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November 01, 2005

Boston City Council open thread

A reader requested that we open a thread for discussion on next week's Boston City Council election, and we thought that seemed like a good idea.  There are eight candidates for the four at-large (city-wide) seats.  There are also nine districts, each of which is represented by one councillor.  In each of the nine districts, the incumbent is running for reelection; six of them have challengers and three do not.  So each voter gets to cast five votes for City Council: four at-large, and one for the district in which the voter resides.  The complete candidate list is here (pdf).

We haven't been following the race all that closely, but here are some resources to get things started: Globe endorsements (at-large); Globe endorsements (district); DFA endorsements and questionnaires; and Globe profiles of some of the candidates.  Also, Adam Reilly published this article in last week's Phoenix, and has been blogging frequently about various candidates.  Failing all of that, Googling any individual candidate reveals a wealth of information (many of them have their own websites).  UPDATE: The Boston Phoenix endorsements are here, and they've published some questionnaire answers by the City Council candidates here.  Also, Bay Windows' endorsements are here, and the South End News has endorsements that are not online but that I have posted in the comments.

Election day is next Tuesday, Nov. 8.  This is an open thread.  Go to it!

Posted by David at 07:08 PM in Massachusetts | Permalink


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As a progressive, I'm all for Arroyo and Yoon, but beyond that, I'm having a difficult time narrowing down the remaining at-large candidates.

Between O'Malley, Flaherty, and Connolly, who are peoples' favorites?

Posted by: eury13 | Nov 1, 2005 11:35:21 PM

John Connolly for me. He came to my door a week or so back. He was dead on with his education stuff. Former teacher, educated, etc.

I saw he and Flaherty, also getting one of my votes, was endorsed by the Globe too.

Posted by: ejohnson | Nov 2, 2005 9:09:11 AM

Thanks for posting this election BMG!!

Connolly has certainly raised eyebrows during this campaign. As the son of the former Sec. of the Commonwealth he has a huge fundraising base and has made the most of it. He possesses political instinct and has a knack for raising $$.

Patricia White, the daughter of legendary mayor, Kevin White, also demonstrates her political instinct- it seems to be an inherited trait for both these candidates.

However, Ed Flynn, the son of Mayor Ray Flynn, seems to have missed the political instinct genes. When hearing him speak, it seems every other word out of his mouth is that he is a veteran. Now don't get me wrong, I respect and honor that, however, I have a sense that he thinks he is running for Commander in Chief or for the Joint Chiefs of Staff or something. I don't see its relevancy for a city council election- its just a gimic so to speak.

Both Yoon and O'Malley (the comeback kid)are impressive candidates. I am pleased not only to see Matt O'Malley running again, but also for doing so well. I hope he gets the consideration he deserves. Both of these candidates are out there on their own, building support across New England's largest city. They did not have name recognition, they did not have fundraising lists, they did not have a presupposed field organization... they have created all of that on their own. Something should be said for such up starts.

I think the people of Boston are fortunate to have several great candidates to choose from. And I would encourage everyone to use each of their 4 votes to support 4 candidates.

Posted by: Political Insider | Nov 3, 2005 10:33:42 AM

From the South End News:

This year’s crop of candidates for Boston City Council is the strongest we’ve seen in years. Voters are better off for it. When we go to the polls next Tuesday, Nov. 8, we’ll have an opportunity to send new energy, ideas and passion to Boston’s much-maligned City Council.

One of the themes emerging from the At-Large race is that the Council is only as strong as its members make it. Although the Council’s powers technically reside just in its authority to approve the Mayor’s budget, the Council is a powerful bully pulpit from which to push policy ideas and endorse social movements. We’ve seen that in the last year as Councilors have pushed the School Committee to reform the

Toward that end, South End News strongly endorses At-Large incumbent Felix Arroyo for re-election. Arroyo, a former president of the Boston School Committee, is unrelenting in his calls for reform of the public school system, particularly around the deeply troubling achievement gap between white students and Black and Latino students. He also intuitively understands the Council’s power as a public platform. Look no further than his advocacy on behalf of LGBT people in the Latino community as a powerful example.

