CITIZENS   FOR  LIMITED  TAXATION
and the

Citizens Economic Research Foundation

-- Boston DNC Convention 2004 --
Anatomy of an inevitable taxpayer mugging

- Page 1 -


Introduction

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 corporate large 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


"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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Herald
Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Convention donors have business with city
by Ellen J. Silberman

More than a dozen companies that have pledged to fund the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston have business before City Hall, records show.

The list of donors - a who's who of Boston firms - includes nine developers awaiting project approvals, a law firm with a lucrative no-bid contract and one of the city's health care providers.

"It's all part of the pay to play system in America," said Ben Bycel, vice president of Common Cause, a group that had called for a ban on corporate donations to political conventions.

"Very little money changes hands in politics without a motive and the motive is usually the person giving money wants something," Bycel said.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino, in a speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce yesterday, brushed aside such accusations, calling the donors "public-spirited."

"They didn't come forward to win a government contract, or obtain any favored treatment. No such thing was ever offered or requested," he 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.

Menino, U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), Menino's former chief of staff David Passafaro, the president of Boston 2004; and developer Alan Levanthal made the calls that brought in the cash and helped woo Democrats to Boston.

Levanthal's Beacon Capital Partners, which promised $250,000 for the convention, needs only a permit from the Inspectional Services Department before it can break ground on its $350 million residential, office and retail development in the Fort Port Channel section of South Boston.

The new owners of the Boston Red Sox, who have repeatedly asked the city for help improving Fenway Park so they don't have to build a new ballpark, pledged $100,000.

Law firm Brown, Rudnick, Berlack Israels, which promised $50,000, holds a $635,000 no-bid contract to represent the city as it fights against a new runway at Logan International Airport.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, whose health care coverage is written into many of the city's union contracts, promised $1 million to Boston 2004. More than 20 of the city's unions are currently in negotiations and Menino yesterday warned that tough fiscal times would lead to tighter contracts in the future.

Aides to both Menino and Kennedy said the quartet of fund-raisers were careful to avoid explicit conflicts.

"The mayor wanted to do this in a way that was beyond reproach," said Menino spokeswoman Carole Brennan. "If someone had business with the city, Senator Kennedy made the phone call."

Stephanie Cutter, spokeswoman for Kennedy, said, "Precautions were taken to prevent any conflicts of interest. The companies we raised money from have a genuine interest in bringing the convention to Boston because it will be a significant boost to the local economy and potentially their own bottom line."

In one case, a source close to the process said Kennedy delayed a call seeking a convention donation from AmGen, Inc., until after the company had resolved a business issue involving a federal agency. AmGen later pledged $500,000 when called by Kennedy.

But Bycel said such a division of labor between Menino and Kennedy in wooing contributors to avoid conflicts was "hokum."

"If anybody believes that, I have a bridge to sell them," said Bycel. "Everybody knows where the money's going and who looks at the giving sheet."

Among $100,000 donors with projects pending are: Carpenter & Co, Inc., awaiting zoning relief for a hotel project; Equity Office Properties Trust, in the midst of the Boston Redevelopment Authority approval process for a waterfront project; Millennium Properties, seeking designation as the developer for a controversial Chinatown project; Spaulding & Slye Colliers, waiting for state and city approval on the Fan Pier project; Marriott, seeking BRA approval for Dorchester hotel expansion; and Starwood Hotel, putting together financing for a new convention center headquarters hotel.

New England Development, which pledged $50,000, is seeking BRA approval for a South Boston project while Winn Development, which promised $25,000, is seeking BRA approval for two projects, including one over the Mass Pike.


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Herald
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Business Section

Convention may rescue real estate: Space free, and DNC needs it
by Scott Van Voorhis


In what could be a shot in the arm for the Hub's battered real estate market, the Democratic National Committee may soon be on the hunt for close to 100,000 square feet of office space, city officials said yesterday.

As the DNC lays out plans to hold its 2004 national convention in the Hub, the party has sent out word that it may need a sizable block of office space by mid-2003, officials indicated.

The DNC may need up to 70,000 square feet for an 18-month period for its Hub headquarters. Added to that, the party may also need four 5,000-square-foot satellite offices, a city official said.

And as much 140,000 square feet may be needed to handle the thousands of reporters expected to descend on the presidential nominating convention, though the vast majority of that is parking lot space for media trucks, according to city convention documents.

With Boston's real estate market reeling as the major employers slash payrolls and dump commercial space, the news of the DNC's hunger for offices has lifted the spirits of building owners and real estate brokers.

Many have been scrambling to fill empty corporate suites and find ways of making ends meet until business picks up, observers say. But that isn't expected to occur for another year or two.

"The good thing ... is that it gets them through the tough market," said Jay Driscoll, a downtown real estate expert at Cushman & Wakefield of Massachusetts Inc.

The DNC's office hunt is also expected to be good news for the rough-edged area of sports shops, eateries and revamped buildings around the FleetCenter.

The area, once popular among developers looking to remake old industrial buildings into glitzy space for Internet firms, has fallen on tough times, observers say.

The North Station market's office vacancy rate is roughly 10 percent, a number that would be higher if a 130,000-square-foot office project under construction on Causeway Street is also counted.

"The North Station market is very soft," Driscoll said.

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.


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Globe
Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Many convention donors have interests before city
By Stephanie Ebbert and Ross Kerber, Globe Staff


A review of the complete list of the 64 private donors who have pledged $21 million to Boston's bid to host the Democratic National Convention reveals that many of the corporations and developers have interests before the administration of Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who is benefiting politically from the city's selection as host for the huge political gathering. 

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.

In an interview with the Globe yesterday, Menino said his administration and the convention host committee will impose ethical guidelines to prevent favoritism, or its appearance, toward the donors. The mayor and his allies on the host committee are seeking additional donations, most of them in-kind services, from more companies in the weeks and months ahead.

"You always have to be careful when you have a multimillion dollar project in front of you, how do you put the firewall up?" Menino said. "That's always the challenge."

The corporate contributors include major developers with big projects before the city, including: 

Winn Development, which committed $25,000, and plans to build 400 units of luxury housing on Clippership Wharf, as well as a 29-floor tower at Columbus Center, above the Massachusetts Turnpike between Back Bay and the South End. Both projects are under review at the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

Equity Office Properties Trust, which promised $100,000, and just introduced plans for a hotel, office tower, and loft-style homes for Russia Wharf. 

Millennium Properties, which pledged $100,000, recently built the new Ritz-Carlton downtown, and is vying for the right to develop a nearby lot for the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

Spaulding & Slye Colliers, the firm that has nearly completed the city approval process for the Fan Pier development project, contributed $100,000. 

Starwood Hotels, which won the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority's bid to build a hotel accompanying the new convention center, pledged $100,000. Starwood is struggling to obtain financing for the hotel, and needs permits and further approvals from the BRA.

Carpenter & Company, which worked with Starwood to win the hotel bid, is awaiting zoning approval to convert the former Charles Street jail into a luxury hotel; it gave $100,000. New England Development, whose principal Steve Karp is among those trying to salvage the Starwood deal, promised $50,000. The firm also has preliminary plans before the city for a 1 million-square-foot project of offices, hotels, and residences on Pier 4 on the South Boston waterfront. 

Suffolk Construction, which gave $25,000 and often bids on city school construction, in addition to private residential development in Boston, is completing construction on a new school in Mattapan and the rehabilitation of Boston Latin School.

Cashman Construction, which gave $30,000, is currently working with the city on a $1 million project to stabilize the Long Island shoreline. 

Representatives from Spaulding & Slye Colliers, Millennium, New England Development, and Winn did not return phone calls for comment. 

Local companies dominate the list of pledges because the Federal Election Commission requires that convention host committees raise the money from local firms or organizations. Yesterday, during a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Menino lauded the corporate contributors, likening the "public-spirited folks" to "merchants who bankrolled and backboned Colonial Boston." He insisted their interests were unselfish.

"They didn't come forward to win a government contract or obtain any favored treatment," he said. "No such thing was ever offered or requested. That's not what this was about." 

