What's next at City Hall
With the election over, here are a few things that are on the horizon for City Hall officials: the cityâ€™s budget, the email controversy, jockeying over whoâ€™ll run for mayor in 2013, the newest additions to the 13-member City Council, and whatâ€™s happening with the two outgoing councillors.
The budget: This coming fiscal year looks to be another horrid budget cycle. And the crisis probably wonâ€™t be over until near the end of Mayor Thomas Meninoâ€™s fifth term. A medical and residential complex on the waterfront probably prompted by election victory giddiness aside, the number one thing that Menino â€“ and the City Council â€“ will be facing is the budget. Thereâ€™s also the financial status of Boston Medical Center, which could end up filing for bankruptcy. One revenue-raising plan that will be on the table, to the chagrin of nonprofits, is how to get them to pay more in Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT). City Councillor At-Large Stephen Murphy said at a candidatesâ€™ forum that the PILOT task force heâ€™s serving on is working on a â€œuniform formulaâ€ for the â€œbig players,â€ such as colleges and universities, and evening out how much the nonprofits pay. He said that city coffers could receive between $25 million to $35 million more as a result. Theyâ€™re going to need it: A slow and weak recovery is expected, according to a State House News Service report on an analysis from Moodyâ€™s Economy. â€œWe entered this recession three or four months later than the U.S., and we will exit it three or four months later than the U.S.â€ said Alan Clayton Matthews, an associate professor of public policy and urban affairs at Northeastern University.
The e-mails: The question of whether a top Menino aide deleted e-mails in violation of the stateâ€™s public records law is still in Attorney General Martha Coakleyâ€™s lap, after Secretary of State William Galvin said some were â€œdeleted inappropriately and without permission.â€ That is the core of the issue, something that got lost amid the mayoral campaign and City Councillor At-Large Michael Flahertyâ€™s accusations of corruption within City Hall. No wrongdoing has been found within the e-mails, and as Menino liked to point out, they showed City Hall aides addressing constituent concerns. What he didnâ€™t mention was that the e-mails also showed a tightly wound and tightly controlled City Hall, with a thin skin to boot. (Side note: for someone who has a â€œNo Whiningâ€ sign on his desk, the mayor sure did a lot of it on the campaign trail, constantly complaining about the media attention to the e-mail deletions.)
Chuck Turner case: With another term officially won, District 7 Councillor Chuck Turner is focusing his attention on his court case. Federal prosecutors have charged him with taking a $1,000 bribe and lying to the FBI, accusations he has pleaded not guilty to. His attorney will be pushing for a dismissal of the case now that Turner has reversed course and will acquiesce to a gag order in order to receive the alleged evidence against him. â€œNowâ€™s the moment to swallow my pride and say, â€˜Okay, Iâ€™ll sign your gag order,â€™ â€ Turner said. Turner is in agreement with the attorney for former Sen. Dianne Wilkerson in asking for a separation of their respective cases. But unlike Wilkerson, who is trying to get the trial moved because her attorney argues that she wonâ€™t get a fair one thanks to photos prosecutors released of her allegedly stuffing cash bribes into her bra, Turner says he wants his trial in Boston because of his 60 percent victory in the recent Council race. Despite the gag order, Turner said heâ€™ll keep up the criticism against former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan, who brought the case against him. It goes without saying that if this does end up heading to trial (and Turner is hoping it does), itâ€™s going to be one entertaining show.
Connolly and Consalvo: As PR guru David Guarino put it on Twitter hours after the polls closed on Election Night, â€œThe Rob Consalvo for Council President (and then acting Mayor) watch officially begins.â€ Then thereâ€™s John Connolly, the top vote-getter in the At-Large election. District 5 Councillor Consalvo â€“ who has parts of Hyde Park, Readville, Roslindale, and Mattapan â€“ and Connolly have brushed off the speculation about mayoral aspirations, but thatâ€™s not going to stop the chatter in a City Hall with a high school atmosphere.
The new folks: Something else to watch for will be the emerging dynamic on the 13-member council with two new at-large councilors, Felix Arroyo and Ayanna Pressley. Arroyo, a former City Hall aide, made the rounds last week, dropping by the offices of his future colleagues.
Team Floon: Now what for outgoing City Councillors At-Large Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon? Asked after the election results came in at Venezia in Port Norfolk last Tuesday, they werenâ€™t sure themselves. But both are confident theyâ€™ll find something. Worth noting is that Flaherty has a law practice he works at, and is often brought up as a possible contender for Suffolk District Attorney should Dan Conley leave the job. And Yoon has friends in the Obama White House. Of course, there is also the 2013 mayoral race.