Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I choose to be happy!

A couple mornings ago in New Orleans I woke up and just decided to not let my anger and cynicism get to me. I will be happy!

I'm really so lucky. To go from suicidal childhood with abusive alchoholic father, to being happily married to a wonderful woman, having a killer stereo, a motorcycle and a place of my own who am I to ask for more.

There are so many people down in New Orleans who have lost everything, but they are soldiering on. They have been let down by their institutions, local, state, federal. So many promises, such lack of action.

I happened to be driving past the Benjamin Franklin School on Tuesday morning as I was listening to NPR talk about the first public school opening in N.O. It is a former magnet school in the Garden District (an older area, that is affluent and mostly white that didn't get flooded), that is now an open elementary school. I looked over as I drove by and saw perhaps a couple hundred young children, everyone I saw was black, except for some white teachers. Anyone with means in N.O. sends their kid to private school. I see in N.O. what could happen to Boston if the deterioration is allowed to continue. It could never get that bad, I believe, but you see what cronyism, corruption does in time of need. They abandon the people and just take care of themselves.

Where are the leaders???

Anyhow, I will do the best I can, take care of my family, try to help out where I can, and be happy!

On a positive note, N.O. is coming back slowly but surely. I had dinner in the french quarter the other day, and there are definitely more people there every time I go there. There is more traffic every day. But, most people are waiting for answers...what will be rebuilt, when, and what about the levees??? There has been no answer. Everyone needs workers, but wages are low and there is no place to live.

By the way, there are some abandoned jeeps and BMW's in my neighborhood on the streets anyone need any parts?

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

What are those councilors hiding???

Oh, how the quicksand pulls them in....

I heard the city council met for an hour and a half today in executive session to talk about open meeting lawsuit.

Some of the internal inconsistencies...:

Their lawyer, Mark Sweeney, keeps arguing in court about how precious everyone's time is, the mayor, the bra, the city councilors. But, yet they are spending hours and hours of time, talking about it in meetings and executive sessions. All we are asking for is each of them to talk for approximately an hour or less about what they were doing in these closed sessions.


It was amusing to see that the city councilor's lawyer is more concerned with the time of the BRA director and the mayor than the city council's. Imagine hiring a divorce lawyer who is more concerned with your spouses time than yours!

In their motion for summary judgement the council is arguing that they essentially have no power whatsoever. No power over any planning, zoning or development issues in the city. No power over the public health commission. No power over Biolabs.
It is amusing to see councilor Flaherty use as his defense that he has no authority. Maybe that is why he so often is away from City Hall, and he is out making money practicing as an attorney. If you don't have any power, why bother going to work?

To sum up their argument: OK, we may have had a bunch of secret illegal meetings with the BRA over the last couple years, but since we voted away all power over them last December 15, we can now meet with them with impunity because we gave away our authority and we can meet with whomever we want in secret as long as we don't have power or authority over them, and there is no legislation pending.
Also, we don't have any authority over the Boston Public Health Commission even though we do approve their budget every year. Kind of like a parent doesn't really have any control over a teenager, even though they pay all the bills.

Funny that they argue that they have no power over planning or development, because if you do a search on city council hearings and proposed ordinances there are literally dozens of them? If they don't have anything to do with them, why are they wasting their time on hearings?????

Oh, ye of such less big faith.

It is also distressing to see the DA and AG hanging on the sidelines. What is so apparent about all of this, is that politicians don't care about right or wrong, just what is politically expedient at the time. And the press? You'd think they would care about access to the meetings where things are decided.

Well, back in court on Jan. 4th....

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Greetings from New Orleans

As Timbuk 3 would sing...Life is Hard.

It is a tragedy down here in many, many ways, with very little to report on the positive side.

I'm working away on restoring a house near Tulane University that was flood and hurricane damaged. Getting anything down here is hit or miss. Spent two hours the other day trying to find finish nails. The look of weariness is ubiquitous on people's faces. Long lines, lack of help, especially trained help just adds to the aggravation.

There is a vacuum of leadership down here. No one really knows what is happening or what is going to happen, which obviously hinders anyone deciding what they are going to do with their particular house, job, business, etc.

I was listening to the radio yesterday and they had a guy from FEMA on. He was talking about the great response from America, the goodwill of the American People and all the organizations that have come down to help. He named a bunch of them off: Catholic Charities, Goodwill, Salvation Army, the Mormons, etc. The radio announcer asked him a simple follow up question: "so do you have a number people could call to get help from these people?" The FEMA guy said, "uhhh, no we don't have a number for people to call but we can get help to you". It then became obvious that the guy was just a talking head who really was just there to talk about the great stuff that FEMA was doing, when they really had no backup or reality to what they were saying.

People down here are angry. They feel lied to by their government, the army corp of engineers, and they don't know where to turn. Two people who I've met over the last couple months who initially talked about staying and rebuilding, and wanting to be a part of it all, bringing this great city back, have now told me they are selling their houses and just playing things by ear, and maybe moving on. These are intelligent, professional people with ties to the city.

One of the City Councilors was bagged by the Feds for insisting on a $100,000 kickback from one of the contractors. The rest of the country should be very wary of giving money here, the corruption is still a part of life down here.

I've met many contractors who came here to try and help, or even locals trying to get work with FEMA but were rebuffed. There are many people here with serious equipment, just sitting around not working. It is crazy. They aren't working on any of the breaches right now, it is as quiet as the forward thinking of the Boston City Council!

