.

A Matter of Assembly

Assembly Square--past, present and future what have we learned from this experience?

As someone who dares to question politically charged topics, I learned two key elements--do the research and weigh all sides of the argument. Even most well intended writers don't have access to all the information because it's simply unavailable. That is why I believe it's important the public comment on every article of concern. Much of this I’ve framed from articles and documents found on the web. If you Google “Assembly Square Smart Growth”, “Back Story to Assembly”, you will find information of the heavily debated parcel of land which borders Charlestown and Medford. 

“The truth lies somewhere in the middle of two-sides”

Assembly Square Mall of 1980 was a shopping center convenient for working class residents of Somerville due to its proximity to neighborhoods. It became a gathering place for young families, with an adjacent cinema. Residents were excited about its development because it meant they didn't have to venture off to shopping malls within the enclaves of Rt.95 suburbia.

It would soon be deemed an "urban wasteland", by critics who looked upon it with scorn. The largest parcel of land in the entire region, yet underdeveloped and underappreciated for its potential to be something greater. If developed properly, it would boast pride for its historically well-known scrappy working class town, conservative talk radio would use as an unwelcomed reminder.

As predicted, by 2014 we will witness its transformation into a modern day "urban village". A vision which provides a renewed sense of hope that it will become what the former project failed to do. A place envied by it's neighbors, but more importantly, it will be a shopping extravaganza, one that is appreciated by all residents within the community and beyond city limits.

For anyone to believe this story was not laced with deep rooted class-based tensions is to be naïve. Testimonials by local loyalists who have lived here among generations of families dating back to the early 1900’s will tell you how they feel about the no-end-in-site-progressive-encroachment. As a native who has seen and felt changes which impacted our old neighborhoods, although trying to remain positive, I continue to worry as the song goes..."My City Was Gone", that one day, too—My city would vanish only to be replaced by the narrow vision and personal dream of outsiders far removed from it's working class idenity.  Two stories of Akron and Somerville may not be identical, but the outcome is the same and shared by local residents—there before us is a great sense of loss and whether good or bad, it was that place we called home.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HA56J8zlAdo

Most reasonable people understand that change is inevitable. It can be as slow and steady as the ocean tide or quick and unexpected as a snow storm in the month of May.

It’s a complicated story with peaks of hope and valleys of despair— hard-headed Chiefs suffering from deeply flawed egos unwilling to compromise coupled with lack of well-intended Indians focused on reasonable expectations hoping to achieve balance.

Viewing it's Geographic proximity—Assembly’s location is nestled between four modest shopping centers:  Meadow Glen, two polarized centers: one old--one new at Wellington, and a big box plaza viewed behind said parcel in Medford which accommodates another Home Depot, Costco and Best Buy, other stores and restaurants. Currently, two train stations lie between, later one added at Assembly:  Orange Line MBTA stations –Sullivan (Assembly) Wellington with a commuter rail running parallel. There are also several or more long-term occupants who have endured throughout and have dug in their heels. However, eminent domain could change all that once construction is underway.

Connecting them all is one of the most heavily traveled roadways, Rt. 16, which spans from Rt. 2 Alewife in Cambridge to I 93 Medford. If given a choice, this road would be my last option of travel. Some of the drivers are lunatics. I’d rather take my chances hang-gliding off a skyscraper in downtown Boston at midnight. The antiquated roadway system is ineffective and does not meet today's great demand of daily motorists and large industrial size vehicles. What can I say—I DETEST THIS ROAD.

As you enter this stretch of roadway from West Somerville, you will see Meadow Glen Mall on your left, which locals refer to as “Ghetto Glen”. It sort of reminds me of what Assembly ended up becoming until it finally closed its doors for good.  However, with the exception of Kmart, which was given a life time sentencing for good behavior for reasons undisclosed. It is my belief that granting Kmart a 99 year lease created decade long delays which stood in the way of mixed use progress.

