Sunday, May 31, 2009

Is Yoon a grief councilor or city councilor?

Dave Wedge of the Herald reports:

What’s ‘the story’?

Mayoral hopeful Sam Yoon had a bizarre tete-a-tete with a Herald reporter this week at a Dorchester murder victim’s home.

Crashing an interview with the family of slain 29-year-old mother Deanna Watkins, the city councilor pleaded with the scribe to ignore his presence, insisting he was “not the story.”

But then Yoon interrupted the interview and launched into a self-righteous soliloquy, demanding the media “get this woman’s story out immediately.” He admonished the reporter for a story that upset the family, apparently unaware the article ran in a different newspaper. Yoon’s mouthpiece later called the Herald demanding the solon be quoted in the story about Watkins’ slaying. He was not.

But thanks to his head-scratching antics, he has managed to make himself part of “the story.”

Friday, May 29, 2009

How does New Orleans beat us to this stuff?

After Hurricane Katrina I went down to New Orleans and helped out/worked for two years with Habitat for Humanity and for private homeowners. I ended up buying an historic building that I renovated and added some units of housing to the local housing stock. I stay in touch with my neighborhood association (The Irish Channel Association, naturally!) and just got this email today.

Hi Neighbors,

Listen to's live NOPD police scanner. ProjectNOLA developed this channel in effort to help keep locals aware of crimes in progress, active dangerous threats, and suspicious activity in their area. In addition, it is their hope that the local community will gain a better appreciation and understanding of the dangers and hardships experienced by those who daily risk their lives... to protect and serve ours.


Wendy Waren
Board Member, Irish Channel Neighborhood Association

Now maybe it is because crime is worse down there that this is more useful to residents, but maybe someone enterprising enough could set this up in Boston. Of course, my goal as Mayor would be to try and build a society where the airwaves of a station like this are nothing but occasional static.

Over 70 percent say they judge the man not the race!

The poll results were very encouraging that Boston is getting over its divided racial past.

Bay State Banner still says Menino must go!!

In another unequivocal editorial today the Bay State Banner rejects Tom Menino's bid for a 5th term.

They end with:

The developers had no choice but to accept the 18-month extension offered by Menino, even though that may not solve their problem. There is still a freeze on credit for commercial real estate development. No one knows for certain when investment funds will be available again. A sincere gesture of support by Menino would have been an extension of 18 months after a moratorium until the economic recession abates.

The fact remains: Menino’s rejection of the Elma Lewis project is an insult to the community. There is nothing in the mayor’s educational background to suggest that he is more competent than the combined intellect and judgment of the members of the Roxbury Strategic Master Plan Oversight Committee. Menino apparently has a plan for the site that does not benefit the residents of Roxbury.

A fifth term for Menino is one too many.

When you compare the 18 months that Menino has given them with the years and years (I've seen at least one 30 year timeline) that Menino is giving Columbus Center and other projects you realize that Menino is not being honest with Elma Lewis Partners. The City of Boston has halted construction on the Ferdinand Building in Dudley Square because of the global financial problems, but not a mile away up Tremont Street they want to hold the minorities to a different standard? Separate and Not Equal is definitely NOT EQUAL. If I was Mayor I would give them a longer time frame, and work with them to put together what needs to be done to make it a viable project. I have met many people in the area, particularly in Roxbury, who are willing to wait to make this vision a reality.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Inefficiency on Newbury Street

A couple weeks ago I sent out a press release on how the DPW should be run. I don't believe any of the press picked it up. (I will reprint below) Yesterday, Michael Levinson of the Globe called me to get a comment on the Mayor supposedly running a more efficient City Hall, he wrote an article about it today. Right after I spoke to him, I went to Johnson Paint on Newbury Street to pick up some paint for a job. They were repaving Newbury Street which seems to happen often.

I went inside and said to the guys "this repaving isn't good for business, how often do they do this?" The guys exclaimed, "this is the FOURTH year in a row they have repaved the street, and it is terrible for business." I asked if they really have repaved it four years in a row and they insisted it had, and explained how 3 years ago they replaced gas lines, then the next year they opened up the street for water lines in the same place, and now they are redoing it again.

So I decided to check with the authorities and I called DPW. They transferred me to the Mayor's office who transferred me to the DPW. That was fun! I got a gentleman in the Engineering Department who looked it up and told me that yes they were repaving the street due to utility work. I asked if this was the fourth year in a row and he looked it up and said he could only confirm that yes they redid the street last year as well (his records didn't go back any further).

I then asked if it was possible that they would be repaving the street again next year, and he said "Yes, its possible, its possible."


Here is my press release about the DPW:


The Department of Public Works, like many departments in the City of Boston, is reactive not proactive.

As Mayor, I would initiate a long term planning process for the maintenance and improvement of our streets that will save money and result in better roadways for all the citizens to use. Currently there is no long term plan for maintaining and improving the streets of Boston. Every spring the DPW makes a determination of which streets need to be fixed and repaved, which doesn’t allow for any forward planning by the residents, businesses, and utilities that need these streets for daily use.

I recently called the Department of Public Works to find out when my street was scheduled to be repaved, and I was told to call my City Councilor. This is no way to run or plan a major city road system. Under my leadership we will hire roadway management professionals to initiate a 20 year plan for maintaining and upgrading all the streets in Boston. In conjunction with my effort to promote transparency in the entire City of Boston, the plan will be available online. Maintaining roadways should not be a political process, it should be based on engineering and quantified data.

A plan for our roadways will be a vital element of my plan to eliminate the Boston Redevelopment Authority and create a Master Plan for Boston. My plan will be weighted more toward urban users of Boston roads so public transit, pedestrian and bicycle uses will be prioritized. The basic idea going forward will be that fewer cars, more walking and biking and use of public transit will be healthier for our city, the environment and our citizens.

Under this plan everyone affected will be notified in advance of pending street improvements. This will include Boston Water & Sewer, the gas, electric and telecommunications companies, and all other affected parties. This way we can all plan in advance the future upgrades we need to our businesses and residences. One of the major reasons for potholes in this city is because when the roads are cut open for utility work the patching leads to quicker deterioration of the roads. Not only will this plan save money for all parties it will make the roads better as well.

In addition, when road openings must be undertaken we need to have inspectors hold accountable the parties that make the repairs, not just immediately but in the future as well. Any repair should last as long as the timeline of the main road; if it doesn’t the original street opener will be responsible for bringing it into compliance.

I talked to the office of my City Councilor today to find out when my street would be repaved and he directed me to the DPW. This is the circle of mismanagement and non-accountability in Boston that needs to change.

