Friday, February 27, 2009

Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative

Had an excellent time tonight at the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, sharing time with the Mayor. We shared a somewhat lighthearted exchange when he said to me "I haven't broken any Open Meeting Laws", and I said to him "But you financed their defense", and he whispered something about "I had to do it" as if anything at City Hall doesn't happen without his approval. I was pleased when the woman behind the Mayor, an executive at a local non-profit came to me and whispered in my ear "we really DO need a change". Mel King was there and as expected he will be supporting Mr. Yoon. Carlos Henriquez an executive with DSNI was an excellent and gracious host, and we had a good talk about the changes that need to come to City Hall. He is gearing up for another run at Boston City Council in District 7. I had not met him before, he is very smart, obviously well liked by the crowd, extremely impressive. (plus he reads my blog!)

I was happy to make many new contacts, renew some old ones, and get invited to speak at a number of other events. The long road continues.

SEIU not happy with the Mayor either

I'm not surprised that the SEIU don't find the Mayor transparent with the budget, and that his 3 percent pay cut is not real leadership when he just got a double digit pay increase.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Transparency Suggestion for Flaherty & Yoon

I sent the following email to Councilors Flaherty and Yoon. Councilor Flaherty has been proposing that certain boards have their meetings available on video. How about leading the way with your own meetings?

My email:

Dear Councilor Flaherty and Yoon,

Why don't you propose (or just start doing) taping or streaming live all of the city council meetings, such as the ones you hold in the Curley room or in
City Council offices. I would think the public would be very interested in the meetings about the budget and the schools that you recently held in the Curley
room, as people are very concerned about the services they receive and the state of the schools.

Thank you,
Kevin McCrea

The Mayor and BRA have no records of what they own????

I just received a letter with Thomas M. Menino, Mayor at the top of the letter head in response to a public records request. I made a request for a list of all the property that the BRA owns. Of course, this information should be online for all the citizens to see but that is not the way this City Hall is run.

They sent me a list of properties but many of them had no address. It literally would have a street name with no street number, such as "000 Tremont Street". I wrote back and said I needed a list with the street numbers on it.

The response:

"On February 5, 2009, in response to your public records request concerning property owned by the BRA, we provided to you the records maintained by the BRA that you requested. The BRA does not maintain records that include the information you requested in your follow-up request, namely the street numbers for all properties.
Consequently we will not be providing additional records to you."

This is the most astounding thing I have read since the Walkowski report. So, in the 21st Century, Boston, supposedly an advanced high tech city, has a City Planning and Economic Development Agency which doesn't even have a list of the properties it owns which includes street addresses??? What do they rely on to find the properties they own, Oral Tradition?

I was speaking to a reporter yesterday who said he has covered much bigger cities than this, and at least you could ask a question of their Mayors on occasion.

We have a Mayor who runs a 2.5 billion dollar budget who doesn't have a record of what he owns, and two councilors running for the job who refuse to answer questions from their constituents as well.

As I said during my City Council run, once a month I will have at least a one hour open session where anyone who wants can come and answer questions in an open, transparent press conference. Our city, and our future, are too important to be left to a tiny group of people behind closed doors who exclude the public from the decision making process. In my estimation, the collective wisdom of the public will have more good ideas than a few elected officials.

79 percent say more transparency, 21 percent say things are ok

In poll numbers the opposite of the Mayor's alleged popularity ratings, 79 percent of people involved in our poll said they think the City needs to be more transparent, or wishes the current elected officials would disappear!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mayor won't spend money to make more money???

The Herald reports that Menino won't fix the garage at Winthrop Square garage. What they don't report is that the previous tenant who rented the garage from the City lost a lawsuit from the City for not maintaining the garage properly. As a result of the suit, the tenant had to pay the City $2 million dollars according to the BRA.

What did the City do with the money? Well, they never got the money they just let the settlement go to the BRA to give away. The city and the citizens got nothing, and that money didn't go into fixing the garage. The reason? Menino wants to give away the property for free to one of his developer buddies.

If we sold this one piece of property we would get 70 to 100 million dollars and we would start collecting tax money on the property as well. That is what I would do as Mayor in my first year. The budget deficit would be nearly over with just the sale of this property and Hayward Place.

See my video of this property here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The politicos don't seem to like me very much

The last week has been a brutal one in the political world. On the more serious side, one of my campaign people got robbed in Allston by 3 young men after a campaign event. The police told him there was not much chance they would be caught, so a police report wasn't even filed as my friend just wanted to put it behind him. At least the crime statistics won't go up.

Sam Yoon's campaign manager threatened me on Friday. He was mad at me for actually believing that when Sam Yoon told me in person that I could set up a meeting with him, that Sam actually meant that I could set up a meeting with him. Silly me for thinking a Boston elected official who talks about transparency and honesty meant what he said.

Today in court, the now retired Paul Walkowski came to see the Open Meeting Law being discussed in court. After the hearing, Walkowski came up to me in a threatening tone and said "What are you up?". I replied "what do you mean?", He repeated the question, and I the answer. He then said "Are you a socio?", and I again replied "what do you mean?".

He then got more coherent and more agitated and said "So you think I'm the scam of the week?" and I replied, "yes I do". At this point I realized he had been reading my blog! He then raised his voice even further and said in a threatening tone "Get out of here!!" At this point the Court Officer got involved, and took control and told him to control himself and that this behavior is not allowed in court.

No wonder I still haven't received a reply from Flaherty or Yoon about why they suspended the City rules to give this guy a $20,000 raise to write a report on how to circumvent the Open Meeting Law and boost his pension. Who wants to associate with a guy who comes to court and threatens people?

Needless to say but Michael Flaherty didn't come to court to espouse the virtues of transparency today.

Rough game this politics in Boston, you've got to be tough! I'll just keep on knocking on doors, writing down thoughts, and not threaten people. I wasn't brought up that way.

Finance Commission posts report on how to reduce the deficit.

The Finance Commission has put out a report on reducing the deficit. They are an independent agency set up to do financial oversight on the city. They only have a budget of about $200,000 to oversee 2.5 billion in spending. They are always asking for more money but the Mayor and City Council don't want anyone looking too deeply into what is going on with city government. They just came out with an excellent report on reducing the deficit. As you read it, you see managerial failings everywhere which begs the question: Isn't it time for a change?

From the Finance Commission:

Reducing the Projected Deficit

The financial deficit facing the City of Boston is the city’s most serious financial problem since the implementation of Proposition 2 ½. The City was required at that time to reduce its tax levy over a three year period from $518 million to $333 million, a reduction of $185 million. The City took unprecedented steps in those years. The size of the city payroll was reduced, municipal assets were sold and services were cut. Similar actions are needed now as the city faces an imposing deficit this fiscal year and reduced revenues that will impact the FY 2010 fiscal year budget.

Personnel Expenses

The solution to solving the deficit must address personnel expenses. Mayor Thomas M. Menino has proposed a one year wage freeze for all City employees for Fiscal Year 2010. The Finance Commission supports the Mayor on the wage freeze which will save the City $55 million. Job losses, wage reductions and wage freezes are commonplace in other cities and towns as well as in the private sector. The City is also facing increased costs for Health Insurance and Pensions. While the wage freeze is an effective step there are other reasonable and creative steps that can be taken to help control payroll expenditures. One personnel expense that can be reduced is the cost of overtime. City managers must be held accountable for overtime spending. The Police and particularly the Fire Department need to reduce the number of people on injured payrolls. The City would also benefit by having hundreds of high paid city employees retire accompanied by an agreement that many of those jobs will be abolished. Layoffs are inevitable but there are steps that can be taken to reduce personnel costs that will limit the number of layoffs. The Commission agrees with the Mayor that everything should be on the table in terms of controlling spending and increasing revenue.


Managing overtime spending will save the city money. The most significant problem is with the Police Department. Overtime spending in the Police Department in 2008 was $47,808,512 or $17 million over budget. There were twenty-seven employees who earned more than $80,000 in overtime. Another one hundred and nineteen earned more than $50,000 in overtime. A total of 520 employees of the Boston Police Department earned more than $30,000 in overtime in 2008. Even civilian employees were paid excessive amounts of overtime with five of them being paid more that $40,000 each last year. The Police Department should immediately eliminate overtime authorization for all civilian employees and live within its overtime budget.

The Fire Department spent $17,553,000 in overtime against a budget of $12,250,000 which is $5,303,000 or 43% over its approved budget. The top five overtime wage earners earned between $53,000 and $77,000 and all five were assigned to the motor squad. There were 116 people earning in excess of $20,000 in overtime, many of them district and deputy fire chiefs (addressed later in this report).

There are other city agencies which are not managing overtime effectively. The Department of Property Management spent $1.1 million in overtime for security guards in 2008. Thirty security guards were paid in excess of $20,000 annually, with ten of them earning in excess of $30,000, one over $40,000 and one was paid $52,000. The Security Division has a 4 day on 2 day off work schedule and the employees are group two for retirement purposes. The work schedule contributes to the overtime costs. The answer is to reduce the number of shifts, reduce the locations where security is provided and get this group back to working a five day work week. Discussions are ongoing to make some appropriate changes but if those steps fail to work then the City should consider privatizing the entire security function. There is no acceptable rational for a $1 million plus annual overtime bill. Property Management has a number of other employees being paid significant amounts of overtime and the solution is to eliminate overtime spending through the end of the fiscal year.

