Political Circuit

Yoon pushes proposed ordinance on term limits for mayor

Sam Yoon says his fellow councilors must act now. Sam Yoon says his fellow councilors must act now. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff/File 2009)
November 22, 2009

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Less than three weeks after Boston residents voted to give Mayor Thomas M. Menino an unprecedented fifth term in office, one of his vanquished challengers is still campaigning against him, in a fashion.

City Councilor At Large Sam Yoon is pushing mayoral term limits, sending a message via Twitter on Friday that “Term limits encourage incumbents to use, not hoard, political capital.’’

The Tweet followed an e-mail to supporters Thursday, informing them that a proposed ordinance that would put term limits in place has been sitting in a council committee for months and probably will die unless his fellow councilors act now.

The ordinance would not affect Menino, whose tenure will reach 20 years if he serves out a full fifth term, but would limit future mayors to two four-year terms.

“If eight years is good enough for President of the United States, then it ought to be good enough for Mayor of Boston,’’ Yoon said in a statement. “Term limits are a basic check and balance on the executive branch.’’

Some of his fellow councilors, however, are less than exuberant about Yoon’s push, particularly since voters just returned Menino for another term. Councilor Maureen Feeney, who chairs the government operations committee where Yoon’s initiative is sitting, said elections are held every four years, at which time voters can remove any officeholder.

“We have term limits,’’ she said, referring to the elections process.

Councilor John Tobin, a government operations committee member who watched his own mayoral term limits legislation die a few years ago, said his office has received tons of e-mails and phone calls from Yoon supporters but he, too, is reluctant to support the initiative.

“They’re a little late for the party,’’ he said.


Cascading consequences
The possibility of a Martha Coakley victory in the US Senate race has politicians giddy at the prospect of an open attorney general’s seat.

But the rare open statewide post is creating its own potential domino effect. With several elected officials eyeing Coakley’s job, others are now lining up to run for the jobs held by the candidates for attorney general.

Among them is State Senator Michael Morrissey, of Quincy, who says he will run for Norfolk district attorney if Coakley wins and if the district attorney, William Keating, runs for the seat.

“I’ve been a trial attorney for 25 years, and am a founding and managing partner of a good-sized law firm,’’ said Morrissey. “I’d get to use both my trial background and management skills in running what is the largest law firm in Norfolk County.’’

Of course, Morrissey, like any politician in Massachusetts who moves up the political ladder, would see a tangible benefit, too. His new pay, $148,000, would be nearly double his current salary of $75,000, and would guarantee him a much higher pension when he retires.


Campaign corrections, Pt. I
Endorsements have been flying in the US Senate race, so much so that it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with them all.

Apparently, it’s too much for the campaigns to keep up with, too.

US Representative Michael E. Capuano on Wednesday sent out a press release touting the endorsement of 20 Massachusetts mayors.

Among them was Mayor Scott W. Lang of New Bedford.

One problem: Lang says he didn’t give his endorsement.

“While the mayor holds the candidates for Senate in the highest regard, he has not made any endorsements,’’ a mayoral aide, Catherine Rollins, told Jack Spillane of the New Bedford Standard-Times.

Within six hours, Capuano’s campaign sent out a “correction’’ version of its mayoral endorsement list that dropped Lang’s name.

But he still had 20 mayors endorsing him. The new mayor, who had apparently given his consent within those six hours? Mayor-elect Richard Cohen of Agawam.


Coakley’s new partner
Also on the endorsement front: Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Senate bid was endorsed last week by several business leaders, among them Jack Connors Jr.

Connors is listed in Coakley’s press release as chairman emeritus and former chief executive of Hill Holliday. What’s not listed is that Connors is also the chairman of Partners HealthCare.

The Globe in January reported that Coakley had launched an investigation into whether Partners had illegally colluded with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts to increase the price of health insurance. No court action has been taken.

