Boston, Massachusetts

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Boston is the capital city in U.S. state of Massachusetts. It is one of 50 cities in the state. It is currently the largest city in New England and home to 617,594 residents.[1]. The city rests in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, on the northern bay of the state.

Elected officials

See also: Massachusetts public employee salaries and Massachusetts public pensions

Boston is governed by a strong mayor-council system in which the city council acts as the legislative body under a more independent, administrative mayor.

City council

The Boston City Council recognizes its duties to include: "the filing of legislation, the enactment of orders, ordinances, and resolutions,...analyzing appropriations and loan orders."[2]

The city of Boston elects four at large councilors to represent the entire city; in addition nine district city councilors represent specific portions of the city.[2]

Currently serving on the city council are the following[2]

  • Stephen J. Murphy -- President, at large
  • Felix G. Arroyo -- At large
  • John R. Connolly -- At large
  • Ayanna Pressley -- At large
  • Salvatore LaMattina -- District 1
  • Bill Linehan -- District 2
  • Maureen E Feeney -- District 3
  • Charles C. Yancey -- District 4
  • Robert Consalvo -- District 5
  • Matt O'Malley -- District 6
  • Tito Jackson -- District 7
  • Michael P. Ross -- District 8
  • Mark Ciommo -- District 9

Council salaries

The City Council votes to raise the mayor's salary as well as its own salary every four years.[3]

Boston 2010 City Council Salaries[4]
Last name First name Job title District 2010 Annual Salary
Pressley Ayanna S. City Councilor At Large $84,135
Arroyo Felix G. City Councilor At Large $84,135
Connolly John R City Councilor At Large $87,500
Murphy Stephen J City Councilor President, At Large $87,500
Lamattina Salvatore J. City Councilor District 1 $87,500
Linehan William P City Councilor District 2 $87,500
Feeney Maureen E City Councilor District 3 $87,500
Yancey Charles C City Councilor District 4 $87,500
Consalvo Robert J. City Councilor District 5 $87,500
O\'Malley Matthew J. City Councilor District 6 $4,712
Ross Michael P. City Councilor District 8 $87,500
Ciommo Mark City Councilor District 9 $87,500

Election frequency

  • The city council is elected every two years, on odd-numbered years.

Bribery scandal with council member Turner

Ronald Wilburn recently testified that he bribed city councilmen Chuck Turner in order to get a liqueur license.[5] In a closing argument, Turner's lawyer argued that Turner should be not guilty because he only took portions of the bribe.[6] However, the jury found Turner guilty. Turner is refusing to step down from his city council position, but the City Council President is organizing a meeting to expel him.[7] On December 1, 2010, Turner was expelled from the Boston City Council by an 11-1 vote making him the first council member to ever be expelled in the history of the modern Boston City Council.[8]

On January 25, 2011, Turner was sentenced to three years in prison.[9]

Mayor

The mayor of Boston is elected by a plurality of voters every four years. In the strong-mayor council system, the mayor has greater independence and extensive administrative powers. The current mayor of Boston is Thomas M, Menino. He is the longest-serving mayor in Boston's history, having been elected to his fifth term in November 2009.

Mayor's salary

The Mayor of Boston is paid $172, 255 as of 2011.[4]. The mayor's salary is determined by the Boston City Council, who vote every four years on the mayor's salary as well as their own.[3]. He was elected in 1993 and served on the city council from 1984 to 1993.

Administrative officials

Salaries

The following are the top ten public income earners for the City of Boston, for FY 2010.

Last Name First Name Job Title Department Detail Injured Overtime Other Quinn Retro Annual Salary Gross Earnings
Johnson Carol R Superintendent Superintendent $0 $0 $0 $56,472 $0 $0 $266,750 $323,222
Menino Thomas M. Mayor Mayor\'s Office $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $172,255 $172,255
Ryan Amy E President Boston Public Library $0 $0 $0 $41,307 $0 $0 $172,255 $213,562
Davis Edward F Commissioner (Bpd) Boston Police Department $0 $0 $0 $3,252 $0 $0 $171,468 $174,720
Fraser Jr. Roderick J Commissioner (BFD) Boston Fire Department $0 $0 $0 $3,252 $0 $0 $171,468 $174,720
McDonough John P Chief Financial Officer Chief Financial Officer $0 $0 $0 $3,138 $0 $0 $169,547 $172,686
Goar Michael Deputy Superintendent Chief Operating Officer $0 $0 $0 $3,212 $0 $0 $169,351 $172,562
Keating Ronald Walter Chief of Boston Fire Dept. Boston Fire Department $0 $3,168 $0 $1,998 $0 $22,793 $163,346 $191,304
O\'Halloran Andrew Chief of Field Services Boston Fire Department $0 $1,853 $0 $14,702 $0 $48,611 $160,878 $226,045
Fontana Gerard T. Dep Fire Chief Administration Boston Fire Department $0 $168 $13,341 $9,118 $0 $54,854 $156,867 $234,348

