Thursday, February 26, 2009

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.


Frito-Jay said...

I just visited the Assessing Dept. web site ( and searched for parcel owner = "boston redev", which returned a bunch of results. Many have street numbers, and many do not, including several that just say "Tremont". Clicking on the Map link next to the first Tremont entry shows that it's the brick area in front of Hamersley's. Clicking on maps of random numberless properties, I see that a lot of these are parcels of land, some of which have no buildings, that simply have no street address.

snsh said...

Parcel id's are assigned by Assessing when land is divided, street names by Public Works when frontage is created, street numbers by Inspectional Services at time of permitting, and street numbers are assigned by the US Post Office when mailboxes are installed. So it's common for undeveloped parcels and state/federal-owned parcels to not have a street number.