and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Boston DNC Convention 2004 – 
Anatomy of an inevitable taxpayer mugging


Last Updated on:
Friday, December 18, 2015


“It’s our party, you can cry if you want to”
(apologies to Lesley Gore, no relation to Al that we know of!)

Citizens' inconvenience and business loss will be only the beginning of this partisan political boondoggle, the Democratic National Committee's 2004 convention.

Direct costs of outright taxpayer subsidies, indirect costs imposed by public employee unions pressure, and implied or perhaps explicit quid pro quo benefits to large corporate donors are just as inevitable as "cost overruns" were to the Big Dig -- as we predicted back in the mid-80s.

This is, after all, Massachusetts. The DNC couldn't have picked a better sucker.

In the end, Democrat organizers will turn to the state for an expensive taxpayer bail-out. In this state dominated by Democrats, so many with presidential aspirations (JFK in '60, Ted Kennedy '80, Dukakis and his disastrous "Massachusetts Miracle" in '88, Paul Tsongas in '92, and now John Kerry in '04), inevitably it's like a Boston Celtics slam-dunk right there in the FleetCenter's hoop. When the time comes -- despite "the worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression" -- we Massachusetts taxpayers will bankroll an 11th-hour  bail-out of the Democrat's national convention.

That's a FleetCenter event you can bet on.

Here's an historical time-line, so that later there can be no excuses but lame excuses.

And we will be here to again announce "we told you so"!

Chip Ford – December 11, 2002

Excerpts are in chronological order
Click on date for full report



Dec. 11, 2002

 "They didn't come forward to win a government contract, or obtain any favored treatment. No such thing was ever offered or requested," [Boston Mayor Tom Menino] said. "They did what they did out of a sense of civic duty."

Boston 2004, the host committee that is responsible for bankrolling the four-day party at the FleetCenter, already has pledges for $20 million from some 60 donors.

Dec. 11, 2002

As the DNC tries to marshal resources, they may be able to save a few dollars by convening in Boston in 2004, noted David Begelfer, head of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office properties.

Dec. 11, 2002

While the businesses say that they are providing the money to help support an important civic event, government watchdogs say the Menino administration faces inevitable conflicts as some of the region's most powerful companies seek city approvals - from zoning to contract awards - while they also help underwrite the convention Menino desperately wants to go well here.

Dec. 12, 2002

But last summer, Menino was criticized when the ABC reality television show "Boston 24/7" taped him telling a lawyer for Sprint that he would give city business to AT&T because Sprint hadn't donated to the city's summer youth programs. Menino said the exchange was a joke and ABC producers later trimmed the threats from the episode.

Dec. 12, 2002

Contracts for some 10,000 city employees will be up for renewal between now and the July 2004 convention. About 20 contracts, including those with the police, have already expired. Some previous battles have stretched into years. And at least some union representatives are already suggesting that they will use the convention to hold the mayor's feet to the fire if talks do not go smoothly.

Dec. 13, 2002

Common Cause of Massachusetts Tuesday asked the state Ethics Commission to investigate whether Menino violated conflict of interest laws by asking companies to donate cash for the convention.

Dec. 13, 2002

Both Menino and Kennedy said that they avoided conflicts of interest by refusing to solicit from those who had business pending before them. Menino, for instance, said he did not contact developers who had plans awaiting approval in City Hall, instead asking a co-chairman of the committee, Alan Leventhal, to make those calls.

Dec. 15, 2002

The June 2003 deadline for the host committee to submit a full accounting of convention financing applies added pressure to its effort to find the $17.5 million needed in public funds from the city and state budgets, both of which are expected to undergo significant cuts. However, the $22 million in pledges already received from private donors eases the task of amassing the rest of the funds.

Dec. 17, 2002

The city will sign its convention contract with the Democratic National Committee today, in a FleetCenter celebration meant to look like a mini-convention, complete with falling red, white, and blue balloons, and community leaders from Boston's neighborhoods posing as delegates. But that will mark only the beginning of the work for the Boston crew charged with pulling together the $49.5 million event.

Dec. 18, 2002

Menino yesterday signed an agreement with the Democratic National Committee giving the city until July 1, 2003, to get local unions to agree to binding arbitration of any labor dispute that "may disrupt or delay the convention."

Dec. 18, 2002

Amid cascading balloons, actors in Colonial garb, and standing ovations from more than 500 dignitaries and guests, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Senator Edward M. Kennedy signed the document yesterday officially naming Boston the site of the 2004 Democratic National Convention - committing the city to a host of stipulations, right down to the temperature that must be maintained inside the FleetCenter during the event....

The promise of keeping costs within the budgeted $49.5 million adds to the pressures on Menino, who faces severe cuts in state aid in the next fiscal year and potentially expensive labor settlements for some 10,000 city employees, including police, whose contracts will expire before the July 2004 convention.

McAuliffe said he was confident the convention will avoid the severe cost overruns of the party's Los Angeles convention in 2000, when organizers fell millions short weeks before the event. To prevent a similar problem in Boston, the 2004 contract requires organizers to secure commitments for the entire cost a year in advance.

"I think it will be at $49.5 [million]," McAuliffe said.

Dec. 30, 2002

While Mayor Thomas M. Menino predicted that Boston merchants would reap millions providing the myriad services and supplies needed to put on the 2004 Democratic National Convention, the city was unable to negotiate a contract that guarantees local companies will receive even a minimum level of business....

The strictures of the pact demonstrate how tightly the national party wants to control preparations for its signature event. And the city's hope for ironclad contract language underscores the desire of local organizers to make the convention a salve for the ailing economy. While many of the organizers publicly say they trust the DNC to cooperate in awarding business locally, some have expressed concern privately that some of the most lucrative contracts could go to companies outside the state, as has been the practice at past conventions.

Jan. 2, 2003

The contract Menino signed with the Democratic National Committee requires the Building Trades Council and other unions to sign an agreement promising not to disrupt the convention. That agreement has yet to be written and negotiations could get contentious if Menino's labor problems multiply....

The dispute with Nigro comes on top of Menino's already frayed relationship with the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association. The police union, without a contract since summer, has already warned the DNC they plan to use convention-related events to highlight their dispute with Menino.

Jan. 8, 2003

The team that hosted the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia yesterday warned Mayor Thomas M. Menino to keep a tight watch on the budget as Boston prepares for the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

Jan. 20, 2003

Backing off denials that he had lobbied firms that do business with the city to help fund the Democratic National Convention, Mayor Thomas M. Menino now acknowledges he personally asked at least two companies with city contracts to pony up for the 2004 event....

State ethics rules prohibit state and municipal officials from seeking contributions from corporations that do business before them - even if the money is for a nonprofit organization.

Mar. 15, 2003

Financially pinched state and local government agencies appear to be backing away from their $17.5 million pledge to the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, leaving organizers only three months to make up the money from local businesses. 

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said he is confident that area corporations will quickly fill the void....

Officials with the Boston 2004 host committee, which promised to collect all the money by June 30, said yesterday they are unsure how much in grants, loans, or services the public agencies will contribute.

Mar. 18, 2003

Mayor Thomas M. Menino may be concerned that Boston will fall short of its $49.5 million budget for the 2004 Democratic National Convention, but the Democratic National Committee is confident it will end up with the necessary money. 

Menino, the convention's host mayor, said last week that financially ailing state and local governments may not be able to provide their expected $17.5 million share of the overall cost....

That leaves the government contribution to the budget about $5.5 million out of balance, 16 months before the gavel falls on July 26, 2004. Party officials say they are not concerned about closing the gap, even after having found themselves millions short just weeks before their 2000 convention in Los Angeles.

Apr. 4, 2003

Privately, some local Democrats have questioned whether the host committee is falling behind in the critical tasks of getting donations into the bank and ramping up for a major logistical undertaking....

May 13, 2003

Cash-strapped planners of next year's Democratic National Convention got a helping hand from Uncle Sam yesterday as federal officials promised to help defray skyrocketing security costs for the presidential nominating party.

Designating the event a national special security event in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security gave security control to the Secret Service.

Doing so could significantly cut the expected $10 million security costs and gives the Secret Service the top job in keeping 35,000 convention-goers and the public safe - not local cops....

Organizers have raised about half what they expect the convention to cost, Menino said.

Jul 13, 2003

Preparations for the largest political event in Boston's history are far behind schedule with little more than a year to go before the 2004 Democratic National Convention comes to town.

In the nine months since the Democratic National Committee tapped Boston to host its presidential nominating convention, the Boston 2004 committee has missed four of five deadlines in its contract with the DNC....

Mayor Thomas M. Menino refused to discuss the missed deadlines, saying, "You can be negative about anything you want to be negative about. We're going to have a great convention in Boston."

Sep. 30, 2003

Democratic convention planners are considering parking national media trucks on the footprint of the old Central Artery but Mayor Thomas M. Menino doesn't want to pay to turn the rugged construction site into a giant parking lot....

"We're concerned because it comes with additional costs," said Menino spokesman Seth Gitell.

Oct. 3, 2003

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino held a secret sit-down with union heads at the Parkman House this week, telling them he wanted to settle contract talks within four months to avoid disrupting the Democratic National Convention next summer, a labor source said.

With all 32 employee contracts in the city expired, Menino pow-wowed Monday with major union presidents as well as Massachusetts AFL-CIO head Robert J. Haynes....

While Menino has voiced some support for easing a labor standoff, the four-month deadline is the most specific indication yet that Menino wants to clear up the issue soon so it won't become a distraction as the DNC nears.

Oct. 9, 2003

Boston convention organizers are seeking $25 million from Congress to pay for security costs at July's Democratic National Convention, a figure more than double the $10 million the city had budgeted for security in its bid....

The $10 million the city had budgeted for the convention was said by some security specialists to be too low even before organizers realized that security needs were far greater than what they had envisioned.

For example, security costs for the 2000 Democratic convention in Los Angeles were estimated at $22 million.

Oct. 12, 2003

Boston is planning to put a multimillion dollar gloss on streets and sidewalks for next year's Democratic National Convention, even as budget cuts strain schools and block worker raises.

This spring, Mayor Thomas M. Menino will have city workers inspecting every street, sidewalk and handicapped ramp around the FleetCenter, the 60 convention hotels and dozens of event venues to make sure they're up to snuff....

Menino's repair plan, which won't have a final price tag until the snow melts and Casazza can assess Boston's roads, echoes the $40 million Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley spent on street, bridge and other road construction in advance of the 1996 Democratic National Convention....

Daley ultimately spent some $180 million beautifying the Windy City before the 1996 convention.

The Massachusetts Highway Department also has been told to "button up" its projects, including the major renovation of Cambridge Street near the FleetCenter, so that conventioneers don't get caught in traffic.

Highway officials refused to estimate how much extra that would cost.

Oct. 20, 2003

The city of Boston will spend some $25 million fixing roads and sidewalks over the next nine months as part of a plan to beautify both downtown and the neighborhoods in time for the Democratic National Convention, Public Works Commissioner Joseph Casazza said yesterday....

Oct. 24, 2003

While it's not unusual for convention organizers to differ with their hosts, the problems in Boston stem from Menino's close hold on many details and decisions in the planning, party sources said....

In the larger picture, however, the conflict seems to stem from what is also unique about Boston as a site for the national convention: Its local politicians are playing an unusually active role in the planning, creating constant conflicts by ignoring the DNC staff, local Democratic officials say.

"The DNC is used to coming into a city and everyone lays down for them," said one member of the host committee and a Menino ally. "But Boston feels it is the créme de la créme of the political world and that is not going to happen here."

Oct. 27, 2003

As their party's presidential candidates haggle over tax cuts and ways to create jobs, top Democratic National Convention officials are raking in six-figure salaries paid entirely with tax dollars, documents obtained by the Herald show.

The two top earners are convention CEO Rod O'Connor, a former Democratic National Committee staffer, and Alice Huffman, who wanted his job but settled for a part-time post chairing the convention committee.

O'Connor will make $190,000 for 15 months of work - including four months on the convention payroll after the four-day Boston event ends next July. Huffman, president of the California NAACP, will make $130,000 for 13 months of work, ending a month after the convention, according to a draft budget obtained by the Herald.

The sky-high salaries are raising new questions about political convention funding and whether taxpayers should foot the bill for events that largely serve as advertisements to the parties' presidential nominees.

Oct. 30, 2003

A major portion of the Central Artery could be closed during the Democratic National Convention to protect politicians and partygoers, forcing rush hour traffic to snake through city streets around the FleetCenter, the Herald has learned....

[U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Somerville] said he's telling Boston businesses to "consider a snow week during July" to avoid convention-related gridlock.

Oct. 30. 2003

The Secret Service and security officials are considering rerouting Interstate 93 traffic near the FleetCenter during next July's Democratic National Convention, and they might even shut down the new underground southbound lanes....

Massive traffic adjustments on I-93 would be the second major transportation change in downtown Boston ordered up for security reasons, as planners prepare for the first national political event since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Security officials are also planning to shut down the North Station MBTA station, which is adjacent to the arena, and have commuter rail trains stop at a temporary platform short of the station.

Jeff Larson, general manager of SmartRoute Systems, a travel and information service, said a massive advertising campaign would be needed to avert chaos in the area of the tunnel if the underground roadway is shut down. At that portion of the interstate, traffic from the north comes off the bridge near where eastbound traffic from Storrow Drive meets I-93.

"It's not just alternate routes," Larson said. "When you have a situation like that, you have to look at other means people will have to come into the city, like commuter rail. It will be warm weather, so maybe some people can pedal in."

Oct. 31, 2003

It hasn't taken long for next year's national Democratic convention to go from boon to boondoggle.

Bad enough, all those six-figure publicly funded hack jobs, the plans to temporarily close the Green Line stop at North Station and move the commuter rail stops. But now comes the worst news so far - they may shut down part of the Central Artery for a couple of days.

A couple of days! And Rep. Mike Capuano says maybe local businesses should "consider a snow week in July." In other words, just shut down but keep paying everybody, as if it's not already exorbitant enough doing business, or trying to, in the city of Boston.

Oct. 31, 2003

The transportation chairman of the Neighborhood Association of Back Bay called the plan a "terribly silly idea" that could back up southbound traffic for miles.

"Don't they think about these things before they put a convention someplace?" said Eliott Laffer. "This must be a Republican plan to make everybody hate the Democrats."

Oct. 31, 2003

"It would be horrendous as far as traffic goes. I cannot imagine how anybody from the North Shore would get into the city," said [US Representative Michael E. ] Capuano, a Somerville Democrat whose district includes much of Boston. "But I'm not all that worked up about it, because it's just talk at the moment."

Capuano said public safety issues can be worked out along with other traffic concerns, such as the shutting off of downtown streets to vehicular traffic, and the installation of temporary road signs to help out-of-town visitors navigate Boston's notoriously confusing street system. Businesses should be encouraged to shut down early if possible during the convention, and many residents may want to think about going on vacation that week, Capuano said.

"If you're smart, you'll take that week in New Hampshire," he said.

Nov. 11, 2003

In the year since Boston was awarded the 2004 Democratic National Convention, organizers have attracted only about $3 million in cash donations, including just two worth more than $250,000, according to a list of corporate sponsors posted on the host committee's website.

The list shows that fund-raising has slowed considerably since Mayor Thomas M. Menino and US Senator Edward M. Kennedy secured $20 million in private cash commitments before winning the convention. Republicans, meanwhile, have already obtained more than $60 million in pledges for their convention, which will be held in New York City....

In a sign that organizers are concerned about the pace of fund-raising, Menino and Kennedy are hitting the phones in search of dollars again this month....

The Democratic convention was originally budgeted to cost $49.5 million, but increased security measures are expected to bump that total upward by as much as $15 million.

Nov. 14, 2003

Organizers of next summer's Democratic National Convention in Boston are lining up security help from police departments as far away as New Bedford and are considering asking the National Guard to lend a hand during the event....

The officers are being recruited while the city is locked in tense negotiations with its main police union. Officials of the patrolmen's union are threatening to embarrass Mayor Thomas M. Menino by protesting during the convention if their contract isn't settled.

Nov. 18, 2003

With Congress set to adjourn for the year as soon as the end of this week, Massachusetts congressmen are scrambling to nail down $25 million in federal funding for security costs associated with next summer's Democratic National Convention.

The federal money represents nearly 40 percent of the estimated cost of the convention, and it's considered crucial to convention organizers, particularly with the pace of private donations lagging....

And because New York has raised a vastly larger amount of private funds for its [Republican] convention, getting the security money in place isn't as important to New York convention planners as it is to Boston at this stage....

As federal help is being sought, the flow of private donations to the Democratic convention has slowed. US Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino lined up $20 million in commitments before winning the convention bid, but only about $3 million more has been secured since then. New York planners, meanwhile, have brought in more than $60 million from private sources for a convention that's expected to cost $91 million.

Dec. 4, 2003

City taxpayers could be socked with millions more in Democratic National Convention costs as the bill for security soars past $40 million - a pricetag shocker just now being revealed....

Factoring in federal reimbursements, the city will face a $5 million additional cost on security alone as Menino faces decreasing state aid and new salary demands from city unions - some of whom have threatened to picket the Democrats' Boston bash....

One longtime city watchdog believes City Hall deliberately lowballed the security pricetag to win support for the event. 

"I'm not surprised," said Joe Slavet, former chief of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau. "By definition people understate budgets in order to get them through."

Dec. 5, 2003

As Mayor Thomas M. Menino fails to provide firm estimates of what the Democratic National Convention will cost City Hall, the Romney administration says state taxpayers won't put a dime toward funding the big event. 

"The governor believes that taxpayers shouldn't have to finance any of the costs related to a political convention," said Republican Gov. Mitt Romney's spokeswoman, Shawn Feddeman. 

Feddeman said the state will tally all its convention-related expenses - including state police overtime - and seek reimbursement from convention organizers after the Democrats leave town in July.

Dec. 5, 2003

"They've done everything they said they would do, and they're very close to finishing up," McAuliffe said of the host committee. "We're in great shape. The mayor has done a great job. The host committee has done a great job."

But convention organizers declined requests to detail their fund-raising progress yesterday. A top convention official said last night that the host committee is "within striking distance" of raising $30 million, but declined to be more specific.

Last month, the Globe reported that the host committee had raised just $3 million in cash contributions and $4 million in in-kind donations in the year since winning the convention, after bringing in pledges of an unprecedented $20 million before winning the bid. Since that report, organizers have finalized just three more donations, each of less than $50,000, according to the host committee.

Even if organizers do fulfill the $32.5 million commitment, that would still leave state and city taxpayers on the hook for $8 million....

"If fund-raising's down and expenses are up, it's cause for concern," said Dominick Ianno, executive director of the Massachusetts Republican Party. "You know who's going to fill the difference: the taxpayers." ...

Mayor Thomas M. Menino has said he will try to avoid the use of city taxpayers, and he favors the state picking up any slack because state tax coffers will benefit most from convention-related business.

Dec. 6, 2003

The Boston Globe is in negotiations to sponsor the official media welcoming reception at next summer's Democratic National Convention.

Officials with the convention and the newspaper cautioned that no final agreement has been signed regarding the media party, which will be held at the new South Boston convention center on Saturday, July 24. But representatives from both entities confirmed that the Globe is seeking to sponsor the bash, which is expected to be attended by some 15,000 journalists from around the world....

Julie Burns, Boston 2004's executive director, said the host committee is "excited at the potential of having the Globe as one of the sponsors for the media party."

Dec. 7, 2003

After all, Menino all but singlehandedly killed plans for Sail Boston 2004 - the tall ships parade - which promised 500,000 visitors or more July 10-15.

The mayor didn't want the distraction or the drag on city resources from hosting two major events so close to each other.

Dec. 11, 2003

A week after members of the national news media took a walk-through of the FleetCenter, representatives of a number of news outlets are openly worried about the apparent shortage of work space for the estimated 15,000 journalists who will descend on Boston for next year's Democratic National Convention.

"It's a huge problem," said Jim Drinkard, a political reporter for USA Today and a member of the Standing Committee of Correspondents in Washington, D.C., which helps handle press arrangements for the convention. "I've got to say that the words on the lips of everybody leaving [the walk-through] was 'how can they choose a site like this without thinking about this beforehand?' There's no clear place that meets all the requirements we have." ...

Finding space for the media is a crucial challenge. Convention organizers want to present a positive image for the Democratic Party and the city of Boston during the four-day convention.

Dec. 19, 2003

That veteran TV journalists have already come forward to say accommodations are grossly inadequate should be a source of grave concern at City Hall....

Karen Grant, spokeswoman for the Boston 2004 host committee, says the group has "never discussed any contingency plan."...

Maybe organizers will solve the space problems around the Fleet. 

But isn't it better to be prepared for the worst? 

"This is a city known for its political talent. But right now ... it looks like amateur hour," says one veteran Democrat who has helped run the party's earlier national conventions. "I don't want to see us look like idiots."

Dec. 19, 2003

The convention promises to be a signature event for the city, but for the tens of thousands who live or work in the vicinity of the FleetCenter, it also could be a headache, with disruption of activities including subway service, supply deliveries, and restaurant service.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who sees the convention as a rare moment to showcase a world-class town to 35,000 visitors and countless television viewers from around the world, has repeatedly tried to dispel what he calls "an assumption that the city will be locked down."...

With the exception of police cars and shuttle buses, Causeway Street near the FleetCenter will be closed to vehicles. There's also talk of closing down all or part of the new underground southbound tunnel of Interstate 93, though organizers say they'll probably only have major traffic disruptions on the highway while the presidential nominee is in the FleetCenter.

Cars will be barred altogether from the 11 blocks of storefronts and rowhouses known as the Bulfinch Triangle, bounded by Merrimac, Market, Beverly, and Causeway streets....

The North Station MBTA stop will close. Orange Line trains that normally stop there will bypass it. The Green Line, which also stops there, will be closed for construction. Commuter rail lines will stop at a temporary platform short of North Station, though officials say they haven't decided where.

Dec. 21, 2003

The Democratic National Convention's skyrocketing security costs are expected to include the price of 12-hour shifts for Boston police as well as the bill for hundreds of officers borrowed from other jurisdictions.

Boston police overtime easily will top $3 million - setting a record for police payroll spending on a single security event.

