Thursday, June 29, 2006

Open Hearing Lawsuit hearing today

If you have nothing better to do than listen to "lies, damn, lies and statistics", to borrow a phrase, from the city council's lawyers come down to suffolk superior court at 3 pm today for the latest installment of the open meeting laws...

today we discuss money and whether politicians should have to tell the truth about what they do behind closed doors, don't forget to tune in!!

Failing a community

a paragraph from adrian walker, today stood out:

Here's how you fail a community: By agreeing to take care of a vulnerable population and failing to do so. By blaming all your problems on other people. And, when all that fails, by blaming race for issues that have nothing to do with race.

He was using it to describe a poorly run treatment center, but I thought of my state senator who actually agreed with Walker about this treatment facility.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Near Riot at City Council today....

A bunch of boston youth packed the city hall chambers to demand more money for youth services, so the councilors took the time to go on and on for about 15 minutes apiece with their speeches about the budget. The kids started chanting something about "go ahead and vote, go ahead and vote..." the police were called in and cleared out the room. The kids were demanding more money for youth programs, I guess the budget was passed but the powers that be must have been worried because they got Tobin (who just had a baby, Congratulations!) and Kelly (still recovering) to show up around 1:30 to make sure the budget got passed.

Many councilors were yelling, some were trying to be peacemakers...

You can see the meeting online at

Rob Cansalvo said "New restrictions placed upon us this year due to rulings on Open Meetings-we're not even allowed to talk to each other any more"

What the councilors apparently don't understand is that the Open Meeting Law
isn't designed to squelch dialogue, just to have it in the open. Is it really so hard to call a meeting 48 hours ahead of time and sit down with your committe and talk about the numbers and ideas for the future? This would foster and encourage people to participate and soak in the greatness of our solons with their deep thoughts, and innovative ideas to make the city greater. Why are they hiding their bright lights of genius behind closed doors?

I'm sure Tobin doesn't like the Mayor stealing his ideas, many of which are very good and if given in the public they would be allowed to grow some legs and the good ones might get done.

Feeney Budget Comments at St. Mark's last night

These were the transcribed notes of a constituent in Dorchester of what Maureen Feeney had to say about the budget issue:

1) It turns out that she has had yet another meeting with "Corporate Council", and they have determined that while it is true that the Ordinance was approved by the City Council in 1979 and was sent to Mayor White, he did not sign the ordinance. However, he did not veto it either so after 14 days, it became a city ordinance, but since the mayor did not sign it, it is really a "lesser" city ordinance and doesn't carry that much weight. "A lesser city ordinance" is a direct quote.

2) It is the opinion of "Corporate Council" that it is not legally acceptable for an Ordinance to mandate budgeting and spending, so while it may appear to be a good thing in principle, they are under no real obligation to comply with it because it is joint responsibility of the Mayor and City Council to set and approve the budget.

and, you are going to think I am kidding with this one, but

3) Sam Yoon is trying to undermine the City of Boston because he waited until the last minute to raise objections to the budget, and now intends to vote NO until he can get greater funding for youth workers and police. If the budget isn't passed TODAY, then some rule kicks in that makes all funding of everything based on some predetermined rule ("Level Funding" ?) and all of the hard work of the last few months will be for nothing and this will be a disaster for the city. Once again, she must vote YES on the budget today to avoid a total disaster.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Data does not support City Council Raise

The compensation board for the city of boston found that the median pay nationwide for city councilors was about $62,000. The Councilors previous pay was $75,000 and they just voted themselves a pay raise to $87,500. (The process of how the pay raise got voted on is a subject of another open meeting lawsuite)

To see the study yourself, look at my website, it should be posted by the end of the day.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Hot, Hot, Hot in NOLA (random stories)

It appears that the "in depth research" that the compensation board did, was not so in depth. When the data comes it, it will show that the average salaries nationwide for city councilors is more in the 60K range. Not sure if any of the councilors saw the data before they voted themselves the raises either.

Speaking of fiscal watchdogs, I went to the Sox game Monday before heading back down here to the BIG EASY and I had a fascinating conversation with a couple of working class Bostonians. One was a police detective who retired recently because of the politics in the force. In particular when Dunford became powerful and carried out what was reported to be a personal vendetta against Dorchester Police Captain Armstrong, this gentleman decided he had had enough. I have heard nothing but great things about Captain Armstrong, and can not say enough about how impressed with him I was after spending a couple nights sleeping in the drug building in Codman square last summer. From the police I talk to, it will not be a good or popular move if Dunford become Commissioner.

The other gentleman I spoke to was a 30 year costodian in the Boston Public Schools. He was bending my ear telling me of all the wasted money he encountered; lists of supplies and materials supposedly supplied to his school that were never received, janitors not working all of their shifts or doing all of their responsibilities, roof leaks at the new Orchard School, etc., etc. Two very disturbing stories: he used to work at a school in the North End and would shovel the snow during the winter. One day he happened to be checking the budget for the school and saw that a contractor from Hyde Park had the contract to shovel that snow. He had never seen the guy in 5 years at the school. He reported it to his bosses who quickly hush, hushed the whole thing and told him to keep quiet about it. This was from 94 to 98 or so. Any investigative reporter want to check out the story? Secondly, he said he talked to councilors Feeney and Hennigan about the waste of money in the schools but that they weren't interested in pursuing anything.

