Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Menino = Liar?

Today is June 30, 2009. A month ago the Mayor agreed to sit down with Sam Yoon, Michael Flaherty and I by July 1st at the latest to talk about debates.

We offered to meet with him any time, any where, any place of his convenience. His debate coordinator Ed Fouey and campaign manager Emily Nolan said they would respond to our emails. Nothing.

This is the disdain Menino has for the citizens of the city, for his opponents and for the press. He wont answer questions, he won't honor his commitments, and he won't have a conversation about the future of the City.

I really don't understand why people tolerate this in their elected officials.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Great turnout at Hibernian Hall tonight

Almost all of the City Council at Large candidates were there tonight, 3 of the District 7 candidates and Michael Flaherty, Sam Yoon and I were all there.

Of course, the Mayor wasn't there, he would have had to answer 3 or 4 softball questions and give 2 minute answers to capacity crowd in Roxbury. Why would the Mayor want to have to answer questions?

I was impressed with many of the at large candidates, Sam was his usual speaking for change of the non-committal variety and Michael echoed my comments about enforcing the Boston Jobs Policy. Of course, it is hard to believe that he is going to enforce a policy which he has turned a blind eye to for 10 years.

I felt hand cuffed by the time constraints (as I'm sure all the candidates did) and was not incredibly pleased with my performance. But, many people stopped me after the forum was over to ask about specific information and that they liked what I had to say.

Got to go to bed, radio interview at 7:30 on 1510 am--tune in!

Candidate Forum Tonight in Roxbury-Will the Mayor show?

Dudley Square - Hibernian Hall - 184 Dudley Street - Roxbury, MA 02119 6:30 to 9:00 pm

Hosted by the National Black College Alliance, "Greatest MINDS"

This event is open to the public. Audience will most likely consist of young black constituents ages 20-40.

Invited participants: City Council Candidates At Large, City Council Candidates for District(s) 3, 4, 7, 8, and Mayoral Candidates for Boston.

Each candidate will have 3 minutes to introduce themselves to the community. At the end of introductions, candidates will randomly be asked to respond to the issues around people of color and ways they can participate more in the city in the areas of:

Education (Kindergarten to College)
Nightlife (Welcoming Places to Go)
Networking & Diversity with organizations and across neighborhoods
Political and Civic Involvement
Economic Development
Job Creation & Workforce Development
Youth Services

Who believes these guys?

Here is Sam Yoon today on elections:

“It points to the need for campaign finance reform, because the whole idea is to have a level playing field,’’ Councilor Sam Yoon said. “And if we level the playing field and make campaigns and elections fair, the candidate with the best ideas ought to win.’’

Here is his campaign manager Jim Spencer yesterday on raising the cap on how much donors can give:

Jim Spencer, chief strategist for Yoon, called the state’s campaign finance law, with its $500-per-year limit on individual contributions, “an incumbent protection’’ mechanism.

So, Yoon wants to level the playing field by allowing rich people to give more money to candidates? I remember when he first was running for City Council and he proudly announced he was third highest in contributions (behind Flaherty and Connolly) as a sign of how popular he was. Now that he is again third in contributions he wants to level the playing field? I haven't heard in four years on the City Council him introducing a single campaign finance reform bill. Funny how they want to level the playing field when it isn't in their favor any more!

Meanwhile, Michael Flaherty has some hard to believe words about this years budget:

“I cannot support a budget for a government that has not conducted a rigorous, sweeping performance review that is required to squeeze out all waste,” Flaherty said.

So, Flaherty votes for the budget every year for the last nine years but in the first year that the budget actually goes down he can't vote for it because it doesn't squeeze out the waste? Are we supposed to believe that he thought the last nine budgets had squeezed out all the waste?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Long version of why I'm running

1. Why are you running? What is your motivation to run now?

I come to this candidacy not as a politician, not as an academic, not even as a business owner (which I am). I’m running as a citizen, an ordinary member of the community, and representing what I’ve heard community people talk about all over the city. I’m running, first and foremost, to restore honest, open government, and to show what can be accomplished for our community if we made truly fair and efficient use of our public powers and resources. And I’m running now, and for the highest office in the city, because we are facing a particularly dangerous time for the economy and for the environment, and informed and courageous leadership will make the difference in how we deal with these challenges. We can’t get by on “business as usual.”

We all know, really, that the city’s government is not working as it should. I’ve been struck, when I tell people I’m running for office, how many just turn away, saying, “All politicians are crooks.” The periodic articles revealing shameless abuses of the public trust and negligent incompetence just confirm what many of us have experienced: it’s not working well. It’s not working well, unless you happen to be one the connected.

And – this is very important -- it’s not because of a shortage of money. We have lots of money; for example we have the largest school district in the State and we are in the top 10 percent in terms of dollars spent per student. Our taxes and expenditures have increased at twice the cost of living under Menino. The Mayor and City Council simply burn up the excess through “soft” graft and corruption – what I refer to as “waste, fraud and abuse.”

I’ve been demanding information from City Hall, breaking open back-door meetings, and talking to people inside and outside government for years, and I’ve learned about the specific ways that our laws and our money are being taken away from us by the very people we elect to protect us. I’ve been an activist for a while, blogging, speaking up at community meetings, even successfully suing the City Council for violating the Open Meeting Law through a series of secret closed-door meetings. I’m going to bring information to people so they can elect better officials, demand more of them, and hold them accountable.

But in the end, even if we know all the facts, how can those officials be held accountable if there are just no alternatives to replace them? We can’t vote for “none of the above.” We need candidates who will force a public conversation, bring out information, and give people choices. Entrenched incumbents do their best to prevent this threat to their seats, and shamelessly manipulate the electoral process to avoid accountability at the voting booth. We have to reform a fundamentally broken process, and this is just not going to be done by people who have been part of it and whose career path depends on it. We have to make politics a hopeful public activity again, and public office an honorable profession. Really, if we want to improve things, we have no choice: democracy is messy, but, to paraphrase Churchill, it sure beats the alternatives.

So my purpose is to provide that alternative for a discouraged and, in fact, essentially disenfranchised electorate. Like most people, “I’m mad as hell, and I won’t take it any more.” And we don’t have to. I have specific ideas to make it better, as outlined in my literature and my website www.KevinMccrea.com.

2. What are the three biggest issues facing the city, and what will you do about them?

The biggest issue is public education, or more broadly, youth development in Boston. I link this with the issue of public safety, the most troubling part of which is youth violence. Education is the City’s most basic and important public obligation, and we are failing miserably. We’ve spent 16 years under a mayor who asked to be judged harshly on his record on education. Now he’s told the press, “You want me to defend my record. I’m not going to do that.” Well, he’s not the one that gets to decide that. The people do. And we have wasted a whole generation of youngsters in a system where the vast majority languish in shamefully poor schools while just enough escape through safety valves, like METCO, charters, pilots, exams schools, etc., to provide a semblance of competence for the system and prevent open revolt. The drop-out rates and the college-completion rates will not sustain our society. Only 1 in 8 gets a college degree, almost half don’t graduate. This really has to be addressed now, and in an honest way. My goal is a network of neighborhood schools, where families will actually want to use their local school, and where it will serve them in a comprehensive way, as a community support center for adults and children. I will do this, by the way, as a standard publicly funded service; no communities will be sent off to negotiate with tower developers or corporate donors for their education.

The second is our financial system, including both our income and our expenditures. This system is dysfunctional in many ways, and I’ve been studying these problems intensively. Our budget is manipulated; far from being impoverished, the government actually brings in plenty of money for what we need to provide, and spends too much on the wrong things, from superfluous personnel to politicians names on signs. In addition, our taxation system is extremely unfair. We don’t need more taxes in Boston. We need reform so that taxes and other payments are collected from those who should be providing them – huge commercial towers, non-profit institutions, tax-privileged developers, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (which pays no property taxes on billions of dollars worth of land, much of it taken from the City, free of charge, courtesy of Tom Menino) , state and federal agencies, perennial tax delinquents, etc. We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars a year, a big fraction of the tax levy. I was astounded in the recent WBUR radio forum to hear Sam Yoon, who is styling himself as the “progressive” banner-bearer, suggest that we need a regressive sales tax increase and/or a Prop. 2 1/2 override! Now, he’s been in City Hall for three years, and he knows very well how much of our tax money and public land are wasted in the current system. He himself was part of a back-room deal last year to divert tens of millions of dollars’ worth of City-owned land, the Winthrop Square garage and soon-to-be site of Menino’s 1,000-foot tower, to the Boston Redevelopment Authority, instead of demanding that it be part of the public budget appropriation process. And he and councilor Flaherty were party to a pension-abuse scheme arranged for a City Council employee. In my opinion, progressives must be committed, above all, to honest government. We shouldn’t be reflexive tax-raisers; we should demand reform first, and then more revenue, fairly raised, if it’s really needed. Public officials have no right to expect the public to support our programs with their money if they can’t trust us. I’m going to rationalize the city’s financials, with zero-based budgeting, so that every expenditure has to be proposed and justified every year, and with fairer taxation. I will also push for charter reform that will better balance the powers of the mayor and the city council in budget and taxation matters. In addition, I believe that transparency goes hand in hand with accountability, and I want to make our Boston City government the most transparent in the country. All documents, all income, all expense, all contracts, available online for all to see.

