Monday, July 31, 2006

boston political downward spiral.....

Who does flaherty get to write his new regulations for the boston city council on open meeting laws? does he contact an expert on those rules? or the city law department? HARDLY, allegedly ann hess is writing his legal memos for him.

Mayor Menino is pushing a bill in the statehouse to allow developers (in his personal case Joe Fallon) to use district tax financing for their projects. What this does is essentially allow developers to be their own municipalities and have their tax dollars go to just their projects, as well as other things.

There are many reasons why this is bad for the common good...could be a country song there.

Meanwhile, the city councilors who are too busy to hold meetings are doing private business and personal items on 9 to 5, M - F time...

such as the attorney soliciting development business,
personal family business during city council meetings,

is it any surprise that scappiccio jumped to mintz for a 6 figure salary, wonder what his golden parachute was for getting the zoning code changed in the Fenway for fellow ex-city councilor

Flaherty does an end around the Open Meeting Law with new rules

Michael Flaherty has proposed new rules for the city council to deal with the open meeting law. Essentially what he is proposing is that committee chairs, hand picked by him, can submit committee reports to the whole council without talking with or meeting with the other members of the committee they chair.

So, the question is, why even have a committee at all??? What Flaherty seems inclined to do is not to have any interaction between councilors, or public discussion of issues. Not sure how well that serves the public. His version of Open Meetings and mine seem far apart.

Of course his submission is being voted on this Wednesday I think, without any public meetings to discuss it. But, Michael knows best. Remember when we filed the suit and his public comments were that "there is no merit to this, we always comply with the law"

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Why politicians and the media aren't doing their job# 1

Here is a post from kimberly atkins blog in the Herald (which is quite informative by the way).

Gubernatorial candidates talked about issues including education, welfare reform, and the minimum wage. Then, bowing to their desire to actually get a quote in the paper, issued statements on Matt Amorello’s resignation.

This says so much about the state of the nation right now. As a candidate with integrity, as I believe most if not all of the gubanatorial candidates have, you want to talk about the issues. But the press doesn't care about issues, they care about selling papers. So, they jump from one hot button issue to another, and the candidates whose life blood is exposure are forced into what for me was a quandary: do you comment on an issue that really isn't that important in the grand scheme of things to get your name out there, or do you refuse to comment.

The Globe is not much better than the Herald at this, and the followup by both papers is abysmal. Why are blogs taking off? Because intelligent, informed citizens want real news.

An example: for the talent show during last summer's campaign, the Globe called me up and wanted to take a picture of me twirling my baton. At first I refused, as the Globe only was doing "sensationalist" stories about me, no real issues like the corruption in boston politics that I was the only candidate to talk about, etc. but my campaign staff and I talked about it, and we knew we needed more exposure so we agreed to do the picture, as the Globe staff continued to call and call all afternoon. We agreed to do a certain "dignified" pose even though the Globe was dying to get a picture of me throwing it in the air.

It is too bad they don't track down real news so relentlessly.

So, is it the chicken or the egg? Are politicians not into serious issues because they are lightweights, or because they don't get any exposure for being serious, and they need exposure to win??

Friday, July 28, 2006

Late Night Thoughts at an establishment with a "colored only" sign

One simply hasn't lived until they've spent a thursday night at Vaughan's with kermit ruffins and the BBQ swingers, 13 years and running. A diverse crowd unlike anything you would ever find in Boston, mural on the wall behind the trumpeter that looks as if Picasso had smoked some weed and watched 24 hours of Scooby Doo before painting it, an elderly man's face is pressed to the smoke stained window almost everynight i'm there, he clearly has been banned from the other 49 states as a sexual predator but is just part of the managerie here..

But the music, and the vibe, you can't help but swing, everyone has a smile, near the end of the first set there always seems to be some red beans and rice being cooked up (if you wait till the end of the show around 1 or 2 or 3..., they BBQ in the back of the pick up truck always parked on the corner blocking the fire hydrant, this is a community, this is an event, and this is a great time.

Kermit does many originals but always throws down the traditional favorites: Iko, iko, james brown, ray charles, just make sure you "shake your booty to the left, shake your booty to the right, shake your booty all night long!!!"

Observances: New Orleans now feels as if it is dying from 1000 paper cuts, it could be the hot, hot summer and typical slowdown of july and august, but the frustration is palpable and people are leaving.

More tattoos per capita by far here than anywhere else, and piercings, and women are just as likely, if not more so than men.

Of course they have more room to tattoo, as obesity is rampant
The roads are horrible, come to think of it, i haven't seen a single road paving/repair crew anywhere. There are sinkholes in the roads everywhere.

