Questions for Boston Mayor Tom Menino (Herald article follows)
Question: If "no strings are attached," why do developers and lobbyists make political contributions on behalf of their firms rather than from an anonymous donor?
Question: How do the "little people" who are paying $4 billion for Boston's waterfront infrastructure gain equal access to your office to lobby for public parks and amenities?
Question: At a time when over 5 million square feet of private development is under way or being approved on the South Boston waterfront -- all of which will benefit from an unprecedented taxpayer investment in infrastructure, Convention Center construction and harbor cleanup -- can you help us identify any significant public parks or public amenities available to average working families in the entire waterfront?
Question: With 3.3 million square feet of development on Fan Pier (office, hotel, condo), why does the project (now awaiting approvals by the Boston Redevelopment Authority) only have 450 residential units -- half of which are rentals? Does this 20-acre parcel, one that abuts a taxpayer funded MBTA Silver Line station, anchor a mixed-use neighborhood or a waterfront version of Kendall Square?
Question: Can you identify a single parcel along the waterfront that is not overshadowed by a hotel or office tower built or approved under your watch?
Question: When the Central Artery is finally depressed, will we be able to see Boston Harbor through the wall of hotels and offices?
Please Mayor Menino -- stop selling variances and public space! Let zoning work!
Mayor Menino yesterday decided to return contributions from developers with business before the City. To read the Boston Herald's article on this update click here.
Hub developers pack Menino fund-raiser
by Jack Meyers
Tuesday, December 7, 1999
(c) 1999 The Boston Herald
Mayor Thomas M. Menino pulled in thousands of dollars in campaign cash yesterday from real estate high-rollers, apparently violating his own policy against taking donations from developers with active projects before City Hall.
Among those at the political breakfast: a number of developers looking to cash in on Boston's red-hot waterfront.
Developers Joseph Fallon, who is building an office building on a Massport site in South Boston, and Henry Kara, a Menino pal, co-hosted the money-maker for the mayor.
The breakfast attendees included Daniel O'Connell, who is heading development of the $1.2 billion Fan Pier project, and Robert Cordy, the project's lawyer.
The contributions from the Fan Pier developers appear to be a direct violation of Menino's stated policy of not accepting donations from people with business pending before city agencies.
The Fan Pier team formally filed a project notification form last month with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, where it is under review.
``Everyone with a project in South Boston was there,'' said a knowledgeable source.
Administration officials said they were unable to provide the names of anyone who attended the event, referring calls to Menino campaign finance committee chairman Joseph C. Maher Jr.
Maher said he did not attend but would go over the checks today to screen out donations which violate Menino's policy on political contributions.
``I don't know who exactly came and who delivered checks. We'll look at that tomorrow,'' said Maher.
``We try where possible to pre-screen'' the people who are invited to attend in order to avoid the perception that Menino's campaign is soliciting donations at the same time it is reviewing projects, he said.
Menino chief of staff James Rooney, spokeswoman Robin Bavaro and Maher, while confirming the event took place, said they did not know where the breakfast was held.
Bavaro called the event ``a standard committee breakfast.'' Menino declined comment.
Both Fallon and Kara ``are briefed (on the contributions policy) because this is standing policy,'' Maher said.
O'Connell and Cordy did not return calls yesterday seeking comment. Cordy's firm also represents developer Richard Friedman, whose firm is part of the joint venture chosen to build the 1,120-room headquarters hotel for the $700 million convention center.
Fallon's firm Corcoran Jennison, in addition to the high-rise project in South Boston across from the World Trade Center, is leading Emmanuel College's drive for a controversial expansion of its Fenway campus.
The school's master plan is also under formal review by the BRA and city officials, making it appear that Fallon's fund-raising actions also violate Menino's fund-raising policy.
Fallon did not return a phone call left on his mobile number. Kara has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached last night.
Also in attendance at the event was Robert Platt, a prominent political fund-raiser for the Kennedys and more recently for Gov. Paul Cellucci.
One person who attended the gathering described it as remarkable for its collection of developers seeking city approvals.
``It was like, if you've got a project (pending), you've got to come,'' said one source.
Menino's campaign fund-raising operation has been getting increasingly permissive about rules regarding who is prohibited from donating. State campaign finance law does not prohibit contributions from those with business before the city.
In October, construction magnate Lelio ``Les'' Marino held a lucrative fund-raiser at his Cambridge restaurant for the mayor, one day prior to asking for a city-owned parcel to develop. The request zipped through City Hall within days and Marino got the land at about half of its assessed value.
A few days later, the politically connected law firm Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo and its lobbying arm ML Strategies hosted another big money event for Menino.
The event, according to sources, was organized by former BRA Director Robert Ryan, now at ML Strategies and representing developers hoping to cash in on East Boston's waterfront.
Both the city and Massport are completing master plans for East Boston waterfront and the mayorally appointed municipal harbor plan advisory committee is currently drawing up a South Boston waterfront development blueprint.
Last year, Connie Kastelnik and Christine Dunn, consultants for developer Millennium Partners, organized a lucrative fund-raising luncheon for the mayor following the groundbreaking on the firm's 10 St. James project. Menino aides defended the propriety of the event, saying the project no longer needed city permits.
However, Millennium had several other projects pending with the city, including the controversial 50-story tower over the turnpike at Massachusetts Avenue as well as a project in Park Square for which the firm was seeking eminent domain powers in order to take another company's land.
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