If one side was unwilling to compromise, some impartial body should have been appointed to make decisions. Concerns over political graveyards is what created stalling. Not every politician can be hailed a hero. Those who are willing to take needed risks, can handle defeat with grace in the face of turmoil, should be respected and regarded as a person of courage, strength and endurance.

We can’t all be winners all of the time—better to take a few losses as gained experience. It should be a win for the majority, not the minority. They are only good as the constituency who believe in them and if they lack their full support, eventually all is lost. We saw this with DKG, who made a few political enemies which compromised her professional reputation and position as mayor.

As we watched our real estate taxes triple since 1998, our greatest concern was about the hornet’s nest at Assembly Square which cost millions in lost revenue. How much was foresaken due to ongoing delays and ego bruising, unimportant deliberations over the large parcel of underdeveloped land? It appears there were a few self-serving stakeholders with poor vision of what really mattered. Their focus should have been on what was important for the residents of our city.

Going forward, amendments passed by our newly elected Mayor Joe Curtatone in 2004, made certain that lawsuits would not delay projects and that not one single group would be able to make decisions. Over the years, I have felt that our new mayor was leading our city into a positive direction, benefiting all. He made some good decisions, those which would ensure continuity, strengthen goals while providing fairness among those vested. Along with much needed guidance which would quickly defuse any attempts of taking control of the project or preventing steady progress—which we saw too much of during the previous administration.

Some observers would compare Assembly Row to construction sites in nearby towns where similar problems erupted— such as waterfront proposals being stalled due to local opposition and overly-dense, newly constructed sites halted by building and zoning code restrictions. Two examples: Beacon Hill and Back Bay, were envisioned for Assembly Row. However, their roadway access is not the same--East Somerville and Assembly Row are separated by a heavily traveled secondary roadway which serves as a conduit to I 93 above, too dangerous to travel by foot.

In my opinion, speculations made of upper income bracket holders increasing the city’s tax base is unsubstantiated hearsay. Those who have the privilege, opportunity and connections to help manage their money are generally looking out for themselves, not making donations to the city in which they reside. Some are here  temporarily and only choose to remain if there is a long-term stake involved in their investment. As far as home/condo ownership goes—I would wager that an unbiased, thoroughly researched survey would reveal that many would flip their home in a heartbeat if it meant they would be able to make a substantial profit.

Many locals would not do the same because there are distinct differences in what they value most and money is not at the top of their list.

Those who are independently wealthy do not have to rely on location, as working class families. We are rooted here from the day we are born. The only reasons which drive us out are drastic changes which impede on our quality of life such as takeovers, a sense of abandonment by those we trusted and maybe personal factors, such as divorce or retirement. For some to misconstrue our real intentions of resentment towards gentrification is typical of those who suffer from entitlement, the same people who never accept responsibility for their actions or behavior.

I find it inconceivable to envision the enormity of traffic another overly developed parcel of land would create. Assembly is by far the largest swath of land of them all. In my opinion, there is already too much going on in this region for there not to be some unforeseeable consequences.

If there must be development—where is the plan to revise and upgrade a system of roadway to manage this great endeavor? And who will pay for it?

Three stories that came out of the Assembly debacle I view as ridiculous—

First:  Granting Kmart a 99 year lease—no one business or person should have exclusive rights to mixed use property. It should be impartial and fair to everyone involved in leasing space.

Second:  A lawsuit filed by a non-abutting, neighboring resident against the city planning board. The claim was that the big box development would depreciate her home value, impose a commuting hardship and negatively impact her quality of life. When offered $2 million, she refused, calling it a bribe.

Third:  The proposed concept to build an apple orchard within the plan for open space. Open space is one thing—but an apple orchard?

The key to the success of this project will be based on improvements to the roadway and MBTA. If there is a willingness by those involved in the decision making to improve on the safety, ease and convenience by people traveling within this region, I believe it can work.

The site at Assembly has been one of the greatest challenges our city has had to face. I think the mayor's committment and willingness to make this an inclusive center for all is admirable, but not so sure others are in line with his idealistic, long term goals.

