Start with Flaherty, who was president of the City Council when the 11 open-meeting violations occurred, but wants to make Menino's lack of transparency a focus. Early in his campaign, Flaherty tried to deal with the open-meeting issue by publicly apologizing for the violations. That's a tricky balancing act — and when the Globe took note, McCrea was there to twist the rhetorical knife. "He has spent almost $200,000 of taxpayer money fighting transparency," McCrea jibed, citing his own estimate of the city's legal bills. "It wasn't until two days after he announces he's running for mayor that he decided transparency is a good idea."
Yoon, too, wants to sell himself as a pro-transparency crusader — and despite professing respect for Yoon ("I told Sam, if you were running against Flaherty, I'd vote for you 10 times out of 10."), McCrea seems inclined to fight him even harder. Exhibit A, it seems, will be an off-the-record confab that occurred during the June 20, 2007, meeting of the City Council, which McCrea has posted, complete with accompanying narration, on the McCrea for Mayor YouTube channel.
At one point in the meeting, Council president Maureen Feeney calls a recess and asks the councilors to "join me at the dais for, um, a matter." They approach and chat, Yoon included, out of earshot of the audience. As they do, McCrea explains what's happening: the Council is giving a $20,000 raise to Paul Walkowski, a long-time aide to recently deceased South Boston city councilor James Kelly, so he can maximize his pension benefit before retiring. Walkowski's new job, McCrea says in the voice-over, will be writing a report on, of all things, how the Council can duck the open-meeting law.
Given McCrea's desire to cast Yoon, Flaherty, and Menino as part of the same diseased body politic, it's hard to imagine better material. Then again, given the context of Walkowski's raise and job shift — which apparently followed a dying request from Kelly to his colleagues — Yoon might have become a political pariah if he'd declined to participate. But that's not the way McCrea's mind works.
"Here are three guys" — Flaherty, Yoon, and Menino — "all perfectly happy to sign off on a $20,000 raise at a cost to citizens, and who voted for [their own] raises last June, even though the city budget projected a $33 million deficit at the time," he says. "And here's someone" (i.e., him) "who's run a business for the last 20 years, and who talked about transparency and fiscal responsibility four years ago. Do you want the real deal? Or do you want the other guys that are imitating me?
"If we can get that message out, and if we can get the media to take us seriously — if we can get in the debates and people can say, 'Kevin can speak for himself, he's a thoughtful guy, he knows what's going on, he's not beholden to the unions' — then I think we have a real chance to win this thing."
And a big difference
The odds of that happening are very, very slim. But the possibility of McCrea affecting the outcome is another matter. "He's gonna give these guys ulcers," one City Hall insider predicts, referring to McCrea and the other candidates.