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Letter to the Editor: Selectmen's Food Truck Decision "Ill-considered"

John Street resident brings up some concerns about food trucks which he feels were ignored at the April 10 Selectmen's Meeting.

As someone who spoke at the against the introduction of food trucks into Brookline, ultimately I was more disturbed by the Selectmen's blithe disregard for the substantive questions raised not only by myself, but by two prominent town meeting members, restaurant owners, and other citizens, than I was by their ill-considered decision to proceed with this program.

I was under the apparently erroneous assumption that the Selectmen, in their capacities as elected representatives of the community, had a civic responsibility not only to allow opponents of the food truck pilot program to speak, but, as well, to ADDRESS the significant issues that were raised. Among many issues raised were:

1) The fundamental unfairness of forcing the tax paying restaurant owners of Brookline to compete with imported businessmen whose only stake in the community is to make a profit, and who face none of the costs that brick-and-mortar restaurants bear every day.

2) The fact that because the food trucks are almost all registered in other communities, the local food tax revenues they collect will not go to the Town of Brookline but instead to surrounding towns; and thus their presence represents a net revenue loss for Brookline.

3) The fact that the food trucks have no responsibility for the litter that invariably accompanies the presence of such businesses.

4) That the measure of the program's 'success' will be no more that hear-say. And rest assured, the Selectmen will hear what they want to hear. They have already proven as much ().

This 'Pilot Program' is clearly a stalking horse for a much larger scale invasion of food trucks into Brookline with the potential to gravely harm the hardworking business people who have worked so hard to make a success of their restaurant businesses and make Brookline a destination for people from the surrounding area.

Who are the Selectmen representing? Why did they refuse to engage in a substantive discussion of the issues that were raised? The meeting was a bag job. Shame!

Martin Yaseen
25 John Street
Brookline, Ma. 02446

earlier in the year, following another meeting on the subject of Food Trucks.

Do you have an issue in or out of town that you want to write about? Send Patch Editor Grahame Turner your letter to the editor, or ask about . Send an e-mail to Grahame.Turner@Patch.com

Bill Davidson April 18, 2012 at 02:10 PM
The first three issues are valid points. But I don't agree that this six-month pilot program will ruin business for Brookline restaurants. Here's why: 1) Only one of the approved four food truck locations is in close proximity to existing Brookline restaurants (1622 Beacon Street in Washington Square). 2) One of the five approved food trucks is owned and operated by an existing Brookline restaurant (Paris Creperie). 3) Only two of the five trucks will operate on weekends, traditionally the busiest days for Brookline restaurants. 4) Fewer people will be in Brookline during the six months of the pilot program. Area colleges will be out of session for four of the six months. Many families schedule lengthty vacations during in the summer months. These groups will not be spending as much money in Brookline restaurants as they will from mid-October to mid-April. The John Street residents successfully kept food trucks out of their neighborhood. Congratulations. But please give the food truck pilot program a chance before you declare it "an ill-considered decision."
incorporatebrookline April 18, 2012 at 02:26 PM
While we're at it, let's prevent all Brookline residents from accessing online shopping websites. After all, they don't pay brick and mortar costs or local taxes, those evil "imported businessmen." Down with competition! Down with choice!
Grahame Turner April 18, 2012 at 02:35 PM
I know you're being sarcastic, but wanted to bring up that there is a movement to make online retailers pay sales taxes in MA: http://acton.patch.com/articles/poll-should-we-pay-massachusetts-sales-tax-when-buying-online (just FYI)
MARTIN YASEEN April 21, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Dear Bill, As I said, I have no doubt that this program is indeed a stalking horse for throwing Brookline open to food trucks. Your point 4 is ironically an argument for NOT having food trucks in town. And since the 'success' of the program will, as I have said, be based on hearsay, there is no way for it to 'fail' unless the truck owners decide for themselves that it is not working. If the selectmen wanted a real gauge of what is going on, the trucks should be required to report their gross revenues from their Brookline locations so that we can see, at the end of the 6 months, exactly how much money has collectively been lost from the Brookline's restaurant business. Marty Yaseen
MoonBeamWatcher April 30, 2012 at 04:01 PM
incorporatebrookline, that is excellent! For the Commonwealth of MA not to be more pro-active on tax collection for purchases made on line is a very good example of bad government! And Mr. Turners' point is well made, a 'movement' is underway but it must become more then what I have every AM after breakfast! Just as the offer of "FREE SHIPPING" levels the Internet shopping . . . the forgiveness of MA Sales Tax tilts the table in the favor online shopping! I am guilty of looking at Best Buy and then buying on line for delivery and price!
MoonBeamWatcher April 30, 2012 at 04:28 PM
PS/ one of the most accurate letters I have ever read in the TAB was written by Mr. Marty Yaseen! Excellent presentation of exactly how deaf our selectman are to legitimate complaints! THEN this same gaggle of Selectpersons will decide if the program is to continue!? Sounds to me like ObamaCare . . . with a board of non medical persons will decide if I should have a pacemaker. High time Brookline lost this "Town Meeting" foolishness of hours on THE PLEDGE, Spanking, Illegal Amnesty and ONLY a 'hello' on the FINANCIAL PLAN, BUDGET and became a CITY with the Mayor accountable instead of EVERY DEPARTMENT HEAD doing it his or her way . . . as long as the Selectmen are pleased!
MoonBeamWatcher April 30, 2012 at 05:05 PM
I would suggest a bit of INVESTIGATIVE reporting to justify the TABS constitutional protections would be in order. The Selectman's dictatorial attitude and blessings of unscrupulous practices are far more significant then "Food Trucks" which serves as a WONDERFUL bad example of their treatment of Brookline citizens and businesses! Maybe the Sagamore could look into the DPW's practice of NOT 'reading' water meters until July 4th, and then billing the ENTIRE Quarter at the increased Water and Sewer Rate approved by "Selectman" in June?! Could the High School newspaper win a PULITZER? What is the Town of Brooklines' policy on WHISTLE BLOWERS? Do they / we have one?
MoonBeamWatcher April 30, 2012 at 10:30 PM
"I don't agree that this six-month pilot program will ruin business" Reminds me of the joke about the BIG TIME Boston Lawyer vs. the up country cop who stops him for 'running a stop sign!' The Shark argues he slowed down. The Maine officer still writes. Lawyer insists . . . cop tells him to get out of car and starts to pummel him with his night stick . . . 'should I STOP, or SLOW DOWN?' Maybe a business has customer loyalty and resources that THEY are NOT RUINED in 6 months . . . but NEXT years vacation - if taken, could well be shortened and if the pilot is extended the store will become a BANK or another DRUG STORE!
Mark Izeman May 01, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Water meters are now read electronically each day.
MoonBeamWatcher May 01, 2012 at 06:51 PM
I am very much aware of this Mr. Izeman. When I went to the DPW to ask if I was to believe my Water/Sewer meter was read on the FOURTH of JULY they so informed me . . . to wit I asked: "Then why when the NEW RATE was approved on June 23, did you people not read the meeter on the last day of June?" She said 'we' have been doing it this way for decades as she walked away from me. I then asked if a crime committed for 10 years made THIS crime of charging the July 1 increase for the previous quarter . . . LESS OF A CRIME? As Paul Harvey would say, stay tuned for the rest of the story about "Taxation without representation".

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