The third is city planning and development regulation. Boston is the only city in America that is run by an urban renewal agency; the Boston Redevelopment Authority, like all authorities, is accountable to no one but its own board. Since the BRA usurped the Boston Planning Board in a 1960 legislative maneuver, city planning is merely place-setting for development proposals. And through the BRA’s powers, we have a “zoning code for sale,” where all that is illegal zoning wise can be made legal – for a price. This is as bad for business as it is for communities; both need predictability and fairness. I will eliminate the obsolete BRA, re-establish a genuine planning and zoning department accountable to the City Council, our legislative branch, as this function operates in every other municipality in the state and the country, and restore the rule of law in permitting development projects. This will actually save developers money and time, and protect their investments from damage by the next developer. Similarly, it will protect the neighborhood fabric, and will avoid further damage, to historic buildings , public open spaces, and the environment. Further, this will help to create much needed jobs, especially her in the city. We need to restore the checks and balances between the executive and legislative branch, make planning and land use regulation properly accountable to the public.

3. Name three things you will do to boost the Boston economy, via shopping, nightlife, etc.?

In Boston, as in the state and the nation, we have to get a more intelligent strategy for economic vitality. As we’ve finally had to admit, we have been living the illusion of permanent growth, based on the illusion of unlimited credit. These are illusions because the wages that all of this “growth” depends on have not been growing for regular people. We have to focus, in the city and at every level, on supporting the big bottom of the pyramid, instead of congratulating ourselves at the handful of billionaires we’re making. Lifting up the ordinary community folks is not very glamorous, and produces fewer VIP photo-ops and shiny tower on the skyline, so it’s not where Mayor Menino, obsessed with his legacy, has been focused. So I will look at three paths for prosperity – in addition to the improvement of public education, which, of course, is the basic foundation for them all.

First, I’ll take us out of the “race to the bottom,” where Menino and the Boston Redevelopment Authority have been leading us over a cliff. I will stop the give-away of hundreds of millions of dollars in public land, tax breaks, and regulatory protections ostensibly doled out to “lure” business and “create jobs.” It’s been well documented, and acknowledged even by many public officials (NB Governor Deval Patrick) who engage in these give-aways, that these subsidies are not really “incentives,” because they don’t sway business decisions – not of viable businesses, anyway. They are simply political ploys, to let politicians take credit for “job creation” (i.e., employees the companies would have hired anyway) while ginning up campaign contributions. I’m not interested in just “creating jobs” whose purpose is make-work; that doesn’t help the city, and often hurts us (there are things that shouldn’t be built, no matter how many people can get apid to build them). There’s plenty of work to do that produces things we really need. And as economists have also documented, the “business-friendly” climate that corporations look for is actually what the rest of us look for: a city that works, that has efficient transportation and other public services, that produces an educated work force, that offers desirable public schools and a choice of housing that people can afford, that has a good quality of life for employers and employees, that has fair and consistently applied regulations, and that supports a diversity of businesses so there are various suppliers and markets near-by, so that there are many options around when economic trends shift.

Second, I’ll be fostering home-grown enterprise. We shouldn’t build an economy dependent on big out-of-town white-collar corporations and on institutional expansion, of whose employees only 20% to 30% are Boston residents, and often far fewer, and which are narrowing our economic base. We should put our economic development assistance into local business, which will not only hire the most local people but also produce more locally needed products, and assure more diversity of industry in the city. This is in keeping with the relocalization movement, which emphasizes local products, manufacture and markets to reduce transportation impacts and increase local independence. We need to take advantage of our residents’ skills and talents, and nurture them. For example, Menino has received $40 million in HUD loan money, and, just as he did with that same amount of money a few years ago, he’s going to distribute it to a few well-connected real estate developers – one of which has already built his project and another of which already had financing at a normal market rate and wants a better deal – from the taxpayers. Meanwhile, he is planning to spend only $350,000 for a micro-loan program for small businesses in the Empowerment Zone. My priorities will be the reverse. If I had $40 million to lend to businesses, you’d see a real impact in the city.

Third, I’ll use the city budget, a huge portion of which is now wasted on patronage featherbedding, dubious no-bid contracts, salary and pension abuses, and inefficiencies in city work that are too numerous to list here, to employ people to actually do what needs to be done for the city. There is, for example, so much environmental work to be done, from energy efficiency and more efficient vehicles to recycling and resource recovery from trash. I’d also work with the state to set up more local production for public goods we need, such as public transit and affordable housing. The government is a big employer, and it needs to be far more productive.

As to shopping and night life…by providing the city with a base so that all areas of the City can thrive, I believe that we will have new products, new stores, new restaurants and new forms of entertainment that will flourish due to the diversity of our population bringing their influences, histories and cultures from around the globe into our great local melting pot. My wife and I traveled around the world on our motorcycles for our honeymoon and we were struck by how many cities are returning to green, pedestrian friendly areas. I would look to bring that to Boston as well. I was especially impressed with Edinburgh, Scotland which had areas which were open to traffic during some times so that stores could ship and receive goods, but during other times they were closed off to traffic. Areas such as Downtown Crossing and Newbury Street might thrive under such a system.

4. Can you state a few innovative ways to lower crime?

I feel the same way about lowering crime as I do about improving public education. We’ve been using experiments and “innovative ways” to deal with these problems as an excuse to avoid dealing with them in the right way, the mundane, basic way, which is to give all young people equal access to a productive future and a decent quality of life. Young people have to see a successful path within their grasp. If they don’t, if they feel they have nothing to lose, they will turn to crime. That happens with white kids as well as those of color; drugs, for example, are a huge problem in white low-income neighborhoods as well as in African American and Hispanic and Asian immigrant neighborhoods. We seem to be willing to pay, as a society, far more to keep these people in the criminal justice system than we’d have paid for to educate them. There’s no glamorous program, no silver bullet, no miracles or policing or gun-shot-detectors or other after-the-damage-is-done solution to our crime problem. We have to support disadvantaged communities, help them get the resources they need to succeed, and let them compete on an equal footing with the rest of us. That may not seem glamorous, but in the long run, all of us will be be better off. I will do for these neighborhoods the more transformational things that neither Menino nor his predecessors would do: provide good schools, clean streets, libraries, real jobs for youth doing work improving their own communities, and funding an adequate security team for our citizens. We need to invest in the schools, the parks and the libraries to give kids interesting, engaging things to do. I don’t believe we need to be innovative, just to take an active role in valuing all of our citizens.

5. President Obama wants to reform education. What can be done to get the ball rolling in Boston?

Well, when we talk about education reform, we’re talking about education of disadvantaged kids; no one is worried about reforming education in the wealthy suburbs or in private schools. So we have to beware of treating our poor kids as experiment fodder. I am philosophically opposed to programs that push us in the direction of privatization, like charters and vouchers. Again, there’s no magic to this; we need to figure out what these kids need, and give it to them. Charters were brought in to try different things as an experimental approach to find out what works. In my research it seems that having good teachers, longer school days, accountability, high expectations, discipline and rewarding achievement are the keys. We need to implement these things in all of our public schools and make sure that our teachers are part of the solution, not vilified as part of the problem.

Many of our children have extraordinary problems in their lives; some can be addressed in the framework of education, but some need other kinds of attention. The most important thing is to start very early, when they are first forming their impressions of what they can hope to be and encourage them to not be limited in thinking about what they can accomplish.

I intend to make the schools good enough that no one will talk about charters and busing zones and vouchers and other gimmicks. I want to get the ball rolling by meeting with the staff, parents and students of every school in Boston, and finding out what’s wrong and what’s right, and doing what needs to be done. And I want to plan a network of neighborhood schools, as I said, to stop losing time, money, and air quality driving kids around town when they should have all they need near home. I know we have the money. We just need leadership from someone who really cares about it.

One other thing I want to implement is something I talked about in the 2005 election: a financial literacy class for all of our high school students. I’m amazed how many adults have no idea about getting a lease, buying a house or even a car, the value of compounding interest, how to get a loan for school or for a business, and how to manage credit.

