Menino Trashes MassVote , snubs voters – all in one day!

In a story that ran in today’s Boston Herald, Mayor Menino’s campaign trashed a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to provide voters with the resources they need for civic engagement. The organization, MassVote, works to increase voter education and turnout amongst communities of color, youth, the disabled and in ethnic communities where language is a barrier. Since its creation in 1999, MassVote has helped empower thousands of Massachusetts voters.

As part of their civic outreach, MassVote has scheduled three mayoral forums in advance of this year’s municipal elections – on September 3rd, September 17th, and October 17th, respectively. These forums will provide voters with the opportunity to engage with their elected officials and make an informed decision when heading to the ballot box. Three of the candidates – at large City Councilors Sam Yoon and Michael Flaherty, as well as Kevin McCrea, have already agreed to participate in the forums. Mayor Menino – however – refuses to participate.


The mayor’s point-man on debates – an out-of-town, uninformed, corporate executive named Ed Fouhy – told the Boston Herald it was because MassVote “lacks the organizational capacity to sponsor a debate.” This is of course nonsense. In 2006, MassVote put on a candidate forum for gubernatorial candidates. Additionally, MassVote has registered and educated thousands of voters throughout the city. MassVote also produces publications, conducts registration drives and offers training seminars for other non-profit organizations in Boston. Clearly, they have the capabilities, resources and community presence to successfully host 3 mayoral forums. Despite what Menino’s hired-hand may be telling us – it’s really not that hard to do and MassVote are well able to do it.

Of course, Ed Fouhy doesn’t care about that – and neither does Tom Menino. Because instead of actually speaking directly to voters, they would rather attack an organization that is working to create positive change in Boston. Instead of participating in a forum sponsored by an organization whose purpose is to empower and enfranchise voters, Mayor Menino would rather undermine the credibility of the organization and ignore these voters.

This is de facto disenfranchisement and disempowerment. If Tom Menino will not participate in a debate over the future of our city, then less people are likely to turn out to vote. If Menino can keep the turnout down, he knows he can strong-arm his army of patronage workers to line up behind him. Now is the time to stand up to these tactics. We need to take a stand and call the mayor out on his refusal to truly represent the people of this city. Democracy thrives when more people are participating in the electoral process – not less.

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15 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Menino has got to go

    This is emblematic of the Menino administration.  Hide behind ribbon-cuttings and bbqs, while refusing personal accountability for City issues.  In fact, Menino hired this "consultant" for the express purpose of helping him avoid debates.  The people of Boston deserve better than an out-of-touch pol who would rather trash a civically minded organization than actually participate in the democratic process.  16 years is definitely long enough.

  2. Take Out the Trash Day

    And of course, the Mayor announces he's not going to participate in the MassVote debates on the Friday of the July 4th weekend. This guy really doesn't want people to know that there's an election, does he?

  3. Menino=gotta go

    Menino has been doing this for years- he remains in power as long as he lets people forget there's an election, silences his foes, and gets campaign money from developers looking to build in the city. He's such a corrupt mayor- politicians should look forward to elections, win or loose for them, because the election process is the backbone of democracy.

    MassVote is a great organization and has a great infrastructure for hosting debates. They are one of the few friends of encouraging public opinion and action and are doing many of the jobs government should be doing.

    I'd love to see Menino in a debate- mostly because I have NO IDEA what his platform is. He's keeping it very secret, which makes me very worried. I'm a progressive, so I'm not supporting his strong-arm politics. I'm supporting Sam Yoon, because he has a grass-roots organization built upon man-power and volunteers, rather than the money of investors. He also wants transparency and accountability in City Hall- which are greatly overdue.

    C'mon Menino, the people deserve to know your plans. I'm sick of your secrecy.  

  4. Mayor Meni-No-Show

    I am alternately outraged and saddened at this, mostly because people inthe city are letting menino get away with this. The fact that a mayor can find time to release swans in a pond, open a burrito joint, or kick it with out-of-town yachters, but not be able to make room in his schedule to actually talk about real issues in the city he (currently) runs is APPALLING.

    Look at the story in the Herald today; the Red Sox offered a substantial gift to the city to help keep the mounted police and no one in the administration seems to have heard of it until just now. Given how many stories there were about those horses (and a lot of lobbying at city hall from what I hear) how could you let this slip through your hands as Mayor? Either they dropped the ball big time or they are lying. In either case all those horse lovers should be SCREAMING for debates, if only to ask about this issue in front of the world.

    I am not going to waste time defending an excellent organization like MassVOTE. The work that they do, they do incredibly well. Anyone who has been around the political scene in the Greater Boston area in the last few years can attest to that. Either Ed Fouhy has no clue what he is talking about or menino and his team have no problems trashing the good work done by those who will not simply roll over for them, you decide.

    Hey tommy here's a thought, you plaster your name on every sign, shirt, and scrap of paper that MY tax dollars help pay for, how about you put it on a few invitations to a debate?

