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Wu: One of top priorities is hiring a Mass-and-Cass chief

Janey and Wu

Janey and Wu share a moment at press conference.

At a joint press conference with acting Mayor Kim Janey, Mayor Elect Michelle Wu said hiring a Cabinet-level person to deal with the ongoing crisis at Mass and Cass will be one of her top priorities even before her administration starts on Nov. 16.

Wu did not signal any changes from the current move-out strategy started by Janey, but that as we get "closer to winter life and death temperatures," quick action is vital. She said said she will begin looking at turning vacant city buildings into "low-threshold housing" for people who now live in street tents and to connect them with needed support, to "lead with public health," and not further criminalization of people on the streets.

Janey said she would continue to work with officials in other communities and at the state level to get help for people at Mass and Cass, many of whom are from outside Boston.

In the short press conference, at which she also discussed her priorities in Spanish, Wu said she hopes to continue to take the T - as she did this morning - to City Hall. She said on her ride from Green - near her campaign headquarters - to State Street, she talked to constituents about issues such as Mass and Cass and the high cost of housing in Boston. She said the T is not just a means of transportation but an important "civic space" for such discussions.

She added she is now also looking for leaders for other city efforts, who reflect both the city's diversity and the need to hit the ground running in a city still recovering from the pandemic.

The press conference came after the current and future mayors spent a couple hours going over transition issues. For now, Wu says she's fine working out of he current city-council office. "It's very comfortable and it has everything I need."

Janey said she has no doubts that Wu will be ready for the job by the time she takes the oath of office.

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Comments

You guys could have had a CZAR and you settled for a “chief”? It’s not gonna work.

Lame.

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Voting closed 45

Seems we had ourselves a bit of a skirmish kicking them out?

And I seem to also recall that it ended rather badly for the Czar.

Perhaps we need less royalty and militarism, more common sense? This sounds like a job for a maven.

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has always been to achieve title of Drug Czar.

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Voting closed 19

Czar is an informal title for government positions that coordinate different agencies in some general area of policy. Because such positions have broad influence while having limited formal power, giving them a whimsical nickname after an exotic kind of foreign monarch must have seemed like a good idea at the time. But we don't actually have a drug czar, we have a Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Similarly, this position seems like you could probably call it the Mass and Cass Czar if you want, but that's not going to be the title on their business card.

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Voting closed 14

But if I’m the Czar of Mass and Cass, I’m getting a business card and you bet your ass the title CZAR is gonna be on it.

Pale Nimbus…..raised lettering…..watermark……

Yup.

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Voting closed 36

Chief Zeitgheist Aggression Representative
-
Director Of Product Enhancement

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Voting closed 15

I'm the Czar of Mass and Cass,
I'll break your needles and kick your ass,
Then I'll take you home and make you well,
If they don't like it, they can go to hell.

Continue with a dozen or so more verses, with progressively lamer assertions and more strained rhymes.

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Voting closed 14

A step in the right direction.

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Voting closed 21

Enlarging the city bureaucracy, an excellent first step.

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Voting closed 50

You sound like you know nothing but talking points. Congratulations! Talking point noted!

The reality is that complicated problems need people who can coordinate all the moving pieces into moving the same direction and behaving in ways that solve the problem. This isn't just a housing problem, a policing problem, a drug rehab problem, or a mental health issues problem - all of these different services need to come together, set a coordinated policy, and be held accountable for holding up their end of the safety net.

Here is an excellent example of how complicated problems are best solved through coordination across jurisdictions. Sorry if it is too complicated for you to understand: https://jeannegeigercrisiscenter.org/domestic-violence-homicide-prevention/

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Voting closed 42

Appointing a random person to own an unsolvable problem is not unlike parroting a talking point. For example, take Kamala Harris' appointment to fix the southern border. She's constantly taking hits from the GOP about how little she's focused on it. Realistically there's nothing she's able to do about it anyway. So, she's stuck being a punching bag. But that's the price she's willing to pay to Biden for bringing her onto the ticket.

Unless Wu's new chief has authority over the involved city departments plus a large budget (like big enough to build a bridge), there's little reason to expect them to succeed and a lot of reasons to expect them to fail.

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Complicated by lack of interagency coordination.

Poverty, drug addiction ... they are not insolvable problems. They are difficult and complex problems. Like domestic violence.

Sorry if you can't think other than in simplistic binary thoughts.

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would be your first step, genius?

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What's going to be different about this position? We're in a unique time in that we have multiple health crises potentially on a collision course this winter. Resources are stretched thin as it is, and it's pretty clear that service providers, and the general public, is exhausted by the lack of decisive action up until now. We've been circling this drain for years, and approaching decades when you conceptualize mass and cass within the context of wider opioid crisis, and even still, the process of deinstitutionalization.

