Friday, December 13, 2013

Open Letter to Boston Councilor-Elect Michelle Wu

Michelle -

Since learning a few days ago of your intention to vote for Bill Linehan for City Council President I have struggled to identify just why I am so utterly and deeply disappointed in you and your decision.

Part of my disappointment is that your support of Bill gives him a key, deciding vote. This means that no matter how much you try to distance yourself from Bill's policy positions, you will provide him with a position of power and reward him for his hurtful, racist, and anti-inclusive record over the course of his career.

Part of my disappointment is that when I backed you for the city council, invited you into my home, supported your Ward 3 endorsement, and donated money to your campaign, I did so - and actively encouraged my friends to do so - because I believed that you would be a voice of inclusion and new ideas for the Council.  I relate enormously to your personal story and to the vision you outlined for what you could bring to city hall. I believe the Council needs more people like yourself with diverse backgrounds that can influence the old ways of doing things and bring in fresh, invigorating ideas and make our government work better for the entire city of Boston.

Part of my disappointment is that your vote for Bill Linehan as Council President is a clear vote against my family.  To call this simply a "procedural" vote is completely disrespectful and is a troubling indication that you do not fully appreciate the hurt and harm this Councilor has caused to countless Bostonians.

But perhaps the biggest part of my disappointment is that before you have even been sworn in you are choosing to vote against the values that I voted for you to represent at City Hall. I moved to Boston from a part of the country where I knew that the vast majority of my elected officials did not share my values. It was a terrible, infuriating, vulnerable feeling. One of the reasons I have chosen to make my home in Boston is because of the values this city has grown to embrace, and the progress we continue to make in becoming an increasingly diverse and welcoming community. Your vote represents the values I came to Boston to escape, and has brought back those terrible, infuriating, and vulnerable feelings.

You have disappointed me in a very personal way, and I urge you to reconsider before you take office and cast this vote in January.

Thank you,

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Boston City Council vote - please call Michelle Wu today

(I'm posting here an email that I sent to friends on Tuesday, Dec. 10 as news was beginning to break about Michelle Wu's intention to vote for Bill Linehan.)

Some of you may have heard the surprising news in today's paper that Bill Linehan is poised to become the next City Council president, with the swing vote being provided by Councilor-elect Michelle Wu.  The Globe reported it today.

I hope you will join me in reaching out to Michelle to communicate your disappointment that this vote is her first action as a newly elected City Councillor.   617-652-0136 or

This past election was exciting for so many reasons, as Bostonians voted on the direction we wanted to see our city go. I was thrilled to support Michelle in this historic election and have her join Ayanna Pressley as the second woman on the body of 13.  Her voice, unique personal story and leadership skills are key attributes that we want on the Council, and I believed that Michelle would be joining the progressive coalition on the council to move our city forward on issues we care about.

That's why I simply cannot understand why she has decided to join the "Old Boys" on the council in supporting Bill Linehan for Council President. 

While we are a mayor driven city, the Council President is important and could be even more important under a new mayor: the President has the power to decide what issues come before the body for a vote.  He decides chairmanships for critical committees.  He sways votes on important issues.  And perhaps most important for me, he is a figure head for the City Council body, sending a message that the Council agrees and supports this person's leadership.  Bill Linehan does not represent me, nor do I think he represents the priorities all of us care so deeply about.

Many of you are familiar with these issues that arose during the Suzanne Lee campaign about Bill Linehan, but I'm including them below for your reference. 
Linehan supports the continued exclusion of LGBT groups from the St. Patrick's Day parade (from the South End News):
"The St. Patrick’s Day parade and its continued exclusion of gay and lesbian groups drew quite different responses from the two District 2 candidates. Linehan cited his lifelong participation in and attachment to the parade as a celebration of Boston history and Irish culture, and explained the exclusion of LGBT groups as being grounded in their being issue-oriented as opposed to being a social, school or neighborhood group. He said that the marshal of the parade said that if they started accepting position groups, it would open a floodgate that might include the KKK and skinheads wanting to march."

Linehan tried to change decades of precedence and take over the chairmanship of the St. Patrick's Day Breakfast from the State Senator from Southie, when Linda Dorecena Forry was elected.  (Quote from the Boston Globe):
“And I don’t change my position that it has always been someone from South Boston, but it hasn’t always been the senator. It’s the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast. That’s the name of it. Just because she feels she should be the host doesn’t mean that will happen without negotiation. She’s not just going to proclaim that she’s the host without having a discussion with me.”

As chair of the Redistricting Committee, Linehan tried to remove Chinatown from his district after his close loss to Suzanne Lee in 2011. (From Yvonne Abraham in the Boston Globe):
Now, it just so happens that Linehan is chairman of the council’s Redistricting Committee, charged with drawing a new electoral map for the city. And it turns out his own District 2 has seen big electoral growth and that he has to move some voters out. So which three precincts does the councilor propose to jettison? Why, one in Dorchester, and two in which Lee thrashed him, including one in the heart of Chinatown.
Apparently impervious to appalling appearances, Linehan has sketched a map that would make it a pretty safe bet he won’t face a challenge like Lee’s again.
His proposal divides Chinatown, a largely Asian community with common interests, diluting it and making it politically irrelevant.
This is not the person I want representing the City as the City Council President.  He does not share my values.  Please join me in asking Michelle to reconsider her vote and spread the word to others to do the same.
Thank you.