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Kelly vows to pursue immediate vote on Fenway deal

By Steven Wilmsen, Globe Staff, 8/1/2000

ity Council President James M. Kelly may attempt to outmaneuver Mayor Thomas M. Menino on the deal for a new Fenway Park by submitting it directly to the council for a vote instead of waiting for Menino to hand it over months from now. The move, if it turns out to be legal, effectively would stymie Menino's plans to wait until October or later and increase the chances that the council would kill the deal and send it back to the drawing board.

"Unless, I'm told I cannot, I'm planning on filing that tomorrow," Kelly said. "If I can, I will. The only thing that will stop me is if it's not legal."

Kelly said his staff is examining the city charter for rules that would prevent the council from taking up the Fenway matter as early as tomorrow, though it would not likely vote on the matter for weeks or months.

Still, even councilors who favor the Fenway deal said that an earlier vote more likely spells doom for the pact hammered out by Menino, state officials and the Red Sox.

"There's a camp that wants to shut it down right here and right now," said Paul Scapicchio (North End), who is in favor of the ballpark.

After the Red Sox legislation passed the State House over the weekend, the City Council remains the sole government roadblock, and the body has relished its role as spoiler.

A core of councilors has come out against the deal, saying it's too expensive, would cause too much traffic in the Fenway neighborhood, and would take land unfairly from private citizens.

The Menino administration has said it would wait until the fall before giving the council the opportunity to vote.

By waiting, the administration hoped to let the fervor among councilors die down and swing some votes with political leverage and horse-trading.

According to the city charter, the council must approve the land taking and a bond issue necessary for the deal to go forward.

If Kelly succeeds in getting the deal on tomorrow's agenda, the council likely would schedule public hearings -- potentially stirring up a public spectacle the Menino administration wants to avoid.

Observers also said it is a way for the council to flex its muscle. Kelly and others on the City Council have felt offended that the mayor didn't include councilors in discussions over a Fenway deal.

"It seems to me that that's not very smart politics," Kelly said yesterday.

Political experts, however, note that if the councilors reject the Fenway proposal, they may run the risk of raising the ire of not just the mayor but the state's top political leaders, who already have signed off on the plan.

This story ran on page F05 of the Boston Globe on 8/1/2000.
© Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.

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