Kevin McCrea’s full platform can be viewed at his website Kevin McCrea’s campaign manager, Jonathan Tracy, can be reached either through e-mail at or phone at (503) 502-3101 or (617)267-2453.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So much for the Mayor's efficiency rating

A voter writes in:

Hello, Kevin.

Mayor Menino claims this morning that his $5 million computer system improves speed of reacting to citizen inquiries.

But city agencies often ignore inquiries altogether, never putting them into the tracking system to begin with.

The only way to honestly portray City responsiveness is to track and report every single call that comes in. But the way it is now, City employees fabricate good statistics for themselves – and their departments – by never tracking the ignored requests at all.

According to the latest study by CommonWealth Magazine, 14 City agencies never responded to the magazine’s inquiries, including: Public Health Commission, Emergency Shelter Commission, Police Department, and the Mayor’s Office. And look what happened to the inquiry to Boston’s chief information officer, asking why 14 agencies never answered at all? It, too, went unanswered.

Menino is proven to be Chicken Little, and I am proven right

The Globe today reports that the City is sending out 25 notices of teacher layoffs.

The Mayor has been running around like Chicken Little since December saying the sky is falling, the sky is falling we are going to have to lay off hundreds and hundreds of teachers. I wrote back in January on this blog that the Mayor was lying, that the financial situation was not so dire, and that he was only doing this to try and get a meals tax increase.

Here we are months later, the economy has gotten worse, the State is getting fewer and fewer dollars every month but yet, miraculously we are only having 25 layoffs.

Why do we tolerate such dishonesty from our elected officials? In the meantime children and parents have been begging and pleading for their favorite teachers and programs, putting them through angst and trauma. I have had elected officials tell me privately that this was all just a show, but did they have the courage to come out in public and disagree with the Mayor? No way. No profiles in courage, not even from Flaherty or Yoon.

It is time for a change.

More Corruption at the BRA

The Globe today has another story about a BRA employee who feels they are above the law and has engaged in pension abuse.

The BRA (the Mayor) plays all sorts of games with money. At the City Council hearing on their budget they didn't even bring their budget, bringing a one page sheet with last year's budget. They are talking about "potentially" having to lay people off or "maybe" having a wage freeze but it hasn't happened and I predict it won't.

John Palmeiri, the BRA director, is not paid by the BRA either he is paid by the same EDIC that this woman was paid from. I wonder why? Why would someone be the head of an agency and not receive pay from that agency?

When the Paul McCann issue was exposed by the Globe I wrote on my blog about how the Mayor fired McCann and brought up the point that this clearly shows the BRA is under direct control of the Mayor. I got an unsolicited email from Jessica Shumacher the BRA spokesperson:


A point of clarification:

The Mayor and the City’s corporation counsel advised the BRA that they were in violation of the pension laws. On Friday, the BRA suspended its contract with Paul McCann and today, terminated the contract.

But, I have Menino on video saying that he terminated McCann's contract. I wrote back to Shumacher on April 29 asking:


just to be clear, can you let me know if any former BRA or EDIC officials have contracts with either the BRA or EDIC.

Also, is it available online anywhere where a citizen could examine all the contracts the BRA has with outside sources?


NO RESPONSE. I wrote again on May 10:


I haven't heard back from you, would you mind answering the question about whether any former BRA or EDIC officials have contracts with either the BRA or EDIC?

Also, is it available online anywhere where a citizen could examine all the contracts the BRA has with outside sources?


Still no response. The BRA is a giant slush fund and campaign contributer repayment center run by the Mayor off the books with no fiscal oversight. It must be done away with and citizen oversight through the City Council of planning and development needs to occur.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Menino doesn't want to talk about anything he has done...

The Herald today quotes the Mayor:

“Give me a break,” Menino said. “You guys want me to defend my record. I’m not doing that.”

Of course, why would a 16 year sitting incumbent want to defend his record?

Monday, May 25, 2009

NY City has exam schools for kindergarteners-a gifted kids program

Another example of how Boston is so set in its ways, and afraid to try new things to make excellence for our kids a priority.

Wonderful article in NY Times about the joys, thinking and satisfaction that come with working with your hands

Of course, this article, has to do with a man who takes his Ph.D and think tank job in Washington and leaves it to work on old motorcycles.

As Clara and I traveled around the world fixing things in dusty front yards in the ghetto's of Nicaragua, or in a machine shop in Mexico, to a military base in Pakistan I was constantly reminded of the satisfaction of being able to do tangible things with your hands. A real camaraderie exists for workers in the trades who really know how to get things done.

I enjoy the fact that I still visit my jobsites nearly every day, still get my hands dirty, and perhaps the most fun, still maintain my motorcycles by myself.

As Mayor, I will expand and show appreciation for the trade school in our city, Madison Park. There are many excellent graduates from this school, and programs, and we should encourage young men and women to think about the trades as an honorable place to work.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Yoon taking more and more of my positions-now wants to do away with the BRA

Sam has been 'borrowing', or coming around to my position, or "wifi-ing" as he calls it when the Mayor steals others ideas.

The most recent is on Friday on WBUR when he came out and said we need to do away with the BRA something I have been saying for 4 years now. I assume that Sam will introduce a motion ASAP to hold a hearing on those huge step towards bringing accountability to planning and development in the City.

In today's Herald Sam also comes out blasting the Licensing Board. As far as I know he has done nothing about it, but I will watching out for the hearing I'm sure he will be calling for to look into them. I haven't heard him say anything about the raises they have received from $60,000 a year to $85,000 a year (with retroactive pay). He certainly hasn't contacted the District Attorney as I have asking them to look into the lack of transparency in how they operate.

But then again, Sam likes to operate his own deals in the back room, like the one he and the Mayor worked out behind closed doors on Winthrop Square garage. Or how about the 40% increase in a salary and pension abuse for a connected insider that Yoon, Flaherty and Menino all participated in.

Yoon recently called for the City to sell all of its excess land something I have been talking about since I ran for City Council four years ago, and I have been saying on the stump again this year. Once again, what has Sam been doing for 4 years? When will he introduce legislation to do this?

Flaherty hasn't been much better. After voting for budgets twice the rate of inflation since he has been council president he now wants to make government smaller? After being head of the most fined City or Town legislative body in Massachusetts history and doing legal work for unknown clients while being head of that body he now says he wants a transparent government? You can't make this stuff up.

Sam and Michael both have ideas that I agree with, in particular the 311 system and an accountability program such as CityStat. I give them credit for bringing them up, but again why not introduce some legislation, work to get it passed and put it on the Mayor's desk?

At least with the Mayor you know he just wants to keep raising taxes, spending more money and hiring more people who do undefined things, but lay off police and teachers who are not as bendable to his will during election time.