But Larry Noble, executive director for the Center for Responsive Politics, based in Washington, criticized the corporations' involvement, calling the political party conventions among the last remaining opportunities for businesses to give unlimited funds, and build positive relationships with powerful political figures.

"It's a fine line. I have no doubt that some of the contributors are doing it just to boost the city," Noble said. "I have no doubt that some of the contributors are doing it because they want something. And many of them probably have a mixed motive."

Menino said he sought to avoid conflicts in soliciting the convention funds, and did not personally ask for contributions from developers who have pending projects before the city, instead relying on convention committee cochairman Alan Leventhal to tap his fellow developers. The mayor, however, did solicit funds from law firms, including some that handle affairs before the city.

In late October, Menino met with representatives of the city's top law firms at the Parkman House on Beacon Hill. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who also raised funds, called into the meeting by phone, and US Senator John F. Kerry stopped by, said one participant. City law firms contributed a collective $475,000.

Among the firms that gave were Brown Rudnick Berlack Israels, $50,000; Foley Hoag, $100,000; and Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky, and Popeo, $100,000.

Kennedy spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said the senator and the mayor divided up the list of businesses they contacted, to make sure neither appealed to companies with business pending before them.

"There was a decision made up front to ensure there would be no conflicts of interest with those from whom we raised the money," she said. "If there was a pending issue before the city, the senator, more often than not, reached out to those people," she said.

Menino also stressed that businesspeople who know him are already fully aware that he will not be swayed, or view their projects favorably, because of their donations.

"It doesn't make any difference to me," he said, adding that he has rejected the plans of political contributors in the past. "I've done that before and I'll do it in the future. This is not about access. This is about civic pride."

But the issues could be particularly thorny because Menino has long been known for having such a direct hand in development decisions, such as when he helped to chart the future of the Boston Red Sox by insisting that their park remain rooted in the Fenway. Among the convention contributors are the new owners of the Red Sox, who pledged $100,000, and the Fenway Howard Johnson's, which would have been demolished as a result of the former Sox owners' building plans.

Howard Johnson's owner Bill Sage said there is no link between his hotel's $30,000 commitment to the DNC host committee and his hotel's future.

"Absolutely not. It's completely separate," Sage said. "Who else is going to contribute? There's nothing to do with it and I resent that." 

Sage said he had given to past civic efforts to help Boston try to lure the World Cup, and that hoteliers are an appropriate business to solicit, because they are expected to be the direct beneficiaries of the convention delegate spending. Sage owns 298 hotel rooms at the Howard Johnson's Fenway and the Radisson in Cambridge. 

"People come into the city and they like it so much, they want to come back," Sage said. "It's an ad, more or less. Short-term returns are significant, but long-term, there's even more. You're trying to market the city and this is the best way to do it with a national audience." 


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Herald
Thursday, December 12, 2002

Ethics panel asked to probe Menino over DNC 'conflict'
by Ellen J. Silberman


A watchdog group yesterday called on state ethics officials to investigate whether Mayor Thomas M. Menino violated conflict of interest laws by asking companies to donate cash to bring the 2004 Democratic National Convention to Boston.

"We can't have our public officials giving the impression that our government is up for sale - even for a worthy cause," said Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause of Massachusetts.

"If Menino did solicit companies that have business before the city of Boston, then it appears that there would be a violation of the state's conflict of interest law," she said. "There's enough evidence of a potential ethics violation that we would like the Ethics Commission to look into this."

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

U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass), who joined Menino in raising $20 million to bankroll the 2004 convention, has his conduct governed by the Senate Ethics Committee and faces no such prohibition.

The Herald reported yesterday that more than a dozen of the 60 plus businesses that pledged cash to Boston 2004, the nonprofit organization funding the convention, are either awaiting regulatory approval or have contracts with the city.

Aides to both Kennedy and Menino said the group divided their duties so Menino could steer clear of the state's conflict of interest law.

"Kennedy and the mayor established guidelines ahead of time," said Menino's spokeswoman Carole Brennan. "The mayor did not call anybody who had business before the city."

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.

Wilmot said she would like an investigation to determine who Menino called regarding the convention.

"If they were as scrupulous as they claim in dividing the solicitations between the other solicitors and the mayor, there would be no conflict under the law," said Wilmot. "It boils down to an issue of fact . . . this is something the Ethics Commission should look into."

In 1992, then-Gov. William F. Weld asked the state Ethics Commission for permission to sign a fund-raising letter on behalf of a nonprofit organization that was trying to bring the international summer Olympic Games to Boston.

The commission said, "No," explaining that because many of the companies on the group's mailing list were regulated by the state, Weld's signature on the letter would create the appearance of favoritism for those who gave to the nonprofit because of the "inherently exploitable nature" of the situation.

Wilmot and others familiar with the ethics law said the Weld opinion would govern Menino's conduct.

"The principles of that opinion would apply," said a source familiar with ethics laws. "The issue would be whether Mayor Menino is using his position to secure an unwarranted privilege."

Menino's former chief of staff David Passafaro, president of Boston 2004, and Alan Levanthal, a private developer who helped with the calls, are not covered by the state ethics statute.


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Globe
Thursday, December 12, 2002

Unions see '04 helping talks
Convention peace could be a big chip
By Yvonne Abraham, Globe Staff


Boston's unions will have a mighty sharp arrow in their quiver as they sit down with city officials to renegotiate their labor contracts over the next 18 months: the threat of embarrassment for Mayor Thomas M. Menino during what should be his national triumph - the 2004 Democratic National Convention. 

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.

"Do I think the convention is the key to our success? No," said Thomas Nee of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association. "But it's definitely going to assure me I don't get killed in the process."

State AFL-CIO president Robert J. Haynes also hinted that failure by the city to provide union members with satisfactory contracts might have unwelcome consequences during the weeklong event.

"In the spirit of making sure the convention goes smoothly, the Massachusetts AFL-CIO wants to make sure that numerous unsigned contracts with the City of Boston are resolved to the satisfaction of our affiliate unions," Haynes wrote in a statement. "Resolving those unsigned contracts will go a long way toward ensuring a smooth 2004 Democratic Convention." 

Labor relations is a sensitive issue for the mayor, who emerged from a protracted, disruptive, and politically bruising battle with Boston's firefighters last year, after which he was criticized for handing out what some saw as an overly generous contract to mollify the union. And, as he prepares to host the convention, city finances are in the worst shape of his tenure, leaving him with little to offer the other powerful unions.

In addition, Menino is determined to show the nation that Boston has overcome its old reputation for political warring and gridlock, an effort that labor unrest would sabotage.

City officials said they are determined to complete all the contract negotiations well before the convention, and are fully prepared for the threat of protests to be held over their heads. 

"I would hope that no union would use the convention to really cause problems," said Dennis DiMarzio, chief operating officer for the city. "That's a national event, a very important one, not a local event. But the fact of life is, it's something I'm sure the unions will use as a point of leverage to put pressure on the mayor to come up with more money."

So far, DiMarzio said, he is optimistic the threats will not be carried out. Menino yesterday referred questions on the subject to DiMarzio.

Still, this will be a particularly grueling series of negotiations. Governor-elect Mitt Romney has already warned that the state will be facing a 2004 budget deficit of at least $2 billion, and that cities and towns will be forced to make do with much less as a result. Menino has already said publicly that the city has far less to give police and other unions than it did during the last round of contract talks, a claim of which Nee was skeptical yesterday.

"They came up with $17 million out of the city's budget to get this DNC here," Nee said, referring to the public funds pledged for the Democratic convention. "I know some folks have said this is Menino's legacy. He really wanted the convention here. But in my legacy, I prefer to be known for dignity and respect and trust. We can't support something 20 months away when we haven't got our issues resolved today." 

Although contracts for numerous other city employees - teachers, clerical workers, youth workers - will come up for renegotiation before the convention, the police union is perhaps the most critical. The teachers have said they will not disrupt the event. And city officials will be relying on the 2,000 officers, along with state and federal security agencies, to work serious overtime hours to keep the streets tranquil as 35,000 delegates, dignitaries, media people, and protesters stream in. The police contracts have already expired.

