Saturday, February 26, 2011

It's Time: Leaving the BHCA Board of Directors

As of this May, I will finish up my eighth one-year term as a director of the Beacon Hill Civic Association. I have decided that this term will be my last.

No, I am not leaving the neighborhood. And I still plan to participate in the events I like-- such as Decorating Days in December and the block party in September. I still plan to push for 2+2+9 and to continue my advocacy for programs that will make my neighborhood cleaner.

My reasoning for leaving the board of directors is somewhat hard to explained, but it's summarized by my simply saying that it's time.

Over the past eight years, I feel that I have helped the board to accomplish quite a bit. We've supported strict enforcement of posted street sweeping signs, encouraging the city to tow cars parked illegally on street sweeping days. We've seen the landmark green ticket law go into effect; those green tickets left in the neighborhood now have some teeth.

I have also thoroughly enjoyed learning about the history of the neighborhood from fellow board members. This past August, during the annual "non-meeting" of the group, I learned from my neighbors who were once, not so long ago, in the same position that I am in now. A relatively young professional who's just getting to know their neighborhood. It made me like Beacon Hill a lot more.

But it's time. And without question I feel as though there were some things I wanted to get done that I just didn't have time to do. There were some causes for the Beacon Hill Civic Association as a whole that were not accomplished. Take the average age of a board member, for example. I would love to see more younger members. When I was added to the board, I was 27 and was the youngest member. Luckily, there is one member who is in their 20s now (whereas I am not), but the board needs more age diversity if it really is to carry out its mission of representing the entire neighborhood.

Beacon Hill faces a flight problem, like other Boston neighborhoods. I have seen many of my neighbors leave when they got married, or had kids, simply because it's too expensive to live here. I want to figure out a way to convince those neighbors to stay; to make it easier for them to stay. That is a cause the civic association can no doubt contribute to, and I am happy to help.

As for me, I am not going anywhere. As the secretary of the Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee, I am definitely keeping myself busy-- and enjoying it. And I have no doubt that the board members who will now serve, and continue to serve, will have the best interests of Beacon Hill at heart. I saw that first hand over the past eight years. And I was proud to be a part of it.

Pole Position

About once a year I win the parking spot on Beacon Hill that is the closest to my apartment. I live at the corner of Myrtle and Grove Streets. Myrtle Street has parking only for the stretch of the street that ends right outside my apartment. Directly across from my apartment door is actually marked no parking to leave room for fire trucks to turn off the street.

About 100 feet from my door is the first parking spot highest on Myrtle. I parked there this morning. I call it "pole position." I may never move the car again, is what I always think. When I do next get behind the wheel, which is likely Wednesday morning after an upcoming short trip to Florida, I drive knowing pole position may not be mine again, at least not for another year or so.

Pole position
Myrtle Street
Beacon Hill, Boston
February 26, 2011

Madalyn on a Horse

Last Sunday I drove to southeastern Connecticut for brunch with the fam and a mini-celebration of my 35th birthday. The caravan left the restaurant and proceeded to Standing Stones Farm in Ledyard where my niece Madalyn had her horse riding lesson. She's pretty good.

Standing Stones Farm
Ledyard, Connecticut
February 20, 2011

My parents are in the process of building a house in Ledyard, which is quite a milestone for the Levanto family, given that Ledyard is not in the NFA high-school district (those who know my family know what that means). My brother Scott recently purchased a new boat, and it's telling that the first occupant of the new house is, in fact, the boat.

Ledyard, Connecticut
February 20, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Surprise Visitor to Boston's Ward 5 Democratic Caucus

Senator John Kerry stopped by the Ward 5 Democratic Caucus, held this morning at the First Church in Boston in the Back Bay. He is, after all, a Democrat who lives in Ward 5.

Boston Ward 5 Democratic Caucus
First Church in Boston, Back Bay
February 19, 2011
From left to right: Josh Dawson, Senator John Kerry, Josh's friend from Ohio, Sarah Wenig, George Alex, me, Jay Livingstone, Jay Youmans, Dave Greenwold.

As for the business of the caucus, the proceedings were uneventful, which is to be expected. The purpose of the caucus is to select delegates to the state convention, and this year's convention will deal with the party's overall agenda, and not any specific campaigns. To put it simply, this year is a yawner from the standpoint of statewide politics.

It was very nice to see a good group of elected officials who attended the caucus and addressed the group. In addition to Senator Kerry, we also saw State Senator (and recently engaged) Sonia Chang-Diaz, State Representatives Mary Walz and Byron Rushing, and City Councilor Ayanna Pressley.

For the record, the following delegates for Ward 5 were selected at the caucus, and will now attend the state convention in Lowell on June 4:

Female Delegates
Pat Amend
Mary Clayton-Crozier
Helen Cox
Kate Gallivan
Valerie Hunt
Kathy Judge
Yashima Pepin
Toby Rodman
Sarah Wenig
Diana Wogan
Ali Zaltman

Male Delegates
George Alex
Mike Dash
Dave Greenwold
Ross Levanto
Jay Livingstone
Pat McDonough
Rajan Nanda
Winthrop Roosevelt
Greg Timilty
Rob Whitney
Jay Youmans

Male/Female Delegate
Shelia Martin

Male Alternates
Rich Davey
Peter Flynn

Female Alternates
Fran Burke
Cheryl Cronin

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Boston Ward 5 Democrats To Select Convention Delegates

This week is a busy one for my Democratic Ward Committee, which meets on Tuesday and then participates in a Democratic caucus on Saturday. The end result of the activity will be the selection of delegates for the 2011 State Democratic Convention, which is set for June 4 in Lowell.

I would very much like to represent Democrats in my ward at the State Convention, and I hope to be selected as a delegate. While the party saw success in 2010 with the reelection of Governor Deval Patrick, there is still much work to do. I hope to press for an agenda that is inclusive and advocates for principals that Democrats care about.

The Boston Ward 5 Democratic caucus is set for Saturday, February 19, at 10 a.m. at the First Church in Boston.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Closing the Books on 2010: Travel Summary

I am a little late in doing this, but here's a recap of the airplane and train travel I made in 2010. I made 15 trips by plane or train throughout 2010. Those trips covered 51 total days. However, only 36 of those travel days (representing 11 trips) were for work.

Among the highlights:
  • The trend is clear. As I travel more and more for work, I tend to make the trips shorter and shorter. Doing the math, my work trips in 2010 averaged just over three days each. In 2009, I was on the road 42 days for work, so I was able to eliminate 6 days, mainly by making my trips shorter.

  • I traveled to San Francisco seven times in 2010 (out of 11 total work trips). (In case you are wondering, my company has an office there.) I also went to New Orleans, New York, Pensacola and Fort Lauderdale for work. For pleasure, you can add Las Vegas, Madison (Wisc.), D.C. (to visit my brother Brett), and Rome (yes, Italy).

  • Over the past two years, I have been to San Francisco 15 separate times.
Here's last year's summary, by the way.