Saturday, January 31, 2009

City Hall Scam of the Week!

During the campaign as I have time, I will write about and expose different City Hall scams, giveaways, and other behavior that doesn't serve the citizen's of Boston best interests. I doubt you will have the same input from my opponents, because as President Obama would say: Change doesn't come from City Hall, Change will come to City Hall!

Scam of the Week: Paul Walkowski

This is an excellent example of the waste, fraud and abuse at Boston City Hall because every elected official in the building was in on it, every city councilor and the Mayor and not one of them stood up to save the taxpayer money.

Paul Walkowski served for well more than a decade as an aid to City Councilor Jimmy Kelly. When Councilor Kelly died, Mr. Walkowski no longer had his $50,000 or so job with the City. (Salary according to City Clerk's office) So, what did the elected members of the City Council and the Mayor do? They cooked up a back room deal to boost his salary, and hence his pension, by 50% for 3 years so that Mr. Walkowski could retire at a much higher rate!

In 2007 the City Council was ethically reeling from losing the McCrea v. Flaherty and the Boston City Council lawsuit proving they had been engaging in back room deals. So, how did they respond? They held a Rules Committee meeting where the minutes indicated that they already had too many staff and not enough work to do. So, of course, they decided to change the City Laws to increase City Council central staff 8.5% and create a position for Mr. Walkowski to write a report on how the City Council could get around or exempt itself from the Open Meeting Law. Mr. Walkowski is not a lawyer, why would the city council hire a lawyer to give them a legal opinion? They also decided that because Mr. Walkowski had worked for close to 20 years at City Hall getting his salary up to around $50,000 that they would need to immediately increase his salary into the $70,000 plus range to retain him.

On June 20, 2007 at the City Council regular Wednesday meeting Council President Feeney felt it so urgent to get this done that she did a "late file". Normally when you are changing the laws of the City you submit a bill that gets assigned to a committee, there is a meeting and it then goes back to the full council for a vote. But, in emergency matters, if EVERY councilor agrees to suspend the rules then a motion can be heard the day it was introduced. Because it was a late file, filed 24 hours before the meeting no public citizen gets to see it, it is not posted on the web, or the city bulletin board or anywhere. No citizen could possibly know that they are expanding the City Council staff by 8.5%, increasing someone's salary by 50%, and hiring them to write a report on how the City Council could exempt itself from the Open Meeting Law.

It get's even better. If you watch the video and you fast forward to 1:03:45 you can see Council President Feeney calls a recess in the middle of the meeting and asks all the councilors to come up to her dais to discuss a "matter." Watch the body language as all the councilors come up to discuss, on camera, but in secret and with the microphones off, whatever personnel matter they need to do! This, in my opinion is yet another violation of the Open Meeting Law, and it certainly excludes the public from the deliberations that are going on. This is common practice with the City Council. Why can't they just discuss whatever they have to discuss in the open? Isn't that what transparency is all about? There they all are discussing the people's business in private, right on camera: Yoon, Flaherty, Murphy, Ross, Feeney, Tobin, Linehan, etc.

But wait, there's more! They still have to pass this bill. At the end of regular business, they address the late files. Scroll forward on the video to 1:21:50. Councilor Feeney asks the council to suspend the rules, which requires an unanimous vote which she gets. City Clerk Salerno starts to read the motion "ordered by President Feeney, an order amending...." as her voice trails off and she literally gives the nod to Councilor Feeney. Feeney says "a matter of personnel in nature." She asks that the rules be suspended by the body and that the rules be suspended and the motion passed. She gets a weak voice vote, and the deed is nearly done. Not a single councilor asked a single question or raised an objection to giving someone a $20,000 raise and hiring them to write a report on how to exclude the City Council from the Open Meeting Law. No debate, no discussion, they were all in favor of hiring someone with taxpayer money to figure out a way to let the council exclude the taxpayers from the decision making process. Thank you councilors Yoon, Flaherty, Ross, Feeney, etc.

But, the citizens still had hope. The executive branch, the Mayor, needed to sign off on amending City Laws to increase City Council central staff. Alas, it was not to be and the Mayor also agreed that staff levels should be increased 8.5% and the City should spend valuable resources figuring out ways to exclude the public from the decision making process. He signed the bill, and Paul Walkowski was hired.

Did they send out a press release? No. In fact, they didn't even tell their own lawyers fighting on their behalf in the Open Meeting Suit that they had done this. When the Walkowski report came out in public (which they refused to post online or release in electronic form!!!) the lawyers working for the council were as surprised as we were. By all accounts, the report was garbage. But what did the councilors do in the face of public pressure and editorials to put the report in the circular file? They sent it off to the MMA, the DA and AG for comment. I asked Councilor Feeney last week if they had heard back and she said they hadn't. I have already asked for copies of all written response to this waste of the taxpayers time and money.

I went to last Monday's presentation of the budget from the Mayor's office to the Councilors where I was going to suggest that if they wanted to start trimming the budget, before they talk about teachers and police officers that they needed to start with Paul Walkowski who costs the City about $100,000 a year with benefits. Amazingly enough, as I was entering the City Council offices who was standing there but Paul Walkowski. We started up a chat about the Open Meeting Law, and his and the councils position that the First Amendment gives them freedom to discuss everything they want behind closed doors and just vote on it in public. I disagreed with him and them and told him that I was going to call for his job and position to be eliminated. He smiled and said "it doesn't matter to me, I'm retiring Friday!"

It was a moment of clarity for me! I realized this whole thing was a 'golden parachute' given to a long time city hall insider, by all the councilors and the Mayor. Since he was hired in 2007, he got 2007, 2008, and since he worked in January of 2009 he will have three years in at his higher pay grade and hence will receive a larger pension! The same reason Senator Wilkerson and Senator Marzilli were hoping to wait until January to resign, one more year of pension!

This is the waste, fraud and abuse at City Hall and they are all in on it. Menino, Yoon, Flaherty, Feeney, Ross, etc. There is no transparency, there is only 'you scratch my back, I scratch yours.' Any one of the councilors or the Mayor could have stood up and said this was wrong, or at the very least 'why are we paying a guy $75,000 a year who would work at $50,000 a year?" We the citizens are going to be paying for this mistake as long as Paul Walkowski lives.

On January 15, 2009 after President Ross announced a new era of transparency, I sent a public records request to him for a copy of everyone of Walkowski's paychecks since he was hired by the council. A response is required within 10 days, I received none. I asked Councilor Ross personally when I saw him last week and he now has the clerks office working on it, because I suspect there was even more funny business going on with his pay.

After Mr. Walkowski informed me he was retiring, I sent an email to Councilor Flaherty and Councilor Yoon asking the following:

Dear Councilor,

Thank you for your recent calls for more transparency.

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

These are the tough questions that I will be asking as Mayor. Our current Mayor is proposing a 6.25% increase in the City Budget this year. He has negotiated contracts that call for 5% pay increase across the board for all City employees. He gave bonuses to all his department heads after this years deficit was predicted, the councilors gave bonuses to their staff as well.

When the rest of the citizens are happy to have a job, and are looking for ways to live within their means, these guys are trying to squeeze more money out of us to give away larger pensions to people like Paul Walkowski. This has to stop, the citizens of Boston can not afford it. We need an outsider, like me, with business experience, who knows how to balance a budget to get a grip on our expenses.

Right now, I am calling for the Mayor and the City Councilors to move with the same speed with which they hired Paul Walkowski to eliminate the position and change the City Laws back to the staffing level they had before he was hired. If they don't do that, you know they aren't remotely interested in actually trimming the fat and the pork from the City budget.

Thank you for your support, please volunteer or contribute at

Friday, January 30, 2009

My first sign has been torn down!

In the first sign that the thuggery of old school Boston Politics is alive and well, one of my supporters reports that our campaign sign was ripped off of a building in Roxbury.

This is exactly the type of undemocratic bullying that I have come to expect from Boston politicians. Freedom of speech to them means that they are free to speak behind closed doors to work out their back room deals.

I'm hoping that we use some 20th and 21st century technology to off set their 19th century mentality. If you see someone tearing down our signs, or defacing property, try and catch it with your cell phone camera. We will post it online and expose the scofflaws!

One of my friends who is a "City Hall Insider" warned me about this type of stuff before the campaign started, he warned me that they will go through my trash and stop at nothing to make things difficult.

As usual, I'm not intimidated or impressed by their actions and I call on the Mayor and Michael Flaherty to publicly come out and speak out about against this sort of behavior.