We haven't had adequate services to facilitate treatment and shelter for decades. In many ways, the detox system is a lottery. Is there a bed? Is there a follow-up placement bed? Is the person able to go right now? The number of snags that can prevent someone who is willing and able to attend treatment is numerous. I spent a month in 2008 waiting for my insurance to be reactivated because I was homeless and hadn't submitted the recertification letter as I'd never gotten. I found my friend dead from an overdose on October 3rd 2008, and had to wait for November 4th (as it was a tuesday, which meant I would leave detox on a Monday, which meant I could go on to a further treatment program as many of them didn't have the ability to do an intake on a saturday or sunday). So many variables exist which cause the system to operate short of where we'd like it to be.

In the 50s, we closed hospitals and discharged to the street, but our country was wealthy and our cities were far less dense. Homelessness was increasingly visible, but generally didn't interfere with the voting public's life by and large. Services have never been adequate to provide care for the deinstitutionalized population, and others who'd end up in similar situations. We played catch up through the 80s and 90s, amending prior legislation to allow mental health treatment for people in Medicare/Medicaid well after we started eliminating treatment beds.

As a society, we have to face that the moral failing, as easy as it may be to blame the individual, is collectively ours. We stigmatize addiction and we try to "do more while spending less". It's a model that is tried and true in the public health world, something every legislator loves to utilize to shine up budgets that ultimately leave less money going into services.

Is there waste in the system? Absolutely. At the same time, we've begun to get a better handle on that waste. Mass Health has spent the last 5 years establishing coordinated care that seeks to reduce wasteful or unnecessary use. High utilizers of services are followed by care managers and medical navigation investments are reducing costs. It's not perfect, but it's the foundation of care systems that could be more responsible with our tax dollars.

Getting back to the initial sentiment - how does adding another person to this help us navigate all of that stuff?

It really depends on who the person is, and whether they're able to navigate an awful landscape of hateful politics and sanctimony that has been too toxic to actually build consensus. There are legal, medical, financial, social, and human factors at play here, and at the end of the day, we need to build something that has a significant impact, or else it will continue to fester, eroding the public's trust even further, and increasing the risk that folks across the city, state, and nation, are exposed to as they are further marginalized.

We need to address this or it will rot us from within. Look at what it's doing already. We need to invest resources and work to make some significant changes to our current care systems. This could quite possibly be an existential threat to our society, and if that's something that you're cool with, just consider that the pathway to that end is littered with the suffering of our communities.

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Voting closed 41

duplicate post removed

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Marty Martinez?

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He was hired as overall health-and-human services chief. Walsh actually hired somebody specially for Mass and Cass, but Buddy Christopher only lasted a couple weeks, due to that zoning scandal that only the guy who gave the bribe to the zoning board member ever got legally in trouble for.

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… but I prefer NOT to have policy conversations with strangers on the T… or any conversation really, other than griping about delays.

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Most of these addicts are not from Boston. Send a bill to New Hampshire and other places. I’m tired of Bostonians having to clean up other people’s mess.

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Many are certainly from Massachusetts.

I'd be interested in seeing some data on the subject.

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This is still America, where free movement throughout the country is permitted. You can be from where ever, but you can also move to where ever.

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"This is still America, where free movement throughout the country is permitted. You can be from where ever, but you can also move to where ever."

Unless Covid because "FoLlOw ThE ScIeNcE"

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As I recall, you were never prevented from moving anywhere during Covid (and in fact, I know several people who traveled between states or even across the country during that time). Now, you may have needed to follow some basic testing and quarantine procedures when doing so, but that's just common sense to prevent the spread of a deadly infectious disease.

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We have received the shipment - please come and claim them!

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Mass & Cass 3.0

Another Chief who will not be held accountable for failing to accomplish anything. The last committee admitted that they never had meetings.

Appointing a chief means that you don’t have any ideas and are hoping someone else will figure it out.

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Voting closed 24

Appointing a chief means that you don’t have any ideas and are hoping someone else will figure it out.

I don't know how to do every single thing I'm expected to do, do you?

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Throwing this out there, but the City has a ton of empty hotel rooms. We're hitting winter, a typically low season, and hotels are already seeing some of the lowest occupancy in the country.

Rather than throwing people in an empty jail, what about hotel rooms? There are probably all sorts of logistical issues with this, but they do have things like bathrooms and beds and linens and such. And banquet rooms and kitchens which could be turned into places for people to get meals, and probably some social work facilities.

You might be able to find a property which is planning to do some refurbishing and wouldn't mind some steady income from renting out to the city for a few months. Like when the Radisson rebranded as the Revere and became all swanky.

Taking rooms off the market makes the rest of the market slightly higher, so you might even get some buy-in from other hotel owners in the city. Is this a long-term plan? Certainly not! But if it gets some people off the streets before winter, it buys time to figure out a more permanent plan. And it's a heck of a lot better than throwing people in fucking jail.

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Voting closed 17

One of the guys who rang my bell and inquired about our votes, they really seemed to care. The one in the morning even told me where our voting location was and what time it closed. I'm sure they will end up in some dept., might as well be the Mass and Cass director.

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I'm sure they will end up in some dept., might as well be the Mass and Cass director.

You should learn about how canvassing actually works. The large majority is done by volunteers who have day jobs and are not seeking any position should their candidate be elected.

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So these guys could also be campaign workers hoping for a position.
But you're right and I'm wrong?. thanks

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