“Jack Connors support for Martha Coakley’s candidacy for US Senate has no impact on her decisions as Attorney General,’’ Alex Zaroulis, a campaign spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Another twist to the Connors-Coakley endorsement: earlier this year, Connors had formed a partnership with businessman Stephen Pagliuca to explore a possible effort to purchase The Boston Globe. Pagliuca, of course, is now one of Coakley’s rivals.

Adding further intrigue into the endorsement: Connors had teamed up in an unsuccessful effort to buy the Globe and create a nonprofit foundation that would have had a stake in the newspaper.


Corrections, Pt. II
Attorney General Martha Coakley’s campaign for US Senate has been bedeviled by the details at times in the special primary race for the seat of the late Edward M. Kennedy.

The Medford Democrat has acknowledged she misunderstood the instructions on her financial disclosure statement and failed to report some assets. There was a blooper in the mandatory disclaimer on her first television ad - the words on the bottom of the screen said “Paid for Martha Coakley for Senate,’’ omitting the word “by’’ after “paid.’’

And last month, the campaign had an unfortunate error on the invitations it sent for fund-raising events for Coakley in Washington.

“Martha Coakley for Senate will not accept contributions from currently registered federal lobbyists, registered foreign agents, political action committees, or minors under the age of 16 for this event,’’ said the invitation.

A noble sentiment, arguably, but not one espoused by the candidate, who, unlike some of her primary rivals, accepts contributions from registered lobbyists and political action committees. And, in fact, these particular fund-raisers were hosted and sponsored, in part, by multiple registered lobbyists.

“Those invitations were sent in error,’’ said Alex Zaroulis, spokeswoman for Coakley’s campaign. “As soon as we discovered the error, we rectified it and re-sent the corrected invitations,’’ without the prohibition on lobbyist and political action committee donations.


About those earmarks
Democratic US Senate candidate Alan Khazei has been a harsh critic of congressional earmarking - funding for pet projects tucked into spending bills by lawmakers, often to the benefit of the clients of lobbyists who raise campaign funds. In one debate, Khazei, the cofounder of City Year, said: “These things should be put to an up-or-down vote. It’s a pay-for-play system in Washington.’’ He was also critical of thousands of earmarks in the economic stimulus bill.

But City Year, the prototype for AmeriCorps, was a modest beneficiary of earmarks, receiving five for almost $1.4 million from fiscal years 2004 to 2008. They included $750,000 for design and construction and later renovation of its headquarters, $425,000 for truancy and dropout prevention programs in Philadelphia, and $200,000 to expand the Young Heroes program in New Hampshire.

“Alan is for a transparent process,’’ said Michael Meehan, senior adviser to Khazei’s campaign. “City Year asked for and received federal funds. Alan is against the pay-to-play earmark process that has dominated Washington,’’ he said, referring to the fund-raising links to many earmarks. “City Year didn’t participate in pay to play . . . and didn’t hire a lobbyist to get federal funds.’’


Robinson’s finances
Jack E. Robinson, Republican candidate for US Senate, was paid $694,862 in salary and legal fees as vice president of Benistar, a Simsbury, Conn.-based insurance and health benefits management company, and has business interests and other assets worth $6.3 million to $27.8 million.

In his financial disclosure form, Robinson reported a half-interest worth $5 million to $25 million in Nat Tel LLC of Stamford, Conn., a holding company that owns Bahamas-based Oceanic Digital Communications, a cellular telecommunications company in the Caribbean. He also reported a joint interest in two rental properties in Naples, Fla., and one in Houston, with a combined worth of $600,000 to $1.25 million and which generated annual income $11,000 to $32,500.

Robinson also reported a bank checking/savings account with a balance of $250,000 to $500,000 and a Fidelity Cash Reserves account of $500,000 to $1 million. Among liabilities, he listed mortgages on the rental properties totaling $165,000 to $380,000 and credit card debt of $15,000 to $50,000.

Under “agreements and arrangements,’’ the Duxbury businessman reported he will take leaves of absence from his positions at three companies “if elected.’’