The Public Works Department has forty-two employees earning in excess of $20,000 annually in overtime. The most problematic division in Public Works is its Street Lighting Division with seven employees earning over $30,000, one of whom earned $55,000. Two years ago the Street Lighting Division of PWD and the Traffic Signal Division of Transportation were supposedly merged into one agency. But the merger was not implemented. The two divisions are in different locations and the manager in charge of both is in yet a third location. The Commission has brought this matter up with the Chief of Transportation and Public Works yet nothing has changed. The merger should be implemented and if current managers are unable to implement it then someone should be put in charge who will get the job done.

Overtime is an expense that can be managed. It should be expected that City departments stay within their respective overtime budgets.

The Finance Commission recommends that the Mayor and Chief Financial Officer Lisa Signori direct every department head, other than the Police and Fire Commissioners, to justify, in writing, the overtime for any employee within their respective department which exceeds $10,000 in a single year. There are too many employees who are being paid excessive amounts of overtime. The Commission is certain that if Department Heads were required to personally justify those costs in writing that there would be a dramatic reduction in overtime.

Police and Fire Department overtime spending has been a constant problem. The Finance Commission suggests that the City’s Auditing Department and CFO assign a payroll manager to assist these departments in controlling overtime expenses.

Eliminate Jobs at the High End of the Salary Scale

The city has a significant number of employees who have more than thirty years of service, all of whom are either at or near their maximum pension eligibility. The Finance Commission recommends that the City attempt to reduce 300 to 400 of those jobs and not fill at least one-third of any jobs that are eliminated. This is a good time to review the organizational structure in many city departments, structures that were established years ago that may no longer be appropriate.

According to the Actuarial Valuation and Review of the City of Boston as of January 1, 2008 completed for the State Boston Retirement Board by the Segal Group, Inc. there are 980 city employees with more than thirty years of service. In addition there were 547 School Department employees with that amount of service. Almost 600 of those employees have more than thirty-five years of service with an average annual pay of $87,000. The average salary of the employees with between 30-34 years of service is $76,000 annually for city employees and $87,500 for those employed in the School Department. The majority of these people have not reached their maximum pension benefit but they are all relatively close. A limited but reasonable cash retirement incentive could result in as many as 300 to 400 employees opting to retire. The City should be able to then eliminate thirty to forty percent of those jobs. The result would be payroll reductions and salary savings even considering the actuarial analysis with respect to future pension costs.

The City must be cautious when considering retirement incentives. The State Boston Retirement Fund experienced a major loss in 2008 when its portfolio value dropped from $4,653,624,000 as of December 31, 2007 to $3,328,755,000 as of December 31, 2008, a loss of 25% in the value of the portfolio. The city had made considerable progress addressing its unfunded pension liability prior to this past year with the system expected to be fully funded by June, 2023. The major losses incurred in 2008 creates problems in the funding of the system and limits the ability of the City to consider certain types of retirement incentives, some of which were used in the past.

The City is offering an 8% bonus to certain employees who have reached their maximum pension eligibility if they retire between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010. The offer is currently available to all exempt non-union employees and any employee if the employees union accepts the wage freeze. The bonus is an incentive to help convince city unions to agree to a one year wage freeze.

The Commission suggests that the retirement bonus offer be expanded in an effort to convince more people to retire and encourage the City’s unions to accept the wage freeze. The pool of employees with over thirty years of service who have not reached their maximum pension is larger than the number of people who have reached the maximum. An expanded bonus offer might need to be adjusted for employees who are not at full pension eligibility but if it could be negotiated there would be greater salary savings. Based on the average salary of employees with excess of thirty years of service, the retirement of 300 to 400 employees would result in salary savings of up to $34million. The key to such a plan is making sure at least 30-40% of the jobs are eliminated as the result is permanent salary savings.

The combination of a wage freeze along with the retirement of employees at the high end of the wage scale would make a significant impact. The Commission encourages the City Administration to discuss this type of option with its unions and take an immediate survey of city employees with more than thirty years of service to gauge their interest. While this proposal may not eliminate the need for layoffs it would limit the number of employees who would otherwise lose their jobs.

Sick and Injured Payrolls

Another longstanding unresolved issue with both the Fire and Police Departments is the payroll expense for injured officers and firefighters. Combined the two departments paid over $22 million to injured employees in 2008. The numbers point out the fact that the Fire Department has a much more prevalent problem. The Fire Department has fewer employees and a personnel budget of $148,621,000. It spent $14,682,698 in 2008 in sick and injured pay. The Police Department has more employees and a personnel budget of $248,745,000 but spent half as much in payments to injured officers, $7,423,390 in 2008. The Fire Department problem was severe enough that it must provide budget measures on the injured status of firefighters. Commissioner Fraser and his chief financial officer are addressing the problem and the payroll numbers are beginning to reflect that effort. But the City cannot afford this annual expense particularly when layoffs of other city employees may be needed. The solution is to retire anyone on the payroll who will not be returning to work. The City should also consider employing outside help to monitor questionable disability cases.

While the Police Department’s injured payroll is lower, it too remains financially significant. Any employees on this payroll who is not going to return to work should be retired.

Time to Reduce the Cost of School Transportation

The Boston School Committee has finally received a recommendation to change the current student assignment plan to reduce Transportation costs. This change has been discussed for years and is long overdue. The current structure of three zones was established over twenty years ago. The cost of transportation has more than doubled in those twenty years now costing over $76 million.

One major factor regarding school bus transportation that is not discussed but is a reality is that in many cases, choice is dictated by transportation and not solely the quality of the school. The examples are plentiful and commonplace. If a student attends school A which is too close to offer the student transportation, many parents opt for school B which is similar academically but will result in transportation being offered. Yet that same school A is chosen by other parents from other neighborhoods because their kids will receive transportation to that school.

Changing the assignment plan is one of the most effective ways to reduce costs for the City of Boston. The Superintendent proposed a five zone system but an eight or nine zone plan would reduce the size of the school bus fleet more dramatically and save more money. It would reduce the fleet by several hundred buses; reduce the number of school bus drivers and the costs associated with maintaining the fleet. It will allow the City to reduce the number of facilities housing the buses from four to perhaps two. The City owns the buses and can sell most of them. It seems to the Commission that saving money in transportation costs is preferable to laying off school teachers.

Reduce contract payments.

The City of Boston provides a multitude of services with outside contractors. In December, the City’s budget office promulgated a directive for all City Departments to reduce contract payments by 25%. The benefit of cancelling contracts, not issuing contracts or reducing them in amount results in instant savings.

The Commission reviews all unadvertised contracts and over the past month has reviewed a number of contracts that should not be awarded due to the need for cost savings. Many of the unadvertised contracts are for personal services. The Commission has recommended to the Mayor that certain contract request, such as those listed below, not be awarded in this economic climate.

• A $100,000 personal services contract to provide professional development services to the Boston Public Schools Leadership Institute, payable at the rate of $750 daily for the period of January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2009;
• Two School Department contracts proposed to be awarded in the amount of $30,000 each and payable at the rate of $800 per day to two consultants from Oregon;
• A $40,000 contract to a former Miami, Florida School Superintendent payable at the rate of $1,500 daily;
• A $48,600 contract payable at $810 per day contract to provide support services to the Academic Superintendent for High Schools.

Fire Department

The Boston Fire Department (BFD) is the city agency most in need of reform. Every outside study or analysis of the Fire Department has included recommendations for change. The most meaningful change was the appointment of a civilian Fire Commissioner. Commissioner Rod Fraser has shown a refreshing willingness to bring management change to the Fire Department. He now has qualified civilians in charge of the Division of Administration and Finance along with Labor Relations and Legal Affairs. The Finance Commission would like to see more qualified professionals brought on board. Due to the fact that the overall Fire Department budget for FY 2009 includes $148 million in personnel costs the Personnel Division should be staffed with civilian expertise. The current of Director of Personnel is a Deputy Fire Chief who earned $179,440 in 2008, well above the salary paid any the Human Resource or Personnel Director in any city department. The City’s Director of Human Resources, for example, is paid $115,500.

The Fire Department has been trying to reinvent itself over the past fifteen years. The Fire Department expanded its role and the number of calls for service by becoming medical first responders. While that role provides a benefit to the public, the basic responsibility of the BFD remains its fire suppression role.

Significant financial savings can be made in the Department by reorganizing it to reflect changes that have occurred over the past thirty years in a way that makes economic and operational sense to the City of Boston. The first step should be to start at the top and reduce the number of high paying jobs, many of which are no longer needed to effectively manage the BFD.

Span of Control

The Fire Department responds to far fewer fires annually than was the case 20 years ago. Yet the Fire Department continues to operate with a costly district structure that was established decades ago and is no longer appropriate or affordable. The Fire Department should change its span of control with respect to district management and reduce the number of districts from eleven to seven districts. (See attached district reorganization proposal)

District Fire Chiefs earned a combined total of $8,553,000 in 2008 which included $1,082,000 in injured pay and another $1,051,000 in overtime pay. The Fire Department budget provides for forty-four District chiefs who manage the eleven districts. Currently some District Chiefs oversee as few as five pieces of equipment and three stations. The Commission recommends retaining the management level in the more geographically isolated districts such as East Boston, and Brighton. The rest of the City can be merged from nine to five districts as suggested in the following chart. A seven district structure would mean that the districts would be managed with twenty-eight district chiefs as opposed to the current forty-four. It would also result in a similar reduction in aides to those chiefs. This change will help curtail overtime expenses, reduce the injured payroll and help control an alarming disability pension problem.


