Friday, October 31, 2008

Councilor Feeney puts out statement about Open Meeting Law

Statement from the Office of Council President Feeney

Boston—The office of Council President Maureen E. Feeney released the following statement today on behalf of the Boston City Council.

“In an attempt to bring resolution to the Open Meeting Law case, the Council has submitted a motion to the plaintiffs accepting the findings of the Appeals Court. The plaintiffs will have an opportunity to respond to the Council's motion and all will be filed with the Superior Court. Resolution is in the best interest of the Council, its constituents and the plaintiffs, but it is ultimately the Court that will rule on the motion and decide the outcome. The Council understands its obligations under the Open Meeting Law. It remains committed to transparency as a practice of good government and will continue to conduct its business accordingly.”

Let's break this down sentence by sentence:

1) The office of Council President Maureen E. Feeney released the following statement today on behalf of the Boston City Council. Did she confer with the other members of the Boston City Council before putting this out? It certainly wasn't a posted meeting, perhaps another violation of the Open Meeting Law, in some sort of serial fashion? However, I give her the benefit of the doubt that as Council President she may speak on behalf of the council.

2) “In an attempt to bring resolution to the Open Meeting Law case, the Council has submitted a motion to the plaintiffs accepting the findings of the Appeals Court. This isn't true, the City Council went to the Appeals court saying they didn't get a chance to present evidence despite being the moving party. The City Council didn't present any further evidence to us. In fact, the City Council in the 11th hour has brought up 4 additional meetings that neither the Appeals Court nor the Superior Court addressed in their decisions. This statement by Feeney is thus patently false.

3) The plaintiffs will have an opportunity to respond to the Council's motion and all will be filed with the Superior Court. Correct

4)Resolution is in the best interest of the Council, its constituents and the plaintiffs, but it is ultimately the Court that will rule on the motion and decide the outcome. The court WILL rule on the motion and decide its outcome. I don't like her speaking for me about what is best for the plaintiffs, and it is odd for the Council to be speaking of resolution after spending around $200,000 of taxpayer money on O.M.L. issues when they could have sat down with us three plaintiffs years ago to resolve these issues as we have offered many times. Or, they could have saved money by just paying the $11,000 fine which they will probably still have to pay.

5)The Council understands its obligations under the Open Meeting Law. If the Council understands its obligations why did they just send letters off to the DA the AG and others asking for clarification of the Law? Why did they pay Paul Walkowski tens of thousands of dollars to write up a report about the Open Meeting Law? And indeed, if they understand their obligations, why did they just admit guilt to 10 more violations of the Open Meeting Law?

6) It remains committed to transparency as a practice of good government and will continue to conduct its business accordingly.” If they are committed to transparency why is there a notice at City Hall saying the Rules Committee will meet in confidence, whenever and wherever they want without dates, times or places to discuss the Open Meeting Law? I have asked them to take it down or explain its purpose but no one has an answer. Why did they just send the Walkowski Report off for comment to the DA and AG which recommends that the council seek to exclude itself from the Open Meeting Law?

The fact is that the Council still does not seem to want to do all of their business in public. I have been super busy this week, or I would have filed yet another motion of more transgressions of the Open Meeting Law by the City Council as I told Justin Holmes from Councilor Feeney's office. The public this week was treated to the FBI indictment of Senator Wilkerson which shows how liquor licenses and land deals are done in Boston, in back room deals by "smoke and mirrors" as Dianne described it. That happens in Room 809 at Boston City Hall.

I have asked the City Council to make a firm commitment to Transparency by adopting a Sunshine Commission similar to the one that San Francisco has, but they refuse to even entertain the notion. It is actions like these which make the public wonder how much they are getting the shaft in these back room deals.

Postscript: The Boston Herald called me twice this afternoon trying to get a copy of the Council's Motion for Summary Judgment. I told the reporter I would have to confer with my co-plaintiffs first as a courtesy. The reporter called back and said that Maureen Feeney's office said my blog was incorrect, and accused me of not being transparent for not releasing the motion! I told her that she should ask the council for the motion, it is their motion, but she explained that she was refered to counsel for the council and just got an answering machine. I called Councilor Feeney's office to ask what was transcribed wrong on my blog, but they wouldn't answer the question and also referred me to their counsel and I also got an answering machine.
It was quite odd having the Herald be almost belligerent with me, at one point saying "I gave you an hour to confer with your co-plaintiffs, I have a deadline" as if I owed her anything????? Then accusing me of not being transparent? Not a great way to ask for information I'd say. I told her I'm running a business, and I'm just a citizen, I have people to pay on Friday at pay time, and they are my priority not some unknown reporter. I'm not the one getting paid to do the public's business, and my co-plaintiffs have work as well.
I have nothing but respect for the fourth estate, and the Herald, but if you want to get a story, get the whole story and do research don't badger people into sensationalist stuff.