We need a change to someone who is not going to give out political useless jobs, waste our money, and then tell the public we have to raise taxes to pay for cops and teachers. This has to stop.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Where was Menino instead of taking calls like Yoon, Flaherty and McCrea

Instead of coming on WBUR like the rest of the candidates Menino was supporting his wife from 11 to 1 as she received an honorary degree from one of the local universities. He was in internal meetings after that.

So really, the Mayor wasn't doing city business for two hours in the middle of a business day he was taking care of family business.

Get ready for a long summer of the Mayor avoiding questions of substance such as:

1) Why did you write contracts giving all city workers an average of a 5.5% raise this year with even higher increases in pension and health care costs?

2) Why do only 56% of our high school kids graduate? Why do only 13% of our kids get college degrees?

3) Why do you continually give our land away for free to the BRA when we don't have enough money for police and teachers?

4) Why is the rate of violence going up?

5) Why are you giving tax breaks to the rich, and not enough summer jobs to kids to do useful things like clean up our parks, streets, and neighborhoods?

6) Why are the streets in such bad condition?

7) Why do you want to put the BTD under control of the BRA?

8) Why have you let so many projects go forward without performance bonds or other guarantees, thus ripping holes in the fabric of our city?

9) Why has the city added 1200 more workers in the last 5 years and only 100 are teachers and 200 are cops? What are the others doing?

10) Why are liquor licenses being given out without any public process in our neighborhoods?

Obama pushing Open and Transparent Government

Colleagues: Today, the White House kicked off an unprecedented process forpublic engagement in policymaking on In a sea change fromconventional practice, Administration officials are not asking for commentson an already-finished set of draft recommendations, but are seeking freshideas from you early in the process of creating recommendations. They willcarefully consider your comments, suggestions, and proposals. Please helpus spread the word about this unique initiative. Here’s how the public engagement process will work. It will take place in 3phases: Brainstorming, Discussion, and Drafting. Beginning today, they will have a brainstorming session for suggestingideas for the open government recommendations. You can vote on suggestedideas or add your own. Then on June 3rd, the most compelling ideas fromthe brainstorming will be fleshed out on a weblog in a discussion phase. OnJune 15th, they will invite you to use a wiki to draft recommendations incollaborative fashion. These three phases will build upon one another and inform the crafting ofrecommendations on open government. Thank you for participating. Open and effective government can only beachieved with everyone’s active engagement. We hope you will lend yourinsights, experience, and expertise to improve your government andstrengthen democracy. Join the Brainstorming that has already begun!

To learn more, visit:

Kim Ainsworth, Executive DirectorGreater Boston Federal Executive BoardThomas P. O'Neill, Jr. Federal Building10 Causeway Street,Suite 350 (NOTE NEW SUITE # Effective 5/20/09)Boston, MA 02222Phone: 617/565-6769

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Riding my bike around the city...

I had a few meetings to go to in the City tonight and it was so beautiful I decided to take my bicycle. First it was up to Center Plaza to introduce myself to the Mayor's campaign manager Emily Nolan to set up a time to talk about debates. Then it was off to City Hall for the BRA's first in a series of meetings about their future plans for the development along the Rose Kennedy Greenway. (Why do we pay the woman in charge of the Greenway more than the Mayor makes with our tax dollars?) It was an excellent presentation by the Toronto consultants overseen by new father Kairos Shen of the BRA.
The laborers union were there in force and they had a couple of telling points about pushing development and jobs. The proposal was heavy on development, adding height to current parcels, and making it so there is more attractions in terms of shops and buildings to attract people to the Greenway. They repeatedly spoke of how the Greenway is the Foundation of the area and that they want to treat it with utmost respect.

Finally I rode over to Cambridge where the Livable Streets folks were having a cookout, get together and beer tasting at the bicycle shop on Mass Ave. They are involved in helping to make Boston streets more bike and pedestrian friendly amongst other things.

As I rode home, it was too easy to notice the difference between Cambridge and Boston. In Cambridge they have well marked out bike lanes on Mass Ave, but after crossing over the bridge and counting the Smoots one gets to Boston where bikers are in no mans land with no protection from our chaotic traffic.

It will change when I am Mayor.

Clean Jobs rally next week by MoveOn!

Clean Energy Jobs Day

Boston Building Materials Co-op (Roxbury/Mission Hill area), 100 Terrace Street (Map)
Roxbury Crossing, MA 02120
Thursday, May 28th, 10:00 AM

This is designed to get the message to Congress that people want clean energy jobs and not to be put off by big energy lobbyists.

A luncheon at Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy

I enjoyed a tour of of the newly renovated Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy in Dorchester yesterday, along with a group of civic leaders headed by Peter Lynch. We were escorted through the school by eighth grade students who were proud to show off their school. The newly renovated hundred year old school building was bustling with hard working students and teachers who were polite, focused and clearly intent on learning.

At lunch time we were rewarded with performances from some of the children. The youngsters sang a song and pledged allegiance to the flag, the first graders played 'We shall overcome' with bells, and the fifth graders played a John Denver song with violins and flutes.

I spoke at length with Mary Russo who is the head of the five schools in Dorchester and Mattapan that make up Pope John Paul II or "PJP2" as they call it about how and what they are doing.

Their results are truly impressive. Many of their students are first generation immigrants from Haiti, Vietnam, Cape Verde and English is not always their first language. It is obviously a truly diverse student body which reflects the majority minority city we live in. They immerse the children who are not native English speakers in class with usually a half hour a day of one on one language skills with a goal of getting the children as quickly as possible to be grade proficient in English so that they need no additional tutoring.

53% of their kids get into the three Boston Exam schools, with many others going to traditional Catholic schools like Matignon and BC High. I asked what leads to their success and she said that more school time, discipline, high expectations and accountability were key. The children take exams in the fall and again in the spring to gauge their advancement and how children do is part of the performance grade of the teachers.

They have parent teacher conferences where the students take the day off and each parent gets about half an hour with the teacher to discuss each individual child.
They have a longer school day which goes from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. each day with after school programs for the children as an option as well. They accept children with disabilities (of course) and I saw one girl in a wheelchair fully engaged in class.

They spend less than $8,000 a year per student to achieve these results which is remarkable (Boston Public Schools spend about $20,000 per year). Tuition is less than $4,000 and is on a sliding scale so that families can afford it. One reason for this is that they only pay teachers between $28,000 and $36,000 a year (which was shockingly low to me), and Mrs. Russo talked glowingly about the dedication of their teachers to the program. Grants, scholarships and the church make up the difference.

Another reason for the low cost is clearly the low overhead. Each school of about 300 children just has a single principal and one assistant to handle what goes on with the teachers and the students.

