Activist Mel King says he's a Yoonie

By 
Gintautas Dumcius and Mike Deehan, Reporter Staff
Aug. 13, 2009

The recent endorsement of former state Sen. Bill Owens appears to have been just an appetizer for mayoral hopeful Sam Yoon’s campaign, which this week served up the backing of community activist Mel King, the first African-American to win Boston’s preliminary election for mayor.

“The issue for me is the children and the youth in the city,” King said in a statement. “Sam’s campaign is working to get all of us involved in making the city and the schools better. We have the opportunity for this year to be the year when Boston embraces the idea that all the city’s children are our children. It is Sam’s leadership and vision in this area that I believe we need.”

King, a South Ender and former state representative, also took a shot at the incumbent, Mayor Thomas Menino, who set up a foundation after a recent seven-part series in the Boston Globe on the state of Boston Public Schools athletics: “The quality of our schools and the creation of a sound physical education program should be the first order of business. Sam will ensure resources for our schools – not in response to a media report - but because of Sam’s belief that it is our responsibility and that our children are deserving.”

King did not return phone calls seeking comment.

In King’s 1983 run for mayor, he came in second to Ray Flynn, Menino’s predecessor.

Advocates within the minority community say they’re the battleground for votes in the municipal election.

Menino backers say he has strong minority community support. “I think he’s done a great job,” said state Rep. Marie St. Fleur. “He’s got a steady hand. He understands all the neighborhoods of the city.”

Menino also has the support of state Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, who, like St. Fleur, is a Dorchester Democrat.

Expecting the candidate to win one of the two spots in the Sept. 22 preliminary, City Councillor At-Large Michael Flaherty’s campaign for mayor is holding its fire on endorsements.
“A lot of people are waiting until after the preliminary,” said Flaherty spokeswoman Natasha Perez.

Menino on BRA: ‘They’re always under attack’

Mayor Menino is defending the Boston Redevelopment Authority, an agency that has drawn heavy fire from the three other candidates running for mayor.

At a forum in Jamaica Plain last week, Menino called the agency, which oversees development and planning across the city, a “whipping post” and a “stalking horse for bad press.”

“We’ve been able to manage our development better than most cities,” he told a group of two dozen people, most of them members of the Jamaica Plain Progressives group, at the Nate Smith House.

South End businessman Kevin McCrea and City Councillor Yoon have proposed abolishing the BRA and replacing it with two departments that focus on city planning and economic development. They charge that the current agency is too secretive, benefiting developers more than city residents because of backroom deals and patronage jobs. City Councillor At-Large Flaherty has also criticized the agency, calling for its abolishment.

Menino said a splitting of the agency would lead to “two bureaucracies going at each other.”

“They’re always under attack, you know, because they’re looking for change. They’re trying to create change,” Menino said of the BRA after the forum. “People don’t like change. They want to talk about it; they really don’t like it. Can we improve the BRA? We can improve Public Works, we can improve the schools, we can improve any agency. Can we do different things? Maybe, yeah.”

Menino said after the authority received complaints about meeting during the daytime, it moved meetings to the evening. “Nobody shows up at nighttime either,” he said. “It’s one of those things. How do you satisfy?”

Menino also referred to One Franklin St., the former site of the Filene’s store, as the “bane of my existence.” (Indeed, a sign-up sheet for volunteers spotted in Menino’s campaign offices at one time said that no BRA employees were allowed to volunteer at Downtown Crossing.)

Now a pit that’s been compared to an Iraqi war zone, the site has been held up by mayoral challengers as an example of Menino administration mismanagement.

“It’s not our fault,” Menino said, pointing to the shaky economy. “Banks aren’t lending money.”

Yoon received, donated to charity $150 from public employee

The reams of information on the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance’s website are sometimes compared to Christmas presents for reporters. If that’s true, then consider this a tiny stocking stuffer found three weeks after New Year’s.

City Councillor At-Large Yoon’s mayoral campaign in April sent 241 emails to addresses of public employees that included a request for campaign contributions, yielding a $150 contribution from a single public employee, according to OCPF. The campaign has since donated the amount to an East Boston charity and anti-violence group, ZUMIX.

In a July 8 letter to Yoon’s campaign committee, OCPF director Michael Sullivan said the agency determined that the solicitation was “inconsistent” with campaign finances laws, which prohibit public employees from being asked to donate at work, including through their work emails.

“While sending these emails to governmental employees at their place of work was inconsistent with campaign finance law, the Committee has cooperated fully in this review and disgorged the $150 raised, by making a donation to a charity in that amount,” Sullivan wrote. “Accordingly, the matter may be closed at this time. We anticipate that our review and guidance will ensure future compliance with the campaign finance law.”

The incident is separate from a similar one reported by the Boston Herald in March, according to the campaign.

At-Large candidate Tito Jackson hires Anderson as staff chief

Yet another major change to a candidate’s campaign staff: Stephanie J. Anderson has come on board the Tito Jackson campaign as the new campaign manager.

According to Anderson, she is not replacing anyone - the campaign did not have an official manager until Anderson decided to switch from a volunteer fundraising position to a full time role in Jackson’s attempt to fill one of four City Council At-Large seats.

The Flint, Michigan, native moved to Boston from Chicago about eight years ago. Anderson has taken a leave of absence from her job as head of public relations and chief spokesperson for manufacturer Osram Sylvania.

“Tito has specific plans and real world experience on how to make employers come to our community and invest in our community,” said Anderson when asked why she joined the campaign.

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