What will Councilor Consalvo do?
BY JOE HEISLER
District Five city councilor–elect Rob Consalvo is scheduled to be sworn in Sunday by Mayor Thomas Menino, just in time, perhaps, to help torpedo the mayor’s budget. The Boston City Council unanimously voted last week to reject the mayor’s $1.8 billion operating and $1.4 billion capital budgets, and is urging him to resubmit a plan with more money for public safety, housing, schools, and pay raises for city employees. The council, which must approve a budget by June 30, is expected take up a revised budget on Wednesday.
The timing of his election to the council and the budget debate create an uncomfortable dilemma for Consalvo — who won the June 4 special election for the seat once held by Dan Conley, who was appointed Suffolk district attorney by Governor Jane Swift. Before Conley, though, the seat was held by Menino, and his influence is still felt in the district. While the mayor publicly maintained neutrality in the race, many believe Consalvo had some support from Menino’s political organization. After all, Consalvo’s father, Bob, is director of research at the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and Consalvo just completed a nine-year stint as district aide to State Representative Angelo Scaccia, a close ally and neighbor of the mayor’s.
City Council president Michael Flaherty says Consalvo may yet avoid the embarrassment of voting against his political mentor, noting that the council and mayor’s office are coming together behind a revised budget. "We are 90 percent there," he adds. But if the mayor is unwilling to compromise — and the council votes once again to reject the budget — Consalvo says it will be "nothing personal. That is the process ... it is how good government works."
City Hall insiders say that the better test of Consalvo’s loyalty to the mayor is not his response to the entire budget, but rather to certain sections of it, including one that would privatize city towing services. Consalvo was endorsed in his election contest by the union local representing some 35 drivers for the city’s Transportation Department.
In addition to the budget, Consalvo faces the thorny issue of redistricting. With census figures showing that people of color make up over 50 percent of city residents, City Councilor Chuck Turner has been pushing a plan that would create a new minority-majority open seat by consolidating the Hyde Park portion of Consalvo’s district with the West Roxbury portion of the District Six seat, held by Councilor John Tobin, forcing the two to run against each other. Consalvo says he opposes such a move because it would "fracture Roslindale," but he acknowledges that the council is under strong pressure to increase minority representation.
Consalvo’s swearing-in takes place Sunday, June 23, at 12:30 p.m., at the Hyde Park Community Center. No doubt, it’ll be the easiest thing he does as councilor.
Issue Date: June 20 -27, 2002
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