PPS. If anyone can tell me how to post a PDF on this blog I would appreciate it!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Boston City Council pleads Guilty to the remaining counts in McCrea v. Flaherty

We received a motion for Summary Judgment today from the Boston City Council in which they plead guilty to the 10 remaining counts of the McCrea v. Flaherty and Boston City Council case. They were previously found guilty by the Superior Court on 11 Counts. The City Council appealed that decision to the Appeals Court where they argued that they weren't given enough chance to present factual evidence. The appeals court found them guilty on 1 count and remanded the other 10 back to the Superior Court. Now, 6 months later under a court deadline they have refused to turn over any further factual evidence, and have just moved for the Court to find them in violation for the remaining 10 Counts of illegally meeting with the BRA and others in violation of the Open Meeting Law.

They have spent somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000 plus on this, and the clock is still ticking with their outside lawyers.

A transcription of some of the PDF they sent is here:

Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment

Pursuant to MassRuleCP. 56, the defendants, Boston City Council,hereby move the court to enter judgment as follows:

1) Against the Defendants, inasmuch as the Complaint, as amended, alleges violation of the Open Meeting Law on 9 specific occasions June 3, 2003....

2) Against the Defendants in regard to notice provisions in regard to a council session of December 15, 2004;

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Open Meeting Law Violation ???

I called the District Attorney's office today and spoke with the gentleman in charge of ethics and Open Meeting Law violations. Of course he had read the FBI indictment of Wilkerson. So I asked,"did you notice any Open Meeting Law violations?" and he said "you mean at the Licensing Board?"

Hopefully we will have the DA working on some of these cases soon, as the Feds are not interested in State Open Meeting Laws.

It is fascinating to read the FBI papers, it puts in black and white what we all suspected or knew: everything gets done in Boston behind closed doors out of the public view. That is why I have worked so hard for so long to try and make our government more transparent, because it is the common everyday people that are getting the shaft from our elected officials.

Question everything and everyone !

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My day at City Hall and the State House--Susan Iannela won the nationwide search for the Boston Licensing Board

I read the FBI indictment of Dianne Wilkerson which shows how the Mayor, the City Council, the legislature, the BRA, the licensing board, etc. do business out of the public eye with "smoke and mirrors" as Diane describes it.

So, I decided to go pay my taxes at City Hall and ask some questions of my government.

I first went to the large gentleman on the 3rd floor reception desk and asked "Where do I go to payoff someone to get a liquor license?" He replied without moving, "Room 809". Who knew it was so easy, I guess you just have to ask!

I first went to pay my taxes, giving the city $7000 or so of my money. I don't think I gave them any money that the FBI had written down the serial numbers of.

Then I went down to the postings board for City meetings. I have been dealing with City Council President Feeney's office for around 3 weeks asking them to take down a sign that says that the Rules Committee will meet whenever and wherever they want. My feeling is that posting is a violation of the Open Meeting Law and I had asked Justin Holmes in her office to take it down. When I went downstairs to the first floor the posting was still there.

I went up to the fifth floor and asked to speak with Mr. Holmes. We had never met, and he was very pleasant. He apologized for not sending me the cover letter of the Walkowski report which he had told me he would send me two weeks, he said he just forgot and that he would get it to me. He said they weren't going to do anything about the notice on the board and that I should speak to the Clerk's office.

Finding no satisfaction there, I asked to see someone from Councilor Yoon's office, the voice of transparency on the council. A nice gentleman went down to look at the notice with me and didn't really identify any problems with it.

Back up on the fifth floor I asked him to see if Sam could take it down, and let him know that if it wasn't down by tomorrow I would probably file for a motion for contempt. John Tobin came by and joined the conversation and I let him know my concerns about the posting as well.

I then went to the Mayor's office and asked if they knew who appointed the Boston Licensing Commission? They didn't know but they directed me up to Room 809, where I then proceeded. I was interested in the Licensing Commission because they were the group that granted a liquor license for Dianne Wilkerson's FBI sting informant, and clearly they could do all sorts of malleable things for politically connected people. I wanted to know who was responsible for appointing such public servants.

A nice lady at the licensing commission told me that the Governor appoints the 3 members of the commission. She told me that Romney had appointed the current people but that one person had died recently so there were only two on the commission: Connolly (Councilor John's Dad) and Mr. Pukaski.