Much of the renovation work is being done by hispanics, particularly mexicans. I met a contractor from Dallas who is here with heavy equipment which he couldn't get anyone to hire him with. So he brought in a bunch of "wetbacks" and "pistoleros" and they are doing gut out work and roofing work for him. I see it all over. There are local and outside white contractors going around and bidding the work, and then a group of hispanics comes in and does it.

As was written in investment biker: capitalism will always find a way. People have a need (in this case house gutting and renovation work) and a capitalist will step in to fill the void. Especially when government is not doing the job.

I sent in my application to the State of LA licensing Board after having my assistant speak to them at length about how to get a reciprocal license. My application and the $700 check has been sitting at the Baton Rouge post office for two weeks with no one signing for it.

I met with the chief electrical inspector on monday to see about bringing in some out of state licensed electricians to help with the rebuilding. He said they are not allowing any temporary lifting of licensing requirements, so all work has to be done with local electricians. (If they don't change that it will take them 25 years to get the work done)

So, we have people from around the country who want to come and help out, but the government is putting roadblocks up to keep this from happening.

This place needs an independent czar to take the federal money and spend it prudently. Maybe a Giuliani type. Tough decisions need to be made, because every day N.O. gets further behind, and people will decide to move on or more precisely not return.

There is dry ground 5 miles from the city where people are living and working as normal. There are traffic jams every night because everyone leaves town. It is quite off-putting at night, living in our mobile home. There isn't a sound to be heard, and I am right in the heart of the city. No one lives there, it is about 10 blocks to a place with electricity and other people. It is like being in the middle of the woods, except you are in the middle of the neighborhood. You could plunder whole blocks and no one would know. There are still abandoned cars around....

On the positive side, the heart of new orleans is good...french quarter, garden district, CBD, but because of lack of people it is hard to run a business, and catch 22, without customers, i.e. people you can't open a business.

I'm happy to be doing my part down here, but it is tough and frustrating, and I feel for the locals. Not sure how you can help up there, we really need direction from the leaders.

regards, and hope you have a safe thanksgiving,

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Working on Joint Pre-Trial with Council's Counsel...

Spent 2.5 hours with atty mark sweeney and his assistant justin along with my co-plaintiff on wed to try and hash out a joint pre-trial memorandum. Of course when they sent along the typed up copy of what we had agreed to they happened to leave out the part about them having more than a quorom at a meeting (a clear violation of the open meeting law, as I read it...). I'm sure just an innocent oversight.

I'm back to New Orleans tomorrow, court is 3 pm room 306 on Monday.

If you want to score along at home here is what we have so far....







Plaintiff Kevin McCrea is a registered voter in the City of Boston.

Plaintiff Shirley Kressel is a registered voter in the City of Boston.

Plaintiff Kathleen Devine is a registered voter in the City of Boston.

Boston City Council is a “governmental body” within the City of Boston as defined by G.L. c. 39 § 23B.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority (“BRA”) is an “operating agency” as defined by G.L. c. 121B, § 1.

The BRA is a “redevelopment authority” as defined by G.L. c. 121B, § 1.

Defendant Michael F. Flaherty is a City Councilor and is the President of the Boston City Council.

The duties of the President of the Boston City Council are defined by Rule 3 of the Rules of the Boston City Council, a true copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit A.

The Boston City Council regularly holds meetings for the purpose of deciding on or deliberating towards decisions.

The Boston City Council consists of 13 members.

A quorum of the City Council consists of seven Councilors.

On February 5, 2003 Councilor Felix Arroyo, filed an order, docket no. 000294, a true copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit B.

No hearing was held on the order.

On June 3, 2003, a number of Boston City Councilors met in the office of Michael Flaherty to discuss a Boston Redevelopment Authority request for Council approval of Urban Renewal Plan extensions.

Mark Maloney, the Director of the BRA, attended the June 3, 2003 meeting.

On or about the time of the June 3, 2003 meeting, City Council President Flaherty issued a memorandum. A true copy of the memorandum is attached hereto as Exhibit C.

On June 19, 2003, a number of City Councillors and BRA staff met in the City Council Curley Room.

The June 19, 2003 meeting was attended by Plaintiff Shirley Kressel at her request.

Neither the June 3, 2003 meeting, nor the June 19, 2003 meeting was posted in advance with the City Clerk. No records were made public.

On August 14, 2003, the BRA Director, Mark Maloney, hosted a meeting with the City Council to discuss “the future of Boston’s Urban Renewal Program.”

On September 17, 2003, Councilor Flaherty sent a memorandum to all Councilors regarding regular monthly meetings “relative to urban renewal” with the BRA in the BRA Director's conference room. A true copy of that memorandum is attached hereto as Exhibit D.

On October 6, 2003, City Councilor Felix Arroyo wrote a letter to the Director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. A true copy of that letter is attached hereto as Exhibit E.

On October 15, 2003, City Councilor Felix Arroyo wrote a letter to the Director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. A true copy of that letter is attached hereto as Exhibit F.

On March 10, 2004, City Councilor Felix Arroyo wrote a letter to the Director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority and Michael Flaherty. A true copy of that correspondence is attached hereto as Exhibit G.

On August 31, 2004, the BRA issued an email to all Boston City Councilors concerning meetings to be held between members of the Boston City Council and the Boston Redevelopment Authority. A copy of that email is attached hereto as Exhibit H.