I went to the State House forum on openness and transparency put on by Mass Inc. today. It didn't shock me that no one from City Hall was there to discuss openness, transparency or accountability!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Electronic interaction with the public

We are in the process of setting up a scheduled time to blog online, and let citizens from around the city send in their comments for us to answer in real time. In the meantime, feel free to email questions to and we will get an answer to you.

Super busy!

I was on Neighborhood Network News with Chris Lovett this afternoon speaking about the budget and other matters. Sit down interview with one of the weekly papers tomorrow, and radio interview after that.

I will write my more complete thoughts on the budget later, but we need to finally make the non-profit institutions start paying their fair share. It is conservatively estimated that if the colleges and hospitals and other non-profits paid the "suggested" PILOT payment of 1/4 of what their regular tax would be the the city would have an additional 80 million dollars every year. Councilor Murphy has brought up this issue many times, we need leadership on this issue. If I was Mayor I would not allow any further institutional expansion until agreements were made assuring the city of reasonable pay for the city services of fire, police, etc. that those institutions use.

The next great sapping of our rightful money comes from the BRA. They should have to pay tax on their revenue generating property. Most importantly the Mayor needs to stop giving away our property for free. Heyward Place and Winthrop Square garage on their own would generate enough revenue to end the budget crisis for this year. Why did the Mayor give that property away for free? Who gives property away for free? Maybe someone who is getting a lot of campaign contributions from developers and the lawyers they use?

I agree with Councilor Flaherty who has jumped on my transparency bandwagon: It is time to end the back room deals at City Hall. My administration will do that.

-Eliminate No bid contracts
-All BRA and City of Boston transactions available online

Michael Flaherty admits guilt, wasting the taxpayer money, and jumps on my bandwagon!!

According to today's Boston Globe Michael Flaherty is going to give a speech tonight where he admits that he has been wrong all along about the Open Meeting Law, that I was right, and that he wasted all that taxpayer money and City resources fighting the lawsuit.

I wonder just how much input Michael Flaherty needs to make a good decision? Michael Flaherty was warned and told numerous times that his actions were illegal, but yet it never sunk in until he decided he wanted to be Mayor (where he is not subject to the Open Meeting Law!) Remember, he is an attorney who used to work in the DA's office and his father is a judge, plus they hired $600 an hour lawyers at our expense, and he still didn't understand this was legally wrong?

Did he realize he was wrong when:
-Felix Arroyo wrote him a series of letters telling him that his actions of having 6 councilors in a room discuss the public business, then rotating people in and out of the room so other councilors could join in the discussion but they could exclude the press and the public from the goings on of government? NO
-Did he realize he was wrong when the District Attorney wrote him a letter telling him that his actions were illegal? NO
-Did he realize he was wrong when I, along with Shirley Kressel and Kathleen Devine filed a lawsuit outlining all of the abuses we had been able to find about? NO
-Did he talk with us or meet with us when we offered him the olive branch to settle the suit and craft better Open Meeting Laws? NO
-Did he take the opportunity to revisit the worst decision he made as a councilor (by his own words) and take back some control and accountability over the BRA? NO
-Did he realize he was wrong when Superior Court Judge Holtz wrote a scathing decision telling him he was wrong on all counts? NO
-Did he realize he was wrong after hiring a $600 an hour lawyer at taxpayer expense to fight the decision in the appeals court and losing there as well? NO
-Did he admit he was wrong after the City Council admitted guilt on all violations this past November? NO

After nearly 4 years of wasting taxpayer time and money which could have gone to the schools or keeping the streets safe, Michael Flaherty admits guilt. Well, I don't buy it. As Mayor he would not be subject to the Open Meeting Law, and he could meet in the Mayor's office at City Hall behind closed doors with anyone he pleases. With a track record like his, who trusts him?

Notice that he has not proposed, as I have, ways to make the City more transparent:

1) Post all expenses of the City of Boston and the BRA online
2) Craft the toughest Open Meeting Laws in the country.
3) Eliminate the BRA and create a city planning agency so that we have accountability, not a "pay to play" situation for developers.
4) Eliminate No Bid Contracts

If he really cares about transparency I call on him to do the following:

1) In his YOUTUBE video, Michael says we have to eliminate back room deals at City Hall. Since he is now paying big bucks for internet consultants, I call on him to post a list of all the back room deals he is aware of on his website. Let the citizens know how bad the situation is at City Hall.

2) Post a list of all the Boston clients of his law firm Adler, Pollock, and Sheehan. Let the citizens know if he will still be working as an attorney if he is elected Mayor, available to be hired to consult on real estate and business matters in Boston as he is now.

3) Hold a public hearing of all the city councilors where citizens are allowed to ask questions about all the back room deals that have gone on under his watch.

4) Take some of his campaign funds and pay back the citizens of Boston for all the money he took from us while he was fighting against transparency at City Hall.

This is not leadership. This is jumping on my bandwagon of bringing Open, Honest, Professional, Transparent government to the citizens of Boston. Please visit my website for an outline of a true progressive government for the citizens. I ask for your vote and your support.

Thank You,
Kevin McCrea

Will the Mayor be Transparent?

The Mayor says he will be transparent with the budget. I will take him at his word. I sent my first questions off to Lisa Signori today to try and find out why the Mayor is proposing a 6.25% budget increase when the rest of the world is trying to stay at even keel.

For Lisa Signori:

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

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

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

Thank You,
kevin mccrea

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Boston City Budget

I attended Monday's meeting between Lisa Signori and the Mayor's budget people and the City council. It was held in the Curley room, not the City Council chambers and thus could not be televised so anyone interested in the budget could see what was going on. Not very transparent.

First of all, there is no real budget deficit. The fiscal year 2010 budget will be larger than the fiscal year 2009 budget by an "anemic" 11 million dollars. The city is going to increase property taxes by 61 million dollars on the citizens, an increase of 4.5 percent from this year. This "deficit" that the Mayor is talking about is a deficit because he wants to increase the budget by 6.25 % next year according to Mrs. Signori.

The 140 million they say they are short breaks down as follows:

55 million dollars in salary increases to city personnel (5% increase per employee!)
33 million dollars in higher health care costs (12 % increase!)
15 million dollars more in additional pension costs (up 7%!)
11 million dollars in increased interest and debt service (???)
24 million dollars in increased department budgets (over and above payroll!)
13 million dollars in additional payments to the state (Charter schools & MBTA)

$151 million
-(11 million increase in revenue)

$140 million

Lisa explained that this budget planned on 49 million in cuts from the state but that the cuts will more likely be about 40 to 42 million. There is 7 to 9 million.
We have 110 million dollars in reserves. We are also expecting a 22 million cut in state aid in fiscal year 2008.

Then John Dunlap, the Mayor's labor relations person spoke. He was explaining the Mayor' proposed wage freeze to the city's 24 unions. It was very interesting the term he used "wage deferral". In other words, if the unions go along with this wage deferral for 364 days (enough time to get Menino re-elected?) that then the Mayor would make it up to the unions. John explained that the average salary for a city employee was $60,000 per year. If they can implement the wage freeze they estimate they can save 900 jobs. This would save the 55 million dollars in salary increases, and the raises would be given on the last day of the fiscal year so that pensions, steps, etc. would still be realized in that fiscal year.

Councilor Flaherty asked how we were going to pay for the contracts the City signed this year. Lisa explained to him that every year in the budget money is set aside ahead of time anticipating these contract signings. I was surprised Mike didn't know this after his many years on the council. He voted for raises for all council staff just last August, after Councilor Ross and Councilor Murphy sent a report to the council that we had money left over from this fund to be able to afford raises for all council staff. This has been a line item in the budget for as long as I've been paying attention.

Another thing that Lisa didn't explain to the councilors and which no one seems aware is that every year the proposed budget is conservative and usually forecasts revenue at about 50 million below what it actually will be. Conservative forecasting is good, but the Mayor and the budget people should be honest with the citizens about this. So, when the question was asked about how we will handle the 22 million shortfall in state aid, they didn't give a direct answer. The answer should be: we have a 50 million dollar slush fund so we can absorb this.

Bottom line: why is the Mayor proposing a 6.25% increase in the City Budget when the cost of living is nearly flat, and people are struggling just to hold onto their jobs. There clearly is enough money to afford the police and teachers that this city needs. The Mayor has increased the city payroll by 1200 people over the last 5 years, only 200 are cops and 75 are teachers. What do those other 925 do? Why does he use scare tactics against police and teachers? It is not honorable or honest.

When I am elected Mayor, if there have been any cuts in police and teachers in the next year, I will put those people back on the payroll in my first 100 days in office.

Tomorrow: My solutions to the budget "crisis".