History and vision of the project:

http://www.assemblyrow.com/vision/history/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assembly_Square_Marketplace

Recent Globe article "Assembly Square Development is taking shape", which provides details of what is being built at the site:

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/north/2012/12/27/assembly-square-development-taking-shape/3JJ7eIrogFMCXpNj7wApCL/story.html

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

AHM January 15, 2013 at 11:28 PM
Matt, there is not equal say in this city. Too many things are done for just a small group of people. Assembly just proves that. Once you want to add in lower priced stores or restaurants the city and the few are against it. Not everyone sees some of these so called improvements as improvements. I recognize how this city is going and what it is becoming and I know it is not anything I want to be part of. Regardless of what I want it will not matter. For it to be equal there has to be a mixture. In the new part being built now there will not be a place to shop or eat that more than 50% of residents can afford or would want to even go to. Case in point was the Olive Garden, personally I have never been in one and don't know what it is like but many people I know and talk to go to them outside the city with their families and were really ticked off at Joe for shooting them down. I do know and talk to a lot of people in this city so it is not just a couple of people. Try putting a Walmart in here. If you put it on a ballot it they will get in. Don't and a small group of people will try to squash it. Once again, I am not a Walmart shopper.
AHM January 15, 2013 at 11:28 PM
Matt, part 2. I expect in the coming years only people with high incomes will be living here. We jsut saw the mayor get a $20000 raise, smart way would have been small ones along the way. When people see that and their combined incomes are that much per year they tend to get cranky. I suppose if you are making $100000 plus a year it may not seem like such a big deal. I got over 60 yeasr here and I am priced out of here. Once my taxes are ready I plan to go to city hall and see what I can do. I hate to do that as I always paid my fair share but I either get them lowered or find out what to do about not paying them. So yes, we get a tad disgrunteled.
SomervilleGirl January 16, 2013 at 12:29 AM
Matt C., What do you base this on? One street in the entire city? .... "NOT HOW THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE THINK"....did you take a survey? This is the most ridiculous statement I have read. How do you know what people think? I don't know where you get your information, but you need a serious reality check. Maybe if you don't hear it, it's because locals don't want to hear the back-lash--let this interaction be one great example. Many local friends have packed up & left because they were sick of not being heard & were forced out of town. You care to dispute that? You describe me as an extremist? Why, because I shared FACTS of negative experiences I have had along w/ local neighbors, family and friends with certain newcomers who are annoying, intrusive, entitled, while attempting to force us into their EXTREME SELF-INVOLVED lifestyle all in the name of helping them increase their PROPERTY VALUES? I've asked you in a polite manner to not address me unless you write something constructive. I find your comments to be rude, antagonistic while lacking common sense. You have no basis for your argument because you lack the understanding and tolerance of opinions by those who do not agree with you.This is exactly the type of behavior we see--"I want it my way and if I can't have it my way, I won't allow anyone else to be content until I do". Why don't you write your own blog if you are so convinced every neighborhood is as harmonious as you described? Can you handle competition?
Matt C January 16, 2013 at 02:34 AM
You are right, there is not equal say - but I don't think the division of say is around newness to the city which has been alluded to, rather I think that here, like most cities and towns, there is a group of politically connected people that drive the direction of the city. Beyond that, on any issue, I think that there are small vocal minorities that because they are loud they get their way. I expect that Assembly Sq. will be something similar to Station Landing (which the shops and restaurants are reasonable), but at a larger scale. I have seen developments at that same size in other parts of the country (http://www.redmondtowncenter.com/) with a difference, this project has people living and working there, which in my opinion makes it even better. I can't really address the issue about becoming priced out. That is one of the effects of living in what is becoming a desirable neighborhood. It happens in both directions Mattapan went from being a middle class Jewish neighborhood to a poorer African/Caribbean-american neighborhood and the South End of Boston the opposite. As long as people want to move here the cost of doing so will continue to rise, and many people will leave (some who own their home with a handsome pay out). At the end of the day it stinks when you can no longer afford to live where you want.
