Reporter’s Notebook: On his way out, Arroyo bests Menino on bank legislation

Mayor Thomas Menino isn’t the only one thinking about his legacy as he gets ready to leave office. It must be also on the minds of the elected officials who gave up their seats and failed in their bids to succeed him.

In that vein, City Councillor At-Large Felix Arroyo scored a victory last week when the City Council, in a rare move, overturned Menino’s veto of a top Arroyo initiative.

Arroyo has been pushing the “Invest in Boston” proposal for years. The idea behind it is to push banks to invest in Boston and promote community development through the city of Boston’s deposits in those banks and new reporting requirements.

The Council unanimously passed it days before the Sept. 24 preliminary after Arroyo had buttonholed Stephen Murphy, the Council president, at a Ward 11 Democratic Committee picnic earlier in the month to press his case and receive assurances that he would get a vote. But on Oct. 4, the mayor vetoed the proposal and offered his own version, forcing Arroyo, who had come in fifth place in a twelve-way race to replace the outgoing mayor, to mount a campaign to overturn Menino’s decision.

“While I applaud the effort and intent of this legislation, I return this order because I believe that it fails to fulfill its intention and could in fact cause more harm than good to the City of Boston,” Menino wrote in his veto message.

Menino added that the ordinance is unlikely to lead to meaningful changes in banks’ business practices. “The ordinance anticipates that we can hold out something that would seem valuable to banks – city deposits – in exchange for something that is valuable to Boston – investment in our neighborhoods,” he wrote.

Arroyo, arguing Menino’s version didn’t go far enough, pressed for a vote at the Oct. 23 Council meeting and he got it: 10 to 3 in favor of overturning a mayoral veto, the first time that has happened since 1994, according to Arroyo’s office.

The three councillors who voted to uphold the mayor’s veto were District 5 Councillor Rob Consalvo (Hyde Park), District 1 Councillor Sal LaMattina (East Boston) and District 8 Councillor Michael Ross (Mission Hill).

Ross argued that the City Council should have reviewed Menino’s veto in a public hearing before overriding it.

“This will help encourage lending to our residents who want to open a business, buy a home, and live in our city,” Arroyo said in a statement that cited similar initiatives in New York and Los Angeles. “It will help strengthen our local economy and ensure that every neighborhood shares in our prosperity as a city.”

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