The school is shiny and bright with a new gym (where I was one for one from the foul line despite my suit!) and cafeteria. There clearly was an environment for growth, learning, and respect which clearly comes down directly from Mary Russo. She said repeatedly about how they love visitors, and how the children love visitors because it reinforces that people care about the work they are doing.

This only reinforces my promise as Mayor to spend one day a week in the schools. I have seen how children respond to attention from adults, especially "important" adults like Congressman, Mayors and especially their favorite athletes. It is the least our elected officials should do when we spend 1/3 of our budget on the schools.

Congratulations to Pope John Paul II Academy and thanks to Mary Russo for her time. We need to learn from our success stories in the City so that we can make all the schools pathways to success.

Globe writing about Yoon's backer Honda making racial remarks

The Globe today wrote a story about Congressman Honda's comment that for too long in Boston the 'Irish have it'. Apparently there had been a number of calls to Congressman Honda complaining about the remark. The Globe called me to ask if I had made any calls, which of course I had not. They asked me to comment which I also declined to do.

I think many of us really were hoping that the election of Obama would move us into a 'post-racial' world, where we identify with people's positions, their values, their experience and what they say they will do as opposed to what their race, gender or sexual orientation is.

I know that in talking to thousands of voters so far, people are turned off by this type of politics. Barack Obama didn't go around saying 'if I get elected I will be the first black president', he won because of his immense skills, his knowledge, his talent and his ability to lay out a future that a majority of Americans wanted to be a part of.

I hope that the Globe and the candidates will start talking about the issues and how they will affect all Bostonians.

Poll results: 60% against tax breaks, 30% for tax breaks

In my recent poll:

60% said no to giving tax breaks as it is a zero sum game (My Position)
30% said yes to tax breaks to the rich to create jobs (George Bush Position)
10% said give the tax breaks and money to regular people (Libertarians??)

No more threats of police and teacher layoffs???

The City Council yesterday received notice from the Mayor that he had received about 22 million dollars in grants to retain police officers. Since we have previously "found" enough money to not lay off any police officers and we are down to about 12 million short to retain all of our full time teachers shouldn't we be to where I have always said we would be: No layoffs of police officers or teachers? Heck, we may even have enough to not get rid of the mounted unit.

The fact remains that the Mayor has too many staff doing 'god knows what' instead of concentrating on the core functions of city government: education and public safety.



COMMUNICATIONS FROM HIS HONOR, THE MAYOR: The following were received:

0719 - Message and order authorizing the Police Department to accept and expend a grant of $15,869,888.00 from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services Recovery Act, for the purpose of retaining the Boston Police Department Officers.

0720 - Message and order authorizing the Police Commissioner to accept and expend a grant of $3,907,220.99 from the U.S. Department of Justice, for the FY09 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Program Recovery Act, for the purpose of retaining the Boston Police Department Officers.

0721 - Message and order authorizing the Police Commissioner to accept and expend a grant of $1,293,194.47 from the U.S. Department of Justice, for the FY09 Edward Byrne Memorial Competitive Grant Recovery Act, for the purposes of retaining the Boston Police Department Officers.

0722 - Message and order authorizing the Police Commissioner to accept and expend a grant of $1,255,620.15 from the U.S. Department of Justice, for the FY09 Edward Byrne Memorial Competitive Grant Recovery Act, for the purposes of retaining the Boston Police Department Officers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

City Agency in charge of people getting the proper permits doesn't get their own permits

The Globe today has an article about two employees working overtime to do some odd jobs. One of the most telling things I thought about the story is how they didn't obtain building permits to do any of the work.

This, in a nutshell, is how our city works. If you are on the inside the rules do not apply to you. Even in the agency responsible for getting permits approved from large scale projects to tinier ones that need zoning exemptions the BRA is the agency you need to deal with that has exact deadlines and requirements for getting those permits. Of course, none of that applies to the BRA for their own jobs.

Another thing to notice is how the BRA says they are facing a budget crisis but they actually haven't done anything and aren't likely to do so. Construction is down tremendously in this city but have they had any wage freezes or layoffs at the BRA? Of course not. Why layoff people in an independent agency with no oversight just because the work load is down when the City can layoff teachers and police officers.

That is the City our Mayor has provided us.

We need a change!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

First Mayoral Forum Friday on WBUR (Don't forget Emily Rooney tomorrow night at 7 pm)

Friday on WBUR on Radio Boston the four Mayoral candidates who appear to have made the ballot (Menino, Yoon, Flaherty, McCrea) have been invited to participate in a discussion about the BRA.

That's right the Mayor has been invited, we will see whether he shows up to actually take questions live from the audience. So tune in at 1 p.m., be ready to call and ask the candidates where they stand on development in the City and start to hold our public officials accountable.

As I have stated previously, I believe that the BRA should be abolished, a planning agency set up as in every other town and City in the Commonwealth that answers to the City Council thus leveling the balance of power in the City.

Tune in!

Why are the schools so bad?

I attended the Boston School Committee meeting at the Lewis school in Roxbury last night where they were presenting their plan for changing the school zones from 3 to 5 zones.

First note is how difficult it is for challengers. Councilors Turner and Yoon got to come in late, take the microphone and say they are against the 3 to 5 zone change and then leave early without having to listen to what all the people have to say. I waited for 2 hours to hear what the parents and students had to say and to hear the Superintendents responses.

There was a lot of concern for the Timilty and two way bilingual education. One young student got up and eloquently asked why we as a society are not funding the schools and not taking care of those less fortunate. She received loud cheers and applause and drum banging. The superintendent said that we need more revenue and mentioned the meals tax and casinos(!?) as possible forms of revenue.

The superintendent clearly cares about kids and education and is impressive in her knowledge of the schools and the programs. An interesting point she made is that she said that where there are arts programs in the schools they have seen better results. She also mentioned that "we don't have enough of any of the things we need".

This contrasts with Menino's recent statement about the building that BC recently bought on Commonwealth Avenue where he wants to make BC pay the difference in lost real estate taxes. He said that now we can't afford to be giving things away for free!


According to his superintendent we don't have enough of the things we need and since the schools now are better than ever according to the Mayor why was it okay to give things away for free in the past? Why doesn't the media ask him these tough questions?

After the meeting I went outside and spoke to the young woman and her mother who asked the question about why society isn't taking care of those less fortunate. I congratulated her on her eloquence and explained to her about how Menino has been giving our land and money away for free to rich connected people and that is one reason why we can't afford what we need in the schools. I then asked where she went to school. Sure enough, she was a senior in high school at Milton Academy. Her mother said they had tried the Boston Public Schools but that they weren't providing a good education. She is an activist and an advocate for the schools because she lives in the city and knows how bad it is. Needless to say, perhaps, but there were no elected officials around at the end of the meeting.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Gilberto Rivera of the Boston Teachers Union explains some things

While I have been campaigning I have had the good fortune of meeting many, many people who are working hard to make Boston a better place. One of those is Boston school teacher Gilberto Rivera, a music teacher who is running for office in the Boston Teachers Union. I got an email blast from him today which includes something he wrote about the School Committee which I will post below.