The Fire Department is the only city agency with a fleet operation that does not employ licensed mechanic to maintain vehicles. The Police Department has a fleet in excess of 700 vehicles and employs qualified mechanics. The School Department bus fleet totals over 600 vehicles and employs 13 mechanics. Every school bus owned by the School Department undergoes three detailed inspections per year. Central Fleet Maintenance is responsible for 1100 vehicles and employs 19 licensed mechanics. Four mechanics maintain the EMS fleet.

The mechanics in every other city department, except the Fire Department, are in an appropriate union. Many of them hold specific certifications with respect to their jobs as well as Commercial Drivers Licenses. They are also category 1 employees for retirement purposes.

Maintenance is an area which has been identified in every outside review of the Fire Department as needing to be reformed, including the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) report completed fourteen years ago and cited recently as being an impartial and objective analysis by the firefighters union. But despite the longstanding and obvious shortcomings of the maintenance operation, the Commissioner and the Firefighters Union disagree on how to solve this problem. The only reasonable answer is to hire professional mechanics to maintain the fleet. Commissioner Fraser has correctly explained that there is no preventative maintenance program for the City’s fire apparatus because there is nobody employed in the Fire Department who is qualified to create such a program. The Commissioner is now moving ahead on professionally evaluating the maintenance needs and employing qualified civilian mechanics. And while the Firefighters Union supports employing qualified mechanics their agreement to this change comes with an unreasonable quid pro quo. They want qualified civilian mechanics to be members of the firefighters union, a position which defies common sense.

What is also troubling about the dispute is that not only would the Fire Department have a properly maintained fleet but there would also be a cost savings to the city. There were five members of the motor squad who earned between $137,000 and $167,500 in 2008 which included significant amounts of overtime. The Director of the Fire Departments Fleet and Maintenance Division earned $161,707 in 2008. His Assistant Director earned $141,000. Both salaries are considerably higher than the $107,500 salary paid to the City of Boston’s Director of Fleet Management.

Fire Alarm

The Fire Alarm Division is another area of potential salary savings. There are 69 employees in the alarm and construction division, all of whom are members of the Firefighters Union. The Fire Alarm Division is another that has been cited in every outside review as a one that should be reduced in size with an eye towards elimination.

A Finance Commission report issued fifteen years ago recommended that the number of fire alarm boxes be drastically reduced which would similarly reduce the size of the Fire Alarm Division. The 1995 MMA report recommended cutting positions. Once again, in these economic times where critical services and jobs might be cut, the value of this division must be revisited.

Boston Transportation Department

While the City is losing revenue in many critical areas one significant revenue item can be increased with effective management. The combination of parking meter revenue and the revenue received from the issuance of parking tickets combined to be $74 million in FY 2008. The city purchased 9,500 new single space parking meters and an addition 63 multi-space meters in FY 2009. Those purchases should lead to increased revenues but it is critical for the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) to install the new meters it purchased last summer as soon as possible. BTD encountered numerous installation delays and those delays adversely affected revenue. But recently BTD has ramped up the installation process.

The first phase of the process was to swap out the old mechanisms for new ones. Over 6,100 were swapped out by January 24, 2009. Phase two is ongoing and will replace the approximately 900-1000 missing meters around the city. BTD has installed about 450 of that total and within a few weeks that number should reach 900. Phase three of the process is to install approximately 1,000 to 1,500 meters managing parking spaces that are presently managed with one and two hour parking signs because BTD did not have any inventory to place meters in those locations. Once that phase is complete, Boston should have between 8,000 and 8,300 functioning meters on the streets.

Meter revenue should increase from $10 million per year to $13 million. Parking fine revenue will also increase. It was projected to be $76 million in FY 2009 but that number will not be reached. Through February 9, 2009 parking fine income was $39,682,671 or about $156,000 below revenue at the same time in 2008. While that number is well below budget projections, revenue will increase by the end of the fiscal year as the impact of the new meters is realized. Last year BTD issued 1.4 million parking tickets and it projected FY 2009 issuance of 1.7 million tickets. Issuance will increase for the rest of the year although it will not reach budget projections. The added revenue is significant. Three hundred thousand additional parking tickets will generate $12 million in parking fine income.

BTD should be planning to introduce debit or smart cards to the new meters as that capability will increase revenue and provide the parking public with an alternative form of payment, something proven valuable and popular with the multi-space meters. Not only does is offer a second method of payment but it reduces expenses as the meters will not have to be collected as often.

BTD then needs to revisit parking rates and hours of operation. Currently the overall parking plan is basic with every parking space having the same value or $2 hourly. But all spaces do not have the same relative value and for example, spaces on Newbury and Boylston Street should have a higher value than some other areas. Similarly the hours of operation for certain areas should be extended.

Management Opportunities

The City also needs to look at services that can be centralized and merged as it moves forward in a difficult economic climate. Services such as vehicle maintenance, now performed by several different departments, could be merged. Building management and the repairs to municipal buildings are too decentralized. Various personnel functions such as overtime, sick leave, workers compensation and injured time would benefit from central management.

While personnel savings should be the focus moving forward there are other things that can be done to reduce expenses, such as some of the following options:

Charge Credit Unit for space at City Hall

The City of Boston Credit Union has occupied space in City Hall for decades without paying rent, utilities or the cost of security. Yet a vendor operates a snack bar on the 8th floor of City Hall and pays $16,000 annually to the City to rent the space. The Credit Union has expanded to several locations in recent years and it is no longer feasible for the taxpayers to subsidize the Credit Union. The Credit Union should be charged rent based on the same rate as the snack bar which would generate about $50,000 to the City of Boston.

Implement bi-weekly payrolls city-wide;

As the City works with the various unions the value of bi-weekly payrolls should be fully explained. While some departments are on a bi-weekly payroll system there is no reason not to have all employees paid bi-weekly. The bi-weekly payroll change needs to be negotiated with some unions. This step would free up time within departments and in the City’s Auditing Department which would hopefully allow for a post audit payroll function.


The employees of these agencies should be subject to the wage freeze.

Implement Haymarket recycling plan and put the entire cost on the vendors;

This past year the City’s new PWD Highway Chief developed a plan to end the expense paid by the City to service the Haymarket Vendors on their weekend operation. He introduced a recycling plan and planned for the takeover by the vendors. But there have been delays in implementing the plan. There is no reason for the taxpayers to continue to subsidize the private Haymarket vendors and they should be told that the rubbish expense will be transferred to them immediately.

Curley House

The City of Boston purchased the Curley House 21 years ago through the George Robert White Fund for $1.5 million. The Finance Commission was opposed to that purchase at the time as there was no plan in place to use the Curly House. The Curly House has been used less than ten days annually over the past few years. The maintenance expense is paid by the City and performed by Property Management but the expenses are not itemized. Capital improvements have been funded through the Trust Office. There was never a plan to use the Curly House and as an underutilized asset it should be sold.

Parkman House;

The Parkman House is an asset of the Parkman Trust. The income generated from the Parkman Trust principal is used to help maintain the parks in the City of Boston that existed prior to 1887. The City leases the house from the Trust at an annual lease of $153,000. The City pays for the insurance on the house at $22,000 annually. It also pays for the maintenance and improvements to the house. A portion of that is paid under a three year $210,000 contract with the Fund for Boston. But while the contract provides for maintenance, the bulk of the maintenance is performed by the staff of and under outside contracts held by the Office of Property Management. The Parkman House does retain some value and the trust is receiving money from the city which helps support the budget of the Parks Department. The City could save money here by eliminating the $210,000 contract with the Fund for Boston.

152 North Street

The offices of the Finance Commission are at 152 North Street but the building is underutilized and could be sold. The City should conduct an inventory of its property and identify any buildings that are no longer in full use and could be sold.

Civilianize a portion of Harbor Patrol;

Boston is the only coastal community in Massachusetts which employs only Police Officers in its Harbor Patrol Unit. It would be cost effective for the City to employ some part time civilian harbormasters, as is the case in other communities, to perform some of the routine summer tasks of the office, one of which would be to monitor the payment of boat excise taxes and mooring fees. The Police component should remain. It is needed for Port Security but overtime for the Harbor Patrol needs to be better managed.


Currently the City has an outside contract for GPS services. While GPS is an effective control, it is expensive. There are installation fees, deactivation fees and monthly operating costs. There are numerous vehicles no longer in use for which the city is paying GPS costs. The City can eliminate the current contract when the new digital radio system is installed in city vehicles as the new system includes built in GPS.

Working Merger of Parks and Public Works

The Highway Division of the Public Works Department and the Parks Department should develop a working relationship that takes into account seasonal factors for both departments. Both agencies have fluctuations in their annual work and could work together on a District basis. This particular time of the year when the snow is off most city streets but street cleaning has yet to start is an opportunity to work together. This is also the pothole season when added staff would help the Highway Division. The Parks Department could be aided in the spring when its peak season arrives. The two could also work out plans where parks that are directly adjacent or close to PWD yards could be cleaned by PWD.

