In this week's issue of the Boston Phoenix -- in print tomorrow, online now -- I report on the increasing suspicion that Mayor Tom Menino is crying wolf about the city's dire financial straits.
The article includes claims by Boston's firefighters that the city is stashing tens, or hundreds of millions of dollars, that could be used not only to pay the new contract its union was awarded in arbitration, but also to pay for the branch libraries, community-center staff, and other services heading for the chopping block.
And as you'll see in the article, the firefighters aren't the only ones who think the Mayor is crying poormouth to drive public sympathy for his plans.
In a separate, online-only sidebar, I relate the remarkable, 11th-hour change in the firefighters' contract award -- when the arbitrators suddenly added in the quid pro quo raise in exchange for drug testing -- and the leaking of that award to City Hall, in violation of a verbal confidentiality agreement, by the Menino-appointed arbitrator on the panel.
In that sidebar, I also ask whether Menino is violating the state's labor statutes through his aggressive denunciation of the contract terms, and clear signal of his wish for the City Council to nullify it by voting to not fund it. Menino is required by law to "support" the contract awarded by the arbitrators.
The definition of "support" in that statute, I am told, has never been defined by state courts. As you can see in his remarkable new mayor's column, Menino is apparently interpreting it to mean that he can argue as forcefully against the contract as he wants, as long as he adds at the end the words "I am required to support this contract." Kind of like how you can insult someone, but if you say "no offense intended" they can't hold it against you. Right?
In any event, please see my new article here:
Moneybags Menino: The mayor cuts services, but sits on a stash of cash
And the sidebar here:
'There are no rules': The 11th-hour change