6. Can you win this election?
Yes. People are really fed up with the political system we have, and the results it has gotten us – unfair taxation, inadequate public services and corruption that makes us want to tune out the politicians and the media. I think if people only knew what’s going on behind those closed doors, if they knew where their hard-earned money is going, how favors get done and how decisions are made, they’d turn out in vast numbers to vote. That’s what happened at the federal and state levels in the recent elections; new and unlikely candidates drew ahead and won in upsets because people realized that elections have consequences. Bostonians are being abused and exploited by their mayor and their city council, but they don’t know exactly how it’s happening. There is a big responsibility on the media to inform them, a responsibility that has not been properly met for a long time. It’s almost impossible to get them to publish this kind of information – even if it’s handed to them. I’m not sure why; they often say that people are bored with these details, but I don’t believe that, and if it’s true, the media are clearly not presenting it properly. No one is bored to learn how they are being cheated.

I understand only too well the mighty advantages of incumbents, who rake in money from special interests and their own employees and who manipulate the public information process. But I am stepping up to what I see as my responsibility and taking on this race, in the hope that the citizens of Boston will vote to support a better government and a different kind of city. Boston has so much to offer; we just need the right vision, and the leadership to act on it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mayor unfairly attacks schools with budget cuts, still isn't honest about numbers

According to the Herald, the Mayor is making 70 percent of the personnel cuts from the School Department when their budget is only about 35 percent of the overall budget. Why does the Mayor dislike schools, education and enhancing intelligence? This is just another vindictive move by a thin skinned Menino who is mad at the teachers union for standing up to him and calling his bluff.

As far as the mounted unit goes, the Mayor and the City Council would have half the money they need per year alone if they had not spent over $300,000 fighting for the legal right to do their business behind closed doors. Further, the Mayor just gave away 2.5 million dollars in property owned by the taxpayers in Dorchester for the Kroc Center last fall to the BRA for free, which then sold that property to the Kroc Center for the 2.5 million dollars. That would have funded the horses for almost 4 years.

Finally, you know you can't trust these guys and their budget numbers when they keep dipping into the rainy day fund and it keeps growing! I confirmed with the City budget office this week the numbers that I had been reading. If you go back in the archives to the budget last year at this time, Lisa Signori said they were taking $35 million out of the rainy day fund which was $110 million dollars. Well, with my math degree 110 minus 35 is $75 million dollars left over. But here we are a year later, the worst financial year since the depression allegedly and now the rainy day fund is $120 million dollars!!! This year we are going to take $45 million dollars out of this 'rainy day fund' which keeps growing despite these tough times. In January of 2007 the fund was only 63 million dollars.

I got an update from the City yesterday, and their latest figures go to the end of March and they still have $929 million dollars in the bank. Sure seems like we could afford some horse feed with that.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Kick Off Party!!! Tomorrow night on West Springfield Street!

Come join us tomorrow (Thursday) Night on West Springfield Street in the South End as we have a bbq and block party featuring the up and coming band That Old Feelin who are playing the following night at the House of Blues.

The parks department and the police have been great in their cooperation in helping us to set up this event. So come on over, pray for nice weather, and enjoy a great evening out!

Hope to see you there!


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Libraries & Public Safety

Some people may not connect the two. But I believe the two are very intertwined. Modern libraries provide all sorts of activities, opportunities, and services for youth and adults. These are not just limited to books, but to all sorts of multi- media and technology activities. They also help bridge the digital divide and provide opportunities for residents to access potential jobs.

An excellent report on this is called Long Overdue which was prepared by Public Agenda.

Many libraries today have "teen only" areas where young adults get to enjoy things that they like, in a safe structured environment that fosters inquisitiveness, knowledge and collaboration. These are not huge money items, they just take knowledgeable library staff, and a commitment to do it, and to spend some money and effort to reach out to the community to make kids aware of the facilities and the opportunities.

Many cities in America and around the world have realized the importance of libraries to their social fabric. Unfortunately, Menino has not prioritized our libraries, getting to the point that his head of the libraries called him "anti-intellectual."
Not a good sign when you are trying to be the Athens of America.

As Councilor Yoon has mentioned, the City of Seattle has completely revamped their entire library system. They have built energy efficient buildings with exciting designs. It started in 1998 when the Seattle voters voted in a referendum to spend 290 million dollars to rebuild the Seattle Public Library. One of the most amazing things about the report that the Library System came out with about the success of the system it doesn't mention the Mayor's name once!! it just says thanks to 'the Mayor and City Council' as part of a long list of people to thank. Menino would never let that happen!

If we really want to do something spectacular for the City of Boston, something to cement our place as an intellectual capital, and a place that values its citizens, our civic life, and the quest for knowledge we should think about introducing a proposition 2.5 override vote to fund a revamping of our own Library System.

Of course, I would favor an open bidding process on both the the design and construction and strict enforcement of the Boston Jobs Policy if we actually got to the point that we could build.

I'm particularly enamored with libraries. When my parents divorced, my mom didn't have money for baby sitters and she would often have my brother and I stay for hours at the Library until she got out of work. We didn't have a television either, so it was natural for us to check out books and then read them at home. My love for reading started early, I remember curling up in corners and feeling special because I got to read books from the adults section. I still use my local library here in the South End often, getting hardcover books recently by Richard Dawkins and Jared Diamond. While my wife and I were traveling around the world we were particularly impressed with libraries in England and Scotland where we could use the computers and do research on local points of interest.

Studies have shown that citizens highly value libraries in their community and will support efforts to fund them. Let's bring this issue to the voters!

Michael Flaherty suggesting people pretend they are working and watch his video's

Universal Hub has the story of how Michael Flaherty sent out an email telling people to pretend they are working while they are at work and instead watch Flaherty Video's. Is that the type of work ethic we want to bring to City Hall?

I hope they watch this one!

Coincidentally, my campaign director and I were at City Hall today trying to get some financial information and she noticed one city council staff spending the whole ten minutes we were there waiting idly looking through and posting on Facebook. No it wasn't Mr. Flaherty's office.

Press release about the City Budget process:

Contact: Antionetta Kelley FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Cell Phone 617-267-2453 June 23, 2009
E-Mail: electkevin@gmail.com


The City Council is scheduled to vote on the Fiscal Year 2010 City Budget tomorrow. But they are voting on it in the blind, not knowing what the actual financial condition of the City is. The Mayor has promised to be transparent about the budget process, but in actuality has been keeping the figures away from the public. As part of his Total Transparency Project, Kevin McCrea vows as Mayor to make all of our City finances available online. Says McCrea, “The citizens and the City Councilors deserve transparency and should have access to all pertinent City financial information. Without that information, we can not make informed decisions about where to spend our money.”

The most recent Cash on Hand balances available from the City are only through the end of February! Furthermore, the balance sheet shows over $929,000,000 dollars on hand which is more than 100 million dollars more than the City had on hand at the same time a year ago, and more than a 100 million dollars more than we had just last October. So, according to the most recent information available from the City there does not appear to be a calamitous budget crisis. McCrea notes: “I have been writing and saying since January that the budget issue is not anywhere near as bad as the Mayor has painted it to be. Running a city based on scare tactics is no way to conduct business. When I am Mayor we will have a transparent process that the councilors and the public have access to so that they can weigh in on the process. I am disappointed Councilors Yoon and Flaherty who should have strong knowledge of the budget have not been letting the public know that things are not as bad as the Mayor makes them out to be.”

McCrea has contacted City Councilors and the Mayor’s people to try and get updated numbers and none are available. For example, the City received 22.5 million dollars in Federal Stimulus dollars for public safety in May, and McCrea asked the Mayor’s people and City Council staff where that fit into the budget picture and has been met with either no reply, or an honest “I don’t know.”

As the following chart shows, since Menino has made his big push for the Meals Tax since 2004, the City Budget people have played games with the numbers at Fiscal Year budget time. For Menino’s entire last term he has underrepresented how much money the City would have available, while still raising expenses between 4 and 6.4% a year: twice the rate of inflation. Residential property taxes have averaged a 7% increase a year over the last 10 years. McCrea says: “We need fiscal honesty now.”

Year------Projected Deficit-----------Surplus (in Millions of dollars)
2004 ----------- 0-----------------------5
2005 -----------52-----------------------8
2006 -----------32----------------------14
2007 -----------23----------------------15
2008 ------------4----------------------16

Pictures from the Bunker Hill Parade!

Had a great time with my mom, sister and friends marching in the Bunker Hill Parade. I have learned the great joy of handing out beads, from spending time in New Orleans. We were throwing beads to young and old, and it always puts a smile on their face.

As we were going down one street there was a bbq going on inside someone's picket fence yard. My sister threw one set of beads into the group and they cried out for "more beads please!", but we looked and they had a bunch of Menino signs tied to their fence. We said "You have the wrong signs on your fence!" and they yelled back, "we don't like him, they just paid us to put them there!" So we threw more beads!

It was a fun and amiable exchange, but as my sister and I conferred later they sure seemed serious about saying that Menino paid them to put up the signs. Then again, as a noted bead hound, some people will say anything for beads!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Neither a borrower, nor a lender be....

I've been so busy, there is hardly time to write. Spent the morning talking to seniors at Florian Hall, competing against Michael Flaherty's mom! We were all very cordial, and enjoyed social niceties in between greeting the people as they came in to play Bingo.

