Reporter's Notebook: Rev. Wall sees some clergy as ‘house pastors’ for mayor

The controversial Rev. Bruce Wall has long demanded a “state of emergency" be declared in Boston over homicides. This week he planned to meet with several city councillors – including Council President Michael Ross – and sing and pray outside the council chambers to bring attention to his cause.

But Wall, who has frequently clashed with Mayor Thomas Menino and others over his proposals, is also ratcheting up his rhetoric, referring to the clergy who have been working with Menino on anti-violence efforts as “house pastors.” Wall says the phrase is an allusion to slaves who would inform on their fellow slaves in the Old South. And critics of Wall say he is again undercutting himself through such language.

“The house people want to be around the masters and the field negroes want liberation,” Wall, who is the pastor at Codman Square’s Global Ministries Christian Church, told the Reporter. “The pastors who work with the mayor are considered house negroes or house pastors.”

Asked about a meeting between Wall, Ross and other councilors, a Ross spokeswoman described the meeting as a courtesy. In one of his recent posts on Facebook, a social networking site, Wall says if he doesn’t get his “state of emergency,” he plans to go to Faneuil Hall to sing, pray and yet again tell tourists not to come to Boston.

Asked about Wall’s comments, Rev. Jeffrey Brown, having just wrapped up a City Hall meeting on Tuesday with other clergy, law enforcement officials and Menino, declined to respond. Wall, who did not attend the meeting, said, “It’s unfortunate that the city is in crisis and while we’re in crisis, the adults are doing the same thing that the gangs are doing. They shoot at each other over turf. The adults, they exclude each other from meetings.”

But Dot Joyce, Menino’s press secretary, noted that 30 members of Boston’s clergy attended the session, which was precipitated by the Saturday shooting of 14-year-old Jaewon Martin. “Everyone came together -- not to praise each other -- but to strategize on how best to combat the violence being acted out by impact players around our city,” Joyce said. “There wasn't any laying of blame and no one pointed any fingers but rather everyone spoke about what they could do and what they could share to make the changes necessary to have a peaceful summer. Discussing anything other than the positive actions we can all take is not helpful in creating the solutions we need for our communities."

Brown and others pledged to hold similar meetings throughout the summer.

Candidate Holmes’s letter to City Hall faces inquiry

He certainly would not be the first. And he’s unlikely to be the last.

Russell Holmes, a Democratic candidate for the Sixth Suffolk District for the House of Representatives, recently sent letters to City Hall asking for contributions and volunteers, a campaign finance law no-no.

Campaign finance law forbids soliciting funds in a public building. The law also forbids fundraising solicitations sent to official state e-mail addresses, something that both state Democratic Party chair John Walsh and Treasurer Timothy Cahill, running for governor as an independent, have both run afoul of.

Holmes told the Reporter the campaign’s mailing to a City Hall address was inadvertent. His mother had come up from Mississippi to help his campaign and had put together a mailing database from business cards and other addresses he had that included several City Hall addresses. “She didn’t know the rules” and he didn’t catch the mistake in time, he said. The list of addresses will be scanned more carefully for future mailings, he said.

District 7 Councillor Chuck Turner, whose aide Darrin Howell is one of the other candidates running for the Sixth Suffolk seat, is expected to file a complaint with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

In the fundraising letter, obtained by the Reporter, Holmes wrote that he expected the race to be “tough” and noted that other candidates have pulled nomination papers. The other candidates running to replace retiring state Rep. Willie Mae Allen (D-Mattapan) include past candidate Kathy Gabriel, local activist Karen Payne, and Divo Monteiro and LaTasha Cooper. All are Democrats except for Adam Bisol, a Republican.

“Now, I am asking you for help to make this campaign a success,” Holmes wrote. “We have thousands of brochures to purchase, hundreds of yard signs to order, scores of volunteers to feed, and many ads to buy. I am turning to the people who have known me the longest, who know me the best, and I humbly invite you to get involved in this campaign. Please take the time to fill out and return the enclosed contribution and volunteer card.”

In the letter, Holmes, a small business owner and former engineer, explained his decision to throw his hat into the ring: “I decided to run because in these tough times, we must now make critical decisions that will shape this district for many years to come. We’re going to have to encourage community involvement to reduce crime, re-evaluate our infrastructure and transportation needs, and focus on providing educational and extracurricular opportunities for our children.”

Earlier this year, the state Democratic Party sent fundraising e-mails for a pair of Senate races to State House e-mail addresses. Party officials said it was inadvertent and they were deleting the mails, while state Republican Party officials said they would file a complaint with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Cahill’s campaign also said e-mails they sent to State House addresses were also inadvertent and pulled from an incorrect database.

Quote of Note: Thomas Menino

“If that’s the worst thing I do, I’m in pretty good shape,” Mayor Menino told the State House News Service, the morning after the local media splashed his misstatements made during a tribute to Bruins legend Bobby Orr.

Menino said Orr’s Stanley Cup-winning goal in 1970 was one of several “ionic” Boston sports moments, along with describing Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek as splitting the uprights. He meant the former Patriots’ player Adam Vinatieri.

“All these guys on TV, they make mistakes too,” Menino said, adding, “The problem is, I was looking at [Boston Red Sox] David Ortiz and Tim Wakefield. I was thinking about baseball.”

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