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June 16, 2008

Comments

NMN

Whey don't more people understand that a true Politician's first duty when he or she gets into office, is to get reelected. The second duty is to plan for the pension. A public official totally interested in serving the people, above all else, does not exist. A good, self serving politician, is also keenly aware that the voting public has a very short memory..In Somerville and just about everywhere else in our society, Politics is a club. You should never expect too much truth or accountability from any politician..unless, of course it serves his or her purpose. One should never be surprised at this. Then when the public is constantly let down , they will understand why.

The Price

So, Kyrilo excuses himself because his kid got a city job? HMMM? So, when does IKEA open?

JPM

Bill, you have hit the nail on the head once again. A classic case in point is the passing of the euphemistically named "Responsible Employer Ordinance" on Friday. I saw it passed 7-3, with one Alderman absent. The interest of Somerville taxpayers were sold out to the union members, most of whom probably make more than most us drones slaving away in the private sector. Disgraceful. Thanks to William White for voting NO!

Imux

Bill, I think everyone is for open governing, but at some point - if you have to file everything your whole family does - no one will run for public office. People should have to report what THEY have that could be a conflict of interest, but their whole families is a little overkill. Who could/would run for office? No one or at least no one with any ties to the community or with any means. Do you want the transients the only ones able to run for office?

If someone runs and it comes to light that they have a conflict and DID something unethical (because of family ties) then toss them of office. Accountability is the key - not find-out-everything-you-can-about-everyone-who-knows-someone-running-for-office.

And why did Linda Bohan allow herself to get talked out of her positions and then pushed off the board? Her/Your positions were weak and she DID HAVE A CONFLICT.

I know... I know... it hurts, but your attempts to stop all development - that will bring in much needed tax relief to residents - in Somerville has lost. Just deal with it, dude.

Corruption

Who were the alternates named by the mayor? How did Bohan have a conflict if the article itself notes that she was not an abutter?

Truth Fan

I've been out of the state for the last couple of months, so I hope I haven't missed many of Bill's columns that are this good. I think that this is just the tip of the iceberg, although it's much more than the local press and the Boston Globe are willing to tackle.

I know a lot of city workers who are disgusted by what they see, but they're intimidated about going public. And I know a lot of city workers who don't support the mayor or the mayor's candidates, but they're forced to take election days off to work for them. That doesn't seem open, accountable. In a monstrous way, it's participatory.

Imux, as I understand it, the ethics law doesn't require your "whole" family to report, only one degree of relationship. Why shouldn't someone who lives off the the taxpayers be willing to disclose conflicts of interest?

Also, Bill once led the Mystic View Task Force. They fought for MORE development at Assembly Square and MORE taxes, not less. Before their peace treaty, they opposed IKEA because it created LESS development on a large hunk of real estate, more costs than taxes, and a huge load of new traffic.

Corruption, the city’s website only lists one alternate: Michael Capuano, Esquire, Jr.

Imux

Folks, just deal with the fact that the average democrat(especially in Somerville where we have the moonbat PDS running amuck) is as dumb as a fencepost. Once you wrap your head around that truth then you will realize that the only viable local system of government is a strong mayor / dictator (like we have). It really is the only thing that will ever work. The alternative is what the do-nothing democratic congress has given us - gridlock.

Just how stupid is the average democrat and PDS'er?

The average democrat is stupid enough to believe that taxes at the corporate level won’t be passed down to the consumer level in higher retail prices.

Despite 9/11, the average democrat is stupid enough to think international terrorists will leave us alone if we leave them alone to plot and plan in peace,

The average democrat is stupid enough to look at America’s complete ideological, racial, religious and economic divisions and think that a freshman nobody (Obama) whose done nothing can somehow unite the nation under socialism,

The average democrat never heard of the Democratic Socialists of America, they don’t know that they are running today’s DNC, or that they have already seated at least (1) self-proclaimed socialist in the U.S. Senate, and at least (63) documented socialists in the U.S. House of Representatives,

The average democrat is stupid enough to believe 20 years in an anti-American racist church was an oversight that has nothing to do with the life-long beliefs of the church members,

The average democrat is stupid enough to think that a man (Obama) who didn’t notice his pastor was an anti-American racist for 20 years, will catch all the nuances of running the greatest nation on earth for the next four years,

The average democrat is stupid enough to believe that the best funded campaign in U.S. history (Obama) is funded by America’s poorest voters in small denominations,

The average democrat is stupid enough to think that the candidate receiving the most corporate/lobbyist campaign funds (Obama) is the anti-lobbyist candidate,

The average democrat is stupid enough to think that ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, PBS and NPR are all unbiased independent news outlets,

The average democrat is stupid enough to think politicians are to blame for the mess voters created with their votes.