Nee said his union will be aiming for a contract as generous as the one Boston firefighters won last year, after an often ugly public battle in which firefighters dogged Menino at public appearances - and supported his 2001 Democratic primary rival, Peggy Davis- Mullen. After months of battle, and just before the mayoral election, Menino gave firefighters a 22 percent raise over four years and a generous sick leave policy.

That has raised expectations among union members, but city officials say giving police and other municipal workers similar contracts is out of the question.

Both Nee and Haynes stress that they fully support the Boston convention. As part of the city's proposal, Haynes sent party officials a letter to say the AFL-CIO "stands strong and unified behind all efforts to make Boston the site of the next Democratic National Convention."

"We think it's great, terrific that the [Democratic National Committee] has selected Boston," Nee said. "It's a very great city, and we take a great amount of pride in what we do for the city."

But while that pride does not preclude protest for those union officials, others said the convention is too important to the city to be disrupted. Boston Teachers Union president Ed Doherty, who is stepping down, said union members who disrupt the convention would be "cutting off their noses to spite their faces."

"I don't intend to use the national convention as a bargaining chip in negotiations," Doherty said. "I think, basically, public employees in this city are going to benefit from having this city made attractive to conventions and to tourists. Public employees benefit when the city is seen as an attractive place to live."


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Herald
Friday, December 13, 2002

Mayor didn't consult ethics officials on DNC
by Ellen J. Silberman


Mayor Thomas M. Menino said yesterday he did not consult state ethics officials before setting out to raise $20 million to bring the 2004 Democratic National Convention to Boston.

"I didn't go to them," said Menino, adding he'd sought advice from "other folks who understand those laws."

Menino's spokeswoman Carole Brennan said the mayor had discussed the ethics laws with unnamed "private lawyers."

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.


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Globe
Friday, December 13, 2002

Common Cause to seek query into convention funds
By Stephanie Ebbert, Globe Staff


Massachusetts Common Cause plans to send a complaint to the state Ethics Commission today requesting an investigation into Mayor Thomas M. Menino's efforts to raise corporate contributions to help bring the Democratic National Convention to Boston. 

Pam Wilmot, executive director of the government watchdog group, said the letter will ask whether the mayor violated ethics law by asking for corporate contributions that helped Boston win the bid for the 2004 convention.

"We haven't been happy about the whole situation having millions of dollars poured into a political convention," Wilmot said. "It's part of the whole problem of money and politics." 

Menino and US Senator Edward M. Kennedy led a fund-raising effort that collected more than $21 million from corporate donors that helped Boston convince the Democratic National Committee it could help finance the event.

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.

The state's conflict of interest law prohibits public officials from soliciting anything of "substantial value" from constituents that would not be similarly available to the public. The Ethics Commission would not comment on the matter yesterday.

Menino's spokeswoman Carole Brennan said the mayor sought legal advice on the ethics laws. "He believes that he and the senator and the committee are abiding by the laws and will continue to abide by the laws," Brennan said. "He truly believes that he went into this with good advice and good intentions and didn't look for donations from anyone who was doing business before the city."

Wilmot said she wants an "investigation to make sure the mayor is as scrupulous as he claims to be." She also said the largely unregulated funding stream for a political convention creates a loophole for political giving.

"You're either making it difficult for corporations to say no or giving the impression that preferential treatment is given to people who give money," she said.

She compared the situation to a 1992 ethics ruling sought by then-Governor William F. Weld, who wanted to solicit corporate contributions for an effort to lure the Olympics to Boston. The Ethics Commission ruled against it, saying that public officials were prohibited from soliciting anything from people within their jurisdiction "because of the inherently exploitable nature of these solicitations." As a result, Weld was not permitted to sign a fund-raising letter in his capacity as governor.

The ruling clarified that the principle applies even when the money would benefit "non-governmental entities that arguably perform a public purpose." 

Leventhal and others have said that the donors were demonstrating their civic commitment in offering funds.

The infusion of corporate cash expected for the Democratic and Republican 2004 conventions has already raised concerns from campaign reform advocates, who have asked the Federal Elections Commission to classify the donations as "soft money" contributions, which are banned under the new McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law.

One of the legislation's original sponsors, Democratic US Rep. Martin Meehan, of Lowell, said that most of the contributions from Boston-area business will probably be used in ways that don't violate the act.

"Boston and the surrounding communities stand to benefit enormously from the Democratic convention in 2004, so there will be a lot of significant and long-lasting economic effects," Meehan said. However, Meehan urged the elections-commission to begin a rulemaking process to sort out what sort of contributions should be permitted. "I think it's important that both parties not let conventions become an excuse for a lot of wining and dining by corporations," he said.

Ross Kerber of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Globe
Sunday, December 15, 2002

Convention contrast sets deadlines for host group
By Corey Dade, Globe Staff


The contract to be signed on Tuesday finalizing Boston as host of the 2004 Democratic National Convention will establish a series of requirements that organizers must meet in the next 18 months, the most pressing of which will be securing funding commitments for the event's $49.5 million price tag a year in advance, according to sources involved in the negotiations. 

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.

The sources said the provision was inserted by the Democratic National Committee as a safeguard against the financial debacle of the party's Los Angeles convention in 2000, which had fallen millions of dollars short weeks before the event started. If the host committee, known as Boston 2004, does not meet the June deadline, it has 90 days to comply. The contract doesn't specify penalties for failing to meet the deadline, the sources said. 

In addition, the host committee must submit monthly reports to the DNC on the amounts of donations received and spending. 

The agreement, drafted the weekend before Boston was selected as the host city Nov. 14, calls for the creation of about 400 paid convention jobs and specifies that Boston businesses will compete for a significant portion of convention contracts, as opposed to the custom at most conventions of hiring national companies to perform most of the work. The Boston 2004 committee negotiated for the provision, sources said.

"The contract addresses all the issues we had as far as community participation, community outreach," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "I'm very pleased 2004 [host] committee and the DNC were able to come to agreement."

The host committee also insisted that Boston residents get first consideration as candidates for the temporary positions. City officials said job fairs will be held to attract applicants and assess their qualifications for various positions. Likewise, forums will be staged to give local business owners information about convention work. 

The city has organized a day of fanfare around the signing Tuesday at the FleetCenter, the site of the convention. Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe will be in town to lend his signature, with US Senators Edward M. Kennedy, a major convention fund-raiser, and John F. Kerry as well as dozens of other local elected, business, and community leaders. 

Keeping his pledge to present a diverse image of Boston and ensure minority participation in the event, Menino tapped Colette Phillips Communications Inc., a Needham-based, minority-owned public relations and event marketing firm, to plan the contract signing ceremony.

Requirements for transportation, security, insurance, and production of the stage and other features inside the FleetCenter also were laid out in the contract. The sources said it will stipulate that the host committee provide as many as 200 vehicles to carry dignitaries. The MBTA will provide about 400 rail passes for convention workers and 125 buses to shuttle convention delegates and others between Logan International Airport, the FleetCenter, and area hotels.


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Globe
Tuesday, December 17, 2002

DNC has price tags, details galore for '04
Convention budget touches many bases
By Yvonne Abraham, Globe Staff


Nearly $400,000 worth of balloons and ticker tape will fall from the rafters, and more than $231,000 will be paid to janitors to sweep it all up. Hospitality suites, costing $300,000, will be set up inside the hall for special guests, and $20,000 worth of golf carts will ferry them around the center if they get weary. Reporters will revel at an $800,000 welcome party, then head for a $5.7 million work space to send dispatches to media outlets around the world.

Hosting the Democratic National Convention is not cheap.

A detailed convention budget obtained by the Globe reveals the myriad expenses and complicated logistics that await organizers of the huge party gathering, to be held in Boston's FleetCenter the week of July 26, 2004.

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.

The detailed budget gives the first clear picture of what the event will look like, if all goes according to plan, and how many moving parts must be coordinated to make it happen.