I thought "hey, what a great job for me!" so I said "how do I apply for the job and what are the qualifications?" They said someone new should be appointed soon, but they didn't know what the qualifications are and that I would have to ask the Governor.

So I went to the State House to see the Governor. At his office a State Trooper stopped me and asked what I wanted. I told him I'd like to apply for an appointment and set up a meeting with Mr. Patrick. He took one look at me and said "that ain't gonna happen" (I love how the servants of the people judge a book by its cover) before sending me to another office where I could write a letter asking for an appointment.

I went to the office of constituent services where I waited at the reception desk for about 5 minutes and no one came out. I went toward the back office where I heard numerous voices, one of which was saying jokingly "we are going to have start giving 'Dianne Wilkerson' tours of the State House". As I walked through the doorway into the room, a number of bright young eager faces looked over and the man who was speaking asked if he could help me. Without skipping a beat I said "I'm here for the Dianne Wilkerson tour." I got a few smiles, but clearly he was unhappy to be caught in an inappropriate comment. He escorted me back to the reception area where I told him I wanted to set up an appointment with the Gov, and apply for a position he appoints.

He wrote down the address I need to send a letter asking for a meeting, and the address of the Appointment's Office. I asked how I could find out what the requirements were for the job, and he gave me a card with a phone number. I asked why I couldn't just go back and talk to them and he said they were in a meeting. So, I picked up the phone and called the number and got transferred to the Appointment's person. I said I was interested in the Open position for the Licensing Board, she responded that there was no opening and I said I was just at the Licensing Board and they told me there was an opening. She said they had appointed Susan Iannella back in September.

I wonder when they are going to let the Licensing Board know? I don't even go looking for this stuff, all I wanted to know was who was responsible for appointing people who could so corruptly rig the process on behalf of felon Dianne Wilkerson. What we find is laziness? incompetence? I don't know, but it seems odd that a layperson can find out in 5 minutes that someone has been appointed to a board a month ago when the board doesn't even know?

Yet another example of why I'm not impressed with the efficiency and organization at City Hall.

Wilkerson and the whole lot of them doing it all behind closed doors

You have to read the FBI indictment of Dianne Wilkerson, it lays out everything I've been saying for years. They are all corrupt of transparent ideas, they are all involved in these back room deals out of the public eye. This is how business gets done in Boston.

You can read it at

The Boston City Council, the Mayor, the BRA, the Boston Licensing Commission, the Senate President, other legislators, they are all involved in getting a piece of public property and a liquor license into an undercover FBI agents hand without public process, public review, etc.

This is how government works in Boston and Massachusetts.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Some positive things about Boston Government

After going to Michael Flaherty's Kitchen Table Talk the other night and hearing about how he has a tracking system in his office to keep track of constituent complaints and how vigilant his office was on following up on things, I decided to call his office and ask what was going on with a complaint about an illegal roof deck in my neighborhood that I talked to Michael directly about 3 years ago. I figured 3 years was a reasonable amount of time to get back to me on something, although for some reason I hadn't heard back from him.

I had a nice talk with John in Councilor Flaherty's office who said that they had only started tracking stuff within the last couple years. (7 or so years into Councilor Flaherty's term) He said he would look into it and get back to me. He also said that he sometimes reads my blog, and he wonders why I don't write more positive things, and why I don't critique the Mayor more often.

Well, I agree with him about the Mayor who is the real problem with progress in Boston, it is true that the Council doesn't have much power, and what power they have they don't use or leverage. I have also called the Mayor's office about this illegal deck thing many times over the years, and of course they have done nothing. I recently called the Mayor's office about the status of the Winthrop Square garage. This is the 100 million dollar or so property that the City is going to give away for free, and in the meantime we maybe giving away the millions in parking revenue a year to the BRA. It is hard to tell because no one answers any questions, and most of us have jobs and can't do the checking up on this which we should have the press and our elected officials to do. Anyway, I called the Mayor's office and a nice lady said "Oh, I will get you in touch with the parking garage guy". She transferred me and I got a disconnected line. I called back and got the same lady and explained the situation a bit further and she said, "oh, you have to talk to the BRA about that" and I got transferred to a gentleman's voicemail at the BRA". I left a message (this is at least a couple weeks ago) and surprise, surprise I have received no reply. To say that the Mayor's office is nonresponsive is an understatement.

