Friday, August 22, 2008

Councilor Murphy indicates the City of Boston has 10,8 million bucks to spare!

In a quick session designed to give the city council staffs raises councilor Murphy testified that the city has 10.8 million dollars left over from fiscal 08 so there is plenty of money to give raises to all the city council staff. Approximately $350,000.

That should leave 10 million for the money the schools need, right?

Or maybe they will issue homeowners tax refund checks?

Watch it here:

Amazing to me in these tough times that the city has 10 million it doesn't know what to do with, although granted this is not a huge amount percentage wise.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Update on Open Meeting Law case McCrea v. Flaherty

Believe it or not, the McCrea v. Flaherty case is still going on, the City has spent about $100,000 of taxpayer money fighting it with no end in sight.

We have been trying to negotiate a settlement with the council on the remaining counts that they have not already been found guilty of. Our offer to them was to admit that the prior meetings had been in violation of the Open Meeting Law, and to work with them to establish a Sunshine Commission similar to the one in San Francisco to make sure that Boston had a best in the country policy towards transparency. In other words, we gave them a chance to really look good and to enact policy which would improve the interaction between the elected officials and the public. Here is their response from their attorney Mary Harris:

Dear Mr. McCrea, Ms. Devine, Ms. Kressel,

I write to inform you that the Council has met to consider your settlement proposal, and declines the terms you propose.

I am out of the office, returning on August 25. Perhaps we can speak to see if the area of disagreement can be narrowed, although any resolution that would include a requirement that the Council undertake commitments beyond which the court may impose after a hearing would be unacceptable to the Council. We believe your demand to establish a "Sunshine Ordinance Task Force" aimed at development of a San Francisco-like local law to be such a requirement.

We do remain willing to reach a compromise, if one can be agreed to within the parameters of the existing law.

Best regards,
Mary Jo Harris

Ward 9 Debate Sonia v. Dianne---Is there hope?

I attended the Ward 9 Debate on Monday night between Sonia Chang-Diaz and Dianne Wilkerson for our local State Senate seat. Neither candidate was particularly impressive from an objective point of view. A curt analysis would be Sonia saying "we need to do better" without specifying either what Dianne had not done well or what exactly she would do, and Dianne using the "these are the problems facing us" routine where she talks about everything that is wrong, while heads nod in agreement but she offers no solutions other than saying she will work hard.

Neither dog and pony show is particularly impressive to me. If Sonia wants to unseat an incumbent I think she should point out directly, not with innuendo, where her opponent has let the voters down. The obvious question for Dianne is if you know what the problems are, why haven't you fixed them in 15 years in the Senate and if someone is to blame, who is it?

Dianne is a master, like many politicians of taking both sides of an issue, and of saying one thing, meaning another, and denying something she just said. Some of her comments that left my head scratching are as follows:

"the Public Schools System doesn't work for the majority of its citizens", yet she is proud to be endorsed by Tom Menino who is responsible for those schools. If he isn't to blame, and she isn't to blame then who is responsible for those schools?

She said that 2/3 or our teachers are retiring in the next 3-5 years and we need to get new teachers and teachers certified in their subject areas. She then went into a tangent I couldn't understand about how parents can't teach their kids algebra. With her ongoing problems with the campaign finance people, I was thinking I certainly wouldn't want her teaching anyone algebara.

She repeatedly said she was the best person in the Senate to get to "20 plus 1" (a majority needed to pass) and said she was unhappy with the Governor about his campaign promises on CORI reform. So, the question is why hasn't she introduced the proper CORI reform and gotten it to pass if she is the most knowledgeable and most able to get it done. She is proud to be endorsed by Deval as well.

She said that the legislature was going to be called back into session to cut spending, and that she had "a hope and a prayer" that they won't cut education. I applaud her being very vehement on this point.

She also talked about economic development where she said "she won't miss any opportunity" to add jobs in her district. She didn't offer specifics but seemed to definitely be in the mode of "everyone is going to get some pork, and the system isn't fair, but I will work to get us some pork too" and that some pork for "women and people of color" is better than the no pork of the past, even though it currently isn't what it is supposed to be.

All in all, it was a night filled with a lot of words and not much substance and a soupcon of debate.

Who will save us, when we need fiscal responsibility, more transparency and renewed commitment to education.