JP For All received an invitation from the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council to submit recommendations of members for its Ad Hoc Committee charged with finding an alternative to the Whole Foods Market at 415 Centre Street. We declined the invitation and strongly believe that the votes, mandates, and statements made by the JPNC over the last several months have rendered the once powerful organization irrelevant and out of touch with the vast majority of the over 37,000 people who call Jamaica Plain home.
As a body elected (albeit by the smallest fraction of the population and often not at all) to serve the community it is their obligation to be objective and to act in the best interests of all residents of JP not a vocal minority. The JPNC's recent actions are not guided by law, policy, precedent or principle, but instead appear to be a visceral reaction to whoever screams at them the loudest. For any JP resident, including members of JP For All, to participate in an ad hoc committee to discuss alternatives to a space legally being leased and renovated by Whole Foods is an incredible waste of time, energy, and resources that might be used to deal with the substantiative issues that are impacting Jamaica Plain.
Below you will find the complete text of our email to the JPNC declining their invitation:
Thanks for following up. I did receive your email.
I am posting it to our Facebook page to let people decide as residents if they are interested in participating.
As an organization JP for All does not support the mandates of the ad-hoc committee and therefore cannot participate. Many are in direct conflict with our petition, signed by well over 370 JP residents who believe it is necessary to find a way to welcome Whole Foods while tackling the important issues that are facing our community.
We feel that we have found our voice on this issue and will be looking to engage in opportunities where we can take part, not as a member within the existing outdated JPNC structure, but as a group of residents who are able to sit at the table as equals to find positive and productive ways to address the issues that are facing the community.
And pretty unconscionable, especially in light of this article in today's Jamaica Plain Patch and the fact that we have a business being opposed by some that is going to employ 100 people with fair pay and benefits. Wow.
The tone of this board saddens me. It has not reached the level of "Boston Herald" comments, but a number of the remarks here sound like little more than an all out assault on the JPNC. Whatever one's opinion of JPNC's recent stance on Whole Foods is (which is arguably misrepresented-see below), that does not make the whole body irrelevant. Nor does pointing to low turn out for JPNC elections in a country where people don't vote. (Even Obama and McCain couldn't get more than 60% of the nation to vote.) Nor does taking a position on whether or not Whole Foods would be a good fit for our neighborhood translate into anything unconscionable--arguably the opposite. By counterexample, here are some unconscionable things JPNC has not done:
1. JPNC has not created a hostile atmosphere and a chilling effect by accusing anyone of wandering into "grey legal territory."
2. JPNC has not laid off 45 of our neighbors with virtually no notice.
3. JPNC has not refused to guarantee to give these neighbors their jobs back.
4. JPNC has not used a petition signed by about 1% of the JP population to repeatedly make the unsubstantiated claim that the majority of JP supports WF's presence.
5. JPNC has not delayed publicizing potential conflicts of interest existing on its board for two months:
For those of you only interested in bashing JPNC, take a break. If JPNC is so irrelevant and their actions so meaningless and/or outside the scope of the law, then you and WF have nothing to fear, right? So, who is wasting more time-JPNC for having their meetings or those of you exerting so much energy JPNC-bashing?
For those of you willing to be more open-minded about it, below you can see how JPNC both acknowledges that they may be unlikely to change anything, but that this was an important issue to members, and so they felt obligated to keep the dialogue going. Is that so wrong?
I am proud of JP For All for taking this principled stand. It is infuriating (and embarrassing) to see our neighborhood council convene a committee to find a new tenant for a building that already has a tenant, while truly vacant retail space is ignored. I have lived in Hyde Square for 5 years and watched business after business close. Where was the JPNC when this was happening? Why does the JPNC now want to block the opening of an anchor store that will help revitalize this retail district and provide jobs for my neighbors?
Thanks, JP For All.
Why do we still have a neighborhood council? It's time for the JP Neighborhood Council to take its place on the dustbin of history with all the other organizations that former mayors have created, like the Little City Halls which preceded the neighborhood councils.
Whatever its virtues might have been when it was created, the JP Neighborhood Council is now part of a group of special interests that want to run JP to fulfill their own personal agenda. They are not interested in helping Hyde Square flourish, and they block all efforts at improvement unless the affordable housing people are doing the improving. To continue to pretend this organization has any legitimacy, or that it has any positive connection to Hyde Square, is a disservice to the city of Boston, which created it so many years ago. It's also a disservice to us Hyde Square residents, since we are the ones who have had to live with their "keep it bad" policies all these years.
And unless we can convince the mayor to disband the JP Neighborhood Council, we Hyde Square residents will continue to live with as many of the "keep it bad" policies as the neighborhood council can possibly push through. As you can see from their ridiculous ad hoc committee to keep Whole Foods out, formed immediately after their "no Whole Foods in Hyde Square" vote, they will never be embarrassed by their abuse of their power, and they will never stop trying to push their "keep it bad" plan for Hyde Square.