Eliminate gas tax for municipalities

Cities and towns in Massachusetts are exempt from pay the 5% sales tax on goods they purchase. Yet those same cities and towns are required to pay the $.21 per gallon gas tax. The Governor and Legislature have discussed ways to lessen the burden on cities and towns and exempting them from this tax would help. Cities house state offices without receiving any real estate taxes. And in Boston the City generates millions of dollars for the State through sales taxes. Exempting all cities and towns from the financial burden of the fuel tax is an appropriate step

Winthrop Square Garage

The Boston Redevelopment Authority has been leasing the Winthrop Square Garage since July 1, 2007. It appears that the site will continue to be operated as a parking garage for some time as the development of the site is unlikely to occur in the near future. Parking at the garage is limited as three floors are closed due to safety concerns. An engineering firm hired by the City to evaluate the condition of the garage suggested that the safety issues could be resolved with the expenditure of approximately $400,000. Due to the fact that it appears that the garage will be leased for the foreseeable future it seems prudent to make the needed repairs to fully utilize the garage and generate more income for the City of Boston.

This economy is a challenge for the City of Boston and it is critically important to do everything possible to effectively manage the city payroll. The entire city workforce is aware that the economy will impact the City. While the Commission suspects that layoffs are inevitable, steps can be taken to minimize them and city officials should be able to work with its unions to make some needed financial changes that will preserve jobs and provide service to the public.

Happy Mardi Gras!

Almost forgot, Lent begins soon!

Not Happy with the BRA? Blame Flaherty (and Menino, of course)

I am in court today on the McCrea et al v. Michael Flaherty and the the Boston City Council. Despite the Open Meeting Law stating that plaintiffs should get a hearing in 10 days, the City Council has spent at least $200,000 of taxpayer money stretching this out over almost 4 years.

Much of the case is a series of meetings over two years between the BRA and City Council talking about extending the power of the BRA for another 10 years. The City Council had the chance to take back power and control of the BRA, and to bring citizen input into the planning and zoning process. Obviously, from what is going on around the city the citizens aren't pleased.

How ironic, or what chutzpah, Flaherty has to complain that the City doesn't have a plan for growth, when he is the one who was responsible for giving away the power to enact that plan. I recently did a public records request of BRA director Mark Maloney's calender. It shows that he was meeting personally with Jimmy Kelly and Michael Flaherty (and Harry Collings -the real power and Mayor's man at the BRA) to discuss extending the BRA's powers. On the day before the City Council gave away oversight of the BRA, December 14, 2004 Flaherty met with Mark Maloney who wrote in his notes about the meeting "interminable!" as the meeting went hours over time. What did Flaherty get for all that back room dealing he did with the BRA?

When I was running for City Council at large I talked with Michael one on one and extended an olive branch and said "Michael, we could sit down and come to an agreement that would allow you to revisit the December 15, 2004 vote giving away power to the BRA". He said to me "Who needs power over the BRA?"

Well, I think most of the people that I have met in the City who feel that the BRA works on behalf of developers and institutions and not on behalf of communities and neighborhoods would love to have citizen control over the BRA.

Make sure you thank Michael Flaherty the next time you don't get satisfaction from the BRA. And don't forget Mayor Menino who appoints most of the board members and truly controls what goes on there.

We need to elect someone who is not beholden to special interests and their dollars, someone who understands that well planned communities are what is going to attract development and growth.

I'm applying for that job!

Video of me testifying at School Committee Hearing

The sound quality is not great, but here is a video of my testimony at a School Committee hearing in Dorchester.

I talk about budget issues, how Mayor Menino is not being honest with the numbers and how we have options for selling different City owned properties to offset the deficit and bring in more tax revenues.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Yoon in trouble with EMT Union

Sam Yoon asssumed he had the endorsement of the Boston EMT Union according to today's Herald. They apparently don't agree with him.

A copy of the invitation is here:

Sam Yoon
Invites you to a Lunar New Year Fundraiser
for his Mayoral Campaign
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
6:00 - 8:30pm
Chau Chow Restaurant
699 Morrissey Boulevard
Dorchester, MA
Click here to donate to this event
Host committee:

Byonghak An, Rebecca Lee, James & Carmen Bowen, Jeremy Liu & Hiroko Kikuchi, Peter Cavallaro, Myeong Ho Lowe, Linda Champion, Wataru Matsuyasu, Caroline Chang, Peter Munkenbeck & Renata von Tscharner, Nick & Eva Chau, Jennifer & Yasuna Murakami, George Chin, Hyoun Park, Hiep Chu, David & Yoonhee Rhee, Susan Egmont, Robert Schmalz, EMT Division - BPPA, May &Tetsuo Takayanagi, Jonathan Klein & Amy Schottenfels, Toan Vinh Than, Aunt Mai Ha, Michael Tow, Paul Lee & Renee Inomata, Leverett Wing

Please RSVP using the contribute link

Contact Frank with questions at 617-569-2194 or

Interesting to see George Chin on that list, I believe he has worked with the Mayor in the past. Certainly a problem to mention a union endorsing your fundraiser without asking them first.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

McCrea v. Flaherty: Suffolk Superior Court room 306 Tuesday at 2 pm

I'm spending my Sunday night going over nearly 4 years of court documents in the McCrea v. Flaherty and Boston City Council case where the Mayor and the City Council have spent somewhere between $200,000 and $300,000 of taxpayer money defending the right to have closed door meetings and deprive the public of access to the decision making going on. All of them are complicit in this, from Menino to Flaherty to Yoon on down.

In addition, not a single city councilor has taken one step in the court room on this case. So, if a public citizen wants to file an open meeting case he or she can expect to spend years filing motions, going to court all on their own expense while the guilty party, the elected officials, never have to come to court, get to use taxpayer funded attorneys to defend them and not have to spend any time or effort on it. Seems kind of unfair to me, how about to you?

Somehow, despite Michael Flaherty saying at the Rotary Meeting that he believes in transparency I don't think we will see his BU legal degree at work telling the court about how transparent the City Council is now.

I think the citizens of this City and this country are getting pretty fed up with this elite class not answering for their misdeeds, and making the citizens pay their piper.

Teaching and Learning today-Motorcycle Safety

We went door knocking in Cedar Grove and other areas of Dorchester yesterday, a bit cold in the morning but by afternoon very nice. It is a great area, clean streets, well kept houses, and our voter database lists showed virtually everyone living there voted. There clearly is a correlation between voter participation and how well a community is maintained. I think in 5 hours of handing out flyers and talking with people, there were only 5 houses that I passed that didn't have voters in them.

I'm off today to my annual Massachusetts Rider Education Program annual safety update. I've been a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Instructor for about 15 years and every winter we take a day to find out what is new and important in motorcycle safety.

I will be giving a presentation to the group this year about applying the tools we teach in our basic rider course to taking a trip around the world.

Enjoy your weekend!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mayor Menino fails with Boston About Results

I was called by a reporter yesterday about Menino's newest claim to transparency with the publishing of Boston About Results. As I was talking with the reporter I was going through the website and looking at what an insult to Bostonian's intelligence these published results are.

For example, take a look at his school page. We are supposed to believe that 3 years worth of data on an 800 million dollar department can be explained in one page with a bar graph and a pie chart???

There is a vicious cycle going on in this country. We don't provide the proper education of our children, as evidenced by the fact that only 1 in 8 Boston High School students get a college degree. Because they don't get the advanced education they need, they can't get the good jobs, and they don't get the training they need to do the critical analysis of their political leaders. They don't demand a good fourth estate to critically look at what our political leaders are putting out for information. The whole society degrades when we do not get proper education.

Where is an editorial from the Globe or Herald about what a joke these results are. Yoon and Flaherty are right on in their criticism of these "results".

I was knocking on doors in Brighton two days ago and a resigned older resident said to me "what can you do about it?". I answered, that you can run for office and work hard to hold them accountable. The elite in this country want the people to think there is nothing they can do about it, that way they can get away with back room deals and siphoning off our money and our assets while providing us with poor schools and facilities.

We need to change this pattern, please write letters to the editors, and help us in our campaign to provide great education and involve an active citizenry in the decision making process to Boston.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Phone calls

I had a very disturbing phone call from Jim Spencer today.

But, tonight we are having friends over to meet our Rhodes Scholar friend F.Z. who is visiting us from the Middle East, so for one night only--NO POLITICS!

We will be out door knocking in Dorchester tomorrow with our team. Have a great weekend.

Sam Yoon on where the achievement gap starts

Sam Yoon was on BNN last night. He said something that sounded astounding to me about where the achievement gap starts. He said that the "achievement gap starts in the womb."

Perhaps it is needless to say, but my Hispanic wife would tend to disagree with him.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Public Records Request to the Mayor

Dear Mayor Menino:

You have pledged to be transparent in this year's budget process. However, I asked a simple question of your chief budget officer over two weeks ago
about how much money the City of Boston is collecting interest on, and what debt service we have. Since I was not able to ascertain that information
through the normal channels of just asking a simple constituent question, I will now need to make a formal Public Records Request. As you are aware,
these requests need to be answered within 10 business days.

1) A copy of any and all of the most recent monthly financial accounts that the City of Boston maintains that shows the amount of money and assets on hand and the interest
rates that we are receiving on that money. Please include all short term and long term money accounts that we hold.

2) Please provide any and all copies of financial instruments that the City owes to outside sources. Please include the documentation which indicates what interest rate
the city is paying on the money we owe.

I look forward to your response. I am hoping that if more financial professionals get a chance to look at these items that ideas on how we can lower our debt and increase
our revenue might be able to help with the budget issues.