I couldn't agree with him more. I believe that we need to have at least two of the members of the school committee elected so that they will actually do what educators are supposed to: ask questions, look for solutions, and weigh all the possible options. My experience in going to the school committee hearings, testifying about alternative revenue sources, and the importance of not cutting the school budget has not only gone on deaf ears, but even worse they don't even pretend to want to understand the fiscal issues facing the city. They clearly have their marching orders from Mayor Menino to do nothing except push for a meals tax increase and a wage freeze. Such lack of inquiry from a city that prides itself on being an "intellectual" city is disappointing. Maybe this is one of the reasons our schools have such poor performance results, when they get this type of leadership at the top.

Here are Mr. Rivera's comments:

Appointed School Committee Lectures BTU on Democracy Then Demands Wage Freeze

I have been attending school committee meetings for over a year now. I observe, listen and sometimes comment on the manipulative tactics they have employed to distort the image of the BTU. The meeting on March 25, 2009 was the most telling meeting of all. Claudio Martinez and Michael O’Neil as well as Rev. Dr. Gregory Groover called for the BTU to hold an election on the wage freeze. Mr. Martinez went as far as saying; "New teachers need to get involved in the BTU to make it the democratic process it should be." These comments came in closing statements before the unanimous vote to accept the balanced budget, which includes 212 teaching position lay offs including vacancies.

These comments are being made by members of a school committee that are not elected by the citizens of Boston. The parents, students, teachers and community activists implored the school committee to join the fight in finding new sources of revenue and asked them not to accept a budget that would cut teaching positions. The lack of open democracy in the school committee is apparent when one sees that it has only had one vote that was NOT unanimous in 7 years. Concern showed by parents and others during public comment are mostly ignored.

Is this the same school committee that publicly lectures the BTU about what a democracy should be?

For the new teachers, we the BTU- elect our officers, staff, executive board members, delegates and building representatives. We don’t always agree but we hold debates and vote on every issue. Most importantly we collectively bargain our contract and vote to accept it as a membership. The BTU is not separate from the professionals it represents. Each individual member makes up the Boston Teachers’ Union. We are the essence of a democratic process. The school committee needs to respect and learn from this process.

Let's address the issue of the wage freeze for a moment. We should never open up a legally binding contract without having all relevant and accurate information before us. The February 4, 2009 budget proposal had the school department absorbing $107 Million (76%) of the cities $140 Million deficit. We only make up 34% of the total city budget. How could we blindly accept a wage freeze given those figures? The budget that was finally presented at the time of the vote on March 25, 2009 was closer to the actual proportionate numbers. Our leadership can look at cost saving alternatives and additional revenue sources that will save all teaching jobs when true information is provided. At present, the number of lay-offs keeps dropping without a wage freeze.

It is worth mentioning that, while we were losing 393 teaching positions in that February 4 budget proposal, the academic portion of the budget proposed 160 new hires. Questioning revealed that the Teach for America (TFA) contract was being honored as well as the Boston Teacher Residency (BTR) program. The BTR contract has long-term sustainability and benefits for our children. The TFA contract does not.

The wage freeze issue also poses an unnecessary dilemma for teachers to bail each other out. The federal government can bail out greedy corporate executives but it is up to teachers to fend for themselves? This is not an equitable trend. That is why we have a contract. We need to lobby legislatures for additional revenue sources and equitable allocations of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding.

The last but not least important issue concerns our senior staff in the retirement window. A wage freeze adversely affects these members who stand to lose a significant amount of money every month for the rest of their lives. This on top of any money they may have lost in their retirement savings due to the economic crash. The offer made by the city of a one time 8% non-retirement worthy incentive is not acceptable.

The school committee presented the wage freeze issue as a shared sacrifice and one of the only options to save the initial 900 jobs. I spoke out on this issue at the Blackstone and McCormack budget hearings. I told the committee that BTU members graciously sacrifice personal spending on their classrooms for misc. supplies everyday (every year) in ever on-going budget shortfalls. I polled forty colleagues at my school. The average out of pocket spending this year was $1,500. Our wage increase would average $3,200.00 next year. Do other city employees including the mayor buy their own equipment and supplies?

Gilberto Rivera is a teacher at the Edwards Middle School and candidate for Secretary Treasurer of the BTU

Emily Rooney on Wednesday

I will be on Emily Rooney Wednesday night at 7 pm on WGBH talking about my campaign for Mayor.

Hope you can Tune In!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Our best wishes go out to Jon Tracy and his Family


On Friday, May 15, Kevin McCrea’s campaign manager, Jon Tracy, will be leaving the campaign to return home to Oregon to attend to a family health situation.

“I wish Kevin the best of luck in his ongoing campaign for mayor,” says Mr. Tracy, “Though unfortunately for family reasons I will no longer be part of his staff. I know Kevin will continue to bring a fresh voice of change to the race and Bostonians are fortunate to have a candidate running that will truly challenge the status quo.”

Says Mr. McCrea: “I am appreciative of all the work Jon has given to the campaign and I hope the best for him and his family.”

The Kevin McCrea campaign can be reached through e-mail at or at the office number of (617)267-2453. More information about the Kevin McCrea for Mayor Campaign can be found at the website

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Visiting Senior Centers

I have started the rounds of the Senior Centers from Southie to Charlestown and out to Jamaica Plain and I'm always reminded of the wisdom that comes with age. They have heard politicians give them empty promises and are cynical but hopeful. They also know that by voting they have power. I'm also impressed by how magnanimous they can be, caring not so much for themselves but for the younger generations. They care about good schools and affordable housing.

So far many of the personal concerns are about health care, safety and transportation. Many have given up driving and they depend on the T so they care about the cuts. The people in Charlestown today on Bunker Hill Street talked about empty political promises to help and how about the increased amounts of violence in the street.

I made my first campaign promise: if I win, I will get them a new picnic table. A number of politicians have promised to help but it has been two years since they were supposed to get one in September. That is a promise I hope to be in a position to keep!

Thanks guys!

Showing how petty and vindictive Menino is:

A few weeks ago the Boston Globe did a story on how the inspectional service department came to Sam Yoon's office and warned him that if he had 60% of his windows covered with signs he would be fined. Of course the Mayor's people said this had nothing to do with Sam Yoon being in the race. Just like me criticizing Menino has nothing to do with me having the highest taxed brownstone in the South End.