South End News also endorses Patricia White and Matt O’Malley in the At-Large race. White and O’Malley are each making their second runs for the Council. Both are political animals; neither would have much of a learning curve after settling into office. Through her work for non-profits such as the Heinz Foundation, Work Family Directions and, most recently, Boston Partners in Education, White advocated for education reform and private-sector solutions to work/family issues. And while it may be politically incorrect to make much of the fact that White was pregnant through much of the campaign, until she gave birth to her son William in July, and then campaigned as a new mother, we’re impressed nonetheless. White, clearly, is a master multi-tasker and we want her working for us on the Council.

O’Malley could have retreated from politics after his at-times whimsical-seeming run for Council in 2003. (He blogged on his campaign Web site about trips to Dunkin’ Donuts and his love for Little Debbie snack cakes.) Instead, he emerged as Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral’s campaign manager. Her victory over Councilor Stephen Murphy stunned nearly every political observer and cemented the idea that there is, in fact, a “New Boston” out there. Count the red-headed Irish-American O’Malley as a member and give him one of your four votes for the At-Large slot.

For the fourth and final At-Large seat, South End News endorses incumbent Councilor Michael Flaherty. We do so with some reservations, however. Flaherty presided over the Council as president when some of its members, including Flaherty, met privately with Boston Redevelopment Authority Director Mark Maloney, earning the body a warning letter from Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley that the Council had likely violated the state’s Open Meeting law. As Council president he has prohibited members from introducing official resolutions on matters of national interest, such as the USA Patriot Act. The Boston City Council, like most elected city boards around the country, has a rich tradition of taking stands on national issues ranging from the Vietnam War to civil rights. This is one of the ways by which public policy can be influenced and only someone with a limited imagination cannot see how these issues impact local residents.

Flaherty, nonetheless, remains an immensely appealing politician. His victory in 1999, when he ran from South Boston as a progressive who would work for everyone in Boston, showed other Irish-Catholic politicians like State Sens. Jack Hart and Marian Walsh that they wouldn’t lose their jobs if they voted their conscience on matters of gay rights. He articulates better than anyone else running for City Council the crucial need for drug treatment for addicts. He is a passionate supporter of public school reform. And he smartly called for a moratorium on any work related to the BioSafety Level 4 lab until a real evacuation plan has been worked out. All of that should earn him re-election to the Council.

We would be remiss in not mentioning our reasons for leaving candidates like Sam Yoon and John Connolly off of our endorsement slate. Yoon has won plaudits for breaking ground as the first Asian-American to run for citywide office. He has an impeccable resume as a community development activist. In past council races, he might have been the best candidate out there. But in this field he is simply outdone by the competition. His learning curve for the politics of the council would be too steep to recommend him for office.

As for Connolly, he, too, is immensely appealing. His background as an educator and attorney is impressive. He is a relentless campaigner. In past years, he would surely have won our endorsement. But this field is deep with those who have past political experience and that tipped the balance for us.

In the District Two council race, which has seen its first real fight in at least a decade, South End News endorses challenger Susan Passoni. Passoni is smart, she’s hard-working and she’s from the South End — which, after 22 years, deserves a Councilor who lives in the neighborhood. Passoni, of course, is new to politics. That’s been obvious in the campaign. She was absent from neighborhood events — such as the Blackstone/Franklin Neighborhood Watch meetings and neighborhood walk throughs — that attracted politicians the way tax-free amnesty days lure shoppers to big box retailers. But Passoni is a quick study. We have every confidence that as a district councilor Passoni would be a fierce advocate for constituent services.

While on the topic of the District 2 race, it needs to be said that incumbent James Kelly is a master at delivering services. And he’s a likeable man. But his ideas about social issues are rooted deep in the past. Look no further than his annual toast to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling barring openly gay people from marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. There is simply no way to pretend that that ugly battle was not steeped in homophobia on the part of parade organizers. The entire city, not just the neighborhoods of the South End and South Boston, deserve a councilor from District 2 who understands, on a basic level, the need to treat every citizen with dignity and respect. That involves much more than getting potholes filled for constituents without regard to the constituent’s sexual orientation.