A meeting occurred on September 23, 2004.

Another meeting occurred on October 21, 2004.

On October 26, 2004, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino sent a transmittal letter and order to the Boston City Council. A true copy of that correspondence is attached hereto as Exhibit I.

Another meeting occurred on November 18, 2004.

Another such meeting occurred on January 13, 2005.

Another such meeting occurred on February 17, 2005.

The above-referenced meetings were closed to the public

The above-referenced meetings were not posted in advance with the City Clerk, nor were records made public.

On December 15, 2004, at a duly-noticed and public hearing, the Boston City Council approved an order relative to Urban Renewal Plan extensions. A true copy of that order is attached hereto as Exhibit J.

A meeting occurred on March 24, 2005.

The meeting, and the fact of the public being barred from attending the meeting, was reported in the press.

The topics discussed at the March 24, 2005 meeting referenced above do not meet any of the exceptions listed in c.39 § 23B.

To date, no minutes or records of the meetings of January 20, 2005 or of March 24, 2005 have been made available to the public.

Meetings scheduled for April 28, 2005, May 26, 2005, and June 23, 2005 were cancelled.

On January 20, 2005, notice was given to each City Councilor regarding a “councilors-only meeting” to discuss a tularemia exposure incident at the laboratories of Boston University. A representative of Boston University was scheduled to meet with the Boston City Council at this meeting. A true copy of that notice is attached hereto as Exhibit K.

The meeting held on January 20, 2005, between the Boston City Council and representatives of Boston University was not posted with the City Clerk, nor were records made public or kept.

Plaintiff Devine filed a written complaint with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office regarding the January 20, 2005 meeting. A true copy of that complaint is attached hereto as Exhibit L.

On or about March 21, 2005, Assistant District Attorney Donna Pantalano wrote a letter to Michael Flaherty. A true copy of that correspondence is attached as Exhibit M.


A. Plaintiffs.

B. Defendants.

1. Five city councilors attended the January 20, 2005 meeting.
2. Councilor Arroyo’s order, referred to in paragraph 12 of the statement of agreed facts, was duly referred by the Council President in accordance with the Rules of the Boston City Council.

3. The Council President Flaherty acted in accordance with the rules of the Council in referring that order to committee.


1. That the meetings cited above convened the entire City Council body, rendering immaterial the issue of quorum (the number of Councilors actually responding to the invitation, or the number of Councilors in the room at any one time);
2. That the City Councilors deliberately managed their meeting attendance to keep fewer than seven members in the room at any one time, knowingly repeating the violation of the 1987 Shannon case against the Boston City Council.
3. That the meetings concerned the conduct of public business, including issues over which the City council has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power, either directly by law or indirectly by negotiation or political influence;
4. That the meetings formed a pattern of behavior violating the intent and letter of the Open Meeting Law;
5. Whether other meetings were held by the City Councilors that violated the Open Meeting Law;
6. Whether agreements or commitments of any kind were made at meetings that violated the Open Meeting Law, and may therefore be nullified within 21 days after being made public at this trial;
7. That the Boston City council is in violation of a court order pursuant to the decision in Shannon v. Boston City Council, No. 87-5397 (Suffolk Superior Court, February 28, 1989) wherein the City Council signed a Consent stating: “The Defendants further understand that any violation of this judgment may result in them being adjudged in contempt of court.”


The defendants expect that the evidence will demonstrate that the City Council and its President did not violate the open meeting law as alleged by the Plaintiffs. Although the City Council President and the BRA Director did invite councilors to a series of discussions on Urban Renewal and other issues, a number of those meetings either were canceled or were not attended by a quorum of councilors. Other meetings concerned issues and subjects outside the jurisdiction of the City Council, or for which no decision was pending at the time of the meeting. The defendants also contend that the evidence will demonstrate that the injunctive relief sought by the plaintiffs is inappropriate because there are no future meetings planned or necessary on any of the issues discussed at the meetings challenged by the plaintiffs.


This case concerns a claim, brought by three city residents against a City Council and its President. The plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that the defendants violated the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law by conducting a number of meetings without providing public notice or access. The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction requiring the defendants to comply with the Open Meeting Law in the future. The defendants contend that they did not violate the Open Meeting Law, and that the relief they seek is too broad and unnecessary.


This action concerns the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law, G.L. c. 39, §§ 23A-B. The Court will be called upon to determine, as a matter of law, whether certain meetings violated that law, and whether the relief sought by the plaintiffs is appropriate under the circumstances. The defendants anticipate that these issues may be appropriately be resolved via summary judgment. The defendants anticipate no unusual evidentiary issues.


