Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson criticized Mayor Marty Walsh’s administration for focusing too heavily on “distractions” instead of problems affecting the city’s working and middle-class populations.
“What we can lay at his feet is distractions like the Boston 2024 Olympics,” Jackson said in an interview on Boston Public Radio Tuesday. “If we were worried about middle-class and working-class people, we wouldn’t be thinking about spending $12 billion on a month-long party … We wouldn’t worry about IndyCars flying around the Seaport area. We would be dealing with serious issues.”
If Jackson can overcome the odds to unseat Walsh for mayor (no incumbent has lost a Boston mayoral race since 1949), his plan is to “add additional aspects of democracy” in the city. He wants to elect — not appoint — school committees, separate the planning and development factions of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and allocate more funds for public schools by taking away police overtime funding in the budget.
“As mayor of the city of Boston, we would get our arms around police overtime,” Jackson said. “What you would see is an increase in the number of police officers, we would decrease the amount of overtime, and you would have people who were fresher and actually a larger force.”
Jackson criticized a proposal to close schools in an effort to save money. “Boston Public Schools has about three to four thousand open seats, but they’re not all in one building,” Jackson said. “It strikes me as odd that for charters and private schools, people speak about smaller class sizes. People speak about personalized instruction, and when it comes to urban public schools, we want to pack all of those young people in classrooms ... Let me ask you something — do they talk about closing schools in Brookline, Newton, Wellesley and Needham? No, they don’t. What we should be talking about is what’s working in the Boston public schools.”
Jackson gave Walsh “credit for progress” on referring to Boston as a sanctuary city, after Walsh initially resisted to use the term. “When I came out and said that Boston was a sanctuary city … he said no, it wasn’t a sanctuary city,” Jackson said. “I actually led that charge. I’m very happy that the mayor is right in line there, and I’m actually very happy and I give him kudos for using his mayorship to speak on that issue.”
Jackson challenges Walsh’s administration to take the sanctuary city policy a step further by implementing an immigration defense fund to sponsor lawyers for immigrants in Boston immigration court. “If you don’t have a lawyer, you only walk out four percent of the time,” Jackson said. “If you have a lawyer, you walk out 49 percent of the time. This administration has yet to actually step forward, put funding forward, or say that they would actually move forward on that.”
To hear City Councilor Tito Jackson’s full interview with Boston Public Radio, click on the audio player above.