And officials from neighboring cities and towns - who have been asked to lend cops for the four-day event - say they expect to forward their overtime bill to city taxpayers....

The Herald reported earlier this month that DNC security costs are likely to exceed $40 million, four times the price Mayor Thomas M. Menino predicted a year ago when he won the prestigious four-day event, set for July 26-29.

The contract Menino signed with the Democratic National Convention makes the city liable for all security costs.

Dec. 21, 2003

The expected $3 million police overtime price tag for security at next summer's Democratic National Convention in the Hub overshadows security costs to all previous Hub extravaganza.

Jan. 9, 2004

Boston 2004, the host committee for this summer's Democratic National Convention, has awarded a no-bid contract to R.F. Walsh Co., the development firm run by a longstanding friend and adviser to Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

Convention organizers refused to disclose the value of the pact benefiting the company run by Robert F. Walsh, but acknowledged no other businesses were invited to compete for the work....

Critics branded the deal an example of cronyism by the mayor. "Why is this surprising?" said Joseph Slavet, a former senior fellow at the McCormack Institute of Public Affairs. "There is a lot of loose change in this convention so he turns to his friends."

Jan. 14, 2004

The ethics panel decided Menino's convention fund raising was "warranted provided no one is coerced into making (contributions) or penalized for not doing so" because it will save taxpayers from footing the $50 million convention bill....

Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause of Massachusetts, who filed the ethics complaint, said she couldn't prove coercion despite her objection to Menino's direct involvement in raising cash for the political convention.

"It's a very, very difficult standard to meet," Wilmot said....

Wilmot said she still thought the mayor hitting up city contractors to fund the convention had a "smell problem."

Jan. 15, 2004

Walking into John Hancock Hall to watch Mayor Menino deliver his annual State of the City address was a reminder of the still-powerful voice of labor in cities where Democratic mayors have had a history of giving in to the demands of labor unions....

Menino is welcome to warm January's frigid air with rhetorical bluster. The unions will be waiting patiently for spring, then summer and the arrival of the DNC and delegates from across the country.

"Shame on you, shame on you. Hang your head, hang your head." It will make great theater for Fox News and the rest of the media looking for something other than New England clam chowder and the Freedom Trail to showcase on national TV when Democrats come to Boston to nominate a presidential candidate.

Jan. 27, 2004

Having squeezed what they can from corporate donors in Boston, the organizers of the Democratic National Convention say they are setting their sights on Washington and focusing particularly on the corporate interests that look to curry favor by donating to the national parties.

Boston 2004, the group running the Boston convention, will hit up Washington lobbyists representing federally regulated industries that have traditionally donated to national parties and political figures, organizers said. Those potential donors include healthcare companies, banks, and utilities that can help the Boston organizers raise another $5 million to $6 million, said the organizers, who spoke on condition they not be identified....

A US Supreme Court decision last year upheld the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law that bans soft money and corporate donations to political parties. But the decision also gave an opening for the Boston host committee to target some of the large national corporate donors who were holding back on commitments to fund the convention, not knowing how the court would rule. Because the committee is a nonprofit group, it can legally accept soft money.

Jan. 28, 2004

The $25 million the federal government budgeted for Democratic National Convention security may not be enough to foot the bill, Mayor Thomas M. Menino said yesterday, raising new questions about how much taxpayers will have to kick in....

Previously, Menino has said he wouldn't spend any local revenues on security.

But yesterday he said he hoped the state would pick up the excess security costs - including the price of protecting the hundreds of dignitaries expected to attend the four-day event.

"That will be paid some by federal government, some by local government, what I mean by local is state government," Menino told reporters after the speech.

The inevitable stalks closer ...
Feb. 15, 2004

Less than six months before Boston hosts the 2004 Democratic National Convention, the stage is set for a standoff over how much state and city taxpayers should have to chip in.

Convention organizers do not like to talk about it, but a gap of approximately $10 million looms large on their balance sheet -- money that will almost certainly have to be made up through some combination of city and state dollars. Sharp differences of opinion have emerged between state and city leaders as to who should pick up the lion's share of those costs.

The battle pits a Democratic mayor and a Republican governor who view the convention in starkly different ways and who have different mixes of political ambition, pride, and fiscal prudence on the line....

"It's an interesting political situation," said Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-backed fiscal watchdog group. "There's some truth to both of their cases. But in the end, there'll have to be some compromise to pay for the convention."

Feb. 18, 2004

Almost as soon as Boston snagged the Democrats’ 2004 presidential nominating convention 15 months ago, there were ominous signs that Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s political coup could turn into a costly boondoggle for taxpayers across the state....

There appears to be a gap of at least $10 million that the Democratic Party and Mr. Menino expect will be closed by taxpayers from Provincetown to Pittsfield, regardless of party affiliation.

Feb. 23, 2004

Since entering office, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino has put his weight behind a number of big projects, each of which was said at the time to represent his legacy....

His focus -- which invariably influences the city's overall decision-making and operational structure -- has shifted to a four-day run of politics, garish partying, and big spending glitz called the Democratic National Convention. This July event at the Soon-To-Be-Renamed Center is the latest to bear the mayoral legacy label....

The mayor desperately wanted the convention and should focus on its success. But his near obsession with it detours badly needed attention from projects and problems of far greater import...

Menino entered office as the everyday guy determined to make Boston a vibrant and livable city. He truly cares about education, neighborhoods, and affordable housing. But now this proud urban mechanic risks morphing into a mega-party planner. And that's not exactly the stuff of legacies.

Feb. 25, 2004

With Governor Mitt Romney refusing to help cover Democratic National Convention costs, Mayor Thomas M. Menino has come up with a new idea: send the state a bill....

Menino is making his push for tax relief in the midst of a politically charged stand-off over which public entities should be responsible for convention-related costs. Perhaps $10 million of the convention's $65 million budget will have to be covered by some combination of city and state tax dollars.

Menino wants the state to pay, but Romney is refusing to go along and is insisting that all costs be borne by the private sector, the federal government, and the city of Boston....

House Republican leader Bradley H. Jones Jr. of North Reading ... noted that the convention wasn't thrust on Menino and that the mayor knew the state's tax arrangement when he lobbied national Democrats to choose Boston.

"You wanted the convention," Jones said.

Feb. 26, 2004

Democrats to party in Boston while the rest of us foot the bill
By Barbara Anderson

Feb. 26, 2004

Governor Mitt Romney blasted Mayor Thomas M. Menino's proposal to have the state share tax revenue generated by the Democratic National Convention, saying it would be nearly impossible to administer and unfair to state taxpayers.

"There are a number of problems with the mayor's proposal," Romney said yesterday. "The state was not asked whether we wanted to bid on the Democratic National Convention. We weren't party to the bid, we didn't make any representations or guarantees, we didn't put up money. And you certainly don't come to us afterward and say, 'Oh, by the way, we'd like you to put in several million dollars.'"

Feb. 26, 2004

Beacon Hill's top leaders slammed the door yesterday on Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino's bid to grab half of the tax take from this summer's Democratic convention in Boston....

House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran told WB-56, Menino's plan "would set a very dangerous precedent."

Feb. 26, 2004

Let's see if we've got this right: Mayor Tom Menino pulls out all the stops to get the Democratic National Convention to Boston this summer because it will be so good for the city, he insists. And now he's whining that the city won't get its fair share of the proceeds....

And to hear the mayor talk, you'd think that that additional income and sales tax revenue just goes into some giant pit buried deep under the State House dome. A goodly share of those tax revenues come right back into city coffers. Last year state aid to Boston for schools, libraries, and a host of other accounts amounted to $533.8 million.

Feb. 26, 2004

Of course we all knew when the Democrats announced they would hold their 2004 presidential convention in Boston, that we Massachusetts taxpayers would be asked, if that is the right verb, to pick up some of the tab.

When they said it would cost only $49.5 million (not, you will note, $50 million, but $49.5 million), we knew they were underestimating - by millions of dollars - the total cost, just as they have done on public works projects like the Big Dig.

When they said it will all be raised privately except for anticipated federal funds for extra security, we knew they would eventually be looking to the public for a lot more....

The political trick, as always, was to reassure everyone just long enough to reach the point of no return, and then dribble out the truth.

Feb. 26, 2004

Editorial cartoon by David Hitch, Telegram & Gazette

Feb. 27, 2004

Democratic National Convention organizers will build a temporary two-story structure on the site of the old Boston Garden to house members of the media during this July's four-day event.

The move comes after media representatives sharply criticized organizers for not making adequate preparations for the 15,000 members of the media expected at the convention....

Convention officials said they had not yet chosen a vendor to construct the temporary structure, and declined to discuss costs. But a spokeswoman for Boston 2004, the convention's host committee, said all media arrangements will be covered by the $5 million budgeted to be spent on media workspace preparations.

"We are completely within our budget for media workspace," Grant said.

Feb. 28, 2004

Mayor Tom Menino and Sen. Ted Kennedy worked long and hard to bring the Democratic National Convention to Boston. It's a dubious honor, which will mean next to nothing to the vast majority of Massachusetts residents, who'll watch the show on TV if at all....

The deal itself is outrageous enough. Now Menino wants the state to pick up most of the cost of this giveaway....

Romney should stand his ground on this one, and legislators from this side of Boston should stand with him, whatever their party affiliation. Menino made this deal; let him pay for it.

Mar. 2, 2004

Organizers of the Democratic National Convention said Tuesday they have come up with $58 million for the July event but must raise an additional $7 million to reach a price tag that has risen because of security costs.

Mar. 3, 2004

Despite fears that city taxpayers will be saddled with a big tab for security at the Democratic National Convention, organizers insisted the costs will be covered by the federal government.

"We don't anticipate asking the city for any money," said Julie Burns, executive director of Boston 2004, the host committee charged with raising the cash to put on the four-day show at the FleetCenter.

Burns made the pledge even as she revealed that the total tab for the convention will be an estimated $64.5 million - a $15 million increase over earlier projections.

Mar. 3, 2004

Citing security concerns, MBTA officials want to shut down North Station to all commuter rail and subway traffic during the Democratic National Convention at the FleetCenter, several officials involved in the planning effort say, potentially snarling downtown traffic as convention-goers descend on Boston in July....

Combined with the decision to limit traffic in the new southbound Expressway tunnel to two lanes for 10 months beginning this spring, the North Station closure could tie the area's transportation network in knots, as thousands more commuters drive to Boston, exacerbating traffic and parking problems throughout the city. There is also a possibility that Interstate 93 -- which runs just feet from the FleetCenter -- will be closed, a move that would generate more commuting headaches.

Mar. 4, 2004

Commuters hoping to navigate road and rail closings during the Democratic convention in July may find themselves facing daily surprises as they make the nightmare trip into the city....

Boston police Superintendent Robert Dunford said the Leverett Connector from Storrow Drive to the highway would be closed, affecting thousands of commuters.

Motorists' problems won't be limited to getting to the city.

Once they get here, they'll find hundreds of parking spaces off-limits.

Mar. 5, 2004

Once, just once, it would be nice to see an elected official in Boston announce that we need to get something done not for the Democratic National Convention, but for the meaningless minions who people this city, otherwise known as residents....

In the last 90 days, the Globe has published 125 stories with the words "Democratic National Convention," many of them about fund-raising problems or union threats or the city's highways and byways getting shut down. The New York Times has run just 40 stories mentioning the Republican National Convention over the same time. One of them in particular jumps out: "Penn Station to Stay Open During G.O.P. Convention." Like North Station, Penn Station is also located under the convention arena....

This should be easy, yet we're fighting over nothing and giving away the store for no reason at all. Better for our leaders to pay attention to the daily realities of Boston than the image we project during a week in July.

Mar. 6, 2004

DNC organizers, already facing a $7.5 million fund-raising gap, now may have to spend up to $500,000 to charter buses to transport conventioneers.

T General Manager Michael H. Mulhern said the transportation agency will have to revisit its commitment to provide free bus service, worth $512,000, if the agency decides to close North Station to commuter rail service during the July convention. The Globe reported this week that MBTA officials want to close the station for security reasons, potentially snarling downtown traffic if many commuters decide to drive instead of riding commuter trains that would stop north of the city.

Mar. 8, 2004

Forcing some 25,000 rail users to switch to a bus or subway somewhere north of Boston is at least predictable. So too, making subway riders get off the Orange or Green lines at another stop.

We do hope transportation planners with an eye for fine details are in charge of the logistics....

For the same reason, officials ought to make a decision on closing Interstate 93 as soon as possible. The Secret Service can't be happy with the fact that you can practically reach out and touch the FleetCenter from the road.

We hope there are safe alternatives to closing it because, frankly, we can't imagine any alternative which could resolve that commuting nightmare (though we're willing to be convinced).

Whatever is decided, the DNC is coming to town. No one promised being a world-class city was always going to be a rose garden.

Mar. 12, 2004

Lets just hope this is all worth it.

Because it's getting easier to understand why Mayor Thomas M. Menino put the hammer down on the Tall Ships last November....

If you're keeping score at home, it's starting to look ugly for the July 26-29 Dems convention. Why? Here's a few good questions - and answers ...

Mar. 12, 2004

Throwing the spotlight on Boston's labor disputes, national labor union officials closely linked to the Democratic Party yesterday unleashed a scathing attack on Mayor Thomas M. Menino, calling lack of union contracts and stalled negotiations "shameful."

"What is at issue is mainly a question of respect - or complete lack thereof," reads the statement from the AFL-CIO's executive council.

The statement is part of an effort by national labor leaders to turn up the heat on Menino as the city prepares to host the summer's Democratic National Convention. The mayor has so far reached tentative contracts with only three of his 32 municipal unions.

Mar. 12, 2004

Local and national labor unions, including the AFL-CIO, lashed out at Mayor Thomas M. Menino yesterday, accusing him of making anti-union remarks, and urged Democratic Party leaders to pressure the mayor to settle 29 labor disputes immediately.

"To hold [the] convention in a city that does not respect its own employees or their unions is not an option," said the national AFL-CIO's executive council in a resolution passed yesterday at its winter meeting in Bal Harbour, Fla. "The prospect of a Democratic Convention with a Democratic Mayor in a strong union city under these conditions is untenable and cannot be tolerated."

Mar. 13, 2004

All kinds of problems have been coming down on Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

His fight with city unions is attracting fire from powerful national labor forces and shows no signs of abating before the Democratic National Convention in July....

Menino pledged that riots like those after the Super Bowl, in which one person was killed and several others injured, would not be allowed to reoccur. "I guarantee that will never happen again," he said.

To questions about traffic and commuter headaches that might be caused by the probable closing of subway stops and halting of commuter trains going into North Station during the convention, Menino said a transportation plan will be issued soon.

Mar. 14, 2004

Several key roadways and transit lines will be under construction or partially closed for repairs this summer, just when the city's transportation system will be tested by thousands of visitors attending the Democratic National Convention.

City and state officials express confidence that the projects won't affect the convention, but the sheer number of them has others worried about gridlock....

Congestion and traffic jams led to bitter complaints during the Democratic convention in Los Angeles four years ago.

"We're not worried about gridlock," said James Gillooly, deputy commissioner for traffic management, engineering, and planning at the Boston Transportation Department.

Mar. 16, 2004

Curiosity finally got the better of me, and I suddenly had to know what Alice Huffman does to earn her $10,000-a-month taxpayer-funded consulting fee as chair woman of the 2004 Democratic National Convention Committee.

The thing that bothers me most is that Huffman lives and works in Sacramento, while the convention, as careful newspaper readers might now realize, is scheduled to take place here in Boston....

So what does she do? In California, she serves as president of the state chapter of the NAACP and runs her own consulting firm. But what about the convention? I called her last week and again yesterday, but apparently her $10,000 a month doesn't involve dealing with the likes of me. I'm still waiting for the return call and not holding my breath.

Mar. 17, 2004

Gov. Mitt Romney annoyed Democrats yesterday by suggesting they hold their nominating convention at the new South Boston convention center - citing security and convenience - rather than the FleetCenter.

"It would clearly be easier if this were being held at the new convention center ... it doesn't have trains coming into it, subway stops and a big roadway next to it," Romney said. "I would love to see it there."

Mar. 17, 2004

Governor Mitt Romney offered some unsolicited advice to the Democrats yesterday: Move your July national convention from the FleetCenter to the new convention center in South Boston....

"It would clearly be easier if this convention were being held in the new convention center," Romney told reporters. "I anticipate that when people find it difficult to come in and out of the city, they're going to ask a question: 'Why wasn't this held at the new convention center?'" And the answer is, 'This is where the party chose to have their convention.'"

Mar. 17, 2004

Governor Mitt Romney is right. The Democrats ought to consider a change of venue for their presidential nominating convention this summer.

With a new $600 million convention center set to open in June in the self-contained Seaport District, it has never made much sense to stage the Democratic National Convention at the FleetCenter in the congested North Station area. In light of the terrorist train bombings in Spain, it makes even less sense to pack 35,000 convention-goers into an arena directly above a major railway hub. That's not paranoia; it's common sense....

Predictably, Democrats are already attributing dark partisan motives to the Republican governor's good-sense suggestion. That's nonsense.

Mar. 18, 2004

The images have haunted rail commuters for weeks: hour upon hour spent staring out the windows of buses and trains, late for work, stuck in gridlock traffic while delegates to the Democratic National Convention whoop it up in the FleetCenter.

Then Governor Mitt Romney floated the idea of moving the convention site to South Boston, away from the tangle of rail lines and highways near the FleetCenter. Democrats may have brushed off Romney's suggestion, but many commuters at North Station can hardly contain their excitement....

By the time Romney interjected himself, rail commuters had already been complaining that Republicans are planning to keep New York's Penn Station -- near Madison Square Garden -- open during the GOP's convention in August while the Democrats are planning to close North Station for their convention....

Many commuters said they felt ignored, that officials glibly plotted station closings for the sake of the convention without contemplating the possible disruption to their lives....

Unless Democrats act on Romney's advice to move the convention site, many commuters at North Station said they will just leave town.

Mar. 18, 2004

Cracking down on everything from scratched fenders to frayed floor carpets, city officials are forcing a beauty makeover on Boston cab drivers as the Democratic National Convention approaches.

Mar. 18, 2004

When Democrats proclaim their commitment to national security and the nation's economy during their July convention, they want to do it on prime-time network television. That is why they will do it at the FleetCenter, whatever the security concerns, cost, and inconvenience to the local populace....

Luring the networks to Boston is the chief reason why Democrats have no interest in moving the event from the FleetCenter to the city's new convention center. Because of the pictures and the camera angles, they will ignore calls from Republican Governor Mitt Romney or anyone else to relocate to South Boston.

Mar. 18, 2004

With Governor Mitt Romney's suggestion that they move their national convention, Democratic leaders are lashing out at Romney, accusing him of playing politics with the event to harm Senator John F. Kerry's campaign for president.

The comments mark the first time that Democratic elected leaders -- including Mayor Thomas M. Menino and US Representative Michael E. Capuano -- are publicly accusing Romney of standing in the way of a successful Democratic National Convention. Menino said the Romney administration has recently begun to put up "roadblocks" to convention planning.

"It's political mischief," Menino said....

"He wants to make the convention worse for the Democratic Party and the nominee," said Capuano, a Somerville Democrat whose district includes much of Boston. He has been involved in convention planning and is widely discussed as a potential Romney opponent in 2006.

Mar. 19, 2004

National press were decrying the cramped workspace they were being offered at the Fleet. Concerns about public access to the area during the four-day convention were bubbling up. The prospect of closing down Interstate 93 and MBTA commuter rail service was starting to sink in....

Yet Menino's nightmare scenario is in part already coming true. Boston looks ill-prepared to deliver on the promises it made to land the convention.

The Democratic National Committee wants no part of Menino's homegrown union crises.

City residents and commuters are being forced to accept second-class treatment.

And the crushing demand for local money - nearly $40 million and counting - is snuffing out the civic and philanthropic activity that makes this city tick....

But instead of a thoughtful pause, or even a moment's consideration, Romney's suggestion this week that the DNC bash be moved to Southie was met with scorn - from top Democrats, from the Globe and Herald editorial boards, and most of all, from Menino.

Because there can be no heroes in Tom Menino's world.

Mar. 21, 2004

Imagine the baseball playoffs went the other way; you're heading to Boston to watch the World Series, only to discover the Interstate 93 tunnels are closed and commuter rail service to North Station is halted.

That's the quandary an estimated 17,000 Merrimack Valley commuters are contemplating as word trickles out that the Democratic National Convention might turn Boston into a demilitarized zone this summer. 

Security concerns have federal, state and local officials mulling precautions that may slow the daily crawl to a halt for the week of July 26, as some 35,000 party faithful take over Boston's FleetCenter....

"They are going to have to map this out," said Methuen City Councilor Kenneth Willette, a frequent Boston commuter. "I think it's going to be more chaotic than anything the Big Dig incurred," he said. "If I was able to take a train to town, that would be fine. But if they shut down North Station, that's going to be a problem. If they shut down 93, that's going to be a problem. It's just going to be chaos."

Mar. 22, 2004

Caught between pressure to control labor costs and the desire to settle union agreements before the Democratic National Convention, Mayor Thomas M. Menino is offering city employees small raises now but considerably larger ones in subsequent years.

Menino hopes the strategy will entice the 28 unions that remain without agreements -- particularly the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association -- to sign contracts before July's convention....

Menino is coming under increasing pressure to settle city contracts before the Democratic convention, to be held July 26-29 in the FleetCenter.

Mar. 27, 2004

After weeks of tension, Governor Mitt Romney met privately with Mayor Thomas M. Menino yesterday and pledged his support and cooperation in the final months before the Democratic National Convention.

It was the first time Romney and Menino have met privately since the two began trading barbs in the press over issues surrounding the convention....

Romney expressed confidence that the Massachusetts public would accept the inconveniences resulting from the convention and its security requirements.

"I anticipate that the security plans and transportation plans will be thorough and complete, and people will be able to judge for themselves as to the nature of the convention," he said.

Touted benefits expectations downgraded ...
Mar. 28, 2004

"I would not go through the process again to get it," said Haller, who is now director of sales and marketing at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. "I would say it was not worth it. To be honest, having this little NBA All-Star game this year probably did more for the city than the DNC convention did."