1. Witnesses Expected To Be Called By Plaintiffs McCrea, Kressel and Devine:

Testimony from each of the 13 City Councilors, listed below, is required in order to reveal what was discussed at the cited meetings, any other closed meetings held, any decisions and/or actions taken, any agreements made among the Mayor, the BRA and City Council as part of the negotiations over the Council’s approval of the Urban Renewal Extension proposal, and the substance of the negotiations that led to the changes in the BRA Urban Renewal Plan proposal between the Mayor’s Order version filed on October 26, 2004 and the version approved by the City Council on December 15, 2004.

a. Plaintiff Kevin McCrea
b. Plaintiff Shirley Kressel
c. Plaintiff Kathleen Devine
d. Michael F. Flaherty, Jr. City Councilor
e. James M. Kelly, City Councilor
f. Maura A. Hennigan, City Councilor
g. Stephen J. Murphy, City Councilor
h. Felix D. Arroyo, City Councilor
i. Paul J. Scapicchio, City Councilor
j. Maureen E. Feeney, City Councilor
k. Charles C. Yancey, City Councilor
l. Rob Consalvo, City Councilor
m. John M. Tobin, Jr. , City Councilor
n. Chuck Turner, City Councilor
o. Michael P. Ross, City Councilor
p. Jerry Mc Dermott, City Councilor
q. Thomas M. Menino, Mayor of Boston, to reveal what discussions he and Michael Flaherty had with BU representatives that led to their joint invitation to all Councilors to a “Councilors only meeting” to discuss the tularemia exposure accidents at the laboratories of Boston University; and to testify about how his Order to extend the BRA Urban Renewal Plans was “decided on and deliberated toward" in closed-door meetings taking place both in his office and in councilor Flaherty's office, describing his participation and that of the City Councilors.

r. Mark Maloney, Boston Redevelopment Authority Director, to reveal the content of his discussions with the Councilors regarding the Urban Renewal Plan extensions and any agreements or commitments made by the BRA as part of those negotiations; to reveal the content of discussions regarding other zoning, planning, and development issues in meetings occurring after the extension was approved; and to give the reason for the cancellation of several scheduled meetings in Spring 2005.

s. Ellen Harrower, Boston Redevelopment Authority, to testify about notice procedures and agendas for the meetings of the BRA and the City Council.

x. Skinner Donohue, Boston University, to testify about his presentation given to City Council on January 20, 2005, to provide copies of any materials he gave the Council, and to reveal any agreements or commitments requested and/or made.
2. Witnesses Expected To Be Called By Defendants

The defendants expect to call no witnesses, and reserve the right to seek protective orders or object otherwise to all witnesses named by the plaintiffs.


All exhibits included in the complaint.
All exhibits included in Plaintiffs’ answer to motion to dismiss.
All exhibits included in Defendants’ motion to dismiss.
City’s videotape of December 15, 2004 city council hearing (Plaintiffs’ transcript included in Plaintiffs’ Response to defendants’ Motion to Dismiss)


Newspaper article: Jamaica Plain Gazette, June 10, 2005 “Rivera, Tobin trade shots.”
Newspaper article: The Sampan Newspaper, April 2, 2004, “BUMC briefs city councilors on biolab project in unannounced session.”
Newspaper article: Boston Globe, October 5, 2005 “The Race for City Council.”
Newspaper article: Boston Courant, April 20, 2004 “City Council Enters Into Germ Warfare.”
Newspaper article: Boston Courant, May 10, 2004 “Council Awaits Verdict on Proposed Biolab Ban.”
Newspaper article: Boston Globe, February 8, 1999 “Council’s Recesses Flouting Openness; Members Often Huddle, Even With a Quorum.”
Shannon v. Boston City Council, No. 87-5397 (Suffolk Superior Court, February 28, 1989); entire case file.


1. Expert Witnesses Expected to be Called by Plaintiffs McCrea, Kressel and Devine:


2. Expert Witnesses Expected to be Called by Defendant



The plaintiffs contend the trial should take three days.

The defendants contend that the case should be resolved at summary judgment, and that a trial should not be necessary because no material facts are in dispute.

Respectfully submitted, Respectfully submitted
Plaintiffs Kevin McCrea, Shirley Kressel, and Defendants Boston City Council
Kathleen Devine and Michael F. Flaherty, as City
Council President,

Pro Se By their attorney,
Merita A. Hopkins
Corporation Counsel

_______________________________ _______________________________
Kevin McCrea Mark Sweeney, BBO# 490160

_______________________________ _______________________________
Shirley Kressel Justin F. Kollar, BBO# 661086
Assistant Corporation Counsel
City of Boston Law Department
_______________________________ City Hall, Room 615
Kathleen Devine Boston, MA 02201
(617) 635-4030

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Only 13 Carpenters being trained by BPS???

I went to Madison Park High school last week to meet with the carpentry division to offer internships or summer job opportunities or jobs for graduates.
Turns out there are only 13 carpenters in the senior class in Boston. With all of our historic buildings, I'm sure the city can use more than 13 carpenters. So if you are looking or know a kid who is, there is a great opportunity to make 50K plus a year working in Boston, where the city clearly isn't training enough people to do the job.

It is more than many phd's make who have 9 years of post high school education....

Virtually none of them are ready for prime time according to the administrator, but he did say the program is getting better after hitting rock bottom about 5 years ago (about year 8 of the Menino administration)

I'm proud to be a carpenter!!

Flaherty in the Bayou???

My sources tell me that Michael Flaherty was feeling out the city council head(s) in New Orleans last year as possible revenue sources for fundraisers to support a 2005 Mayoral run for Mr. Flaherty. Apparently he couldn't attract enough attention, and decided to close ranks with the mayor.

Monday, November 14, 2005

In court with Professional Lawyer (pronounced Liar in LA) Sweeney today...