Of the convention's $49.5 million cost, $20 million will come from cash contributions from private donors such as corporations, which organizers also expect to provide $12 million in goods and services. An additional $17.5 million will come from public funds.

Many of the in-kind contributions have yet to be finalized, but General Motors is expected to provide a fleet of about 300 cars to transport members of the Democratic National Committee, for example. Organizers expect most of the in-kind contributions to come in the form of computer equipment, office space, and telecommunications equipment and services.

The city expects to assemble $17.5 million in public expenditures, some in-kind, and some in cash.

And though city officials have tried to anticipate every contingency in the budget, there may be bulges in some areas. In the 2000 Democratic convention in Los Angeles, costs to taxpayers were triple the original estimates, as costs ballooned and gifts from private donors fell short. And though Boston officials have been better prepared, winning $20 million in commitments from private donors already, overruns may yet appear. In 2000, both national party conventions exceeded their initial budgets.

Although the Democratic National Committee, and not the city's host committee, oversees what happens inside the FleetCenter, the local committee is responsible for finding the money to cover the costs of the proceedings, and they are considerable.

"Any time you put on a week's worth of festivities for 30,000 to 50,000 people, there's a lot of cost involved," said Michael Meehan, senior counselor at the DNC.

"Conventions are expensive undertakings, whether you're in the computer business or the dogfood business or politics. But when you bring that many people to a place, we estimate the economic returns are four or five times what you put in, never mind the world exposure you get when you host a national party convention."

Aides to Mayor Thomas M. Menino have predicted that the convention will generate $150 million for the regional economy.

The production budget for the convention is $5.2 million. Of that, lighting alone will take up more than $1 million, and the sound system will cost $500,000, according to the document. The stage backdrop for the speakers, who will be beamed across the country, will cost more than $1 million: it will be an elaborate setup that far surpasses the bunting and balloons of yore. These days, the stage is a multistory affair, with an orchestra pit, video screens, perches for the working press and television cameras, housing for TelePrompTers (which for four days cost $150,000), and video projections, which themselves will add another $162,000.

On the floor, delegates will sit beneath showers of balloons and Mylar confetti, and shake seas of signs, which will change every few hours to convey the party's message-of-the-moment to television viewers. All of that will cost almost $400,000.

Recent conventions have become more like Broadway spectacles than political rallies, and glitzy productions require glitzy producers: Boston's budget allows $100,000 for a production designer, who will supervise a legion of union workers who will shine spotlights, pipe through campaign theme songs, and haul equipment for wages expected to total $1.8 million.

"You're essentialy building a television studio," Meehan said. "It's a multimedia production. You spend a million dollars to build the right set, a visually pleasing backdrop for your nominees to present themselves to the country, and it is by comparison a rather small expenditure, since more than half the people in the country say they tune into the convention to watch [the nominee]."

Renting the FleetCenter will cost $3.5 million, and organizers anticipate construction costs of more than $4 million inside the hall. A television control room will cost $800,000, food for workers inside the hall will be $165,000, and space for television trucks outside the hall will come in at about $700,000, according to the budget. Keys to the arena for DNC officials, and changing locks after the event, will cost $2,000.

Almost $3 million worth of computer equipment will keep the event moving, and $2.5 million in office space and equipment will be provided for convention officials. Insurance for the event - to cover property, cars, and volunteers, for example - will cost about $4 million.

The host committee has budgeted $10 million for security, and Menino has sought designation of the convention as a national special security event so that at least some of those costs will be covered by the federal government. Still, the city has not budgeted for police overtime, an expense that blew out security costs at the Los Angeles Democratic National Convention in 2000. There, police overtime cost $11.6 million after huge demonstrations erupted around the convention center.

The convention budget also calls for $500,000 in buses, and $338,000 in fuel, registration, and parking costs for the donated GM vehicles. It estimates $750,000 in parking costs at the convention complex. Organizers have allotted $300,000 for three coordinators - one for volunteers, one for people with disabilities, and one for diversity outreach, and their support staff.

The convention is as much about parties as it is about politics, however, and the city will be organizing some enormous ones. Receptions for the 56 Democratic state and territorial delegations, which will include some combined events for smaller delegations, will cost $1 million. A reception for the 15,000 reporters expected in town for the convention - which city officials are thinking of holding either in the new convention center in South Boston, or on a temporarily closed Hanover Street in the North End - will cost $800,000. The city plans to treat reporters to a "taste of Boston," providing food from many of the city's restaurants.

And the city is legally required to make demonstrators feel welcome, too, and it will do so to the tune of $100,000. Protesters, who have taken increasingly prominent roles in conventions in recent years, will be accommodated with a special demonstration site which will be within sight and sound of the FleetCenter, and a stage and sound system.


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."

(Full report follows)


The Boston Herald
Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Police not included in DNC celebration
by Ellen J. Silberman


Police officers quietly protesting their lack of a union contract yesterday found themselves banished from the FleetCenter as city officials, top national Democrats and local dignitaries celebrated Boston's win of the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

"We were handing out noninflammatory materials," complained Thomas Nee, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association.

But FleetCenter spokesman Jim Delaney said, "It was a private event," adding that the police protesters were treated the same as animal rights activists protesting the circus.

The patrolmen have been without a contract since July. Negotiations have been moving slowly, and relations took on a tense tone last week when Mayor Thomas M. Menino publicly claimed that the city didn't have money for raises.

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."

DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe, who pushed the mayor to settle the raucous janitors' strike before tapping Boston for the convention, kept his distance from the police dispute.

"We should not be brought into the local labor issue," McAuliffe said. "I wish the police well in the negotiations."

The low-key police protest was the only glitch in a day dedicated to celebrating Boston's winning $49.5 million convention bid.

"You can feel the energy in the city," McAuliffe said on his first trip to Boston since the Democrats tapped the Hub for their next presidential nominating convention. "There's no city that the Democratic Party would rather be in than Boston."

McAuliffe was in town to sign the 98-page pact laying out the convention obligations of the city, Boston 2004 the nonprofit host committee charged with bankrolling the event, the DNC, the FleetCenter and the Massachusetts Bay Area Transit Authority.

The agreement includes a host of nitty-gritty details about how Boston 2004 must run the convention on the DNC's behalf.

The host committee must rent office space on behalf of the DNC, find sponsors for $2.1 million worth of hospitality suites and welcoming parties, and pay $340,000 for fuel, registration, parking and drivers for the 300 cars the DNC expects to use during the event.

The document also confirms a previous Herald report that the public $49.5 million price tag does not include the cost of running the host committee, or cap the cost of insurance, transportation or security.


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Globe
Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Amid hoopla, Boston seals convention deal
By Corey Dade, Globe Staff


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. 

Menino and Kennedy made jubilant speeches, as did Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, in a ceremony carefully orchestrated to present unity between Boston's communities of color, organized labor, and business.

And, as off-duty police handed out leaflets on their upcoming labor contract outside the FleetCenter ceremonies, city and party leaders pledged to pull off a rare feat for a major political coronation - spending no more than projected.

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.

Menino was less certain, saying that while the figure is "a realistic number," he wants some security costs absorbed by the federal government. "We are going to do everything we can to stay in that number," he said later. 

In light of complaints from the Boston NAACP that Menino has failed to ensure adequate participation of minorities in the convention planning, yesterday's event featured prominent people of color, including African-American attorney Fletcher H. "Flash" Wiley, as the emcee, and Jeffrey Sanchez, the Latino state representative-elect from Jamaica Plain.

One notable absentee was US Senator John F. Kerry, prompting McAuliffe to quip, "I guess Senator Kerry is off doing something else," referring to his preparations to run for president.

Yvonne Abraham of the Globe Staff contributed to this article.


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Globe
Monday, December 30, 2002

No guarantee for local firms at convention
Contract with party falls short of goal
By Corey Dade, Globe Staff


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 97-page agreement, signed earlier this month, contains only a general provision that "due consideration" be given to hiring local residents and businesses, falling far short of Menino's desire that convention organizers meet specific goals in awarding nearly $50 million in contracts to Bostonians.