Matt C January 16, 2013 at 02:59 AM
1. I have every right to use anecdotal experience as you do. 2. By stating my own personal experience I have already disputed your experience. 3. Experience are not facts, when i present facts I use a reference. 4. I didn't address you, but since you chose to address me here are a few thoughts. You are clearly so self involved that you imagine that my post was directed at you AND you have yet to realize you are that horrible neighbor that you so eloquently describe trying to force her lifestyle on all of us in the name of keeping your childhood memories a reality. When you don't like what you hear you attack the person and make presumptions about their background. You are as much a NIMBY as those folks you complain about in Belmont who don't want "those people" moving in and not letting the town grow and evlove when it doesn't suit you.. oh, and yes, my neighbors and I friendly to one another, lookout for one another and manage to care about what is happening to our neighborhood and our property values.
SomervilleGirl January 16, 2013 at 03:02 AM
AHM, The reason I believe the soccer field is a great idea is because I think it will be one place were everyone will benefit. Organized sports is big business, but more importantly, it brings families together from all walks of life. Maybe Joe hopes it will do just that and we know that many countries around the globe enjoy the sport as well so why not let them benefit? There are not enough well maintained soccer fields in the region and leagues do struggle to find ones that are adequate to play on. Maybe they will rent out the field when not used by major teams? If not, they will enjoy watching the games. I'm happy that he rejects the idea of having a casino, that will only bring problems. I don't like gambling and what comes with it. I think they should ban all gambling and drugs. It would be a step in the right direction. If the soccer field doesn't get in, we will know just how bad things have become--the scales will be tipped to one side only.
SomervilleGirl January 16, 2013 at 03:50 AM
Has anyone ever acted this way towards a neighbor? Coax them into using same color mulch because it matches YOURS Asked what color they were painting their house at every opportunity and insisting on your color preferences Ran outside in the rain shouting in an attempt to try and prevent the Arborist from trimming their tree Yelled at the neighbor's landscaper using a leaf blower in the middle of the day, demand they leave the premises if they don't stop Ask not to plant certain flower seeds in their yard for fear they will blow into your yard, telling you they are only a WEED Make repeated demands and complaints to one local pol about snow plows dumping snow into the driveway, remind them of your $700k house--why sidewalk trees are not been replaced after hurricane even when holes in the ground left by fallen trees were to dangerous to leave uncovered, were cemented. The trees were half way up the street, not even seen. Complaints, demands, complaints--no end. They believe they own the entire neighborhood, but should have stuck with their well manicured suburban wet dream. When you buy a house/property it sits on--THAT IS ALL YOU OWN. You don't own the neighbor's homes, the sidewalks or trees, the roadways or the weeds that grow around the telephone pole you can't bare to look at or the manhole covers. It's obviously time for your MEDICATION!
SomervilleGirl January 16, 2013 at 03:57 AM
I've learned the best way to deal with a person who is a nuisance--whether they be an annoying, narrow-minded, commenter or an idiot neighbor--just hit the ignore button. They will stop when they don't get the attention they so crave. I'm sure Freud would have a better explanation, but it's better not to give it anymore thought because it's wasted time. It's simple, there are just some miserable people out there that have nothing better to do with their time. Sometimes, they just hope you will write something that gets you booted off the site! LONG WAIT
SomervilleGirl January 16, 2013 at 04:00 AM
I'm not leaving the site...you've got a long wait
AHM January 16, 2013 at 12:09 PM
I have seen this in different areas of Somerville. One person I know goes after people in the neighborhood who try to vinal thier houses. The people there can't stand this person. Not so much on my street, I do get comments like I am lucky my house is shingled. Little do they know I plan on vinal siding. Don't care, it's my house. Unless I see that I am leaving soon then I may have to reconsider to get more money. No tree in front of my house and I plan to keep it that way. This is the city, not the country.
AHM January 16, 2013 at 12:26 PM
