REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: On pastor’s show, Flaherty focus is Menino, Council

By 
Gintautas Dumcius, News Editor
Apr. 21, 2011

Michael Flaherty:Michael Flaherty:

Sounding increasingly like a candidate for public office, former City Councillor At-Large Michael Flaherty took to the airwaves this week, criticizing the mayor and the City Council as he weighs an attempt to reclaim his seat.

“I don’t really see a strong independent voice” on the council, Flaherty told Pastor Bruce Wall on the Dorchester minister’s radio show Sunday night.Wall, an outspoken critic of Mayor Thomas Menino’s administration, was a supporter of Flaherty’s unsuccessful mayoral run in 2009.

Flaherty, a South Boston Democrat, himself came under criticism when he was on the City Council for closeness to the Menino administration, with former City Councillor At-Large Peggy Davis Mullen telling the Boston Phoenix in 1993: “At a time when people seem to be concerned about the lack of independence of the council from the mayor, Michael’s close relationship to the mayor doesn’t seem to have affected him negatively.”

The four current at-large incumbents – John Connolly, Stephen Murphy, Felix Arroyo and Ayanna Pressley – are up for reelection this year.

Flaherty said he was “disappointed” in the council and added that it has had a muted response to Menino’s “nonchalant” comment about the stalled development of the former Filene’s site in Downtown Crossing. “I didn’t hear anything from the City Council,” Flaherty told Wall.

According to the Boston Herald, Menino last week said at a reception for local businesses, “People say to me: ‘Oh, you’ve got a hole there (in Downtown Crossing)’ — so what! The hole is going to be there until those folks from New York understand we in Boston know how to do development. And just because they can’t get development done, that’s not my fault.”

Vornado, the company that owns the site, is now attempting to sell it. Menino sparred with the company after a top executive reportedly said the company left a site in New York in similar conditions in order to grab government aid.

While Flaherty said on the radio show that he is still weighing a comeback, at least one candidate is already in; William Dorcena of Hyde Park says he’s running.

More candidates could emerge in the days ahead. Yesterday (April 20) was the first day potential candidates could apply for nomination papers. Anyone so applying must gather 1,500 signatures to make the ballot.

City Council going paperless
City councillors received a shiny new toy last week: an HP tablet computer that will enable the 13-member body to dispose with the reams of paper that come with their weekly meeting, including agendas and hearing orders. “Obviously anything we can do to reduce our carbon footprint and print out less paper is a good thing,” said Matt O’Malley, who represents Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury.

The tablet comes with a stylus and access to City Council archives and documents needed for upcoming meetings.

Eventually, councillors will be able to vote by tapping the screen. Some of them say they are having difficulty with the tablet, and are hoping to use a hybrid combination of paper and tablet.

O’Malley, who prefers a Mac, said in a phone interview – on an iPhone, naturally – that the tablet was a bit cumbersome.

“I think we’ll all get there eventually,” he added.

Globe columnist next at Speaker’s Forum
A Boston Globe columnist will talk Boston neighborhoods – then and now – as part of a Dorchester speakers series. Lawrence Harmon, who writes editorials and a weekly column, will be at All Saints Church in the Ashmont neighborhood on Fri., May 13 at 7:30 p.m.

“Nearly everywhere I go, someone mentions how Boston is an infinitely better city than it was three or four decades ago,” Harmon said in a release promoting the event. “I am hoping to test that assumption by talking with a neighborhood audience about crime, education, and community development issues.”
Harmon, a Boston University graduate, previously wrote for the Boston Ledger and the Jewish Advocate and co-authored “The Death of an American Jewish Community: A Tragedy of Good Intentions.”

College Bound Dorchester to honor Rep. Walsh
College Bound Dorchester will be honoring state Rep. Marty Walsh (D-Dorchester) at its seventh annual “We are College Bound” event, which is set for June 9 at UMass Boston.

The organization, formerly known as Federated Dorchester Neighborhood Houses, is expected to honor the Dorchester Democrat for his support and advocacy for working families. The $5.6 million
organization serves 900 families through adult education, adolescent development, and early education.

Walsh, a Savin Hill native, has served in the state House of Representatives for 14 years. About 300 guests are expected to attend.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at dotnews.com/litdrop. Material from State House News Service was used in this report.

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