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  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Deval Patrick, Politics, Boston Redevelopment Authority,  More more >
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