Well the building on the corner of Mass Ave and Tremont Street used to have a Rent a Center on the first floor. Its windows have been covered up for months, even years, I can't remember how long. Since every inspector in the City is on Mass Ave every day (the headquarters is at 1010 Mass Ave.) You would think one of them would have warned these people about the terrible hazard this is that they warned Yoon about.

Sure we don't have selective enforcement in this City. Just like the Mayor said he would only serve for two terms.

I Would Say about 99.9 percent of those windows are covered:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We've turned in over 4,000 signatures!!!

Thanks to all of our volunteers (none of them city workers! although many city workers have signed my petitions and have told me unbelievable stories of waste, corruption, cronyism and nepotism) who have helped us to collect over 4,000 signatures for our campaign. We think we need to collect about 5,000 as many signatures are not found to be valid from the elections department to make sure we are on the ballot.

I would like to thank all the volunteers who have worked so hard to help us out. From people who get us one sheet of 30 signatures to people who have put in dozens of hours and collected hundreds of signatures.

I'd also like to commend all the ladies and gentlemen who are running for City Council at Large who are out trying to collect 1500 signatures thanks to Steve Murphy and all the white councilors voting to triple the amount of signatures to get on the council. One of the first things I would do as Mayor is to make the signature process simpler and easier in order to promote more democracy. I have met at least 10 of the City Council at large candidates and found all of them to be thoughtful people with different points of view. I have been nothing but honored at their kind words, and only too eager to help them out anyway I can.

Unfortunately (or predictably) there seems to be an inverse relationship between a candidates supposed "viability" and their ability to answer a question about where they stand on an issue. I invite voters to try and get as many of these candidates on the ballot as they can, and to judge the candidates not on what the press or the insiders consider important but more on whether the candidates seem to be able to answer a question or to be responsive and accountable to the citizens.

Good luck to all, if I could wave my magic wand I would put every candidate who has pulled papers to get on the ballot.

A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues.
Theodore Roosevelt

Mayor still collecting signatures

I was at the Harbor Garage meeting last night and met a woman who was still collecting signatures for the Mayor despite the fact he already has over 20,000 and has qualified for the ballot.

This is how much the Mayor thinks about democracy he is intentionally trying to confuse and I believe disenfranchise voters. He knows that many of them do not understand the signature process and so when we ask them to sign for us they say "I have signed already" or "I have voted already". This makes it even harder for people like Sam Yoon and me to get on the ballot since we don't have thousands of city workers who feel (maybe obliged?) to take a day off and collect signatures for him.

The woman at the Garage meeting told me she was collecting signatures to curry favor with the Mayor. A bit different from saying she really thought he should be on the ballot.

To qualify for the ballot in Boston is 7 times more difficult than NYC. If we were truly a progressive city don't you think it should be easy to get people involved in the election process?

Menino pays for gay excluding parade but not Tall Ships

Yvonne Abraham wrote a good article in todays Globe about how petty Menino is about the Tall Ships.

Yesterday I called the City to confirm who pays for the South Boston parade. The City confirmed that we the taxpayers pay for all the police and fire details and the cleanup. Now Menino gets a lot of credit from the GLBT groups in the City for refusing to march in the parade. However, he does pay for the police details during the parade which this year were raised even higher in an attempt to cut down on public rowdiness. The cost for this one date event in Southie is hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Why doesn't the Mayor require the South Boston Parade group which excludes gays to pay for their police details up front, or at all like he is making the Sail Boston people do? It seems a bit hypocritical to me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

BRA handing out tax breaks to rich developers who exceed the zoning code...

I attended the meeting tonight at the Marriott Long Wharf hosted by the BRA to discuss the proposed 700 foot tower where the current parking garage is next to the aquarium. According to an attorney there the zoning is 155 feet. The developer says he has complete financing for the project already in place.

But when did the rules ever apply in Boston? Not with the BRA as a potential equity partner to deal with a rich white guy who wants to build an enormous building.

The neighbors, especially in Harbor Towers, were opposed to the height and density of the project which has a FAR of 26. It is zoned for less than 10. I wonder if I should ask the BRA if I can build an additional 12 stories on top of the house I'm living in now?

The unions were there to speak in support of the project and they spoke of their membership having 30+ percent unemployment.

I asked the last question of the night and asked the developer and the BRA if they were going to take any City or State funds to help fund the project or if the BRA was going to grant any tax breaks to the project. Both the BRA and the developer said that it was still under consideration. In other words: "Yes". The developer of the government center garage said point blank that he wasn't going to take public money.

We have the school department laying off teachers, no new police hires, and yet the government is entertaining giving tax breaks to multi millionaires or just outright grants of money to them? Sounds like the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

Of course, the BRA would never think about giving some black developers in Roxbury at Parcel 3 some money or tax breaks would they??? Maybe if we raise some awareness of this issue some things will change.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Letter of Thanks from the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, Inc.

I received a nice letter from the group started by Elma Lewis, The Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, Inc.

It says in part, "When Ruggles Place, as the vision put forward by Elma Lewis Partners is known, was embattled, you spoke clearly for fairness, transparency, and responsiveness to the wishes of the community. I deeply appreciate your forthrightness and your sense of public responsibility." It is signed by Edmund Gaither.

The public needs to ask why City and State authorities have given the Columbus Center project a timeline of over a decade to do their building but the Mayor is only allowing the Elma Lewis Partners an 18 month extension. They both have run out of money. Why is that a group of white guys led by a republican from Belmont is given such a long time line but a group of minorities from the City of Boston is only given a short leash of a timeline to get their project done?

Separate but unequal is definitely unequal.

Sam Yoon on WBUR

Sam Yoon was on WBUR this morning.

He is advocating for an increase in charter schools to lift the cap on the number of them in the city. He said he is not for performance pay, but is for something called "combat pay". He talked about "challenging" everyone in schools to look at how we do things.

He said there shouldn't be any layoffs in the City.

He has lifted more of my ideas that I was advocating for 4 years ago in the City Council race: getting rid of all the surplus property that the City has, and of course, transparency. What has he done about these things in the last 4 years?

This is Sam Yoon's idea of transparency.
He refuses to answer any questions about this pension giveaway, and his campaign manager Jim Spencer says that Sam was just "going along to get along."

It is behaviour like this from Yoon and Flaherty, signed off by Menino which turns voters off from the whole electoral process. They talk about transparency then pass things like this for their buddies on the inside which the rest of us have to pay for.

Voices from the inside...

I have received a number of emails from people that work for City Government telling me about problems there. They describe the waste, cronyism, nepotism, etc. Unfortunately, I don't have time to check them all out but they paint a disturbing picture.