In the race for Mayor, South End News endorses Mayor Tom Menino. Menino has presided over a revitalization of the city that makes Boston, in parts, unrecognizable from what it looked like 12 years ago, when he first took office. Look no further than the South End’s Washington Street for evidence of this.

That said, the Mayor’s failure to understand how the seeming secrecy with which the negotiations around the siting of the BioSafety Level 4 Laboratory took place ultimately impacted the public debate on the issue is deeply troubling. As was the Mayor’s failure to reign in unions during collective bargaining negotiations last year. An arbitrator ultimately settled on a raise for the police and fire unions, but Menino’s inability to get the matter settled before it became a crisis in the week’s prior to last year’s Democratic National Convention displayed lax leadership.

These issues alone, in fact, would be enough to endorse a new candidate. But Maura Hennigan’s campaign has been absent of ideas. She is not the politician the city needs to solve problems with housing, crime, the quality of the schools and declining city services. Here’s to hoping Menino can muster up the energy and ideas in one more term to stem the tide.

Posted by: David | Nov 3, 2005 11:43:14 AM

What's up with the gay papers not endorsing Yoon? Neither gives any kind of substantive reason for breaking with the Globe, Phoenix, and just about every liberal group in the city. Bay Windows praises O'Malley for being "a straight man who likes show tunes." Couldn't one have said the same about Dapper O'Neil?

Posted by: escargot555 | Nov 5, 2005 6:03:47 PM

Boston City Council, Boston City Clerk,
Boston City Council Stenographer Ellen Fritch all have
denied access to
a. the Council stenographic machine output,
b. transcribed output from the stenographic machine

What passes for minutes is digested too briefly,
too spare for any person to make sense of what
transpired during public meetings of the Boston City

Docket numbers are not cross referenced,
papers of the Mayor mentioned in the Council minutes
are not described as to content.

The Council Stenographer contributes to election

City Department heads routinely deny timely access
to departmental annual reports. City Department
heads and the Mayor's Office evade the annual report
requirement of the City ordinances by using a
memoranda format in reporting annually about City
Departments. Instead of sending departmental annual
reports to the City Council as required, Department
heads' reports are disguised as memoranda to the
Mayor's Office.

The Boston Finance Commission routinely denies or
delays access to Commission Reports. Information
about the dates of Boston Finance Commission public
meetings and names of people who are appointed to
the Boston Finance Commission are routinely denied
or delayed. The names of the people who are
appointed to the Boston Finance Commission do not
appear on the Reports.

We need a
1. Mayoral Directive and a
2. City Council Order
for the more routine transmittal of City Public
Documents and City Departments' Public Documents to
our Boston Public Library Government Documents
Department. These public documents should also
appear on the web at

The City Council Reference Library should be more
open and available instead of the routine denial or
delay for access to materials there and routine
denial or delay for access to details about the
City Council Reference Library not already on the
web at

Posted by: dsaklad@zurich.csail.mit.edu | Nov 6, 2005 2:44:13 AM

By Maggie Mulvihill
intrusively questioning citizens

By Jessica Fargen and Marie Szaniszlo
...routinely denying lawful requests for basic...information...

Posted by: dsaklad@zurich.csail.mit.edu | Nov 6, 2005 2:46:48 AM

. What exactly are the papers?... in docket items

. What are the papers about?...
. What's the topic of the papers?...
. What's the content of the papers?...
. What matters do the papers concern?...

The City Council Minutes and Agendas are too brief,
too spare for people to make sense of what happened,
too difficult to make sense of what transpired.
Exactly what transactions of the councilors occurred?...

Clarity needs to be improved!
The ambiguity needs to be reduced !

