Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Accusations and an Admission at the BC Task Force Meeting

The June 19, 2007 meeting of the BRA's Boston College Task Force was a lively, noisy, and, at times, unruly sideshow. While I previously reported on the substantive material presented as part of the unannounced agenda -- and also on a past police log incident apparently related to the individual who caused a disturbance late in the meeting -- there was more going on in the meeting than has been reported to date.

After Mark Alford objected to the meeting being held on account of the failure to provide advance, public notice of the agenda, Patrick Galvin levied a general accusation that -- here, I'm guessing on a few of the details because it was hard to hear clearly over the air conditioners -- one or more members of the BC Task Force had accepted "gratuities" in the past from BC. No specifics were given as to the individuals or the gratuities, although I heard somebody, I believe, mention something like, "tickets for athletics events."

Now, normally I wouldn't post an unsubstantiated accusation like that on the blog, except that task force member John Bruno later responded with some specifics. First, Bruno admitted that he had, in the past, received some tickets to BC games (like hockey) which he had then handed out to youth players when they showed up to practice and/or games. These kids thus got to attend a college athletics game. He expressed the opinion that this was a pretty good thing, and it's hard to argue with him on that; BC even touts such giveaways as part of their community benefits. It is unclear if these youth ticket giveaways were the gratuities implied by Patrick Galvin's comments, or if Galvin meant something else, since I believe Galvin had let the room by the time that Bruno made these comments.

Bruno's second admission, however, was a whopper. He confirmed that his son currently attends Boston College on a full, tuition-free scholarship: "Yep, my son is there. I see $40,000 a year" in benefits from the scholarship. I assume he means $35,150/year for 2007-8, which is the tuition cost to attend BC as an undergraduate. Since Bruno is a resident of Allston-Brighton, his son's scholarship is presumably one of the ten "Allston/Brighton Scholarships" allocated annually by BC to A-B residents as part of community benefits agreed upon through past Article 80 master planning processes. (It was touted as such by Thomas Keady, Jr., BC's VP for Governmental and Community Affairs, at the January 16, 2007 meeting of the BC Task Force.)

I must say that I was personally surprised to hear a member of the BC Task Force acknowledge that he is the recipient of $35,000-$40,000 per year from the very institution whose master plan he is supposed to be studying, discussing, and eventually voting up or down to recommend to the BRA for approval or disapproval. I also find it rather odd that the A-B TAB's article fails to mention this admission by Bruno, although their reporter appears to have been present both at the beginning of the meeting (for Alford's and Galvin's comments) and the end of the meeting (for the ejection/scuffle with Costello). Strangely, they reported the unsubstantiated allegations of "gratuities" without reporting the response later in the meeting.

What do you think about all this? I welcome comments to this post -- as I do to all posts -- but the comments cannot be anonymous (or offensive), and I note that they are moderated.


Kirsten Ryan said...

wow! i didnt catch that bit of info before either from reading the TAB-(bloid-style) article or from my husband who attended the meeting as i was home sick.
If i had a kid on a full BC scholarship i'd sure be playing nice nice with their Master Plan too!! I wonder about any of the other TF members?? PS- love the mosquito stick post and the 'memo to Derek Bok' posts too. Gave me a good laugh today.

Gregg said...

michael, thank you for the information. What can we possibly do about this conflict of interest? As far as I can tell it is "doing business as usually" in Boston.

Michael Pahre said...

There has been a thread on this on the google group BC_Neighbors_Forum:

which includes a suggestion from one elected official's staff (Councilor Arroyo's office).

SandyF said...

I am writing to express my support for John Bruno as a Task Force member.

I agree that having a child currently enrolled with a full
scholarship presents the appearance of a conflict of interest.
However the trouble for me is that I know John - have for at least
fifteen years - and know him as a man of integrity, who cares deeply
about this community. I don't believe that John's seeking and/or
accepting appointment to the Task force had anything to do with his
son's admission and scholarship, and it is absurd to imply that
John's service on the Task Force had anything to do with his son's
admission or scholarship.

As a resident of Lane Park for a quarter century, my family is
profoundly impacted by the proposed development and other BC related
issues. I want the Task Force to strongly represent the community
concerns in dealing with Boston College, the BRA, and the Mayor's

I have concerns about the make-up of the Task Force, including the paucity of members who are abutters, the ability of some members, who are on numerous boards in addition to holding day jobs, to find the time to focus on this issue, and the lack of transparency in the Mayor's selection process.

I am frustrated with the fact that there are openings on the Task Force and that there are several qualified people who have applied to serve, myself included, and we have heard nothing in over two months, nothwithstanding the fact that BC's presentation of the plan to the BRA is imminent and
once that filing takes place a clock will be ticking for a response.

I have faith in John's integrity, his dedication to the community,
and his communication and advocacy skills, all of which make him an
asset to us in this struggle.