The average voter is stupid enough to think socialism is good, so long as it’s democratic.

I could fill a book with all the ways the average American democrat/moonbat is ill-informed, misguided and foolish today. But there is no better example than the fact that most Americans think we are a democracy. We are a “republic” of “self-governed” individuals. Not a democracy held captive to the will of a simple majority, no matter how evil or ill-conceived that will might be.

If Lenin, Marx or Stalin had placed a gun to the head of every American democrat and forced them to accept socialism (communism in its infancy), 99% of democrat would rather take the bullet. But once convinced that every election is an opportunity to shove their way to the public feeding trough, no gun is needed. They will gleefully vote for it, democratically.

That’s the PDS and Democratic Socialism Stupid!

Joe McCarthy

That's a mouthful Imux. I think your rant was longer than the column. How to you write so much with one hand while the other hand is waxing your apple head?

Somerthing Smells

Mr. Shelton, boy do you know the ins and outs of city government going back so long ago. You are a walking encyclopedia with mounds of factual information.

When you’re able to write it down on paper it seems unreal with what Congressman Capuano (Mayor) proposed and had passed in 1997, encouraged by then Alderman Curtatone with the meticulousness of stating, that was not enough and should be stronger, NOW during his tenure as Mayor restricts this vital information from being let out to the public is an admission of “Something smells in Somerville”.

The City Solicitors refusal to allow what was passed to be viewed brings many questions to everyone in the City. Two of the eleven elected bodies to the BOA should be proud of themselves. The other nine should be ashamed as well as those that voted and trusted those nine to serve as their mouthpiece. We can all come to a conclusion that the “nine BOA” members that City Solicitor Gannon has blackened out their information that was deemed legal have something to hide. "This ordinance will allow citizens of Somerville to know how the elected officials make their living, who their wife works for and their children, how they are financially and personally connected to someone who gets a city license, a zoning variance, or a city contract.” In addition to proposing a system whereby Somerville residents could become aware of potential conflicts of interest, his plan reduced the proportion of mayoral appointees on the Ethics Commission", you stated. The “Rabble Rouser Nine” are hiding something from the residents of this City and it STINKS.

Knowing that the Commonwealth law does not forbid the disclosure of this ethics document, not its content, makes the process of non-disclosure more disturbing since the Solicitor is violating the passage of this ethics ordinance which was passed in October 1997.

What can we do as citizens to enforce this Administrations’ hand? What legal actions should be taken to hold their feet to the fire? How do we right the wrongs? Maybe someone outside the City should stand up and take notice and legally execute the proper paperwork to have these papers disclosed as they did with Boss Hogs City paid Nextel.

Craig

I-hole:

The average Republican makes vast, generalizing statements that are mostly false but keep their sense of entitlement high.

The average I-hole idiot doesn't realize the difference between "democrat" and "Democrat".

On and on, once again you're just spitting in the wind my boy.

You forgot Fox News

Imux, you forgot Fox News in the list of unbiased independent news outlets that aren't. Otherwise everything else you said was right on. Can you write one for the average Republican now? Come on now, be objective and balanced and fair and honest with yourself. They don't have all the answers either. Well done write up though.

Diogenes

Now we have a better idea of why the mayor keeps a man who has been convicted of driving while under the influence three times in a year as city solicitor--the city's chief law enforcement officer.

To find ah honest man at city hall, I would need more than my lamp. I'd need full disclosure.

Diogenes

Now we have a better idea of why the mayor keeps a man who has been convicted of driving while under the influence three times in a year as city solicitor--the city's chief law enforcement officer.

To find ah honest man at city hall, I would need more than my lamp. I'd need full disclosure.

Craig

To "You forgot Fox News":

He didn't forget to add them- he thinks that they really, truly are the only unbiased news organization. And that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity only tell the truth.

And then calls anyone who doesn't agree with him a deluded libaloon.

Irony, anyone?

Craig

On another note, most elected officials (and their staff, gasp) are regularly made to note their financial interests, including spouses and family, in other states. Only in Massachusetts would this be considered strange. That, and good road signs.

In fact, I (as a staff member) had to list the value, type, and givers of wedding gifts who were not family members just a while back. But around here, it's apparently amazing to some that any elected official should need to show where they might be enriching themselves on the public trough. And I'm somewhat surprised that I-hole is in support of such nondisclosure.

Somerthing Smells

What about the Mayor possibly having a hand in the recent signing of a Somerville High Football Star who recently signed a contract with a NFL team? Isn't he supposed to report this on his ethics release?

