It now feels like fake news has hit our local press . . . It was with pleasure that the May 17 issue of the Winthrop Sun Transcript printed the letter to the editor in support of establishing a Human Rights Commission within the government structure of our Town. However this quickly turned to dismay in reading the guest op-ed published directly below the Support Letter. The op-ed (President Trump could accidentally help protect the environment) blames the overly racist immigration policies of the current administration on impacting climate change. I read the op-ed column and thought it was a sad joke. However, our local paper chose to publish it. I wondered if this was the paper’s response to the letter to the editor? And if so, why? If your intent was to slander immigration, let’s look at Winthrop as a community. Our Town boasts approximately 98% immigrant population; newly arrived immigrants, first generation, second generation, etc. Less than 2-percent of the town population is non-immigrants (Native American or African American). It is clear that this op-ed was published to put blame on new immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, for problems relative to climate change and if we stop immigration, we will then help the environment.
I guess my discomfort comes from the fact that this is exactly the kind of simplistic rhetoric that turns people against immigrants and – by extension – foreigners. Yes, immigration is increasing slightly, but overall population growth in the U.S. is negative. For example, If not for immigration in Massachusetts, our population would be in rapid decline.
As a reader of the Transcript I would hope that this type of op-ed would be clearly vetted before publication. If this had occurred your publication would have known that this campaign is ‘fake news’; a false attempt calling for progressives to join forces with anti-immigration activists in the name of saving the environment. In a published article in the Guardian, Does Immigration Hurt the Environment, author Ben Whitford stated “This isn’t the first time that anti-immigration groups have tried to co-opt the American environmental movement. . . . Three of the five groups behind the current campaign are listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Centre’s Intelligence Project for their ties to white supremacists and their promotion of racist conspiracy theories”
The article also states that “In fact, it’s debatable whether immigration has any significant environmental impact. Of course, while there’s scant evidence that immigration damages the environment, it’s pretty clear that current efforts to curb illegal immigration are having a serious negative impact. The security fence being built along America’s southern border slices through a number of key wildlife refuges, preventing the migration of animals . . . A study by the Mexican government found that the border fence would put as many as 85 endangered plant and animal species at heightened risk, in violation of a 1983 conservation agreement between the U.S. and Mexico.
I would hope that any future op-ed pieces in our local paper would present a balanced approach to reporting the news and present opinions that support Winthrop as a welcoming, open and fair community. Fake news has not place in our town. Thank you.
IN RESPONSE TO ARTICLE
In response to the May 25, 2018 article in this paper “Residents Oppose Fish Pier Proposal” regarding the construction of a new fishing pier on Deer Island, it is important to set the facts straight.
MWRA has been successful in becoming a host for a Fish and Game saltwater fishing pier on Deer Island. The funds come directly from the sale of saltwater fishing licenses and are intended to provide increased saltwater fishing locations. The project includes the construction of a 250-foot pier that will be located on the southerly shore behind the Judge Mazzone memorial. The project funds 20 parking spaces, including handicapped parking. The parking will be out of sight on the left side of the parking lot, behind the knoll.
To state the obvious, Deer Island is a very popular location for walking, running, bike riding, fishing, and just sitting on one of the numerous memorial benches that provide incredible views of Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay. One of the limitations is handicapped accessibility for fishing. There is simply no access for the handicapped or those who are unsteady on their feet.
It is important that the record be set straight on public notification and input. The first time the fish pier was discussed was at MWRA’s Deer Island bi-annual public meeting of April 29, 2015. MWRA staff presented the proposal to the group for residents for comment. There were no negative comments at that meeting. In fact, residents were specifically asked if MWRA should move forward with entering in an agreement with Fish and Game to begin the design and the construction of the pier and the clear consensus in the room was positive with no objections stated. So, MWRA entered into an MOU with Fish and Game and the project moved forward. At each bi-annual meeting to update our neighbors, the fish pier was placed on the agenda and the progress was discussed. The meetings were held on —November 12, 2015, April 29, 2015, November 3, 2016, June 13, 2017 and October 19, 2017.
Crime on Deer Island, and the potential of increased criminal activity because of the pier, was discussed at some of these meetings. To address the perception of crime on Deer Island, MWRA has included several security initiatives in the pier project. They include:
- The installation of blue police call boxes that will be connected to our security building on Deer Island;
- Increased cameras covering the pier, the parking lot, and the driveway in this location;
- Extensive safety lighting; and
- Increased roving patrols by our security staff.
The cost of these additions to the project will be borne by MWRA, not Fish and Game. I should point out that MWRA has agreed to upgrades to address the perception regarding crime – rather than the facts. Attached is a report prepared by the Winthrop Police Department that documents the number, or lack thereof, of police calls to the Island over the last four years. As the report indicates, the number of police calls has been minimal and the type of issues have been minor in nature. There have been no arrests in anyone’s memory.
We believe that the opponents of the pier have stretched the bounds of reasonableness with some their assertions, such as the pier being used to import drugs.
Over the years, the parking of cars down Tafts Avenue into the side streets by visitors to Deer Island has been one of the most common complaints raised by residents of Point Shirley. In an effort to get these parked cars off the street and onto the Island, MWRA agreed to expand the new parking lot by 20 spaces for a total of 40 parking spaces. This new parking lot is proposed to be inside the initial gate, so as to be out of sight and ear shot from any homes. MWRA also agreed to extra plantings around the new parking lost to provide a screen of bushes to help hide the parking lot. Again, the cost of these extra 20 spaces was to be borne by MWRA.
Unfortunately, the fishing pier project and specifically the increased parking on the Island have come under criticism in some quarters. Some now believe that the additional parking spaces will attract more vehicles and people to Deer Island. In the spirit of compromise, MWRA has withdrawn the plan for the 20 additional parking spaces, thus reducing the number of parking spaces by 50-percent back to the original 20 parking spaces. I should point out that this change will save MWRA over $100,000. MWRA strongly believes that this fish pier project is a great enhancement to the public access and it is our intention to move forward expeditiously with this compromise plan.
Winthrop is a beautiful seaside community and this pier will certainly enhance the ability of its residents to enjoy a clean Boston Harbor.
MWRA Executive Director