The full list of public employee salaries is available at the Boston Herald website[4]

Public pensions

See also: Massachusetts public pensions

According to a 2010 report published at Northwestern University, Boston is one of the ten municipalities with the largest amount of unfunded pension liabilities. Nationwide there is $574 billion in unfunded pension liabilities for local pension plans, and this is in addition to the $3 trillion in debt facing state-sponsored pension plans.[10] The report states that the pension plans could be out of money as early at 2025.[10]

Municipality
(number of plans)
Liabilities, Stated Basis, June ’09 ($B) Liabilities (ABO), Treasury Rate Net Pension Assets ($B) Unfunded Liability ($B) Unfunded Liability / Revenue Unfunded Liability per Household ($)
Boston (1) 7.4 11 3.6 7.5 430% 30,901

Budget

Total revenues for FY 2011 are $2,334,590,000[11]. Expenditures total $2,334,590,000[11]

Expenditures (in millions) FY08 FY09 FY10 FY11
City Departments 979.01 1002.43 983.94 996.6
Public Health 68.19 69.45 70 69.79
School Department 795.45 810.01 817.88 821.38
Reserve for Collective Bargaining 11.83 16.86 -- 8.55
OPEB 20 25 20 35
Pensions 202.91 213.23 112.56 117
Debt Service 115.92 119.41 130.56 18
State Assessments 128.28 137.71 145.78 133.06
Suffolk County Sherrif Dept 4.52 4.34 4.45 148.68
Reserve 1.12 0.02 -- 4.34
Total Fixed Costs 452.74 474.72 393.35 403.26

Stimulus awards

Boston has received approximately $2,241,896,680.05 in stimulus spending to fund 1,118 projects.[12].

Top 10 stimulus awards to Boston, Massachusetts[13]
Type Description Amount Jobs
Grant State Fiscal Stabilization Fund - Education Stabilization Fund $544,913,152 3,800
Grant State Fiscal Stabilization Fund - Government Services $180,954,993 2,178
Grant Clean Water State Revolving Fund $133,057,300 0
Grant Weatherization Assistance Program $122,077,457 8
Grant Purchase hybrid buses, rehabilitate bus facilities, double track a portion of the Fitchburg commuter rail line, and reconstruct ramps and areaways associated with enhanced Silver Line rapid bus transit service. $85,946,188 0
Grant DESIGN-BUILD INTERCHANGE CONSTRUCTION OF ROUTE 24. $70,172,997 1
Grant Tax Credit Assistance Program $59,605,630 0
Grant WIA Recovery Act Title 1 Services for Adult, Dislocated and Youth Workers $56,135,152 1,101
Grant State Energy Program - ARRA $54,911,000 0
Grant Drinking Water State Revolving Fund $52,216,000 0

Lobbying

See also: Massachusetts government sector lobbying

Boston has reported $1,208,581 spent lobbying since 2000 (see table).

Reported lobbying expenditures, 2000-2009[14]
Year Amount spent on lobbying
2011 $32,499
2010 $129,996
2009 $32,640
2008 $96,000
2007 $130,000
2006 $122,000
2005 $114,000
2004 $113,600
2003 $114,000
2002 $112,000
2001 $110,000
2000 $101,846

Transparency and public records

Massachusetts ranked 38th out of 50 states in public records availability, and Boston contributes to that ranking.[15] Walter V. Robinson, a professor at Northwestern University, cites prohibitive records access costs as being a barrier to records in Boston. When attempting to access records available in hard copy only, the city wanted to charge him and his students $2,000 for access to them.[15].

Boston Police Department surveillance records

The Boston Police Department has changed policies on surveillance operations in the city. Previously, the BPD had been able to record rallies, marches, demonstrations, and protests, and did so openly. Now organizations say that the information can be "centrally monitored, indexed, and stored electronically, and shared through state and national surveillance networks."[16]. Documentation on how such documentation is being used is being kept from the public, however. The ACLU among other organizations are suing for the right to view those procedures under the Massachusetts Public Records Law.[16]

Deleting emails

In 2009, Michael Kineavy, chief policy adviser to Mayor Menino, was found to have been routinely deleting emails from his computer, in a violation of Massachusetts Public Records law. The mayor first dismissed it as "silly," but the secretary of state Bill Galvin, ordered Kineavy's computer to be seized and the emails attempted to be recovered.[17]. Mayor Memino complied and hired StoneTurn Group -- a computer forensics firm -- to recover the deleted emails. The group was then found to have connections to the city.[18]

Two years earlier in 2007 Superior Court Judge Ralph D. Grants ruled that the city of Boston had been unlawfully deleting emails. In a suit filed by the David Project, the Boston Redevelopment Authority was found to have "failed to comply with its obligation to retain e-mails in accordance with [state law]. Prior to 2007, the BRA frequently asked its staff to delete e-mails so that its e-mail storage load would not exceed what was desirable for the efficient use of its e-mail servers."[19]

Emergency personnel

The City of Boston employs its on emergency personnel: The Boston Police department and the Boston Fire Department.