Of course, you have to take everything you hear from a guy at a Red Sox game with a grain of salt...but his in depth details of stuff, and people, and how often there are 5 people hired to do the work of two is very disturbing and is hard to have to listen to and accept. So much money is being wasted out of our tax dollars, but yet no one at City Hall wants to really sharpen the pencil and save our money so it could go to better causes such as rec centers, youth jobs and more cops.....

Anyway, the Sox won, so it is all good. It is so hot down here in NOLA, if youwant to lose weight, head south....


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Letter Requesting More Police to Mayor, City Council

June 12, 2006

Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the Boston City Council

One City Hall Plaza

Boston, MA 02201

Dear Honorable Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Esteemed Members of the Boston City Council:

We write this letter to call on the Mayor and the City Council to provide for a sizeable increase in the Boston Police Department’s patrol force, as a significant tool in combating violence, particularly youth violence, in the City of Boston.

Maintaining the status quo in the level of police staff, or making negligible increases in staffing, means that the City will likely continue to experience the alarming increase in the level of violence already seen in 2006, on top of steep increases in 2005.

The City needs more police officers on the streets. Lt. Governor Kerry Healy recently stated on an NECN television interview that the only way to solve the problem of violence in Boston is by adding more officers. City Council President Michael Flaherty commented, shortly after being re-elected president of the council in January 2006, that he would work towards adding 350 more officers this year. Outgoing Police Commissioner Kathleen O’Toole called for an increase of at least 200 more officers to bring staffing levels up to past levels. With the FY06 attrition rate of 88 officers, this virtually wipes out any proposed gains in hiring for FY07, should that attrition rate be repeated.

The laws of the City of Boston, Chapter 11, Section 1.6 of the City ordinances adopted, or approved, on January 31, 1979, state that as of July 1, 1980 the number of police officers shall, at no time, be less than two thousand five hundred (2,500). With a uniformed police staff as of May 2006 of 2,092 and a budgeted force of 2,100 for FY07, the Boston Police Department’s uniformed officers are understaffed by at least 400 officers. Clearly, the number of uniformed officers continues to lag behind what is minimally required by Law.

We find this situation inconsistent with the immediate needs of the City and we ask that the Mayor and the City Council make the necessary adjustments to the proposed City budget for FY07 to demonstrate a legitimate plan for complying with the law and ensuring the safety of the citizens of Boston. Without a plan in place to significantly increase the number of police officers in the coming fiscal year and in subsequent years with a goal of reaching the City’s minimum officer staffing ordinance, a growing number of citizen supporters are prepared to seek enforcement of the City ordinance through the judicial process and/or state enforcement of municipal law.

We recognize that there is “no such thing as a free lunch” and that funding must be found to cover the cost of an increased police force, but, as Commissioner O’Toole has stated “You can’t put a price on safety”. We believe that if the City looks in the right places and prioritizes properly the funds can be found. For example:

- Increased use of the PILOT program should be undertaken. Councilor Murphy has suggested charging a student use fee that could raise more than $10 million annually.

- City real estate policy such as giving away property for free or for less than market value should be reviewed including the land to the Islamic Society of Boston, City Hall Plaza, Heyward Place, the Forsyth Institute, the sidewalks around Fenway Park, etc. These giveaways have resulted in the loss of millions of dollars.

- Attention should be paid to the proposed downtown 1000 foot skyscraper. Although the City currently owns the property, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) is advertising it, clearly indicating that the BRA plans to take the property by eminent domain. The City needs to insure that the taxpayers get proper value for their assets.

- Rent should be charged to the BRA for their use of the 9th floor of City Hall, and taxes levied on the $500M+ in holdings that they manage.

- Tax breaks for private development projects, such as the $14 million deal to Columbus Center, should be reviewed and curtailed.

We are confident that by reviewing past practices and cutting off perks to special interests as the city goes forward, funding can be found to pay for the safety of the city’s residents.

We look forward to your addressing this issue in the current City Budget, and encourage an open dialogue on how we can achieve the goal of more police officers on the streets.

However, if the City does not provide a significant increase in the amount of police officers for fiscal year 2007 and beyond, we will ask the Attorney General to pursue enforcement of Chapter 11, Section 1.6, and failing that, we will seek judicial redress.


Barry Mullen

55 St. Marks Road

Dorchester, MA 02124


Kevin Barry, Dorchester

Michael Barrett, Dorchester

Kevin McCrea, South End

Dr. Clara Lora, South End

CC: Attorney General Thomas Reilly

Friday, June 09, 2006

When the law enforcers don't obey the law....

When we filed the Open Meeting Lawsuit over a year ago, the press called the District Attorney's office (who is responsible for enforcement) for comment. They had already slapped the Council and Michael Flaherty's hand with a written warning, and we had made formal complaint to them about further violations.

The spokesman for D.A. Conley (former Boston City Councilor) said that the department would do a "thorough investigation" into the allegations.

The judge in our case indicated that she would refer her decision to the DA's office for future reference. I filed a Freedom of Information Act Request with the DA's office to find out what they had done in that year they had to do a thorough investigation. Of course they didn't obey the law and respond in 10 days as required by statute. They didn't do anything. Finally, after a couple months I called and an attorney told me that they routinely don't answer FOIA acts for 2 to 3 months. He looked at the file for me and admitted they had done nothing for the past year except read my blog, take press clippings from the Globe, and get copies of our documents filed with the court. Now there is a thorough investigation.

I'm not holding out much hope that the District Attorney will do anything to uphold the law against his former City Council buddies.