Multiple media interviews today, subjects everything from technology to how in debt Flaherty is. Remember Cellucci getting those funny loans years ago?

"The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender's slave." That quote comes from Proverbs 22:7

Had a quick stint talking to Jim and Margery today on WTKK speaking about the Tall Ships, and how we need to have events like this in Boston. Jim said it well when he ended with, 'what someone needs to do is schedule some darn debates so we can get some of these ideas hashed out. Even Michael Flaherty's mom told me today she can't wait for the debates. Why is everyone so afraid of the Mayor? Just schedule the darn things!!

Tomorrow night is the first debate in the City Councilor at Large race on Boylston Street hosted by the Ward 4 and Ward 5 Committee. What does it tell you about how much power Menino has on these Ward committee's that they will have a debate about City Council candidates which everyone agrees have hardly any power, but none of them are scheduling Mayoral debates!!! I thought Democrats were for democracy? All 4 of the candidates for Mayor are Democrats, wouldn't it be good to have the Ward committees invite the candidates over to discuss issues?

I ended the night at a BRA forum on the future of the Greenway, and discussions about transit in that vicinity. There is a lot of support for bicycles, bicycle paths and making things pedestrian friendly. I spoke and described the Montreal bike sharing plan and suggested an idea of my own. Why not have certain days during the nice weather to shut down all traffic around the Greenway to make it a super pedestrian friendly way, give people a place to ride bicycles, skateboard, rollerskate, etc. This was met with some positive response. It really is just taking a playbook from Memorial Drive in Cambridge, and 5th Avenue and Times Square in NYC.

The BRA has shelved any further discussion about the Greenway until the fall. In other words, Menino has made sure that nothing controversial about development will happen while he is in the middle of an election campaign.

Kairos Shen would not commit one way or another about whether the BTD would become part of the BRA. I did figure out that Kairos Shen is an anagram for "noise shark" which is an apt description of what the BRA does, they create a bunch of noise to confuse and cloud issues, while eating neighborhoods alive. Just ask anyone who survived the urban renewal of the West End, or residents of Fort Point Channel how happy they are with the BRA.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The sorry state of athletics in the Boston Public Schools (Where have Flaherty, Yoon and Menino been on this?)

Bob Hohler of the Boston Globe does a great front page story today on the sorry state of the athletic programs in the Boston Public Schools. I knew that some of the facilities were not that great, and I knew that kids from around the City choose different high schools because of their athletic programs, for example some of the best baseball players go to Brighton, and the best basketball players go to Charlestown, but I had no idea the prevalence across the city of the problem.

There is also a video online with the Athletic Director Ken Still. In the video Mr. Still explains that one of the things that he does is "preaching to the City Council" about his issues.

I'm sure that Yoon and Flaherty will try and say that this is another failure by the Menino administration, but the truth is that all 3 of them have been complicit in this. Yoon and Flaherty have had the opportunity to look at the school budgets, make recommendations and let the public know if anything is not up to par. I've heard nothing but silence until they wanted to run for Mayor.

This is another reason we need to make a serious effort towards returning to neighborhood schools. We don't have enough money for programs, for teachers, for athletics but we can ship kids around the city to different schools without programs.

Neighborhood schools also foster neighborhood pride and interest in these schools and their sports programs and make it easier for kids, parents and neighbors to participate.

How is that the city keeps giving away parks to our local colleges to use for their athletic facilities and we aren't getting to use them for our schools?

We need to start addressing these problems not throwing them under the rug.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Is Boston World Class?

A friend writes in:

The Boston Business Journal is noting that BOSTON did not make the top 25 Cities
Indeed, when it asked its readers (and I do read it) the following results were noted:

34% "Boston should have been on the list of world's 25 best cities in which to live."
43% "Boston is world-class but not Top 25-worthy." (Fran picked this)
20% "Boston is only a so-so city in which to live."
4% "Living in Boston stinks"

Transparency Update, Menino, Yoon and Flaherty worse than Sarah Palin

As I have been telling audiences in my stump speech, Boston City Hall is less transparent than that well known conservative Republican Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska. Mrs. Palin came to office as a reformer and understood that corruption happens where the sunlight does not shine. Alaska implemented a system where every check that the State of Alaska writes of more than $1000 is available to viewed online by the citizens. Here in Massachusetts for example we could have traced payments to COGNOS, or in Boston we could see how Lisa Menino ended up being payed more than $100,000 for being an administrative assistant. You may link to this system here.

Back on January 9 before anyone had announced they were running for Mayor, right after the city council held a hearing on transparency and Sam Yoon promised us a transparency committee that hasn't materialized (very transparent!) I sent an email to all the City Councilors and the Mayor asking them to follow Sarah Palin's lead and implement a similar system. The response was deafening. Not one reply from any one them.

How is that 800,000 citizens in the frozen hinterland known for shooting coyotes, not for their digital superiority, has been able to set up such a technical feat ahead of our supposed 'world class city' filled with 600,000 citizens and their advanced thinking
elected officials?

Maybe they would like to keep things in the dark?

Part of the leadership we need in this city is the ability to look at best practices from other areas of the country and the world and implement them here. Not every thought needs to be visionary, it just takes an ability to be open to new ideas, share the credit, ask for help, and cooperatively make everything better.

Globe outlines how petty and short sighted Menino is

Scott Lehigh spells it out about Menino has been petty and mismanaged the Tall Ships event.

A friend of mine who scheduled her party for the event back in January canceled her party a few weeks ago. She is retired, has beautiful 10th floor condo on Prince Street (that I renovated) and was going to have a wonderful party with 30 or 40 people who would have come into the City, spent their money and enjoyed a wonderful day to show off our wonderful City.

Thanks to Menino's pettiness, this event has been lessened and left everyone with a bad taste in their mouth. And ruined at least one great party, and chance for old friends to get together. Menino runs his life and our city day to day and doesn't understand how other people plan ahead for things. Like schools, roads, infrastructure, planning, etc.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Connecting with the elderly

I spent today with my campaign director Antionetta visiting a number of elderly events around the city. It is so encouraging to see our elders so concerned about the schools. They really care about this country, and about our future. They are thoughtful, they care about who they vote for, and they ask questions. My kind of people.

Many of them believe it is time for Menino to join them in enjoying their Golden Years.

Here is a picture from a luncheon and dancing at the West Roxbury Elks. Everyone was in great spirits and Kay was running a busy ship!

Papers realizing Menino is stealing ideas from me, Yoon and Flaherty

The Bay State Banner editorializes.

Our unscientific poll is not in favor of charters

In our poll, 43% wanted to raise the cap on charters, and 57 % said to put good schools in everywhere, which is my position. Clearly many people reading my blog are likely to inclined to agree with me, but I know many of my friends are for lifting the cap on charters.

In either case, I think that all the attention on raising the cap on charters in the past week really doesn't address the root problem: why don't we have good schools in the inner city, and why aren't our kids prepared and eager to learn?

That is the question that I want to answer and to fix. I am convinced that having good schools in all the neighborhoods is part of having healthy non violent neighborhoods.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Great night in Back Bay!

I was working hard on my Spanish tonight as I had dinner at Casa Romero's with some powerful Latina supporters. They are on my side, and interested in bringing more diversity to all areas of Boston, from the police force to the corridors of City Hall!

Gracias, senoras!

An insight into how much it costs for Menino to put his name on every sign in town (how much money do we have?)

The Herald has a story about Deval Patrick doing the same thing.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Development press release


Candidate for Mayor Kevin McCrea says that “The Mayor through his policies, actions and inactions is keeping development from happening here in Boston, and has left us with some major problems in key areas of the City which are going to take years to overcome.”

Things that the City should do immediately to foster growth and create jobs include:

1) Take developers who have money such as Chiofaro and Raymond Properties who are proposing taking down currently profitable and tax paying buildings such as Government Center Garage and connect them with already started projects who are having difficulty with financing such as Downtown Crossing. We should finish already permitted buildings before tearing down existing ones leaving more gaping scars in our urban fabric.

2) Sell the excess land and properties that the City owns. Currently the City of Boston and the Boston Redevelopment Authority own hundreds, if not more than a thousand properties that are not paying taxes and could be developed. There are multiple advantages to this.
a) Bring in needed money to City coffers
b) Spread out the real estate tax levy to more people thus lessening the burden on current taxpayers
c) Spur construction and hence jobs. Construction is still occurring where properties are available
d) Lower housing costs by increasing supply. Housing costs are still high here in Boston, stunting
all economic growth
e) Reduce political power of incumbents. Some of the largest campaign contributors are
developers and their allies who are hoping for favorable land deals. If the City exited from the
land banking business, the interest and influence of these contributors would be lessened.