Can't really ban gambling, drugs and prostitution. These exist, it is a reality. I think we should have legalized it like alcohol and at least get revenue out of it and with the profit use it to help keep it under control. With that being said I have no intrest in any of that. I have yet to buy a lottery ticket or go to a casino and the last option is not going to happen. If we can't stamp it out and we are spening lots of money on it then we need to go to plan B. The sports thing, I don't know. I see too much violance at these things, hardly a good message to send to our kids. Many years ago when I got slightly involved I got pretty disgusted with the way it was run and no longer would have anything to do with it. Won't donate a penny towards it. I just could not hurt kids that way. In Dedham the person running the show would let all kids play and be equal about it which I thought was really good. Everyone got a fair amount of time. Not selected ones or those who were not as good. So I get a bit negative about so called sports for kids.
SomervilleGirl January 17, 2013 at 03:44 AM
AHM, I'm not surprised to hear your story of an attempt to ban vinal siding. They have succeeded in banning Styrofoam in Brookline, some towns it's small size bottled water. Many homeowners can barely pay their mortgages due to the long recession. Anyone who demands people "improve their homes" is just looking out for their "property values", nothing more. I often wonder how this place got a heavy injection of money--where does it all come from? 400% returns on monopoly money investments? There were plenty of high-rollers at the WS casino, not all losers, but we don't hear about the winners. Could they be investing their earnings in real estate? The timing seems perfect. I use to work for a builder some time ago, not around here, along the coast. Home buyers were paying with cash, no banks involved. I always wondered how that was possible. The builder and sub's were over joyed and would cut corners, install faulty equipment. If the bank wasn't doing the inspections, who knew? About soccer-- If it's going to be a Kraft Stadium, there will be high level security. But the high volume of traffic could be a deterrent.
AHM January 17, 2013 at 12:43 PM
There is a lot of money being made under the radar. I have been in homes where a suitcase full of cash was pulled out to pay a bill. There is a lot of cash business going on here in Somerville. Due to new EPA laws some homeowners are paying cash for undocumented workers(illegals) to work on their properties because going under the radar saves them thousands, then they are long gone before anything can be done. This is a pre 1978 thing. It also has a great effect on everybodies health that is living near or in one of these places. Most are not aware of it. That is why they come in a scrape and paint with a very large crew and then get out of there without doing it the proper way by law. A legitmate company with the proper license would have to charge much more to do it legally or face up to $40,000 fines per day per violation. This has hurt many legitimate contractors money wise or put them out of business.
AHM January 17, 2013 at 12:44 PM
Part 2 One I found out about after the fact is on the corner of Fenwick and Jacques where they sanded the outside with rotary sanders letting all the lead paint into the air and into the ground and into the houses surrounding it. One of those house flipping deals. Poor people that bought it have no idea what they just got. I just hope they don't have little kids. Also additions and other building projects where cash is used to save on taxes plus the builder works on cash and pays cash to employees saving a large amount of money that would be going to the city and state. My wife did housecleaning, also priced out by the illegals doing it for cash. We were stupid and paid taxes because I was a big chicken and afraid of the IRS and didn't want to take a chance on losing my home. Guess I got off topic with my ranting. Plus too many words.
SomervilleGirl January 18, 2013 at 12:23 AM
AHM, It is an important issue because it ties in with how the scales of class have been tipped. Most of our jobs have gone overseas. The middle-class has been sinking for years. Various topics concerning immigration are complicated. I have spoken with people about it, some are immigration lawyers. I posed a question--"Why doesn't the government just make them go back"? Answer--"Their countries won't take them back". I'll provide my perspective from your comments regarding contractors. I have family members in the trades. Some work for sub's. The American subcontractors hire the illegals and make them work very long hours into the evening. Sometimes they don't get paid, some have families to feed, they also must pay rent. Yes, it's all cash transactions, but now employers must be aware of the govt. penalizing them for hiring illegals, sometimes $20k-$40k. I hear the stories. I don't get angry at the illegals--I get angry at the subs because many of these workers are abused. The employer does not have to pay workers comp for illegals. What happens if the guy falls off the ladder and breaks a leg or worse? Who pays for his hospital bill? Who's fault is it, really? There is not much difference in the way my own parents lived when they first arrived to the U.S., as far back as the 20's for dad, 50's for mom. They scraped by for years, maybe welfare wasn't as popular--people had pride and I know my parents did without before they would accept it.