Someone stole the cover off my motorcycle last night. Petty theft is rampant here, as are the people doing anything, begging, borrowing, stealing for some drugs. Amazing how the building here all have shades and shutters on them. It is rare you can see into someone's home. Also because of the heat....

I'm in an area known as "the denial mile" which is the area that didn't flood, the old high ground of the city.

The spirit of rebuilding is slowly leading to the spirit of doing what's best for yourself, and if you have a family with school age kids, it may well be better to move.

But there are bright spots, the habitat for humanity for musicians is going great with a fantastic vibe, and friday afternoon jam sessions.

Come down and help rebuild, or blow some money and help the economy!!!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

City fined for more blatant disregard for the Law

I met these folks on the campaign trail, very frustrated with City Hall's refusal to take into account their input. They spent all the money on the faux sidewalks (which wheelchairs and others haved a hard time with) but nothing to fix this court ordered problem???

this is what happens when the whole city is run by "acting commissioners" should be "nonacting commissioners"

A day to celebrate the possibilities of justice!

The all-brick sidewalk on Huntington Avenue has now been shown to be a complete failure. It has never been safe for pedestrian travel. It is time for the city to face this reality.

We call on Mayor Thomas M. Menino to do the right thing, sit down with residents with disabilities, and work out a plan so that everyone can enjoy -- safely -- the sidewalks of Huntington Avenue.

Enclosed below is the press release issued this afternoon by the Executive Office of Public Safety.

CONTACT: Kelly Nantel, (617) 727-7775, x25542

After nearly two years, city sidewalks remain out of compliance with regulations

Following almost two years of summons, motions, hearings and extensions, yesterday, July 24, 2006 the Architectual Access Board voted to levy retroactive fines of $500 per day from November 30, 2005 to present against the City of Boston for failing to maintain accessible sidewalks on Huntington Avenue. On August 13, 2004, the Board, whose authority flows from Massachusetts General Law chapter 22 Section 13a, received a complaint from Mr. John Kelly of the Neighborhood Access Group of Boston allegeding that the sidewalk on Huntington Avenue was in violation of the 2002 edition of 521 CMR Section 22.3.1. Specifically, the complaint alleged that the sidewalk had a cross slop of greater than 2%, changes in level greater than ¼”, surface warping and non-continuous planes, all of which make utilizing the sidewalk very difficult, especially for persons with disabilites. On January 11, 2005, the Board found in favor of the complaintant and ordered the City of Boston to bring the sidewalks into compliance by July 1, 2005.

“This continued disregard for the regulations is unacceptable,” said Thomas P. Hopkins, Executive Director of the Architectural Access Board. “The Board provided the City with ample time and opportunity to fix the problems and when it became clear that the work wasn’t being done satisfactorily, we were left with little choice but to levy significant fines. It is our expectation that the City of Boston will make the necessary repairs immediately.”

On July 21, 2006 a site inspection was conducted at the section of sidewalk in question. This sidewalk stretches from the intersection of Huntington Avenue and Massachusetts Ave, to slightly past 250 Huntington Avenue. Measurements were taken using a calibrated two-foot “SmartLevel” to determine compliance with the regulations and it was determined that the sidewalk was still out of compliance. The regulations, which have been in place since 1968, ensures increased accessibility for individuals in Massachusetts with mobility difficulties steming from aging or disabling conditions. For failing to comply with prior orders, the Board levied at total of $133,500 dollars in fines. The retroactive fines to date total $128,500 (275 days @500/day) plus a $5,000 fine for failing to maintain an accessible route during construction work on the Huntington Avenue sidewalk. The Board will continue to review this case at its October 16th meeting.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Too Bad City Hall is so far beneath him...

Of his frequent and uncharacteristically lengthy press briefings, he said, ``Same pattern with the Olympics. With a rumor of scandal, the only disinfectant is sunshine. In every way, I tried to create openness. There is nothing that arouses more suspicion than secrecy."

Brain McGroy talking to Mitt Romney

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Russian Roulette with Politicians!!!

The Big Dig is news even on the local stations down here in New Orleans!! It's making NOLA seem safe!

I have an idea on how the public can be assured of how safe the Big Dig is. We can map out the Dig tunnels into 50' by 12' (standard road width) rectangles. We can put each rectangle into a random number generator. We can also put the name of each state legislator, Turnpike Authority Board member, the AG, and the Gov and Lt. Gov into another random generator.

After they have assured the public that the road is safe, one of them will be randomly selected each day and assigned to a randomly selected space where they can camp out for 24 hours (protected from traffic, of course....)

Maybe we could make it a reality TV show on BNN, see how they make good use of their time, writing, reading, interacting with the passers by, and of course count how many times their eyes roam roofward....

