Tuesday, February 24, 2009

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!

1 comment:

shirley kressel said...

Totally correct! Flaherty was the Council president. He led them into all those unlawful meetings (and evidently had a number of his own!) with the BRA, where they were making deals and horse-trading away our rights and our communities. Jimmy Kelly even said at the public meeting that the Council had pressured the BRA to move development faster!

The Councilors kept saying they were negotiating to get more power over the BRA -- but in fact, they signed it all away. The 10-year extension is actually a permanent one, because the Council let the BRA do away with the distinction between "major" and "minor" modifications -- and since changes in the urban renewal plan terms are "major" modifications, the Council lost that control altogether. At least that's going to be the BRA's interpretation when the ten years are up.

The only vestige of oversight the Council left itself over the BRA was in the form of a couple of reporting requirements. The BRA has, of course, ignored these completely - so the vote should be reversed. You asked Flaherty to get the vote reversed, I asked Yoon.
Neither would touch it.

Flaherty has always been a big BRA cheerleader. I'm very amused to hear him saying what I've been saying for fifteen years. But if he were mayor, Flaherty would certainly enjoy the power that the BRA gives the mayor by legalizing all his handshake-at-breakfast development deals.

If Flaherty wanted a city plan, why didn't he supported Felix Arroyo's home rule petition to claw back our city planning power from the BRA, by repealing the stealth 1960 legislation that let the BRA grab it from us? The frozen construction sites have nothing to do with planning; this is a red herring. The question is, were those projects the right ones in the first place? For the most part -- no, they were not. Where was he when they were all approved? That was the time to complain about lack of planning and community voice.