Well todays latest waste of my time in court was the result of city council's counsel Mark Sweeney explaining to the judge that he didn't understand the judge's order to be ready for the pre-trial conference today, that he needed more time to produce a motion, that he didn't have there.
It was a bit like the boy trying to explain he didn't do his homework with a bunch of excuses for the teacher, when EVERYONE knows he didn't do it.
In this case Sweeney purposefully didn't do it, because he used his slimy lawyerly tricks to get us to give him our pre-trial memorandum so that he could see what we were going to do, without him showing us what he was going to do (even though the burden of proof is on the defendants).
The judge chastised him for 10 minutes or so but then gave him an extra week of time, thus further wasting everyone's time.
He had said to me personnally that he would work with us on a joint pre-trial memorandum, so he went back on his word, which some would call a lie.
But really, he is just taking one for the team of Menino, flaherty, et al. Protecting their way of doing business in the dark, away from the prying eyes of the press and public.

He again reiterated that the city council has no control or influence whatsoever over the BRA, planning and zoning in the city. Do the minions he represents agree wholeheartedly?

Atty. Nelson has left working for the city to go to Mintz, Levin. I can't believe I'm helping Mintz with a pro bono case when they keep hiring guys like Scappiccio and Nelson.

Just like Diane Wilkerson's kid being hired by the DA, I'm sure it had NOTHING to do with politics!!!!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Article about race/mayor in 2009

Starting the BIG subject early, give Kevin Rothstein the credit...

More on this later, when I have time, to comment on some of the players.

Growing clout from minority voters and the possibility of an open seat in four years is prompting speculation that Boston might see a minority mayor in 2009.
“In four years from now, whether (Mayor Thomas M. Menino) runs or not, you will probably see a black candidate running for mayor,” said political and media consultant Joyce Ferriabough.
Tuesday’s election was not the triumph that progressives and minorities had sought, with at-large Councilor Felix Arroyo falling well behind Council President Michael Flaherty in votes.
But even so, many believe increasing turnout in minority wards coupled with an open-minded Boston electorate make a multiracial race more likely in ’09.
City Hall observers say minority leaders either eyeing or being eyed to run include: Menino development head Charlotte Golar Ritchie, state Rep. Marie St. Fleur, Arroyo, former Suffolk District Attorney Ralph Martin, state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, Ambassador Charles Stith and former City Councilor Bruce Bolling.
About the prospect of a minority mayor in 2009, Arroyo said, “Hopefully we have broken that barrier of color and voters will back someone not because of whether or not they have an accent or because of their ethnicity or color but because of what they bring to the plate.”
The biggest hurdle for a minority candidate is building a mayoral profile under the shadow of Menino, who hasn’t ruled out another term, said Darnell Williams, president and CEO of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts.
“There is a knowledge base and positioning that has to transpire well before that, and I think the real issue is credible leadership, that seems to be the thing that has to come out of this process,” he said.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Menino, Flynn and Arroyo in Chinatown?

What's going on in chinatown? Menino supporters are handing out sample ballots with Menino's name blacked out, as well as Flynn and Arroyo. That's an odd combination.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Open Meeting Lawsuit status

We have been to court a few times over the last month and City Corporate Council Mark Sweeney has done his most important primary first job of making sure the city councilors and the Mayor have not had to testify under oath to questions posed by nasty truth seekers such as
Kathleen Devine, Shirley Kressel and myself, before the election. Amazing how they have been able to delay this suit which statute says should be heard in 10 days for over 6 months now!

Before we received the decision from the judge on the city's motion to dismiss the case, we offered to the city council (and I offered to Flaherty personally) to settle the case. We gave them the chance to revisit their Dec. 15, 2004 vote that gave the BRA unfettered power, and asked to work out some guidelines that would allow all the members and the public access to the deliberative process. There was no response to our offer.

I want to be clear about this. We gave Flaherty and company a chance to gain some sort of leverage or power over the BRA and they refused. So, if you ever hear Flaherty, Murphy, Tobin, Feeney, Scappiccio, Consalvo, Ross, McDermott, or Kelly complain that the BRA isn't responding to them, or isn't being honest or forthcoming it is their own fault. They had not one, but two chances to make the BRA accountable to them, and through them, to the public but they didn't take that opportunity. They rubber stamped what the BRA (and in the shadows the mayor) wanted after negotiating behind closed doors for two years.

The judge's decision came back and we lost on our request to revisit the BRA vote because of a 21 day timeliness issue. (In other words, we may have been right but we didn't file the lawsuit in time). On all other counts we prevailed and the suit is to go forward.

There was some testiness in court. Mark Sweeney asked the judge to protect him from my disparaging remarks, but the judge indicated I had not crossed the rules of decorum. Yet! Shirley asked Sweeney when we could sit down and work out a pre-trial memorandum and Sweeney said they weren't doing anything without a court order. Sweeney told me he thought this lawsuit was nothing more than a political stunt by a disgruntled loser of a city council candidate. But, the fireworks have died down this week and we are back to cordial business I think.

The City Council met in closed session last week to discuss this suit. Supposedly some thought they should try and settle, but others didn't. Sweeney has indicated to us that they are likely to file a motion for summary judgement but that it will take sometime. In the meantime, we are working on a joint pre-trial memorandum for November 14th, with a current assigned trial date of December 5th. Attorney Sweeney has told me that he doesn't ever see this getting to trial. Our settlement offer is off the table. We have on our witness list the 13 city councilors, the mayor, and BRA chief maloney and some staff who helped run or set up the closed meetings.