3) Appoint a Citizens Advisory Council for Turnpike Air Rights Parcels 12-13-14-15. The Mayor has been holding up development of these valuable pieces of land for over 6 months despite the fact that four developers have paid hundreds of thousands in fees and made multiple proposals to start building over the Turnpike near Massachusetts Avenue. Developers Weiner, Carpenter, Chiofaro, and Trinity have paid almost half a million dollars to have their proposals reviewed while the Mayor and the BRA have been holding the process up. These proposals will create jobs, bring together the Back Bay and Fenway, and create needed revenue for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.

4) A legally enforceable Master Plan for the City of Boston needs to be created. Numerous developers and financiers refuse to do business in Boston because of the “banana republic” zoning regulations we have here. No developer is going to invest tens of millions of dollars in Boston for development, when the Mayor and the BRA can easily degrade the value of their property by approving a larger or more onerous development that devalues their property despite what current zoning regulations would indicate.
Without the rule of law, a developer has no recourse and hence won’t risk major investment in the area.

multiple events tonight

I got to visit Wheelock College where the Metro Lacrosse awards were being given. Don Rodman made a nice speech about the difference between being charitable and being philanthropic. The essential difference being that philanthropic people leverage their charity to bringing about even bigger results. Many happy kids and parents.

Then it was off to the Ditson Street Senior Housing center for the local CDC annual meeting. Local C-11 Captain received an award and we had a nice chat about the state of things in Dorchester. I'm impressed with the honesty of many city workers, teachers, police officers and others who are clear that they are happy with the pay they receive. They are even magnanimous towards others, for example the officer speaking about how underpaid the A.D.A's are.

Again saw some old friends, made some new ones including a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who was impressed with my Vietnamese and my knowledge of Buddhism. Our trip around the world has given me a much greater understanding of the structural and cultural backgrounds of many people that I wouldn't otherwise have.

Nice article in Metropolis Magazine about the BRA and Mayoral Candidates

Does it take someone from NY to understand what is going on in Boston?

Yoon and Flaherty "borrowing" more ideas from me

It seems like I'm providing a good public service to Councilor's Yoon and Flaherty. They can listen to me, read my website, and then take my ideas and use their councilors pulpit to get publicity. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I'm happy that these ideas will get out into the public to try and make the City a better place.

Today Flaherty gets an article in the Globe about his ideas on crime where he mentions an idea I just posted on my blog last week.

Over at the Herald they have a story about how Sam Yoon now wants to eliminate the power of the BRA, which is exactly what I have been saying needs to be done for the last 4 years. Nice of Sam to jump on my bandwagon. When Sam, Michael and I were on WBUR about a month ago Sam talked about getting rid of the BRA and I asked his campaign manager when Sam decided to join me on this issue and he said "I think right now."

How can we trust these politicians? They do one thing for years and now that they want the job of the guy they have been supporting for years, they say they are for the opposite things.

I hope people will consider my candidacy. I have been consistent in calling for open, honest government where elected officials are accountable to the citizens. I look forward to being able to present my case to the citizens.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Meet and Greet on Monday Night!

Dear Friends and Supporters:

This is a reminder that tomorrow night at the beautiful home of my supporter and long time activist Shirley Kressel we will be having a "meet the candidate night" and fundraiser. We hope you can make it. The event starts at 6:30 at her house at 27 Hereford Street, Boston, MA in the Back Bay, between Marlborough and Commonwealth Avenue. Donations are encouraged, so if you would like a chance to hear Kevin speak and ask him questions please come by! Shirley's phone number is 617-421-0835.

We have been making good progress lately with appearances on WGBH, WBUR, BNN and WTKK. This past week we have been participating in many Pride events and just today we marched in the Bunker Hill Day Parade and saw many old friends and we made some new ones as well.

We appreciate you taking the time to help us with our campaign to bring honest, open, accountable government to the citizens. Whether it is telling people about our campaign, helping us with phone banking or door knocking, or by sending a donation it all helps.

Please take the time now to send us a campaign contribution so that we may pay for these parades and other needed expenses. As you know campaigns take money and your contribution of $25, $50 or $100 dollars goes a long way towards keeping our message of change alive. You may mail contributions to us, or use Paypal on our website www.kevinmccrea.com. As always, thank you for your generosity and support!

If you have any questions please contact our Campaign at (617)267-2453.

Please stay involved! Please join me in the fight to bring change to Boston!


Kevin McCrea

Intimidation and Fear by Menino

In the Herald today they run a story about how Michael Flaherty's fundraiser at Game On! was mysteriously cancelled. They also talk about my recent story of the DPW workers and the sidewalk on my street.

Anyone who doesn't understand that Menino runs this city through intimidation and fear is not closely involved in what is going on in the city. However, the fact is that many people are not closely involved in what is going on in the City, and since Boston is a great place with or without Menino they don't really care.

I had a similar experience as Michael Flaherty. We were going to have our first fundraiser at a local restaurant here in the South End. They have groups in all the time, and we are friendly with the owner. I asked him personally if we could have our campaign kickoff at his restaurant and he told me that he was sorry but that he couldn't risk it. He said that Menino had helped him get the permits and licenses for his place, intimated that perhaps he shouldn't have received some of what he got, and said that he just couldn't risk it because it was his livelihood. So we kicked off our campaign in Dorchester.

Just this weekend I took my wife out to dinner and I was wearing my rainbow hat for Pride Week as we went to another local south end restaurant where we also know the owner. He came over and said hello, told us that he loved my hat (he is gay), and how much he wished that I get elected Mayor. We then talked about the intimidation of Menino and how he couldn't let me put a sign in his window because Menino's people would come in and give his restaurant some violations. He left with "it has happened before."

I have had many, many reporters including from the Globe and Herald tell me about how vindictive the Mayor is, and how the City will never move on until Menino goes. I have columnists tell me that they are ready to tell the story as soon as one 'insider' will come out and spill the beans. But that is the intimidation level that Menino has, no one will publicly come out and say it.

Recently a city official told me a story about how they were intimidated by a BRA official to do some private work (illegally) for this BRA employee. I did the followup by checking with some BRA people that I know and the story held water. I went back to the city official and said that I had checked their story and it was true and would they please come clean with it. The city official declined because of fear of Menino.

When I was collecting signatures on Day one when the City was filled with City workers taking the day off to collect signatures for the Mayor I was amazed at the anger these people had for me just for running. One city electrician in Hyde Park said to me with vitriol "why are you running? You can't win." As we waited for voters to come by I was talking to another Menino person and I asked what he did and he said "I'm so connected I can't tell you what I do for the City."

I commend Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon a bit for sticking their neck out there. However, they have been complicit in these types of tactics for years. Today is the Bunker Hill Day Parade. 4 years ago the same people were putting up Menino, Flaherty, and Connolly signs together on Main Street. I fear that Flaherty is just a younger version of Menino. He believes in doing business behind closed doors, saying one thing and doing another, and in not answering questions. Yoon won't answer questions either, but I don't believe he wants to run the City in such a heavy handed way.

I was at the Union Club last week, invited to apply to be a member, and as I was walking out the door with well respected local big wig lawyer who had been telling me how unhappy many of the members are with the Mayor finished with "but they are afraid of him as well." These are some of the most important, powerful people in the City and they are afraid of him.

When the candidates met with Menino's debate team and WGBH, the Globe, WBUR and NECN, the media sources (and the candidates) all acquiesced to Menino's demands to change the date and time of the debates. It still wasn't good enough for Menino and they balked at doing two debates. The TV stations have been afraid to just schedule a date and time and if he doesn't come, let it go on. It is amazing to me, in this City which started the revolution against King George, everyone is afraid to lift a finger against our current dictator, or speak in public what nearly everyone says in private. Kudos at least to the Bay State Banner which has editorialized that it is time for the Mayor to go.

When I ran for City Council at Large four years ago, I was openly critical of the Mayor. The following year, the City raised the assessment on our family's home by over $700,000 nearly doubling our taxes. Think that is just coincidence? We now have the highest assessed single family in the South End on an average street in the south end, not Montgomery or Union Park. Vindictive, I wonder?

How many more years can we tolerate half of our kids not graduating from high school? Rates of crime twice that of NYC? Violence against women 4 times that of NYC? No plan for the roads? No transparency or accountability? 5 times the drop out rate of Cambridge!

Boston will survive, it is a great city, but it is in spite of not because of our political leadership.

When is someone at City Hall going to question how a liquor license was given to a political insider through bribes???? Not a peep from Menino, Flaherty, Yoon or anyone else at City Hall.

Why do we tolerate this?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

How Bad are the Boston Public Schools?

In the Globe today, there is an article about the principal of English High being replaced. There is one paragraph that completely dispels the notion that Menino puts forward about how the schools have improved:

Once one of Boston's most prestigious schools, English High was in such dire shape by 2007 that the state identified it as one of the worst schools in Massachusetts and threatened to close it unless scores improved.

So, 14 years into Menino's term he let one of the oldest schools in America become one of its worst.