  5. Waiting for Meninot

    I've been reading BMG daily for a long time now and rarely feel the need to post but this Menino stuff is getting ridiculous.  He can't get a pass on this stuff and I think that the BMG community could be a part of forcing his hand.  You know it's getting bad when the Globe runs an anti-Menino editorial and the Herald runs this article.  

    It's an affront to the voters of Boston.  BMG could really help keep the pressure on by publicizing this.  You guys have raised money for orgs before and done debate ducking counters.  Maybe BMG should raise money for MassVOTE to be dedicated to the forum since Menino & Co. are so worried that MassVote can't handle setting up a mayoral forum.  

    Or...

    How about a contest to see who can come up with the funniest Top Ten Reasons why Tom Menino won't debate?  

    # 10: He's waiting to get appointed Ambassador to Italy and skip town.

  6. $quot;Trashes$quot; is a bit strong

    He didn't exactly say they were a bad organization, but I agree that his criticism does seem valid. How hard is to organize a debate anyway?

    I am not about to rule out voting for Menino just because he is ducking debates, but it definitely is a point against him. I don't think it is politically wise either. Perhaps he was able to get away with it in past elections because he only had a single opponent. Now he has three, all of whom are rightfully clamoring for him to commit.

  7. The back story is even worse

    When we met in June with Mr. Fouey, he said in front of all of us:  WGBH, the Globe, WBUR, NECN, and the other campaign people that he would meet with Yoon, Flaherty and I by July 1st to talk about debates.   He has refused to return any messages or emails since that time to even talk about setting up a meeting.  

    Flaherty, Yoon and I have offered to meet with him anytime, anywhere of his choosing and that still isn't good enough for him.

    I strongly applaud MassVOTE for having the courage to schedule these debates without Menino's approval.   I can't say so much for the "major" media stations both print and television who are in this dance with Menino.   They want to be the "one" that gets a debate, so they apparently are talking with only Menino.   Sounds a bit like China or Iran, unfortunately.   The media only deals with the government, not the challengers.   Definitely a bad sign for the public.

    Finally, it is not just MassVOTE that Menino is snubbing.  There are other major organizations as well. There are 29 Partners listed on the invitation, and over 30 Supporters as well.   Such big name groups as the Boston Teachers Union, NAACP, OISTE, ACORN, ACLU, Chinese Progressive Association, Black Ministerial Alliance, etc.   To say that these people don't have the capacity to put on a debate (September 3 at the Reggie Lewis Center and September 17 at English High School) is an insult to all the great work that they all do.

    Michael, Sam and I have put aside our other differences to come together to work towards having more discussions about moving the City forward.   It is a real shame the Mayor won't even talk with us, and that "major" media won't take the risk of upsetting the status quo by holding debates whether the Mayor commits or not.    

  8. I bet

    This arrogant Fouhy guy won't last the weekend on Menino's staff.  Or, at least he shouldn't!

  9. Bio of Ed Fouhey

    From the company he works for M.E. Communications Partners:

    Ed was executive producer of Presidential Debates over several campaign cycles, including the Bush/Clinton debates seen by more Americans than any other political broadcasts to that time.

    After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Ed consulted in Eastern Europe helping journalists to build independent news organizations, and in Latin America he advised journalists working to build independent media companies in formerly authoritarian nations.

    He has served as a consultant to Google and founded and managed three initiatives funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts: Pew Center on Civic Journalism, Stateline.org, an online news service covering state governments, and the Government Performance Project, a joint journalistic-academic research initiative that graded all 50 state governments.

    Here is their blog, last updated in August 2008.

    They are based in Chatham.

    • Missed the Point!

      Thanks for posting this favorable biopic about Fouhy; the only thing this clarifies is that he is from nearby and that he is a bigwig (and it is certainly not an independent evaluation of his work by any means).

      His resume can't answer the fact that he maligned a respectable organization. If you're going to be Menino's point-person on debates, its best not to run your mouth.

      It's posts like these that really undermine our ability to have a healthy discussion about what really happened here. The fact remains that Fouhy and Menino are avoiding debates and aren't afraid to throw others under the bus to do so.

      This bio doesn't mitigate Fouhy's offense one bit.

      • **

        bio, not biopic (if only this were a movie!)

      • $quot;It's posts like these that really undermine our ability$quot;

        Nonsense.  Posts like that one, which simply add information without comment, are part of what enhance productive discussion on this site.  No one is claiming that his bio "mitigates" anything.  It's always useful to understand who these players are, and where they come from.

  10. Doesn't matter if it is Menino or his staff.

    As we all saw in the presidential campaign last year, if a staffer trashes some organization, and the candidate apologizes, then we know the staffer was going rogue. If however, the candidate remains silent and lets the rock throwing stand, then it reflects the opinion of the candidate. MassVote is a great organization that I have seen repeated on the campaign trail over the years, and they deserves better much than this.

    I will never be able to support Menino because of his issues and positions and I am already supporting McCrea. And while I am not surprised by this in the least, I take offense at this. Both MassVote and the voters deserve better than this.

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