The case is pretty much boiled down to the following. The city council is arguing that even though they may invite all the councilors to a closed meeting, as long as less than 7 of them are in a room at one time, it doesn't matter. Further, that unless there is pending legislation, they can sit down and talk about whatever they want, with whomever they want, behind closed doors. They could then put some legislation on the docket on a Tuesday and vote on it on Wednesday and they will have met the letter of the law.

We disagree. (as do councilors Turner, Arroyo, Hennigan and Yancey). We believe that if everyone is invited to a meeting (or as they like to call them an "informational session"), than the public should be invited to the meeting as well.

Stay tuned. I fully anticipate that counsel and the council will do everything possible to keep the elected officials having to answer any questions under oath. The last thing those guys want to do is tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

On my deathbed, maybe I'll achieve total consciousness....

One of the reasons it is fun to be me: So last Saturday in Haiku, Maui, my cousin and I made an ice carving of a religious pagoda for the Dalai Lama that was set up to melt into a bowl, that all the participants of the ceremony presided over by him, were going to drink from.

Maybe that will help me to get some good Kharma.

"Big hitter, the Lama"!

Report about New Orleans

I went to New Orleans about a week ago to see if I could help out. It is an american tragedy and I had the opportunity to go there for the first time this past May for a friends wedding (the only 3 days I had away from the campaign for 6 monts) and see the greatness and uniqueness of the city so it was particularly poignant for me.

I've never seen anything like it, the devastation is amazing. Flying into the city, all you see are blue tarps on the roofs. The city is currently a ghost town with maybe 100,000 people by day and according to some city officials about 50,000 at night. Whole areas, the size of west roxbury are completely abandoned, the homes flood damaged up to the first floor cielings, or just knocked aside. I saw corvettes hanging out of trees. No one really seems to know what is going on.

Saying that, the city is not as bad as the press would lead you to believe. Downtown is still intact, the French Quarter is fine, and is mostly up and running and the Garden district is only slightly scathed. New Orleans will be back, with much if not all of its original character, perhaps with some new ones. But, the city will come back whiter, and more affluent. Interestingly, people spoke to me about concern about hispanics coming in and taking jobs that the blacks used to do. Anecdotally, I did see and come across a number of hispanics working in construction down there including a guy from Honduras who didn't speak english (I spoke to him in my poor spanish) working on one of the road crews doing government work. So, perhaps some of the fears are justified. There are jobs down there, but little housing.

I went to City Hall, and the building department to see what I could do, and the process for getting certified to work down there and to get building permits. I spoke to a number of City Workers who said they had meetings every morning at 9, but that no one was making the tough decisions that need to be made and so no one really knew what to do. I met a man who was a local contractor and I said "you must be really busy". He said no, and that he was building a new house with a permit he had before the hurricane because no one had any money and the insurance companies weren't releasing any so everyone was waiting.

I went to a meeting in the Lake District with about 2,000 residents local, state and federal officials. This is the neighborhood that was destroyed when the 17th street canal levy broke. The people at the meeting were 98 percent white. The officials talked about a bunch of stuff but no one had an answer about what was going to happen with the levies to ensure that they wouldn't break again. There were some populist silliness about the Saints and LSU which showed the weakness of the public officials to be able to say or do anything of value. These people left the 2 hour meeting without a lot of answers about what is going to happen to their homes and neighborhood other than same vague promises of "we will be back".

As if I needed any more convincing that charter schools are not the answer for moving America forward, the largest cheer of the day was given when a member of the school committee said that they had the votes on the school board and that charter schools would now be allowed and that people could start to set them up. Charter schools are just one more way for people a bit higher up the economic (or intellectual) ladder to seperate their children from the hoi polloi below them, and using public tax dollars to do so.

It is no suprise that of the 8 at large candidates, none of them went to Boston Public Schools (unless an exam high school which is essentially a private school). If this isn't evidence of how bad the public schools are, I don't know what is. People support charter schools because of self interest, they care about their own family, which is completely understandable. They don't have enough money to afford private schools, but by becoming involved in a charter school, they can essentially leverage the tax money of their neighbors and usually their own sweat equity into one school better than the local public school without costing them out of pocket expenses.

The allure of this is understandable. It can seem impossible to change the system as a whole (as I know all to well first hand!) i.e. improve the whole big city public school system. But making one school better, especially one close to you, along with a number of other neighborhood people or people with children can seem like an achievable goal. Especially since there are not as much politics involved (once the charter is established). But, I believe that this is another incidious form of classism (which can lead to racism). Where only the very bottom rungs will be in the public schools, those whose parents are afraid to get involved (immigrants), single parent families, or families whose parents are working multiple jobs to survive, or children without nuclear families at all, or whose parents don't value education.

So, when I see 2,000 white affluent people cheer loudest for charter schools in a majority minority city, I hear the echoes of "seperate but equal" in my mind.

Note on neighborhood schools in Boston. I am for neighborhood schools. For two basic reasons: economic and involvement. We spend precious dollars busing kids around that could be used better on education. If a school is local the family and child will be more likely to be involved and it can be a community building center.

However, the reason minorities are usually against neighborhood schools is because the white politicians in this town have historically not been trustworthy about providing equal opportunities to all the residents and there is a justified fear that neighborhood schools will not mean you get the same education in Roxbury as West Roxbury. A mechanism needs to be in place to allay that fear so that the whole city can move forward. That would have been the number one thing I was to work on if elected. I hope that we as a community will take this up.