As I've been on the campaign trail collecting signatures and meeting people I'm amazed at how many city employees tell me stories about how poorly things are run. One woman who works directly with the Mayor (who is not originally from this area) told me she can't believe the low level of services that people tolerate here. Sam Yoon is pushing the 311 idea which I agree with. Even New Orleans which doesn't have anywhere near the tax base we have here has instituted a similar tracking program. Why haven't Sam and Michael introduced bills and got these programs on the Mayor's desk to implement or Veto?

Here is one same email I received which I can verify. When I was voting last fall there was a woman collecting for the can drive. I asked her where she worked and it was for the City, she was a professional, college educated, I think working for the public health commission. It was about 10:30 in the morning. I asked her if she was working on city time and she was clearly thrown off by someone asking her this, and said she was volunteering on her lunch break. She didn't sound convincing, stopped answering questions, and it seemed odd to be taking a lunch break at 10:30 in the morning. Now can drives are a nice idea, but spending public money through salaries to collect money for a fund does not seem a good way to spend tax dollars. This email adds weight to what I suspected was going on:

I hope you agree with me and will take a position on the issue of
Menino's inability to conduct elections.

In 2006 there was much fuss made over the fact that some polling
locations ran out of ballots. In a couple of cases, it took an hour for
extra ballots to be dispatched to the polling locations. This resulted
in the US DOJ putting the Boston Election department on probation,
looking over the city's shoulder through today.

The bigger problem with the 2004, 2006, and especially 2008 election is
that polling places were way overcrowded. Voters had to wait in line
for almost two hours to cast their votes. Many gave up and went home
without voting.

Mayor Menino is personally responsible for this problem. I work at city
hall, in a position that would be considered nonessential (i.e. if I'm
out sick, nobody gets paid overtime to take my place). The Mayor never
broadcast a message to city employees to direct their focus on running a
smooth election. On the contrary, members of Menino's own staff were
sent to polling locations to collect food for a can-drive. Can drives
are great, but not at the expense of an election. Those city employees
should have been assigned real work that day to speed up the polling
process. Instead, they stood as symbols of the Mayor's apathy for the
election process.

Voters could not even vote absentee to get around the long lines. If
you go to city hall and ask for an absentee ballot, they demand that you
will be out-of-town (and not just super-busy) on election day. You
can't just request an absentee ballot and be handed one; they actually
grill you like you're doing something wrong. Technically, Mass law only
lets you vote absentee if you are out of town, but it's totally up to
City Hall to enforce it so strictly. Absentee ballots may be better for
the voter, but City Hall discourages you from using one.

The Mayor has effectively disenfranchised thousands of voters in Boston
time and time again. If anything public officials do can be considered
criminal, it should be impeding your right to vote and have it counted,
whether it be by overcrowded polls, unavailable ballots, or faulty
equipment. I hope a candidate for Mayor you hold yourself accountable
to that standard.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

From my lips to the Mayor's ears....

Something I have been talking about for four years has finally reached the Mayor's ears.

Fair PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) payments are something that the Mayor has been giving lip service to over the years. Institutions claim they don't have any additional funds for the City, while at the same time getting property and permits from the City to build grand new buildings that further tax (literally and figuratively) the citizens.

I have been saying in public meetings, such as the one in Allston last Thursday night that before we allow these institutions any further permits or change in zoning or free property that we sit down and have discussions about that institutions PILOT payments.

Sure enough on Friday the Mayor came out with an announcement that he is going to force BC to pay more PILOT payments for the building they just bought near their campus that pays about $400,000 in taxes. He is quoted:

“This is a new era,” said Menino. “Given the dwindling finances in municipalities today, we can’t give anything away and we have to get our fair share.”

When exactly was it ok to "give anything away"?

Yet another bunch of baloney out of Menino. So it was okay to give away things over the past few years such as 300 million dollars at City Hall Plaza, 30 million dollars at Hayward Place, the rights to the Winthrop Square Garage, etc. Yet, if my memory is correct it seems like the word our of City Hall every year is that we don't have enough money for the projects we would like to do such as put more police on the streets.

It is no wonder to me why people are so fed up with politics as usual. People aren't stupid, they know when they aren't being given honest answers.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Long day of campaigning, and Menino spying on me

I spent the day campaigning in East Boston. It is edifying and enjoyable meeting people from the different neighborhoods, and seeing how different the characteristics of each place are.

One of the defining characteristics of the Eastie people is that they are not afraid to voice their opinion. They don't mince words and a meme I heard repeated often today is that "all the politicians are crooks", "they are all bums", "I don't trust any of them", and "they get in there and promise us things and then they don't do nothin'". The frustration and cynicism is palpable, and is hard not to agree when one sees the condition of the streets and the trash on them.

I had a very interesting conversation with one of the on duty fireman who came to the Shaw's with his crew to get groceries. He said "Our budget is 135 million dollars and we could cut 30 million dollars with no letdown in services". He talked about how inefficient things are, and how top heavy the department is. I find in talking to city workers that they have an excellent grasp of what is going on, and really know many places that we could save money. We need to engage them in this process to make Boston more efficient, make our workers communal owners of the City we serve, not make them feel as if it just doesn't matter because everything is so corrupt and there is no way to change it.

Finally tonight I spoke in Allston where the Mayor's community liaison Daniel Roan was furiously writing down in his notebook everything I said. I wonder if he was on political time or city time while he was doing that? Anyway, Dan is a very nice guy and well liked in the community, and of course anyone is welcome to write down my thoughts and ideas, just make sure you give me credit for them!

One of the ideas which seems to get a lot of heads nodding is my proposal to put trash cans in any community which would like them, and then to empty them in a timely manner. People are fed up with trash, and can't believe that we can't take care of this basic public service. We have many underused people in our society right now, training them to clean up our city would be a productive way to put jobs and money back into the economy on the lower end of the pay scale which is being hit hardest by the recession.

First Televised Debate Scheduled-The citizens should demand more

The Boston Globe (thankfully still alive!) has taken the lead in scheduling two televised debates for the fall.

I encourage community groups and other media organizations to invite the candidates to their group to talk about the issues that face them. Now is the best time in years to be able to hold our elected leaders accountable and to talk about different ideas for moving the city forward. I'm pretty sure that Sam, Michael and I would attend any such forum, and I would hope that the Mayor would as well.

The text of the invitation follows:

Kevin McCrea

Kevin McCrea for mayor

Sent via email to

Dear Mr. McCrea,

This is an invitation to participate in two mayoral debates co-sponsored by The Boston Globe, WGBH-TV, New England Cable News, and WBUR radio – one during the preliminary race and one, should you prevail, during the general election.