Thank you in advance,

Kevin McCrea
218 West Springfield Street
Boston, MA 02118

Two new videos outlining the Mayor giving away $400 millon dollars of taxpayer money

City Hall Plaza giveaway-300 million dollars

Winthrop Square garage backroom deal giveaway of $100 million dollars worked out between Sam Yoon and Mayor Menino

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Night at the Strand!

Had a wonderful evening tonight at the Strand Theater where HBO was premiering its second in a (hopeful) series of films called "The Black List" The event was hosted by the producer, the film maker and by our Governor Deval Patrick who was one of the featured people in the movie. It was announced there were about 1,000 people there including Mayor Menino who gave me a strong, friendly handshake after the movie. Sam Yoon was also there, but no sign of Michael Flaherty. My team and I handed out a few hundred flyers. People are really picking up on my theme of "It's time for a change." It is amazing how many pick up on that phrase, nod their heads and say "yes it is time for a change, long overdue."

Followers of my blog will know that I have been trying to get Sam and Michael to answer the simple question: Why did you give Paul Walkowski a $20,000 raise to write a report on how the City Council could exempt itself from the Open Meeting Law.
Of course the Mayor had to sign off on it as well but does he answer anyone's questions?

I took the opportunity of seeing Sam in person to ask him the question myself, since his office hadn't responded to emails or phone calls.

The conversation went like this:

Kevin: "Sam, Why did you vote to suspend the rules to change City Laws to hire Paul Walkowski and give him a $20,000 raise to write a report on how the City Council could exempt itself from the Open Meeting Law.

(long pause while Sam looked skyward)

Sam: I'm not familiar with that. Have you called my office?

Kevin: "Yes, I've called three times and sent an email."

Sam: "Well call again and set up a meeting, because that is a worthy question which deserves an answer. I'm sorry but I've been really busy, you know how it is."

Kevin: "Great, I'd love five minutes of your time to get an answer."

So, I will call him and get a meeting. I remember the good old days, just 3.5 short years ago when Sam was wearing a "Labor for Menino" sticker on his label and going to community meetings saying "If you have a problem with ANYTHING, ANYTHING AT All, if you have a broken sidewalk, call me and I will help you get it resolved." Now you call him three times, send an email with a formal public records request
and he ignores it, even though he calls it a worthy question.

These are the reasons people call for politicians to resign their seat when they are running for other offices. If you are too busy to do your job, you shouldn't collect a paycheck for it.

Must be nice to completely forget how you voted to give someone a $20,000 raise to boost their pension that the taxpayers will be paying for years. Maybe it happens so often you just can't remember all of them. Either way, I'm not impressed with the fiscal responsibility of any of our elected officials at City Hall.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Transparency Update: Still a failing grade for our elected officials

As I have been reporting, I have asked some simple questions and made public records requests from our Mayor, Mayoral hopefuls Flaherty and Yoon, and as a bonus this week, District Attorney Conley. Another week has passed and no response.

1) a: Request of the Mayor through his chief budget person Lisa Signori to tell us what amount of money we owe and what interest rate we pay on that money: NO RESPONSE, WHATSOEVER.

b: Request of the Mayor through his chief budget person Lisa Signori to tell us what amount of money we have that we are collecting interest on and what interest rate we get on that money: NO RESPONSE, WHATSOEVER.

2) Exact same Public Records request to Councilors Flaherty and Yoon asking for payroll records. They have responded by passing the buck to the City Clerks office.
Well past the 10 days required by Law for a response and I have received no information from either of them yet.

3) Exact same request to Councilors Flaherty and Yoon asking why they voted to suspend the rules to change City Laws to give Paul Walkowski a $20,000 raise to write a report about how the City Council could get around the Open Meeting Law.

Exact same response from both Councilors: NO RESPONSE WHATSOEVER

It seems to me that if something is so important to get done that they vote to suspend the rules, that they would be eager to talk about how important it was to get this done for the good of the citizens. They are elected to represent the citizens aren't they?

4) After the Dianne Wilkerson indictment came down, I wrote a letter to the District Attorney (who is responsible for enforcing the Open Meeting Law in Suffolk County) asking them to investigate possible violations of the Law at the Boston Licensing Board. This was reported in the Herald. I put a call in a couple of weeks ago to the attorney who handles these matters, as it has been three months since the request. No response to date.

We need an open, honest, transparent government to represent all of our citizens, not an elite who doesn't answer to the public, protects themselves and special interests, while the rest of us pay the price. Taxes and the City Budget keep going up and up and up, and they won't even tell us where the money is, never mind what they are spending it on.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Intelligent thoughts on education

NY times columnist Nicholas Kristof has an excellent article on fixing education with the stimulus money. He makes the point that I have made publicly that we can not afford to lay off any teachers, and that we need to reinvest in education across the country.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mayor obfuscates in response to my call for fiscal responsibility

This week Tom Menino decided to comment a bit on my positions on his absence of foresight and leadership on schools, funding and staffing levels. He has not commented on the fact that he has given away hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer property for free. He clearly is not happy that I have been telling people that we have hired 1200 new employees (7% increase) in the last 5 years and only 200 are cops and 75 are teachers.

From the South End News:

“Menino disagreed with McCrea’s assertions in a statement sent to South End News on Feb. 10.

"I have said and continue to say that education is an absolute priority and protecting classrooms from deep cuts has always been my goal," said Menino. "Unfortunately, we can’t tighten our belts out of this unprecedented global economic crisis, and there is no singular solution to our troubles. I’ve asked the Legislature to give Boston the tools it needs to raise much needed revenue at a local level, and my administration will continue to meet with City unions to negotiate a one-year wage freeze that could protect core services and save hundreds of jobs.

"Superintendent Johnson and I firmly believe in working with students, parents, and families to address the unreasonable transportation costs that put money into the gas tanks of underused school buses rather than classrooms. I am also hopeful that our partners at the federal level will craft a responsible economic recovery plan that prioritizes critical investments in our schools."

Menino spokesperson Nick Martin further addressed McCrea’s statistics in an e-mail Feb. 10, saying he was "not sure what source" McCrea had cited.

"[T]he Boston Municipal Research Bureau put out a report last July showing that between 2004 [and] 2008, BPS hires accounted for approximately 64 percent of new positions," wrote Martin. He also talked about fire fighter hirings.

The Mayor’s spokesman is comparing apples to oranges, an old political trick designed to confuse the issue. I am talking about teachers and police officers, I never once mentioned fire fighters. I also believe actual teachers in the classroom are more important than the multiple bureaucratic layers of administration above them. Before we cut teachers, we need to cut administration.

Here is the report Menino's spokesman is referring to.

And here is the conclusion of the report: “ Conclusion: The escalating growth of Boston’s employee health insurance and pensions costs and projected future benefit expenses are reasons enough to be especially concerned about an increase of 680 positions over the past two years.”

In other words, the report Menino cites already warned him last year that these problems were coming. His response: budget for 142 new hires and pay raises for all his staff!

My research team has additional follow up:

1) The BMRB report cites 16,049 employees in 2004 (city budget records cite 16,048) and the 2009 budget calls for 17,217 employees or an increase of 1,168 employees since 2004 - your quote of a 1200 employee increase (approximately) or 7.3% over 5 years is accurate.

2) Based on the Globe report below, the claim of 200 additional police is accurate - January 1, 2009 article in the Boston Globe

3) The city puts 1/1/2009 teacher headcount at 4,576 in the 2009 budget. The March 2004 "BPS At a Glance" puts the number of teachers in the system for the 2003-2004 school year at 4,488 (general fund only) - a difference of 88. Therefore by a count of 1 teacher, 100 additional teachers would be slightly more accurate than 75 additional teachers if you are citing numbers rounded to the nearest 25.

(Please note that all budgets prior to 2008 have been removed from the city’s website greatly exacerbating the difficulty of performing future budget analysis and cross checking of various versions of the budget which are subject to revision.) Not very transparent of the city!

Menino's spokesman in the SEN article isn't wrong - it's just apples and oranges - he's talking total hires - we are talking about teachers. They've hired a lot of people - but only 100 of them or so are teachers - depending on what numbers you look at. Roughly 650 of the hires in the school dept aren't teachers.

So, I stand corrected. My new statement is as follows:

The Mayor has hired about 1200 people in the last 5 years. 200 are police officers, 100 are teachers. Why are we talking about laying them off? Let’s look at the other 900 staff positions first before we start talking about laying off teachers and eliminating programs.

School Poll Results:

By a 2 to 1 margin, people believed that we should maintain or even increase school funding as opposed to those who thought we should cut school funding.

38 to 19

Thanks for voting!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Making Schools a priority

I attended the Wednesday joint meeting of the school committee and the ways and means committee with Superintendent Johnson and her budget staff. They explained to the council what I have blogged about. The Mayor is saying to all departments "you need to cut 7% of your budget". Sam Yoon started to ask the important questions that I and many BPS parents have been asking, essentially: don't we need to make a value judgment about what areas to cut and what not to cut?

Sam is absolutely on the right path here. I hope he comes around to my position that no teaching jobs should be cut at BPS. Administration and other less important jobs maybe. Cuts in other departments if needed. But education needs to be our number one priority, and we can't be cutting language, arts, and Advanced Placement programs.

The more that teachers, parents, and elected officials like Sam Yoon insist, like I do, that we need to have quality schools in all our neighborhoods, the more difficult it will be for Mayor Menino to cut funding for education.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mayor not being transparent about answering budget questions.

