Editorial: Doing the right thing
The Boston Phoenix - April 29, 2003
Three cheers for Maura Hennigan.
ITS EASY TO take at-large city councilor Maura Hennigan for granted. Shes been in office since 1981. Shes a crusader. And an easily parodied one at that. Her latest mission well chronicled in the citys two dailies is to rid Boston of potholes. Her obsession with the issue began last year, when she broke her ankle by falling into a pothole while participating in the Haitian-American Unity Day parade. Since then, Hennigan has called City Council hearings to investigate the issue of unfilled potholes the latest of which took place this past Monday and created a Web site (www.boston.potholeweb.com) so city residents can report unfilled holes.
Other Hennigan crusades:
" Teaching financial literacy to high-school students.
" Holding NSTAR accountable for the recent spate of dog shockings.
" Preventing a Mercedes-Benz dealership from paving over a West Roxbury trailer park.
" Publicizing a city-owned animal shelters practice of dumping dog and animal carcasses in the trash (the director of the shelter, Stephen Crosby, eventually resigned).
Shes also been a long-term proponent of reforming the Boston Redevelopment Authority. And she worked patiently with West Roxbury parents to expand the Lyndon Pilot School despite opposition from both neighborhood residents and the Boston Public School administration.
Hennigans advocacy on these issues has won her the occasional plaudit. More often than not, however, its simply made her an easy target. But Hennigans practiced familiarity with crusades means shes a master at something few of her younger colleagues know how to do: spotting an injustice and doing something about it. Hennigan was the only city councilor the only one to call for an investigation into the shockingly generous settlement paid to former Inspectional Services Department employee Julie Fothergill last year. (Fothergill was fired after she refused an order from ISD commissioner Kevin Joyce to concoct a phony contract bid.) The subsequent investigation by the citys Finance Commission found that Joyce had cost the city an additional $160,000 in legal fees and lost wages on top of the $240,000 settlement. (See "Reform Agenda," Editorial, April 9.)
Three cheers for Maura Hennigan. Her colleagues on the council could learn a thing or two from her.
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