In that class of another job I don’t want, Boston City Council President Steve Murphy spoke with Left Ahead about the big issues coming up. He called them “real exciting,” while some might run the other way.
Click the player below for a half hour of him hitting on casinos, the gigantic hole in Downtown Crossing, and pretty good success in upping voluntary payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) collections. I post here particularly for those following gambling in MA.
He dove into the apparent win over the crater NYC-based Vornado Realty Trust left when it took down Filene’s and walked away from redevelopment. Mayor Tom Menino has been yelling, threatening and negotiating on that for four years. Murphy said the he and other Council members take it personally too, seeing it as serious disrespect for Menino and Boston.
He described how, to use my term, he and Menino got to tag team on this recently. The short of it is that Vornado has a nearly 20% stake in a group seeking a casino in East Boston and the Council determine when…and if….there’s a process leading to a vote on that siting. Murphy is the key player there. He details how the additional leverage and the likelihood of no hearings much less a vote was an extra catalyst.
In the related area, he touched on the casinos process. He said the new gaming commission is in control of the pace. He figured will be in a couple of years and not months.
He spoke too of who’s been naughty and nice among universities in meeting their PILOT pledges. When Boston went to those not chipping in reasonably, many responded with increased payment promises and most with corresponding bigger checks. Notably Northeastern (with newish VPs former Councilor John Tobin and prosecutor/pol/high-end lawyer Ralph Martin) went up about 10 times from the $40K range. Boston College is still blowing off the city by not fulfilling its pledges. Now Murphy and the administration are in the policing mode of getting more commitments and the serious work of collection. Here, he was plain about doing this with no force of law behind PILOT money.
We couldn’t get to everything in 30 minutes, but the guy in the center of the battle was his usual candid self. Again, I wouldn’t want to be facing all that. He claimed he loves it and that it’s great to be the middle of the action.
Finale note: He and I bemoaned “a real loss to Hyde Park,” as he put it, near the end of the show. That would be the closing of Townsend’s Restaurant in Logan Square.