Documents provided on Menino repairs

Checks for work totaled $8,252

By Donovan Slack
Globe Staff / February 26, 2009
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Mayor Thomas M. Menino's wife, Angela, produced detailed documentation yesterday of payments the couple made for work done by a city worker on their Hyde Park home in 2004.

In an interview with the Globe, Angela Menino provided copies of canceled checks totaling $8,252 and a contract with a Brockton-based construction company for the building of a new entryway on the family's Chesterfield Street house.

She said that unbeknownst to her or the mayor, the owner of that company, Diversified Building & Remodeling, hired a Boston School Department electrician to install a light fixture in the entryway.

"I don't know who he hired to put one light in," she said during an interview in her husband's City Hall office.

She said that in her home she is the one in charge of repairs and renovations, choosing contractors when necessary and making out the checks to pay for them. She said she does not bother the mayor with the details.

"I run the house, and Tommy runs the city," she said.

Angela Menino said she did not have any receipts or documentation for repairs and renovations performed by city workers on the homes of her children, Thomas M. Menino Jr. and Susan Menino Fenton. She referred questions about those jobs to them.

"I don't interfere in their lives," she said. "We're grandparents and parents, but we don't tell them what to do."

The mayor's wife also expressed frustration yesterday that her son and daughter's lives have come under such intense public scrutiny.

"My husband is the mayor: He's a public figure, and I go along with that," she said. "But my children have nothing to do with his being mayor. They just want to go about their lives and raise their families."

Neither of the Meninos' children has so far produced any documentation that the city emplyees were paid for the work they did on their homes. Only estimates are filed with city permits, and the amounts of final bills for the repair and remodeling work remain unclear. The contractors listed on the permits could not be reached for comment yesterday.

A lawyer for Thomas M. Menino Jr. said yesterday that work done on his home in 1997 by a building systems engineer and a repairman for the city's Property Management Division was paid for in full and completed outside city work hours.

But the lawyer, Philip Tracy, said Thomas Menino Jr. and his wife, Lisa, who also works in the city's Property Management Division, are still searching for receipts or canceled checks.

"We've looked, and as of right now, we cannot find anything," Tracy said. "Given that it was 12 to 14 years ago, I don't think that's unreasonable."

The Globe reported yesterday that city employees performed several thousand dollars worth of work on the Meninos' home, the Hyde Park home of their son, and the Dorchester home of their daughter.

A City Council candidate filed a complaint against Menino with the State Ethics Commission yesterday, asking it to investigate the mayor's home renovations. The candidate, Suffolk County court worker Doug Bennett, said in an interview that he feels the mayor and his children were wrong and should be taken to task for hiring city workers to do repairs on their homes.

"I feel that this is an abuse of power," Bennett said. "They feel an obligation to help him. If you do his son a favor, then the son will butter up Mayor Menino for that person, and down the road, that could mean unfair promotions or unjustified pay raises. I think it's unethical."

The mayor's press secretary, Dot Joyce, disputed Bennett's assertions and said the mayor and his wife have proven they did nothing wrong.

"They've paid anybody who has ever done work on their home, and they've provided documentation for the work in question," she said.

As interpreted by the State Ethics Commission, state conflict-of-interest laws in most cases bar public officials from engaging in business dealings with subordinates. Private business dealings between a public official and an employee are allowed only if the subordinate has initiated the work, if the work is strictly voluntary, and if the official discloses the business relationship if that official ever has to take an action that could impact the employee.

According to building permits filed for the work, a city building systems engineer, John Sinagra, remodeled the kitchen in the home of Thomas M. Menino Jr. and Lisa Menino; the city building systems repairman, Charles Harris, rewired the new kitchen. Sinagra did not give an estimated cost in the permit; Harris estimated his work at $600.

Three years later, in 2000, Harris rewired the kitchen and bathroom in the home of Susan Menino Fenton and her husband, William Fenton. On the permit, Harris estimated the amount of the work was $2,000.

Sinagra and Harris could not be reached. No one answered at the telephone numbers they listed on the permits.

The Fentons did not return messages left seeking comment. Joyce, the mayor's press secretary, said Tuesday that the couple chose Harris to rewire their home because he is a close friend and paid him partially in cash and partially by check.

Donovan Slack can be reached at

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