Haller's sentiments echo those of other hotel managers and restaurateurs near Los Angeles's Staples Center, site of the 2000 convention. Downtown businesses, they said, were sold on hosting the convention by city officials who projected millions in revenue from rented hotel rooms, bar tabs, restaurant checks and tips, and hours of positive media coverage that would spotlight a once-blighted but revitalized downtown LA and draw tourists.

The Los Angeles convention should serve as both example and warning, some business owners said, for Boston establishments staffing up and hoping for a big boost when the Democrats come to town in July. For all the hype, some businesses just won't see a return, they said....

David Tuerck, executive director of the Beacon Hill Institute, a public policy think tank at Suffolk University, agreed, saying Boston officials need to add the costs of security and other potential convention liabilities to their economic impact projections.

"If the DNC is saying that the delegates are going to spend $150 million, then it's necessary to adjust that figure downward to account for what's lost from the presence of the delegates," Tuerck said.

"Some tourists won't come now because the delegates will be picking up hotel rooms that tourists would have had, and some local residents will be avoiding the area and vacationing elsewhere. All that spending that won't take place would have to be subtracted from spending that will take place in order to arrive at a net effect," he said....

Still, Uno Thimansson, owner of the 285-room Figueroa Hotel, said he will never welcome another political convention back to Los Angeles....

"I don't frankly know why any city would go after a political convention," he said.

Mar. 29, 2004

If experience teaches, here is a lesson for Boston:  Sixteen years ago, as national chairman of the Democratic Party, I selected Atlanta to host our nominating convention....

Atlanta kept its word on every count. The 1988 convention was a huge success, and that host city has reaped the benefits ever since....

Apart from the roughly $150 million in revenues estimated to flow from the convention, it is the residual benefits that can come to Boston if a spirit of cooperation and performance are always at the forefront....

Seize the moment. Celebrate Boston.

Mar. 30, 2004

A new study suggests that the Democratic National Convention will be worth $28 million less to Boston's economy than convention boosters and city officials originally estimated....

"If a delegate goes to buy a T-shirt from a local shop owner for $10 and that shirt is made in China, only about $3 stays with that shop owner," [John Barrett, director of research at Beacon Hill Institute and principal author of the study] said. "The rest goes to pay the people who made the shirt. That $3 is what you want you want to count."

Increased burden ‘unexpectedly mounts ...
nightmare announced
Mar. 31, 2004

It's official - July's Democratic convention will bring a long-feared nightmare scenario for Hub commuters with shutdowns of North Station and the Central Artery.

The two gateways to Boston for thousands of daily commuters from the north and northwest will be closed for security reasons at the FleetCenter convention where Sen. John F. Kerry will accept his party's nomination....

About 25,000 rail commuters use North Station daily, while up to 200,000 motorists use the new I-93 tunnel....

U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Somerville) has suggested that businesses take a week off in July to avoid convention-related inconveniences.

Mar. 31, 2004

State and city officials had hoped for more limited disruption to commuters and had argued that shutting down both the highway and the rail and subway service would create a transportation nightmare the last week of July....

City and state officials declined to comment on the plans, but one person who has sat in on the security planning discussions over the last several months said, "We're just going to have to discourage people from coming into the city that week."

Mar. 31, 2004

The Legislature's Transportation Committee will hold public hearings on plans to close major North of Boston commuter rail lines and roadways into the city during the Democratic National Convention this summer.

State Sen. Steven A. Baddour, the head of the committee, said he is "extremely disappointed" the decision to restrict access was made without notice or conferring with lawmakers and commuters.

He said the hearings will begin in April and include officials from the MBTA, the state Highway Department, Boston police and the Secret Service....

"If I can't get in on the train, I can't work," said Raffi Wengro, 33, a health care provider who works with disabled people in Boston. "It would be a big problem."

Jamie Knapik, 28, of Haverhill said she finds it hard to believe North Station would close.

"I don't see how they can shut down the whole North Station without a plan to get commuters who rely on it to and from work," she said. "That's ridiculous."

Knapik, a paralegal for a Boston law firm, added: "They make such a big deal about wanting people to use public transportation, but then they are going to cancel it without a second thought." ...

"It will be a mess," said George Yameen of Methuen, an account representative at Massachusetts Electric. "Maybe they should increase security or call in the National Guard to help out."

Sherrin Hebb of Boxford said siting the Democratic convention in Boston "was supposed to be a good thing for the town and the state. Now, it's turning out not to be."

Officials use fear of the sky falling ...
Apr. 1, 2004

Commuters leaving Boston during July's Democratic National Convention will probably face a tangled gridlock as a shuttered Central Artery pushes thousands of cars onto local roads during the evening rush hour, officials acknowledged yesterday.

"It could be a zoo," said Karla Karash, vice-president of Transystems, a transit consulting firm.

"Traffic's pretty bad anyway. To take a major facility out (of operation) ... I hope they have a plan," she said.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino and others said the city's best hope might be to frighten people with tales of nightmare traffic jams so many commuters leave town on vacation or call in sick during the Democrats' summer parley.

"What we're doing is ringing the alarm bell and saying the sky is falling," Menino said....

By contrast, Pennsylvania Station, which handles about 600,000 commuters daily, is being kept open during the Republican National Convention in New York a month later.

New York officials are boosting the number of police in the station and riding on trains, but the transit hub, which sits under convention venue Madison Square Garden, will operate normally.

Apr. 1, 2004

It's not clear how lengthy a stretch of I-93 will be closed for the four nights of the convention. But even if a shorter expanse of the road is closed, traffic analysts said, officials would probably encourage motorists to drive around the city.

Southbound drivers on I-93 would then pick up Route 128 at the interchange in Woburn, the most dangerous and heavily travelled cloverleaf in the state....

A state transportation official who asked to remain anonymous said that both the Sumner and Callahan Tunnels could also be closed, forcing more traffic to use the turnpike and the Ted Williams Tunnel.

Apr. 1, 2004

If Democrats could somehow blame the traffic nightmare in Boston during the Democratic National Convention on Republican dirty tricks, we're sure they would. That was the childish reaction to Gov. Mitt Romney's suggestion that they consider moving their event to the new convention center in South Boston because of security concerns.

It's too late for that, but we won't be at all surprised if, come July, event planners wish they had followed Romney's advice.

Apr. 1, 2004

Businesses in downtown Boston are bracing for commuting chaos when the Democratic National Convention comes to town in July, with some planning to close for the week and others asking their employees to take time off, rather than endure interminable trips to and from work.

Yesterday's announcements that North Station will be shuttered for a full week and the Central Artery will be closed during late afternoon and evening kicked off what is likely to be months of frenzied planning by downtown companies and the tens of thousands of workers they employ....

"We can still maintain a level of security, but allow the restaurants and things of that nature in that area to function," said Steven D. Ricciardi, who is helping organize convention security as special agent in charge of the US Secret Service's Boston field office....

Mass. General [Hospital], which employs more than 10,000 people at its sprawling West End campus just a few blocks from the FleetCenter, faces daunting planning challenges for making sure that its workers arrive on time....

It's not just those who work in the city who'll be inconvenienced. Kevin Morrissey of Weymouth said his daily commute to and from Lawrence puts him on Interstate 93 at the very late afternoon time that the roadway will be closed.

"I just think it's crazy that they're going to shut down the main vein of the city just to please all these Democrats," said Morrissey, 38, an Internet application developer. "To inconvenience that many people is absolutely crazy." ...

Scott Nogueria, co-owner of Porters Bar and Grill on Portland Street near the FleetCenter, said he figures he has to stay open during the convention if this summer is to be nearly as productive as previous ones. His bar is already losing out on business that would have been generated by the ten or so concerts the FleetCenter would have hosted in July and August if not for the convention, he said.

Apr. 1, 2004

The Secret Service may be overreacting to the security threat during the Democratic National Convention July 26-29, but commuters from north of Boston will have no choice but to make the best of the disruptions that result....

The proximity of transportation facilities to the Fleet Center, although it poses a security problem during the convention, represents compact urbanism at its best, and the weeklong inconvenience is a small price to pay for that.

Apr. 1, 2004

The Secret Service may be overreacting to the security threat during the Democratic National Convention July 26-29, but commuters from north of Boston will have no choice but to make the best of the disruptions that result....

The proximity of transportation facilities to the Fleet Center, although it poses a security problem during the convention, represents compact urbanism at its best, and the weeklong inconvenience is a small price to pay for that.

Apr. 1, 2004

Editorial cartoon by O'Mahoney, Patriot Ledger

Apr. 2, 2004

A curse on all things PC
By Barbara Anderson

Apr. 2, 2004

Do the math on what Boston will actually lose come July - as the DNC lays waste to our civil order - and the $154 million dividend Mayor Thomas M. Menino keeps crowing about starts to look mighty small.

The Sail Boston hit alone is an $85 million net loss, event organizers said.

The U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials? That's $15 million gone. The Reebok Pro Summer League? Almost $2 million more. Thank the DNC....

Let's get this straight, John Kerry is running for president on a platform to create 10 million new jobs.

And the contingency plan to make life bearable during the Dems' convention is for the whole city to bang in sick for a week? ...

I count about $110 million so far to be debited from that $154 million. And we haven't even touched on the $40 million worth of corporate philanthropic and charitable contributions the convention has vacuumed up.

Apr. 2, 2004

It may be a party, but it's not fair.

That's the attitude of some Bay Staters when comparing the massive disruptions expected during July's Democratic National Convention to the Republican confab in New York a month later....

That Boston edifice stands to be the hub of a transportation nightmare with the week-long closing of North Station and the intermittent shuttering of Interstate 93.

Yet Pennsylvania Station beneath Madison Square Garden will stay open...

Apr. 3, 2004

Wary Bay State officials yesterday vowed to beef up security efforts in the wake of a new FBI/Homeland Security alert that terrorists may try to bomb buses and rail lines in major U.S. cities this summer....

U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Somerville) said while the bulletin was vaguely worded and cited no specific credible threat, such warnings should be taken "reasonably seriously" - particularly since commuter trains run under the FleetCenter, site of the July Democratic National Convention.

"The convention is a clear and logical potential target - but, given all the security, it would also be one of the hardest to hit," he said.

Apr. 3, 2004

Metropolitan leaders are breathing a sigh of relief after learning yesterday that the expected evening gridlock for commuters leaving Boston during July's Democratic National Convention may not be as bad as feared.

Several who met privately with Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole and Mayor Thomas M. Menino said they were told I-93 will likely not be closed until after the evening rush hour from July 26 to 29, close to the 7 p.m. convention starting time....

"On a normal day, more than 65,000 cars drive through Somerville on McGrath and O'Brien Highway alone," said Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone. "If you close 93, that number will probably double."

Curtatone said Menino assured the mayors that convention planners will work closely with them as transportation details are ironed out. Still, Curtatone said it will likely cost Somerville "tens of thousands of dollars" in police and fire overtime pay.

Apr. 4, 2004

Boston magazine editor Jon Marcus checked in on Friday - after we threw cold water on the DNC's projected $154 million in economic impact - to remind folks of a BoMag piece from July 2003 by one-time Herald scribe Phil Primack.

"If reporters put down their pompoms long enough to pick up their calculators, they might find the claims of an economic bonanza suspect," the prescient Primack wrote last summer. "Judging from past national political conventions in other cities, we may ultimately look back on the summer of 2004 and wonder what the hell we were thinking." ...

Of course, things have only gotten worse since Primack forecast the future. Sail Boston 2004 was relocated at an estimated loss of $85 million in spending. And the long-feared scenario of I-93 and North Station being forced to close has come to fruition.

Apr. 6, 2004

Pat and Walter McKay of Wayland have a simple question: Why do we need a political convention?

"What are we doing this for?" asked Walter yesterday. "Have you figured it out yet?"

Conventions used to be for picking candidates. Not anymore. John Kerry's supposed to pick a running mate in June, after which he and his would-be vice president can pose for yet another Kerry photo in his floor-to-ceiling, wood-paneled Louisburg Square townhouse with a model schooner bigger than most people's kitchens....

Here's how it looks: Like everybody's just trying to placate the neighborhoods before The Passion of the Fleet Center Mother-of-All-Traffic-Jams begins. Back to Pat and Walter McKay from Wayland. "I'm still not sure," said Walter, "what the advantage of having the convention here is." Except, once again, for the dancing girls and shrimp at the Sheraton, which he won't be sampling, either.

Apr. 7, 2004

A strong majority of Greater Boston residents believe that hosting the Democratic National Convention will be worth the hassles, a sentiment fueled by expectations that the convention will boost Boston's image around the country and trigger increased economic activity, a Boston Globe poll indicates.

But nearly two-thirds of those polled opposed the use of city or state tax dollars to cover convention costs, even as they become increasingly convinced that organizers will fail in their goal of raising all the cash they need from the private sector....

Convention organizers maintain that they'll be able to raise enough money to finance the convention's $64.5 million budget without leaning on city or state taxpayers. But only 31 percent of respondents said they believe that will happen, with 50 percent saying they expect the city or the state "will wind up having to contribute funds to cover the cost."

Apr. 7, 2004

Boston's Democratic National Convention host committee has raised only $1 million since the beginning of March and is still $6.5 million shy of its $39.5 million fund-raising target, officials said yesterday.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino and officials at the Boston 2004 host committee said they remain confident they will meet their fiscal goals well before the convention. But it was a disappointing showing in a month that was expected to be especially fruitful.

Organizers had predicted that once Senator John Kerry became the presumptive nominee, donations would pour in.

With the convention less than four months away, and with security and transportation costs expected to rise, pressure on fundraisers is mounting. Menino has pledged not to funnel city funds to the convention, but said yesterday that if costs balloon or if the host committee can't raise enough in private donations, he may be forced to.

Apr. 8, 2004

Bostonians are glad the Democratic National Convention is coming to town in July, a new poll shows, but they strongly oppose use of state and local taxes to cover the deficit of the $65 million affair. The pollsters didn’t ask us, but that goes double for taxpayers here in the vast hinterland beyond the Route 128 beltway.

Apr. 12, 2004

Maybe the "take a vacation" idea isn't so bad after all when it comes to the Democratic National Convention.

Not so bad for Les Marino, at least.

The Modern Continental Construction czar could be in line for a $1 million holiday if some convention planners get their way....

Marino's company is handling two major Big Dig contracts that in part occupy the "hard security zone" near the FleetCenter....

Convention planners, according to Big Dig sources, ideally want work shut down on those two projects during the entire month of July.

At an estimated cost of $200,000 to $250,000 per week, that would mean up to $1 million worth of work put on ice in the heart of the construction season.

But it doesn't mean Marino won't collect.

On the contrary, Modern Continental would essentially be paid for not working while Boston does its thing for democracy.

‘Financial bonanza’ balloon is popped
Apr. 13, 2004

Thousands of Boston commuters delayed by subway and road closings for the Democratic National Convention will cost area businesses $23.8 million in lost productivity and push the economic impact of the event into the red, according to a new study by a local think tank.

The convention, scheduled for the week of July 25, was hailed by Mayor Thomas M. Menino's office as a boon to Boston, reaping millions of dollars in economic gains. But the Beacon Hill Institute determined that transportation and other costs will outweigh the benefits of 35,000 convention delegates and visitors who will converge on Boston's hotels, restaurants, and attractions....

"It now seems clear the convention is going to represent a net loss to the Boston economy rather than a net gain," said David Tuerck, the executive director of The Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University, which initially estimated a $122 million gain, prior to learning of transportation delays....

Fred Carstensen, the director of the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis at the University of Connecticut, said public officials often overstate an event's economic benefits. For example, he said the mayor's study estimated 35,000 convention guests would spend about $353 per day, or $61.6 million total, during their Boston stay. That is "probably twice" the true number, he said. "The mayor's office should never be providing estimates of its own initiatives because they're always going to be painted in rosy terms."

Asked about the Beacon Hill study, he said its estimates of delegate and visitor spending about $48.5 million may be $20 million too high. But he said its estimates of lost activity seem "more accurate." "You always have to include negatives" in a complete economic impact study, he said.

Apr. 15, 2004

If there is one thing that Boston's politicians, journalists, and corporate eminentos seem to know for a fact, it is that the Democratic National Convention will more than pay for itself by showering the city's economy with $150 million in new economic activity....

There's just one thing wrong with this lucrative convention dividend. It's pie in the sky. According to an analysis released this week by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University, the convention's net impact on Boston's economy won't be a gain of $150 million but a loss of $12.8 million....

None of this is meant as an argument against hosting political conventions. It's an argument against forcing taxpayers to subsidize political conventions and then telling them lies about what they're getting for their money.

Apr. 21, 2004

As Boston plans to bring in hundreds of reinforcements for the Democratic National Convention, the Secret Service has reportedly raised concerns about the size of the city's police and fire departments.

Secret Service officials meeting with the city two weeks ago at Florian Hall in Dorchester said Boston has fewer resources than any other city where a major "national security event" has been held, a source told the Herald.

"They said Boston has the smallest police and fire department they've ever had to deal with in this kind of a venue," the source said.

Apr. 23, 2004

Party planners who were given the nod to plan the delegation receptions were informed this week that the budget for said shindigs will be exactly $100 per person. That C-note has to stretch an awfully long way, they say: burgundy and bourbon for delegates in the mood for a party; substantial hors d'oeuvre; flowers, and lighting, and linens, and live bands.

Some party planners, used to more highfalutin affairs, said yesterday they are bowing out of the delegate party game.

Apr. 25, 2004

The president of the International Association of Fire Fighters is blasting Mayor Thomas M. Menino for his handling of city union negotiations, saying Menino will be responsible for leaving Democrats with a "mess on our hands" if he doesn't move quickly to sign contracts before this July's Democratic National Convention....

In addition, the leaders of several unions -- including the firefighters -- are refusing to contribute to the convention host committee while their local affiliates work without contracts. The host committee, which is led by Menino, remains $6.5 million short of its $39.5 million fund-raising goal, and top committee members have said they expected unions to help raise the full amount.

Apr. 30, 2004

Public watchdog groups have criticized Republicans for using a charitable group to help host lavish parties at this summer's presidential nominating convention, but Democrats are now employing the same strategy.

Democrats are inviting corporations to contribute up to $100,000 to attend the "Rockin' on the Dock of the Bay" party in Boston on July 28, the night before Senator John F. Kerry is expected to be formally nominated to challenge President Bush. The event's official beneficiary is the National Childhood Cancer Foundation's "CureSearch" program, but the trappings are overtly political.

May 5, 2004

Less than three months before Democratic National Convention delegates arrive in Boston, organizers still need to raise another $4.5 million for the extravaganza - more than $50,000 a day.

May 5, 2004

Menino has said repeatedly that tax dollars will not have to be used to help pay for the convention, and the budget proposal he filed last month reflected that promise....

Still, Governor Mitt Romney has rebuffed Menino's efforts to get the state to pitch in, saying the city should be responsible for paying for an event Menino helped lure. Councilor at Large Maura Hennigan, a frequent Menino critic, said she and the unions would keep a close eye on any city resources Menino tries to direct to the convention, since city taxpayers have been promised that their money won't be used for the event.

May 6, 2004

The upcoming Democratic National Convention poses "a lot of problems" for cops because of the city's relatively small police force, narrow streets and downtown public buildings, the Hub's top FBI agent said yesterday.

"It's going to be a strain on law enforcement," FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Ken Kaiser said during a meeting with the Herald yesterday. "You look at New York City and they have 38,000 cops. We've got 2,000 state troopers and 2,000 (Boston police officers). It's going to be a tremendous challenge."

May 6, 2004

Boston officials have issued new rules requiring groups to get additional approval before they can legally protest or hold other public events during the week of the Democratic National Convention.

Civil liberties groups and Boston's main police union object that the application process, set up by the city exclusively for the week of the convention, will compromise their right to free speech. They say that Boston officials have erected a bureaucratic maze that will complicate and extend the process of getting approval....

Critics of the new guidelines say they give the city wider discretion to deny permits and extend the process from what is currently about three days to as much as a month. Officials with the lawyers guild and the patrolmen's association said they are considering taking legal action against the city if their concerns are not addressed....

In Los Angeles, where Democrats held their convention in 2000, the city kept in place its regular event-permitting process for the week of the convention. But that process was deemed too restrictive, and the city was forced to relax permitting rquirements after civil liberties groups challenged them in court. A federal judge ordered Los Angeles to establish a protest area closer to the convention site just weeks before the 2000 convention was to begin.

May 6. 2004

It may be the city's turn in the national limelight, but in two important respects, it will be just like any other week in Beantown: The liquor will stop flowing at 2 a.m., and there will be no smoking in bars and restaurants.

May 7, 2004

The Democratic National Convention is to economic benefits as Iraq is to weapons of mass destruction: a policy in search of a new rationale. Proponents sold the convention as a cornucopia of monetary delights, a flood of new wealth to the region. Now, new studies predict it may actually be an economic drag.

So should we call a halt to the whole thing? Tell the Dems to find another city? Or just grit our teeth and go forward, vowing never to do this again?

No to all of the above.

May 8, 2004

Making an end-run around city unions that are refusing to help with the Democratic National Convention until they have contracts, Mayor Thomas M. Menino is appealing directly to private-sector unions for convention donations and a key labor agreement needed to complete preparations of the FleetCenter before delegates and news media arrive in late July....

With construction set to begin at the FleetCenter June 8, leaders of building trade unions say they will break ranks with their public-sector counterparts if they feel they have to, to ensure that convention business goes to their members....

But even if that deal is finalized, 29 of the city's 32 bargaining units will still be working without contracts. Several unions, led by the patrolmen, are threatening to picket outside the convention if they don't have deals in place....

The public-employee unions view the convention mainly as a bargaining chip that can win them concessions from the city in the current round of contract negotiations.

May 9, 2004

Maybe it's the warm weather, or the Red Sox' homestand, but the network camera crews are starting to arrive, doing their preconvention pieces, trying to get ahead of the curve on the disasters to come, and can we all agree that there will be more than a few? ...

Anyone with any sense will be long gone from Boston before the last week in July. But if you are stuck here, and get into trouble, just remember that there's one excuse that will always work that week.

"It's all President Bush's fault."

May 9, 2004

In preparation for the Democratic National Convention, Boston police are getting training from Israeli suicide terrorism specialists and crowd-control tacticians in Northern Ireland and Philadelphia, where police cracked down on protesters during the 2000 Republican convention, according to a document obtained by the Globe....