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Positive Michael Flaherty story

For those who follow the blog, they may remember I blogged about a roofdeck across the street from me at 218 West Springfield Street. I told the city before they built it, while they were building it, and after they built it that they were building an illegal roof deck without a permit. That was about 3 years ago and a violation is in the computer at Inspectional Services Department and the Historic commission supposedly sent letters to the owner.

The South End Historic department told me not to worry (other than I have to look at an illegal roof deck, not built to specs) that they owner would never be able to sell their unit, and that they would not be able to get a permit to do any work on the unit.

So, recently I found out the owner had sold the unit a few months ago.

The city wasn't accurate (lied???) about that.

Then, I woke up one morning to see the new owner building an illegal headhouse. I investigated and the new owner had a permit for doing work.

The city wasn't accurate (lied???) about that.

Of course, the owner pulled a permit that wasn't honest about the extent of the work they were doing.

I called ISD and only got voicemails. I called the Mayor's hotline and they said they'd do something about it (nothing was done). I asked the man on the phone if someone built an illegal deck outside the mayor's bedroom window would something get done within 3 years about it? He assured me that no one gets favorable treatment in the city, and this would be treated just like if the Mayor lived across the street. (How does the kool-aid taste down at city hall???) So, apparently even if you live across the street from the Mayor you don't need to get permits from the city, and you can avoid letters from the city instructing you to follow the rules. It makes one wonder why you would want to follow the rules, doesn't it?

I happened to be at ISD about 3 days later and asked the Inspector what she had done about it? She didn't know anything about it, and asked if I had put in a complaint. Yes, I responded and she said she hadn't received a complaint from the system. I went downstairs to check on the people inputting the system, and they said yes they had inputted it. Funny enough, when I went upstairs it had shown up on the inspectors desk, and sure enough that day she went out and put a stop work order on the building.

Well, what about Michael Flaherty? This is a song about Michael Flaherty (to steal a line from Arlo--happy birthday today!) Well, I called up his office to explain the situation as I had seen he was talking about urban blight in the form of satellite dishes. Now surely a man who is concerned about satellite dishes, would be concerned about illegal roof decks in historic districts. Sue enough, I talked to Bobby in his office and Bobby and Michael both followed up with ISD and they got back to me. Unfortuneately, they didn't have much to report but they assured me that ISD assured them that the system is being properly followed.

I don't know if I will hold my breath anytime soon, but I do appreciate them following up.

The Moral of the story, if you want to build a roof deck, Just Do It!!! especially if you don't have someone who is fascinated by the hypocrisy of the system living across the street from you.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Random Big Easy thoughts

It's hot down here.
Very hot,
dripping hot,
I wish I had AC, I'm sleeping in a tent in dusty dirty jobsite, wondering what the heck am I doing here (my wife is very adamently wondering the same)

Listening to some of the stories of the illegal immigrants here in New Orleans, makes you realize how good we have it here in the USA. They've observed murders, rapes, gone long, long stretches without water while jumping trains to the north, dodging thieves and roving gangs...all to come here to work long hours at $10 bucks an hour (if lucky) to live in a run down apartment with 4 or 10 other guys and send most of their money home via wire transfer. How many are willing to go so far to get a better life...

A group of us met in Dorchester last week to talk about ways to alleviate the violence. I was surprised to find out about the amount of shootings in Hyde Park. I was more distressed to listen to an attorney who is afraid to speak out against the Mayor's policy's for fear of reprisal. Already their family home has seen out of the ordinary tax increases compared to their neighbors because of public criticism. How close to dictatorship are we....

New Orleans has slowed down, big is just too hot to work, not much to look forward to except Reggie Bush, there is still no real plan for rebuilding, the school system is behind schedule for opening. It is hard to believe anyone would send their kids to school here. The shootings continue, very much on pace with Boston, with only about 40 percent of the population. I think Nagin is just saying the city is coming back, it is hard to believe there are 100 thousand people wanting to come back in the near future. This may just become a great unique city of 250,000, which is very dependent on tourism, fighting a battle of attracting people to the scenic places while the other stuff slowly decays....we'll see, but I love this town...
just crazy stuff, all the time, an accident on the highway, people lying in the road...but my 911 call wouldn't get picked up, a man walking down the street with his young (four and 3?) swearing and cursing and talking about getting out his pit bull....I fear for those kids, how does that attitude affect a young mild...)

The group who wrote the letter to the mayor asking for more cops (of course no response) has reluctantly decided to move forward on pursuing the lawsuit. I really wish we could put together a comprehensive plan to engage youth, increase police presence, and better the schools...okay, that last sentence sounded way too sappy...i'm getting tired, off to bed, i'm not being coherent.

Smile and make someone's day! What is nice about down here is the empathy for all the citizens..