Late night thoughts...

I was super busy today: on the jobsite in jeans in the morning, then into the suit for the City Council's briefing on the budget by Lisa Signori, back into the work clothes in the afternoon, hire two campaign staff, then off to a community meeting with the BRA at the convention center. Now business paperwork, answering emails, etc.

Some thoughts that I will expand on later: if the budget crisis is so bad, and the Mayor is so concerned about it, why doesn't he come over and meet with the City Councilors to try and figure out the problems. What else is he doing on a Monday morning at 10:30 that is possibly more important that working through the fiscal crisis. If I was Mayor, I would sit down with the city councilors myself, and try and find real solutions, instead of hiding behind Lisa Signori. Not real leadership in my estimation.

The City councilors seemed concerned, although 3 of them didn't even show up for what is clearly the most important item on the city agenda. They asked some questions, but not the tough thorough questions that need to be asked. After the meeting I was speaking to one of the councilors that said we could save millions by bringing the cities pensions and health care in conjunction with the State's program, something I have advocated. But, the councilor said they couldn't get anywhere with it because of the Mayor and some of the unions. In these tough times, if you know a way to save millions you need to speak out. Again, this is not leadership, and if I was Mayor I would be looking for every cost saving measure I could so that we could maintain safe streets, and build much better schools than we have now.

More later on the specifics of the Mayor's smoke and mirrors budget. The bottom line is that there is no $140 million shortfall, there will be no cuts in police or schools, it is just that when the rest of America is trying to tread water, the Mayor wants to increase the City budget by 6.25 %. Plus, the Mayor and Lisa Signori promised that property taxes will go up by 61 million dollars next year in FY 2010.

I will be on Joe Heisler's Talk of the Neighborhoods tomorrow night at 7 pm!

Monday, January 26, 2009

My statement about the budget

Dear Council:

Thank you for holding this hearing today. With the economy in a downturn, many people are concerned with how our valuable tax dollars are being spent.

First of all, I would like to assure all of the police officers and teachers in the City of Boston that there is more than enough money in the budget to retain your important jobs, if the proper financial decisions are made by our elected leaders.

I am here to ask for more honesty and transparency from City Hall on the budget. We have heard the number of $140 million deficit thrown around by the Mayor, but he refuses to disclose what adds up to $140 million, and he uses the scare tactic of threatening to lay off police and teachers to try and increase taxes. I applaud and support the members of the council who have stepped up and said there will be no cuts to police or teachers. This is an honest response.

Shame on City Hall for scaring schoolchildren and parents and the people on our streets by floating the idea that teachers and police officers need to be laid off. We need honesty and fiscal responsibility about the budget.

Also remember this is a budget shortfall for a proposed budget that is 6.25% larger than the one we are in right now. Why do we need to increase the budget 6.25 percent a year, when the cost of living only goes up approximately 3 percent a year? The price of gas, labor and other goods is down, why do we have to keep paying more?

In the last 5 years City Hall has grown the number of city employees by 7 percent or about 1200 workers. Of those, only about 200 are police officers and 75 are teachers. Surely, no one is more important than them, why aren’t we talking about laying off the other 925 non-essential workers the city lived with 4 years ago first before threatening our first responders and children’s educators. In addition, the city council has increased its central staff by 8.5% in just the last two years.

We need more fiscal responsibility. When the Fiscal Year 2010 budget came out last July it already had a projected deficit of 33 million dollars. What did the Mayor and City Council do in response to this looming crisis, while the rest of America was tightening its belt? The City Council held a hearing attended to by only two members where they suggested raises for all city council staff. That passed the full council without objection. The Mayor in the fall gave raises to all of his department heads, then made the raises retroactive 10 months, effectively giving them bonuses. This is not the type of fiscal responsibility we need in the face of a budget deficit.

The question must be asked: Why did City Hall give the right to the parking revenues from our Winthrop Square garage to the BRA, and why does the BRA's RFP for the redevelopment of the site state that the BRA will be the landlord collecting the rent on the land -- when the City could, and should, simply sell it to collect over $100 million, and then receive annual tax income or collect the land rent for our City budget?

I applaud the City Council talking about one of my big concerns: transparency. However, 11 days ago I wrote to Councilor Ross and requested financial data. No reply whatsoever, even though it is required by law within 10 days. Talking about transparency and actually working towards transparency are two different things.

I’d like to end with one example. Two years ago the City Council added a full time position to its staff to hire Paul Walkowski. The City Council hired Mr. Walkowski to write a long report about how the City Council could get around transparency or exempt itself from the Open Meeting Law. The City has now payed him over $100,000 for his ideas on this matter

If any teacher or police officer gets laid off, or any cut gets made to education funding, call your Mayor and City Councilor and ask them what are we paying Paul Walkowski to do and how is that more important than keeping our streets safe and our children being educated. I understand Mr. Walkowski is going to retire soon, we need to change the City Law back to the way it was before the Mayor and Council amended the law to add this position and save the taxpayers the salary and perks that go with this useless job.

New England Cable News Interview!!

See my interview with New England Cable News here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Menino is not transparent about the budget

In one of the articles about my announcement for Mayor, they get a comment from Dot Joyce the Mayor's press spokesperson who says that the Mayor is transparent about the budget. But, as is so often the case, he is not being honest. Ed Mason from the Herald asked for information for his January 15, 2009 article about the budget and the Mayor refused to provide information. That is not being transparent. The quote from Mr. Mason is: "Menino and his aides declined Herald requests for city budget documents detailing grim losses ahead." I know I stopped believing what the Mayor has been telling the public years ago.

My Interview with NECN

I just did an interview with NECN. They asked Michael Flaherty to do an interview but apparently he is not yet ready for prime time, and isn't giving interviews.

Writer, blogger, Paul McMorrow endorses Kevin McCrea!

Paul McMorrow, who works for Banker and Tradesman and Boston magazine, and has his own personal blog endorsed my candidacy on his blog! Now he only endorsed me until someone else got in the race, I hope I can still fight hard for his endorsement now that Flaherty is in. I first learned of Paul when he was a writer for the Weekly Dig and he helped to expose the secret meetings that Flaherty was running.

Thanks Paul!

Questions about Flaherty (and Yoon and Menino) and Transparency

According to the Boston Globe and Boston Herald and you can see the video at Universal Hub Michael Flaherty sort of announced that he is running for Mayor.

As you can see in his video he talked about the need for Transparent Government! I'm happy to hear that Michael is following my lead on calling for transparent government. However, I am not convinced that his call for transparency is very heartfelt, nor are the other officials in City Hall.

While he was City Council President he rejected numerous letters from Councilor Felix Arroyo asking him to stop holding secret meetings with other councilors and with the Boston Redevelopment Authority. He refused my numerous olive branch offers to sit down and settle the Open Meeting Lawsuit, "McCrea v. Flaherty" and to craft better Open Meeting Laws. He refused my olive branch to allow him to revisit the vote giving the BRA 10 more years of power with no oversight. In response to a question in the last election cycle about what the one thing he wished he could redo, he cited that example as the worst decision he has made.

Most recently, I wrote a letter to the Mayor, the City Councilors at Large, President Ross, and my City Councilor Turner requesting that they make City Government and the BRA at least as transparent as Sarah Palin's Alaska. The response so far? Deafening silence. Not a single response from any of them. Saying you care about transparency and working towards it are two completely different things.

One of the things that goes along with transparency is disclosure of your possible conflicting interests. He is an attorney at the law firm of Adler Pollock & Sheehan. According to his biography on their website you can hire Michael for business and corporate law, and real estate matters. It would seem to me to be a conflict of interest that you can hire a city councilor to do legal work on business and real estate deals on the side. If he truly cares about being transparent he should disclose all the Boston clients of Adler Pollock and Sheehan.

I would also like to ask him if he will continue working as an attorney if he gets elected Mayor. If not, why is it okay for a member of the legislative branch to do side legal work but not the executive branch? I would consider either job a full time job I was hired to do by my constituents.

Finally, with Councilor Flaherty's new found interest in transparency I invite him to Courtroom 306, at Suffolk Superior Courthouse on February 24, 2008 at 2 pm. That is when the next, and hopefully final hearing in the "Kevin McCrea v. Michael Flaherty" Open Meeting lawsuit will be held. While I have been fighting for nearly four years for transparency on behalf of the citizens of Boston, Councilor Flaherty has been fighting hard against transparency and has yet to show up once in court on this matter. Instead, he has been hiding behind a phalanx of taxpayer paid lawyers, filing numerous motions delaying and denying the charges, spending nearly $200,000 of taxpayer money, before finally admitting guilt.