"The city will see unprecedented security for this event," said Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole....

State officials have already said they will close Interstate 93 while the convention is in session and the North Station MBTA station will be closed. Several businesses in the area, including Massachusetts General Hospital and several court buildings, are cutting back operations during the week the delegates are in town.

May 10, 2004

So the threat of protest has been good for city unions, who are seeing long-stalled negotiations move quickly. But that won't do any good for the political protesters who can't be bought off by raises or loosened residency requirements.

The city is required by law to designate an area for protesters, though it has yet to do so. Ideally, it won't follow the lead of Los Angeles, which four years ago established a protest zone so far away that it was struck down in court.

The manageable traffic nightmare worsens
May 11. 2004

The process of shutting down Interstate 93 during the upcoming Democratic National Convention will begin up to three hours prior to the 7 p.m. start that security planners have announced, state and city officials say, and will disrupt the end-of-the-day commute more extensively than originally believed.

Boston transportation planners and mayors of cities north of Boston expressed relief last month when it was announced that I-93 would close at 7 p.m. on the four nights of the July 26-29 convention, which would allow most commuters to get home before the vital north-south artery was sealed....

State officials continue to hope that commuters will stay away from the city the last week of July.

"We're making sure people know: This will be a rugged commuting week," said Flynn. Those who cannot stay away should give themselves plenty of extra time and take mass transit, he said.

The transit option for commuters north of Boston, however, is also problematic. North Station will be closed, and commuter trains will stop at points north of the city and transfer riders to the subway and special buses.

The inevitable cost overruns arrive on time
May 13, 2004

The price tag for FleetCenter construction and event production for the Democratic National Convention could be as much as 40 percent higher than originally budgeted, forcing the party and local organizers to consider cutting back on spending or asking presidential candidate John F. Kerry to help close the gap....

One convention organizer said that the production figure, originally pegged at $5.9 million, has exceeded $8 million and that the construction cost estimates, once pegged at $7.2 million, now top $10 million....

The host committee is also facing a $4.6 million shortfall in fund-raising to meet its $49.5 million budget; $10 million of the total is to be in-kind contributions.

May 14, 2004

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, chairman of the Democratic National Convention, yesterday expressed confidence that rising costs will not prevent the party from putting on an event that can provide all the "pizzazz" needed to showcase John Kerry's presidential candidacy....

"I am not concerned about it," Richardson told reporters after a brief tour of the convention hall where Democrats will convene in July. "I wouldn't even call them cost overruns. These are projections."

Meanwhile, an association that represents contractors that use nonunion workers tweaked convention organizers by saying the party could save up to half, or about $1.4 million, of the extra costs for the construction work if it allowed nonunionized companies to bid on the work.

"Higher prices result from less competition and restricting construction to union-only firms cuts out the 80 percent of construction firms that choose not to sign with unions," said Greg Beeman, the president of Associated Builders and Contractors of Massachusetts....

"We are a union city," Menino said. "I would rather pay to have to well-trained experts do the jobs and get the benefits.

May 15, 2004

The National Democratic Committee is concerned because it hasn't raised the amount of money it feels is needed to adequately host the Democratic National Convention in Boston in July.

Why haven't faithful party members ponied up all the $50 million plus for the four-day event?

Perhaps it's because they don't want to waste money on something that has no lasting value....

If all else fails, and the DNC comes looking for additional state or federal money, the answer should be a very firm no.

May 16, 2004

In his rush to secure labor harmony in time for this summer's Democratic National Convention, Mayor Thomas M. Menino is on the verge of throwing $1.4 million of donors' contributions to the DNC down the drain.

Construction costs related to the four-day event have grown from $7.2 million to $10 million, but Menino is doggedly pursuing a project labor agreement anyway, guaranteed to keep prices sky-high....

"Why would an event with a massive deficit not take rational steps to save over $1 million?" asked Greg Beeman, the executive director of Associated Builders and Contractors, a nonunion construction trade association. "It is fiscally irresponsible."

It sure is, and it says a lot about the agenda of Menino - and nominee John F. Kerry, for that matter - that wasting so much money is just fine with them.

Democrat's manageable’ traffic nightmare final solution:
Commuters, stay home!”
(‘It's our party, you can cry if you want to ...’)
May 19, 2004

The Democratic National Convention traffic nightmare feared by Boston commuters looks likely to become a reality under security measures to be unveiled tomorrow....

Some of the measures had been publicly discussed as a potential worst-case scenario. At tomorrow's sold-out briefing, business people will learn their worst dreams will come true.

One source familiar with the plans city officials will put forth said they will suggest a partial solution ...

According to another source who is close to the city's business leaders and is familiar with convention-week planning, organizers have a simple and blunt message for people who work in Boston:  "Stay home."

May 19, 2004

Boston's main police union is planning to set up a picket line at the FleetCenter when construction begins for the Democratic National Convention in three weeks, and has applied for 29 additional permits to protest outside of the delegation welcome parties scheduled for the night before the convention begins in late July....

The moves are not likely to disrupt convention preparations. Trade union leaders say they would not honor a patrolmen's association picket line and plan to begin work at the FleetCenter by the scheduled June 8 start date. Most delegates from around the country, meanwhile, will probably not boycott convention activities because of a local labor dispute, according to national Democratic officials.

May 20, 2004

The motoring public will have no access to surface parking lots anywhere near the FleetCenter during the Democratic National Convention, and parking garages in the area will be sharply restricted, according to draft plans set to be discussed at a special briefing for business leaders this morning....

The closure of I-93, which passes by the FleetCenter, will begin at some outlying entrance ramps and feeder roads -- Route 128, the Massachusetts Turnpike, and the Sumner Tunnel, for example -- around 4 p.m., state officials say.

May 20, 2004

What if you set up a picket line and everyone crosses it? That's the pickle the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association finds itself in as it plans nuisance pickets leading up to the Democratic National Convention.

The union's grand strategist Thomas Nee didn't count on union "brothers" and Democratic supplicants dissing his in-your-face plan.

“We’re road kill: Mayor tells us to stay away while Dems play”
(‘It's our party, you can cry if you want to ...’)
May 21, 2004

Unprecedented security will turn Boston into a fortress during this summer's Democratic National Convention as commuters face gridlock at every turn - all for a made-for-TV event starring an already certain presidential nominee.

Every major roadway feeding the city's downtown will be affected, either with closures or limited hours and access, officials announced yesterday.

And public transportation won't be much of an alternative as trains, buses, even ferries are stopped or stalled for security purposes....

Menino - urging "flexibility" to "work around" the traffic mess - urged employers to let their workers telecommute, work off-site, stagger work hours or just go away in order to minimize the convention congestion.

May 21, 2004

Traffic tie-ups the likes of which we've never seen will choke Boston at the north and south ends of Interstate 93, flooding nearby communities with motorists trying to avoid related backups on Route 128 and the Pike.

Still largely unrevealed: The Back Bay and Beacon Hill won't escape the DNC grip that many figured would be limited to North Station and Government Center....

"Our best guess is we are going to significantly impact traffic on the interstate highway system," State Police Maj. Michael Mucci said yesterday. There may be some times - Mucci said with enough humor that you knew he was serious - that a commuter's best option might be to "turn around and go home."

May 21, 2004

And, yes, we know it's only four days - not long in the life of a city or a region and its people - but the news just keeps getting worse. You would think a city that routinely hosts the Boston Marathon and threw a super-sized party for its Super Bowl winning Patriots could handle the crowds....

Yesterday the other shoe dropped - and a huge jackboot of a shoe it was....

There is no getting around it now, this is nothing short of horrifying. If the idea is to so frighten and intimidate regular commuters into simply taking vacation or working at home, then this is a great strategy. If the idea is to show convention delegates and the media how a world class city deals with a major event and still keeps its composure, then this is simply not going to work....

Convention organizers say they'll help commuters cope with a public information campaign, called "Let's Work Around It." But the plans announced so far would more accurately be dubbed, "Just shut up and stay home."

May 21, 2004

Editorial cartoon by Jerry Holbert, Boston Herald

May 21, 2004

Plans to divert traffic away from the Hub and into surrounding communities during the Democratic National Convention has mayors of those cities fuming.

May 21, 2004

Shocked commuters yesterday blasted their horns at the Secret Service's plan to block off miles of Interstate 93 at rush hour during July's Democratic Convention.

"It's going to be an inconvenience to a lot of people," said Jack Salvucci of Medford. "It's not necessary. It's overkill."

May 21, 2004

After suggesting in March that the Democrats move their convention to South Boston, Gov. Mitt Romney is now resigned to the FleetCenter - despite the draconian security plan released yesterday....

Estimates on building a seating bowl and staging for broadcast booths at the new convention center ran as high as $20 million. The Host Committee would have been on the hook for another $3.5 million to break the FleetCenter deal.

"You have to wonder why they built it like that if it's not ready for the big time," said Tobe Berkovitz, Boston University communications professor.

May 21, 2004

Suburban firms will be hit hard by the shutdown of highways and commuter lines during the Democratic Convention in July.

"The impact is going to be devastating," said David McLaughlin, chief operating officer of Kellaway Intermodal and Distribution Systems Inc., a trucking company in Randolph.

May 21, 2004

Mayor Thomas M. Menino has this message for panicked commuters, residents and business owners: Have faith....

He trumpeted plans for a PR campaign like no other, featuring TV and radio ads, newspaper stories and constant updates on SmartRoutes.

Pols say it's the savvy thing to do. "What's the old saying? Success has a thousand fathers and defeat ... well," said U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Somerville). 

And, if all else fails, Menino could well be back at church quite a bit between now and July 26.

May 21, 2004

The staggering scope of the security measures for the Democratic National Convention became clear yesterday, as state and federal authorities detailed changes that surpassed the worst fears of many residents and businesses: nearly 40 miles of major roadway closures, a vehicle-free zone around the FleetCenter, and parking bans that will extend through the Back Bay....

"It's a harsh reality," said Joseph Curtatone, the mayor of Somerville, where drivers seeking alternative routes home are expected to flood streets. "We understand the security concerns, but the traffic, the congestion -- it's going to be a nightmare." 

May 21, 2004

Last month, Mayor Thomas M. Menino stood before a bank of television cameras to encourage all Boston-area residents to take part in Democratic National Convention events. The convention host committee captured the theme in the name of its public relations campaign: Celebrate Boston 2004.

Yesterday Menino was back in front of the cameras but with a very different message. Stay home for the week ...

Still, convention organizers acknowledge the four-day event will drastically affect thousands of commuters. That's why they are asking employers to let workers take vacations or work earlier in the day, and why they have taken extraordinary steps like asking hospitals not to schedule elective surgeries during convention week.

May 21, 2004

Businesses were jolted into reality yesterday by a briefing on the impact of road and mass-transit shutdowns in downtown Boston during the Democratic National Convention at the FleetCenter....

"No one will get into the inner perimeter once we close it," said Major Michael Mucci, head of convention traffic for the Massachusetts State Police. "Our best guess is we are going to severely impact traffic on the interstate highway system." ...

Despite employers' best efforts, city and police officials left no doubt that rush hour will be an enormous challenge for the city's employers and commuters. At yesterday's briefing, Mucci said the plan presented was "revision 421" and he expects more revisions before the convention.

May 21, 2004

Not all workers will be part of the exodus, however. Public safety, hospital, and hospitality workers are among those who can expect to be on the job that week, regardless of the traffic tie-ups and confusion....

At Massachusetts General Hospital, emergency room doctors have been told: no vacations the week of the convention. With up to 50,000 visitors expected in Boston the week of the convention, hospital officials said most of MGH's 15,000-member staff will be on duty in the event of accidents or a terrorist attack.

Bonnie Michelman, director of police security and outside services, said the hospital has set aside rooms at a Holiday Inn for workers who will not be able to get home.

May 21, 2004

The extent of these road closures makes clear that the FleetCenter presents security challenges more severe than anyone could have appreciated when Boston was bidding to be the convention host. Even so, a fuller explanation is needed to show that traffic restrictions are dictated by security, not convenience.

May 21, 2004

MetroWest will be a dumping ground for traffic heading to and from Boston during this summer's Democratic National Convention as state officials impose a rush-hour security clamp on the city's central artery.

The commuting nightmare could be compounded by last-minute exit closures along the Massachusetts Turnpike and other access roads heading into the city, a possibility that sparked disagreement among the state's transportation and safety officials yesterday. The DNC will be held at the FleetCenter in Boston between July 26 and 29....

"We've had no review of any of these issues," said Turnpike board member Christy Mihos. "I always see the glass as three-quarters full, but what I'm envisioning here could be all of the worst combined for people who just have to get to work."

Jordan Levy, who also sits on the Pike's board, voiced frustration over the highway department's wait-and-see attitude and downplayed the apparent gaps in directing traffic from I-93 to Rte. 128 and roads along MetroWest. Still, even Levy's assurance that the security and transportation plans will dovetail before the convention was mixed with trepidation.

"If that's the best that MassHighway can do for planning, then they've got big problems over there," he said. "This thing's turning out to be a total nightmare."

May 21, 2004

Who but Democrats would justify closing down greater-Boston just so they can have their party. Their latest PR cover-up, the newest catchy slogan "Let's work around it," pretty much sums up Democrats. They think everyone gets a government pay check just for existing, that we can all just take a sick-day or four and still get paid. They have no inkling that the rest of us have to work at real jobs for a living, most have to commute to and from those jobs, tens of thousands of citizens are about to be direly inconvenienced or even blocked from work and pay -- just so selfish Democrats can have their meaningless party.

As the Boston Herald editorial observed today, the DNC's bottom line is "Just shut up and stay home."

"Just shut up and stay home ... and open your wallets to pay for our party" is coming next.

CLT Update:  "Democrats hijack state, declare martial law for their party"

Kerry thumbs his nose at DNC convention,
unsolicited hardships
May 22, 2004

Sen. John F. Kerry may stall his presidential nomination until after Boston's convention to boost fund raising, a threat that left stunned locals wondering why the traffic-snarling security nightmare is even necessary.

The unprecedented delay tactic could make the four-day Democratic National Convention meaningless. And it immediately raised a wave of legal questions - including whether the Homeland Security designation will be lifted and if the organizing committee would be wrongly spending taxpayer dollars on the event....

"I feel bad for the hundreds of thousands of commuters who are going to be inconvenienced simply for a political pep rally," said Darrell Crate, chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party....

"Only John Kerry could be for a nominating convention, but be against the nomination," Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman said....

A Democratic source said officials are investigating a plan to change party rules to allow delegates to recess the convention before delegates vote - allowing them to vote by Internet or proxy sometime before Sept. 1....

A spokesman at the Federal Election Commission said money can be spent only for "nominating conventions" defined as meetings by major political parties that "choose" a nominee.

If Kerry isn't nominated here, all the Boston spending could be called into question.

May 22, 2004

For John Kerry, leaving Boston at the altar would be all about the money.

A $75 million dowry, to be exact.

May 22, 2004

Many Bay State voters forced to put up with a week of gridlock because of the Democratic National Convention will consider themselves slapped in the face if Sen. John F. Kerry doesn't accept the nomination here.

"I think (that would be) a cheap shot from the junior senator to all of his supporters in Massachusetts," said Henry Santoro, who is preparing for the worst as he commutes daily from Brookline to Lynn. "It's just one of those cases of 'Get your ass here and get the job done.' This is an anybody-but-Bush-state. Do not put us on hold."

James Murphy, who runs a painting and contracting company out of Swampscott, said he can't believe Kerry would snub his homestaters.

"How does a senator of a state - when the DNC is here - not honor his state by declaring his nomination here?" said Murphy, 38. "I would wonder if whether this, in the long run, is going to work against him. I very well think it could." ...

If Kerry decides not to accept the nomination during the Boston convention, one small business owner on Causeway Street has a piece of advice.

"They should cancel it," said Skip Perry, owner of Cyberphoto Inc., which is across the street from the FleetCenter. "This kind of just turns it into a Kerry-Kennedy-Menino 'hurrah' type of thing."

Santoro said he was fuming about Mayor Thomas M. Menino's "get over it" response to the traffic.

"Who the hell is Mayor Menino to tell us to take the week off?" he said. "How does he explain that to people who live paycheck to paycheck?"

May 22, 2004

North Station business owners, many of them bracing to get economically clobbered due to tight security at the Democratic National Convention at the FleetCenter in July, reacted yesterday with stunned disbelief that U.S. Sen John Kerry (D-Mass.) might not even accept the nomination for president at the event....

"This highlights what a mockery conventions have become," said Jason Adkins, a partner at Adkins Kelston & Zavec PC, a 20-employee Canal Street law firm that expects its business to be "dramatically" disrupted.

"It sounds like it's turning into one big, expensive party," he said....

Don Hooper, a designer at Lee Kimball Kitchens Inc. on Canal Street, said for Kerry not to accept the nomination at the convention - a strategic move suggested by the Kerry campaign yesterday - makes it a "wasted" event....

"Who's going to pay my rent?" asked a frustrated Pam Troung, owner of Canal Street's Perfect Nails, which plans to close during the convention. "Someone should pay my rent for the week."

May 22, 2004

Stalling his presidential nomination might end up costing Sen. John F. Kerry the one thing he really wants at a convention - live prime-time television.

At least one major television network yesterday frowned on the idea of Kerry delaying.

"If this comes to pass, we don't like hearing about one more piece of news that will not happen at a convention," said Mark Lukasiewicz, executive producer of NBC News' election coverage.

"I'm a news person. I like covering news." ...

Network executives have long balked at covering what amounts to a scripted four-day political infomercial and have curtailed coverage in recent years. Organizers of this year's Democratic convention were going out of their way to woo the networks - floating ideas such as a camera-friendly "in the round" setup.

May 22, 2004

Peter Tarlow, a Texas-based tourism security expert who has worked on security at the Salt Lake City Olympics, said the transportation security measures sound about right for an event like a major political party's convention....

Reducing the risk of a terrorist attack to a reasonable level in a dense urban area inevitably causes disruptions, he said.

"I think that's something Boston should have thought about when it bid on the convention," Tarlow said.

‘Financial bonanza’ myth shattered; economic losses grow
(‘It's our party, you can cry if you want to ...’)
May 22, 2004

In the space of two months, the Democratic National Convention has gone from a $154 million boon to Boston to a potential $50 million hit to the local economy as businesses absorb the magnitude of the announced highway, street, and mass-transit closings.

A ghost town was effectively the picture portrayed by downtown merchants and businesses this week when they learned that commuters, customers, and tourists would stay away during the convention, which begins July 26. Economists say the reduction in the city's downtown work force, losses to tourism, retail, and eating establishments, plus lost productivity for workers tied up in crowded subway stations or massive traffic jams will add up to a huge negative impact on metropolitan Boston and its economy.

Economists' conservative estimates of the loss range from $34.3 million to $49.8 million for the week, but some forecasts say the potential losses could be much higher if the effect on suburban communities is factored in as well....

Last month, Mayor Thomas M. Menino's office said the event would pour $154 million into the city. Convention planners declined comment on the new numbers, but Seth Gitell, Menino's spokesman, said yesterday, "Mayor Menino is confident that when all is said and done and we look back with an historical eye, this convention will be an economic plus." ...

The mounting predictions of economic losses are undercutting early promotion of the convention as a boon to Boston....

No estimates were available yesterday on the impact to suburbs, which will clearly feel negative spillover. In the worst case, said Mark Zandi, chief economist for, the metropolitan area could lose $300 million in economic output from road closings.

May 22, 2004

Raising the stakes for the city and state, too, the Democratic Party has received about $15 million in taxpayer funds to hold its nominating convention. Trevor Potter, a former FEC chairman who is now president of the independent Campaign Legal Center, predicts that Democrats would probably have to return the money if the event did not produce a nominee. "If this convention doesn't produce a nominee in Boston, what's the point?" Potter said.

Some campaign-finance watchdogs chided Kerry for fearing a Bush money advantage when, in the first four months of 2004, Kerry raised $85 million to the Bush campaign's $65 million. Kerry has also benefited from a collection of Democratic-leaning groups that are running ads and promoting the party's agenda....

Holding a convention without officially choosing a nominee could also anger voters in Kerry's home state. "People will be inconvenienced for four days, and he isn't even going to accept the nomination," said Dan Payne, a Democratic political consultant....

Mayor Thomas Menino told WBZ-TV, "I was very surprised by it." This week's announcements of road closings for the convention have already taken a toll, he said. "After being beat up two days, and now this.... It's just a question about why this wasn't brought up earlier."

The final “inevitable”  piece drops in place:
Boston Globe (naturally) first to call for taxpayer bailout!

(‘It's our party, you can cry if you want to ...’)
May 22, 2004

This extra transit service will cost about $5 million, but the Legislature has put the T under tight budget constraints. The Democratic convention will put the state in the national spotlight. The Romney administration and the Legislature should compensate the T for extra spending on what has become a transportation emergency.

May 22, 2004

Back in January 2003, citing security concerns, the Boston Police Department urged the local host committee for the Democratic National Convention to abandon its plan to hold the event in the FleetCenter, according to a high-level police official in Massachusetts. Convention organizers rejected that advice in part because of leasing and contractual agreements, according to the official....

"It was a nonstarter," said Burns, adding that she never raised the issue with the Democratic National Committee.

May 22, 2004

As if support for the mess called the DNC '04 convention hasn't all but collapsed, leave it to the Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee go stomp it into its grave a bit harder. For his insatiable love of money (aka, greed), he's apparently willing to remove whatever rationale the Democrats had for staging this disaster, now debating with himself whether or not he'll accept the nomination ... or wait to engage in unprecedented money games....

Sen. Kerry should do himself and all of us a big favor and tell his crowd he's taking Mayor Menino's advice, he's not coming into Boston during the gridlocked convention. Tell those Democrat delegates from around the country that they should follow the mayor's advice too and just "stay home," take a vacation somewhere else instead of wasting their and our time.

CLT Update: "Kerry drives DNC convention wreck off bridge"

May 23, 2004

"It's going to make a mockery out of the nomination process for the Democratic Party," said Boston City Councilor James M. Kelly. "People come from across the country, and the purpose of them being here is to nominate a candidate for the party."

If Kerry goes ahead with the delay, Kelly predicted "frustration and anger" among city residents and convention delegates who find, on top of traffic jams, that their part in history has been taken from them....