But, this is a blog about positive things. John got me thinking about positive things about Boston government and two people immediately came to mind: Gary Moccia and Harry McGonagle. They are the number 2 and number 3 people at the Boston Building Department. They are both professionals who have degrees in the construction field and who have worked at 1010 Mass Ave. for many years. They deal with all sorts of construction problems and issues in the City, and they do it in a professional, helpful, cheerful way. My hat is off to them for the great way they deal with all the different people, competing interests, and favor wanting politicians who tug and pull them in different directions. They are an excellent example of why government should hire non-partisan professionals to do professional work.

However, it is my understanding that there is a city or state statute that the head of a building department be an engineer or architect. Instead, Mayor Menino has filled it with political cronies like the former head Kevin Joyce who didn't know a 2x4 from a hammer, but he knew how to answer the phone when the Mayor called and put the vices on people the Mayor was unhappy with. I think he ended up costing the City about $500,000 grand in legal issues before he was shown the door.

Next time you have an inspector visit your house ask him or her how they feel about calls from City Hall from the Mayor's office or City Councilors telling them how to do their jobs, whose house to look into, or more importantly whose house NOT to look into!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

An evening with Michael Flaherty at his Kitchen Table Talk

Michael Flaherty came to our Claremont Neighborhood Association last night for one of his Kitchen Table Talks. He was accompanied by his assistant and was shadowed by Jay Walsh who works on neighborhood issues for the Mayor.

Michael asked questions and took comments, directing conversation as a good push poll person or marketer would. He started out by asking if people felt safe in their neighborhood, most answered yes. When one gentleman mentioned a physical attack, Michael almost gleefully let everyone know that rapes and violent crimes and break ins are up this year.

He then proceeded to tell us how awful the schools are, despite a few bright spots. He likened the school situation to a lottery, where you either win the lottery with your child or you move out of the city or go to private school. One resident agreed with him, and said how thankful she was to win the lottery. Michael exclaimed how happy he was that his three kids won the lottery as well and gave her a high five!

Who would ever have believed that City Councilor Flaherty would win the lottery 3 times in a row with his children and get them into some of the good schools? I wonder what the odds are that Mayor Menino's grandchildren also won the lottery? As my mother would say, miracles happen!

I asked Michael who was to blame for the bad schools, despite us spending $17,000 a year per student. He told us that the school system has lost 5000 students in the last 4 years or so, that a lot of money goes into maintenance, Court Street and transportation. I asked what he has done about it and he says he has asked tough questions in the city council hearings on education, but that he voted for the budget because if he didn't it would hurt the children.

We then got to my wife's biggest problem with the city: trash. Michael said "the city is filthy". A point agreed to by most of the residents. The Mayor's representative told us we have more trash cans than almost any neighborhood. Michael told us about pictures his constituents send him to him of bad jobs done by the trash disposal companies.

He talked about development and how the BRA doesn't do a good job of involving residents in the process of development. I asked him why doesn't he come to the neighborhoods when he knows a development is in the works and hold a hearing and get residents input and he claimed he is in the dark about what goes on at the 9th floor of City Hall, often until he reads it in the paper. He then said he had held such hearings. I suggest he do a Freedom of Information Act to the BRA asking for the documents of all currently proposed projects. He could also withhold the funding that the City Council gives them every year until they at least tell the city council what projects they are working on.

We finally ended up talking about CityStat the complaint monitoring system used by Somerville and many other cities around the country. He has been trying to implement it for years but he said the administration is fighting it. I had to ask him the same question 3 times before he finally answered. The question "how much will it cost?". The answer: "3 to 4 million". Since the City has a 10 million dollar surplus left over from last year, and the city council voted their staff a raise out of that surplus I asked why they didn't buy the Citistat program. He answered that the administration is against it.

We also talked about police details which Michael supports.

I came into the meeting determined not to distract the group with issues like the Open Meeting Law which no one really cares about it seems, and stuck to questions about fiscal policy and what Michael had been doing to fix problems in the city. I was afraid I bored some of my fellow CNA members however.

Michael is clearly gearing up for a Mayoral run. I have heard from many sources that he has already made the decision, including people who have spoken to him directly. The basic point of these meetings is to say "schools suck, the streets are filthy, crime is up, the BRA is corrupt, services are not professionally managed, and it is all the Mayors fault. In addition, he is not responsible for any of it because the City Council has no power and it isn't worth his time to try and do something because it would fail. But, he claims he has used his "bully pulpit" to let the people of Boston know that it is all the fault of the Mayor.

It reminds me of what Councilor Turner once told me about Councilor Hennigan, I paraphrase but it is something like "she found religion when she decided to run against the Mayor".

