The following letter was sent to the Boston Globe in response to a November 5th editorial in the paper, Party ordinance would be harsh on young Bostonians.
I strongly object to the editorial of November 5th concerning the noise ordinance proposed by Councillor Sal LaMattina. This editorial displays ignorance of the seriousness of the noise problem in the North End, and evidences no serious consideration of the problem.
As an attorney and longtime journalist who has written both news articles and op-eds for the Globe, I ask that I be given leave to write an an op-ed that provides meaningful consideration of the ordinance from the perspective of a community member. This is clearly needed as an antidote to this grossly ill-considered editorial.
The editorial fell below the standard of thoroughness and reason that your readers have a right to expect.
The editorial was obviously based on reportage at the City Council hearing on the ordinance; however, the facts were presented in a partial and misleading way. In sum, the board concocted a thesis and then fixed the facts around that view. An editorial writer has an inherent license to her opinion, but not to a manipulation of the facts.
Needless to say, if the editorial was written all or in part by a beat reporter, that would be gravely troubling. The Globe should clarify how the editorial board obtained the facts presented in the editorial, because it appears that the same reporter who attended the meeting wrote the piece.
The editorial opines that existing ordinances are sufficient to address the problem, and yet omits testimony at the hearing from a decorated police captain that this ordinance offers an essential new tool for the police. The author clearly witnessed this testimony, and yet chose to ignore it.
The editorial notes that the youth presence at the meeting was “conspicuously lacking,” seeking to imply that this lack of representation was the fault of the council. The meeting was well publicized, and only two younger individuals attended. They testified, in sum, that they have a right to disregard noise ordinances because they are artists.
These facts were all ignored by your editorial board.
Most fundamentally, the editorial ignores the seriousness of the problem. Residents of the North End have been deprived of sleep and have been treated with gross disrespect, and are out of patience with this problem, which threatens quality of life and property values in Boston’s most historic neighborhood.
The editorial, by characterizing the problem as one of “hanging out after dinner,” shows contempt for the concerns that residents have been raising for months. Jeremy C. Fox’s boston.com article of October 26 catalogued these concerns well, but the editorial board does not appear to read such articles before putting pen to paper.
The noise and disturbances are of course even worse in Allston-Brighton. The coarsening of that community has led to an epidemic of crime. In recent weeks, multiple BU students and others have been held up at gunpoint. It is well-understood that deterioration of quality of life in a neighborhood brings with it crime and a drop in property values. Near-riot conditions are not infrequent in Allston-Brighton — and indeed, such conditions also recently occurred in the Paul Revere Mall in the North End, another fact of which you were likely aware but chose to ignore.
Your editorial offered nothing by way of a constructive alternative to the ordinance. It suggests, using unprofessional language, that landlords should be punished for “blowing off” community meetings, which is an absurd suggestion.
I am prepared to offer a reasoned discussion about the ordinance in an op-ed. The ordinance is not designed to stigmatize students, but to deal with recalcitrant individuals that have proved impervious to police warnings.
In the meantime, I respectfully ask you to publish as much of this letter as possible. I believe you should also seriously reflect on whether this piece passed a basic threshold of through and fair editorialization. It unfairly played with the facts of the hearing; failed to acknowledge the seriousness of the problem, which is a matter of public record; and offered no constructive alternative to the ordinance. It was written in a cavalier manner which shows disrespect for Boston residents who are also your readers. The board should reconvene and seek to present a more thorough and fair argument, even if it continues to oppose the ordinance. Alternatively, the board should have the courage to admit that an error in judgment and analysis was made, and reverse its stance on the ordinance.
Very truly yours,