In one scenario outlined by a Kerry spokeswoman, Stephanie Cutter, delegates would skip the usual vote to approve a nomination, but would vote at the end of the convention to reconvene in September to choose a nominee. Democratic nominating rules would have to be changed to allow the delay, and delegates would vote by Internet or proxy on Sept. 1 to confirm Kerry's nomination....

Republican leaders ridiculed the plan last week, saying Kerry was trying to have it both ways, and lamenting that thousands of commuters would be inconvenienced for a "pep rally." ...

"It's a slap in the face, no matter how you look at it," said Barbara Anderson, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Limited Taxation. Anderson called it "beyond absurd" to disrupt the city if Kerry does not accept the nomination at the convention.

"They have no right to shut down a city to have a party," she said. "Why don't they all just vote by e-mail, or fax, or phone?" ...

Lou DiNatale, a political analyst at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, said most people wouldn't care about the change if it is made, and those who might -- active Democrats -- will support any move that might help defeat Bush.

"Most voters don't like conventions," he said. "There's no real downside to playing with the convention, because people don't care."

May 23, 2004

This Democratic convention fiasco is turning into a clash of cultures - between those who actually work for a living, and those who don't.

Can you guess which side the Democrats are on?

The impending regionwide gridlock was infuriating enough before Friday's announcement that Liveshot may not actually accept the nomination that Thursday night in July. Now it's even more of a slap in the face of everyone with a real job, as opposed to a government job.

And could the in-the-satchel news media have fallen over themselves any faster, covering for the 65-year-old gold-digger Teresa's boy-toy? The New York Times instantly coined a new phrase for what will be GI Gigolo's ridiculous nonacceptance speech.

It will be his "culminating speech." ...

For the Democratic base, this weeklong paralysis of Boston is no big deal. Those who slurp at the public trough haven't been rushing to grab vacation days that last week of July because they're counting on being told not to come in. Not only are the hacks not going to lose a dime, they expect to heist an extra week of paid vacation out of this.

The pols lecture everyone with a real job to "stagger" their working hours. Sorry, staggering is for Ted Kennedy and Chris Dodd. People who work with their hands don't have that luxury. So then the hacks order taxpayers to "telecommute." ...

It's rare that you can observe such a total disconnect between the Beautiful People and the hoi polloi. When have you ever heard cops joking about an impending disaster? On Thursday, they did everything but tell you to tie down your lawn furniture. But this isn't a hurricane, or a tornado. Those are acts of God. This is an act of Mumbles.

May 23, 2004

"What's keeping Bush from doing the same thing?" Menino wondered. "Suppose he decides to push back his nomination?" 

Admittedly, Menino was engaging in a bit of free association, trying to extend the logic of an illogical situation. But then, who's to say he was wrong? Where's the precedent for this political script? ...

"What the Kerry people have done," Menino said, "is expose this loophole in the federal elections law. The Republicans get five weeks to spend the extra millions they have. And yet, if Kerry makes this move to counter it, he gets hammered as being indecisive and a waffler.

"If the (Kerry campaign) strategists knew about this," the mayor added, "I think it was something that should have been addressed months ago." ...

And let's not forget the $15 million in federal funds the city is counting on to help underwrite that payoff moment. "What happens to that federal money now?" Menino asked rhetorically. "We don't know."

May 23, 2004

Why, exactly, are we still hosting this convention?

"It's the shrimp," says Ilene Conway of Lynnfield. "It's all about the shrimp."

As in free shrimp. For the delegates. Because "they are the nobility," as Mark Ogilvie puts it. "And we are the peasants." ...

What happened to our old 9/11 mantras about living normal lives? Don't let fear of terrorism send you cowering, we said. That's letting the terrorists win. Remember? Go home and figure the ka-booming! odds are overwhelmingly on your side. Get thee to Fenway for a"Sock" game, as Mayor Menino calmly advised - then....

Can curfews, ankle bracelets and house arrests be far behind?

"If something bad happens," asks "Joey from the North End," his moniker of choice, "how do we get out of town? We'll be trapped!"

"They're gonna need more than the usual spin on this one," says one political adviser. "They're gonna need a damn tornado.

May 23, 2004

A candidate who has already come under heavy fire for parsing his words on nearly every issue to come down the pike will stand before 6,000 convention delegates and give a speech which does not conclude with "I accept your nomination?" Oh, that's just brilliant!

Add to that the fact that hundreds of thousands of area commuters are already major-league grumpy about being asked to put their lives and their jobs on hold for a week so this Kerry nomination hoe-down can occupy the city of Boston, and you have a real fine start to the general election season.

May 23, 2004

Last time an out-of-towner tied up traffic like this, they called him "Lumberjerk!" This time, they are calling them "delegates."

If you have to come into Boston during the Democratic National Convention in late July, when thousands of delegates, the media and demonstrators arrive, here are a few things to bear in mind:

First, don't do it.

May 23, 2004

Now, more than two years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and two months before the Democratic National Convention, MBTA police are preparing to conduct ID checks on the 1 million commuters who hop aboard trains and buses each day....

As for who will be stopped, where they'll be stopped and what they'll be expected to produce to satisfy law enforcement, the MBTA isn't saying - and that's not sitting well with riders....

"I come from Europe. I was born during World War II and this is what the Gestapo would do," a local college professor, who did not want to give her name, said yesterday at South Station.

May 23, 2004

NEW YORK -- When it hosts the Republican National Convention this summer, the nation's largest city does not plan to seal off main streets or close subway stations, in contrast to the transportation shutdown planned for the Boston area during the Democratic convention.

In the Big Apple -- a city of 8 million accustomed to big conventions, tourists spilling along Fifth Avenue and Times Square, and people squeezing into buses, subway cars, and commuter trains, officials say life will go on as usual when the Republicans come to town Aug. 30 to Sept. 2....

Paul Elliot, spokesman for New York's host committee, said the city does not intend to close major streets and transportation centers.

"We won't be shutting down anything," he said. "We are open for business.... The mayor has said there may be delays. Commuters might experience minor delays, whether it's traffic or trains, but he was adamant that life will go on and that it is his job and the job of the police commissioner and others to ensure the continuity of life."

May 23, 2004

I said it almost as a joke last week that the traffic nightmare caused by the Democratic National Convention would give Massachusetts to President Bush.

After looking at the actual plan, I am now sure of it....

All this makes Kerry's announcement that he might not accept the nomination in Boston -- thereby making the whole fiasco irritating and pointless -- look like a sound political decision.

May 23, 2004

The Democrats should have listened to Gov. Mitt Romney.

Two months ago, the Republican governor offered some excellent advice to the Democratic National Committee: Hold your nominating convention in July at the new convention center in South Boston, instead of the FleetCenter.

It didn't require a traffic study, it wasn't a partisan snipe, it was just common sense....

The Democrats' response? Scorn and insults.

CLT calls for cancellation of DNC convention
May 24, 2004

Now that some have begun calling for state taxpayers to finance part of this Democrat Party SNAFU, let us be the first to say what many others are thinking: Admit the mistake, cut our losses – cancel it.


May 24, 2004

WASHINGTON - President Bush's campaign yesterday threatened to hold four days of campaign rallies to yank the media spotlight from Boston's Democratic National Convention if Sen. John F. Kerry delays accepting his party's nomination....

Republicans said if Kerry stalls on the nomination, the four-day Boston gathering should be considered a political rally, not a convention.

If Kerry opts for delay, the Bush campaign would seek to blunt media coverage of the July 26-29 Boston convention by demanding TV networks abide by federal laws requiring equal time for both parties, a Republican source said.

May 24, 2004

For more than a decade, the Democratic and Republican conventions have suffered a painful decline as experts bemoaned how scripted they had become, what incredibly uneventful events.

Now, with John Kerry openly treating his party's party with the lack of respect it deserves, isn't it time to acknowledge that the conventions are way more trouble than they are worth? ...

Kerry's flirtation with delaying accepting the nomination sounded alarms among the politicians that Boston might lose the $14 million in federal funds the government gives each party to run its convention. Taxpayers had a different reaction: We're giving each party $14 million? When did we vote on that?

May 24, 2004

Fearing its residents and businesses will be cut off by the planned closing of Interstate 93, the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce has asked for an emergency meeting with Democratic National Convention officials....

"We want to meet and find out exactly how we're going to get to and from Boston," chamber President Joseph Bevilacqua said. "We don't have the answer. We can't figure it out, and we are very, very concerned." ...

"Many people we have talked to can't afford just to take that week off," he added. "We are going to be hit the most severe of any community. I'm not sure (the security planners) thought about us, to be quite honest."

May 24, 2004

Senator John F. Kerry’s suggestion that he would delay accepting the presidential nomination until after the Democratic National Convention, floated on Friday, has provided the clearest evidence yet of a growing divide between city officials and party officials planning the event....

Menino has much on the line politically regarding the success of the convention, because he was instrumental in bringing it to Boston. Recent studies have predicted that the convention will be a net economic loss in Boston, because it is displacing other big events this summer and because shutdowns of major roadways for security needs will affect worker productivity.

The mayor may also need city taxpayers to chip in for the convention, because fund-raising has slowed in recent months and costs are threatening to increase....

The convention host committee, known as Boston 2004, is charged with raising the money that is spent largely under the direction of the Democratic Party and the Kerry campaign to stage a four-day extravaganza at the FleetCenter.

That's been slow going of late, with a $4.6 million fund-raising gap and the possibility of costs rising still further to make the event everything the Kerry campaign wants it to be. National Democrats have said recently that they may involve Kerry directly in fund-raising, to ensure the convention has the cash it needs....

One local convention organizer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said yesterday that the Kerry campaign should think about scaling back convention activities if the candidate won't accept the nomination in Boston. Such a move could cut costs and reduce the hassle to commuters, particularly if the convention events can be squeezed into fewer than four days, the organizer said.

But Menino said he would not suggest that Kerry cut back on events, and said he expects the convention to look much the same even if there is no formal acceptance of the party nomination.

May 24, 2004

US Senator John F. Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, is considering forgoing accepting his party's nomination at the convention this July. I offer this early draft of Senator Kerry's nonacceptance speech:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, delegates. Thank you, you suckers from ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and FOX, for attending our nominating -- pardon me, our four-day "unity conference." ...

But just because I can't accept that thing I can't accept here in my hometown, just because there's a traffic jam outside from Lowell to the Sagamore Bridge, just because you're being picketed by dozens of unions without contracts, doesn't mean that we haven't accomplished a great thing together.

Thank you, mayor, for this wonderful showcase for my campaign's stunning indecision and ineptitude....

I know what some of you are thinking by now: Why are we here? That is a good question, and I think it's important to answer it....

But first, we have a few million dollars to raise and spend. As you know, taking back the country from the special interests and the rich is an awfully expensive proposition.

Thanks so much for stopping by. And remember, don't drive this week unless it's absolutely necessary.

May 25, 2004

John Kerry on Monday sought to reassure anxious Bostonians that the Democratic National Convention will be good for the city amid concerns that businesses will suffer if Kerry does not accept the presidential nomination there....

"Boston will be open for business," Kerry told reporters aboard his campaign plane. "People will make a lot of money. We're going to have a full-fledged convention, and people are going to have a fantastic time."

May 25, 2004

Uncertainty over whether Sen. John F. Kerry will accept the nomination at July's Democratic National Convention in Boston could scuttle television coverage of the bash.

"If you ever wanted to give the television networks a reason not to cover the convention, this would be the way," said one longtime Democratic activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity....

"It does affect the fund raising. You're asking people to contribute to a non-event," he said. "The city's gone through contortions to host this convention, and this pulls the rug out from under it."

Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who led the charge to land the Democrats' convention in Boston, said he spoke with Kerry yesterday by telephone but received no apology for the confusion over whether the nominating convention will actually nominate anyone.

"He talked about the convention, some of the issues. He asked me how we're doing" on fund raising, the mayor said.

May 25, 2004

Editorial cartoon by Dave Granlund, MetroWest Daily News

May 25, 2004

It's now the fourth day that John Kerry has held hostage the Democratic National Convention.

At this point, there's not much sense trying to make sense of Kerry's strategy. He must know by now that his national reputation is one of a waffler, a shameless self-promoter, a typical pol who changes his mind in mid-sentence. So what does Kerry serve up? More shameless, waffling, self-promoting blather about some technicality that would give George W. Bush an unfair advantage to raise more money.

May 25, 2004

The Massachusetts senator told the Globe: "One thing I can tell you is that on Wednesday night, the [candidate for] vice president of the United States will be nominated and give a speech, and on Thursday night I will give my speech."

Asked if it would be a nomination acceptance or merely a party address, Kerry winked and leaned back in his seat as his campaign charter jet flew from Hanscom Field to Dulles International Airport outside the nation's capital.

At the same time, two prominent campaign finance watchdogs questioned whether it would be legal for the host committee to spend $15 million in federal funds to stage the Democratic National Convention if the event does not produce Kerry's nomination.

"I think there is a very strong case here that it would be illegal," said Fred Wertheimer, who runs a campaign finance organization called Democracy 21. "They received the money to conduct a nominating convention, and a nominating convention tends to include the concept of a nominee. At a minimum, they face real legal questions."

Representative Martin T. Meehan of Lowell, a fellow Democrat and coauthor of the country's new campaign finance law, agreed that the $15 million is at risk. "The question is whether it could be made up in private contributions," the congressman said....

Kerry dismissed Republican threats to ask for equal air time on television during the week of the Democratic convention if he decides to delay his nomination....

"Once again, the Republicans don't know history, and they don't know facts," he said. "The truth is that it used to be that the convention, after nomination, traveled to the home or the state of the nominee to inform them they've been nominated. Woodrow Wilson was at his house in Princeton, N.J.; Harry Truman was in Independence," Mo., he said....

The nominations of Wilson and Truman occurred in the days before public financing of presidential campaigns and federal election rules about campaign fund-raising....

Said he would help to close any convention budget shortfall, which by some estimates already tallies $5 million.

"I've already committed to help raise money, long ago, to raise the money. There will not be a financial problem. We'll do what has to be done. You know, people need to relax and realize that every convention -- go back to Los Angeles -- they were way further behind than we are today, by far." ...

Acknowledged there are a wide range of proposals under consideration for convention week, including ... perhaps, his walking from his Beacon Hill home to the FleetCenter on the night he addresses the delegates.

May 25, 2004

John, take a deep breath. Relax for a minute. Don't worry, everyone else is going to breathe and relax at the same time, so you're not at any disadvantage. We need to have another talk.

You were doing so well for so long. Well, OK, you were doing well for a little while, then you were mediocre. But mediocre might be all it takes against this guy.

This idea of not accepting the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Boston -- genius, pure genius. I honestly don't know of anyone else who would have thought of that. You and George Bush should be given the exact same amount of money on the exact same day. When you think long and hard about it, it's only fair and right.

Now knock it off. Nobody's going to think that long and hard about it. The only thing they're going to be thinking about is this politician who's always trying to play every side of every issue, always looking for a way out. He'd be the kind of lawyer always trying to get his clients off on a technicality -- that's what they'll be saying.

Can you hear all the network anchors now? They'll be asking: When's a nominating convention not a nominating convention? Answer: When it's John Kerry's. Bostonians will be asking, if this isn't really a nominating convention, does that mean those roads aren't really closed? Does that mean I can get to my job?

May 25, 2004

We're happy to see that John Kerry is playing to win. But his latest proposed gambit -- postponing official acceptance of his party's nomination in order to maximize access to campaign cash -- smacks too much of gamesmanship to be worth the strategic gain. Kerry ought to stick to the script and accept his party's nomination at the Democratic National Convention in late July....

Boston has a special interest in whether Kerry's nomination party is fair or faux. The migraine of inconvenience residents will endure deserves some payoff. A convention about nothing is a Seinfeld episode, not the launch of a winning presidential campaign.

‘Security concerns’ mount
(‘It's our party, you can cry if you want to ...’)
May 26, 2004

U.S. officials have obtained new intelligence deemed highly credible indicating al-Qaeda or other terrorists are in the United States and preparing to launch a major attack this summer, The Associated Press has learned....

Fox News reported counterterrorism and law enforcement officials are worried about possible attacks on "high value" targets such as the Democratic National Convention in Boston in July.

May 26, 2004

With just 60 days to go before the Democratic National Convention, the state medical examiner's draft plan to deal with a potential mass disaster is a disaster in itself, emergency preparedness experts and a former pathologist in the office said.

"I wouldn't give it an F because at least it is written down, but I would probably give it a D," said Dr. Michael W. Warren, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Florida. Warren worked with the New York state medical examiner's office to identify human remains after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks....

Dr. Stanton Kessler, the longtime chief of staff for the Massachusetts ME's office who now runs the ME's office in Chattanooga, Tenn., said only the military or specialists with the Centers for Disease Control should handle such high-risk agents, not Evans or his staff.

"He'll wind up infecting the whole city," Kessler said.

May 26, 2004

As top Democrats - including Sen. Edward M. Kennedy - privately fumed over Sen. John F. Kerry's stunner that he may delay accepting the party's nomination, there are new concerns the move could downscale security efforts for the July convention in Boston.

Party officials yesterday warned that if Kerry delays accepting the nomination, it could jeopardize the Democratic convention's federal designation as a National Special Security Event.

Without that designation, the U.S. Secret Service role in directing and coordinating security for the four-day event could be diminished.

May 26, 2004

As the political world knows by now, the presumptive Democratic nominee, John F. Kerry, might not speak those words at this year's Democratic convention in Boston. He is considering delaying his official nomination to raise more money this summer.

But to hear Democratic party officials from across the country tell it, delegates won't mind missing out on the traditional climax of the national political convention one little bit. Kerry must do whatever it takes to beat President George W. Bush, they say....

"We're all excited," said Derek Wooley, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic party. "We've known for a long time who the nominee is going to be, and the convention is a formality at this point.

Another call for cancellation
May 26, 2004

A mayor long known for his way with words, Tom Menino has come up with a catchy new slogan to prepare us for the national gathering that was supposed to launch Boston as a premier convention destination: "Let's Work Around It."

"Let's Walk Around It" might be more apt, given the commuter nightmare the Democratic National Convention will occasion.

A mayor long known for his way with words, Tom Menino has come up with a catchy new slogan to prepare us for the national gathering that was supposed to launch Boston as a premier convention destination: "Let's Work Around It."

"Let's Walk Around It" might be more apt, given the commuter nightmare the Democratic National Convention will occasion.

Here's an alternative idea: Let's cut our losses....

"Given the fact that the primaries have taken all the drama out of the nomination process and the party platforms generally go unread even by the nominees themselves, why not cancel the convention?" says [Garrison Nelson, the University of Vermont's political polymath].

May 26, 2004

What did Tom Menino and the Democratic Party know and when did they know it?

It is nothing short of precious to go back and read the stories from Nov. 14, 2002, the morning after Boston won the Democratic National Convention, or "the political Super Bowl" as we called it then. It was an affirmation of "the New Boston," our moment on the world stage, a chance to pump $150 million into the local economy. Finding enough work space for the media near the FleetCenter qualified as a dicey issue.

Now we know. Now we know that we will have to close down much of the city because Menino, Ted Kennedy and the rest of them sold the Democratic Party on an impossible venue in this post 9/11 world, the FleetCenter, ground zero for the city's transportation network. Our best hope for avoiding complete gridlock is to scare the pants off 250,000 daily commuters and persuade half of them to stay home. Some plan.

In November 2002 Menino, Kennedy, & Co. were taking bows. Now they deserve the heat....

Menino and Kennedy had sold the party on the FleetCenter, and they had to deliver. Moving the convention to South Boston would have involved trade-offs. How daunting is building stadium seating compared to rerouting 200,000 cars a day? Maybe Dan Rather would not have his skybox. But maybe the rest of us could get to work. The message, as they say in politics, of who counts and who doesn't couldn't be clearer.

May 27, 2004

Stung by criticism from key Democrats, Sen. John F. Kerry yesterday reversed course - saying he'll accept his party's nomination at Boston's Democratic National Convention after all....

Republicans had mocked Kerry for considering the possibility, saying it was one more example of Kerry living up to his image as a consummate waffler.

Top Democrats, including Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, had privately fumed that Kerry had not consulted them before word leaked of his plans. Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino had publicly expressed displeasure with the idea.

May 27, 2004

John F. Kerry announced yesterday he would accept his party's presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Boston on July 29, ending a five-day flirtation with the idea of a delay that could have helped him financially but had sparked criticism from Mayor Thomas M. Menino, ridicule from Republicans, and questions among Boston-area residents facing a jam of convention-driven inconveniences....

Initially, several senior advisers said they felt that voters would not care if Kerry delayed the nomination; one aide, conveying this view, said that "only the media and the elites" would pay heed to such a strategic move. Yesterday, however, one senior adviser said that the decision-making had become "too public" and started reflecting poorly on Kerry.

May 27, 2004

Al-Qaeda terrorists poised for summer attacks on the United States may try to influence the presidential campaign with a deadly strike - possibly targeting the party conventions in Boston and New York - top officials warned yesterday.

May 27, 2004

Are terrorists here already? Are they ready to strike?

Attorney General John Ashcroft said yesterday that there is "credible intelligence from multiple sources" that al-Qaeda is determined to launch an attack in the United States in the coming months.

As a city hosting one of those high-risk events, we must ask ourselves are we prepared?

May 27, 2004

Mayor Thomas M. Menino said, "Our city is prepared. If any information comes in, we'll deal with it."

However, state officials are concerned about shoring up security on rail lines and subways, according to Katie Ford, a spokeswoman for state Public Safety Secretary Edward Flynn. In addition, the state wants to enlist the public in reporting suspicious activity.

May 28, 2004

Having endured days of bad publicity for one of the most hideously dumb political ideas to come down the pike, Sen. John Kerry now gives it a big "nevermind."

The problem with his delayed nomination trial balloon was that in addition to making himself a national laughingstock, Kerry also failed to endear himself to the two men most responsible for bringing the Democratic National Convention to his hometown - Mayor Tom Menino and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy....

Ah, yes, another decisive moment from a man who is increasingly behaving like New England weather. You know, if you don't like it, just wait a minute, it'll change.