A poster who identifies as a Boston Public School teacher after the article had some honest words:

You can blame the kids and the parents all you want, and you'd be justified in doing so. However, blame doesn't educate kids. As a public school teacher in Boston, I feel that it is my job to educate the child in front of me despite the failures of the system and family. Even the failures of the child must be put aside in order to find a way to get that child to learn.

There exists a cultural quagmire in the lower socioeconomic classes of Boston. People pay lip service to the concept of education yet take no responsibility for the actual task of teaching. Kids and their parents believe more in street justice than the legal system, unless they can make a financial gain through a lawsuit. Crumping is more valued than chemistry. Entitlement is the norm. All this and more is terribly unfortunate and likely to be the end of this country as we know it. That being said, when I step into my school, I know that despite the obscene lack of skills, logic, and knowledge possessed by the parents, students, and some colleagues, I still have a job to do.

I do wish that every person reading this would spend a day, afternoon, or even a couple hours in a Boston public school. You'd be surprised just how bad it is. We have to do something about the culture that is being created by the political system that panders to the "me and mine" faction. Until we do, I'll keep trying to push back the tide in my classroom, hoping to reverse in a child the consequences of our failure to act.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Real Accountability

Someone posted a comment that I wanted to put on the main page about what accountability would mean. His comments sound like someone who knows about system analysis and how to make government accountable. That is what I've been talking about and want to implement.

There was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal this week about similar crime mapping programs. The main ones are crimemapping.com, crimereports.com and everyblock.com.
Basically it is a tool for the police and public to use to track crime. Residents could see hot spot areas, what is going on in those neighborhoods, the type of crime, etc. The police can use those tools to target where officers need to be. They, of course, already do these things but it needs to be updated and made transparent so the citizens can be made aware and become partners in stopping crime.

Here is the comment from the poster:

Real accountability would mean:

*Realtime publicly trackable GPS for all DPW vehicles and its itemized jobs while assigned workers are logged for internal performance audits (callbacks, slow progress, etc.)
*Time-stamped publicly viewable digital photos documenting pre and post conditions, and work execution (including prep and obscured infrastructure, underlayment, etc.)

Of course the first step would be a complete integration of the above within a comprehensive dispatch coordinating system geared toward efficiency and non-redundancy.

Government is subordinate to the people and public servants need to be reminded who their master is.

Residents should be able to pull up an online map with dots showing the location of work to be done with a brief description -- accompanied by a set of moving dots depicting crews on site (with traffic disruptions specifically highlighted).

All the data should be open source, so members of the public can mine it to find out for instance; how much time is devoted to driving, or planting trees, or scraping paint, or power-washing, etc.

Good luck Kevin,

Jason Gordon
Brookline (soon to be Jamaica Plain)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The fraud of the Mayor's accountability system

Something that is disappointing about the way this City operates is the lack of responsibility and accountability in the way things are done. What this leads to is a healthy dose of skepticism by the citizens which leads to a lack of trust that the government can get things done, and that they are honest about the work they do.

I believe this comes directly from the top. When City workers know that the Mayor and the City Councilors are not honest about the services they provide, it does not provide much motivation for them to do any better.

Unfortunately, I don't need to travel any further than my tiny block of West Springfield Street to show how the Mayor's tracking system doesn't really make anything more accountable, is not honest, and that intelligent people who work for the Mayor don't trust the system or the people that work in it.

Recently on our block some of the granite cobblestones that make up the ramp to our rear alley had come loose. A resident on the street apparently called the City to have the ramp fixed. As I was walking down the street one day I saw a single worker fixing the two foot by two foot hole where the cobblestones were missing. I didn't think anything more about it until I returned home a few hours later and saw the horrible job that had been done. I knew that the patch would not last and took a picture of it:

Sure enough, a couple of days later the cobblestones had fallen apart and no one from the City came back to fix them or check up. So, I thought this was an opportunity to see exactly how the City documents things with their new accounting system they have been touting. The City of Boston has asked me to make all my public records requests through one attorney, Maribeth Cusick, so that the City can keep tabs on all the information I ask for. Menino, Yoon and Flaherty can't take the risk that if I ask some random City employees for some information and they turn it over it might make them look bad. This way they can control the flow of information through one source. Mrs. Cusick is very smart and pleasant and also represents the City Council in their Open Meeting Lawsuits. Late on June 2 (8:53 pm), I sent an email to Mrs. Cusick for a copy of the tracking system report:

A new request: The DPW was out this week fixing the alley on my street of West Springfield Street between West Springfield and Mass Ave.
Can I have all the tracking information for this fine repair? Who requested it fixed, when the request was made, how long it took to respond to the request,
who worked on it, whether anyone inspected it? In other words, I would like to see how the Mayor's new tracking system worked for this repair just down
the street from me. It was done last week.

Here it gets interesting. Instead of just getting me the information I requested, clearly Mrs. Cusick had no confidence in the Department of Public Works and sent a request to them that they inspect the work that the Department had already closed the case on as being resolved. How do I know this? Because the next day as I was returning from a Seniors event at about 2:30 I turned onto West Springfield Street and saw 3 DPW trucks and 6 DPW workers working on the 2 foot by 2 foot hole in the ground!!! I parked my truck and walked down the sidewalk to take a picture. The foreman yelled at me "Hey, you can't take a picture!" I asked why I can't take a picture from a public sidewalk and he said back "We're the FBI". Here is a picture of the 3 trucks and in the background the group of workers:

So, I sent Mrs. Cusick an email updating my FOIA request:


Do I have you to thank for fixing our alley so fast? Please include the tracking numbers for today's fix including whether anyone but me called in to ask them to do it right this time!

Two days later I got the reply from Mrs. Cusick:

Hi Kevin:

Below please find the responsive records for your request concerning the tracking information for the repair to the alley between West Springfield Street and Massachusetts Avenue.


From: Coppola, Janine
Sent: Friday, June 05, 2009 12:49 PM
To: Cusick, Maribeth
Subject: Update to 190 W. Springfield St case...

Maribeth: Here is a screen shot of the 190 W. Springfield St. case Case ID#54599). What it shows is as follows:
5/26 -- Issue called in by Jon Goose; Case created and sent to PWD Sidewalk Repair; Reallocated to PWD Highway Genrl Maint.
5/28 -- Repairs made and case closed as resolved.

Upon contact from M. Cusick re: K. McCrea request for info., PWD asked to go out and inspect site. Repairs made again. Explanation provided by R. Quigg re: traffic degrading prior repairs made.

6/5 -- Case reopened to update on request for inspection; Case note added w/ findings and repairs made; Case closed as resolved (per R. Quigg).

Hope this information is helpful. Thanks, - janine


So, what can we determine from this carousel?

1) City Workers like Mrs. Cusick have no faith in the Mayor's accountability program
2) Just because the City says that a problem has been corrected, clearly it doesn't mean that a problem has been corrected.
3 ) On very short notice at least 3 DPW trucks and 6 DPW workers are available to fix a 2x2 hole in the ground that a single worker had allegedly fixed on his own a week earlier. Are the streets really in such great condition that 6 guys can work on this issue?
4) On 6/5 the case was opened allegedly because of a request of mine, when actually I never requested anything except a copy of the records. The case was closed 11 minutes later. Maybe because the work had actually been done on 6/3?
5) On 6/3 the day that the work was actually done with 6 workers, according to the City records nothing was done.
6) Notice that the City uses the excuse that traffic ruined the repair, when in actuality as you can see from the first photo it was just bad work. Why take responsibility and be honest about something when you can pass the buck. Just like Menino, Yoon and Flaherty. They learn from the best!

This reminds me of the sayings "there are lies, damn lies, and statistics" and GIGO (Garbage in, Garbage Out). Clearly the way this system is set up someone can enter in information that a problem has been corrected when in actuality the situation has not been done to proper standards. This would probably show up in the Mayor's statistics as two properly completed jobs. Further, it clearly isn't important to keep track of the actual dates when anything is being done. With data so inconsistent, none of it can be trusted.

This is a difficult problem to correct. There needs to be better management of the tracking system with established guidelines, there needs to be accountability that jobs are completed properly whether through inspections or other means. I am particularly concerned that six guys and 3 trucks are working on such a tiny job. It is situations like this that I believe the Financial Commission is talking about when they say we need a revised management structure at the DPW.

One parent's take on the disfunctional Boston Public Schools

I was on Mike Ball's Left Ahead blog and podcast the other day, which led to a further discussion about schools. Those who are involved in the schools as in other activities involving Boston government know that the system is about who you know, which is a form of corruption: not providing fair and honest service to all the citizens. This is why transparency, honesty and openness are so crucial. The citizens need to trust that they are getting a fair shake, they don't get it from the current elected officials in City Hall.

With Mike's permission I post what he went through as a parent:

Kevin, I have many school tales. We have an adult son, an 18-year-old and a 15-year-old. The first two graduated from BLS and the third is in BLA.