I agree in sentiment with nearly every word you wrote, although I have been trying to pursue a slightly different avenue to accomplish the same goals.
I have been trying to get elected - I applied for a spot on the "ad hoc committee" (since it is ridiculous and probably needs someone rational on the inside, and I think I am rational ;) ) out of fear that otherwise, the forming of useless committees may lend the appearance of legitimacy to this whole thing. By my saying that in a public forum, I assume I will ensure that I am not appointed, but that is ok. I applied the day the JPNC announced their intention, I have e-mailed several inquiries, as well as a formal letter of application, and received ZERO response from anyone.
I have lived in JP, as a homeowner, since 2003, and I grew up nearby.
I am also embarrassed by all of this - I think it is short-changing our neighborhood for us to be so publicly focused on something that ultimately amounts to a really really good move (full and vibrant storefront, creating jobs, availability of a broad range of healthier foods, by a company with a history of being a good neighbor - I fully intend to shop at Whole Foods, replacing Stop and Shop for me - I always avoided Hi-Lo because it was so dirty and desolate). Meanwhile, important issues (taxes, education, public safety, public health, transportation, you-name-it) have been overshadowed by this.
I believe that the JPNC does not represent the interest of residents of JP. They potentially could serve a lovely purpose, but I think the time of their necessity is long over and their recent actions clearly demonstrate that they've lost sight, entirely, of their constituency and charter.
@ Erica: this is Dave Demerjian, I do a lot of the outreach and communications for the JPNC. I received your email the day you sent it and promptly wrote back to you. I'm not sure why you didn't receive my message - please check your spam filter or junk mail folder. I also forwarded your message to Steve Laffeirriere, who is the JPNC member chairing the committee.
The ad hoc committee is absolutely looking for community involvement. The meeting is being held tomorrow at 7pm at the Bowditch School which is at 92 Green Street. It's at that meeting that they are going to nail down who ends up serving on the committee, so if you have time please do come to that meeting.
Again, I'm very sorry that you didn't receive the response email that I sent your way. Through all of this, I am attempting to be as responsive as possible. I apologize if we are presenting as otherwise. Hope to see you tomorrow.
I searched my e-mail, including my ENTIRE spam folder, both electronically and with my own eyes, dating back to the minute that I sent my letters of interest to the JPNC.
Interestingly, I never received anything whatsoever from you or any other member of the JPNC about this issue until I posted on this forum. Today.
I seem to be getting all of my other e-mail, including a boatload of interesting spam (I almost never scan through it), lame jokes from my father, and all of my professional and personal mail otherwise, so I can only guess that perhaps you didn't send it? lex parsimoniae.
While I appreciate your attempt to invite my (and the community's) participation and "seem responsive" I can't help but feel that perhaps, this is a bit of face-saving. A bit little, a lot late. Nonetheless, I appreciate the apology, and if I am available I will try to attend the meeting - had I had more notice, I would have more easily been there.
Be the change,
You have replied in a well reasoned, professional and articulate way.
The only thing I could add is that I think the JPNC is now so illegitimate that they are venturing into a legal gray area that I feel will potentially pull the entire council down. I am not a lawyer, and do not know how much latitude such councils are given, but they are now interfering in a perfectly legal business relationship and there are laws against that.
1,000's have clearly expressed over the years that the JPNC does not represent them.
We all now know that city hall does not listen to the JPNC for that reason and THAT is a huge problem for the vast majority of pragmatic JPers who want an NC that DOES represent those of sound mind and as a result does have the ear of city hall . If 02130 DID have an NC that was a cross section of clear thinking people, we would have a voice worth listening to at city hall, but we are the city's court jesters, it is well known that they chuckle when the word "JP" comes up in the same sentence as "policy recommendation" and I personally am tired of being in the zip code that is sidelined as a result.
I pray that this will be the year that people file papers, perhaps I will , for seats on the JPNC , and the CITY oversees a fair and valid election AND people turn out to vote so that we can have balance on the council - from all sectors of the JP electorate. 02130 is overdue for full and fair representation that city hall begins to take seriously, because we finally make good pragmatic, rational, economically viable, legally defensible and yes, unique positive spirited creative culturally meaningful recommendations.
Let's get elected (yes, actually elected, not appointed) to the JPNC!
Hi Rick (and Dax, and Pat, and others reading this!),
I will make every effort to attend tomorrow's meeting, and will gladly join y'all for a drink after if you're so inclined. I will try to make my presence known and will make every effort to introduce myself to folks at the meeting, so please say, "Hello."
Even if I miss you, I'll try to give an accurate report as to what I see and what happens to share with this forum.
More to come, and thanks for your support!
Be the change,