In negotiations with the Democratic National Committee in the fall, the city had asked for stronger language in the contract stipulating a preference for local companies but the DNC refused.

The compromise - that a Massachusetts-based company oversee the building of a $4 million convention stage - turned out to be the strongest assurance the city could manage. But it is not written in the contract and amounts to what Menino concedes is a verbal "gentlemen's agreement," an accord he is powerless to enforce.

"You can use your bully pulpit and your negotiation talents," Menino said. "We have all intentions to have, as best we can, local businesses, women-owned businesses, and minority businesses participate."

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.

DNC spokesman Michael Meehan did not rule out the possibility that large contracts could be awarded elsewhere, but he insisted that dollars will be spread generously throughout the region. "We are committed to making sure Boston-area businesses get the most benefit. We have said from the start that we will rely on the Boston host committee to help make that happen," he said.

Other than donations of in-kind services, service contracts will consume most of the $49.5 million convention budget. The DNC has the authority to set bidding procedures and has the final say in awarding contracts. 

To help identify potential local vendors, the host committee, which is appointed by the mayor, is required to hire an "outreach coordinator" to involve communities and area businesses in convention activities. 

One area of emphasis will be bringing in minority- and women-owned businesses. So far, a list of about 800 of those firms certified to do business with the city has been turned over to the DNC. But there is nothing in the convention contract requiring a specific level of involvement by women- and minority-owned firms, reopening the city to criticism that it provides no assurances that people of color will benefit directly from the event.

"There is nothing in that language that guarantees minority participation," said Leonard C. Alkins, president of the Boston NAACP. "This is one of reasons we are at the table, to make sure that statements made by Boston and by the DNC that there will be a fair and equitable process to allow minority participation are not only in show, but in action."

Business leaders say they are not discouraged. Many of them are among the private donors who anted up an unprecedented $20 million in commitments to help fund the convention. They say they have received assurances from the DNC that they will win their share of business.

"In the end, it's the intentions of the parties, it's the level of trust between them, it's the spirit of cooperation - those elements are infinitely more important sometimes than a contract," said Ed Pignone, spokesman for Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. "There are a large number of qualified, world-class outfits here in Boston, and we're confident that they will be seriously considered for the work."

Organizers insist that numerous Boston-area businesses, by virtue of their location, will be used. The DNC will pay $231,000 for janitorial services, contracts the organizers said would more than likely be given to local companies. The same goes for private security companies and the caterers, florists, entertainers, and other vendors who will be hired for 56 receptions for convention delegations on opening night, generating some $2.1 million. In 2000, at the Democratic convention in Los Angeles and the Republican convention in Philadelphia, such services were also provided by area contractors.

A significant portion of other major costs could very well go to companies outside the state. The DNC focuses most of its attention on building the stage and production, both of which become the highlighted features of the world's television coverage. 

The production budget is hefty, at $5.2 million, including $1 million for lighting. The DNC often relies on producers with records of pulling together an attractive set at previous conventions, regardless of where they are based. 

Construction of the stage is expected to cost $4 million. In the verbal agreement that Menino pushed for, a local construction firm is to manage the project. But Meehan did not say all the work would be performed by local builders.

"It's their convention. The Democratic Party is always going to stack the deck in their favor to ensure that whatever may have to be done, they have the flexibility to do it in a way that's not going to compromise them from convening," said Bruce Bolling, former City Council president and executive director of the Massachusetts Alliance of Small Contractors, which ties minority subcontractors with major construction projects.

"But I'm optimistic that there can and will be meaningful minority participation," Bolling said. "But we have to be innovative about showing the DNC that having a bigger umbrella, in fact, can be realized here."


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Herald
Thursday, January 2, 2003

Pact-less union irked by raises for BHA managers
by Ellen J. Silberman


Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who has pledged to keep labor peace during the 2004 Democratic National Convention, could have trouble brewing with one of his closest union allies.

Joseph Nigro, secretary-treasurer of the Boston Building Trades Council, is fuming about the Boston Housing Authority's refusal to discuss worker raises at the same time top managers, including Administrator Sandra Henriquez, are raking in new cash.

"There are raises being given out on an ongoing basis to management," said Nigro. "While they were laying people off, they were getting $10,000 raises." At the same time Nigro's plumbers, electricians and other workmen have been without a contract since March 2001.

Nigro's support is crucial for the convention's success because his members will do much of the construction work to transform the FleetCenter into the perfect setting for the Democrats' presidential nominee.

BHA spokeswoman Lydia Agro defended the pay hikes, saying the largest increases were tied to an agency-wide reorganization.

"They have gotten increased workloads and increased responsibility," Agro said. "We need to be able to retain and attract highly trained personnel."

The BHA's $80 million budget remained stable last year but officials expect both state and federal funding cuts starting in the spring.

Anticipating those cuts, Henriquez offered the Housing Authority's seven labor unions a one-time bonus rather than a raise in 2001 and 3 percent pay hikes in 2002 and 2003.

The three largest unions - the Teamsters, Laborers and Service Employees - took the contract. The Building Trades rejected it and the firemen and the two police unions have yet to vote.

The dispute with the BHA is slated for state-sponsored mediation, but even if the mediator comes up with a contract, the BHA doesn't have to sign it.

And the talks don't look promising. Menino has already failed to win a compromise. Nigro is a close Menino ally, whom the mayor appointed to the Boston Redevelopment Authority board.

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.

"We hope that everyone gets united by the time we get to town," said Michael P. Meehan, senior counselor to DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe. "The DNC has a good relationship with organized labor and would like to keep it that way."

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.

At the same time Henriquez said no to union raises, she handed her administrative staff pay hikes ranging from 3 to 24 percent, records show.

Henriquez's pay hike - retroactive to April 1, 2002 - brought her salary to $117,000 a year.

Shirley Ransom, promoted to the newly created job of director of capital construction, got a 24 percent raise that brought her salary from $62,000 to $77,000 a year.

Edwin Roth, director of emergency services, saw his pay increase 18 percent to $78,500 a year before he retired on Sept. 30, 2002.

Regina Dennis and Carol McCaffrey, both assistant directors of property management, each saw their pay increase more than 16 percent.


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Herald
Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Philly warns Hub about cost of convention
Local briefs


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.

The mayor said he was advised to "make sure the budget is under control from day one," after spending the afternoon with Pennsylvania Gov.-elect Ed Rendell and his 2000 convention team.

Menino said Rendell, who was mayor of Philadelphia in 2000, told him to quickly hire a finance director for the Boston 2004 host committee. Rendell originally budgeted $7 million in city funds but ultimately spent twice that much for the event.


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Herald
Monday, January 20, 2003

Mayor admits asking city-contract firms for convention cash
by Ellen J. Silberman


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.

Menino had told the Herald that during fund-raising sessions at the Parkman House, he and U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy placed joint calls to officials from Liberty Mutual Group and State Street Corp.

A Menino aide later said the mayor had misspoken and that he had met with State Street officials personally, rather than telephoning them.

Both Liberty Mutual and State Street currently hold multi-year, million-dollar-plus city contracts, records show.

Sources said Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Menino approached Liberty Mutual Group president Edmund F. Kelly and David A. Spina, chairman of State Street Corp., who quickly pledged $1 million to fund the convention.

Menino said Spina didn't even have to be asked for the funds. "He just volunteered," the mayor said.

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.

Kennedy's conduct is governed by U.S. ethics rules that allow such fund raising.

"The conflict-of-interest law is there for good reasons, to assure that our public officials give the appearance of being objective and that vendors are not put in a position that, one, they have to give or, two, expect preferential treatment if they did," said Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause of Massachusetts.

Wilmot has already asked the State Ethics Commission to examine Menino's role in raising $20 million from area corporations to bankroll the political event.

Menino has previously denied asking for convention funds from any company with a city contract. Even as he admitted approaching the companies, he denied impropriety.

"You've got the whole law wrong," he said.

In 1992, then-Gov. William F. Weld asked the State Ethics Commission for permission to sign a fund-raising letter on behalf of a nonprofit organization that was trying to bring the summer Olympic games to Boston.

The commission denied the request, explaining that because many of the companies on the group's mailing list had "present or prospective contracts with state agencies," Weld's signature on the letter would create the appearance of favoritism for those who gave to the nonprofit because of the "inherently exploitable nature" of the situation.

"Regardless of the purpose of the solicitation, the dangers of compromising a public employee's impartiality and objectivity and of creating an atmosphere where potential vendors feel compelled to contribute to foster the agency's or public employee's good will remain," the commission wrote in September 1992.

Following the September solicitations from Menino and Kennedy, Kelly wrote a letter promising to contribute $1 million "over a three-year period in support of the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston." State Street pledged $1 million from its charitable foundation.

Liberty Mutual has a $2.25 million contract to provide worker's compensation insurance for the Boston Housing Authority through Aug. 1, 2003.

The BHA, a quasi-independent city agency whose administrator is appointed by the mayor, has the option of renewing Liberty Mutual's contract twice over the next two years. Once before the convention comes to town and once immediately after Democratic delegates leave Boston.

Menino said he had no control over BHA's decisions. "BHA's not a part of the city," he said. "I have no say over there."

State Street won a $1.6 million five-year contract last summer to serve as the custodial bank for the Boston Retirement Board, taking control of its $3 billion bank account. The semi-independent retirement board is run by a five-member panel dominated by mayoral appointees.

"It's not as arm's-length as it might appear," said Wilmot. "There is enough city influence of these agencies that they are effectively subject to this prohibition."

The donations from Liberty Mutual and State Street helped convince Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts, another city contractor, to donate $1 million for the convention, according to pledge letters made public by the city.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield has a $78 million annual contract to provide health insurance for city employees, city records show.


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Globe
Saturday, March 15, 2003

Local agencies $17.5m short for convention
Mayor eyes private sector in meeting DNC deadline
By Corey Dade, Globe Staff


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.

"The private sector probably will have to come up with the $17.5 million, but I'm not going to exclude other options," such as grants from government agencies, Menino said yesterday.

"The whole world of it has changed financially. It's somewhat disappointing. But it's not going to deter us from bringing the convention to our city."

It is a frustrating turnabout for Menino, who led the effort to attract the city's first national political convention and had expressed confidence that the worsening economy would not endanger the $49.5 million in promised public and private money. 

After collecting a record $22 million in corporate commitments before securing the convention for Boston, Menino touted the nearly $50 million total as an ideal mix of private and public support.

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.

Julie Burns, currently Menino's deputy chief of staff, will assume her new job as executive director of Boston 2004 in a few weeks. With companies also affected by the downturn, she said her first order of business will be to hire a full-time fund-raiser.

"It certainly won't be easy, but I think that Boston's corporate community understands that the return on investment is worth the donation," Burns said.

"There is a whole other level of businesses that may not contribute at that high of a level, but can contribute. It's just a matter of developing a fund-raising plan that allows different levels of donations."

Burns said she does not plan to ask the 60 or so donor companies that committed $22 million last year to pony up again.

A spokeswoman for New Balance, the Brighton-based shoe company that already pledged $750,000, said she doubted her company would contribute more if asked. But its support for the convention has not wavered. 

"Giving everything that is going on, not only in the Massachusetts economy but the world, we wouldn't find this particularly unusual that they might have to go back to the same pool of businesses," said spokeswoman Kathy Shephard.

"I would imagine any kind of giving today is having to rely more on the private sector."

The $49.5 million budget was assembled based on assumptions that Boston, the state, and MBTA would make contributions totalling $17.5 million, particularly for security and transportation.

The host committee said it has already lowered that figure by moving the nearly $4 million cost of insurance from the city to the private side.

The committee also planned to sublease space during the convention from the state's departments of mental health, environmental management, and other agencies housed downtown. But downsizing and consolidations in state government have closed those locations, leaving the committee to find about $2 million worth of office space.

Menino says he hopes the city can still provide $10 million in extra police protection during the weeklong convention - although that may be offset by federal law enforcement - and the MBTA is still expected to provide buses powered by natural gas at a cost of $512,000.

Burns said the extra fund-raising burden will not take away from one of the committee's other critical efforts - reaching out to businesses owned by minorities and women.

The Boston NAACP complained late last year that the committee had not done enough to create an inclusive process. Macey Russell, an attorney and Boston NAACP board member who has participated in the formation of the outreach plan, said the strength of the plan itself provides a way to "sell the convention" to potential donors.

"There are a lot of companies and businesses both locally and nationwide that have diversity programs, that feel strongly that diversity is important," Russell said.

"When they spend their dollars, they'll ask questions: Are you diverse? Are diverse people going to be working on my project? Companies may be more willing to put additional money on the table for the convention if they are given assurances that diverse parts of the community be involved."


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Globe
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

DNC unfazed over convention budget
Other sources found as local contributions fall short for Boston
By Glen Johnson, Globe Staff


WASHINGTON -- 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.

But a committee spokesman said yesterday that much of that money is already accounted for by contributions from other sources.

Of the possible shortfall, $10 million alone is budgeted for security, the bulk of which Democrats expect will ultimately be paid by the federal government.

"Who knows what the actual cost for the security will be," said DNC spokesman Michael Meehan. "The burden will fall to the Homeland Security Department, the state, and the city to cover that cost."

Meehan said he expects the event to be designated a "national security event," which would shift most of the cost to the federal government.

At the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, which were operated under that designation, the US Treasury paid $250 million of the $310 million security bill.

Another $3.95 million in the potential shortfall would cover insurance, a cost that has already been shifted to private revenue sources.

When the Democrats picked Boston as convention host, they cited the city's landing pledges for $20 million from private companies as a key element. Since then, companies have pledged an additional $2 million, which will be tapped for insurance. The source of the remaining $1.95 million for insurance has yet to be identified.

The city is also budgeting $12 million in private, in-kind contributions for services such as telecommunications.

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.

Underpinning much of the committee's confidence is the fact that the Republican National Committee also will stage its convention in the same economic circumstances. Any federal money that President Bush helps win for his party will have to be matched for the Democrats, they say. The Republican convention will be held in August 2004 in New York.

"These are two events that have to happen," Meehan said. "They have to be secure, and a lot of people want them to come off right, so we're confident the money will be there."


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....

(Full report follows)


The Boston Herald
Friday, April 4, 2003

In checking up, few checks out
by Cosmo Macero Jr.


Will Boston's big blowout for Democrats at the party's 2004 national convention be one of the last hurrahs for corporate largesse at these quadrennial nonevents?

It could be.

The Federal Election Commission just yesterday began a month-long review of whether convention "host committees," such as the nonprofit Boston 2004, come under the purview of the McCain-Feingold Law's soft-money ban.

Campaign finance reform advocates have petitioned the FEC to prohibit corporate donations and other so-called soft money from subsidizing party conventions through host committees - a routine practice since the mid-1970s.

But even the fiercest reformers admit one thing is almost certain: Any rule changes wouldn't go into effect until the 2008 election cycle.

"If the commission decides to close the loophole, they probably won't do it for this convention," says Paul Sanford, director of the Washington-based FEC Watch.

That means the coast is clear for corporate, institutional and individual donors - who collectively have pledged $22 million to Boston 2004 - to start cutting the checks.

Some have already done so.

Gillette was among the first to pony up - delivering on its entire $1 million pledge back in December. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts has made its first of three scheduled payments. FleetBoston Financial Corp. has already sent a check, too.

But the process of settling up with other top-level donors has been a little more complex.

Tentative payment schedules set forth by Boston 2004, under guidance from the Democratic National Committee, have been cast aside in several cases.

Last October, The Boston Foundation agreed to make an initial payment of $333,333 by Dec. 31, 2002 - provided a series of conditions were agreed upon spelling out how the foundation's total $1 million donation would be spent.

That agreement has yet to be made.

"We understand that they're in a start-up mode. But we're confident that the plan will be worked out," says Boston Foundation President Paul Grogan. "If it takes Boston 2004 however long, we will wait."

Citizens Bank was also on the host committee's easy payment plan - agreeing to make three installments over three years for a total of $1 million.

But a Citizens spokeswoman says the bank has yet to receive an invoice from Boston 2004. The bank has renegotiated and will now make two $500,000 payments.

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.

Boston lawyer Cheryl Cronin, a top Democratic activist and treasurer of Boston 2004, is charged with ironing out legal details and making sure donors' conditions are met. Yet corporate donors have largely relied on their own counsel for much of that guidance, as well as assurances that the FEC review won't mean legal headaches down the road.

"We've had a million lawyers look at this," says James Fetig, spokesman for Raytheon Corp.

Like most donors who've committed $1 million or more, Raytheon was scheduled to pay Boston 2004 in three installments beginning last December.

But Fetig says: "We plan to make our (entire) donation in 2004."

Julie Burns, Mayor Thomas M. Menino's deputy chief of staff, won't say how much Boston 2004 has in its coffers.

"Ideally, the more money we have in the bank (now) the better, because of the interest," she says. "But the major expenditures won't be until early 2004. I have no problem if Raytheon doesn't pay until 2004."

Still, the committee is already scrambling to replace more than $17 million worth of commitments from government agencies that fell through because of the state budget crisis.

Meanwhile, Fidelity Investments is holding payment on its $1 million commitment - ostensibly because it hasn't reached agreement with Boston 2004 on "details of sponsorship recognition," a condition established last September by Fidelity chief of administration David Weinstein.

The host committee expected Fidelity's first payment last December. But a company spokesman says Fidelity's invoice from Boston 2004 sets no specific timetable for payment.

A spokesman for John Hancock Financial Services, which has committed $2 million, simply wouldn't say whether the company has made any payments.

"They get this invoice in the mail," says one political consultant, who has discussed the process with corporate donors. "And it looks like something you get from Copy Cop. Except it's for a million dollars."

That's big-time national politics, in three easy payments.

Or rather ... whenever you get around to it.


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Herald
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

DNC $$ boost:
Feds to help defray Hub convention security costs
by Elizabeth W. Crowley


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.

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said it's not clear how much of the security strain the feds will take off local shoulders, but predicted it will be "a considerable amount."

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

They originally pegged security costs during the four-day, late-July event at $10 million out of a total budget of $49.5 million.

But the FleetCenter sits atop a subway tunnel, a rail station that handles more than 45,000 commuters daily and an underground parking garage - all of which are a concern to anti-terrorism planners.

Gov. Mitt Romney, who pressed federal officials for the designation at Menino's urging, parlayed the same security rating at the 2002 Winter Olympics into more than $250 million in federal aid to the Salt Lake City games.

Boston police say they will gladly share their turf with federal agents and have already begun coordinating security plans with state police as well.

Union officials don't expect a beefed-up federal security role will detract from the lucrative overtime shifts and police detail work abundant during the convention.

"The Secret Service doesn't do crowd control, they don't do traffic control," said Boston Police Patrolmen's Association President Thomas Nee.

Federal agents will be in charge of security at the convention but will be coordinating with local cops rather than telling them what to do, Boston Police Superintendent Robert Dunford said.

"It won't be the Secret Service coming in dictating to the local government," Dunford said. "This (designation) sets up the architecture for the federal agencies to coordinate and it allows local agencies to request the full spectrum of federal assistance."


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."

(Full report follows)


The Boston Herald
Sunday, July 13, 2003

Host headaches: Hub lags in preparing for Dems
by Ellen J. Silberman


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.

Among other things, Boston 2004 has failed to ink a no-strike agreement with the unions that will transform the FleetCenter into a convention stage, staff the arena and attend to delegates at the hotels around town.

At the same time, the DNC is dragging its feet on other issues. The national Democrats have yet to appoint a chief operating officer, pick a headquarters hotel, hire a production designer, construction manager or media coordinator, all things done more than a year in advance of the Democrats' 1996 Chicago convention.

"There are a lot of things that give me heartburn," said Boston 2004 host committee president David Passafaro. But he added, "We're a year away and I am confident we will get there."

Thomas Nee, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Union, whose union is stalled in talks with City Hall, isn't so sure, calling the convention "a train wreck waiting to happen."

The four-day convention will begin at the FleetCenter on July 26, 2004. Organizers have said the event will cost $49.5 million and bring in $150 million in tourism dollars when 35,000 delegates and thousands more reporters and spectators descend on the city.

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."

Yet the lack of a labor pact could be crucial given that 31 of the 32 municipal unions currently are working without contracts and at least one, the patrolmen's union, is threatening to picket the FleetCenter in the weeks before the convention. A pre-convention picket could keep construction workers from transforming the sports arena into a convention stage.

DNC officials say they're not worried about the lack of a project labor agreement, which was due July 1. "I'm satisfied that they're (Boston 2004) making progress on the labor agreement," said a DNC official involved with convention planning.

There are other worries. Although the convention contract demands a signed lease for 70,000 square feet of media work space by March 1, national Democrats didn't come to Boston to examine the buildings in contention until May.

Now, the lease is on hold until the DNC can decide whether it can squeeze the tens of thousands of reporters who will cover the event into the FleetCenter.

And fund-raising, the area that distinguished Boston in last year's convention competition, has fallen off since the DNC tapped the Hub.

Menino and U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy got contribution commitments for more than $20 million before Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe selected Boston last November.

Since then, Passafaro said, Boston 2004 has raised just $1.7 million more in cash - despite having a fund-raiser on staff. Boston 2004 also has raised an untallied amount of in-kind contributions, including office space and furniture.

Fund raising has been frozen in part by the Federal Election Commission's decision to issue new rules on convention financing. Those rules, which could throw out the old system of corporate financing, were to be finalized this coming Thursday, but the decision was pulled from the FEC's agenda last week.


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Herald
Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Menino balk$ at parking DNC media under artery
by Ellen J. Silberman


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.

The old elevated highway is expected to be demolished before the Democratic National Convention opens at the FleetCenter July 26, but its path will still be an open sore at that point - not the swath of parkland ultimately planned.

Turnpike Authority Chairman Matthew J. Amorello late last year told Menino he could use a parcel that runs from the FleetCenter to Faneuil Hall for workspace for some of the 10,000 media representatives who are expected to cover the convention.

Television networks bring satellite trucks as well as large trailers filled with all the comforts of a TV studio.

"If we have real estate available that can accommodate media trucks, we'll happily offer that," Amorello told the Herald. "We'll do whatever works for the city to make this convention a success."

But Menino isn't convinced that would be the best alternative to the difficult problem of where to locate the national media setting up in the city that week.

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

But DNC officials said Amorello's parking lot offer is in the running.

"We're looking at a number of different options to house the media trucks," said convention spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter. "But space is at a premium around the FleetCenter, so each option presents a different set of issues to deal with."


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Herald
Friday, October 3, 2003

Hoping for quiet convention, mayor tells unions he'll talk
by Kevin Rothstein


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.

"The mayor said he wants everything done in four months," the source said.

Menino spokesman Seth Gitell declined to comment specifically on the talks but said the mayor directed his negotiating team to set dates for talks by today.

"Mayor Menino wants to get these contracts done as soon as possible," Gitell said. "He wants these meetings to take place promptly."

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.

Major union heads invited to the meeting kept mum about the proceedings, but a knowledgeable source said it was a cordial gathering. "I think it was an effort to clear the air," the source said.

Haynes, who was attending a convention, could not be reached for comment.

Labor relations between city employees and the Menino administration have been outright hostile in some cases, with the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association threatening pickets at the convention.

Union strife also led the Greater Boston Central Labor Council to keep Menino out of its Labor Day breakfast for the first time this year.

Unions blamed some of that strife on the mayor's negotiators, whose tactics are ruffling some feathers.

"(Menino) said he heard it," the source said.


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Globe
Thursday, October 9, 2003

City seeks $25m for DNC
Added funding needed to cover security expenses
By Yvonne Abraham and Susan Milligan, Globe Staff


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 extra money is needed to fulfill federal requirements for special equipment, training, and overtime for police, firefighters, and emergency technicians for the convention, which will be the first held since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, organizers said.