I received a call from a newspaper editor yesterday saying that the Mayor is disagreeing with my numbers. The Mayor has said he will be transparent about the budget, and that his staff will answer questions. I spoke to Lisa Signori when she presented her initial budget numbers to the city council and she said she would answer questions.

Well, I sent them a few straightforward questions by email (they requested email) and 15 days later: No Response. The email as follows:

"Please forward me the email for Lisa.

Rhonda N. Perch"

"Thanks Rhonda:

1) In her presentation she said our interest income will be down 20 million dollars. What is the source of the principle of that 20 million dollars? How much is it, and where is it kept? How much did we receive in FY 2009 and how much is she projecting in FY 2010.

2) She indicates 11 million additional dollars in interest payment and debt payment. What is our debt payment amount, how much debt do we have, and what interest are we paying in FY 2009 vs. FY 2010.

3) The $55 million dollars for additional salaries she projects is a 5% increase of 2009 vs. 2010. Why does she project a 5% increase in salary, is that what the union contracts called for?

thank you,
kevin mccrea"

It doesn't seem to make much sense to me that we are both paying higher interest rates on the money we owe, and getting less for the money we have. There could be explanations due to the short term turmoil in the market, but if they won't be open, honest and transparent about what the numbers are, it makes one doubt the veracity.

If we are paying higher rates, we need to be lobbying President Obama and Congress to give some of this trillion or two trillion in money to municipalities to they can reduce the interest they owe on their long term rates. If the Fed is loaning money at less than 1 percent to banks, surely we could get very low rates for the cities.

In these tough economic times, we need to look everywhere to save money. The Mayor's lack of transparency makes it difficult to believe that we can't afford to keep all of our teachers.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bob Terrell not running for at large seat

Bob has let me know he has decided not to run for an at large seat. He has asked me to blog to let people know that he will be running for an office sometime in the future and that he intends to keep informing people about the problems with the BRA. I am sorry that he won't be running as he is very knowledgeable about the abuse of power by that agency, that I have been speaking about for years.

Superintendent Johnson picks up on my call to change the light bulbs!

Cross posted at Blue Mass Group:

Changing light bulbs does save teaching jobs (+)
by: KevinMcCrea
Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:38:32 AM EST
[edit diary]
When I posted here announcing my plans to run for the Mayor of Boston, stomv (whose well informed comments I've followed and appreciated for some time) took me to task for being behind the curve for suggesting we change the light bulbs to save money.

Well, I feel a bit vindicated by School Superintendent Johnson's preliminary budget for the schools.

More below the fold:
KevinMcCrea :: Changing light bulbs does save teaching jobs
In her preliminary budget she says "The proposed budget also includes a number of innovative cost saving measures. For example, the district plans to replace all of the lightbulbs in every Boston school and central office with longer lasting, more energy efficient bulbs. The new bulbs will reduce the district's energy bills by nearly $3 million each year."

I don't want to disparage stomv, who clearly is more educated than I am about this issue. However, one of my favorite sayings is Mark Twain:
'Common Sense doesn't seem to be that Common'. We might think 99 percent of the bulbs have been changed, but they haven't.

We debated about whether to put that line about lightbulbs in our press release because it does seem so simple, and would invite ridicule such as we received. On the other hand, it does need to be done, because we are not as efficient as we need to be.

The key point that I would like to get across is that if I am elected, that making both simple and long term plans to cut our energy use are going to be a major part of what I work on. I am open enough to realize I don't have all the answers and I invite comments and ideas.

That 3 million in savings according to the administration is about 30 teaching jobs. For that, I'm willing to change light bulbs.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Fire Union takes the Mayor to Task

Fire Union Official Kelly says he has "No respect or Faith in Menino".

The Mayor's failure of leadership on wage freeze

In the news today, the Herald reports that the Mayor and his staff are taking a 3% pay cut. They report that the savings of $122,000 will basically offset the raises just handed out last August.

But, this is not true. The raises handed out last August come to more than $148,000. So, they are still making more money than they were before. This also does not include the bonuses the Mayor handed out of 10 months of retroactive pay.

Meanwhile, according to the Mayor's own numbers he is projecting a 55 million dollar increase in the pay of the city workers according to the contracts that he negotiated. This is about a 5% increase.

To sum up, the Mayor is going to lead by taking a 3% pay cut while he asks all of the city workers to take a 5% pay cut. That is not leadership, that is absence of leadership.

He should take the same pay cut he is asking the unions to take, admit that he negotiated bad contracts, and rescind the bonuses he handed out to his inner circle. Then maybe we would take him seriously that there is a serious budget crisis. We need someone to lead by example. Why not take a measly $100,000 for the year and save one teaching position? That would send a statement about how much he cares about education.

More information on the budget

I would like to thank the financial officer for the Boston Public Schools, John McDonough, who returned a call to me at almost 7 pm last night. That is the type of hard work and responsiveness that I can truly respect.

My basic question has been why is the Mayor proposing a 47 million dollar year over year cut in the school budget?

The answer, as I understand it, is as follows. The Mayor has gone to all of his departments and requested that they propose a budget with a 7 percent decrease. (Already we see how he tries to hype the problem in the press-back in December we heard news of 15% cuts: twice the size of what he actually was proposing. The budget doesn't change that fast and by that much, we need careful honest analysis, not hyperbole)

This was confirmed to me last night as I was going to community meetings across the city. At an event at Tavalo a great new pizza place at Ashmont in Dorchester, I had a nice talk with a gentleman who works in the Purchasing Department at City Hall. He reiterated that the Mayor has told all the departments to present budgets seven percent lower than last year. (the event was great, many thoughtful, interested citizens from three different neighborhood organizations. Linda Dorcena Forry, Maureen Feeney and Charles Yancey all made appearances as well. People are VERY concerned about the schools which is encouraging)

I asked John why we needed to cut the budget by seven percent across the board, and in general terms he explained how long term responsible costs such as pension and health care are eating up the budget.

As I wrote about in my South End News piece, "Tom Menino's Ponzi Scheme" these costs were predictable and a result of the Mayor negotiating bad contracts. You can not continue to give 5% raises across the board (as he has proposed in this years budget) when Proposition 2.5 limits incoming revenue and the cost of living goes up on average about 3% a year. It does not make fiscal sense. On top of that he has hired 1200 workers (ironically enough a 7% increase) in the last 5 years, only 200 are police and 75 are teachers. Why do we need 7 percent more workers when the city population is essentially stable? We need to look at what those other 925 workers are doing before we talk about laying off teachers and police officers.

With me as Mayor, we will have an open, transparent budget process that puts education and public safety first, and will not engage in histrionics to divert the public from the real issues.

Monday, February 09, 2009

3 more videos-My background, My goals for the City, and an Exposure of City Hall Waste at Hayward Place

We have posted three more videos. The first two are essentially my introduction to the citizens of Boston. The first is my background. The second is part of my stump speech where I describe why I am running.

Finally, I have a video where I describe the waste, fraud and abuse at Hayward Place where Menino and City Hall have given away a piece of property worth at least 23 million dollars for free. The citizens have received nothing from this bad deal.

Thanks for watching!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Our first Youtube video has been posted! (NO MIXER)

We have posted our first in a series of videos on YouTube which will highlight my background and positions on the Mayoral race.

For those of you who like a bit of comedy with your politics, check out the Re-MIX of the Flaherty announcement by John Tobin's video guy: Steve Garfield.

I do believe laughter is the best medicine.

Look for our next YouTube video about the money being given away by Menino and City Hall at Hayward Place.

Sam Yoon is in the race.

Sam called me to let me know he is in the race for Mayor. He and I look forward to a vigorous race based on thoughts and ideas on how we bring progress to the city.

Globe Editorial on Transparency, and Flaherty, Yoon don't respond to Public Records Requests

There is an editorial in today's Sunday Globe about the way public officials in Massachusetts ignore or disobey the Public Records Laws. By Law, officials must respond to Public Records Requests within 10 days.

The timing of today's editorial is serendipitous because just yesterday it had been 10 days since I made similar Public Records Requests to Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon. Neither one of them has responded. It is one thing to talk about transparency, and it is another one to live up to it.

My requests are as follows:

date Wed, Jan 28, 2009 at 5:49 AM
subject Constituent question and Public Records Request
mailed-by details Jan 28 (11 days ago)

Dear Councilor Flaherty,

Thank you for your recent calls for more transparency.

1) I would like to know why you voted to change the City of Boston laws to increase the city council staff to add a position for Paul Walkowski, and increase his pay by around $20,000 above what the city had been paying him as a staff member for councilor Kelly. Can you please tell me what work he did for the city and how the city benefited by you voting to suspend the rules, and change the city laws to hire him. Why did we need to pay him 40 percent more than he had been making? What are the pension ramifications of this, as he told me this week he is retiring friday.

2) I would like to request a copy of the all paychecks of your city council staff members for the last two weeks in November, and all the weeks of December for the following years: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008.

Thank you in advance for your timely response.
Kevin McCrea
date Wed, Jan 28, 2009 at 5:50 AM
subject Constituent question and Public Records Request
mailed-by gmail Jan 28 (11 days ago)

Dear Councilor Yoon,

Thank you for your recent calls for more transparency.