Summary: someone in New Orleans has to take charge. The longer nothing is done, the more the city will decay. People will get used to there new location. There will be winners and losers based on those decisions, but the longer the decision is delayed, the more losers there will be. This is an extreme form of what happens when people don't elect responsible people. One thing I will say with our crop of candidates is, that I do think they are intelligent people that faced with a crisis there is a good chance they will do better than the New Orleans group of decision makers.

I'm going to go back this week and start rebuilding a couple homes near Tulane university for some student and administration housing and hopefully make a bit of progress.

Sunday Morning sNews

Did you read the article in the Globe about Maura and the Mayor's comments on development?

Does anyone really read or pay attention to what the Mayor says and does? When asked what his plans are for development he says "why should I tell you before the election?"

He treats this city like his monarchy, who are we people to question him, and why should we be allowed to know what is going to happen in the future? The reason big companies are leaving Boston, and no new ones are coming in, is that real companies are headed by extremely intelligent people who make informed rational decisions about their business. People like that don't do business with people who run closed door, behind the scene negotiations, where essentially bribery and leverage are used to get things done. The only reason companies do come to places like that is if the economic benefits outweigh the corruption costs. For example international aerospace companies paying off people in 2nd and 3rd world companies to get business done, or a company going into an absolutely corrupt place like Indonesia or Nigeria to take advantage of cheap labor or natural resources.

But Boston is not competing against Indonesia. We are competing with Austin, Texas, San Francisco, Taunton, Billerica. If a business can set up headquarters or manufacturing there, with cheaper housing, and not have to deal with the Byzantine Boston City Hall, they are going to do it.

Menino asked to name a developer who is afraid of City Hall. Well, I am a developer, and although I am not afraid of City Hall I am here to say that I tried to get in touch with the Mayor to build affordable housing and there was no response. Further, that my dealings with the BRA have not been in an open and honest manner. That when they say they care about affordability and inclusion they are just mouthing the words because what really matters is political connections, not proper planning or what is good for the community, or what the community wants.

After I completed a project on Highland St in Roxbury for the BRA on time, on budget, with 20% of the units being affordable, and well over the city recommendations for minority and resident workers (we were short on women in construction, but we made an effort working with the city's office to try and hire some) I was invited to a Mayor's luncheon on building affordable housing. He was shaking hands afterwards and when he came to me I asked if I could get 10 minutes of his time to talk about how we could do more. He blew me off. I went to his office and requested a meeting, they said to write a letter requesting a meeting. I did. No response, ever. No phone call, no letter.

When the Globe did a story about me they called his office and asked about the response to the letter. Harry Collins from the BRA called the Globe back. They asked, why are you calling us, we called the Mayor?

Globe: Is he some kind of slumlord?
Collins: No
Globe: Were there any problems with his projects for the BRA?
Collins: No
Globe: So, why are you calling?
Collins: Well, at a community meeting where we asked the developers not to talk
about the community benefits they were going to give, he talked about the community
benefits his company was going to give.

So, the Mayor gets questioned why he won't meet with a local developer who builds affordable housing and hires local residents and minorities and he has the head of the BRA call back and complain that Kevin McCrea exercises his first amendment rights!

I read the article about 438 city workers giving money to Menino, and 2 to Maura. I had city workers give me cash as well, not wanting their identities to be known to the administration supporting someone so outspoken. It is real, there is fear of reprisal out there.

I saw the Phoenix's election issue. As usual, the best coverage of the city comes from them. Although I disagree with him on a lot of issues, Ed Flynn is the most honest of the 8 candidates and his response in the Phoenix put me over the top: asked to give a grade of the Mayor he said "the people of the city get an A for caring about the city, I give the Mayor a C, and I give the City Council an F for standing up to the Mayor and questioning him on things" I couldn't have said it better myself. Ed knows the BRA is corrupt, he is not afraid to stand up to and oppose the Mayor and cares about the neighborhoods not the big downtown developers, he has flaws as we all do, but he gets my third vote, with Matt and Felix.

It's down to Yoon, Murphy or Connolly. Shirley Kressel asked me who she should look into, now that I'm out of the race and I told her that Yoon and O'Malley are the two closest to her positions (she already supported Arroyo and I). Maybe I'll write myself in to get 1 vote!

Ron Dellums running for Mayor of Oakland is a good thing. I've met him and very impressed.

I'm back to New Orleans this week, starting to help in the reconstruction effort.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Reviews are IN!

Many, many people called to thank me for running or to give me a conciliatory thanks. It was truly nice. As mentioned earlier, Matt O'Malley and Ed Flynn were first up, and so I thank them first again.

John Connolly called to say I ran a great race, it was nice for us to meet (and his dad and my mom had a great time vying for votes in West Roxbury, neither giving a quarter), and that he learned a lot from me. He also thought my letter to Joan Venotti was right on, and I appreciate him reading. Perhaps I can be his moral voice of conscience on his shoulder as he climbs the ranks! I appreciate his comments to me about keeping up the integrity of my blog.

Felix Arroyo called and said I had run "the most honest campaign I have ever seen", which is truly an honored statement coming from him. Although one of my disappointments on the campaign was I (obviously naively) thought others would run honest campaigns on their issues, and he in particular was the one I looked to to be a beacon to follow, but it was not to be.

