Menino falls short of DotOUT endorsement

Below is what's running in this week's Dorchester Reporter on the fireworks at DotOUT's endorsement forum on Monday. We Twittered it here.

(And for good measure, here's the write-up of Sue O'Connell, publisher of Bay Windows and emcee of the event; the Herald's take; and the Globe's.

Mayor Thomas Menino fell short of an endorsement from a Dorchester civic group representing the LGBT community, despite receiving support from a majority of the DotOUT members gathered at the Ledge restaurant for a Monday night forum.

Both Menino and City Councillor At-Large Michael Flaherty stayed until the end of the forum, which featured four rounds of voting in the mayoral race, but no endorsement due to the group’s rule of a candidate needing two-thirds support from present members. Many attendees to the forum, held in the patio area of the newly-opened Lower Mills restaurant, wore rainbow stickers with Menino’s name and a number of them spoke in support of Menino.

The number of votes for Menino hovered at around 24 votes most of the night, while Flaherty consistently received 13 votes.

Richard O’Mara, a member of DotOUT’s steering committee and the Dorchester Historical Society, said Menino has helped protect Dorchester Park, getting it on the National Register of Historic Places. “Tom Menino has been there from the start,” he said.

But another member of the steering committee slammed Menino, saying the 16-year incumbent, while not marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade because of parade organizers’ ban on gay groups, walks along on the sidewalk along the parade route shaking hands and hits South Boston house parties.

David Breen, a Flaherty supporter, also said Menino gave a commendation to John “Wacko” Hurley, a top organizer of the parade. He argued that, in effect, Menino marches in the parade.

Menino bristled at Breen’s comments. “That’s a complete lie,” he shouted from the audience. “I don’t march in the parade.”

Breen appeared taken aback, saying, “Wow, I think that’s the first time a mayoral candidate called me a liar.”

“That’s because you are,” Menino responded.

Flaherty, who is from South Boston and also marches in the parade, was adamant that Menino walks along the sidewalk, posing for pictures. “He’s there all day,” Flaherty said.

Flaherty, who earlier in the meeting praised Menino for his support of gay rights issues, was the first municipal official to support gay marriage and backed an ordinance banning transgender discrimination in the city. (For his part, Menino received in June the endorsement of the political action committee of MassEquality, the state’s top gay rights group. The group’s political director, Matt O’Malley, is a top Menino supporter.)

City Councillor At-Large Sam Yoon, a mayoral candidate who received 2.7 percent of the votes cast before the run-offs between Menino and Flaherty, defended marching in the holiday parade, saying he represents the entire city. He said it was a “difficult decision” to march. Asked by an audience member whether he would march in the parade if it excluded African-Americans and Jews, Yoon said, “I’m not saying there’s an easy solution.” It prompted another audience member to ask, “What’s the answer?”

“I see your point and I get your point,” Yoon said. “I am really sorry about how this has affected people in the LGBT community.”

The fourth mayoral candidate, South Ender Kevin McCrea, received more votes than Yoon, garnering 8 percent. He said he was initially a supporter of civil unions, but was swayed over time by a gay friend to support gay marriage.

The DotOUT forum was the first time in the campaign where all four candidates showed up under the same roof as candidates, days before they were to face each other during a televised debate.

The DotOUT organization also endorsed three candidates in the City Council At-Large race: incumbent John Connolly, Ayanna Pressley, a former aide to U.S. Sen. John Kerry, and former City Hall and Congressional aide Andrew Kenneally. Incumbent Stephen Murphy did not receive the two-thirds vote necessary to garner an endorsement. There are 15 candidates running for four at-large seats.

DotOUT also endorsed incumbent Maureen Feeney, who is running for re-election to the District 3 seat unopposed.