May 28, 2004

I recently saw a movie called "28 Days Later," in which a major city has been largely deserted by its inhabitants. Although most have fled, the few remaining have barricaded themselves in their apartments against marauding bands of crazed victims of a strange virus. Major highways have been blocked by ruthless security forces.

Citizens of our fair city look to be playing bit parts in a depressingly similar drama this summer when Boston plays host to the Democratic National Convention in July. What seemed to be a wonderful chance to show off the city to the world is now looking like a world-class headache in the making.

May 28, 2004

Eighteen months ago, when Boston was picked as the site of the 2004 Democratic convention, it was compared to landing the Super Bowl. These days the four-day gathering in late July is looking more and more like a demolition derby of Democrats....

When Boston was first picked for the DNC, Kerry's fellow Bay State Democrats touted the convention as a $150 million bonanza for the region. Now, the best guesstimates are that when the delegates finally pull out on July 30, Massachusetts will be at least $50 million in the red.

And road closings threaten to create a week-long nightmare.

May 29, 2004

The boss of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority shot down a trial balloon by the Bay State's all-Democratic congressional delegation for a four-day freebie for T riders during July's Democratic convention....

"Such a request fails to appreciate the significant financial strain the DNC is placing on the area's public transit agency. Our (convention-related) expenses are at $5 million and mounting with each new security initiative," Mulhern said.

However, Mulhern's prompt veto might not be the last word....

He told The Associated Press that making the downtown portion of the subway system free would result in an additional $1 million a day in losses.

In a statement, Kennedy did not acknowledge that Mulhern's refusal was the end of the proposal....

Passafaro, Menino's one-time chief of staff who heads Boston 2004, the host committee raising money privately to pay for the shindig, was supportive - as long as the state or federal government picked up the tab.

May 29, 2004

The Republican National Convention may provide a $184 million boost to New York, in contrast to a $34 million hit the Hub's economy is expected to sustain by hosting the Democrats' nominating convention, a conservative think tank estimated yesterday.

While down from the $260 million New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg estimated the RNC event would generate, the Beacon Hill Institute estimate puts the expected cost of the Democratic National Convention in stark relief.

May 30, 2004

Corporations, special interests, and labor unions are planning lavish parties during the Democratic National Convention in Boston, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars each and gaining direct access to major Democratic Party figures.

The list of contributors ranges from longtime Democratic supporters like the AFL-CIO to emerging Massachusetts industries like biotech firms. Despite new campaign finance regulations, donors continue to face few restrictions about how much they can contribute to the parties, receptions, and concerts that take place during the political conventions....

Steven Weiss, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based government watchdog group, said the heavy presence of corporate and other special-interest dollars at the convention events shows that "the conventions are now a marketplace of influence-peddling."

And another call for cancellation
May 30, 2004

Perhaps the one good thing about the uproar over the Democratic National Convention is that it points up the myriad flaws in today's presidential election process....

Citizens for Limited Taxation said it best. The taxpayer watchdog group declared, "There is no rational excuse to shut down a city for a four-day multi-block party... We already know who the Democratic nominee will be; let the DNC have a big news conference, announce its vice presidential nominee, and get on with the campaign."

If the Democratic National Committee would "admit the mistake" and cancel the convention, as CLT suggested, then Boston would be spared the traffic nightmare and business bust expected for that hot week at the end of July.

As CLT said, "If Democratic convention delegates can vote by Internet or proxy later after Sen. John Kerry declines to accept the nomination in July for whatever reasons, then they can vote by Internet or proxy now instead of crippling Greater Boston. Which is more important to Democrats?"

CLT -- the people who brought you Proposition 2½ -- was having some fun with the Democratic Party, but they also had a point.

May 31, 2004

"Nothing Conventional About It" is the axiom on the Web homepage for the Boston 2004 host committee. This slogan touts the convention, the city of Boston and "it." The phrase sends a subliminal unconventional message that, so far, is the keynote of the Democratic Convention. And "Let's Work Around It" is the motto pitched exclusively to Boston residents and businesses, exhorting them to deal with "it."

The slogans only add to the confusion....

With highways closed, parking banned and general conveyances held in abeyance in downtown Boston, you might wonder if "Let's Work Around It" means working extra hard not to be around from July 23 to July 30.

Jun. 1, 2004

Unprecedented security measures planned for the hundreds of convention-related parties this July will spread traffic woes and disruptions beyond the FleetCenter to locales across Boston, according to security experts and hospitality professionals.

"There is a pretty dramatic impact on the rest of the city that hasn't been focused on," said Larry Curran, investigative counsel for Pinkerton, a division of Securitas, the largest private security firm in the world.

Boosted screening measures at office buildings, roving motorcades of dignitaries getting Secret Service protection, and the sheer number of events will combine to make it challenging for people going about their daily lives during the four-day Democratic nominating powwow, Curran said.

"From a traffic point of view, I think it's going to be worse than people expect," he said.

Jun. 2, 2004

Democratic convention organizers raised another $2.8 million last month, including four cash donations from building trade unions that contributed despite the city's ongoing battles with its municipal unions.

Jun. 2, 2004

Even as Bostonians are attempting to brace themselves for the inconvenience being visited on them by the Democratic National Convention, Democratic politicians are attempting to add a financial insult to those obvious injuries.

Sen. Ted Kennedy and the state's 10-member congressional delegation sent a letter to the mayor's chief convention planner asking that downtown subway service be made free during the convention week....

But, as we all know, "free" isn't. Someone pays the tab and it's grossly unfair for the already hard-pressed taxpayers of this state to be asked to do that. If the Democratic National Committee thinks it's a nifty idea to provide free MBTA subway service and the cost is estimated at $1 million, let them write the check - as a goodwill gesture to their delegates and to this host city.

Jun. 3, 2004

Media covering Boston's Democratic convention will find themselves squeezed into a smaller workspace - or even relegated to temporary quarters on commuter rail tracks - under an abrupt change in plans revealed yesterday. 

Officials downplayed the significance of the sudden about-face - just six weeks before the July event - but one source close to the situation said the switch triggered calls of concern from some national media heavyweights.

Jun. 3, 2004

Looking to cut costs, the Democratic National Convention has decided to move one of its media work areas to a cheaper location a few buildings away -- one that provides some 14,000 fewer square feet and would consign at least 1,000 journalists to workspace outside the convention's security perimeter....

The move comes as construction costs threaten to balloon beyond the convention's $64.5 million budget, and just days before workers are slated to start building out the FleetCenter and its environs on Tuesday. Between rent and renovations, shifting the media workspace is expected to save about $2 million, according to one convention planner who spoke on condition of anonymity.

But it has sparked complaints from some journalists working with convention officials on media workspace issues.

Jun. 3, 2004 Democratic National Convention organizers are combing the Hub and its suburbs for more hotel rooms for the July 26-29 political powwow, and some attendees may find themselves a fair distance from the action.
More transportation disruptions announced
(‘It's our party, you can cry if you want to ...’)
Jun. 3, 2004

Operators of Amtrak's Downeaster announced yesterday that they will suspend service between Portland and Boston during the week of the Democratic National Convention.

Jun. 4, 2004

Travelers flying out of Logan International Airport on afternoons and evenings of the Democratic National Convention next month should consider arriving as much as four hours early, airport officials warned yesterday....

[Tom Kinton, Logan's director of aviation] said Logan passenger traffic is expected to spike up by more than 18,000 passengers a day to about 105,000 on July 23, the Friday before the DNC, as delegates, pols and media arrive. It's expected to spike even higher - by some 30,000 departing travelers - on July 30.

Jun. 4, 2004

Gov. Mitt Romney yesterday said the Democratic convention will be a financial loss for the state.

"I'm not planning on more money coming into the state. My expectation is that it's going to cost us money, not earn us money," Romney said.

Jun. 4, 2004

Local business leaders assembled on the steps of Quincy Market yesterday afternoon, delivering a message they said has been lost in negative press coverage: The business community is excited about the Democratic National Convention.

"We are confident of the positive impact of 35,000 visitors, and the positives to come in years ahead," said Michael Kelleher, vice president and general manager of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, who organized the rally. "Unfortunately, some of the positive aspects have been overshadowed."

The predicted crowd of 100-plus business leaders was closer to 30, including the Red Sox mascot, Wally the Green Monster, and a few food-stand workers.

Jun. 4, 2004

Frustrations related to the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Boston reached a peak in recent weeks as feared traffic snarls turned into highway bans and a hoped-for $150 million boon to the local economy changed into a feared $50 million bust. But some of the city's neighborhoods and area's small businesses may still benefit significantly from the upcoming event....

The convention is expected to rank sky-high on the public aggravation index due to widespread security measures. The least those with access can do is shop locally.

Jun. 5, 2004

The kind of crowds usually seen at Thanksgiving are expected to use Logan International Airport during the Democratic National Convention next month, according to the Massachusetts Port Authority, which is advising passengers to plan accordingly....

[Barbara Platt, a Massport spokeswoman] said Massport expects an estimated 100,000 to 115,000 additional passengers to pass through Logan on July 23, the Friday before the convention, and that passenger traffic will jump by about 30,000 for departing travelers on July 30.

In an interview Thursday, Tom Kinton, director of aviation at Logan, said travelers who use Logan during the convention should arrive at the airport as much as four hours early, because of road closures around the FleetCenter between 4 and 11 p.m.

Jun. 5, 2004

No private or corporate flights will be allowed to take off from or land at Logan International Airport during the Democratic National Convention this July due to security concerns, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Jun. 6, 2004

Governor Mitt Romney's top human resources officer said yesterday she hopes many state employees in the Boston area go on vacation during July's Democratic National Convention, but issued a memorandum to all agency managers urging them to make sure enough workers show up to keep the government running.

About 22,000 Massachusetts employees -- or roughly half the executive branch of state government -- work in Boston, but because security measures will force the closure of 40 miles of roads and highways, Romney's aides are hoping many will either take a vacation, work earlier shifts, or telecommute to help cut down on traffic congestion, as well as worker time lost to gridlock.

Unions leverage disruptions for contracts
Jun. 8, 2004

The union tangle threatening to embarrass the Democratic National Convention grew more snarled last night as police officers and EMTs armed with signs lined up outside the Fleet Center minutes before midnight.

Jun. 8, 2004

The Greater Boston Labor Council last night rejected a project labor agreement with organizers of the Democratic National Convention, meaning that convention construction will begin at the FleetCenter today without a no-strike guarantee from the influential consortium of local unions.

The vote could persuade more construction workers to honor the picket line planned for this morning at the FleetCenter, where more than 100 Boston police officers and their union allies are expected. The labor council's decision also represents a symbolic blow to the city's efforts to project a labor-friendly image during the convention, and it comes amid mounting pressure on Mayor Thomas M. Menino to quickly wrap up talks with city unions.

Jun. 8, 2004

This Democratic National Convention thing seemed like a good idea at the time, didn't it? ...

One thing is certain: Mayor Menino cannot give in to the BPPA's blackmail. The Democratic National Convention is already costing the people of this city plenty. Long after the Democrats have left town, the taxpayers - and the voters - will still be here. City and BPPA negotiators need to keep that in mind.

Commuters under siege in Boston DNC gulag
(‘It's our party, you can cry if you want to ...’)
Jun. 8, 2004

Next month, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will become the first transit agency in the nation to institute a permanent policy of randomly inspecting passenger bags and packages on subway and commuter trains, MBTA police officials disclosed yesterday.

The stop-and-search procedure, largely prompted by the March 11 train bombings that killed 191 people in Spain, will involve explosive-sniffing dogs and all 247 uniformed MBTA police officers, and is set to be in place for July's Democratic National Convention, MBTA T Police Chief Joseph Carter told the Globe....

But the MBTA policy would be far more ambitious -- and in the eyes of civil libertarians, far more invasive -- as police conduct random inspections of bags and briefcases that are not tied to suspicious behavior....

[MBTA Deputy Police Chief John Martino] said, however, that the number of inspections would increase dramatically during the convention at the end of July, just as thousands of commuters who normally drive to work will cram onto subways and commuter rail trains because of extensive road and highway closures.

Jun. 9, 2004

The random checks of passengers' bags and parcels are expected to begin next month - in preparation for the Democratic National Convention. Explosive sniffing dogs will also be part of the mix. All of this follows on the heels of the T's education efforts to make passengers more aware of their surroundings and of their fellow passengers, urging them to report anything suspicious....

Officials of the American Civil Liberties Union, not surprisingly, are more than a little skeptical - much of that skepticism reserved for the future definition of "random."

Labor unions cripple DNC construction schedule
Jun. 9, 2004

Democratic National Convention organizers were forced to shut down the start of FleetCenter construction yesterday after some construction workers and delivery trucks refused to cross a picket line led by Boston police officers outside the arena. More construction problems were expected today, as city and convention officials scrambled to cope with the unanticipated disruptions....

Nee, the police union president, said he was overwhelmed by the hundreds of union members who showed up yesterday. He said they have the manpower to keep the pressure on Menino until a contract is settled....

The patrolmen's association was joined by firefighters, police superior officers, school janitors, and members of the Service Employees International Union....

"This will gather momentum," said Robert B. McCarthy, president of Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts. "It's like your hand. You have five fingers when it's open, but when you close it, you have a fist. That's clout."

Jun. 9, 2004

What was Mumbles thinking of? He was in Springfield in 1990 for the Democratic convention when the cops out there threw up a picket line and delayed the start of the balloting for three hours....

Every day there's more bad news. Monday, the MBTA announces it's going to start stopping and searching whoever it damn well pleases. The cops already had made a similar announcement about passenger cars. And the Cirque du Soleil is going to cancel three shows at Suffolk Downs.

The reason? With all the road closures during the convention, no one would be able to get there. It's not the end of the world, of course, and besides, everyone will find somewhere else to go.

Probably New Hampshire.

Jun. 10, 2004

Lawyers for Mayor Thomas M. Menino are filing a federal court challenge against FleetCenter protesters today to force them to make way for delivery trucks and construction workers as Democratic National Convention organizers face the prospect of a third day of construction delays.

Jun. 10, 2004

With the police union and its supporters threatening to shut down DNC work for a third day, City Hall wants a federal judge to put teeth into a previous order restricting what the union can do around the FleetCenter.

Jun. 10, 2004

Union delays in the giant job of transforming the FleetCenter into a national political stage could squeeze the already cash-strapped organizers of the Democratic National Convention.

Overtime needed to make up for lost time could hike the $14 million price tag for revamping the North Station sports arena, union officials involved in the work say.

Jun. 10, 2004

By all accounts, Democratic big shots, including Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, have grown increasingly angry and vocal about the standoff and are cranking up the pressure on the mayor to solve the problem.

One way or another, the city can't let the work stoppage inside the FleetCenter go on much longer. Unless construction starts soon, the renovations can't get done in time, the convention is marred and Menino stands to lose what he wanted from the event - four days to showcase the city.

Jun. 10, 2004

Even if the FleetCenter can be retrofitted in time for the convention, this week's delay could end up boosting costs if workers have to work overtime to finish the job.

Convention organizers were planning to host 600 members of the national media next week, to discuss logistics and show off the construction in and around the FleetCenter. Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe was expected to attend. It was unclear yesterday if the media gathering would still take place.

FleetCenter officials say it's up to the Democrats to make sure the site is ready for their party.

Jun. 10, 2004

Anyone in this town with a sense of history - or a really good clip file - has to look at the police picket-line chaos around the FleetCenter and wonder if the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association got ahold of the former GOP operative's old playbook.

Kaufman was credited or blamed - depending on your point of view - and eventually sued by angry and embarrassed Democrats for orchestrating the disruption of the 1990 Democratic State Convention in Springfield....

The convention was an utter disaster for the party and its endorsed nominee (Frank Bellotti). It finally staggered to a close after 11 p.m., with no officially endorsed candidates for lower constitutional offices....

Meanwhile the BPPA has succeeded in infuriating the taxpaying public, tearing apart the ties that usually bind organized labor and embarrassing a Democratic administration.

And this time they seem to have accomplished all that without GOP guidance.

Way to go, guys!

Jun. 10, 2004

In his previous battles with unions, Menino has stood his ground, just as he has this time with the BPPA -- at least at first. He resisted the demands of firefighters in 2001, for example, even as they supported his election opponent, Peggy Davis-Mullen. They dogged him at public appearances with embarrassing protests. He gave in, just before the election, handing firefighters a contract that included hefty raises and generous extensions of sick leave, a contract fiscal watchdogs decried as overly generous.

That concession, and others like it, may be driving the police union to test his resolve, said Samuel R. Tyler, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau.

"Part of the reason we're seeing what we're seeing is that, in the last round of contracts, the unions learned if they gave the mayor a hard time, if they follow him around and picket, in the end, he would back down and agree to a more generous contract," Tyler said. "That is what happened with the last police contract, the firefighters' contract, the teachers' contract."

Jun. 10, 2004

Even some BPPA members believe Menino may only dig his heels in deeper in light of the protests, faced with the effort to derail what is supposed to be a moment of personal national triumph....

So, this has become a classic Boston political story, driven by equal parts principle and resentment. The spirit of negotiation is supposed to be compromise, but this is now about who will blink. Menino knows he will eventually have to reach a settlement with the union. Nee knows that the leverage afforded by the convention will eventually evaporate.

But for now, the demonstrators are proxies in a war with no victors and one obvious loser: Boston.

Jun. 10, 2004

It is a scene out of old Boston, old labor, old politics. You can smell the cigar smoke, even though no one is actually smoking one. You can imagine the leg-breaking, even if none actually takes place. It is the kind of old-fashioned, old-style labor politics that turns off young and independent voters. Could the timing be worse? At the very moment the nation is celebrating the memory of a president who stared down labor in the form of air traffic controllers, Democrats are celebrating union thugs?

The stand-off between the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association and the City of Boston is not just a problem for Menino. It is a microcosm of a larger problem for Democrats. It showcases their longstanding genuflection to labor, no matter how bad labor makes the party look....

There's a bigger urgency at stake: not just showcasing Boston, but the Democratic party.

Show some collective courage, Democrats. If you can't stand up to Tom Nee, how do you stand up to Jacques Chirac, Yasser Arafat or Al Qaeda?

Jun. 11, 2004

A federal judge ordered union pickets at the FleetCenter to clear the way yesterday for construction workers and supply trucks attempting to enter the arena and dispatched US marshals to the scene, warning that those who violate his order could face criminal charges....

As the third day of picketing led by the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association continued to hold up construction, Democratic leaders in Washington briefed the party's presumptive nominee on the problems in Boston and scrambled for ways out of the impasse. Construction delays are costing $100,000 a day, said a Democratic official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

A planned media walk-through Tuesday to show off progress on the $14 million conversion of the FleetCenter was postponed, a Democratic official said.

Jun. 11, 2004

Even so, this mess is already a public relations disaster for the Democrats, and it could get worse. If the city and the union aren't able to come to terms on a contract within the next six weeks, John Kerry could well see his prospects for election undone. Rather than a five-day commercial for the Democratic Party, picket lines and demonstrations by Boston cops at the convention may well provide voters nationwide with the best reason yet to re-elect George W. Bush....

Wow. The Democratic convention brought to a standstill by a small cadre of union members. The mayor of Boston humiliated. The entire Democratic Party caving in to the demands of a few.

Jun. 11, 2004

According to figures compiled by the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, the average base pay in 2003 of a member of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association was $52,200 (the city puts the number at $57,000). The average compensation for a BPPA member - including overtime, paid details and Quinn bill benefits for advanced degrees earned - was $81,000.

How many of the city's taxpayers who are being asked to foot the bill for raises even come close to earning that kind of money each year? ...

A federal judge and federal marshals are now riding herd over union tactics. But only city officials can hold the line on behalf of the taxpayers - and they must continue to do so.

Jun. 11, 2004

Last August, in a ninth-floor conference room on Beacon Street, about 20 leaders of Boston's city employee unions sat down for a meeting that once seemed unthinkable.

Some of the labor leaders had never met before. Many of those who did know each other viewed the men and women sitting next to them in competitive terms, since they often claw for the same public dollars.

But with none of their unions under contract and the Democratic National Convention a year away, they promised to pool their financial resources and stick together in their negotiations with Mayor Thomas M. Menino....

But as Menino's team made initial offers to unions, the union leaders ran the terms by fellow members of the coalition, who counseled them to push for more in terms of salary and other concessions.

Jun. 12, 2004

Anyone who has not already made plans to leave town when the Democratic National Convention is in session in July must surely be rethinking by now.

If the FleetCenter isn't struck by lightning, the Charles River is sure to overflow or a rare Massachusetts tornado will follow a path straight to the North End.

What was supposed to be a stunning success story for Boston has turned into a tale of calamities....

Who knows what the next hurdle will be for this star-crossed event. With six weeks to go, there's time for many more foul-ups.

Jun. 12, 2004

Kerry, whose campaign is coordinating the July convention during which he will accept his party's presidential nomination, was pleased yesterday that the protesting cops moved away from the FleetCenter, aides said. The move cleared the way for renovations in the arena.

But City Hall sources noted privately that Menino got no political support during the standoff over the police contract.

Jun. 12, 2004

A seething Mayor Thomas M. Menino yesterday ordered New Yorkers thumbing their noses at a Southie convention week party be forced to stick with the neighborhood - whether they think it's racist or not.

Menino, reacting to New York Democrats' complaints about South Boston's "racial" past, ordered planners to keep the party at the famed L Street Bathhouse.

Jun. 12, 2004

Just when you think this Democratic National Convention nuttiness can't get any worse - it does.

This time it's the New York delegation that has its collective nose out of joint over the location of one of the convention week parties. (Ah, yes, there's one of the pressing issues of our generation.)

Jun. 12, 2004

Boston's police union abandoned the picket line that held up Democratic convention preparations at the FleetCenter after the city reached early-morning agreements with four city bargaining units, key allies on the picket line.

With US marshals looking on, the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association marched away from the FleetCenter at 9:25 a.m. Trucks carrying steel, drywall, and cement rumbled unimpeded into the arena less than an hour later.

Jun. 12, 2004

On this, both sides agree: At this summer's Democratic National Convention, the official welcome party for the New York delegation will take place in South Boston.

Precisely where is another question. While the New Yorkers apparently believe they'll be feted at the elegant Exchange Conference Center at the Seaport, Boston organizers said yesterday that the party would be held at the L Street Bathhouse.