The tales relate more to playing the various bureaucratic games to get them in good schools. We have been under numerous superintendents, as well as several very different assignment schemes. With the first son, we literally had to move twice to ensure he got in the right elementary (Quincy) and middle (Timilty) schools.

We researched the various options for all three. My wife volunteered in the various schools. We were every involved parents. Yet, at every stage, Court Street seemed to delight in hindering us. We'd call about things as simple as assignment choice dates and everyone who answered, when we were finally able to get someone, gave us a different date and details. It was worse when they'd assign the wrong buses after we moved to JP 20 years ago. We were unsure which was worse, the arrogance or incompetence. We also knew that parents connected with the assignment people got whatever they wanted.

We ended up with mixtures of schools as a result. For one son, the right kindergarten answer was Haley, but the elementary there was a flop then. So, it was Curley with one and then Hennigan with another. They both ended up at the Irving, which was our only choice then with advanced work. Even though the middle school was poor quality and even dangerous, the sub-school with the adanced work was just fine.

Honestly, parents should not have to go through what we did to get their kids a decent public education. Our boys got what they needed from BPS, but only through our efforts.

Sorry for that, but I can rant on schools at length.



A worthy event involving art and veterans

finding home
Work by artists and veteran-artists focusing on issues of
war and the experience of veterans returning home.

art by Combat Paper Project, Chris Vongsawat, Gabrielle Keller, Jeremy Stainthorp Bergren, Jim Lommasson, Kaitlyn Boucher, Nelson Curry, Stuart Diamond, Lauren Gillette, Ken Hruby, Aaron Hughes, Jo Israelson, Deborah Laughlin, Marilyn Nelson, Dan Osterman, James O'Neil, Jon Orlando, Dan Paluska, Jose Santos, Robin Shores, Beverly Sky, Chris Vongsawat, Chris Watts

June 12th, Friday, 5:00-7:00 PM at Art@12

Artists Panel Discussion

June 18th, Thursday, 6:00 PM - ?
moderated by Ken Hruby, Associate Professor of Sculpture,
School of the Museum of Fine Arts

Special Event
June 25th, Thursday, 7:00 PM - ?

In conjunction with this exhibit, a reading by
faculty of the Writers Workshop at the Joiner
Center for the Study of War and Social
Consequences led by award winning poet
Brian Turner will be held at the
Cambridge, MA 02138 (617.868.2033)

Art @ 12 Farnsworth Street
M-F 11-6, Sat 11-4
(one block past Childrens Museum) --- Off Congress St. in the Fort Point Neighborhood!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Why is nothing happening over the Turnpike? Blame the Mayor and politics

Ned Flaherty reports that the truth finally has come out about why nothing is happening over the Turnpike at Mass Avenue near Fenway. So, when questioning why development isn't moving forward in this city, and why construction jobs aren't being filled, the Mayor can look himself in the mirror and say: "I'm holding things up for political reasons." There are 4 developers (Weiner, Chioforo, Trinity, Carpenter)who are interested in developing there and the Mayor won't appoint a CAC so that the development process may proceed. A crystal ball would say that as soon as this election is over in November, the Mayor and the BRA will get back to their backroom deals if he beats me.

Hello, Kevin.

It was Mayor Menino’s development staff that ordered the suspension of work on proposals for Turnpike Air Rights Parcels 12-13-14-15.

The news came during this morning’s monthly meeting of the Metropolitan Highway System Advisory Board. EOT Deputy Secretary for Real Estate & Economic Development Peter O’Connor (617-973-7339, Peter.O’Connor@eot.state.ma.us) said that the mystery was resolved when he and MTA Deputy Director for Real Estate William Tuttle (office: 617-248-2826; facsimile: 617-523-0729; William.Tuttle@MassPike.com) met last month with BRA Community Planning Deputy Director Randi Lathrop (617-918-4302; Randi.Lathrop.BRA@CityofBoston.gov).

The ball has been in the BRA’s court, waiting for Mayor Menino to appoint a Citizens Advisory Committee, ever since the proposals were received over 6 months ago on 5 December 2008. But for the last half year, BRA officials, who are appointed and removed by Menino, intentionally took no action.

O’Connor, a former BRA-EDIC attorney who says he is close friends with BRA Chief Planner Kairos Shen (617-918-4471, Kairos.Shen.BRA@CityofBoston.gov), said not only is the next step up to the mayor’s development staff, but it now appears that BRA officials would be satisfied if nothing ever occurs on these 4 parcels.

There are 3 likely explanations for the Mayor’s freeze, which resulted in withholding the written proposals, appointing no Citizens Advisory Committee, and holding no public meetings.

1. It’s possible that the Mayor views development of these sites as unimportant.

2. It’s also possible that behind-the-scenes negotiations are underway.

3. But the most likely reason is that the mayor was burned by controversy during prior air rights reviews (Boylston Square, 1998 - 2001; Columbus Center, 1996 - present), and wants to delay all chance of public outcry until after the election.

On 19 May, BRA Project Manager Jonathan Greeley (617-918-4486, Jonathan.Greeley.BRA@cityofboston.gov) said that his organization had indefinitely suspended all public processes for Parcels 12-13-14-15 because of reorganizations at the Turnpike Authority.

Ned Flaherty

My take on the (Menino, Yoon, Flaherty) Charter School Movement

All three of my opponents have now jumped on the Charter School movement. Charter schools are doing some fantastic work around the country and in this City. A kid who was on my baseball team who lives on Geneva Ave. in Dorchester just got accepted to a Charter School and his family tells me that they know that is the only way he will get a good education.

But that is the problem, even when we lift the cap on charters we are tacitly admitting that there are other schools which are failing. Why is that none of the candidates say that they will not tolerate bad schools anywhere in the City? Why have all three of these candidates tolerated these bad schools for all the 40 years or so combined that they have been in office?

The two elephants in the room are busing and failing schools. Raising the cap on charters only slightly addresses getting more kids out of the regular schools and into better charter schools. In addition, there is no guarantee that the kids who need it most will get into those charter schools, instead it could be that many of these favored seats will go to favored people.

President Obama has been impressive in his desire to tackle the big problems. I think we here in Boston can tackle big problems, which is why I want to put good schools in every neighborhood, and then eliminate the busing system which currently wastes about 10% of our resources that could otherwise go towards better schools, supplies and teacher salaries.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Listen to my Podcast with Ryan, Lynn and Mike on Ryan's take


I spent an enjoyable hour today with three prolific bloggers, Ryan, Lynn and Mike Ball who are progressive activists who have long blogged and talked about how to make our City and State better. Take a listen!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Time to move election Time

By a two to one margin our poll suggests that people understand that moving the Mayoral elections to coincide with the Presidential election is a cost effective measure that will increase voter turnout.

Let's do it!

More Mayoral Debates!!

It seems like more and more TV stations are thinking of holding debates.

I am hoping that they all schedule their own debates, maybe on different topics (education/crime/development/TRANSPARENCY!!!). I hope they are not bullied by the Mayor who says he will only debate in two before the primary and one after. It would be great if they stood up and acted unilaterally. I know that Yoon, Flaherty and I have all said we would like there to be as much discussion about the future as possible.

We have already been invited to two debates after the election, how can Menino try to say he will only do one? He has said he doesn't want to talk about the past, and he has no plans for the future on his website, surely that must mean he wants to explain his vision on TV!?

Here is WCVB:


WCVB-TV Boston is extending this invitation to debate in the Boston Mayoral election.

We are proposing these dates listed below with the understanding that the debates will go forward if all candidates agree to debate.

Dates: September 8, 7-8 pm Preliminary Debate, October 20, 7-8 pm General Debate

Location: WCVB-TV studios (no audience)

Format: The hour would be broken into several sections.

1. Moderator/reporter questions to the candidates
2. Candidate to candidate questions
3. Citizen questions from our web site TheBostonChannel
and taped street interviews in Boston neighborhoods
4. Candidate closing remarks

*These debates will be open to any candidate on the ballot who receives at least 5% in Boston mayoral polls taken from July 1 through August 31.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Weekend Update!

Things are starting to pick up in the City politics wise. I was invited to a house party in Allston friday night, met a bunch of excited new, young voters and as I was leaving around midnight I was welcomed by some other recent new residents, a pair of rats running from some bushes right past me. I have heard from many residents about the rat problem out there, and it is clearly palpable.

Saturday I had to teach Motorcycle Safety Class in Charlestown, but I did get to see the big Charlestown event that day a collection of real trucks, from backhoe's to street sweepers to tractor trailers. There were hundreds of kids there with their parents enjoying the excellent show. Later it was my local Claremont Neighborhood Association Street Fair which was a big success. Funny stories were told about how archaic the Mayor's permit process is to get a permit do even something as simple as closing down a one way side street for a neighborhood event.