1) I would like to know why you voted to change the City of Boston laws to increase the city council staff to add a position for Paul Walkowski, and increase his pay by around $20,000 above what the city had been paying him as a staff member for councilor Kelly. Can you please tell me what work he did for the city and how the city benefited by you voting to suspend the rules, and change the city laws to hire him. Why did we need to pay him 40 percent more than he had been making? What are the pension ramifications of this, as he told me this week he is retiring friday.

2) I would like to request a copy of the all paychecks of your city council staff members for the last two weeks in November, and all the weeks of December for the following years: 2006, 2007, 2008.

Thank you in advance for your timely response.
Kevin McCrea

The reason for my public records request was to see if Councilor Flaherty or Councilor Yoon participated in giving their employees bonuses, which public sector employees are not supposed to get. The Boston Globe did a story last year about how the City Council was secretly giving pay raises beyond the prescribed salary ranges for its employees. All the councilors, including Flaherty and Yoon have been a part of this, any one of them could have stood up and said "we can't be giving raises beyond the salary ranges while our children don't have proper school supplies in our schools" and asked for a public debate, but not one of the thirteen protested.

Just like the greatness of the First Amendment is not that it protects speech that you agree with, it protects speech that you don't agree with, so too with transparency. It doesn't hold water for Sam and Michael to decry the back room deals and lack of access provided by the BRA and the Mayor and then to not obey the law themselves.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Althea Garrison weighs in on opening up the ballot and transparency!

Boston City Paper

January 31, 2009









Is government by the people and for the people? Or is it by the Boston City Council and only for the Boston City Council? Did you know that the Council worked in secrecy to change the amount of signatures that one needs to run for an At-Large or District seat?

Before they SECRETLY changed the law, a candidate for one of the four At-Large City Council seats needed only five hundred (500) signatures. Now, they need 1500 CERTIFIED signatures and all District candidates need two hundred (200).

No public hearings were held on this matter and thus the reason for my question: Is it government by the thirteen Boston City Councilors and for them only? CONTINUED ON PAGE 2





Two years ago, At-Large Councilor Stephen Murphy worked to change this election law. This year he worked SECRETLY to accomplish his mission. The public does not want more corrupt, unaccountable government. They want more open government - by and for the people.

This was a cowardly act and the councilors who participated in it must be defeated in the September Preliminary and November Final elections. I am strongly against Mr. Murphy’s cowardly act because changing the amount of signatures one needs to run for an At-Large Boston City Council Seat was one of the proudest pieces of legislation I supported when I was a State Representative and a member of the Commonwealth Election Law Committee. We reduced the original 1500 signature requirement to 500 signatures in order that more citizens could seek public office. It is no easy task for anyone to go out and ask enough voters to place their name in nomination and obtain 500 certifiable signatures to be on the ballot. Mr. Murphy just cut the legs out of the main objective which was to get more citizens to seek public office.

Who is the Boston City Council representing? Surely, not the hard working taxpayers who pay their salaries. We need real change on the Boston City Council and I hope that every Boston City Councilor facing a challenger this fall will be kicked out of office and out of their comfort zone. They are not accountable to the people and now is the time to make lasting changes on the Boston City Council, with new people.

All these councilors want to do is to hold on to power and not answer to the people paying the taxes. We need to clean out City Hall with new dedicated patriots who don’t mind answering to the public and being held accountable by the public for their actions. The current councilors aren’t being held accountable and they are non-responsive to the public.

I would like to thank Kevin McCrea for throwing his hat in the ring for Mayor and I wish him well. I thank him also for standing up to the Boston City Council on the Open Meeting Law and winning the court case.

McCrea was also involved in a prior law suit with other concerned citizens which was also won and resulted in the City of Boston hiring hundreds of new police officers to meet minimum staffing requirements as required by the City of Boston Charter.


I went door knocking for a few hours this afternoon. I met an attorney who moved to the city over 20 years ago, he works for non-profits, and has worked with the Mayor on a number of projects. He spoke for many of the people that I met when he agreed we need a change. He said the problem at City Hall is that the Mayor does not attract good people to work with him to solve the problems because the Mayor is so petty and hard to deal with, and vindictive. He wants all of the credit and doesn't want to share in the good will. What is the matter with giving John Connolly the credit for working on an environmental issue or a bike issue? How about sharing the credit for implementing an effective numerical analysis tool like Citistat as some councilors have called for, or a 311 information number that many cities have? As this attorney said, if this guy was running a major corporation he would have been fired long ago.

A big thinking person would just want to do what is best for his constituents, no matter who comes up with the idea.

Boston Press Photographers have taken over our living room!!!

The Boston Press Photographers Association has taken over our living room to do their annual judging of the Best Photos in Boston. They did this a couple years ago, as it is much more comfortable than a conference room at a college or hotel. It is interesting to see the many great photos of the city, plus see the expert panel of judges pick things apart in their judging. Our co-hosts are Rick Friedman and his partner Marlene. They will have the awards banquet later on in April. Good luck to all participants!

Nice analysis in Jamaica Plain Gazette

Fair analysis in Jamaica Plain Gazette:

Interesting the last line of the column where Michael Flaherty says: "Flaherty declined to comment, noting that it could still be a part of the settlement talks, which he would not want to influence." There have been no settlement talks, in fact I and my co-plaintiffs have offered to sit down (either in public or private at the councils discretion) to try and discuss the case and work towards a way to create more transparent government. Councilor Flaherty and the Council have ignored all offers and are coming to court this month with documents filed with the court which say that everything is fine the way it is now. Too bad he wasted $300,000 of taxpayer money fighting transparency.

The article:

City Councilor Michael Flaherty and real estate developer Kevin McCrea have announced runs for the Mayor’s Office in a campaign whose main buzzword is government “transparency.”

Flaherty and McCrea agree on a couple of things. Both complain that longtime incumbent Mayor Thomas Menino—who is widely presumed to be running yet again—operates the city with private deals and lack of public input. And both cite a 2005 lawsuit about Boston City Council violations of the state Open Meeting Law as an inspira-tion for their open-government stances.

Then there’s the big difference: Flaherty was the lead defendant in that lawsuit. McCrea was one of the plaintiffs.

The case, like the race, is called McCrea v. Flaherty.

Flaherty told the Gazette he has learned his lesson from the case and become an open-government activist. McCrea’s co-plaintiff, Shirley Kressel, said Flaherty has continued complaining about the Open Meeting Law’s existence, while McCrea has been the open-government activist all along.

The lawsuit will be back in court on Feb. 24, where both sides are seeking to settle with a full admission of guilt by the city, Kressel said. Previous court decisions have already blasted the City Council’s actions.

“Looking back on it, it’s regrettable,” Flaherty said of the Open Meeting Law violations in a Gazette phone interview last week. “I’m young and I’m human. I’ve made mistakes as a member of Boston City Council, and I’ll make mistakes as mayor.” The important thing is learning from mistakes, he said.

“Flaherty has been there for nine years,” said Kressel. “He’s been part of the problem, and now he wants to be a bigger part. [McCrea is] our only hope for all the things that Flaherty is promising.”

The campaigns of McCrea and Menino did not respond to Gazette interview requests. City Councilor Sam Yoon is also considering a mayoral run, but has made no official announcements yet.

No one is officially a candidate yet because nomination papers are not available until April. The city pre-liminary election will be held Sept. 22, followed by the final election Nov. 3.


Flaherty, a South Boston attorney and former prosecutor, had some scathing words of his own for Menino. He blasted the current administration’s “culture of pay-to-play politics and petty payback politics.”

“All too often, you’re not embraced by the merit of your idea or the strength of your proposal or your pas-sion and commitment to the city,” Flaherty said. “All too often, it’s who you hire, who represents you, who brings you into the building.”

Asked for specific examples, Flaherty spoke largely off-the-record. But he did point to the city’s system of securing payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOTs, from major nonprofit institutions such as colleges that use city services.

Current PILOTs vary widely, and it remains unclear exactly how they were calculated, with no descriptions in the contracts on file at City Hall. After years of City Council efforts to reform the PILOT system, Menino this month announced a task force that will take a shot at devising a standard PILOT formula. However, it appears there will still be no information about how current PILOTs were calculated.

“It’s loose and it’s inconsistent,” Flaherty said of the PILOT system. “It lends itself to a pay-for-play culture…[It’s] more about who [the institutions] hire, who their consultants are,” he said.

He also faulted Menino for only now addressing PILOTs—whose cash amounts are widely considered shockingly low—in a time of fiscal crisis and political opportunity.

“That’s management by crisis,” Flaherty said.

“I would like to mandate a fair and balanced tax for those colleges and universities,” Flaherty said. “I want to make that formula open and transparent.”

Flaherty quietly began a mayoral campaign more than a year ago with kitchen-table meetings in the homes of regular residents in an attempt to get grassroots input into his campaign. He announced his run with a video on YouTube. Those grassroots connections and Internet accessibility will be hallmarks of his mayoral administra-tion, he said.

“The thing I’ll be a stickler for is transparency and accountability,” Flaherty said. “I want everything on-line. I want all of the contracts that the city issues online. I want City Hall to be an open book.”

This week, Flaherty proposed a system that would allow city employees to anonymously criticize and suggest improvements in city services.

Asked about neighborhood-specific issues, Flaherty said he will have a series of proposals to address local-ized concerns. “Obviously, Jamaica Plain is going to be a critical neighborhood” in winning the Mayor’s Office, he said.

