Reporter's Notebook: Group pushes for interim rep in St. Fleur’s seat

The New Democracy Coalition, a nonpartisan nonprofit group, is pushing for the speaker of the House of Representatives to appoint an interim replacement for state Rep. Marie St. Fleur, who is leaving to take a post within the Menino administration.

The State House News Service reported today that St. Fleur will resign effective Friday, June 11.

“Rep. St. Fleur has done an extraordinary job in representing the concerns of thousands of constituents on the policy level,” said Kevin Peterson, executive director of the group. “In order to ensure a voice is maintained on Beacon Hill on behalf of these citizens it is important that someone, at least temporarily, stands in her stead.”

Peterson sent a letter outlining the idea, which would require a change in state law, to House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who can only set a special election to fill a vacant seat. A primary is set for Sept. 14.
St. Fleur, a Dorchester Democrat who announced she wasn’t running for re-election earlier this year, has not yet resigned, but is expected to do so sometime this month.

Peterson said that will leave the Fifth Suffolk district, which has some of the city’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens, without representation until a new representative takes the oath of office in January. He said he did not have any suggestions of who should fill the seat. He said if state lawmakers can change Massachusetts law in response to the death of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy and fill his vacant seat like they did last fall, they can do it for the Fifth Suffolk.

“To have in place an interim representative in the Fifth Suffolk is consistent with the calls that were made by Democrats for an interim representative for Senator Kennedy,” said Peterson.

But the House and Senate are due to wrap up their legislative sessions at the end of July, and then break for the rest of the year. And others within the district say the change is unnecessary and pointed to other area politicians such as state Sen. Jack Hart (D-South Boston) and state Rep. Marty Walsh (D-Dorchester). St. Fleur, whose new job title is chief of advocacy and strategic Investment, also remains available, they say.

“She still lives in the district,” said Charlotte Golar Richie, who once held the same seat. “She’s working for City Hall, which serves the district and her constituent services team is still going to be nearby where we can reach out to them in terms of needing assistance.”

She noted the four-way September primary, which will likely decide the winner since no Republicans are running, is “right around the corner.”

Asked about the letter, Speaker DeLeo’s office said in a statement there would be no special election and that following House customs for when a representative vacates a seat, an office of constituent services for the district will be maintained.

One of the candidates running to replace St. Fleur, Boston schoolteacher Barry Lawton, said he supports the filling of a vacancy.

Coakley: Probe into Kineavy’s email deletions almost done
Attorney General Martha Coakley expects to wrap up a review of whether a top City Hall official was potentially violating the state’s public records lawthrough the regular deletion of emails in “weeks, not months.”

The Boston Globe reported during last year’s mayoral election that Michael Kineavy, a top aide to Mayor Thomas Menino, regularly deleted his emails.

The Globe received 18 emails after the paper had requested for copies of emails sent to Kineavy and from him. Secretary of State William Galvin forwarded the matter to Coakley’s office in October 2009 after he had recovered the deleted emails.

In a statement after the completion of his review, Galvin stated that “some records were deleted inappropriately and without permission.” But the determination of whether the law was broken remains up to Coakley’s office.

Coakley told the Reporter that the review has been “comprehensive” and will be a look at “what happened and why.” “It’s taken a while, I know,” she said.

Coakley also said that the focus would be on what cities and towns should be doing going forward, since the public records statute is “outdated.” Emails were not in existence when the statute was first put in place, she said.

Coakley pointed to a similar statute during her investigation of the Big Dig tunnel collapse: should a corporation be charged and convicted of manslaughter, the state would only be able to charge the company with a $1,000 fee. The fee was set in 1819.

Coakley noted that Menino’s office had changed its policies and that Galvin’s office had helped recover the deleted emails. Menino’s office has also posted the thousands of deleted emails on the city’s official website.

There is no “smoking gun” to her knowledge, Coakley said.

Murphy makes the treasurer ballot; a three-way for auditor

City Councillor Stephen Murphy, a Dorchester native, squeaked onto the ballot for treasurer with 15.6 percent of delegates’ vote at last week’s Democratic State Convention. He faces Steve Grossman, a former chair of the Democratic National Committee, in the Sept. 14 primary. The winner will compete with state Rep. Karyn Polito (R-Shrewsbury) in the November general election for the state’s chief financial officer position.

In the race to replace retiring Auditor Joseph DeNucci, all three Democrats running made the ballot: Worcester Sheriff Guy Glodis, former Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Suzanne Bump, and newcomer Mike Lake. Lake received 25 percent of the vote, with Bump and Glodis splitting the rest.

Word on the convention floor was that Glodis threw support to Lake to ensure he made it on the ballot, in theory allowing Bump and Lake to split the vote in the primary and propel Glodis into the general election.

The three will also face on Sept. 14, with the winner likely to face Republican frontrunner Mary Connaughton, an accountant and former member of the defunct Turnpike Authority. Republican Kamal Jain is also running.

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 dotnews.com/litdrop.