Maura In The News

Flaherty wins a 3d term
Council president vows to ease discord

By Kevin Joy, Globe Correspondent, 1/6/2004

City Council president Michael F. Flaherty was elected to a third one-year term yesterday by a 9-to-4 vote, pledging to bridge the dissension among council members after a tumultous year, even though the final vote remained split between his longtime supporters and the four councilors who regularly oppose his leadership.

Challenged by Councilor at Large Felix D. Arroyo, who finished a close second in last fall's council elections, Flaherty appeared to have rounded up more than enough council votes last week to secure the seat that he has held for the past two terms. He won by his predicted margin.

Councilor at Large Maura Hennigan and councilors Chuck Turner and Charles C. Yancey cast votes for Arroyo, as did the candidate himself.

Flaherty vowed before a packed audience in City Hall chambers that he would spend the year stabilizing the city budget, fighting crime and drug use among youths, and challenging the school assignment plan that has drawn controversy and concern from councilors, educators, and parents.

"The current school assignment plan works for nobody," Flaherty said after the meeting.

The millions of dollars spent on transporting Boston students could be spent, he said, on a wide range of other services, such as "before- and after-school programs, MCAS preparation, teaching tools -- you name it."

Flaherty addressed the need for the council to overcome its internal political differences, a concern most councilors hold in the coming year.

"I continue to believe this council works best when it works together," said Councilor Michael P. Ross. "We have difficult economic times ahead of us and those problems must be met collectively and head-on."

Arroyo echoed similar sentiments, yet added that Flaherty should make improving Boston's public schools and number of affordable housing units key issues during his term.

"He's been a fair leader and I look forward to working with him," Arroyo said. "I hope that he listens more, particularly to us who see a need for inclusion."

Arroyo, the city's only Latino city councilor, previously acknowledged that his brief tenure in office compared with Flaherty's could discourage some council members from voting in his favor.

But he said that his decision to run for council president was as symbolic as it was serious -- both to mark the concerns of himself and three other councilors and to offer voters an alternative to Flaherty.

"It wasn't a vendetta," Arroyo said of his campaign. "It wasn't opposition for the sake of opposition."

"It showed that there were issues that needed to be addressed," said Hennigan. "I wasn't surprised by the outcome, but I was very proud to vote for Felix."

Each candidate said they were ready to start putting council differences aside and work together over the next 12 months.

Meanwhile, the City Council, accompanied by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, acting Police Commissioner James Hussey, Fire Commissioner Paul A. Christian, and a host of top city officials ate at Joseph's on High after the council hearing yesterday. The menu featured calamari, chicken parmesean, haddock, and steak tips.

While many councilors said they were under the impression that the lunch -- estimated from last year's tab by Menino's spokesman Seth Gitell to be roughly $1,000 -- was paid with money from Menino's campaign, Gitell acknowledged that the tab was actually paid for with city funds.

Turner was the only councilor who did not attend the lunch.

Andrea Estes of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Kevin Joy can be reached at [email protected]/

© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.

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