City councilor Michael Flaherty reports payments to Hildebrand Tewes, a national Democratic political consulting firm. Steve Hildebrand was one of the first people involved with Obama's Presidential run, and has been called "the chief architect of Barack Obama's grassroots strategy."
They do opposition research, grassroots organizing, and campaign strategy. Needless to say, Flaherty doesn't need those services to get re-elected to city council -- certainly not 11 months out from the election.
Flaherty has also retained EchoDitto, a national online-communications firm founded by the folks behind the Howard Dean campaign.
I'm hearing that Flaherty is likely to announce for mayor by February at the latest. Bear in mind that Menino's State of the City speech is on January 16th, so Flaherty might at least want to be talking openly about a possible run by then, so as to ensure himself plenty of visibility criticizing the speech.