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.

In addition to the security funds it has requested, Boston will get other help because of the convention's designation as a National Special Security Event, said a member of the host committee.

The national security designation will bring assets, such as planning help from the US Secret Service, Secret Service officers, and loans of special equipment such as X-ray machines for the convention.

"We submitted our budget with the bid in April of 2002," said Julie Burns, executive director of the convention host committee, Boston 2004. "Since then, we've learned that our security cost will rise because of the increased measures required since 9/11."

Burns insisted that other items in the convention budget will not increase. "Absolutely not," she said.

However, the security costs alone will greatly increase the convention budget, which organizers originally had set at $49.5 million.

That money was supposed to include federal, state, and city money, in addition to private donations.

Boston said it had raised $20 million in private donations before it landed the convention in November.

Boston 2004 has repeatedly refused to detail its progress in collecting private donations and had made no mention of a possible increase in its spending plan until confirming the security cost request last night. Campaign finance laws do not require the release of donor information until after the convention.

New York City, which is hosting the Republican National Convention, is reportedly asking for another $25 million or more for its security needs, according to congressional aides.

The unanticipated security costs also included closing the MBTA and the New York City subway around the convention sites, those aides said.

The total cost of providing security at the convention is still not firm, since the Democrats have not yet completed their full security cost assessment, said Karen Grant, a spokeswoman for Boston 2004. Representatives for both conventions met last month with aides to Representative John Olver, Democrat of Springfield and the Bay State's only member of the House Appropriations Committee.

Convention staffers said they were working directly with congressional leadership in both parties and in both chambers to come to an agreement, said Hunter Ridgway, an aide to Olver.

The $25 million requested by each city is "just a ballpark figure," said Demetrios Karoutsos, spokesman for Representative John Sweeney, Republican of New York and a member of the House Appropriations Committee. "It may be a lot higher than that, and it may be lower than that.

"This is more the opening of negotiations than anything else," Karoutsos said.

Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, said talks about security funding were in the early stages.

"Senator Kennedy is interested in making sure security at the convention is as sound as possible," Manley said.

Those working on behalf of Boston in Washington have not yet decided where to seek the extra money, said a convention official.

Some officials have been discussing whether to include the $50 million in the $87 billion requested by President Bush for rebuilding Iraq, but that would be an unlikely source for Boston's money, because the appropriation has been bound up with partisan politics, said several officials in Boston and in Washington. A spokesman for House Appropriations Committee chairman C.W. Bill Young, Republican of Florida, said Sweeney met with him recently to discuss a request for approximately $25 million for each of the convention host cities.

"His position on this is he would obviously like to be helpful," said Harry Glenn, Young's spokesman. However, Young would not like to attach the money to the supplemental spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan.

The money could be included in another spending bill Congress will debate later this fall, Glenn said.

Congress is most likely to add the money to an omnibus spending bill later this year, when lawmakers finish their 2004 spending bills, aides to House appropriators said.


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.

(Full report follows)


The Boston Herald
Sunday, October 12, 2003

Hub puts road fixes in fast lane for DNC
by Ellen J. Silberman


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.

Any piece of ground that's broken or pockmarked will be fixed, said Public Works Commissioner Joe Casazza.

"I don't want to see anybody step in a pothole on the way to the convention," said Casazza, joking that a dignitary with a broken leg would end his three-decade reign at Public Works. "We're not going to embarrass the city."

It's all about making a good impression on the 35,000 delegates, big money Democrats and international media in town for the convention, Casazza said.

"The in-laws are coming and I don't want them to think he married the wrong girl," Casazza said.

But critics say Menino is putting conventioneers' needs ahead of residents'.

"They're going to be here and be gone in a week," said Councilor at-large Maura A. Hennigan, who fell into a pothole last spring and broke her ankle.

"The money that's spent shouldn't be at the expense of our schools, our basic city services or our business districts."

The DNC-inspired repairs come as some residents complain they've been waiting decades for the city to fix their patched and pocked streets.

"I want some action," said James Bevilacqua, an 84-year-old Roslindale resident who repeatedly has asked both Menino and Hennigan to repave Chisholm Road. "I don't know when they're going to do it."

The areas slated for extra attention include:

The FleetCenter, which will house the four-day rally for the Democrats' presidential nominee;

The new South Boston Convention Center, which will host a party for 10,000 media representatives from around the world;

The winding roads, all old cow paths, that meander around downtown;

The roads around major tourist attractions such as Fenway Park and the Public Gardens;

Major thoroughfares from the North End to the Brookline line and from the Charles River to Jamaica Pond;

Streets that lead out to the Central Artery such as Melnea Cass Boulevard in Roxbury and Albany Street in the South End.

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.

Casazza said any DNC-related repairs could come on top of the $8 million to 10 million he spends on fixing winter-damaged streets and sidewalks every spring.

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

Julie Burns, executive director of the Boston 2004 host committee, was a top convention official with the Democratic Party in 1996.

To clear the way for his street repairs, Casazza has told local utility companies, including Nstar, Keyspan Energy, Verizon and Comcast, they can't dig up the streets in the "DNC area" from Nov. 15 until after the conventioneers leave town on July 29, 2004.

The utilities, which normally just patch their holes and pay into the city's repair fund, are also being told to make permanent repairs when they dig this fall.

In some instances companies will be forced to repave the entire block rather than just covering up the new hole.

The tight timetable and extra strict rules will cost the utilities - and therefore their customers - millions.

"The work that we're doing for Boston and the DNC would be in the tens of millions of dollars," said Keyspan spokeswoman Carmen Fields. "We want to do our part to make sure the city is ready."

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.


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....

(Full report follows)


The Boston Herald
Monday, October 20, 2003

Hub hopes $25M will pave way for DNC cleanup
by Ellen J. Silberman


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.

The first priority, said Casazza, is a $2.7 million resurfacing project for streets around the new South Boston Convention Center, the FleetCenter and the hotels that will house the 35,000 visitors in town for the DNC.

MacWorld debuts at the convention center July 12 and Democrats arrive at the FleetCenter July 26. Mayor Thomas M. Menino is also planning a party for the 10,000 reporters and media representatives at the new convention center the night before the DNC rally opens.

"We'll make sure those areas will be in good shape before July or I'm in trouble," Casazza said.

The road projects are just one piece of a larger beautification project Menino plans to announce tomorrow. City officials declined to put a price tag on other work, which will include pedestrian-friendly measures like painting crosswalks. The downtown roadwork will be paid out of the city's capital budget.

The $25 million project is the largest street improvement program since Pave the Way 2000, a $30 million program that fixed residential streets citywide. It rivals the $40 million Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley spent on roads and bridges in advance of the 1996 Democratic National Convention. By some estimates Daley ultimately spent $180 million beautifying the Windy City for conventioneers. While downtown will likely get the finest gloss, Menino promised to bring the benefits of the DNC out to the neighborhoods.

Casazza also plans to spend some $8 million across the city - double his usual annual expenditure - fixing the trenches left behind after utilities dig in the streets. That money will come from a multimillion dollar repair fund that utilities pay into when they take out work permits. Casazza plans to focus on major thoroughfares and fix the oldest damage first.

"We've just got to get control of our streets from the utility companies," said Casazza, who complained that most of the utilities don't do a good job on street repairs once their problems are fixed. The utility trenches - more than Mother Nature's frost heaves - are responsible for the potholes that pock Boston's streets.

Casazza plans to hire about a dozen inspectors to examine utilities' street repairs, including the trenches of Keyspan, Nstar and the Boston Water and Sewer Commission. Casazza will charge the utilities for the inspections. 

Casazza also plans to spend $5.5 million repaving major thoroughfares and neighborhood streets throughout the city; $5.5 million taking over the management of private ways; and $3 million to retool Centre Street in West Roxbury and install a pilot "traffic calming" system in Hyde Square, work that has already begun and will continue until the first snowfall.


Go to the next page for more . . .
Go to next page


NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml


Go on to next page

|   |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |   Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |
Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13

Return to DNC Convention Index

Return to CLT homepage