Just in time for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Boston City Council readily presented their version of Boston race relations by making an example out of Charles Yancey, a black City Councilor who committed the egregious offense of actually trying to do his job and look out for his constituents.
The annual release of City Council Committee chairs is always a good way to get a sense of where the councilors stand in the eyes of the City Council power structure and this year was no different.
When Council President Stephen Murphy released his assignments last week, we learned that Matt O’Malley has proven himself as a willing stooge of the status quo, so of course he was handed the chair of the Government Operations Committee, which had been left available when Maureen Feeney finally decided to drop any pretense of giving a shit about her Dorchester constituents and went after a major pay raise.
Another major change was that Charles Yancey was removed from his chairmanship of the Post Audit and Oversight Committee.
Among councilors, Yancey is often criticized for not doing anything, but only because trying to improve the community in Mattapan doesn’t count among City Hall’s paler politicians.
That’s right, the same Yancey who quickly became the sole voice of dissent among the council after Chuck Turner was booted for bribery, must have raised his voice one too many times, because Murphy clearly grew tired of it.
It’s too easy to assume that Yancey was removed from his seat because he’s an outspoken black man, but then again, it’s too naïve to not see the flagrant racism consistently displayed by the Council, the majority of which couldn’t give a shit what happens to the communities of color in Boston.
Unless you’ve been convicted of bribery, it’s a guarantee that every Councilor gets at least one committee chair. So Yancey was handed the Environment and Health Committee while Tito Jackson was made chair of the Post Audit and Oversight.
If you remember, Jackson was the Councilor who made the half-hearted speech about being disappointed by how the City Council handled the whole City Clerk snafu. How disappointed was he? Just barely enough to praise the process while also lamenting the speed in which a decision was made. When Jackson voted Present instead of for Feeney, he was merely taking a safe stance of opposition that couldn’t have been for anything other than show. At least Yancey didn’t waste anyone’s time with a bullshit-laden speech before voting against Feeney in protest.
Jackson has always been a machine politician and a hack. For some reason, he seems to make the perfect foil in the Council’s attempt to at least appear to have oversight, not to mention tolerance for minorities. So unless he manages to actually grow some testicular fortitude in the next year, don’t expect him to put any real work into the Post Audit and Oversight Committee.
The other interesting piece of news involving council committees was Murphy backtracking his previously-announced plan to create a special committee on casinos chaired by Sal LaMattina. Even Murphy had second thoughts about what appeared to be a dirty hand off to the District Councilor who stood to gain the most amount of graft from local developers interested in greasing the wheels of city approval.
LaMattina is the sort of politician who builds his career sheepishly playing his part. Anyone who has followed his City Council career knows that it is marked with ham-handed approaches to non-issues such as the scourge of Segways and will likely end at the hands of an embarrassing scandal involving an addiction to low-grade pharmaceutical drugs or the revealing of some weird sexual kink that comes out via Twitter, Facebook or something equally stupid.
In regards to casinos, I guess it’s kind of a moot point, since quickly after announcing LaMattina’s chairmanship, Murphy back peddled and decided that the casino issue should be relegated to the Economic Development and Planning Committee.