Just to bring everyone up to speed about this hearing, I have filed papers with the court requesting that the Judge impose rules furthering transparency at Boston City Hall. Michael Flaherty's lawyers, on his and the councils behalf, (and at our expense) have filed papers that the rules at City Hall are perfectly fine and that everything should stay the same. The judge will hear testimony, and decide the sanctions since Michael Flaherty and the Boston City Council have admitted violating the law on all counts alleged in the case.

I look forward to seeing Michael Flaherty there, and hearing his testimony as to why the current transparency rules at City Hall are perfectly fine. If he really cares about saving taxpayer money why doesn't he just call off his taxpayer paid attorney's and come on his own, after all he is an attorney. I will be speaking on my own, despite the fact that I am not a trained attorney. I don't need to hire someone to speak on my behalf about my thoughts on transparency. I'm sure the Judge and the citizens of Boston would be very interested in his thoughts on transparency.

In his Youtube video Michael talks about "accountability and direct responsibility". Part of that is being responsible for your actions. A contrite apology to the court, and to the citizens on Boston for holding closed meetings for years, wasting the courts and taxpayers time and money, would go a long way towards making me believe he now believes in transparency.

As your Mayor, I would make Boston the most transparent and accountable city in the world. All transactions, job postings, legislation, income, expense, etc. would be available on line. Until the Mayor and his other challengers set the bar that high, you know they don't truly care about getting rid of the back room deals.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mayoral Website is Live!

Press Release-I'm running for Mayor!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-Campaign to Elect Kevin McCrea Mayor of Boston!
January 22, 2009

“I am running for Mayor of the City of Boston,” announced Kevin McCrea. “It’s time for a change at City Hall, and I will bring that change.”

“We need to end the cycle of career politicians. I am a businessman, and I am running as a common citizen. I’m independent, I’m informed, I have fresh ideas -- and I believe in honest government that includes the citizens. I’m not locked into a political system that dictates I must ‘go along to get along,’” states McCrea.

“I am going to end the waste and abuse in Boston City government. I will ensure that all of our public officials, boards and agencies are held accountable for their decisions. Honest, open and accountable government will enable us to build an exemplary school system based on neighborhood schools, to lower taxes, and to provide better services to all our citizens. Under my leadership, Boston will have great public schools, the safest streets, and the most environmentally green government,” McCrea promised.

McCrea is well known as a good-government activist who asks the tough questions. But he’s proven he’s not just all talk. In 2005 he sued the Boston City Council for violations of the open meeting law, and after a four-year struggle, he has won. His blog,, talks about big issues: Why has Mayor Tom Menino given away hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of City-owned property to the BRA? Why doesn’t Boston have transparent government? Why have the ranks of City Hall employees increased, while the population stays level and student enrollment falls?

McCrea is passionate when it comes to our schools and the education of our youth. “We have so much administrative staff. We should use more of our resources for teachers, to reduce our class size,” says McCrea. “I’m going to do my homework and report on where our money is going, so we can finally give our kids what they need to succeed.”

McCrea is a resident of the South End. His company, Wabash Construction, has built several “Best of Boston” projects, and specializes in historic renovations. His developments have been recognized by the National Parks Service for their historic significance, and even awarded historic tax credits. In 2002, he completed a BRA project in Roxbury and voluntarily sold 20% of the units as affordable housing.

McCrea has a long history of civic involvement, working with the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans and Boston Community Capital in Roxbury and Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans.

McCrea has been active in the Big Brother/Big Sister program and coached South End youth baseball. He served as an advisor for the carpentry program at Madison Park Trade School in Roxbury.

McCrea is an active member of the Claremont Neighborhood association and a member of the Ward 9 democratic committee.

He is kicking off his campaign tonight at 7:00 pm at the home of Kevin Barry and Barry Mullen, 55 St. Marks Road, Dorchester, MA 02124.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Great Obama Inauguration Party tonight co-hosted with Amanda Barros and

We had a great party tonight in honor of the inauguration of Barack Obama. Young and old, people of all persuasions came to together to celebrate the end of the worst presidency in my lifetime, and the hope that positive change has come to America.

We were graced by the presence of native American poet Blackfoot Warrior who honored our guests and me with an original poem:

Our People's Struggle

We believe We believe
Now It's Done! A change has come
You've been swore in,
But your not alone do you stand we the
people will be with you hand-hand

With the strength of the people behind you
The course you will stay,
Upon your shoulders lot's of pressure
been laid.

We the people just that with your
guidance, wisdom, knowledge you'll
bring us out of the is darken tunnel
for in you vision you can see the light
cause our vision and yours are the same
make the future brighter

That's why we believe in change and you
all Americans are (one) weather
red, white, black or blue
that change has come for me and you!

Our Co-host Amanda chimed in:

Hey Kevin,

I just wanted to give you kudos for opening up your house to the community to celebrate this monumental moment in our lives. I think we did an amazing job inviting people who are very open-minded and seemed committed in helping out with changing the world. I thought it was really cool how the older people who attended the event were eager to mingle with the younger folks. After leaving and during the course of the night, my friends and i joked on how random and "mixed" the party was. We all thought it was cool to be around older people who are very inspirational, educated and friendly. Not say that the professors and administrators are not like that at UMASS but, we've never interacted with them in a setting like last night. Anyways, i can ramble about last night but, I'll end it here.

Lastly, my friends wanted to send you a huge thank you and said they'll friend request you (on Facebook) to keep in touch. I tagged all of them your recent wall photo so it would be easier for you and them to make that connection. For future parties, you might consider ordering more Alright, my vacation is officially over and now i have to get myself back in the school mode.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Menino-Why let the facts or his ignorance get in the way of a good story

I was at the City Year Celebration and March today for Martin Luther King day. Sonia Chang Diaz gave a great speech using the african proverb about moving your feet to inspire the "young hereos" to not just talk about change but to actually move your feet and change things.

Mayor Menino on the other hand was his usual self. He did inspire me a bit by saying that "You don't have to wait, you can lead today!" Maybe he is hinting that he is going to step aside for some more youthful leadership?

But, to inspire the kids he told them to look at Obama, that he "started off at a public housing development in Chicago and now he is President". That sure sounds nice but it isn't even remotely true. But then facts aren't always the Mayor's strong suit.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a Mayor who actually knew what he was talking about, or who had a fact checker look over his speeches? Obama was in Indonesia in private schools until he was 10, and then he lived in Hawaii and went to the most prestigious private school in Honolulu until he went to private colleges Occidental, and Columbia. Only after all of that did Obama go to Chicago to work as community organizer.

The fact is that only 1 in 8 kids who goes to the public high schools that Menino has provided will get any sort of college or associates degree. I do know that Tom is smart enough not to give that fact to the Boston youth in front of him.

Violence, tragedy in South End-MLK would not be pleased

My friend Carlos and his friends were coming home from celebrating last night about 2 a.m. on Tremont Street in the South End. Two black males, one of them looking like "the guy with the dreadlocks in the movie Predator" drove by in a late model black Ford Bronco like vehicle and made some gay bashing comments. One of Carlos' friends yelled back. The large males got out of the Bronco and beat up two of the 3 guys, breaking the nose of one of them getting blood all over everyone. He spent the night at BMC and now has to get facial reconstruction surgery.

A terrible way to start off MLK day, especially on the Eve of the Obama inauguration.

The license plate of the vehicle started with "WJ9..." If anyone has any information please contact the police, who responded to the incident, or if you need to be anonymous send me an email.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mayor Menino doesn't believe in Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, or sharing

I was honored a couple of months ago when the South End News contacted me about writing an opinion column for them. I was even more impressed when they told me I could write about anything I want, from physics, to motorcycles, to corruption at City Hall.

After just two columns written the Mayor's people have already contacted my editors to complain about my columns, and to complain that (God forbid!) I am contacting City Hall and asking for information! They are already complaining about columns that I haven't even written yet that I am getting research on!

You read that right. The government is complaining to the press, that a citizen has the audacity to ask the government for information. Call me crazy, but the government that I believe in answers the questions of not just the press, but of the citizens that are concerned with what is going on. The national media expressed outrage that Governor Blagojevich would try and control the editorial decisions of the Chicago Tribune. Well, we have the same kind of heavy handedness here at City Hall in Boston.

The Mayor used the phrase "together we can" at his State of the City address. We can't work on unity when the Mayor won't share the information of what goes on in our city. The information belongs to the citizens, not the Mayor. Just like all those blue signs around the City that say "Welcome to Back Bay, Thomas Menino, Mayor" or "Welcome to Jamaica Plain, Thomas Menino, Mayor" they are owned by the people, payed for by the people, and installed by the people. Someday, he won't be Mayor and the people are going to have to spend the money to change those signs. If he wants to look for ways to start saving money, he will stop requiring that his name goes on everything. Until he does that simple money saving step, you know his ego is getting in the way of fiscal reform and progress in this city.

I suggest that if the Mayor doesn't like what I have written, that he sit down and pen an opposition. I'm sure the South End News would be delighted to receive a thought piece from our honorable Mayor. In fact, I will gladly give him my space in the paper and even donate my salary to a worthy cause. Instead, he resorts to his backroom, out of sight tactics to try and control what is going on. Needless to say, but I'm not impressed nor surprised by his actions.

A former City Hall employee was listening to my phone conversation with my editor, and the employee told me a story about a former Menino aid who boasted to him about how years ago after another South End citizen wrote a letter to the editor of one of the local papers critical of the Mayor, the aid was told to go digging around the house of that citizen looking for violations to punish that person. I haven't checked the veracity of the story, but the sad truth is that in this city people easily believe that our Mayor could be that sort of petty and vindictive person.

What I do know is that when I ran for City Council four years ago, and was openly critical of the Mayor, that the assessment of my family's home at 218 West Springfield Street was increased by $700,000 dollars despite the fact that we hadn't done any improvements in years. As far as I can tell by the online City Assessment Records, the house is still the highest assessed brownstone in the South End. I've spent some time looking at the records, asking brokers and historical people what the most expensive properties sold are. That's right, here on unassuming West Springfield Street is supposedly the most expensive house in the South End. More expensive than the mansions on Union Park, or the secluded charm of Montgomery Park with their private garden. Check it out for yourself, and if you find one assessed higher please let me know. You would think the Mayor would give me an award for taking a former condemned crack house and spending nine years hand building the most expensive house. Isn't that what working hard and achieving and rebuilding your neighborhood are all about?

In closing, I'd like to thank again my editors at the South End News for having the courage to stand up to this sort of bullying. This isn't the only time that the Mayor has complained to them about articles they've published, but they've held their ground and believed in the power of the press. I hope the Mayor will take the time to read the first amendment and ponder about what makes this country great.
I won't hold my breath waiting for his personally written response.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Doug Bennett reports in!

Doug Bennett calls in to report he has gone around the city once and is starting again, in Charlestown. He reports a lot of anger with the corruption at City Hall and that he knocked on over 30,000 doors so far.

Bob Terrell will make his official announcement for at-large later on this month.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tom Menino's Ponzi Scheme

Here is my latest article for the south end news.

January 1, 2009

Mayor Menino’s Ponzi Scheme

When I was a young boy my mother bought me a book called “Great American Crimes and Trials” and I remember being fascinated by the story of Charles Ponzi, the Italian immigrant who made millions in Boston in a short amount of time by promising immense returns based upon inequities in international stamp exchange rates. Once Barron’s did some actual financial analysis of the scheme, the house of cards collapsed.

Maybe thanks to my mom’s early intervention, I’ve had a penchant for smelling too good to be true deals. Long time South Enders will remember many stories in the South End News about Nancy and John Burgess swindling locals in financial and real estate deals. I worked with the Attorney General’s office to catch them, culminating in a heart stopping arrest at 16 Holyoke Street of John Burgess by a broad State Policeman, who made John put his hands against the wall to handcuff him—right into the wet plaster we were installing on my jobsite! Years ago, the Midwestern wing of my family, mostly farmers and union workers came to me with an investment vehicle they were involved in bankrolling worldwide concerts. I warned them that the consistent returns, constant reinvestment, lack of documentation and incorporation in Louisiana seemed dubious. Alas they were blinded by the dollars and lost everything except for my surfer cousin who was too lazy to send in the reinvestment documentation and got his $10,000 out!

Ponzi is in the news again thanks to Bernard Madoff who has taken investors and charities for a $50 billion dollar ride, including many in the Boston area. Modern Ponzi artists don’t offer the doubling of money in 90 days like Ponzi did, but instead slowly lull the victim into a false sense of security before they get whacked.

I’d like to warn you about the Ponzi scheme that our Mayor is weaving. From his office on the fifth floor of City Hall he can look south right at 27 School Street where Ponzi used to operate from, and I believe they are not just sharing a common locale, but the knowledge that their financial basis is not stable.

Like derivatives and other discredited financial tools, it is a bit complicated (otherwise you could easily discern it isn’t solid!) but I will try and simplify. In Massachusetts Proposition 2 ½ is in place to protect citizens from unreasonable increases in their property taxes imposed by the politicians. The total property taxes collected, known as the levy, should only increase by 2.5% percent a year. However, the city can also add on taxes generated by the value of new construction. This practice has helped to drive up Boston’s levy by 5.4% annually over the past 10 years, almost double the rate of inflation in a city with virtually no population growth and a shrinking student population. This now adds approximately $60 million in new tax burden for city residents and businesses every year.

So when the Mayor pushes new high rise towers like Columbus Center, allows developers to exceed zoning limits agreed to by the citizens , or tries to sell City Hall, he knows, like Ponzi, that he needs that new revenue to pay off his old debts. The old debts in this case being the union contracts he signs with pay increases of more than 2.5 percent a year with outrageous pension and benefit clauses, and an army of new city employees he hires to do his bidding. There has been an increase of 7 percent of city employees in the last 5 years (16,048 workers in 2004 and 17,216 projected for 2009), and the school enrollment has dropped (55,800 students in 2008/2009 as opposed to 57,742 in 2004/05 school year). According to his own figures, these new employees to the City Payroll would be the 40th biggest company in Boston on their own ( right behind the Faulkner Hospital and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Are you getting 7 percent better service from City Hall? Why do we still test in the bottom 5% of school districts in the state? Exactly what are those 1200 additional workers doing? Why is he talking about laying off cops when there are 1000 other city workers that should go first?

The economy which popped Madoffs’ bubble is about to pop Menino’s bubble as well. If we don’t get new investors (new construction) we can’t pay out requested withdrawals (union contracts and new hires) and the whole scheme comes unraveled through budget cuts and layoffs. In this economy, with the credit crunch, getting new construction done will be extremely difficult. Again, the tax rate structure is complicated, but because the value of commercial real estate is dropping, we the residents are going to be made to make up the difference essentially like loan guarantors for Menino’s poorly negotiated contracts, pensions and new hires. At least cities like Newton and Wellesley are taking their funds and building new state of the art schools, what do we have to show for the additional $212 million over and above the allowed Proposition 2.5 percent increase Menino and the City Council have levied on us in the last 7 years? We haven’t built a new high school since Menino has been Mayor.

On Ponzi’s deathbed he had a message for the Bostonians he swindled “Even if they never got anything for it, it was cheap at that price. Without malice aforethought I had given them the best show that was ever staged in their territory since the landing of the Pilgrims! It was easily worth fifteen million bucks to watch me put the thing over.” I’ll bet his victims didn’t feel they got their moneys worth from him, and I doubt that Madoff’s investors, or Boston taxpayers feel they are getting the best investment for their money either.

Financial Analyst Steve Wintermier contributed to this article

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Yoon not doing his followup with the BRA

A couple years ago Sam Yoon and the Mayor worked out a back room deal over the proceeds of the Winthrop Square Garage.

I have been keeping my eyes on this because it is one of those BIG DEALS where inside connected people get huge amounts of city property for free and the citizens get nothing, while the politicians collect nice campaign contributions.

I was at the Mayor's speech last night and even with his fuzzy numbers it doesn't add up. He said we will have a 140 million dollar shortfall, but he is going to give 40 million to developers. If, instead, he sold the Winthrop Square Garage lot which is estimated to be worth close to 100 million dollars and didn't give 40 million dollars to developers but instead maintained teachers and cops the budget is magically solved. The other part of the puzzle the Mayor doesn't tell us is that the projected buget is going to be flat, there isn't really going to be a decrease in the City Budget. Any potential layoffs are going to be because of poor contracts and pensions he has negotiated which is one reason he is calling for a wage freeze. But why get actual money for City Property when he can give it away to the BRA for free and then collect campaign contributions?

Part of the Yoon/Menino backroom deal is that Boston Housing Authority is supposed to receive the funds from the parking garage revenue to help maintain security.

I've asked Sam Yoon's office over the past couple years for a copy of his secret agreement with the Mayor, and originally Sam's response was essentially that when the time comes to be transparent, he will be transparent. Recently his office released the almost 2 year old memo to me (I think they even posted it on my blog somewhere).

I asked his office what payments the BHA was receiving and I was told that the BRA was not forthcoming with the information and that Sam was getting stonewalled by them.

So, I called up the BRA and their spokesperson Jessica Shumaker was kind enough to send the information right over to me. Thanks, Jessica! I told her that Sam Yoon's office said they couldn't get the information and she said he should have just called for it and they would have given it. I suggest to Sam that before he tells people that the BRA is stonewalling, that he should actually make sure they are stonewalling.

The payments from the BRA to the BHA so far are as follows:

4-30-08 $2,000,000
5-31-08 $ 910,747
10-31-08 $ 283,361
11-18-08 $ 269,049

This is a perfect example of why back room deals shouldn't be done. The public is excluded and can't see where their money is being spent. This is why I sent the letter (see below in my blog) to all the elected leaders in Boston asking them to propose that all payments and income from the BRA and the City of Boston should be online. Three councilors are proposing transparent government initiatives today, why not just the whole thing properly????

More on why they don't want this later!

Cancelling the contract with the judge that never began

There is an article in today's globe about the new council president sending a letter to corporate council telling him to cancel the contract with the ex-judge looking into councilor Turner. The only problem with this is that they never even signed a contract with the ex-judge.

Apparently, they read my blog and agreed with me that it better not to waste so much money on a fools errand.

I received an email yesterday from a city attorney whom I had asked for a copy of the contract as soon as it was signed. The response was that the contract still wasn't signed.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Some of what I would propose if I was giving the Mayor's Speech Tomorrow night:

Changes in Boston to be introduced in the next 100 days:


1) Introduce legislation to abolish the BRA as an independent agency and put it under the control of the citizens of Boston through their elected officials. All revenue streams will be given to the City of Boston controlled through the budget process.

2) Legislation to eliminate no bid contracts

3) Introduce separate planning and development departments, so that citizen desires for livable neighborhoods can be implemented, and so responsible, accountable, development will be introduced to advance the needs of the city.

4) Enact transparent pension and disability guidelines and reforms for all departments.

5) Introduce the strongest open meeting laws in the country, to assure the citizens that no back room deals are being done.

6) Introduce legislation that the City Budget must include funding for a minimum of 2300 police officers.

7) Introduce legislation that elected officials pay raises may only be voted on 4 months or less prior to their re-election.

8) Introduce term limits for Mayor.

9) Admit a mistake, and fix the Fire Departments Equipment!


1) Double the Financial Commission’s budget so that competent professionals can do the monetary auditing this city needs. Introduce legislation that the Financial Commission is a fixed percentage of the city budget.

2) Save money by putting the City of Boston employee’s health care policy in conjunction with the State policy.

3) Elimination of taxbreak giveaways to rich developers for private projects. If a project does not make sense on its own to commercial developers and banks, the citizens of Boston should not fund it.

4) Require zero based budgeting for all departments so that all expenses in each calendar year are thought about, and justified. Publish all budgets online.

5) Publish on line all expenses and income by the City of Boston and the BRA.

6) List all property owned by the City of Boston and the BRA online, identify which parcels need to kept for future City needs such as Parks, Schools, Transportation, and sell all others reducing the tax burden on existing homeowners, spurring construction and development to create much needed jobs.


1) Introduce legislation to end mandatory busing. Convene a committee of leaders from across Boston such as Mel King, Superintendent Johnson, Governor Patrick, the Boston Foundation, and others to insure that we get and maintain an exceptional and equitable school system for all of Boston’s neighborhoods.

2) Introduce legislation to build the best in the country science, math and Green Technology exam high school.

3) Develop plans to highlight, challenge, acknowledge and reward the excellence of our students. Use our BNN network to introduce and televise a city wide spelling bee, A “Brain Game” quiz show of school v. school, and televise our high school athletics. Students can get excited by both participating in and producing these shows.

4) Introduce legislation to provide low cost home loans for teachers who live in the city. We need to reward and retain our teachers for the valuable work they do.

5) Introduce legislation to mandate the City Budget provide a minimum of 12/1 student to teacher ratio. We should not lay off a single teacher, we need to build the best in the country education system so that we can continue to be a world leading knowledge based society.


The goal is to make Boston as energy efficient as any City in America in 4 years.

1) A key part of the environment is clean streets. We need to hire quality assurance professionals to make sure our trash disposal companies are doing the required job they are being paid to do.

2) Mandate that all non-essential city or state vehicles also be hybrid or have 30 mph minimum standards, including the Mayor’s vehicle. Move up the date for converting taxicabs to hybrids.

2) Mandate dual use toilets in new housing developments and renovations.

3) All replacement lights in public buildings and subsidized housing to use fluorescent lighting. Within 5 years all new lighting fixtures will need to be fluorescent or other high efficiency equivalents.
4) Mandate that new hot waters systems, especially in public buildings and subsidized housing be more efficient. All gas hot water systems to be converted to “insta-hot” systems in 10 years.

5) Mandate that shopping centers and parking lots of a certain size provide recycling stations for the public use. Provide similar recycling stations on public property in each neighborhood.

7) Eliminate school busing in Boston and convert needed buses to Bio-fuel. Work in partnership with our local businesses to use all used cooking oil to fuel Boston buses.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Letter to our elected officials about transparency

Kevin McCrea/218 West Springfield Street/Boston, MA 02118

January 9, 2009

Dear Boston Elected Officials:

With the recent ethics scandals afflicting our local politicians, transparency and openness in government are getting renewed interest. Since the government is an extension of its citizens and is entrusted with the citizen’s money, I ask you as a first step to be transparent with our money.

With the exception of one City Councilor, all of our elected officials in Boston are, like me, Democrats. I hope you share with me the ideals outlined by the national Democratic Party:

“The Democratic Party is committed to keeping our nation safe and expanding opportunity for every American. That commitment is reflected in an agenda that emphasizes the strong economic growth, affordable health care for all Americans, retirement security, open, honest and accountable government, and securing our nation while protecting our civil rights and liberties.”

I believe it is past time for our Boston City Government to be open, honest and accountable. I have heard from many people, even City Councilors, that they can not get information from the City of Boston and the Boston Redevelopment Authority. It is time to change the way our city does business with its Citizens.

As we usher in the era of “Change we can believe in”, I request that we begin with one simple change: the online publication of all payments and all expenses incurred by the City of Boston and the Boston Redevelopment Authority. This will go a long way towards establishing the “open, honest, accountable” government called for by our national committee.

In Boston, and Massachusetts, we are proud of our progressive heritage, and of being the “bluest of the blue states”. However, we still have work to do on transparency. Even the “red” state of Alaska, under Governor Palin, has already instituted this policy of online posting of all state expenses of over $1000.00. I am sure that with our wealth of local high tech talent we can do better and post everything online.

If the Boston Redevelopment Authority refuses to cooperate, you should refuse to provide the millions given to them in funding from the City of Boston budget each year, and start charging them rent for their use of the ninth floor of City Hall.

I look forward to you taking this opportunity of public interest in government accountability to provide the citizens of Boston with the “open, honest and accountable government” that we deserve.


Kevin McCrea

Conversation with Parks Department and Big Idea!

I had a conversation with a spokesperson from the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. What is clear is that the special Committee on the Parks didn't talk with them very much about mutual goals.

One good piece of information is that the fountain much talked about is being slated to be fixed this year. I guess we already have the money for that!

They confirmed that Mike Ross is a Trustee for the Fund for Parks and Recreation, a 501c3 organization already set up to raise funds for improvement of the Parks. When Councilor Ross proposes setting up a new fund or conservancy for the Boston Common is this a tacit admission by Councilor Ross that he and the organization he is a trustee of can't do the job properly? Between the Fund for Parks and Recreation and the Friends of the Common it seems as if we have plenty of groups set up to raise additional money for the Boston Common. The spokesperson said they thought the Friends of the Common had 6 million in their Trust which is huge considering the entire parks budget for the year is less than 20 million.

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the Park Rangers. I was initially told that they were hired with external funds but now there are 12 full time rangers, but then I was told that maybe some of the rangers used to be full time employees. Quite confusing, but the reality is that the overall number of employees for the Department has increased and their budget has increased so if there was a cut in rangers it was a conscious decision by the Department, the Mayor and the Council who approves their budget.

Finally, the nice person I was speaking with told me about some of the things the Parks Department would like to see done. The first is to continue the fence along Tremont Street. She said the sections are about $10,000 apiece. I suggested that she should fund raise by "selling" each section of fence with a plaque on the bottom corner that says "Donated by Kevin McCrea/Wabash Construction/2010". My college repaved our sidewalks by selling bricks with these emblems on it. I'm sure many individuals and businesses in Boston would step up to provide a section of Fence which will probably be there for at least a century or two.

I offered to buy the first section for $10,000 as long as I get the corner by Park Street and Tremont Street. I have been attending Mass at the Paulist Center on Park Street since I was a teenager, and I'd love to contribute with something permanent to the great and historic Boston Common.

She thought it a great idea, and was moved to say "you've made my day, my week, my year". I thought her praise a bit effusive, but told her I'm just happy to help out and I hope they take the ball and run with it if that is what they really need.

Remember Robert Frost, "Good fences, make good neighbors"!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Tracking down the money at Winthrop Square Garage

A couple years ago Sam Yoon and Mayor Menino made some sort of back room agreement with the BRA about the "excess" money from the Winthrop Square parking garage going to the BHA.

I have been asking the Mayor and Councilor Yoon for information about the agreement and how much money has come from the BRA and what the terms of the agreements are. Of course, I have not received any hard information from anyone.

Does it seem right to say to the public that we don't have any money, when we don't know where all our money streams are coming from?

So, today I made a public records request and we will see what we find.

Dear Jessica,

Under the freedom of information act I would like to request the following documents related to the Winthrop Square garage:

1) Copy of the contract with the parking operator
2) Copies of all payments made from the BRA to the City of Boston for parking revenue in the last 3 years
3) Copy of any contract between the City of Boston and the BRA regarding the Winthrop Square Garage.

Thank you for your timely reply.

Kevin McCrea
South End News

Replies from City Councilors & the Mayor

I received my first official "NO COMMENT" from Councilor Linehan's office who didn't want to answer three questions for the South End News about a the year he spent on the special committee for the Boston Common.

I've made a couple requests from the South End News to the Mayor's office who say they will get back to me, Howie Carr says When the phone doesn't ring I know it is you hiding stuff!

We asked Councilor Flaherty where he was during the rules committee meeting and what he was working on, but no reply.

Councilor Ross neither posted his proposed changes to the Rules online as he promised he would when he became council president, nor did he even respond to a direct email asking for a copy of the proposed changes. How can you get citizen input if you don't include the citizens? So, it seems like it took less than a couple weeks before Ross reneged on his first promise of transparency for the City Council.

I also asked Councilor Yoon's office for a copy of the proposed rules, but they didn't send those along either. Not too transparent of him either.

IF they aren't transparent about how they are going to conduct their meetings, it doesn't give much hope about what they will do when they actually have to work on something.

WHAT IS SO SECRET ABOUT HOW YOU ARE GOING TO RUN YOUR MEETINGS? Robert's rules of order are availabel in most bookstores and

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Thoughts from City Hall and the State House

I had to go to City Hall today to get some stuff from the BRA, so I stopped in at the City Council meeting of the Rules committee. It was held in the Curley Room where they don't video tape and show the banter on TV. Not as transparent as having it in Council Chambers and posting it on the city website. Also, President Ross's proposed Rules changes are not available online. I thought he was going to post everything online?

Anyway, I was just there a couple minutes (didn't want to get a parking ticket!) and one of the changes he proposes is changing from 17 committees to 13 committees so that council staff could be more efficient. Also it will make special committees more important such as his committee on Boston Common. He thought maybe they would have a groundwater committee, as an example.

Interesting that so few Councilors were there: Flaherty, Murphy, and Connolly were 3 of 4 city councilors at large not there. Consalvo, Tobin, Turner, Yancey were certainly not there either. Where could they all be on wednesday at 2 pm? Maybe in their law offices? I guess they don't care too much about how the council will be run, or for lobbying for any of the committees they care about.

Councilor Yoon's spokesperson says Sam is going to re-propose his 1/2 penny sales tax to aid safety in the city.

Also, I went and congratulated Sonia Diaz at her open house at her Senate Office. It still seems surreal that we have a Senator in our District who you can get in contact with and get an honest answer from.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Better than I could have said it:

Paul Krugman has a great blog post in the NY times:

The trouble with Sanjay Gupta

So apparently Obama plans to appoint CNN’s Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General. I don’t have a problem with Gupta’s qualifications. But I do remember his mugging of Michael Moore over Sicko. You don’t have to like Moore or his film; but Gupta specifically claimed that Moore “fudged his facts”, when the truth was that on every one of the allegedly fudged facts, Moore was actually right and CNN was wrong.

What bothered me about the incident was that it was what Digby would call Village behavior: Moore is an outsider, he’s uncouth, so he gets smeared as unreliable even though he actually got it right. It’s sort of a minor-league version of the way people who pointed out in real time that Bush was misleading us into war are to this day considered less “serious” than people who waited until it was fashionable to reach that conclusion. And appointing Gupta now, although it’s a small thing, is just another example of the lack of accountability that always seems to be the rule when you get things wrong in a socially acceptable way.

This is how I have felt many times in my life. The well dressed, empty thought mouthpiece says assuredly: "there is nothing to this", for example all the city councilors when we filed the open meeting law case, or currently when they claim the city budget is under fire.

I was right about the Open Meeting Law violations, and they were wrong. The city budget as Steve W has shown numerically many times is not under some great distress and the proposition 2.5 increases will make up for the loss of state aid, with a slight bit of belt tightening maybe a couple percent, maybe none if fuel prices remain low, and the exodus from the Boston Public Schools continues.

The fact that City Hall will not release actual numbers should tell you who is telling the truth and who is hiding things.

Gunfire this morning?

I woke up this morning in the south end around 4:30 to a series of gun shots. It sounded like between 6 and 15 shots. Anyone else hear it? Was it gun fire? It sounded like at least two different guns shooting.

Go Bernstein, Reilly and those Nutty Bloggers!!!

I heard a story last night from someone that said that Menino was recently at a local political watering hole (foley's?) telling those assembled that he had 18,000 city workers that would vote for him, and that the press is in his pocket and won't write anything critical except for the Phoenix and some nutty bloggers!

Congratulations to my Mom!

My mother, Joanne Fitzgerald McCrea, has been named to the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. She was invited to Senator Kerry's swearing in ceremony in Washington, D.C. this week and took the train down there to participate, after working on his reelection campaign.

My mom is one of those people that believe that good government can help people get ahead in life, and I salute her for working hard to try and make peoples lives better.

Thanks Mom,

Monday, January 05, 2009

City Council still hasn't hired the Judge to Look into Turner despite what Feeney and Ross say.

I received the following email from the City of Boston Law Department today:

I apologize, with holidays there have been overlapping vacations. The First Assistant who handles all contracts such as Judge Swartwood's was out today but will be in tomorrow. I left your contact information and asked that you be sent all contract documents when such documents are sent to the other news outlets that requested the documents. Therefore, I can only assume that the contract is still in the process of execution.

So, it is now January 5, 2009 and despite Councilor Feeney saying they have hired this judge, according to the Law Department they haven't hired the judge. The contract should be a public document that obviously many of us in the news would like to see so should be released as soon as they sign it. Unless of course they are hiding something, but the City of Boston would never do that.

Congratulations to Councilor Ross on becoming president, and I applaud him for saying he will post everything online. Here's a suggestion, make sure the Green Sheets are posted every week so everyone can know what things can be brought up for a vote at any time.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

My prescient TV commercial from City Council Race 2005 is on Youtube!

If I couldn't be elected, at least I could say I told you so! My video whiz brother posted my city council TV commercial from 2005 on Youtube.

Notice that I told about the corruption with the Roxbury Mosque that the Boston Phoenix just recently wrote the full report about, and of course I promised to keep my eyes on City Hall, something that someone should have been doing, and the Feds finally did.

What were the other candidates promising then?

Menino: ???
Murphy: more PILOT payments
Flaherty: safer streets
Yoon: everything would be better

As John Wooden would explain in his pyramid of success, first you learn to put your socks on correctly before you run. In Boston, first you have to end the corruption, waste fraud and abuse before you figure out what to do with the money.

Here is the link:

No behind the scenes support for Maureen Feeney hiring a special investigator

I have been calling various city councilors this week to get their take on Maureen Feeney's hiring of the $50,000 or so consultant to look into Chuck Turner. Of course, these fearless leaders won't come out and say anything but "off the record" everyone I spoke to was against it, calling it "outrageous". One made the point that remember this has to be signed off by Menino. What is it that Menino and Feeney have in for Turner???

Could it be that Menino and Feeney are mad at Dianne and Chuck because a perfectly good behind the scenes deal involving all four was done with some liquor licenses, some raises, etc. and everyone ended up good and then they had to go and ruin it by getting cash payments on camera? As Howie Carr would say, where is the bagman?