> City Council Meeting Agendas
> View the Agendas from a specific week: 10/23/2005

> Order of business for matters
> presented to the City Clerk
> prior to 12:00 on Tuesday, October 25, 2005
> for consideration by the City Council
> at a regular meeting on
> Wednesday, October 26 at
> 11:30 AM

> The following were received:
> ...
> Reports from public officers and others
> ...
> 1239
> Notice was received from the City Clerk
> in accordance with
> Chapter 6 of the Ordinances of 1979 re:
> actions taken by the Mayor on
> papers acted upon by the City Council at its meeting
> on
> September 21, 2005.
> 1240
> Notice was received from the City Clerk in accordance
> with
> Chapter 6 of the Ordinances of 1979 re:
> actions taken by the Mayor on
> papers acted upon by the City Council at its meeting
> on
> September 28, 2005.
> 1241
> Notice was received from the City Clerk in accordance
> with
> Chapter 6 of the Ordinances of 1979 re:
> actions taken by the Mayor on
> papers acted upon by the City Council at its meeting
> on
> October 5, 2005.

> City Council Meeting Minutes
> View the Minutes from a specific week: 10/23/2005

> A regular meeting of the City Council
> of the City of Boston was held in the
> Christopher A. Iannella Chamber, City Hall at
> 11:45 on Wednesday, October 26
> Councillors Present:
> President Flaherty in the Chair-
> Absent Councilor Hennigan.
> The following were received:
> Docket... Content...
> ...
> 1239
> Notice was received from the City Clerk in accordance
> with
> Chapter 6 of the Ordinances of 1979 re:
> actions taken by the Mayor
> on papers acted upon by the City Council
> at its meeting on
> September 21, 2005.
> Placed on file.
> 1240
> Notice was received from the City Clerk in accordance
> with
> Chapter 6 of the Ordinances of 1979 re:
> actions taken by the Mayor on
> papers acted upon by the City Council at its meeting
> on
> September 28, 2005. Placed on file.
> 1241
> Notice was received from the City Clerk in accordance
> with
> Chapter 6 of the Ordinances of 1979 re:
> actions taken by the Mayor on
> papers acted upon by the City Council at its meeting
> on
> October 5, 2005. Placed on file.
> ...
> 1269
> The Chair stated that, in absence of objection,
> 1 late-filed matter would be added to the
> Consent Agenda.
> No objection being heard,
> the following matter was added:
> Councilor Yancey offered the following:
> Resolution recognizing The Late Cecelia M. Martin.
> The matters contained within the
> Consent Agenda were severally
> adopted.
> Adjourned at 1:55 p.m. on motion of
> President Flaherty
> in memory of Stephen Rosa Parks,
> Donald "Cofi" Tucker,
> Ray Fitzgerald,
> Maureen Berry Eason,
> John "Okie" O'Connell, and
> Steven Small,
> to meet again on
> Wednesday November 2, 2005 at
> 11:30 a.m.
> The papers acted upon at the foregoing meeting of the
> City Council, which contain
> action requiring the approval of the Mayor,
> were deposited in the Mayor's Office on
> October 28, 2005.
> Rosaria Salerno City Clerk

Posted by: dsaklad@zurich.csail.mit.edu | Nov 7, 2005 8:02:17 AM

What were the actions taken by the Mayor
on the papers?...

Posted by: dsaklad@zurich.csail.mit.edu | Nov 7, 2005 1:06:52 PM

I dislike Ed Flynn.

I just recieved an automated phone call from him asking me to vote for him.

I hate phone calls like that. They are annoying and ridiculous. What a stupid interruption. Especially since my number is listed on the National Do Not Call Registry. And it's a cell phone (excuse me I have to pay for that!).

It gets even more funny though.

I live in Michigan! I'm a college student that has lived in Michigan her whole life. I don't even have family in Boston.

Seriously is there anyone else that has gotten that stupid phone call that doesn't live anywhere near Boston?! Would anyone else be upset about this?

Anyway... I'm pretty sure his phone number is 617.269.2005 so I might try to give him a call back.


Posted by: lesann@gmail.com | Nov 7, 2005 7:28:01 PM

Matt O'Malley is the only one (besides Arroyo and Yoon) that is against the proposed BU bioterror lab in the south end/Roxbury which will bring anthrax and smallpox in to the communities, so I like that stance…on other stuff I'm not so sure about him.

I like Arroyo and Yoon, I don't feel the need to vote for any others.

Posted by: Jonathan McIntosh | Nov 7, 2005 8:46:58 PM

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