Jun. 12, 2004

Police union protesters and their inflated salary demands will crop up again, most likely at public appearances by Mayor Menino. But the union's tactics and demands are less impressive each time. Bostonians are coming to learn that members of the police patrolmen's union earn, on average, about $81,000 annually, including overtime, extra pay for work on police details, and bonuses for education.

Worse gridlock announced ... commuter nightmare grows
(‘It's our party, you can cry if you want to ...’)
Jun. 15, 2004

Commuter rail riders on the Newburyport-Rockport line will face a much tougher morning during the Democratic National Convention than their counterparts on the Haverhill, Lowell, or Fitchburg lines, MBTA officials say....

But the estimated 8,700 weekday riders on the Newburyport-Rockport line -- the most heavily used of the four commuter lines emanating from North Station -- must transfer at Lynn to shuttle buses that will have to fight traffic on Route 1A on their way to South Station.

There will be no dedicated lanes for those buses and the riders can't be transferred to the Blue Line at Wonderland because that part of the subway system can't handle so many people, said Michael Mulhern, general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

Jun. 15, 2004

Meanwhile, state lawmakers anxious about the looming traffic nightmare hiked to Haverhill last night to put convention planners' feet to the fire over the fate of North Shore commuters likely to be most inconvenienced.

Lawmakers want to know whether state police will be able to control the traffic, what alternatives are available to commuters, and why the event wasn't moved to the new South Boston convention center once the hardships of FleetCenter security became clear.

"Nobody's been answering those questions. We're going to force those answers," said Senate Transportation Chairman Steven A. Baddour (D-Methuen).

Jun. 15, 2004

Traffic on Interstate 93 must be cut in half during the Democratic National Convention or North of Boston commuters can expect 12- to 14-mile backups during the four-day event, state officials said last night.

Massachusetts Highway Commissioner John Cogliano said the normal volume of traffic on I-93 into Boston would create massive gridlock, and the only way to unsnarl it would be to turn cars around and send them back north during the July 26-29 convention.

During weekdays, about 70,000 cars a day flow into Boston on I-93 from North of Boston, including Southern New Hampshire. Reducing that to 35,000 means tens of thousands of commuters will need to take trains and buses into the city. Or go on vacation during the convention.

Jun. 16, 2004

Boston's northern neighbors are insisting the Hub cough up cash to pay for police details along suburban streets expected to be gridlocked by traffic diverted off Interstate 93 during the Democratic National Convention next month.

"None of the communities outside of Boston are receiving any support at all," grumbled Malden police Chief Ken Coye, who said the issue of who should pay for police details to keep traffic moving has come up several times already in meetings with Boston and DNC officials.

"The standard line is: 'There are no resources,'" Coye said.

But suburban officials aren't taking no for an answer.

Medford Mayor Michael McGlynn, who has threatened to block Route 60 at I-93 as a last resort to prevent diverted traffic from jamming Medford Square, said he and other mayors expect to meet with Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino soon to discuss "funding needs." ...

McGlynn said closing Route 60 and sending traffic around the rotary and back up onto I-93 north would be done only as a last resort to restore public safety.

Crippled commuters now blinded by ruthless Dems
(‘It's our party, you can cry if you want to ...’)
Jun. 16, 2004

Security-driven airspace restrictions during the Democratic National Convention will ground traffic reporters who patrol the skies, limiting their ability to monitor the flow on roads at a time when commuters face unprecedented highway shutdowns and anticipated traffic headaches....

That means traffic reports and advisories will be issued without the benefit of reporters seeing the congestion from the air, even as travelers are diverted off I-93 onto local roads and into areas that are unfamiliar to some drivers....

Jeff Larson, general manager of SmarTraveler, compared the loss of air access during the convention to a snowstorm, when planes and helicopters also can't fly.

"But we're in a situation here with the DNC where the traffic pattern is going to be so different for us," he said. "If it's a snowstorm and we don't have the aircraft, we have a long history of knowing what happens in snow. With the DNC, we won't know ... We've never been through this before."

Democrats inevitably run over-budget ...
look out taxpayers!
Jun. 16, 2004

Soaring production and construction costs are pushing the Democratic National Convention well above its $64.5 million budget, with staging, building, and readying the FleetCenter for television expected to cost $10 million more than initial estimates....

The increased price tag, combined with the host committee's inability thus far to fulfill its $39.5 million fund-raising commitment, has spurred organizers in Boston and Washington into action. Yesterday, Mayor Thomas M. Menino enlisted three top Boston business leaders to help the host committee's fund-raising efforts.

Jun. 17, 2004

Months of simmering discord between pols planning the Democratic National Convention boiled over yesterday in a round of public fingerpointing about soaring cost overruns.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino openly blamed national Democrats for running up the ledger sheet, bluntly saying, "It's on their dime."

National Dems, though, said the culprits were high-priced local labor along with special logistical demands from Democratic nominee-in-waiting John F. Kerry.

Democratic National Convention Committee officials said the construction costs, originally slated to be $10.7 million, have now ballooned to $13.9 million.

Jun. 17, 2004

Mayor Thomas M. Menino said yesterday he will make sure that city taxpayers don't have to cover cost overruns at the Democratic National Convention, saying that he believes decisions made by the national Democratic Party are responsible for the fact that construction and production costs have ballooned....

"It's their obligation," Menino told reporters at a City Hall news conference. "It's an issue for the Democratic National Committee. It's on their dime, not the city's dime, and they have to deal with those issues of the overruns in the convention costs ... It's not the City of Boston, that's for sure."

The mayor's comments sharpened a disagreement between local and national convention organizers over the source of the cost overruns. The Kerry campaign and DNC officials have said that unanticipated cost increases in labor, electricity, and providing work space for members of the news media are causing the budget spike, not any added elements ordered by the party....

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, one of Kerry's national campaign chairmen and a driving force in Boston's bid to land the convention, said any additional investment will be worth it "in order to get the message out and be able to communicate to the broadest group."

Jun. 17, 2004

The city has signed off on permits for about 50 protest rallies and marches during the Democratic National Convention next month, but activists who want to take their message to the streets will have to march where and when the city tells them.

"It's really the parade routes that are the problem," said Patricia Malone, commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing. "They all basically want to go during rush hour through the city of Boston."

Dems offer cabbies welfare vouchers for free ride
Jun. 17, 2004

Boston cabbies are up in arms over the city's suggestion they accept discounted flat-rate vouchers from 5,000 delegates needing rides to and from Logan International Airport for the Democratic National Convention next month....

A proposal that could require drivers to accept a flat rate of $8 per delegate - with a minimum of three people to a cab - was presented to cab associations two weeks ago by Mark Cohen, the civilian director of the Boston Police Department's Hackney Licensing office, drivers said last night.

The trial balloon didn't fly with the cabbies who, when operating on a meter, can earn airport fares ranging from $20 to more than $30 depending on traffic.

The flat rate also does not appear to include the $6.25 each cab must pay for tunnel tolls and a Massport fee....

"All taxi drivers should just take off on that week," scoffed one angry driver.

Jun. 17, 2004

Boston taxi drivers are threatening to boycott the Democratic National Convention after city officials this week told them they may have to accept vouchers in lieu of using their meters to drive delegates to and from the airport....

"If the city won't go up to at least $45 to take three passengers, we'll go on strike," said Balwinder Gill, 37, a 10-year veteran driver from Everett. "We're just not going to take it. We're going to lose money."

Jun. 17, 2004

City negotiators and officials from the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association went back into mediation yesterday afternoon, hoping to settle their rancorous contract dispute before next month's Democratic convention....

Meanwhile, Menino said firefighters' union officials "continue to change what their requirements are," which is limiting progress.

Jun. 18, 2004

The cost overruns for the Democratic National Convention, now exceeding $5 million, must be covered by the party itself — not by the taxpayers of Massachusetts, who already are shouldering a hefty bill for related public safety and infrastructure needs....

The amount the Democrats and Republicans choose to spend to solemnize their preordained presidential nominations is their business. But it’s not the public’s business, nor is it the public’s responsibility to foot the bill.

Jun. 18, 2004

Boston police and Democratic National Convention officials say they just want to give cabbies some DNC business, but taxi drivers are crying no fare! ...

BPD hackney honcho Mark Cohen said he wants a flat rate that will get cabs to the airport, but stay within the DNC's travel budget....

Karen Grant of the DNC Host Committee said organizers committed to giving 5,000 delegates a ride. She would not say how much is budgeted ...

"It's forcing us to help subsidize the Democratic convention, which is illegal," said cabbie Bill Ford. "I'm taking their advice: 'If you can, take the week off.'"

Jun. 18, 2004

Loud and boisterous protesters are expected to branch far beyond the "free-speech zone" next to the FleetCenter at next month's Democratic National Convention, planning to gather at sites ranging from Copley Square and Faneuil Hall to John F. Kerry's Beacon Hill townhouse and the park near the Stony Brook MBTA station....

"There's going to be impact, but to the extent we can minimize the impact, we're doing our best to achieve that," Malone said. "We're trying to make sure that the city will function through this."

Jun. 18, 2004

Security officials insist they have no choice but to hobble motorists by closing a 7-mile stretch of Interstate 93 during next month's Democratic National Convention. Now they are adding blinders by banning traffic report helicopters and planes within a 30-nautical-mile ring of airspace around the FleetCenter during the July 26-29 meeting....

Residents are giving up enough for the sake of the convention without being forced to sacrifice their eyes in the sky.

Inevitable cost over-runs near double promised price tag:
Menino seeks $25 million more in taxpayer bailout

(‘It's our party, you can cry if you want to ...’)
Jun. 19, 2004

The city of Boston now estimates that transportation shutdowns ordered by the Secret Service will double the costs of security for the Democratic National Convention, and bring the event's budget to $95 million -- nearly twice the estimate when Boston landed the convention in 2002.

In a letter sent Thursday to top House and Senate budget-writers, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who is hosting the Republican National Convention this summer, asked for an additional $25 million each for their cities....

The addition of another $25 million in expenditures would bring the event's total cost to $95 million -- almost twice the $49.5 million budget that was forecast when Boston was awarded the convention in 2002, and nearly $1 million per hour for the four days the convention will last.

Local convention officials said they're optimistic about the prospect of receiving more cash. But if the money doesn't come through, millions of dollars in security costs could fall to taxpayers in the city of Boston and surrounding communities, many of which are bracing for thousands of additional cars on their roads when I-93 is shut down during the four nights of the convention.

Jun. 19, 2004

City taxi drivers continued to balk yesterday at a proposal to give Democratic National Convention delegates flat-rate vouchers to use to pay cab fares next month....

"We want to work on the meter," Meister said. "If you give a flat rate to the DNC, then the next group that comes in will want it, and we'll lose the meter altogether." ...

Another driver, Sam Cohen, said he worries about being reimbursed by the DNC.

"We might not get our money for a hundred years," Cohen said.

Jun. 19, 2004

Boston cabdrivers upset about plans to pay them with vouchers during the Democratic National Convention yesterday took their complaints to Boston police, who agreed to arrange a meeting with convention organizers....

Irate taxi drivers say they've been upset since the city told them they would have to accept vouchers worth $8 from Democratic delegates riding from the airport. They said that city officials later upped the rate to $10, but that that figure is still too low.

"We're not going to get rich, but we don't want to get robbed," said Arthur Rose, a driver for 32 years.

Jun. 20, 2004

As Boston police hackney officials and Democratic National Convention hosts prepare to meet cabbies tomorrow to work out a discount voucher plan, one irate driver is exploring a Federal Election Commission complaint.

Cab driver Bill Ford, an independent driver who says he's voted for more Democrats than Republicans, objects to what he considers a forced donation to the Democratic Party....

"People can't be forced to do this," Ford said. "If they do this, they would in effect be forcing us to make a donation."

Jun. 20, 2004

Mayor Thomas M. Menino said yesterday that he has received assurances from Senator Edward M. Kennedy that his request for an additional $25 million for skyrocketing security costs at the Democratic National Convention will be rushed through Congress before the convention convenes in late July.

Blissful DNC spinmeister denies upcoming gridlock:
value of Democrats
’ honesty, assurances again on the line!
Jun. 21, 2004

The head of the Democratic National Committee is blissfully insisting next month's presidential convention won't result in the predicted traffic gridlock.

In fact, DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe told The Herald most every widely reported problem with the convention just isn't real.

Despite the influx of 35,000 people, McAuliffe said, "there's not going to be cars everywhere."

"Contrary to what people think, it is not going to be a traffic gridlock," McAuliffe said in an interview.

Asked what he would say to Boston residents upset about four-day-long road closures, McAuliffe said, "Everybody's going to be able to move around easily and freely. They're going to have a great time.

Jun. 21, 2004

The security smack-down surrounding the Democratic National Convention is likely to keep Museum of Science visitors away while stranding some employees, so the brainy Boston attraction will knock off early during the DNC, a spokeswoman said....

The New England Aquarium, which will play host to several delegate bashes, also plans to close early during the July 26-29 Democratic get-together.

Jun, 22, 2004

The state Inspector General's office has flagged three Democratic National Convention-related expenses and is asking, with good cause, why Boston officials are leasing equipment that might otherwise be bought or even borrowed. That inquiry is prompting fiscal watchdogs in the city to ask how, when, and if Boston taxpayers will be reimbursed....

Although security matters are foremost for Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, he must also remain fiscally accountable to the public. In addition to the $25 million in federal funds he now controls, the mayor last week requested an additional $25 million from Congress to address unforeseen security needs. Any signs of waste could affect that request. And Boston taxpayers are paying close attention for fear they will wind up subsidizing the convention....

Suspicions are high that the mayor's team cannot pull off the convention without tapping taxpayers.

"I can guarantee you that the day this convention is over they will be working on a supplemental appropriation," says City Councilor Maureen Feeney, who chairs the body's convention oversight committee.

Jun, 22, 2004

City taxi drivers and Democratic National Convention hosts struck a deal last night that will give all 5,000-plus delegates vouchers for discounted, $12 rides to and from Logan International Airport, with a three-person-per-cab minimum.

The vouchers - good only for the five days before and after the convention (July 23, 24, 25, 30 and 31) - represent a roughly $4 increase over the flat rate convention organizers had originally proposed, but $3 less than the price drivers had pitched.

Jun, 22, 2004

Greater Bostonians aren't waiting to see the whites of their eyes this time.

When the Democratic National Convention invades late next month, locals will be heading for the hills, the beach or anywhere away from the Hub, according to a survey released yesterday.

More than three out of four Greater Bostonians polled said they plan to skip town rather than face the roadblocks, the protests and other heeadaches expected during the convention week of July 26-29.

Jun, 23, 2004

The threat of gridlock during the Democratic National Convention next month has Hub tour operators ready to bail if traffic snarls, and at least one operator may park its fleet of trolleys for the week.

"We're contemplating and talking very seriously about the possibility of not even opening that week. That decision has not been made yet," said Shawn Ford, vice president of sales for Old Town Trolley Tours.

Jun, 23, 2004

Party conventions, no longer contests to pick a presidential nominee, have over the last dozen years turned into trade shows for the political world and major entertainment venues for corporations and special-interest groups. Some government watchdogs say new rules that bar soft-money contributions to political parties are fueling an entertainment arms race at the conventions to buy influence with powerful public officials.

Jun, 23, 2004

The Boston Finance Commission is investigating the Boston Police Department's decision to rent nearly $200,000 worth of Jersey barriers and fencing for the Democratic National Convention, since the city already owns equipment that could be used to help secure the perimeter of the FleetCenter....

"They're leasing items that they own," Conley said. "If you own a car, why do you go out and lease one? Why don't you determine what you own and what your needs are before renting something?" ...

Boston last year won a $24.85 million grant for convention-related security needs, but the city must provide formal documentation to justify its costs.

In addition, Mayor Thomas M. Menino is asking Congress for another $25 million, since security costs will probably far exceed the amount provided in the initial grant....

Meanwhile, Governor Mitt Romney lobbied Republican lawmakers yesterday in Washington on behalf of the city's request for an additional $25 million for security costs....

"I believe that's merited, and I'm hopeful to see strong support on both sides of the aisle for that proposition," Romney said.

Jun, 23, 2004

The historic marketplace turned mall is shaping up to be the top icon of Boston, the leading backdrop for anchor shots outside the FleetCenter. NBC and MSNBC plan to park there for days, broadcasting the "Today" show and cable fare from a 30-by-20-foot plot near the Salty Dog cafe....

Convention-related news will probably dictate a few more prominent sights, producers say: Empty lanes of closed-off Interstate 93; police picketers, if the city's contract disputes haven't been resolved; the protests that take place throughout the city.

Jun. 25, 2004 Subway and commuter rail riders will be discouraged from bringing briefcases or backpacks on board during the week of the Democratic National Convention, and any passenger who does have a bag or parcel may be subject to having it searched, MBTA officials said yesterday.

T police said they are seeking additional officers from other law enforcement agencies to conduct spot baggage searches at all 200 subway and commuter rail stations in Greater Boston, though they stressed that details of the plan have yet to be worked out.

"We're asking people not to bring bags or parcels on with them that week," said T spokesman Joe Pesaturo. "If they do, they should not be surprised if they are stopped." ...

When asked about the logistics of checking large numbers of passengers carrying bags during the convention and whether that might produce delays or long lines, Pesaturo said he could not discuss details....

Passengers have the option to refuse an inspection, but they won't be allowed to ride the subway or commuter rail. If they insist on riding the T, they will first be warned and then arrested for trespassing if they proceed, Carter said....

The civil liberties group is concerned that T police will target people who they believe look like terrorists or look suspicious....

The baggage search policy, the first in the nation, has also been criticized by members of the T's Rider Oversight Committee, whose members fear the searches will be invasive.
Yet another call for cancellation
Jun. 24, 2004

Cancel the convention!

It's costing way too much. It's turning into a major inconvenience, especially for those who commute into the city from North of Boston. Besides, the selection of a Democratic nominee for president is already a foregone conclusion....

Meanwhile Joe Average, whose taxes will help pay the millions of dollars in security costs and has been told he can't use the train if it goes to North Station or drive on Interstate 93 if it's after 4 p.m., is left to wonder how all this hoopla benefits him.

Jun. 24, 2004

With convention construction already $5 million over budget and three days delayed due to a picket line, all was amazingly quiet inside the FleetCenter yesterday - 33 days from DNC D-Day.

Convention organizers and Mayor Thomas M. Menino say construction's on schedule.

But, to the naked eye, the FleetCenter is far from ready for Sen. John F. Kerry's big event.

Jun. 24, 2004

City officials appear to have reached tentative agreements with groups planning protests at next month's Democratic National Convention that will allow permits to be issued for demonstrations....

City officials initially blocked applications for a street march anytime between 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., saying it was a blackout period due to rush hour. Hopkins said the city will allow the parade period during the blackout period.

No worse than the Blizzard of 78
(‘It's our party, you can cry if you want to ...’)
Jun. 24, 2004

Bombarded with negative news about the Democratic National Convention, Mayor Thomas M. Menino put two local business executives in front of television cameras yesterday to offer a positive message about the convention and to calm fears about inconveniences.

It won't be so bad, they said, just as the Blizzard of '78 wasn't so bad....

For anyone who lived through it, the blizzard that walloped New England in February 1978 may not be the most reassuring image. The freak weather system paralyzed the city with hurricane-force winds and more than 2 feet of snow. Thousands of motorists were stranded....

The mayor accused the media of dwelling on the convention's inconveniences, such as the closure of Interstate 93, and urged residents to think positively.

Jun. 24, 2004

Commuters riding the Orange Line and highway buses during the Democratic National Convention are being warned to leave shopping bags, suitcases and other large packages at home or risk losing their right to ride, MBTA officials announced at a press conference Thursday.

While riders using other subway lines will be subject to random searches beginning July 1, those with parcels larger than a loaf of bread will be banned from the Orange line and buses. Riders who may be traveling with such items are advised to find an alternate route, said MBTA General Manager Michael Mulhern.

Jun. 24, 2004

As commuters sweat through convention gridlock, area pols and delegates - many who live within a few miles of the FleetCenter - will be living it up in posh, traffic-free serenity at their own downtown hotel....

Two-thirds of the delegates live within 30 miles of the FleetCenter, 56 live less than 10 miles away from the Democratic National Convention site.

And they'll be paying $100-a-night less than the general public at the well-heeled Copley Square hotel.

Most of the politicos say they booked the room to avoid the mess their convention will create - unapologetic about the perk unavailable to any other Greater Boston resident.

$25M more taxpayer dollars devoured
Jun. 25, 2004

Last year, Congress earmarked $24.9 million for convention security costs in Boston, and yesterday the US Senate voted to send another $25 million each to Boston and New York, which is hosting this year's Republican National Convention, to cover spiraling security expenses. The House is expected to approve the measure in the coming days.

Jun. 25, 2004

Generally, the T's approximately 1 million weekday riders will be discouraged from taking bags, especially large bags, onto the system the last week of July, including those going to and from the airport with luggage, said Michael Mulhern, general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

"We're going to great lengths to make this as unobtrusive as possible," he said. "My hope is that it will be simply a quick look in a bag." ...

Using mass transit will be key, Mulhern said, because of planned road closures, including the shutdown of I-93 and roads that feed into it from 4 p.m. to midnight.

Mulhern acknowledged he was urging people to use mass transit during the convention while at the same time subjecting them to security-related delays and inconveniences never before seen on the system....

The T is the first transit system in the country to inspect bags....

All the security measures are in addition to termination of commuter lines north of the city, requiring time-consuming transfer to buses or the subway.

Jun. 26, 2004

Fear of no-shows - not terrorism - due to the looming Democratic National Convention has forced the Boston Landmarks Orchestra to cancel a free, outdoor concert of patriotic-themed music scheduled for July 24 at Charlestown Navy Yard....

Rodriguez cited an article in Wednesday's Herald that revealed 77 percent of Greater Boston residents were planning to leave the city about the time of the convention, scheduled for July 26-29, as an example of why the orchestra nixed the show.

Hospitals blood supply affected
Jun. 28, 2004

Guardians of the region's blood supply are relocating donation sites and setting up alternative delivery routes to ensure that the Democratic National Convention will not disrupt surgeries, emergencies, and other medical needs during the last week of July....

