Most people who live in the Back Bay, the South End and other neighborhoods in Boston don’t think that the Menino Administration’s Boston Redevelopment Authority [BRA] should allow Simon Property/Copley Place Associates to build a 52-story skyscraper of unaffordable apartments and an enclosed “Wintergarden” on public, open space at Copley Place in the Back Bay.
Yet in a recent Back Bay Association press release, Back Bay Association President and “Citizens Advisory Committee” [CAC] member Margaret “Meg” Mainzer-Cohen wrote that “I encourage all of our members to consider sending a letter in support of this project;” and the Back Bay Association president also attached a sample form letter to this press release which claimed that Simon Property/Copley Place Associates’ “Copley Place Residential Addition and Retail Expansion” construction project “will incorporate…smart growth design principles” and “was thoughtful and well-conceived at the outset” and stated that “I urge the Boston Redevelopment Authority to approve this project.”
Coincidentally, the Indianapolis-based corporation that wants to push a massive construction project that actually incorporates stupid growth design principles into the Back Bay and South End neighborhoods—Simon Property/Copley Associates—has had its special, private corporate interests represented on the Back Bay Association board of directors in recent years. According to the Back Bay Association’s website, for example, a Simon Property Group/Copley Place Associates and Residences at Copley Place executive named Bill Kenney has been both a member of the Back Bay Association’s board of directors and the Treasurer of the Back Bay Association’s board of directors in recent years.
In the Form 990 financial filing for 2010 that it submitted to the IRS on May 16, 2011 the “non-profit” and tax-exempt Simon Property-linked Back Bay Association revealed that in 2010 it “worked with the Boston Redevelopment Authority [BRA] on rehabilitation and new construction projects in the Back Bay Area of the City of Boston,” “sponsored study to assess the development of turnpike exit ramp and other transportation issues,” and “worked with city government officials on…development and improvement plans.”
Voters who live in the Back Bay, South End and other neighborhoods in Boston may not have ever cast any ballots that authorized the Back Bay Association to work “with city government officials…on development and improvement plans” and, thus, exercise an undemocratic special political influence within the Menino Administration’s BRA. But Back Bay Association President Mainzer-Cohen and another member of the Back Bay Association board of directors, Back Bay Real Estate Developer Ronald Druker of The Druker Company, have contributed a lot of money to help fund Boston Mayor Menino’s political campaigns in recent years.
Between March 31, 2005 and April 7, 2009, for example, 5 campaign contributions—totaling $2,500—were given to Mayor Menino’s campaign committee by Back Bay Association President Mainzer-Cohen, according to data posted on the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance [MA OCPF] website. And between March 28, 2005 and April 11, 2011, for example, 7 campaign contributions—totaling $3,500—were also given to Mayor Menino’s campaign committee by Back Bay Association Director Ronald Druker.
Besides helping to fund Mayor Menino’s election campaigns, Back Bay Association Director Druker, coincidentally, has also been apparently attempting to gain a special political influence over local and state politicians in recent years by contributing a lot of money to the campaign committees of members of the Boston City Council, the Greater Boston Real Estate Board’s Political Action Committee [PAC] and the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
Between September 15, 2006 and October 10, 2011, for example, Back Bay Association Director Druker made the following local election campaign contributions:
1. 5 campaign contributions—totaling $850—to Boston City Councilor John Connolly’s campaign committee:
2. 6 campaign contributions—totaling $600—to Boston City Councilor Stephen Murphy’s campaign committee;
3. 3 campaign contributions—totaling $400—to Boston City Councilor Felix Arroyo’s campaign committee;
4. 2 campaign contributions—totaling $300—to Boston City Councilor Bill Linehan’s campaign committee;
5. 2 campaign contributions—totaling $250—to Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley’s campaign committee; and
6. 3 campaign contributions—totaling $750—to Boston City Councilor Mike Ross’s campaign committee.
In addition, between June 1, 2006 and February 8, 2011, Back Bay Association Director Druker gave 4 campaign contributions—totaling $2,000—to the Greater Boston Real Estate Board PAC and 3 campaign contributions—totaling $4,000—to the Democratic State Committee of Massachusetts, according to the MA OCPF website.
The Back Bay Association’s Form 990 financial filing for 2010 also indicated that Back Bay Association President Mainzer-Cohen was paid an annual salary of $116,830 by the “non-profit” and tax-exempt Back Bay Association in 2010. In addition, Back Bay Association Director Druker apparently has recently developed an interesting personal business relationship with the tax-exempt and “non-profit” association on whose board of directors he sits. As the Back Bay Association’s Form 990 financial filing for 2010 also revealed:
“Beginning June 1, 2010, the Association entered into a commercial office space lease with a trust of which Ronald M. Druker is a trustee. The amount of rent paid under the lease in 2010 was $18,642.”
Real estate developers like Back Bay Association Director Druker apparently believe they will make more money by promoting more stupid growth design principles, over-development and unaffordable housing construction in the Back Bay and South End neighborhoods at the corner of Dartmouth and Stuart streets. But, from a democratic point of view, that shouldn’t mean that elected officials in the City of Boston allow Back Bay Association executives to exercise an undemocratic, special political influence over neighborhood zoning, development and housing policies in exchange for their election campaign contributions.
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