Notice that Feeney and Menino aren't hiring any special investigators to look into the licensing Board!!! It takes two (or more) to tango, and Chuck and Dianne wouldn't have gotten any money if the licensing board wasn't involved.

With the City saying we have to lay off teachers and cops, I say the first one to get laid off is the $500 an hour judge.

Mayor Menino's police layoff folly

The Mayor seems to have run into a buzzsaw and given potential challengers an issue to slam him with. Laying off 200 cops is not only unnecessary it is politically wrong and more importantly wrong for the City.

As my financial guy Steve W. writes:

City hall is making a mountain out of a molehill and you can prove it - if you are interested in the hard numbers happy to sit down and show you how this shell game works.

Bottom line - to justify 7-10% cuts on boston's budget due to state aid cuts, the state would have to cut net aid by at least 65% or about $225 million and possibly as much as 85% or $310 million- none of the numbers coming out of Beacon Hill are even remotely close to that (we are hearing 15-20% or $50-75 million cuts in net aid worst case - even after the additional $1 billion cuts announced this week).

More thoughts from Pakistan and on making peace

My previous article focused on the free reign of hate speech in some Pakistani media outlets that made liberal use of a mix of unsubstantiated conspiracy theory, faulty facts, racial hatred and religious intolerance, and my perspective was formed particularly by watching Zaid Hamid who does the show “Brass Tacks.”

In the week since, I have found the rhetorical violence present in the “lectures” of Zaid Hamid followed up by a close dose of how it informs the reality of Brass Tacks and Zaid Hamid. Since the article he has circulated to the members of his mail group that I have attacked him at the behest of the Zionist Banking System, the Kufr Dajjal and that their “war” has entered a new stage. He encouraged members to write to me, and they have in force. From veiled threats, to how my picture in this column looked like the dajjal (I am content with how God made me), or my membership to the “Illuminati” amongst a number of others have all come my way, including links to documentaries on YouTube from where they have done their “scholarly research…” Brass Tacks has a huge Islamic component, I wonder if Zaid Hamid has forgotten the lessons of “tomat”, or allegations, and how Islam views it.

While at first I thought Zaid Hamid to be well-intended but misguided, what I have now seen firsthand demonstrates delusion. In this postmodern world where people have surrendered a good deal of their intimate freedoms to impersonal institutions, where the interlinked nexus of governments and corporations creates ripples that people find difficult to understand, the conspiracy theorist takes the easy way out by assuming that all events are at the hands of a secret few. Despite the invalidity of these theses, they have staying power because they offer no proof, and hence they cannot be disproved, especially if they are the product of a paranoid imagination. Common to most of these conspiracy theories is “de-individualization”, which is lumping people into impersonal groups and taking their humanity away from them. That’s what Zaid Hamid does when he rants about the inferiority of Hindus, the inherent evil nature of Jews or Pakistani leaders he disagrees with. He neglects to realize that his method is what also drove the neoconservatives in creating a world in their own ethnocentric image and in the killing fields of Iraq. This method also drove the perpetrator of the Marriot, who was so convinced of his mission that he didn’t mind killing scores of the poorest for a few choice targets.

As far as me being a Zionist Banker goes, I have never worked for a bank, or own shares in any. I did work briefly once for the World Bank, a development organization (one that I also believe has done some harm to the people it is mandated to help), but that was a short-term consultancy to research the value chain of apples for export and it had nothing to do with lending money. I do have two bank accounts, and the public is welcome to verify that in neither is there an exemption from paying the government Zakat, nor are there any withdrawals before it is imposed.

Let’s hold Zaid Hamid to his own standards by looking at his record. On the website of his security consulting firm, also called Brass Tacks, he proudly mentions testimonials from employees of both Deutsche Bank and Bank of America (amongst ten other banks), and from Shell. Wait a second! Isn’t this the same Zaid Hamid who does a TV programme that claims banks are in the hands of the Zionist Jews hungry to kill all Muslims? What is he doing profiting from protecting them after creating public animosity towards them? Is this the same Zaid Hamid who believes the world is being overrun by multinationals that are out to secure resources that will eventually harm Muslims? What is he doing profiting from protecting Shell, which has just signed an agreement to sell natural gas in the Governorate of Basra in Iraq under the US occupation? He is not living what he is preaching. He devours banks and multinationals on television but profits from them when the cameras stop rolling.

One of the major world conspiracies happens to be that the invasions of the US were conducted at the behest of Halliburton, an energy company with known ties to individuals of the US administration. Well, the Bank of America (BOA) has just recommended the stock of Halliburton after the CFO of the energy company met with BOA officials. So by one degree of separation, isn’t Brass Tacks, the company of Zaid Hamid, linked to Halliburton because of the BOA connection?

Now I want to clarify that all the above facts are true, but I do not believe in the yarn I wind around them to make them connect. I do not believe for a second that Zaid Hamid intends to create fear and profit from it. He just happened to be a security expert who landed on TV with a pre-existing business and started preaching his prejudices derived from random conspiracy theories. I wrote the scenario above to illustrate how the coincidental can be woven together to make a compelling narrative that has no real truth, nor is it causal or correlated. It is thinking like this that I wish Zaid Hamid would question himself on, because as demonstrated above even he could fall prey to the world where nothing is substantiated and the dicey is used as truth to fan hatred.

As far as profiting from concerns he preaches against, well that’s for him to resolve. But the absolutism that Zaid Hamid holds others to, he does not hold himself to apparently.

This absolutism is not just moral in his case, its intellectual as well. In his recent programme, he described how income taxes were one of the greatest conspiracies of the USA. Had he just bothered to look into the system of income taxes and public finance, he would have realized that a progressive taxation system is one of the greatest tools to redistribute wealth and to help the poor. Accidents of birth, talent and intelligence can be mitigated into a more just society when there is a documented tax base, and societies can pay for services to the economically disadvantaged. A progressive taxation system can make sure that there are good hospitals, schools, pensions and other benefits that can help them overturn an unequal society by redistributing from the rich to the poor. The welfare state that all populist Islamic leaders promise will be based on the progressive income tax system, not government sales tax (GST.) If we had no income taxes, and only GST then we would be taxing consumption, and for the poor food is a large part of that, which means relative to income no income taxes and only GST it would penalize the poor more than the rich and they would eat less. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

For example, Zaid Hamid has been insinuating for the longest time that most of Pakistan’s leaders are in the pockets of the CIA. I am sure some are. However, Zaid Hamid makes one exclusion to his thesis, General Musharraf, someone who overtly cooperated more with the US than anyone else in Pakistan’s history. Now exactly how Zaid Hamid has the knowledge to make this distinction, no one knows. By continuously insisting on television the he is the only one who knows these things, he is creating the cult of personality, not that of objectivity. After all, this is a man who decries the state of representative politics, of democracy, but that does not mean he has the right to do away with it, because the only alternative in his eyes would be someone he approves of (himself?), not who the people choose.

In the end, I would like to add a few cautionary notes. Brass Tacks is not a programme entirely without merit, and neither is Zaid Hamid. For example, he is right when he discusses the rancid imperialism of the US and its misadventures abroad, he is right when he believes that unfettered capitalism is bad, or that Muslims need to awaken from their slumber. He is right when he mentions there are flaws in an economic system that allows for hot money, that sells credit irresponsibly for mindless consumption. These are legitimate themes, and the fact that Zaid Hamid is non-sectarian is applause worthy.

But where Zaid Hamid should draw the line is upholding the facts that withstand query, abstaining from hate speech even if he opposes large swathes of humanity and verifying tracts that may not fit into his presuppositions. There is a place for both the right and left on television, after all that is what creates consensus through dialectic. What should be common is remembering Islam is a religion of peace.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

My New Year's Resolutions

1) My wife is a princess, treat her as such, and be thankful for her being in my life!
2) Don't lose my temper, no yelling, especially with people I respect.
(NY Yankees excepted)
3) Don't be silent. Speak out about injustice, corruption and waste.
4) Be the person I want to be.

Christmas was interesting this year, I truly have everything I could have ever hoped for, so it was tough for my family to get me stuff. Books on politics and history were the worthy solution!

When I got out of college I promised myself that as long as I had 3 things: a place of my own, a motorcycle and a killer stereo that I would be happy. I've never forgotten how happy a simple life can be. I hope that this year comes with your health and peace of mind intact, and that you can appreciate with me the fact that we live in a country where I am free to write a blog such as this, speaking truth to power.

What are your resolutions?