Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Councilor Flaherty Fires Opening Salvo of the 2009 Mayoral Campaign

I recently wrote on this blog that Councilor Michael Flaherty years ago called for the City of Boston to adopt the "CitiStat" system to track constituent service complaints. Since it is well-known that Councilor Flaherty is interested in running for Mayor, I predicted that he would raise up this issue after the Boston Globe published an article in Sunday's newspaper about how long Mayor Thomas Menino's administration is taking to roll out such a service:
I am under the impression that Councilor Flaherty and his team consider this one of his signature issues, so the Globe story in Sunday's paper will add fuel the fire of his Mayoral ambitions by giving him a strong issue for campaigning. Mayor Menino therefore has a deadline for rolling out his version of the system before election day in November 2009 -- not in 2010, the date told to the Globe by Bill Oates, the city's chief information officer.
I pointed out that the Globe article missed this key element in their story. Councilor Flaherty seems to agree, because today he sent out a bulk email making the same point:
In its extensive coverage of Boston's citizen complaint tracking efforts, the Globe's article contained a glaring oversight: Since 2005, I have been pushing for the city to adopt CitiStat -- an online accountability and assessment tool for tracking constituent services as well as long-term planning goals.

In fact, I am holding yet another hearing on Thursday to debate the feasibility of implementing the tracking program in Boston.
Is Councilor Flaherty going to make this into an issue for the Mayoral race? You betcha. His email continues to attack the "Administration", although without explicitly naming the Mayor:
In the end, our city's stubbornness hurts everyday residents who just want the city to respond to their needs in a timely and responsible manner...

Had the [Menino] Administration listened three years ago when a tracking system like CitiStat was first proposed, perhaps we too could have claimed three years of savings and quality constituent services. I am hopeful that we can all get serious about saving residents money and delivering better services...

I strongly encourage the Administration to take an active role in this debate.
I believe we have just heard the opening salvo of the 2009 Mayoral campaign.

The public hearing Councilor Flaherty refers to will be held on Thursday, April 10, at 1 pm in the Boston City Council's Iannella Chambers. Bring your own ordinance. Remember to look both ways before entering the chamber.

David Berstein of the Boston Phoenix's Talking Politics Blog thinks that Mayor Menino's actions are part of a broader pattern where: a City Councilor occasionally comes up with a good idea: Mayor Menino takes the idea as his own via a press conference; and then Menino doesn't follow through with implementing the project. Bernstein adds the example of the city-wide Grove Hall-wide WiFi system. Bernstein has, in effect, proposed Boston's new parlor game: come up with other examples.

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