Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Yoon not doing his followup with the BRA

A couple years ago Sam Yoon and the Mayor worked out a back room deal over the proceeds of the Winthrop Square Garage.

I have been keeping my eyes on this because it is one of those BIG DEALS where inside connected people get huge amounts of city property for free and the citizens get nothing, while the politicians collect nice campaign contributions.

I was at the Mayor's speech last night and even with his fuzzy numbers it doesn't add up. He said we will have a 140 million dollar shortfall, but he is going to give 40 million to developers. If, instead, he sold the Winthrop Square Garage lot which is estimated to be worth close to 100 million dollars and didn't give 40 million dollars to developers but instead maintained teachers and cops the budget is magically solved. The other part of the puzzle the Mayor doesn't tell us is that the projected buget is going to be flat, there isn't really going to be a decrease in the City Budget. Any potential layoffs are going to be because of poor contracts and pensions he has negotiated which is one reason he is calling for a wage freeze. But why get actual money for City Property when he can give it away to the BRA for free and then collect campaign contributions?

Part of the Yoon/Menino backroom deal is that Boston Housing Authority is supposed to receive the funds from the parking garage revenue to help maintain security.

I've asked Sam Yoon's office over the past couple years for a copy of his secret agreement with the Mayor, and originally Sam's response was essentially that when the time comes to be transparent, he will be transparent. Recently his office released the almost 2 year old memo to me (I think they even posted it on my blog somewhere).

I asked his office what payments the BHA was receiving and I was told that the BRA was not forthcoming with the information and that Sam was getting stonewalled by them.

So, I called up the BRA and their spokesperson Jessica Shumaker was kind enough to send the information right over to me. Thanks, Jessica! I told her that Sam Yoon's office said they couldn't get the information and she said he should have just called for it and they would have given it. I suggest to Sam that before he tells people that the BRA is stonewalling, that he should actually make sure they are stonewalling.

The payments from the BRA to the BHA so far are as follows:

4-30-08 $2,000,000
5-31-08 $ 910,747
10-31-08 $ 283,361
11-18-08 $ 269,049

This is a perfect example of why back room deals shouldn't be done. The public is excluded and can't see where their money is being spent. This is why I sent the letter (see below in my blog) to all the elected leaders in Boston asking them to propose that all payments and income from the BRA and the City of Boston should be online. Three councilors are proposing transparent government initiatives today, why not just the whole thing properly????

More on why they don't want this later!


Adam Gaffin said...

Coupla things:

Doesn't the $40 million come from the feds, specifically from HUD? If so, it probably couldn't be used to reduce the deficit.

At least down here in Roslindale, we were always told that the money from the sale of the Winthrop Square garage would go directly to the redevelopment of the Washington-Beech housing project (which is supposed to start this spring; they've already started moving tenants out).

Kevin said...

The $40 million is BRA money that a person from the BRA has left over from HUD projects in the 90's (!)

This is why we need transparency from the BRA so we know how much money they have and how it can be spent.

When Menino tries to pretend the BRA is an independent organization, remember his promises about what this "independent" agency will do.