SomervilleGirl January 18, 2013 at 12:46 AM
AHM, Civil unrest is perpetuated by bad govt's. People are unwilling to see the bigger picture. Many distrust Americans because bad things are being done under the radar. No one will blow the whistle on an American contractor, but as soon as an illegal does something wrong, they are ready to toss them under the guillotine. What type of agreements do we have with foreign countries when it comes to illegals? Did you know they are allowed to have bank accounts. Some American attorney's are making a mint doing this work and still no green card. Don't you think that is a big odd? I've also seen how they are treated in coastal communities, they have very little rights. Their lives in their homeland are much worse, so that's why they tolerate it. Yes, I suppose when you are unable to drink the contaminated water of your native land, that must be a bit rough. Living between drug dealers wielding machine guns and decapitating innocent people, not something anyone would be signing up for, I'm sure. I have family living in Mexico, US citizens. Their dad worked for the govt., many years ago, high level job. The family moved to Texas because it became unsafe. You know what they tell me?, "Americans don't want to pick oranges in 95 degree heat". So I guess the corporations are doing well, why not spread the wealth to the sub's? People who hire these workers know they are getting more bang for their buck. In this economy, who can argue that? OUTSOURCING created this mess.
AHM January 18, 2013 at 12:48 AM
It is a compicated issue with the illegals which I believe is easily solved. Legal immigration is another story and coming here with nothing. I have heard the stories of many, Irish, Italian and Syrian. Those are ones I remember to this day. Yes, they were proud adn went through bad times. I did myself. My wife once went to welfare and left without anything because she just could not do it. I am eligable for many things which I refuse to take. What little I have I worked for, not handed to. As for the illegal getting hurt, we pay that. They have to go to the hospital and claim they got injured in another manner than what really happened. And hiring illegals is still going on strong.
SomervilleGirl January 18, 2013 at 12:54 AM
AHM, If most American families were doing well, would anyone be beating the drum on the illegal or the welfare recipients? No one cared 10 years ago, not as much as they do today. But our govt. lets them stay and their countries are underdeveloped. My solution would be to send a few thousand healthcare workers and introduce birth control. We have a major population problem on our planet that has gone unchecked for decades. It's been taught in universities, but somehow this knowledge doesn't really make it to the rest of the globe. Let's face it--slave labor will not be eradicated. It's much too profitable for the elite, "Why spoil a great thing?", must be spoken on every private golf course across the planet.
AHM January 18, 2013 at 01:11 AM
Some cared, just not the right people who could do something about it. We do have way too many people, I agree on that. People will just generally find a way to abuse the system. I see way too much of that abuse. Even today we still have many proud people who won't go and collect money for welfare and disability.. Just when the people see we are spening billions of dollars in the news then they realize what has happened. Another thing is they are big voters for the D party. That's all I heard in the last election from people I talked to, they didn''t want to lose their free source of income. Unemployment is another one. When I worked for companies and got laid off I just went and got a job, any job. I was building a house, got laid off, 2 days later working in a laundry. Didn't care, money coming in and then I could look for a job that I wanted. Never thought to go and collect.
SomervilleGirl January 18, 2013 at 01:21 AM
AHM, So do you agree that an American Contractor has the right to abuse and exploit an illegal immigrant in any way they choose? If an American worker gets hurt on the job working for a contractor he expects them to file for workers comp in order to get healed. How about if he doesn't get a paycheck and the boss keeps milking him for more work, would that be okay? Some may take them to court and fight for their earnings, but we all know the illegal would rather face a pack of hungry wolves than face an American court room as an illegal, so the sub wins every time. Not all American contractors are doing this, but many are and I know of one specifically because my family member has shared this story. He worked on the same property along side of the illegals and could not believe how they were treated. We were raised to be compassionate of all people unless they provide a reason not to be. There are plenty of illegals who are breaking the laws, but yet, they keep feeding the legal system$$$$$$$$$$$. Didn't Romney get called on this very situation when he hired illegals to landscape his double digit million dollar home in Belmont? http://articles.cnn.com/2011-10-19/politics/politics_truth-squad-hiring-illegals_1_illegal-immigrants-mitt-romney-illegal-workers?_s=PM:POLITICS "Do as I say but not what I do"...Romney. Did he ever disclose his income tax returns? I would think Romney could afford to pay an American contractor to do the work of an illegal, yes?
AHM January 18, 2013 at 01:22 AM
I don't see this as a big problem. I think we should have a pre green card system, just to speed things up. Where the illegals can get the pregreen card easaly but it comes with a trial period to get the green card. This sort of takes it out from being just illegal and should help with much of the illagal hiring practices and help weed out the bad apples who should not be here. Shoud they be caught doing illegal things(just to keep this short) then they are out of here. After a length of set time they could go into green card status if they don't get into trouble. They would be hireable in my system. At least it will do something than just year after year of nothing being done about the problem. Then when better minds come up with a solution we can do that. Tired of the government just sitting idle when they are here to work for us and solve these problems. They get paid big bucks for that.
AHM January 18, 2013 at 01:30 AM
Not sticking up for Romney but most people do not have a clue as to who is doing the work for the company they hire. Many of my customers just complain they can't communicate with the crew as usally the boss is not there and they can't speak english. So they don't know if they are illegal or not. I am not into treating anyone bad, I don;t know how anyone can. When I had employees I just treated them the best I could. Probably my downfall as it worked against me except for a couple of workers.
SomervilleGirl January 18, 2013 at 01:43 AM
AHM, Do you honestly believe that Romney did not know he has illegals working on his property? He's not alone, most do know, but they would rather have the illegal because there are no strings and they save about 60% of the bill. Before I took over the property, mom hired people she could afford, some were friends of the family, Italians. Others were American's. The Italians were unskilled and doing carpentry work, later we found bigger problems that got corrected with the new construction. There was one situation that cost $3k and mom never got the work done. The American contractor had done work for a family member--house painting. Seemed like a good guy. He worked for about a week. We didn't hear from him again until a month later. He had a story about college students he hired spilling paint (which dried) along the side of a customer's house, an elderly woman. He was too busy working on that house and couldn't come back. I took him to mediation to try and get some of the money back. I understand things like this can happen, but as a person in business, you must find a solution or refund the money. He did neither, we let it go. I was in my 20's, mom really had no way of dealing with it and at the time could not afford a lawyer who would cost more than what was owed. Today, I would have hauled him into court and let a judge decide. Finding reputable people in the business is hard work. Many professions charge twice as much because the clientele is broke.
SomervilleGirl January 18, 2013 at 02:04 AM
AHM, About the injuries on the job and overall healthcare provision--this is another big issue which has been ignored for decades. And it's the American worker who also is effected. How many people, overall, are not covered by health insurance? Many of the small trades jobs do not pay benefits. I believe every employer should pay for healthcare, but it's the govt's responsibility to make it cost effective for the small business owner and we have yet to see this happen. I don't like the fact that the hospitals/state/federal govt. is subsidizing healthcare in situations as this, but if the employer can't or won't provide it, who will be picking up the tab? The taxpayer has already bailed out the untouchables on WS and their cohorts, but I don't hear anyone screaming about the $$$ trillion that was ripped off and much of it sitting in an untaxed slush fund somewhere in the Caribbean. If we could retrieve even half of that amount, maybe we would be able recover. As long as corporations, WS and banks are running the show, things are going to remain as they are or get worse. I was raised a conservative democrat--if I had it my way, all people making $250k and up would have to pay higher taxes until things got back to the way it was before ENRON. That was the beginning of the end, in my opinion. Capitalism is not what we see going on today. Instead, we have--http://laborlou.com/2011/03/oligarchs-vs-plutocrats/
SomervilleGirl January 18, 2013 at 02:23 AM
AHM, I'm in total agreement with you about how to improve on the green card and weeding out. Not that long ago there was a story in the paper about a hair salon with a massage parlor. I found out by someone who was renting an apt. from the owner, that she was hiring someone from NY to issue hairstyling licenses to her employees who would later be eligible for other things, auto license, etc., maybe even a green card. They would charge the women $5k and split the fee. Who do you suppose was working the license end? Who can have access to those documents? Shouldn't someone be overseeing this process? Well, in the end, they shut her down. She owned several homes and a few expensive cars. I wondered what was the final conclusion of that story. About unemployment--that was in the past. Most avoided unemployment benefits--it was viewed as another form of welfare. But AHM--I am not exaggerating any of this--the corporate greed has created this beast along with many others. They teach these "great" business tactics at the best schools.."How to increase our bottom line". There were a couple of stories about our friend who benefits by cheap labor in the garden--taking a troubled company, but rather than build it up, "let's cash out and let it burn". Companies have the tools to find ways to get rid of employees--forced out, forced retirement, layoffs--why does the govt. allow it? These companies have no valid reason to layoff, they are not broke, how is it possible?
AHM January 18, 2013 at 02:30 AM
As I said, I will give him some doubt. He was never aorund much and probably has no clue. But can't be 100% sure. We have plenty of things to blame on him anyway. Much of my work is has been to clean up after others and fix their work. I have pretty much seen it all and heard it. Too many have no clue what they are doing. Not always is the guy with all the licenses the one who can do the work right and be fair.
SomervilleGirl January 18, 2013 at 03:20 AM
AHM, Knew a guy from WS once worked together and would debate about D vs. R. Months later, he said, "There is only one party, no longer two". It took me time to to agree since I have been D, all my voting years. I recall dad saying, "wars are created so capitalists can make money" and "you should never mortgage, because the bank will always own your home". At the time, I was too young to understand his great wisdom. My favorite saying, "the system is rigged". I believe none of what has happened economically was by accident, or created by homeowners, illegals or people with bad credit. it was intentional created by those who had the power to do so and they had everyone by the you know what, even the pols. When they discovered that all of their retirement money had been wrapped up in fraud loans, what choice was there? They talk the talk, but don't walk the walk--go along to get along. I learned a great deal about contractors over the years through family and in my own experience as a homeowner. Did you ever see the movie with Tom Hanks, "Money Pit"? One of my favorites. If you know the movie, you will recall the plumber and carpenter who show up in at the very beginning. The carpenter is driving an expensive sports car. Well, the movie had a lot of good humor and lots of insinuations of the tradesmen. "It will be done in TWO WEEKS" I lost a good plumber, friend of the family, who couldn't keep business going and went to work for a local hospital.
AHM January 18, 2013 at 11:34 AM
Running a service business you really have to be ruthless if you are going to make money. I could not do that no matter how much I tried. Once I find someone really didn't have the money I went way too easy on them. I just don't have it to do that to people. Plenty do. One group of women who sort of have a club or whatever you want to call it all come from battered or problem marriages to keep this short. I got to work for many of them as my name got around the group and it is a shame what was done to them from contractors. I had to undo their work and do it right for almost nothing because they took all their money. At the end of the day I can at least sleep at night. Bad part of the Money Pit is some of it is so true.
SomervilleGirl January 18, 2013 at 01:28 PM
AHM, This story may interest you, google Hard Times in Chicago by Peter Dizikes. There is a slide show as well which is part of the article, on a new book "recounts the painful aftermath when steel plants suddenly closed in the American heartland". These issues we face today with regard to new development is directly tied to stories such as this one. You're a good man to help people out. It's rare to find these days.
AHM January 18, 2013 at 09:27 PM
I think it was meant to be. I had started out wanting to be a mninister but found out I was not cut out for that. So I think this is my own way of helping out and doing what I was intended to do. Okay, will check it out.

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