Althea Garrison and I had a great conversation. I really grew to respect her on the campaign. She is not a joke, and 90 percent of what she has to say is really true and right on the money. She also knew where everyone else was, and of how most of these people will say or do anything to get elected. I respect anyone that runs.

Joe Ready and I exchanged voice mails and quick comment.

Michael Flaherty sent a card saying if I ever needed anything to call. (Yes, I need you to take your position of authority, settle the lawsuit with me and give the city council some power over the BRA, as I explained to you in the parking lot in Mission Hill. But you don't want the council to have any authority over the BRA because you hope to be Mayor and use that incredible power to keep yourself Mayor for as many terms as you want. DONT YOU EVER say the BRA isn't responsive to you, because you had the power to make them answer to you and you gave it away.)

Murphy thanked me for running a real campaign, with real issues that I truly believed in to try and make the city better. Steve is much more than the caricuture of him sometimes made out in the public. I wish him luck. I seconded the nomination to endorse Murphy and Connolly (who were the only ones to come to our ward) at our ward meeting.

Perhaps the nicest though was Attorney General Reilly who wrote a letter:

Dear Mr. McCrea:

I wanted to acknowledge the sincere effort you put forth in your recent campaign.

You displayed a sense of civic responsibility and genuine drive that is far too rare in politics these days, and I didn't want your hard work to go unnoticed. I hope that this loss does not discourage you in the future, and I wish you the best of luck in all your endeavors.


Thomas Reilly

The only time I met Mr. Reilly, I was grilling him for saying he lived paycheck to paycheck. I'm really impressed, and honored that he even noticed me or knew who I was.

No word from Sam Yoon or Patricia White.

Why do I read the paper every morning....

I keep reading stuff that knocks me for a loop...

Good article by Andrea Estes today. Interesting to read where the candidates are today, because I have seen them flip-flopping. At the Ward 5 debate ages ago, Felix Arroyo spoke about why there should be an appointed school committee. After I gave a short explanation of why we should have an elected school committee "democrats believe in democracy, and that means elections" he came up to me and told me it was the best speech given that night. It would be interesting to ask him exactly when he changed his position on this.

It has been interesting to watch the candidates run to the left. It is a bit like presidential primaries where you run to your base in the primary, then go to the middle in the general election. In Boston, the middle is vast group that cares about voting but their lives are not directly affected by city government. This group tends to be more liberal to middle of the road.

I'm giving two of my votes to Felix and Matt O'Malley. Felix I've always voted for, if for no other reason than he stands up to back room deals, lack of transparency, and non-democratic way that the city is run. Matt and I agree on most of the issues, differing mainly on the residency requirement. I give him credit for being against Rent stabilization which I know from direct experience could cost him votes. For some people the rent stabilization is a litmus test, and people can't see the forest for the trees.

Most of it is a moot point anyway, as the Mayor controls things. He will not go to an elected school board unless it is to absolve him of responsibility for the schools in the city. He could look at it as a chance to say "you think you can do better, fine, vote against the way I want to do things and you take responsibility" but he isn't going to do it, certainly give up power, so this will get squashed. With this past years slight drop in test scores, he could see the writing on the wall in the next few years especially if we can't get a good replacement for Payzant. And a good, strong superintendent is not going to likely want to deal with an elected school board, but will prefer the current rubber stamp board appointed by the person who will appoint him: the Mayor.

I don't think we are ready for neighborhood schools today, but we could be in two or four years if someone takes the initiative to set up a plan, get support, build schools in every neighborhood and make a real commitment to improving the schools. Unfortuneately, the councilors I think for the most part give lip service to this. No one ever promised, as I did, to visit all the schools in two years, and come up with a plan to improve them, make them accountable, and make sure the public could have confidence in the schools that they can send their kid to any school in the city. There is tremendous amounts of waste and no bid contracts in the schools, and a good accounting of what gets spent could produce suprising savings.

In all my months of campaigning I never heard John Connolly once say he was for the community stabilization act. In all my months of campaigning I never heard Sam Yoon talk about building around MBTA stations.

The only reason that residency and rent stabilization are issues is because the city has failed to put together a housing policy. The people that advocate for these issues are basically trying to do an end around, to create housing for their followers, because the city has not met the housing needs of its constituents. When Menino talks about building housing, there is no real housing policy it is just a goal. He takes the number of building permits issued per year (say 5,000) and says "we have built 5,000" units of housing this year. As if he had anything to do with it, other than being the Mayor of a city where there is money to be made in building and renovating housing. I spoke to Keysan commercial salesman who said after Menino gave a speech a few years ago about wanting to build 10,000 new units of housing he called the Mayor's office to try and be a part of it, to maybe put together an offer to have those units have natural gas. He told me he got nowhere, there was no plan, no specifics, no nothing. Call up the Mayor's office today and ask to see any "plan" to address the housing needs of the city. There is none. There is a piecemeal effort here and there but no outline. He IS doing a good job of trying to deal with expiring use units, and coming up with the money for those and he should be applauded for that. If we lost those, there really would be a serious shortage of low income housing here.
His answers to todays questions in the Globe about fiscal policy are a joke. It is an embarrassment that this guy is in charge of a 2 billion dollar budget. Good for the reporter on hammering him on the PILOT program. He can't say how he is going to pressure these universities, because he won't. That is why when the candidates say they are going to increase PILOT programs to pay for 500 new teachers like O'Malley does it is just pie in the sky. If Menino won't do it, it will be very difficult for one councilor to get it done.