Following the money through City Hall

There are several loose threads spilling out from the case of John Lynch, who pled guilty in September and is currently scheduled to be sentenced in January for accepting bribes.

A longtime City Hall aide who worked at the Boston Planning and Development Agency, Lynch pocketed $50,000, allegedly from developer Steven Turner, to influence the vote of a Zoning Board of Appeal member Lynch knew so that zoning permits for a South Boston property would be extended, according to the Boston Globe.

Even the basic mechanics of the crime are puzzling, because as Mayor Marty Walsh pointed out during an appearance on Boston Public Radio earlier this month, those permit extensions are granted “99 percent of the time.”

“I can’t quite understand. It feels like there’s more to this story,” Walsh said.

He isn’t the only one to think there is more there. Reporters have scoured public records to look for other shady dealings, and have made some intriguing finds.

Callum Borchers at WBUR discovered that Lynch built his home in the Clam Point section of Dorchester on a patch of ground he had bought from a retired police officer who had earlier received an $11,600 loan at zero interest from the Department of Neighborhood Development where Lynch worked. It would seem pretty crooked if the city loan had anything to do with the sale.

Inquiries have also extended beyond the transactions in which Lynch had a direct role.

The hasty and unexplained resignation of Craig Galvin from the zoning board about a week after the charges against Lynch focused some curiosity on the Dorchester realtor.

Yesterday, WGBH reporter Isaiah Thompson turned up an interesting series of coincidences involving Galvin. On at least four occasions, after taking votes to grant lucrative zoning variances to properties, Galvin was later the real estate broker for the sale of those properties. There aren’t records indicating what Galvin got out of the deal, but as Thompson notes, brokers typically receive a commission on sales.

Galvin recused himself from votes on properties in which he had an actual and contemporary financial interest, and there don’t appear to be any rules expressly prohibiting him from having a future business relationship with someone who benefitted from a zoning board vote. Still, Greg Sullivan, the former state inspector general, says officials “should not be benefiting in any way remotely” from zoning board decisions.

US Attorney Andrew Lelling secured Lynch’s guilty plea, and one of the big, enduring questions is how much more corruption the federal prosecutor will find, and how much will he be able to root out. It’s hard to imagine the story ends with Lynch.

Eight years ago, former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi was convicted of a bribery scheme where he took $65,000 in direct payment. To many, that seemed like a measly sum for a once-heralded and powerful Democrat to risk his freedom and reputation.

With Lynch, the $50,000 bribe appears out of balance in the other direction. Why would anyone pay so much to a City Hall aide to steer a board towards a vote it would presumably be inclined to make anyway?

You might call that the $64 million question.



House Speaker Robert DeLeo says the chamber is planning to develop a comprehensive bill dealing with vaping. (State House News) Behram Agha, owner of Vapor Zone at the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers, plans to sue for an injunction against Gov. Charlie Baker’s vape sale ban today. (WGBH)

The House passes legislation that would oust Jim Lyons, the Trump-loving head of the state Republican Party, from a campaign finance commission. (CommonWealth)

A MassINC poll indicates voters want subway-like commuter rail service, but, as usual, they are reluctant to pay for it. (CommonWealth)

Developer Thomas J. Hynes, Jr., a nephew of the Boston mayor who is the namesake of the John B. Hynes Auditorium, says Gov. Charlie Baker is right to propose selling the facility — and he talks up the idea of a rail connection to take Back Bay hotel guests to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in the Seaport. (Boston Globe)


North Adams is exploring converting Eagle Street into a woonerf, a Dutch term referring to a roadway that treats pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars equally. One problem: parking spaces would probably have to go, and merchants aren’t happy about that. (Berkshire Eagle)

Doyle’s Cafe was one of about 80 Boston bars to receive a liquor license on the day prohibition ended in 1933, and now in part because of the way the licensing system was designed back then, the license is worth $455,000. (WBUR)

Brockton’s city planning department has a vision for a redesigned Main Street that would include protected bike lanes, and synchronized traffic signals. (Brockton Enterprise)


“I would like you to do us a favor though,” said President Trump to Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky. (The New Yorker) House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said the whistleblower complaint submitted to Congress is “deeply disturbing.”(New York Times) This morning the House Intelligence Committee posted the whistleblower complaint. John Kerry, the former secretary of state and 2004 Democratic nominee for president, said that if Trump isn’t held accountable, “say goodbye to rule of law.” (WGBH)

US Rep. Richard Neal, who has been reluctant to join the impeachment army, is now one of its generals. (Boston Globe) Herald columnist Michael Graham says the impeachment drive may help Elizabeth Warren in the short-term, but could backfire on her in the end. 


Bill Forry laments the anemic 11 percent turnout in Tuesday’s preliminary municipal election in Boston. (Dorchester Reporter


The University of Massachusetts Boston was one of seven US campuses targeted in a Chinese visa fraud scheme to bring government agents here to recruit scientists to come to China under the guise they were researchers, according to court documents. (Boston Globe)

The Boston Public Schools hires a consultant to help with the chronic problem of late school buses. (Boston Globe)


The death toll from Eastern equine encephalitis rises to four. (MassLive)


Amherst is using $30,000 in Community Preservation Act funds to create a famous writers’ walk. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

The Boston Center for the Arts plans to offer heavily subsidized work space to artists, but the decision could mean displacement of some artists who currently have studio space there. (Boston Globe)


After 106 days and $5.4 million in repairs, the Red Line is finally back to its pre-derailment status. (CommonWealth) But a problem with the doors on new Orange Line cars — one opened last Friday while a train was in motion — led MBTA officials to pull all 12 of the new cars that had been operating out of service until a fix can be made. (Boston Globe)

The once obscure Registry of Motor Vehicles board at the center of the driver’s license controversy is now asking the Inspector General’s office to embed someone at the board to make sure everything is on the up and up. (CommonWealth)


Any big increase in the amount of at-sea monitoring would bankrupt the groundfishing industry that pays for the oversight, fishermen told regulators. (Gloucester Daily Times)

A proposed bylaw that would ban the purchase and sale of beverages in single-use plastic containers on town property got a boost Tuesday from the Dennis Board of Selectmen. (Cape Cod Times) 


The Fall River City Council is seeking a preliminary injunction to compel Mayor Jasiel Correia II, who is facing 24 federal charges, to step aside from his duties as mayor. (Herald News)