Police department

The Boston Police Department reports an 11% decrease in crime between the first eight months of 2010 and the first eight months of 2011[20]. Crime statistics are available on a weekly basis[21]

Fire department

The Boston Fire Department is generally successful in the Boston area. In 2009, the city suffered no fatalities as a result of fires.[22] Additionally, about 50% of the calls that the BFD serves are medical calls, rather than fire calls.[23]

Website evaluation

See also: Evaluation of Massachusetts city websites
Grade2.pngB-
Budget Y
600px-Yes check.png
Meetings Y
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Elected Officials Y
600px-Yes check.png
Administrative Officials Y
600px-Yes check.png
Permits, zoning Y
600px-Yes check.png
Audits
{{{1}}}
Contracts P
Partial.png
Lobbying P
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Public Records N
600px-Red x.png
Local Taxes
{{{1}}}

School district websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process

The good

  • Agendas[24] and minutes[25] are available for City Council Meetings.
  • The budget is posted for fiscal years 2006 to 2011, with a proposed budget for 2012.[26]
  • Building permit forms are available on the website,[27] and zoning information[28]
  • The mayor and city council officials contact information are available via a quick search on the contact page.[29]
  • Provides information on City of Boston property taxes.[30] More tax information is detailed in that year's budget.[31]
  • The site features a simple, effective search bar that made finding most information easy and quick.
  • Contract bigs and vendor letters are posted.[32]
  • The most recent audit and past audits are disclosed online.[33]
  • Some information on public employee salaries is disclosed, and so are the collective bargaining agreements.[34][35]
  • Campaign finance reports are disclosed by the city council.[36]

The bad

  • Information is not available for who to contact and how to obtain public records.
  • Lobbying information and ethics is not noted, nor is membership to a government sector lobbying association.
  • There is no checkbook register available.
  • Information on approved vendor contracts over $10,000 is not posted online.

See also

External links


References

  1. "Population and Housing Occupancy Status: 2010 – State – County Subdivision, 2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File". U.S. Census Bureau. http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=DEC_10_PL_GCTPL2.ST16&prodType=table. Retrieved on March 23, 2011. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 City Council -- City of Boston
  3. 3.0 3.1 Estes, Andrea. "Council OK's Big Raises for Itself, Mayor." 'The Boston Globe,' May 4, 2006. Accessed August 31, 2011, via Google Archives
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Boston Herald, Boston City Payroll, February 2011
  5. The Boston Globe, Informant testifies he bribed Turner, Oct. 22, 2010
  6. Boston Herald, Chuck Turner lawyer’s bizarre admission, Oct. 29, 2010
  7. Boston Globe, Turner found guilty of accepting cash bribe, Oct. 30, 2010
  8. "Amid outcry, council expels Turner", The Boston Globe (December 2, 2010). 
  9. Laurel J. Sweet. "Chuck Turner sentenced to 3 years in jail". Boston Herald. http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1311965&srvc=rss. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Kellog Business School at Northwestern University, The Crisis in Local Government Pensions in the United States, Oct. 12, 2010
  11. 11.0 11.1 Boston Budget Summary
  12. [1]
  13. [2]
  14. Open Secrets
  15. 15.0 15.1 'Metro West Daily News,' State lags in online access to public records, 16 March 2009 Accessed August 31, 2011.
  16. 16.0 16.1 The Boston Herald ACLU, activist groups sue Boston Police over surveillance documents. August 18, 2011.Accessed August 31, 2011
  17. Leihgh, Scott. "A murky mess at City Hall" 'The Boston Globe.' 18 September 2009 Accessed August 31, 2011
  18. Slack, Donovoan and Levenson, Michael. 'The Boston Globe,' 17 Septermber 2009. Accessed August 31, 2011.
  19. Levenson, Michael and Slack, Donovan. 'The Boston Globe.' Judge warned city on e-mails in 2008, 16 September 2009. Accessed August 31, 2011
  20. [http://www.bpdnews.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Aug-29-2011.pdf Part One Crime Reported by the Boston Police Department by Offense and by District/Area (PDF)
  21. BDP Statistics.
  22. 'The Boston Globe,' "Boston escapes 2009 with no fire deaths." 13 January 2010, Accessed September 1, 2011.
  23. 'The Boston Globe,' "Fire Dept. defends using trucks for medical calls," 23 January 2009. Accessed September 1, 2011
  24. [3]
  25. [hhttp://www.cityofboston.gov/cityclerk/citycouncil/meetings.asp]
  26. City of Boston Budget
  27. Building Permits
  28. zoning information
  29. City of Boston contact page
  30. City of Boston taxes
  31. City of Boston FY 2011 Budget
  32. Contract bids
  33. Audits
  34. Salaries
  35. Collective Bargaining Agreements
  36. Campaign Finance