Across Boston's sprawling medical landscape, plans are unfolding to cope with the anticipated gridlock from afternoon and evening road closings prompted by the convention. Clinic appointments are being scheduled earlier in the day, visits are being shifted to suburban offices, and at least two hospitals have reserved dormitory rooms for workers and, in one case, patients.

Because of concern about the blood supply, the Red Cross and hospitals that collect blood are trying to encourage donations before the convention. They are also crafting plans to fly blood from other parts of the country into airports other than Logan, wary that the 40 percent of donations that come from out of town by air could get stranded in traffic....

Jun. 28, 2004

Here it is in a nutshell: A crush of anxious commuters leaving work early each day will put the maximum stress on South Station between 2 and 4 p.m., as opposed to between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.

That's not so much a problem if the schedules are adjusted so that the shorter rush-hour intervals between trains are moved back accordingly.

But they won't be.

"I'm not aware of any requests for the T to make any changes to the commuter rail schedule that week," Pesatauro said on Friday.

What a bunch of baloney.

Jun. 29, 2004

Bay Staters are hardly panicking over Democratic convention gloom and doom - already planning to dodge gridlock, unconcerned about a terrorist strike and even sold on the July event's economic benefits, a new Herald poll shows.

Statewide, voters remain split over the convention - 44 percent said it'll be good for Boston overall and 43 percent believe it will hurt the city.

Beacon Hill pols run for the hills, or beaches”
(‘It's our party, you can cry if you want to ...’)
Jun. 29, 2004

Beacon Hill lawmakers are ready to run for the hills, or the beaches - or if all else fails, their home districts - to avoid the traffic onslaught expected for next month's Democratic National Convention....

Rep. Marie J. Parente (D-Milford) said critics of the early dismissal should understand that 70 to 80 percent of a legislator's work is done in the district not by "pressing the roll call button."

"It will be difficult enough for our visitors to negotiate around the city, so I think it would just be easier to not have us there," said Parente, who commutes to Boston by commuter rail.

Jun. 29, 2004

Civil rights activists denounced as unconstitutional an MBTA police plan to search T riders' bags, backpacks and briefcases, saying it would create "a police state atmosphere" during and after the Democratic National Convention.

"I don't think this is the kind of America most Americans want to live in," said Michael Avery, Massachusetts chapter president of the National Lawyers Guild.

Coast Guard closes parts of harbor to boating, searches ahead
Jun. 30, 2004

Drivers won't be the only ones in need of alternate routes during the Democratic National Convention next month.

After a year and a half of painstaking planning and coordination with other agencies, the U.S. Coast Guard yesterday announced a marine security plan for the DNC that includes an around-the-clock no-boating zone at the mouth of the Charles River....

The multiagency convention security force includes roughly 600 Coast Guardsmen throughout the service. In addition to the ships based in Boston, a 250-foot cutter will be stationed offshore to help with random security boardings.

Before the delegates arrive, the Coast Guard will have permanently stepped-up port security under the U.S. Maritime Transportation Security Act set to take effect tomorrow.

Jun. 30, 2004 The US Coast Guard will conduct random boat searches, place city tour boats and VIP vessels under armed escort, and board large freighters before they enter Boston Harbor during next month's Democratic National Convention, officials announced yesterday.
Menino still beating dead “economic benefits” horse
Jun. 30, 2004

As the back-and-forth over the true impact of the Democratic National Convention continues, the city of Boston conceded yesterday that its initial assessment didn't include $70 million in negative impacts....

But fear not, the city said yesterday: The report prepared in April also didn't include $70 million in positive impacts, convention benefits that planners contend will be felt over a 12-month period....

"The negative impacts that will occur during that one week will be more than offset by the positive impacts that will continue for months and even years," said the revised report, issued yesterday by Mayor Thomas M. Menino's office....

David G. Tuerck, whose Beacon Hill Institute last month predicted that the convention would cost the local economy as much as $50 million, said the mayor's office appears to be counting some of the benefit dollars twice.

The city is also including some $30 million in gains derived from the "advertising value of exposure." That struck Tuerck as laughable. "I wonder what the advertising value of having to shut down the city is," he said.

RMV to close for convention - no drivers licenses issued
Jun. 30, 2004

That's because the state Registry of Motor Vehicles will not be offering any road tests to drivers during the convention and perhaps for the last two weeks in July, meaning teens who had hoped to be behind the wheel by August will be out of luck.

The moratorium is the product of the intense security demanded by the weeklong Democratic bash.

Jul. 2, 2004

Delegates and union leaders from at least seven states say they will honor picket lines if Boston police make good on their intention to picket outside Democratic National Convention delegation parties, the July 25 events that have been a centerpiece of Mayor Thomas M. Menino's convention plans....

Police union members, who have been locked in a bitter and protracted contract battle with Menino, announced this week that, while they wouldn't picket the FleetCenter, they would hold signs in front of the 29 delegation parties the city is staging the night before the convention opens, as well as other events the mayor plans to attend.

Kerry compounds chaos
(‘It's our party, you can cry if you want to ...’)
Jul. 2, 2004

Senator John F. Kerry has decided he wants to give something back to the residents of his hometown: a Boston Pops concert on the Esplanade in the middle of the Democratic National Convention. The Wednesday evening concert would feature the Pops, James Taylor, and a fireworks bonanza. And potentially hundreds of thousands more people on top of those already in town for the convention....

But the gift hasn't exactly been welcomed by some city officials and Back Bay residents, who said the impact of crowds of concertgoers on an already burdened city that week could be more of a curse than blessing....

Boston police said they would expect such an event would equal the security and logistical challenges of the Fourth of July concerts at the Hatch Shell.

Jul. 2, 2004

Businesses around Boston are balancing plans to stay up and running during the July 26-29 convention with the need to ease the burden on commuters, a survey of personnel executives found.

Many businesses are preparing for "snow days" in July, with calling trees, contingency plans and flexibility guidelines. As if a winter storm were in the forecast, some businesses plan to react when they see just how bad it will be.

One company will even hand employees survival kits with food for the ride home.

State House to close for convention too?
Jul. 2, 2004

The state's most visible symbol of democracy may be closed to the people when Democrats convene here at the end of the month.

Public safety officials and Beacon Hill's top lawmakers are having "ongoing discussions" as to whether the State House will be open to the public during the Democratic National Convention the week of July 26. Officials say the discussion are being driven by concerns over whether the public could be protected during an evacuation, and the amount of increased security personnel needed for the building.

Jul. 3, 2004

City officials are raising questions about John F. Kerry's plans for a Boston Pops concert on the Esplanade during the Democratic convention, saying that the event could violate rules prohibiting political events at the Hatch Shell and also stretch police on an especially busy night, a Democrat involved in the preparations said yesterday.

"Some of us are saying, enough already," said the high-level Democrat involved in the convention planning....

Corrigan told the Globe for a story published yesterday that Kerry is "hell-bent" on the event taking place. The campaign raised $1 million from a single donor, whom he declined to identify. The Kerry aide showed no signs last night that the Kerry campaign was backing off.

Courts close to deal with convention chaos
Jul. 5, 2004

Four courtrooms and more than a dozen veteran prosecutors have been set aside to arraign unruly or civilly disobedient demonstrators during the Democratic National Convention....

Boston Municipal Court Chief Justice Charles Johnson has said planners are girding for the possibility of 1,500 to 2,500 arrests during the weeklong political bash.

Johnson said the chance that judges and probation officers may be consumed by the surge in arrests made it impossible to plan to carry on with a normal trial schedule in the city.

Local police burdened with Boston crowd control
Jul. 5, 2004

With the Democratic National Convention just three weeks away, local police departments are still learning what roles they will have in backing up state and Boston city police.

Since spring, most departments have known they would be providing officers for a crowd-control unit in Boston July 26-29. Recently, they've learned they might be responsible for patrolling some highway sections when state troopers are reassigned....

"This is incredible, the extent to which people are going to be affected," Robbins said. "But there's been enough advance (notice). If people haven't thought about an alternative way to get where they're going, shame on them."

Jul. 6, 2004

Fears of a terrorist attack have led Boston's convention host committee and nine downtown businesses, office buildings, and hotels to purchase special insurance coverage to cover the FleetCenter and the businesses for losses from terrorism....

While convention organizers were looking for terrorism coverage, owners of highly valued hotels, businesses, and office buildings that are near the FleetCenter, the site of the convention, also added terrorism to their liability coverage.

Jul. 7, 2004

Taxpayers shelled out nearly $107,000 in just four days of overtime to cops assigned to police their fellow union members protesting in front of the FleetCenter....

Barbara Anderson, executive director for Citizens for Limited Taxation found the figure appalling.

She laughed, saying, "$107,000 for the police to police the police who are picketing because they don't have a contract. What a zoo. It's insane." ...

Menino had sought the federal court ruling so that construction could begin for the four-day DNC extravaganza planned for later this month.

"The whole thing was his idea," Anderson said, noting that he must be embarrassed. "Everything that goes wrong just falls in his lap."

Jul. 7, 2004

State public safety officials began a thorough review yesterday of John F. Kerry's plans for a Boston Pops concert on the Esplanade during the Democratic convention, throwing a potential roadblock in the way of an event that is a top priority of the hometown nominee....

Kerry's proposed concert has raised objections from some convention planners, who feared that the July 28 event would strain resources on the same night that security personnel are focused on vice presidential nominee John Edwards's speech to the convention. The concert, which could draw hundreds of thousands of people, would feature the Pops, James Taylor, and a fireworks bonanza.

Jul. 8, 2004

Sen. John Kerry's plans to host a Boston Pops concert on the Esplanade during the Democratic convention were shot down Thursday by Romney administration officials who refused to issue a permit, citing logistical and security concerns.

Katherine Abbott, commissioner of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, decided against granting the permit for the July 28 concert and fireworks at the Hatch Shell after the state's public safety secretary advised against it.

Jul. 8, 2004

So this is the ugly truth: It cost the good taxpayers of this city $107,000 to pay for the police to police the police....

What a hideous waste of resources - a waste of money and a waste of talent and manpower that would be better used to make this community safer, and not just safer from off-duty police.

Jul. 8, 2004

An unprecedented flood of private donations from corporations and individuals is funding this year's national political conventions, and donors to the Boston 2004 convention host committee include a range of healthcare companies and others with interests before Congress and the city, a report has found.

Jul. 9, 2004

Kerry campaign officials - frustrated that the state nixed a special Democratic convention Boston Pops concert - charged the Romney administration sat on their permit request and failed to even discuss the issue with them.

Jul. 9, 2004

State officials rejected John Kerry's request yesterday for a Boston Pops concert on the Esplanade during the Democratic National Convention, saying it would require a massive security effort and create gridlock amounting to a "serious public safety hazard."

Jul. 9, 2004

The Bush administration warned again yesterday that Al Qaeda terrorists are "moving forward" with plans to attack the United States during the presidential campaign, but said authorities have no specific intelligence that this month's Democratic National Convention in Boston, or its Republican counterpart in New York, is a target.

Jul. 9, 2004

If $95 million plopped into the laps of local politicians, they could throw a convention for 35,000 Democrats and reporters -- or fly every Bostonian to Orlando. Or easily pay the salary of the New York Yankees' infield.

The cost of the Democratic convention is now pegged at $95 million, nearly twice the amount city officials originally forecast in 2002. At least half of that total is expected to be public money, mostly the federal government's share of security costs, and the rest is private donations. Another $14.9 million is coming from the federal government for the convention committee....

The money could build nine 500-student elementary schools or cover the cost of refurbishing 50 structurally deficient bridges. The money could pay for 19,000 street lights. Or it could buy Chevrolet Malibus, which cost about $26,000 each, for every one of the 3,632 people who live in Nahant.

No dying allowed during DNC convention either!
Jul. 10, 2004

With some 40 miles of roadway being closed for the convention and with hospitals and nursing homes located in or near a zone of heightened security around the FleetCenter, the caller wondered if arrangements had been made to transport the dead.

"I thought we had talked about it all," Baddour said. "They raised a legitimate point: What are they supposed to do with the bodies? It's an area I'm sure no one thought of." ...

But despite the assurances, some funeral directors say that security restrictions, road closures, and convention-related traffic mean that funerals in downtown Boston could all but come to a halt during the week of the convention.

The problem is bigger than the inconvenience to families who may decide to delay memorial services and burials, the funeral directors say. Many nursing homes and some hospitals, most notably Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital next door to the FleetCenter, lack refrigerated facilities for storing bodies....

With most wakes held in the afternoon and early evening, Richard Sullivan of Sullivan Funeral Home in Brighton said that even if hearses get through security checkpoints, funeral guests probably would not....

"We just have to pray that everybody stays healthy," said Marguerite Arrigo, office manager at the Langone Funeral Home.

Jul. 11, 2004

It's a good thing that state Secretary of Public Safety Edward Flynn had the sense to nix John Kerry's plan to hold a Boston Pops Concert on the Esplanade during the Democratic National Convention.

C'mon, Senator. In case you hadn't heard, Boston will be the site of the most expensive and largest nonmilitary law enforcement buildup in the history of the United States.

Jul. 11, 2004

After 18 months of planning, and just days before an estimated 35,000 visitors descend on Boston for the Democratic National Convention, federal, state, and local law enforcement officials will roll out the most ambitious security operation ever mounted in New England.

At a cost of about $50 million, or nearly half the convention's budget, an estimated 3,000 local, state, and federal law enforcement officers from nearly 100 departments will be assigned to police the convention, fanning out across a city that officials fear could be an attractive target for extremists.

Never again!
Jul. 11, 2004

Boston is busy girding for the Democratic National Convention. With any luck, it will be the last....

But let's confront the truth: For the delegates there will be no functions beyond the ones in hotel ballrooms and hospitality suites. For the thousands of reporters there will be no story, except to point out that there is no story...

Later this month the Democrats should make another promise. They should promise never to do this again.

Jul. 14, 2004

The federal government has begun shipping chemical warfare antidotes to different parts of the country, with Boston and New York at the top of the list thanks to the Democratic and Republican conventions....

Meanwhile, neighbors of the Democratic convention site said the latest anti-terror news is one more reason not to love it.

"We're trying to get away," said George Burden, whose view includes the Fleet Center, who said he's irked the convention is "forcing us out of our apartment."

Jul. 14, 2004

Transportation planners, worried about gridlock during the Democratic National Convention, plan new restrictions on Interstate 93 as part of an effort to persuade drivers to use Route 128 instead.

Planners had already announced that the 6-mile stretch of I-93 that snakes through downtown past the FleetCenter will be closed from approximately 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. each day during the convention. Under the restrictions detailed yesterday, only two lanes of traffic will be allowed on the portions of the interstate north and south of the city that will remain open.

In addition, if the congestion gets too heavy, a longer stretch of the interstate will be shut down altogether.

Jul. 14, 2004

Attendees of the Democratic National Convention have pulled out of hundreds of hotel rooms in Boston’s suburbs in recent weeks, leaving executives scrambling to find last-minute guests to fill the empty space.

The Sheraton Ferncroft Resort in Danvers, which had blocked off 328 of its 367 rooms for convention guests, learned last week that convention organizers would take just 50 per night — potentially costing the hotel more than $350,000 in lost revenue....

The Democratic National Convention Committee placed a hold on thousands of hotel rooms in the area to accommodate the delegates, media members, and other guests. Corporations and other groups also reserved blocks of rooms to ensure space for employees and attendees.

But as the date of the convention approached, attendees and organizers firmed up their plans. In some cases, they didn’t need all the space they reserved; in others, they found accommodations closer to the FleetCenter, where the convention is being held.

Jul. 15, 2004

Commuters using Interstate 93 are not the Pavlovian dogs Democratic National Convention transportation planners take them for.

There is no need to add to the DNC traffic headache by closing another lane of that highway southbound from Woburn to Medford and northbound from Braintree to the Frontage Road/Massachusetts Turnpike exit. All this just to try to modify commuters' behavior.

Jul. 15, 2004

When you gotta go, you gotta go - unless you're in town for the Democratic National Convention.

Party-hearty Democrats may have to hold it or commune with the great outdoors of downtown Boston, a fact that has city officials suddenly panicked.

Pols are terrified over the 11th-hour realization that Boston's handful of public toilets shut down at 5 p.m. sharp - long before the 35,000 convention-goers stagger into the streets after last call in local bars.

Jul. 15, 2004

At some point, now that Boston plans to shut down 40 miles of highway, spend at least $32 million in federal tax dollars just for police and emergency personnel overtime expenses, and suspend for at least four days the rights protected under the U.S. Constitution by searching anyone boarding the MBTA, it might be a good thing to ask whether having the Democratic National Convention here was really worth it.

Dems convention shuts down pools . . . ‘for the children
(‘It's our party, you can cry if you want to ...’)
Jul. 16, 2004

While Democratic convention bigwigs hobnob in the air-conditioned FleetCenter and swank function rooms, city kids will find gates to some neighborhood swimming pools padlocked because of security and traffic concerns.

Pools in Cambridge and Somerville will be closed early during the July 26 Democratic National Convention week "to facilitate area traffic flow," while the Lee Wading Pool on the Esplanade has been closed entirely to make way for a state police command post....

Cambridge Mayor Michael Sullivan said the pool's hours wouldn't impact traffic because most kids who swim there walk from neighboring homes.

"I think it's a bad decision," Sullivan said. "We have a large number of kids in that area. We have not had a hot summer so far, but that is a major outlet for kids in our community."

Jul. 17, 2004

While angry parents fumed over the shutdown of some public pools during the Democratic National Convention, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano blasted the state agency in charge, calling the decision "overkill."

"To close down a pool on what is on average the hottest week of the year is nuts," Capuano said. "These kids have no other place to go. It's unnecessary."

Jul. 17, 2004

Drawing the line between what's necessary and what's excessive when it comes to security and traffic control for the Democratic National Convention is not an easy job, to be sure. But we'd feel a lot better if we knew it was someone's job to draw that line.

At the peak of summer, the Magazine Pool in Cambridge and the Latta Brothers Pool in Somerville will be closed 1 hours early - the one because it's on Memorial Drive, the other because it's near an Interstate-93 off-ramp. How silly.

Jul. 17, 2004

If he arranges the pasta container just so and then stacks up two banana boxes next to the canned tomato display, Bruce "Albie" Alba figures that the contraption will hold up for four days. That's where the North End produce vendor plans to sleep during the Democratic National Convention.

He won't be alone. Worried that some 40 miles of road closures will keep them from getting back and forth between work and home, many North End business owners who live in the suburbs are preparing to stay in their shops, rather than close early or shut down altogether....

While sleeping in stores and restaurants is illegal, many are betting that city officials, already under fire for expected inconveniences that week, won't be looking for offenders. And they appear to be right.

Jul. 17, 2004

Suffolk County officials are gearing up for the arrest of as many as 2,500 protesters during the Democratic National Convention, scheduling dozens of prosecutors and defense lawyers to handle cases, designating four judges for arraignments, and emptying scores of jail cells.

Jul. 18, 2004

The pothole plague has been lifted like a miracle from the areas around the Democratic National Convention site, but outlying neighborhoods are complaining that Boston's DNC beautification is passing them by.

With indignation growing over the haves and have-nots of a sudden spurt of street repairs, more than 1,200 Boston residents have signed petitions in the last two months, demanding the release of pent-up roadwork money.

Jul. 18, 2004

The Democratic National Convention Committee - facing embarrassing public criticism on their record of doling out contracts to businesses owned by women and minorities - is flatly refusing to provide details of their contracting process.

After numerous inquiries from the Herald about DNCC catering contracts, the DNCC refused to provide the information, citing a privacy policy.

Jul. 19, 2004

"Do not go to Boston during the DNC!" New Hampshire Motor Transport Association President Robert Sculley recently wrote in the group's newsletter.

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Motor Transportation Association has advised Bay State truckers to allow for an extra 2 1/2 hours of delay - at least - if they can't avoid I-93 between Woburn and Braintree. All trucks traveling that stretch of the highway will be searched, MMTA said.

The DNC Convention arrives:
Promised ‘Boston business bonanza’ a bitter bust
Jul. 28, 2004

North End restaurant owners are cursing the Democratic National Convention as a business bust that has scared away their regular customers and turned a tourist mecca into a desolate security zone.

"I do more business during a February snowstorm than I've done this week," said a downtrodden Dom Capossela, owner of Dom's Ristorante on Salem Street. "It's an absolute disaster."

Hopes were high for a hefty boost from convention traffic this week, but many restaurateurs say business has been so slow they are planning to close early unless they see a dramatic turnaround....

The depressing pace of business stood in stark contrast to rosy predictions from city officials that the convention would produce a flood of business for local bars and restaurants....

"They hyped everybody up for this and when it's all said and done they're going to come out with what it costs taxpayers (for security)," D'Amelio said.

Jul. 28, 2004

Boston merchants who anticipated jingling cash registers with the arrival of the Democratic National Convention say the promise has been a bust as an exodus of locals, a boycott of Boston by commuters, and slower-than-expected convention trade have driven down sales at many businesses by more than 50 percent....

From the North End's candlelit trattorias to the high-sheen boutiques of Newbury Street, business was so slack that grousing owners were forced to send workers home early -- even from shops and restaurants that had stocked up in anticipation of brisk convention commerce....

"We thought that according to the mayor, business was going to be good around here. But we got absolutely nothing," said Albert Scaperelli, manager of the Euno Ristorante in the North End. "We were so supportive of the city that we even changed our hours to cater the DNC. But we haven't seen one person from the DNC." ...

Some merchants said Menino and the Democrats committed a significant tactical error by locating the convention in the congested neighborhood around the FleetCenter, rather than at the new convention center in South Boston. That location, farther from Interstate 93, would have kept more roads open and would have had virtually no effect on downtown businesses, they said.

Now that the damage has been done, said Joseph Pagliuca, owner of Pagliuca's Ristorante on Parmenter Street, Menino should reimburse North End eateries for their losses.

Jul. 28, 2004

Mayor Thomas M. Menino is fending off complaints that businesses are suffering because residents fled, tourists avoided the city and Democratic conventioneers are being privately entertained.

After swearing that delegates wielding fistfuls of cash would jump-start the local economy, Menino said yesterday, "I can understand their anger - I'm not making any excuses. We'll make it up to them when we bring other conventions to the city."

But businesses are worried about surviving the one that's already here.

More chaos surely is coming ... do check back!

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