The past several months have been a PR nightmare for the Boston City Council. First, it was City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo admitting to committing a state ethic violation and agreeing to pay a $3000 fine for representing his brother in a civil lawsuit involving the city while serving on the City Council.
Then City Councilor Kendra Lara crashed her unregistered car into a home in Jamaica Plain. Lara was also going more than twice the speed limit and driving with a revoked license and no insurance. She pleaded no guilty in court recently. Boston City Councilor-at-Large Michael Flaherty publically called for Lara’s resignation. Flaherty told NBC10 Boston, “That councilor should have taken her own inventory, looked at the facts, checking it off as a mistake. The behavior is one of a habitual scofflaw. To go ten years without a license isn’t a mistake; it’s the middle finger, frankly.” Flaherty announced recently that he would not be running for re-election
And if all this wasn’t bad enough, councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson admitted this past Tuesday to violating the law by hiring family members to paid positions on her staff — the second councilor to admit violating a conflict of interest law. She has to pay a $5000 fine.
According to the Boston Herald, Mayor Michelle Wu believes the recent headlines affect the city council’s credibility.
“To be honest, I think it hurts credibility on every issue,” Wu said. “I would never want to say that there needs to be a standard of perfection for behavior. At the same time, I hear from a lot of residents that there’s great concern right now. It’s just the density of, the frequency of different headlines that have been out there.”
City Council President Ed Flynn released the following statement:
“Residents of Boston deserve strong and ethical leadership. As part of the City of Boston Office of Human Resources Annual Compliance, all City employees and new hires have to complete a process that includes training from the State Ethics Commission on the Conflict of Interest Law.
In recent weeks, City Council Central Staff and I have worked to schedule an in-person Conflict of Interest Law Training with the State Ethics Commission on Tuesday, August 8th, followed by a working session on Thursday, August 10th regarding an Anti Bullying Policy I filed. Moreover, Central Staff and I have been researching resources provided by the National League of Cities and elsewhere on a Code of Ethics for implementation at the Boston City Council, as well as Civility Training to work to restore a sense of decorum and respect for colleagues in municipal government. I strongly encourage my colleagues to attend these trainings, as I do for our City Council Hearings.
The residents of Boston deserve serious leaders who provide ethical leadership and work hard to maintain the public’s trust, especially during these challenging times.”
Just a reminder, there is an election coming up this fall.