Friday, June 26, 2009

Former Allston-Brighton State Rep Goes to the BRA

Former State Representative Brian Golden will be named by Mayor Thomas Menino as the Executive Officer of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, according to today's Boston Globe.

Golden is no stranger to Allston-Brighton, having represented one of the district's two seats (18th Suffolk) for 1999-2005.

While a was registered a Democrat, Golden raised a lot of eyebrows by not only endorsing (and actively campaigning for) George W. Bush for president in 2000 and 2004, but also heading to Florida in 2000 to assist Bush's legal team in the recount process. The conservative National Review asked Golden in a 2004 interview why he is still a Democrat and not a Republican. Some people in the community have called Golden by the derogatory term DINO (Democrat In Name Only; online examples here and here), and MassScorecard gave him a "D" grade in 2003-4 for adherence to Democratic positions on the issues.

Golden's positions opposing abortion rights and gay marriage, supporting school vouchers, opposing the Massachusetts clean elections law, and supporting Bush's election, put him at odds with a neighborhood that is trending progressive. Golden's protege, Gregory Glennon, openly stated some similar political views in his 2005 bid to fill Golden's vacated seat, but by 2007 had become completely mum on these issues in his 2007 bid for District 9 City Councilor. Allston-Brighton's Wards 21 and 22 went 78%-20% for Obama-Biden over McCain-Palin in 2008, by the way.

The oddest aspect of Golden being named to the BRA position is that a number of Ward 22 neighborhood activists opposed to Boston College's institutional expansion proposals were actively supporting Golden's protege and former staffer Gregory Glennon in his failed 2007 bid for District 9 City Councilor. Since those activists supported the protege -- presumably at least in part for his positions on institutional expansion -- I wonder if they also support having the mentor in a lead role at the BRA? Somehow, I doubt it. Politics makes strange bedfellows, but affairs ain't the same as marriage.

Where will Golden, now a resident of Newton, come down on the issue of institutional expansion now that he is one of the leaders of the BRA, an agency tasked both regulating and promoting development? I haven't found much in the public record on this issue, particularly since he stepped down as state representative when these issues were really gearing up in Allston-Brighton. We'll see.