Sunday started early with basketball at Malcolm X Park in Roxbury. Fellow Mayoral candidate Gareth Saunders and I teamed up with another 'over 40' team member to beat 3 youth in a game of 3 on 3 by the huge margin of 15-3.

Then it was off to the Dorchester Day Parade. My team and I had a great time handing out beads to the kids from Mardi Gras, pamphlets to the adults and a few kisses here and there in exchange for promised votes! See some pictures here.

Update: see pictures of Obama and I at the Dot Day parade from another blog!!

Busy week ahead getting the message out about Open, Honest Transparent Government.

Well written letter to the editor about how Menino has not provided good schools

Editors of the Banner:

I read with great interest your story on “Menino reaches out to Dudley Square residents”. The Mayor has done much good in Dudley Square and the larger Roxbury community during his tenure. His vision to select a well respected community oriented law enforcement practitioner in Commissioner Davis is testament to his commitment to the communities of Boston that struggle with effective crime prevention.

However, we all ought to pause and reflect on the Mayors statement that “We’re going to the people, instead of the people coming to us” to help solve public safety issues. We’re all for reaching out to constituents for guidance, but in an election year how much of this is political posturing?

In the past, we’ve come to Mayor Menino and others to petition for better quality public schools because quality or lack of it has significant bearing on the crime we experience on our streets.

The issue of school quality has been with us for a while. From the ruins of Urban Renewal that leveled the Boardman school in Roxbury and saw the rise of METCO in the sixties, to bussing in the seventies, lawsuits at exam schools in the nineties, and a steady adoption of charter schools today, the citizens of Boston have been “bringing it” to our elected officials when it comes to education, Mayor Menino included.

Yet, after more than forty years of engagement, the Boston Public Schools system still cannot lay claim to being one corporation, where regardless of which school our kids attend, parity exists in the education they receive.

It’s frustrating that we continue to miss the connection between laying a solid educational foundation and improved public safety and quality of life on our streets.

It goes without saying that city services to keep the lights on and streets clean will help deter crime and is a small thing worth paying attention to. However, police commissioner Davis’ comment that “we pay attention to the small things, and the big things will take care of themselves” is troubling because no city service we provide will pay more dividends in dealing with issues of crime than the service we provide in the classroom. Education is a big thing that will not take care of itself, no matter how much we focus on the small things that also require attention.


-Rodney Singleton

Saturday, June 06, 2009

How to solve the downtown crossing problem

One of the great terms for getting things done is to be a 'rainmaker'. A good Mayor should be a 'rainmaker' for his city.

Right now we have two giant skyscraper projects being proposed where there are perfectly good buildings presently which are making money for their owners, are paying good taxes, and are within their zoning limits. The garages at One Congress and at the Aquarium. However, their respective owners are trying to get zoning relief to build 4 times or more the allowed limit. Both groups say they have the money and are ready to build.

Meanwhile at Downtown Crossing we have a bombed out crater of a building with a builder who can't get any financing. If I was Mayor I would be working my tail off to broker a deal so that these developers who have money could come in and make Downtown Crossing happen sooner rather than later.

As a (not nearly so big) developer I know that I don't care where the project is as long as I'm making money on it. If someone comes to me with a deal and wants to broker something I'm open to it. As Mayor I would get involved with this, find out what the numbers are and get players either in or out in order to get this project going.

We should be looking to finish projects already started before giving out zoning exemptions to take down more perfectly good buildings in the heart of our City.

Flaherty answering questions on Blue Mass Group

Over at Blue Mass Group, Michael Flaherty's aid Natasha Perez has posted saying that they will answer all questions asked of them. If you have questions for Michael head over there and ask.

So far, she directly evaded the questions I have asked of Michael(judge for yourself in the comments section, just as Michael has been evading my questions for years. However, I give them credit for trying, and if you have a question I suggest you ask.

One of the huge differences between myself and my opponents is that I will answer a question directly. I will tell pro-life people that I favor a woman's right to choose for example. I respect their opinion and I hope they respect mine.

I have tried to ask questions of the Mayor and Councilor Yoon recently as well and they have both blown me off. The Mayor is at least honest about it. I asked him if I could ask him a question and he just said "NO". I asked Sam if I could ask him a question and he said "absolutely" and said to call his office the next day. His office told me Sam doesn't have any time free in the next 6 months. So much for being open to your constituents.

One of the things I have promised to do as Mayor is at least once every three months have an open hour or two in the afternoon in an open press conference and answer questions of anyone who would care to ask. Thinking out loud, maybe it might be a good idea to go around to the neighborhoods and do that, bring the power to the people!

Is there a magic pill for making better schools: longer school days and high expectations

The NY Times today has another example of how this is not rocket science.

Friday, June 05, 2009

A Great Thing to Donate to!!!!

My friend Jewel Cash introduced me to her friend Patrick Williams [(617) 851-5602 or e-mail him at pwilliam@bates.edu.] who is putting together a wonderful summer program for disadvantaged youth. Both Jewel and Patrick are college students. I encourage you to read below and get in touch with Patrick and please donate some money. Even $25 makes a BIG difference. Here is Patrick describing what he will do with the money:

Patrick Williams
Lewiston Summer Squash Camp

The service project I am going to undertake in this upcoming summer involves holding an 8-week squash enrichment summer program for refugee youth from downtown Lewiston. The camp would run Monday through Friday from 8-4 each day starting June 22-August 14.
My goal for this summer program is to work with a group of 10-12 middle school age boys teaching them the game of squash and working on a small curriculum of reading and writing. The students will also participate in art enrichment activities and service projects organized and planned by the group. Through learning the game of squash, these kids will learn integral life skills such as teamwork, integrity, respect, appreciation and care for their fellow teammates and others. Beyond this, one of my main goals is focused on getting these students off the streets by providing them with organized activities to occupy their time during the summer. I want to make a positive impact on these kids’ lives while showing them that there are alternatives paths to take and the value each of them has.
Though each day will be slightly different, they will all follow a similar structure. We will begin each day meeting up at Trinity Jubilee Center downtown before heading to the courts. Once at the courts we will begin with a warm-up involving running, stretching, and talking as a group. The rest of the morning will involved teaching the youth skills and rules of squash. As the students make progress over the summer these morning drills will become more challenging and push the students to improve their squash skills. At the midpoint of the day students will eat lunch as a team. The afternoon schedule will vary, with many afternoons focused on writing, reading, or other creative literacy projects such as poetry. The goal of each session is for students to practice and improve their language and writing skills in a supportive, enjoyable and safe environment. Other afternoon activities may involve art enrichment projects, community service projects in Lewiston, other teambuilding activities, and potentially guest speakers.
The students I will be working with attend the Trinity Jubilee Center or DEC after school programs during the year. The group of 10 boys will be made up of 5 Somali Bantu boys and 5 Sudanese boys, ages 9-15. These 2 groups and the individual boys themselves are all handpicked because they have extreme potential to go far in life but sometimes struggle academically and behaviorally in school due to their past and present experiences of being refugees. In particular some of these boys have begun to take out their frustrations on each other which this program will help to temper by giving them common ground, as well as a forum in which to outsource their frustrations.
This project is extremely personal for me because I began playing squash in 6th grade for the Squashbusters Urban Squash Program in Boston. This program taught me values that greatly impacted my life and made me a huge part of who I am today. I have been teaching kids how to play squash for the past 6 years. This past summer I co-ran a summer program at Squashbusters. Beyond these work experiences, I was once a young African American boy growing up in the streets and I feel like I can really relate and offer support to these youth as a positive role model, friend, and coach. Academically, as Sociology major I am interested in writing my thesis on this very topic of how an urban squash program can impact the lives of refugee youth and this summer is the perfect opportunity to run a pilot program. After college I am potentially interested in pursuing a career in running my own squash team or program.
I really see this summer as an extremely remarkable opportunity for these youth, Bates College, and myself to create long-lasting if not life-changing experiences in the lives of these youth. It happened for me and helped get me to Bates, and I want to make sure it can happen for them too. Thank you for considering my camp as a possible organization to donate to.
Name: Patrick Williams
Birthday: June 19, 1989
Race/Ethnicity: Black American
Home-town/Birth-town: Boston, Ma
Mailing Address: 478 Bates College
Contact Info: (617) 851-5602
Email Address: pwilliam@bates.edu
College: Bates College, Lewiston Maine
Graduation year: 2011
Education level: Rising Junior
Major: Sociology
Minor: Theater
Varsity Sport: Squash
Years playing sport: 8 years


I am working on creating a budget for the kids I will be teaching in my summer camp. The kids are the Sudanese and Somali and refugees living in Lewiston.

The budget will be used to pay for their Breakfast and lunch everyday Mon-Fri. Also cost free
Field trips, Squash equipment, books, pencils, camp T-shirt and etc.

I will be working on improving their reading and writing skills as well as teaching them
to play squash.

In learning squash I will teach them a value system I learned "I-Care" values; Integrity,
Concern for others, Appreciation, Respect, and Effort.