As someone who has known and realized that the Mayor and the BRA are the problem in this City for a long time, it will take a lot more straight talk from Michael before I believe his sincerity. 4 years ago I recall him telling everyone how 'things were getting better all the time', and he supported Mayor Menino in the last election. I'm most concerned with his excuse that there is nothing he can do about it: put proposals on Menino's desk for him to veto, to highlight the old world way of doing business in Boston, as opposed to the New Boston which Michael espouses.

Postscript: when I left the meeting one of the members who I don't know was walking her dog. I went to introduce myself, and apologize if I had taken up too much time with pointed questions. She had taken full part in the conversations (Michael does a great job of getting everyone involved) and I had thought she had been very impressed with Councilor Flaherty. I asked her what she thought and she replied "he is so full of shit" so point blank that I had to laugh out loud.

When are we going to get politicians who just speak the truth? Obama and McCain aren't leading the way with all of their programs, no cuts and the deficit will magically disappear. Don't believe it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How much more have they spent?

Some people have asked me how much they have spent in total on their new attorney, Mary Jo Harris. I have been too busy to count it up exactly but it seems as if it is only about $10,000 or so, give or take. Of course the fine is only $10,0000 so again, they could just pay it and move on, but why do that when you can keep playing out the clock hoping that Kathleen, Shirley and I get struck by a meteorite!

Especially when they are using that plentiful resource: taxpayer money. Sure is nice to have unlimited taxpayer money on your legal defense.

No wonder Tom Menino is too busy working to stop Question 1 from being enacted to help Democratic nominee Sonia Chang Diaz!

Make $175 an hour reading my blog!

I got some financial documents from the City of Boston legal department this week. They are paying an outside attorney $175 an hour to read my blog!

Nice work if you can get it. Although I value my writing, I don't think it is worth that much!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Mike Ross-City Council President-I thought the councilors were afraid to talk to each other in the halls?

The Dorchester Reporter today announced that Councilor Ross and Councilor Murphy worked out an agreement for Councilor Ross and Councilor Murphy to be President and Vice President of the Council respectively. There are quotes from a number of councilors about how it went down, and who talked to who, etc. The article can be read at

What I find so interesting is that when asked by the press about the Open Meeting Law and the court case which found them guilty ($200K of taxpayer money down the drain and counting to fight a $10,000 fine) the councilors usually give some version of "we are afraid to even talk to each other at the elevator", or "we don't even talk to each other" or "if there is a fire in West Roxbury I can't even call councilor Tobin to find out how I can help". But, obviously they are being disingenuous at best, and liars at worst. Clearly, they have no problems calling each other up, asking where they stand on being the next council president, or perhaps other issues.

If anyone believes what they are saying on this issue, please let me know: I have some Bear Stearns Stock to sell you.

On a positive note, congratulations to Councilor Ross on putting together the coalition. More courageously, I applaud Maureen Feeney for stepping down after the term limit she imposed.

Better than Mayor Menino who promised to only serve two terms, and who said to grade him on the school system. Only 58% of students getting a high school diploma, I would say that is a failing grade.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Some Great Music News-Hey Borneo!

When I was recently driving home from New Orleans after fixing some more hurricane damage, I heard a new song that I really enjoyed on a tiny independent station near the Pennsylvania/West Virginia border. It was a song that I guessed was called "Hey, Borneo" by the chorus, and it seemed to have a very liberal, anti-Bush and big oil kind of bent.

When I got home I googled it, and sure enough there is a new album out by a group called Firewater, which is made up of someone named Todd A. and random other musicians. I had never heard of him or them before. The album is called The Golden Hour, and gets its name from that beautiful last hour of sunlight that lends such a beautiful glow over the ocean when sitting on a beautiful beach in the south Pacific. Information about the band can be found at:

It turns out that Todd A was so fed up with the United States and George Bush (despite loving his country) that he headed to Southeast Asia and the Middle East to meet the people that supposedly hate us so and that we have to go to war with.
(Sound familiar? My kind of guy)

He would check into cheap hotels in India, Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia and Israel and set up music jams: as he describes "I would tell the owner I wanted to have belly dancing without the belly dancers". He traveled with a Mac and used that to record the sounds and the songs. He got back in 2007 (wonder if we crossed paths, as we certainly visited many of the same places, and probably some of the same cheap hotels!) and put together this CD.

I got it in the mail a couple days ago and can't stop playing it. It is the best new album I have heard in years, with politically charged lyrics, myriad sounds and styles evocative of those parts of the world, and it is just danceable and fun to listen to. I can't recommend it enough.

There is also a youtube video about his trip and an explanation of his album at: