Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: Giving Bo$ton a Break

Tax, that is....

"Boston residents have better online access to city records about crime, spending, and code violations than people in most of the nation, according to an analysis that looked at so-called “open data” programs in 98 municipalities. The city performed less admirably when it came to lobbying records, business listings, property transactions, and transit schedules, but overall, only Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco ranked ahead of Boston. The results highlighted both the limitations and the opportunities facing open government advocates who are pushing agencies to make public records easier to navigate for both people and computers."

It's a sensitive matter, and seemed to be a good lead-in for this:

"City rife with untracked development tax breaks" by Andrew Ryan and Jon Chesto Globe Staff  August 01, 2015

Lower floors in the new Millennium Tower rising above Downtown Crossing enjoys a property tax break. So does a pale blue three-bedroom duplex on Dudley Street in Roxbury.

And one has been in place for nearly a half-century at Widett Circle, the tangle of train tracks and food wholesalers that Olympic organizers had eyed as a site for a stadium.

See: Walsh Says No Olympics in Boston

Hasn't gotten much coverage since, although I will double-check my papers this evening in preparation for a Next Day Update.

The City of Boston has granted some 140 tax breaks for about 600 parcels of land over the past several decades, a Globe review has found, but officials say they do not know how many millions of dollars the city is forfeiting.


Nor do they know how many millions are uncollected.

“There could be pretty large dollar figures attached to these incentive deals that are to some extent driving up taxes for other people living in the community,” said Adam Langley, a senior research analyst at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge. 

It's helping the wealth inequality yawn wider, too. Public tax dollars to already wealthy developers, yaaaay!

The deals came under renewed scrutiny recently as city officials considered a pitch by Olympic organizers to establish a sprawling new neighborhood at Widett Circle using what might have been Boston’s largest property tax break in history. Mayor Martin J. Walsh has made it clear that he still wants to see Widett redeveloped even though the Olympic bid has been extinguished — and he has acknowledged that could involve a tax incentive from the city.


A Globe review found that city records are incomplete for most of the tax breaks the city awarded during the past four decades. It appears that only recently did the city begin to project how much deals would cost taxpayers.


City Hall could provide cost projections for only 10 major tax deals signed since 2008, totalling an estimated $78 million in lost tax revenue. These include the $9.7 million awarded for the new State Street Corp. office and adjacent garage on A Street, and $7.8 million for the bottom floors of a tower planned for land next to TD Garden.

(Blog editor just shakes head at how the $y$tem serves crooked banks)

After the Globe inquired about the city’s incomplete records, the Walsh administration pledged that it would keep better track of the costs of tax deals, almost all of which were signed by previous mayoral administrations.

That really puts a taint to the Menino myth that has been memorialized by minorities and friends.

Good thing there is a "new sheriff" in town.

“There are some longstanding, existing agreements for which the city does not currently maintain estimates due to the amount of personnel and resources it would take to assess these comprehensive parcels,” city spokeswoman Bonnie McGilpin said in a statement.

OMG!! Isn't it THEIR JOB to KNOW SUCH THINGS? What is this "we can't get the information to the public" bit because it costs too much crap? That kind of thing has been ruled unconstitutional in the filed of health, and for government to roll out that awful excuse in the midst of lost millions.... it's starting to tax my patience and I don't even live near Bo$ton.

These tax agreements, McGilpin said, have played a key role in the city’s current economic boom by spurring residential and commercial developments. Dozens of cities and towns across the state use property tax breaks for similar reasons.

Most of it condos:

"As a rule of thumb, the most desirable condominiums are perched high in the sky, offering panoramic views and an elevator ride to the ground floor. But a developer in the South End, emboldened by the city’s red-hot housing market, plans to bring the idea of luxury living down to earth. Condo buyers, meet the maisonette."

RelatedCondo boards slap hefty fines on neighbors for Airbnb rentals

Did you see the size of the room?

Also see: Demand rising for Boston warehouse, factory space

Defenders of the property tax breaks, which dawned in Boston’s modern era in the 1960s with the development of the Prudential Center, argue that the incentives encourage construction, create jobs, and subsidize affordable housing. Opponents counter that tax breaks can be expensive gifts that reward the wealthy and deprive the city of money that could be used for schools, transportation, and other basic needs.

It's getting close to la$t call.

The property tax breaks are often granted by City Hall as part of negotiations between the city and a developer. Many remain in place for 20, 40, and even 60 years, although some will last less than a decade.

The length of tax deals has generally gotten shorter, said Boston’s assessor, Ronald W. Rakow, who has held his post since 1993. One goal of shorter tax breaks: to focus the initial savings to offset construction costs and then require the property owner to pay more once the development is finished and generating revenue.

But the city has never analyzed agreements completed decades ago to determine whether taxpayers got a good deal.

That pretty much gives you the an$wer.

Boston is a very different place now, Rakow said, and he was not sure how much insight could be gained by studying incentives from bygone eras.

“When we look at a project today, we will evaluate the public benefits of it and do that kind of analysis,” Rakow said.

The assessor also noted that public tax dollars are used in a number of ways beyond property tax breaks to spur development. The building boom in the Seaport, for example, has been fueled by the investment in the Big Dig highway tunnels, construction of a federal courthouse and convention center, and the MBTA’s new Silver Line. 


Those are all projects and areas that cater to the elite wealth of Bo$ton.

“Tax incentives,” Rakow said, “are really just one part of public support for projects.”

No wonder the public doesn't largely support such things!

The modern era of property tax breaks stretches back a half century when the city inked a landmark deal with Prudential, the big insurance company, to remake Back Bay and transform a railroad yard into 23 acres of office towers, shops, and housing. Other tax breaks have helped create thousands of units of affordable housing in neighborhoods such as the South End, where a cluster remains on the books largely from the 1970s and 1980s, before the neighborhood’s renaissance.

RelatedIn Boston, a surge in affordable housing

Then why are the kids protesting and the college kids living in slums?

The largest concentration of tax breaks can be found in Roxbury’s Dudley Triangle, dating to the late 1980s. The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative created a community land trust to build homes on vacant or blighted land.

“Most people understand [tax breaks] for towers,” said Samuel R. Tyler, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, a fiscal watchdog underwritten by businesses and nonprofits. “They probably don’t realize how much it is used for housing.”

RelatedJohn Hancock wants to build another iconic Back Bay tower

"You can still call it the John Hancock Tower, but the company that paid $930 million for New England’s tallest building can’t. Now that John Hancock’s last lease in the office building has expired, owner Boston Properties Inc. can no longer use the financial services company’s name on the property. “We’re not allowed to call it that any longer,” Boston Properties president Doug Linde said Thursday during an earnings conference call with analysts. The new name Boston Properties has dreamed up for the sleek glass tower? It’s 200 Clarendon, a nod to its street address."

What was their tax break haul?

But property tax breaks have spawned much more than housing. The incentives have helped create modern Boston — from Post Office Square to Fan Pier, convention center hotels to a grocery store slated to open next to TD Garden.

A handful of property tax breaks go beyond the 40 years that the Boston 2024 Olympic bid group had proposed for Widett Circle. The Marriott hotel chain, for example, has a tax break on its property at the Custom House through 2057. The 1995 deal was part of an effort to save the tower, a landmark that had been vacant.

The city has never done a comprehensive study to determine whether the long-term tax breaks resulted in the promised economic benefits. But there is one property that offers a glimpse: One Beacon, a 34-story office tower a couple of blocks from the State House.

One Beacon had a 40-year tax break that ended in 2009. When the deal expired, the skyscraper’s annual payments to the city soared by $3.1 million — 40 percent more than what it had been paying. Over four decades, One Beacon might have cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue.

“But would One Beacon have been there without a [tax break]?” Tyler of the research bureau asked. “The presumption [is] that a tax break allowed a development that might otherwise not be there to come to the city and, yes, get a tax break for a period of time but then come on the tax rolls.”

The Boston Redevelopment Authority can award property tax breaks as part of an incentive package that includes zoning relief, such as allowing a building to go much taller than what the city’s zoning code would allow for the property. For that reason, Gregory Sullivan of the Pioneer Institute said he believes many of these breaks are simply unnecessary.

“If the city allows someone to take something that’s zoned for two stories and allows them to build 16 stories, that creates a tremendous value to the owner,” said Sullivan, research director of the think tank, which favors small government and free markets. “When you see [the breaks] showing up in premier development sites, your question is whether this is just an inside ballgame where the BRA gives away money that’s not needed as an incentive.”

Now you are catching on to what Ma$$achu$etts is all about!

The initial tax break at Widett Circle dated to 1967, when food wholesalers moved there from Quincy Market. Former mayor Thomas M. Menino authorized a new 20-year deal in 2007 as part of an effort to retain blue-collar jobs in Boston. The city could not provide an estimate of how much the deal will cost taxpayers.

Even with the demise of the Olympic bid, Walsh said he still believes that a developer will need to construct a deck over the rail yard “to get the return back on investment.” The mayor said he had a brief discussion with Governor Charlie Baker last week about the potential for Widett Circle.

Government is all about plea$ing "inve$tors."

A tax break would not need to be as sizable as the proposal for the Olympics, Walsh said, but an incentive could still be a key catalyst.

“To really spark development there, short-term tax breaks for long-term tax gains would be a benefit,” Walsh said.

One of the biggest tax breaks in city history came in 2010, when Boston officials handed Liberty Mutual a package valued at $16 million at the time, over a 20-year period. (The insurer also landed a similarly sized state incentive package.)

Lawrence S. DiCara, a lawyer at Nixon Peabody who represented Liberty Mutual in those negotiations, said the tax incentives played a crucial role in preventing the insurer from building the approximately $330 million project in a less expensive place, such as New Hampshire, and taking some 600 jobs elsewhere.

“I was in the room with [then-Liberty Mutual chief executive] Ted Kelly,” said DiCara, a former Boston city councilor. “That deal had to happen for him to justify spending the money to construct here.”

The city received relatively little in taxes from the property before Liberty Mutual expanded its Back Bay headquarters to the site because the nonprofit Salvation Army owned much of the land, DiCara said. As a result, the Liberty Mutual project pumped tens of millions of dollars in property taxes into the city that would not be there without the new construction.

“From the point of view of the city, the math was pretty simple,” DiCara said.

Still looks murky to me.

Matthew Kiefer, a development lawyer at Goulston & Storrs, said city officials have become less eager to embrace tax breaks as the city’s economy improved. A clear benefit to the public, he said, needs to be shown. “Over time, they have become a more vigilant gatekeeper,” Kiefer said.

Developers still regularly seek upfront tax agreements to ensure a predictable property tax payment plan over as long as 40 years. This predictability, Kiefer said, can make a big difference in landing financing.

To developer John Rosenthal, property tax breaks play a key role in making a big infrastructure investment — in his case, a deck over the Massachusetts Turnpike — financially feasible for a private company. He said the agreement he struck with city and state officials for his Fenway Center project will give him reduced property taxes over six years, including three years of construction, in an incentive package worth at least $4 million.

While yours are going up.

The wind-swept parking lots he plans to build on between Brookline Avenue and Beacon Street generate about $150,000 a year in property taxes now, he said. Rosenthal said his 1.3-million-square-foot project will generate more than $5 million in property taxes annually after it’s done. “It’s a small investment with a huge return,” Rosenthal said.

They always say the $ame thing (with hand out).


That same day almost the entire op-ed section is devoted to the debate. You can do an audit of them if you like.

"Audit finds BRA is a dysfunctional bureaucracy; Cites erratic review system, lack of critical staff" by Tim Logan and Dan Adams Globe Staff | Globe Correspondent  July 16, 2015

The agency charged with overseeing the real estate boom coursing through Boston is a dysfunctional bureaucracy, its system for reviewing projects erratic, with just a few powerful staffers deciding how new buildings will look using “unwritten rules,” according to a highly critical audit being released by City Hall Thursday.

The report, by McKinsey & Co., paints the powerful Boston Redevelopment Authority as short of critical staff, beset by poor morale, and unable to manage its own property. The process to review building designs can be maddeningly slow at times, driving up costs for developers, it says.

Oh, yeah?

BRA director Brian Golden acknowledged the audit’s tough tone — “This isn’t a valentine to the agency or to its leadership” — and said there is much that needs to improve.

“This agency is 60 years old and has had a radically different culture than the one we’ve been trying to foster,” said Golden, who was appointed BRA director last year by Mayor Martin J. Walsh, with the charge to modernize its operations. “We’ve been at this 18 months. We’ll be at it many more.”

The conclusions are particularly troubling given the key role the BRA plays in guiding Boston through a remarkable economic period, with the agency approving almost $5 billion in new developments citywide over the past 18 months.

This is the second deep review of the BRA ordered by Walsh, and again is an implicit rebuke of his predecessor, Thomas M. Menino, who critics say was too involved in deciding what got built in Boston.

Well, I suppose he's dead now, it doesn't matter. Another tarnished legacy in the life of Ma$$achu$etts politics.

The first audit found an agency still living in an era of paper records, with sloppy accounting that lost track of rent payments from tenants on its properties and of commitments and fees made by developers to build affordable housing.

It's almost as if they were managing this blog and its source materials.

Golden worked in a top position at the BRA for six years before Walsh named him permanent director in December. Many of the issues raised in the audit date to his predecessor, Peter Meade, BRA director during Menino’s final three years in office. Meade did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Walsh has promised to clarify the review process at the BRA and to make the agency more open to the public and accountable for its decisions. 

It's a start, I suppose.

He has also launched a sweeping new master plan for the city, dubbed Imagine Boston 2030, and said the findings by McKinsey point out how much more the BRA needs to improve.

Meet the new boss, same as the.... well, you know the song.

“In order for the city of Boston to continue to grow and prosper, we need the BRA to be in the strongest possible position — getting community input, guiding Imagine Boston 2030, and making the most of this historic building boom,” Walsh said in a statement.

Walsh has already broomed out key Menino holdovers....

RelatedWalsh nominates 2 to replace longtime BRA board members

Just brooming out some links.


I'm sure there is a windfall in there somewhere.

RelatedWith BRA’s blessing, developers ready to rebuild and renovate

Except for the garage:

"City garage site deal is snarled in bureaucracy" by Andrew Ryan Globe Staff  June 18, 2015

Developers have long imagined a gleaming new tower rising where a squat, city-owned parking garage has sat for decades, dwarfed by Financial District high rises. Officials have long imagined selling or leasing the Winthrop Square property because the city could reap tens of millions of dollars.

But now as Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s administration weighs eight proposals for a skyscraper on the site, there are bureaucratic headaches on the ground.

A vote that had been anticipated Wednesday in the City Council was delayed because councilors want more details. A fiscal watchdog wrote a letter warning Walsh that the process of developing the property “should be stopped and reevaluated” because recent steps “do not appear to be motivated by the best interest of the taxpayers.”

No kidding?

And a longtime critic of City Hall discovered that the Walsh administration overlooked an obscure law and failed to obtain City Council approval when it sought to transfer control of the garage to the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The disclosure by the critic, Shirley Kressel, forced the issue to go before the City Council, which held a hearing Monday.

Walsh’s spokeswoman, Laura Oggeri, said the administration did not know that a 33-year-old law required City Council approval.

“Once that language specific to parking garages was realized by the city, we began to move through the process of obtaining City Council approval for this project,” Oggeri said in a statement.

None of the snags seems significant enough to derail a lucrative development that could have a significant impact on Boston’s skyline. The saga of the Winthrop Square parking garage could offer a preview of the process — and complexities — of selling or leasing city-owned land to private developers.

Let me pull over for a minute and find a place to park.


A major sticking point has been the role of the Redevelopment Authority, a quasipublic agency with financial operations separate from the city’s general fund. Watchdogs and councilors expressed concern that the authority would keep the money if it managed the sale or lease of the Winthrop Square garage.

The land, if approved for a tower, could be worth as much as $70 million.

Kressel, the critic who forced the hearing, described the transfer of the garage to the Redevelopment Authority as unlawful. 

Marty! Marty!

“If I hadn’t stirred this up, this would have gone through and none of you would have known,” Kressel said, adding, “The BRA has spent all of its 57 years cutting the City Council out of [having] any voice in what it does, and what it does is increasingly everything in the city.”

There is nothing simple about the Winthrop Square garage....


RelatedAt Seaport, even garages now valuable real estate

That's a different section of the city for a different post. 

Speaking of the City Council:

Walsh unveils first budget plan, emphasizing schools, police, fire

"The Fire Department’s budget is expected to increase by 4.5 percent under Walsh’s fiscal plan. The increase includes a collective bargaining wage increase for firefighters. Walsh’s proposed budget includes capital investments for the city’s public safety agencies. The Boston Police Department is planning to upgrade its radio infrastructure to bring the system up to modern standards."

Yes, it's a healthy budget for the firefighters.

Boston councilors set to approve $2.86b city budget
Boston City Council approves $2.86 billion budget

It's called rubber-stamping, and that is what you do for the head of the party (unless it is a nuclear deal with Iran).

Panel backs City Council raise, but some councilors want more

What, they thought you wouldn't see through the greed?

Six weeks of paid parental leave proposed for city workers

City Council approves paid parental leave measure

Mayor Walsh pushes to gather data on gender wage gap

"Freda Brasfield worked 11 years for the city as a neighborhood services coordinator in Mattapan and Dorchester. She is being paid $94,000 a year in her new post. Shaun Blugh is earning $102,000." 

Diversity lags on Boston police, fire departments

Walsh seeks 1,000 mentors for young men

Walsh hosts forum to hear concerns of the elderly

Thoughts on poverty and being poor

Don't have to tell me about it.

Mapping tools show Boston’s disparity

At least City Hall is looking good these days:

City seeking ideas to repurpose brick-bound City Hall Plaza
City Hall Plaza rolling out new Astroturf ‘front lawn’
Can Boston City Hall Plaza become a hip spot?
New tropical plants added to historic Public Garden beds
Boston adds additional shift for park maintenance
Walsh names new city elections commissioner

That reminds me: where is the bathroom?

"Cambridge seeks to tie building boom to affordable housing" by Tim Logan Globe Staff  July 24, 2015

Cambridge is poised to triple the fees that developers must pay into its affordable housing fund, hoping to harness the building boom underway in Kendall Square to raise millions of dollars for more lower-priced apartments across the city.

City leaders are betting that the world’s capital of biotech is such an attractive address that developers will pay more for the right to build properties there. And they say the proceeds raised from the fees will help keep low-income residents from being priced out of town.

They really think that?

“We’re in this development boom,” said Councilor Denise Simmons. “We want to take advantage of it as much as possible.”

The Cambridge proposal is part of a broader effort by advocates and public officials in the Boston area to have the linkage payments by developers keep pace with the soaring costs of housing. In Boston, Mayor Martin J. Walsh is studying an increase in its linkage fee after a lobbying effort this year by housing advocates. Somerville increased its fees for developers two years ago....


There will also be a new skatepark opened in Cambridge this fall.

The work day is almost over:

"A project of the Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative, the center is part of Walsh’s local efforts for fulfilling President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, which focuses on helping youth complete postsecondary education and successfully enter the workforce. The center had a preliminary opening in February. Participating college, vocational, and career readiness programs include College Bound Dorchester, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción, the Asian American Civic Association, and pharmacy technician training in the Jewish Vocational Service."

They are getting how much for the place?

"Donan “Chucky” Cosme, 28, spoke at an Operation Exit graduation ceremony, held at the Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 17 training facility in Dorchester. He was among 15 graduates who completed the 3½-week program for people who have been in the criminal justice system or are considered to be at high risk. One graduate, Lanisha Bland, 27, of Dorchester, said she had been out of work for two years when she enrolled in Operation Exit. She was referred to the program by Dana Jackson, a city outreach worker."

Here's another milestone:

Number of homeless families in Boston up 25%


Plan to fight homelessness would use ‘triage system’

It's a “magical plan.” 

In homelessness fight, study finds Section 8 pays off

I can't vouch for that.

City opens new homeless shelter to the public

Shelter for homeless displaced from Long Island expands

At least you won't have to stay at the Inn tonight.

Details emerge from two bidders for First Night

City seeks private group to run First Night festivities

A scaled-down First Night program may short arts

Time to head home then:

"Hizzoner’s new ride

Mayor Martin J. Walsh has new wheels: Think wicked-free Wi-Fi and wireless iPhone charging but sans hybrid.

The city recently upgraded Walsh’s police-issued sport utility vehicle and bought a 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe LTZ. The $64,000 price tag included emergency communications equipment, Wi-Fi, and a five-year, 75,000-mile warranty, according to Walsh’s communications director, Laura Oggeri.

Chevrolet’s website says the 2015 Tahoe will give Walsh and others “the confidence to go anywhere. Do anything.” 

The police escort doesn't hurt.

“Tahoe is the versatile full-size SUV that features a stunning exterior design, a beautiful, functional interior,” the website says. “The available 4G LTE Wi-Fi technology you need to stay connected to your world.”

The Wi-Fi can handle seven devices. A wireless charging station on the top of the center console will allow Walsh’s iPhone to power up without unsightly wires. Aides will be happy in the second row of seats, which are heated.

The mayor opted for the LTZ package, which also includes leather-appointed front bucket seats (Walsh typically sits shotgun) and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel. (The mayor is driven by plainclothes police officers who make up his security team.)

The mayor’s truck is upgraded every three to four years, Oggeri said. Older vehicles are used by the police department, she said. In 2011, the base price for the mayor’s previous Tahoe Hybrid was $53,000, Oggeri said, which is comparable to the $55,000 base price for the new vehicle – before upgrades.

Walsh would have gotten another hybrid, Oggeri said, but Chevrolet no longer makes hybrids in its Tahoe models. What then will be the Wi-Fi password?

Boston2024? JRC2017? MJW2037? 1termmarty? Martyforgov? Walshforpresident?

Oggeri declined to share. The Wi-Fi password, apparently, is not public record."

Put that in the file with the tax breaks.

Home is now in the headlights, and it is almost time to retire for the evening:

"A pension fund for Boston public employees is accusing Bank of America Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and others of colluding to manipulate auctions of Treasury securities in a lawsuit filed by investors. The pension fund alleges that 22 financial companies, so-called primary dealers, used electronic chatrooms and instant messages to inflate the prices of Treasuries they sold to investors and to deflate the prices they paid for those Treasuries at auction. “As a result of defendants’ unlawful manipulation of the Treasuries market, the prices of when-issued Treasury securities were artificially high and the prices of Treasury securities at auction were artificially low,” the fund said in a complaint filed Thursday in federal court in Manhattan. “This scheme maximized defendants’ profits at the expense of their customers and others in the market.” The Justice Department has begun looking at possible collusion in the $12.7 trillion Treasury market after securing guilty pleas and $6 billion in fines from global banks in a similar investigation of currency rigging."

That is the infamous LIBOR scandal, and it is $tandard operating procedure for Wall $treet banks and their scapegoats.

Well, it is getting late and it is time to take a break, spit out this post, and get to bed.


I'll let Marty fix you the breakfast:

"Kitchen upgrade gets mayor in hot water; Mayor Walsh saves tax dollars in City Hall kitchen renovation but raises questions" by Andrew Ryan Globe Staff  August 10, 2015

Mayor Martin J. Walsh wanted to spruce up the dingy, closet-sized kitchen just outside his City Hall office, but didn’t want to spend a lot of taxpayer money. So he found someone to donate a granite countertop, dark cabinets, and a stainless steel sink.

The donor? Joseph F. Fallon, one of Boston’s most prominent developers, whose projects require approval by City Hall. The countertop and cabinets — replacements for gray laminate and faux wood countertops — were salvaged from one of Fallon’s buildings when Vertex Pharmaceuticals vacated the space. The fixtures were headed for the dumpster anyway, Walsh and Fallon said.

But the Walsh administration never disclosed the donation and failed to get City Council approval, as required by state law. And one fiscal watchdog said a gift to the mayor’s office from a developer was inappropriate because it could suggest that someone was seeking preferential treatment.

It's $mall, but it's a criminal regime.

Walsh, who spent nearly $1,900 of city money to finish the renovation, rejected the criticism.

“Special treatment for a developer donating used furniture? That’s absurd,” Walsh said last week in an interview. “There’s no way. First off, I don’t operate that way. Second, that’s not how business happens.”

The Walsh administration now pledges to seek City Council approval for the donation, saying it did not do so earlier because it was not aware of the requirement until a reporter inquired. 

??? Marty served on the City Council. WTF?

In a statement, the Fallon Co. said tenants frequently leave abandoned property. “Instead of sending it to landfills, our standard operating procedure is to find worthy community, nonprofit, or civic organizations that can make use of this remnant inventory,” the statement said.

The kitchen — which is more of a kitchenette — is behind a locked door among the warren of offices and conference rooms within shouting distance of the mayor’s office. The secure area includes offices for top city officials and the desks of young advance members and is not accessible to most municipal employees or the public.

Globe is already cleaning it up for him!

Standing in the kitchen, Walsh pointed to a notch in the granite to emphasize that the countertop had been originally cut for another space. The mayor stretched out his arms to emphasize the tight quarters of the kitchenette.

“This isn’t buying anything,” Walsh said. “I look at this as a way of renovating City Hall with used material to save taxpayers’ dollars.”

It’s not just the kitchen at City Hall that’s screaming out for a face lift.

The mayor’s office suite could use an overhaul, too, so that fraying rugs, sagging chairs, and chipped tables could be replaced, according to Samuel R. Tyler, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, a fiscal watchdog funded by business and nonprofits. But the cost should be borne by taxpayers, Tyler said, to avoid “any perceived appearance of a conflict of interest” with developers and others who do business with the city.

Where in the world has all the tax loot gone???!!!

“The mayor has extraordinary influence over all aspects of city government,” Tyler said. “The easiest way to prevent a conflict of interest is to have the city pay for the improvements.”

Using tax dollars to redecorate can prove perilous. Former governor Deval Patrick sparked uproar when he spent $10,000 on damask drapes for his State House office. Patrick ultimately repaid the state.

Walsh has broader plans for renovations at City Hall, including revamping the third-floor lobby. In the Eagle Room, Walsh pointed to a ragged rug and a broken chair held together with glue. In the mayor’s office, fabric has begun to droop from the underside of chairs.

“I sit in this chair here and your butt comes out the bottom,” Walsh said. “I’m in here with prime ministers. I’m sitting down and I feel like I’m on the ground.”

The mayor said he would gladly accept used office furnishings from local businesses to cut costs and upgrade City Hall.

“I’d like to have an office that reflects what we’d like to accomplish in the city of Boston,” Walsh said, “not something that looks like my first apartment with chairs that don’t match.”

Walsh’s impulse to save taxpayer money is noble but disclosure of any donations is key, said Matthew A. Cahill, executive director of the Boston Finance Commission, the city’s fiscal watchdog.

“It should always be discussed and publicly noticed,” Cahill said. “When things like this slip through the cracks, it could potentially be a problem down the road.”

In the context of Boston’s $2.8 billion budget, the kitchen renovations were modest. Upgrades include a new stainless steel refrigerator and matching microwave, for which the city paid $737, according to spokeswoman Bonnie McGilpin. Floor tiles cost $264 and the city paid a plumber $142 to connect the sink. The total cost was nearly $1,900, which included 17 hours of work by city employees to install cabinets, paint, and perform electrical work.

I wonder how many homeless people that would house for a few nights, etc.

Walsh’s chief of policy, Joyce Linehan, donated a matching coffee maker. The mayor’s cousin and security chief, Sergeant Winifred Cotter, purchased an electric kettle.

Fallon’s gift included dark-colored cabinets with 12 doors and four drawers. The granite countertop is roughly 18 square feet, according to measurements from the city. The material cost less than $1,000, McGilpin said.

Fallon’s donation does not violate state ethics law because it was given to the city and not to Walsh as an individual, according to Pam Wilmot, executive director of the good government group Common Cause Massachusetts.

“It needs to be done in the open,” Wilmot said. “Having an open and transparent process is what really helps cure appearances of conflict of interest.”


Did you take a look at it?

I wonder what bakery he goes to:

"Quinzani’s Bakery, which has been supplying bread to hundreds of Boston businesses for almost a century, is selling its South End building and closing next week, the latest industrial site to vacate the rapidly gentrifying part of the neighborhood where the Massachusetts Turnpike meets the Southeast Expressway. “It’s been a long time coming,” said Rob-Roy Quinzani, a descendant of the Italian immigrant brothers who opened the business in 1919. It’s a familiar story amid the city’s development boom: a blue-collar business shuts down as a gritty neighborhood goes upscale, paving the way for investors to put up a luxury residence or high-end retail buildings."

Oh, it is RIGHT ACROSS the street from the Pine Street Inn, too!

Time to go to work....

Mayor Walsh appoints new ‘chief of streets’ to oversee transportation, public works

City of Boston awarded $50,000 to facilitate starting a business 

How about buying the homeless a house?

Back Bay office complex fetches $1.3 billion

Boston OK’s tax break for affordable apartments

Linehan irate over raise proposal


Mayor cheers progress of new city data team