When the Gazette mentioned the ongoing wave of youth violence in parts of JP, Flaherty said he will press for hiring more city Streetworkers—counselors who conduct youth outreach—and getting them inside Boston Public Schools.

He also called for more police officers, but also a more diverse police force with officers who “look like the face of the city.”


“Transparent” and “accountable” are words that show up in McCrea’s campaign announcement, too. They are the same key terms McCrea, a South End resident and active Democrat, used when he ran unsuccessfully for a citywide Boston City Council seat in 2005.

“We need to end the cycle of career politicians,” McCrea said in a written statement. “I’m not locked into a political system that dictates I must ‘go along to get along.’”

He has called for cutting taxes, a focus on neighborhood schools and cutting administrative staff in the school system in favor of classroom resources.

McCrea also raised a number of questions he has posed to the Menino administration: “Why has Mayor Thomas Menino given away hundreds of millions of dollars worth of City-owned property to the BRA [Boston Redevelopment Authority, a quasi-government agency]? Why doesn’t Boston have transparent government? Why have the ranks of City Hall employees increased, while the population stays level and student enrollment falls?”

“I am going to end waste and abuse in Boston city government,” McCrea wrote. “I will ensure that all of our public officials, boards and agencies are held accountable for their decisions.”

Open Meeting lawsuit

McCrea, along with Kressel and co-plaintiff Kathleen Devine, certainly held the City Council accountable with the lawsuit, which revealed 11 private council meetings in 2003-05, when Flaherty was council president.

Courts have fined the city $11,000 and issued withering criticism of the meetings, known as “councilor’s-only meetings.” Ten of the meetings were with Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) officials to discuss renewing the agency’s wide-ranging urban renewal powers. The other meeting was about a disease outbreak at a lab at Boston University, which has controversial plans to open a biolab studying extremely dangerous diseases.

The Open Meeting Law requires all government bodies to hold advertised, public meetings with only a few ex-ceptions, such as discussion of personnel issues or real estate negotiations. The law’s purposes are to prevent secret decision-making and to ensure public, democratic input.

Courts have found that the City Council meetings deliberately violated the law in various ways, including by attempting to get around it by rotating councilors in and out of the meetings so there was technically never a quorum present. Four councilors refused to join the meetings, calling them improper.

The BU meeting was the target of a warning letter from Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley. But the BRA meetings remained unknown to the public until McCrea and the other plaintiffs learned of them while closely following BRA activity.

The city lost the lawsuit in 2006, but appealed. According to Kressel, city attorneys are now willing to set-tle the suit with a full admission of guilt, but also an attempt to prevent any court order that would punish the council more for future violations.

The council was already under a previous order for highly similar Open Meeting Law violations in 1987.

Flaherty is not directly involved in the current lawsuit, which is in the hands of city attorneys. He con-firmed to the Gazette that his personal inclination would have been not to appeal it.

“At the time, I felt I acted appropriately,” Flaherty said. “The courts suggested that another course of ac-tion was more prudent. I accept the court’s decision, and lesson learned.” That lesson, he added, is to operate on total transparency.

Asked if he was aware while council president of the 1987 Open Meeting Law court ruling, Flaherty said, “No. I was in high school at the time,” adding that he was likely focused on the prom and a summer job. “I can assure you I was not paying attention.”

His proclaimed conversion on the lessons of the lawsuit is certainly strong. When the lawsuit was first filed, Flaherty believed it to be “frivolous, politically motivated and just not based on fact,” his spokesper-son told the Gazette at the time. That spokesperson was Andrew Kenneally, who this year has a campaign of his own for a City Council seat.

Kressel said she doubts the sincerity of Flaherty’s conversion. She noted that the council last year agreed to pay an aide to former council president Councilor Maureen Feeney to produce an eccentric report calling for the City Council to be exempt from the Open Meeting Law. While it was full of legal opinion, the aide who wrote it had no legal background. The report originated in the council’s Committee on Rules and Administration, where Flaherty is a member.

“They’re still violating the law,” Kressel added, noting that councilors often hold “private meetings in pub-lic” by huddling together and discussing things quietly in the midst of council meetings.

Flaherty specifically has said that “we need our privacy to thrash out deals,” she said. “He actually used the term ‘sausage factory’” in positive terms to defend council secrecy, she said, without realizing the term is supposed to be a criticism. It comes from the joke that “laws and sausages” are two products whose creation is too disgusting to watch.

Local City Councilor John Tobin, who attended the BU meeting but avoided the BRA meetings, has made similar defenses of the council’s ability to hold private discussions. However, the Open Meeting Law does not ban pri-vate discussions, only private deliberation or decision-making.

“What do we have to expect in the future from these councilors…who see the law as an impediment?” Kressel said. “They have no respect for the law and no respect for the citizens.”

Kressel said she is not a personal friend of McCrea and will not work actively on his campaign, but is sup-porting his candidacy.

“Hey, I’m supporting a developer! He must be good!” Kressel said with a laugh.

McCrea has reported that one lawsuit settlement idea rejected by city attorneys was the creation of a “Sun-shine Task Force” similar to one in San Francisco. An official government panel, it advocates open-meeting meth-ods and reviews public complaints about secrecy. Asked whether he would support creating such a task force in Boston, Flaherty declined to comment, noting that it could still be a part of the settlement talks, which he would not want to influence.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Results of the Mayor's transparency poll:

64% of the readers feel that Mayor Menino is the King of the backroom deals.

Michael Flaherty and I would agree with that.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

City sitting on nearly 1 billion in cash, also has nearly 1 billion in net assets

If you look at the KPMG annual auditing report on page 19 you will see that we have nearly one billion dollars in cash on hand, about two billion in liabilities, and two billion in other assets. This leaves us about 1 billion in the black. No wonder the Mayor feels comfortable in giving away land for free. Not sure why he feels comfortable cutting the school budget.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Mayor Proposes slashing 2010 school spending 47 million less than this year!

In one of the most disingenuous and dishonest and non transparent moves I've ever seen in person the Mayor's spokesperson came to the school committee tonight and proposed a school budget of $786 million dollars for fiscal year 2010, which is 47 million dollars below what we are spending this year, even though the Mayor's own projected revenues are the same as this year!

In other words the Mayor is saying that he wants to cut teachers and school funding in order to increase spending on other areas of the budget!

It was a madhouse at Court Street tonight, with hundreds of teachers and parents and students there to protest the school cuts. I won't go into detail about how ridiculous the numbers are in the report, which I assume the City will put online(???) for all to see. It is pretty detailed, but the only number that is really important is the proposed budget of $786 million. Dr. Reilinger started to immediately see some of the inconsistency, as the report on one hand says that the city will eliminate 699 full time equivalent employees, but on the other hand has a higher number for health care costs for those (now nonexistent) employees.

The bottom line is that Mayor Menino is trying to drum up support for his meals tax by scaring the heck out of students and teachers and parents. Doing his best Bush/Cheney/Rove tactics to get more money to build his power base. What he is going to do is try and look like a hero, by coming in and 'responding' to the crisis by miraculously finding the money to restore to the budget. In another hint about where he is going, there is a new school transit map proposed. They are clearly going to try and cut down on busing costs, maybe even eliminate busing from one side of the city to another, and try and keep people in zones. I have proposed ending busing altogether (except for choice) which you can read about here Notice, I wrote this way before the Globe or Phoenix weighed in on the issue.

I can not believe that the Mayor would use these scare tactics on his own people. In a preview of what Sam Yoon will be running on, he testified that education is a high priority and that we need to look at the downtown towers for more revenue. That's funny, I was talking about that 4 years ago in the City Council race. Welcome aboard the bandwagon Sam. 121A tax breaks for "blighted" buildings like One Beacon Street cost the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars that could go into education. Councilor Flaherty showed up late and hadn't testified by the time I and most other people had left.

Principal Macafee of the Madison Park High School and other administrators offered to take a 3% pay cut to help keep programs and teachers, exclusive of administrators who are retiring soon. The City is also offering a carrot and stick to the teachers union, allowing teachers who retire to take a one time 8% payout (not added to their pension number) but ONLY if all the teachers agree to a one year pay freeze.

The truth is that there is money in this budget not to cut a single teachers job or school program. When I am elected Mayor, I will restore any cuts this current administration makes to those programs.

My comments to the committee were as follows:

"Thank you for the chance to comment. This budget presentation has been disingenuous. Last Monday Lisa Signori informed the City Council that FY 2010 revenues would be up by 11 million dollars, essentially flat. There is no reason to decrease the spending for FY 2010.

With flat revenues the Mayor proposes a 54 million dollar reduction in the schools? Why does he value teachers and students less than other departments? Education should be our number 1 priority.

In the last 5 years the city payroll has increased by 1200 workers. Only 200 are police and 75 teachers. We need to look at cutting the other 925 workers before 1 teacher is removed.

This budget deficit was first identified in June of 2008. The Mayor and City Council responded to this identified deficit by giving all council staff and department heads raises! Before 1 teacher is laid off those raises need to be rescinded.

We need to stop giving away our land and our money. If we sold Winthrop Square garage we could get 100 million dollars. Deficit over. The Mayor gave away Heyward Place for free-we were promised a school-we got nothing. We need to take that parcel back sell it and put that money into education.

Education is what made the 20th century the American century. Now is not the time to cut funding it is the time to invest in our students.

The school board and the parents must demand an honest transparent budget that values education, teachers and students at least as much as other departments."