THE SOMERVILLE SPY

"Over the past four-and-a-half years, Somerville residents have seen their government become more open, more accountable and more participatory"...Gee I'll say, especially with Sean O'Donovan accounting for all the condo conversions in Somerville, being open about it and participating in a political position as Alderman that is quite obviously a conflict of interest with his developer business.

Who are you trying to kid, Mayor?? People aren't stupid. We can see very clearly with the eyes God gave us what is going on here.

Fool on the Hill

Bill,

I here many accounts by city employees of preferences given to the mayor's supporters and, for want of a better word, "corruption." Most of these stories never reach the public because the employees are intimidated. The most common means of intimidation is threatening job loss.

Will you write something about that?

To: Bill

I have a question for you that I hope you can find an answer to;

How many people are on the city payroll, whether they are full-time or part-time and how many city employees have been hired since Curtatone was first elected Mayor?

Joe

Its odd that nobody seems to note that the Ethic ordinance got changed, presumably at the behest of Alderman Trane. The change is family filing were necessary only when a family member had more than $100,000 in dealings with the city. After the Board approved $500,000 for 100 superphone communication devices, presumably using Homeland Security money, the limit was raised to $1,000,000.

Of course, the punchline is that the Trane phones don't work already, and that was just two years ago. Thanks loads Bob & Paul!

Plenty

Paul Trane gets more perks than all of the O'Donovan family combined!

Striker57

Hey JMP - construction is the private sector but don't let the facts get in the way of opposing the REO - you haven't used any facts so far anyway.

William Hurst

Forgive me Mr. Shelton for straying from your topic. The "REO" benefits the Union employees and no on else. Private contractors cannot fund "apprenticeship" programs and other such benefits. The contractors hiring only union employees can. This is paid for by the outrageous costs of not only the construction itself but the always evident "cost overruns" which we the taxpayer have to live with.
“This is a common-sense provision that’ll ensure our jobs get done by skilled professionals,” said Ward 5 Alderman Sean O’Donovan. Imagine that coming from Sean, what a quote. The JFK elementary school, Lincoln Park Community school and yes the "Big Dig" itself were built with union "skilled labor". How are they doing today? Some were torn down, others are in need of complete repair. Now, let us look at our 100+ year old elementary schools and churches that are over 150 years old. These were built with "Fly by Night" construction companies, using illegal immigrants for labor. Im sorry, I should not have used those for a comparison, WHY??? They are still standing.
Bill, when are we getting together for our news letters, articles and such?

Citizen

I think that a reason why the mayor gets away with so much is that the yuppie newcomers aren't paying attention and aren't that hurt by property taxes. And a lot of us old timers think that the mayor is one of us and is on our side.

I can think of a lot of things that he's done to please the yuppies. I can't think of much he's done for us.

The fireworks and the spaces in the middle of Broadway are nice, but I'm talking about something that would really make a difference for us, instead of for people who give money to his campaigns.

Citizen

I think that a reason why the mayor gets away with so much is that the yuppie newcomers aren't paying attention and aren't that hurt by property taxes. And a lot of us old timers think that the mayor is one of us and is on our side.

I can think of a lot of things that he's done to please the yuppies. I can't think of much he's done for us.

The fireworks and the spaces in the middle of Broadway are nice, but I'm talking about something that would really make a difference for us, instead of for people who give money to his campaigns.

JPM

Citizen are those Yuppies that pay more in property taxes than you do?

Curious

How has the expanded planning board voted since the mayor added two slots? More with or against the mayor?

Bill Shelton

A number of people posting here asked questions. For some reason, my answers disappeared from the website. I apologize, I’ll try again.

Corruption asked, "Who were the alternates named by the mayor? How did Bohan have a conflict if the article itself notes that she was not an abutter?”

As it turned out, an alternate was not required on the IKEA vote, because Joe Favoloro and James Kyrilo ended up voting with the mayor. The only current alternate is Michael Capuano, Esq. Jr. Mr. Capuano has been diligent in attending Planning Board meetings and keeping abreast.

The reason given why Ms. Bohan should recuse herself was that she is a “direct abutter.” She is not. Interestingly, when the city went to court to challenge the standing of plaintiff Louana Evarts to contest the legality of Assembly Square permitting (which the court subsequently found to be illegal), they claimed that she was not an abutter. She lived closer to Assembly Square than Ms. Bohan does.

Something Smell asked, “What can we do as citizens to enforce this Administrations’ hand? What legal actions should be taken to hold their feet to the fire? How do we right the wrongs?”

Any citizen can file a Freedom of Information Request for the conflict off interest information. If the city does not respond, any citizen can bring a legal action to force disclosure, based on the fact that nondisclosure is a violation of the Somerville Ethics Law. Regarding writing the wrongs, the solution varies with each wrong, and the wrongs are legion. I’ll get to a more comprehensive solution later in this series.

Something Smells also asked, “What about the Mayor possibly having a hand in the recent signing of a Somerville High Football Star who recently signed a contract with a NFL team? Isn't he supposed to report this on his ethics release?” I don’t know anything about the mayor’s involvement. He would only have to list his relationship if he had a financial interest in the matter.

Fool on the Hill used the word “corruption.” I have never used that word, and would not do so without unequivocal evidence. My aim is to critique the conduct of city government, not to impugn the character its officials. What I write about comes from documentary evidence, or statements by people who are willing to be quoted, or at least two corroborating sources who are not. Regarding Fool’s question about employee manipulation, I’ll get to that.

To Bill asked, “How many people are on the city payroll, whether they are full-time or part-time and how many city employees have been hired since Curtatone was first elected Mayor?” I don’t know the answer to that, but I would expect the city’s personnel department to provide it.

Mr. Hurst,

In fact, you are not straying that far from the topic. And regarding our journalistic collaboration, you know where to reach me.

R.

Thanks for writing this -- regardless of who is "right" in city issues, the fact is that many residents, especially new ones, don't even know the issues exist. Lots of us know we are ignorant, too (me included!). I've even heard a number of people openly wish for thorough guides to Somerville politics. So I really appreciate articles like this one where there is historic background and not just partisanship (even if the background is slanted, at least it gives readers facts to go check out on their own).

Specifically, I'd love to read more about your take on what the mayor has done to please newcomers (both yuppie and otherwise -- while dozens of my friends have moved to Somerville in the past decade, I am not sure any of them really qualify as yuppies) vs what "natives" want to see happen.

One last note, in response to some of the comments: I think most residents who choose to live here (as opposed to transient students) really do wish the city well, and think very highly of it, to an extent that very few other cities can boast of. I think that gets lost in bouts of ZOMG SOMEONE IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET ZOMG!!!111!!!

Bill Shelton

Curiously, I've posted this twice and it has disappeared twice, although Jamie assures me that he did not do it.

Corruption asked, "Who were the alternates named by the mayor? How did Bohan have a conflict if the article itself notes that she was not an abutter?”

As it turned out, an alternate was not required on the IKEA vote, because Joe Favoloro and James Kyrilo ended up voting for the mayor. The only current alternate is Michael Capuano, Esq. Jr. Mr. Capuano has been diligent in attending Planning Board meetings and keeping abreast.

The reason given why Ms. Bohan should recuse herself was that she is a “direct abutter.” She is not. Interestingly, when the city went to court to challenge the standing of plaintiff Luana Evarts to successfully contest the legality of Assembly Square permitting, they claimed that she was not an abutter. She lived closer to Assembly Square than Ms. Bohan.

Something Smell asked, “What can we do as citizens to enforce this Administrations’ hand? What legal actions should be taken to hold their feet to the fire? How do we right the wrongs?”

Any citizen can file a Freedom of Information Request for the conflict off interest information. If the city does not respond, any citizen can bring a legal action to force disclosure, based on the fact that nondisclosure is a violation of the Somerville Ethics law. Regarding writing the wrongs, the solution varies with each wrong, and the wrongs are legion. I’ll get to a more comprehensive solution later in this series.

Something Smells also asked, “What about the Mayor possibly having a hand in the recent signing of a Somerville High Football Star who recently signed a contract with a NFL team? Isn't he supposed to report this on his ethics release?” I don’t know anything about the mayor’s involvement. He would only have to list his relationship if he had a financial interest in the matter.

Fool on the Hill used the word “corruption.” I have never used that word, and would not do so without unequivocal evidence. My aim is to critique the conduct of city government, not to impugn the character of city officials. What I write about comes from documentary evidence, or statements by people who are willing to be quoted, or at least two corroborating sources who are not. Regarding Fool’s question about employee manipulation, I’ll get to that.

To Bill asked, “How many people are on the city payroll, whether they are full-time or part-time and how many city employees have been hired since Curtatone was first elected Mayor?” I don’t know the answer to that, but I would expect the city’s personnel department to provide it.

Mr. Hurst,

In fact, you are not straying that far from the topic. And regarding our journalistic collaboration, you know where to reach me.

Bill Shelton

Abject apologies to my Somerville News colleagues. I jumped to the conclusion that earlier posts that I had made were taken down. Instead, I had failed to observe the addition of Next>> and <

My sincere apologies. Jamie, could you please save me further embarrassment and remove the duplicates that I put up?

Thanks,

Bill

Badger

Bill!

Let's hear it for IKEA!

One for the people; Yay!

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