We are planning the preliminary election debate for Tuesday, September 15, at the WGBH studios in Brighton, from 7 to 8 p.m. A panel of reporters will offer questions. Candidates are invited to bring supporters to fill out a live audience. The debate will also feature an on-line component.

We are planning the general election debate for Thursday, October 22, also from 7 to 8 p.m. For this debate, our preference is to hold it in the community, and we are exploring venues such as the John F. Kennedy Library in Dorchester. We would also plan to add a strong citizen component.

We appreciate your involvement and look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible. When you respond, we will schedule a meeting to work out various details about the debates with all parties. Please feel free to reach Brian McGrory at 617-929-3059, or Linda Polach at 617-300-2487.


Brian McGrory Linda Polach Sam Fleming Iris Adler

The Boston Globe WGBH WBUR NECN

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Chronology of Debates

1) Back in February I suggested to Sam Yoon and Michael Flaherty that the three of us start holding debates since the Mayor was being so coy about whether he was running or not.
Sam readily agreed, but Michael said they would only debate if the Mayor was there.

2) Last month John Romano from Flaherty's office sent a letter to the Mayor congratulating him on joining the race and suggesting that the candidates sit down and work out a debate schedule including Sam and me. We set up a date of last Wednesday to do so, but then that was scrapped when 10 people pulled papers for the Mayor's race and we decided to put it off until after it was determined who would be on the ballot.

3) The Mayor today unilaterally decides that he will participate in 3 debates. His people haven't spoken to us, and I don't believe to Yoon or Flaherty either. Typical of his dictatorial style.

4) From David Bernstein's column it would seem as if Flaherty and Yoon believe as I do that we should have as many debates as the people would like.

Currently I have heard from WBUR, MASSVOTE, BNN, and various community groups and Ward Committees who have indicated an interest in holding debates. I know I will be happy to attend any community group or media outlet that would like to hear from the candidates.

The fact that Menino says he doesn't have time for a debate is a joke. He is currently spending nearly 2 hours every day handing out flowers (paid for with Taxpayer money from the Boston Parks Department!)and avoiding tough questions at various parks around the city. If he has time for that he should have time to answer some serious questions

Monday, May 04, 2009

Speaking at Rotary Club Tuesday the Fifth

I'm giving a speech at the new Boston Rotary Club meeting tomorrow night May 5th from 6 pm to 7:15 at 225 Franklin Street downtown on the 33rd floor.

Give a listen if you are in the neighborhood.


Sunday, May 03, 2009

Telephone poll about Mayor's race

A boston resident emails in:

I just got a call from the UNH Survey Center, which is conducting a random telephone survey about Boston. The questions were generally about Menino and city council (I'd say about half). In the questions about next mayoral election, you were included in the matchup against Menino. Naturally I picked you and expressed my dis-satisfaction with Menino and City Council. One of the questions was, "Who do you think makes better decisions about Boston, the mayor or city council? How the f*** do you answer THAT question? Why would UNH care? UMB, maybe, but UNH?

For some reason I am a little suspicious about this survey. Why would UNH be asking so many questions about Boston and it's politics? The last question was "Would I be willing to be interviewed by a reporter. I think there is some connection to the Globe.

Has anyone else been interviewed for this poll?

Why is there a discrepancy in Michael Flaherty's Government earnings?

On April 18, 2009 the Boston Herald wrote a story that reported that Michael Flaherty reported $76,366 in earnings from the Boston City Council.

But, I was looking online to follow up what Reuben Kantor from Councilor Ross's office told me about how all the salaries are available online and noticed that Councilor Flaherty was paid $87,499 a 15% difference in reported pay.

I would think a lot of people in Boston would love to declare 15% less than they actually received in pay. There probably is a good explanation for this, and I'd love the Herald to follow up and ask those questions.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Seems as if City Council may still be handing out bonuses

It appears the city council passed another temporary bump in employees pay this week:

0609 - Order for the appointment of temporary employees Bernadette Lally, Seth Andrea McCoy, Thomas M. McDonough, Thomas Francis and Samuel S. Conti in City Council effective May 2, 2009.

0610 - Order for the appointment of temporary employees Bernadette Lally, Seth Andrea McCoy, Thomas M. McDonough, Thomas Francis and Samuel S. Conti in City Council effective May 9, 2009.

What they typically do is double people's salaries for one week, in this case from May 2 to May 9, then they revert to the old salaries. I only briefly was emailed this so haven't had time to look into it. I called Mike Ross's office to ask where it was available online to see what the salaries were for the employees for the two different time periods. Since the City Council is so transparent now, it should be easy to find online what the salaries of these people that were just hired by the City Council is. The intern in Mike's office agreed that citizens should be able to see those salaries.

I look forward to getting that information. If someone can find it on the city of boston website, please let me know.


UPDATE-Reuben Kantor from Mike Ross's office offers the following links showing the salary adjustments for one week only in Councilor Murphy's office:

Reuben provided the following links: One is the May 2 to May 8 pay for the staff

and one is the May 9 through June 26 pay for the staff

Double Update: I saw Reuben Kantor at the South End Baseball Little League opening day and he explained to me that all city salaries are available online. So, I stand corrected, and I thank Reuben for bringing me up to speed. I'd like to say publicly that I think Reuben is a very smart and informed guy who works for Councilor Ross and is very responsive to requests I make of him, and is helpful in explaining how things work at City Hall.

The truth about the hiring "freeze" (or the Dishonesty of the hiring Freeze)

Earlier this week I blogged about meeting a "street worker" in Dorchester who had just been hired in the last month. Since we are supposed to be under a 'hiring freeze' I decided to look into this.

After some telephone tag, a budget person who works for the Mayor named Meredith cleared up the discrepancy. She let me know that the "hiring freeze" was really just a "hiring slowdown". She said that last fall they scoured the payroll for essential positions and decided that they could only hire 52 additional positions. Of those essential positions, 3 of them were streetworkers. (This despite the fact that the Boston Municipal Research Bureau and the Financial Commission say that the current amount of people on payroll is unsustainable)

She said that even though they posted the streetworker position in November they just filled it last month, confirming what I had heard from the gentleman in Dorchester. She said that the phrase 'hiring freeze' was just "advertising".

This again points out the dishonesty of the Menino administration, or maybe the lack of good reporting in Boston. I certainly understand if an important position opens up such as the head of the Department of Public Healh needs to be filled, but if we have a hiring "freeze" because of the dire economic situation, it should be an actual hiring freeze, and I would argue that a streetworker is a non-essential position especially if the City somehow survived for 4 months without that position being filled.

Meanwhile we are laying off teachers. A classroom couldn't sit full of kids without a teacher for 4 months. We need to make value judgments in our city budget right now, and the Mayor is deciding against education(with complicity from the City Council). That is not a mistake that I would make.