How Dianne Wilkerson blackmailed the Boston City Council

And got Adrian Walker of the Globe involved in her seamy little game. Allegedly, of course.

But Walker shouldn't feel too badly: Aside from then City Council President Maureen Feeney, pretty much everyone involved comes off as an inadvertent enabler of an unscrupulous, determined Wilkerson in the federal complaint against her.

Remember last year when the city council sought state legislation so it didn't have to hold a preliminary election to reduce the number of at-large council candidates from nine to eight?

According to the criminal complaint against her, Wilkerson threatened to hold up that legislation unless the city granted a full liquor license to a proposed restaurant on Melnea Cass Boulevard (unfortunately for Wilkerson, the guy giving her all those bribes wore a wire the whole time).

The affidavit claims that for her cash payments, Wilkerson worked it: She sent letters to all city councilors demanding a hearing on liquor licenses. She convinced Walker to write a column pushing the joint's application - by painting the holdup as proof the city licensing board had it out for non-insiders.

And, allegedly, she then threatened the city council: Get Deja Vu its full license or she'd hold up the election bill. City Council President Maureen Feeney got mad, the complaint alleges, but agreed to meet with Wilkerson.

Then Wilkerson put a hold on a second bill, which would have given raises to Licensing Board staffers. And she got Therese Murray to call Feeney to push for the license.

The Licensing Board eventually did agree to grant the license, after Wilkerson lifted her "hold" on the pay raises and agreed to sponsor legislation to get Boston more liquor licenses. And the council got its home-rule legislation to eliminate the preliminary.



Free tagging: 


Even further

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She tampered with how fast or slow certain bills regarding the new liquor licenses came from their committee so that her club of choice would have the best possible application (permanent lease, etc) for getting one of the licenses.

There were *multiple* businesses other than her briber who were waiting on those licenses. Each one had investors praying for a grand opening and free-flowing liquor to be able to recover their investments! That's freakishly AWFUL!

Hear, hear

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Nice dot-connecting. This story just gets better and better. Also, "supper club"? Heh. Depends what you have for supper, I guess.

Double Standards?

She held up legislation to get a liquor license? Didn't Scaccia out of Hyde Park just do that for a liquor license in Westwood?

Bribes are one thing. Do you

Bribes are one thing. Do you understand that this horse-trading is how business is done in Massachusetts every day? Without the bribe, this is business as usual. The politicians you voted into office do it all the time. And they you re-elect them. Same as it ever was.


Um, yeah. Bribes ARE the problem.

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We elect politicians to represent us and their district. That does result in some horse trading to advance the interests of their constituants. Also know as what we elected them to do. We can try to be righteously aghast, but else do we expect? My rep gives support to a pet project of a rep in Western Mass to get that rep's support for a pet project in my district. So what? That's not as nefarious as it sounds. Its called compromise, collaboration, and coalition building.

The bribe IS the problem. Because we count on politicians doing this horse trading for the benefit of the people they represent, not for their own financial gain. I certainly expect my elected officials to work with their fellow legislators to positively impact my district. I don't expect them to be selling their services to the highest bidder, but I certainly expect them to be out there building support for projects and legislature that will benefit my district and the ideals it believes in.

but how would Dianne afford

but how would Dianne afford her car payments if she didnt get cash for every license she delivered!

I fully agree, I think that cities and towns should be given home rule on these things. I know my town would most likely keep a limit on how many they currently have as there seems to be an even demand. That being said I know there are other cities and towns with more vibrant busy downtowns that could use more restaurants with wine lists and beer selections, and cities and towns should have the ability to make that choise themselves.

The limit isn't by town

The liquor license limit controlled by the state is that one entity can only have 3 licenses for retail sales, what they call "off-premise". On-premise licenses (retaurants, bars, etc.) don't have that limit. AFAIK, towns can issue as many or as few licenses as they wish.

Not true

The legislature allocates a maximum number of full liquor licenses, and sometimes another fixed number of beer-and-wine only licenses, to each city and town. If a city or town wants more, they have to get the Legislature to pass a home-rule petition.

No kidding - thanks

Good to know, thanks. There is still the 3 license limit for off-premise - this was part of the bru-ha-ha in Westwood.

And the reason why Trader

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And the reason why Trader Joe's can only have beer and wine in their three original locations, even though there are more than that now in terms of total locations. It's such a crock of hooey. That ballot question last November that got voted down was supposed to eliminate that 3 store limit rule, right?

Out here in San Francisco, TJs sells spirits as well as beer and wine in their stores. Mom and pop liquor stores out here are on practically every block, competing with supermarkets and stores like Trader Joe's and specialty wine shops. There's no shortage of business and no reports of kids trying to purchase underage.

I dont believe the law was

I dont believe the law was aimed at eliminating competition from big business, although that could be why its popular among smaller stores (many small stores also were fans of not being open on Sunday being mandated by law since smaller stores are normally family owned and that means they have to work on Sunday or risk losing that business to someone else.) I believe the original intent behind all of this was to control the amount of liquor accesible to people in Massachusetts, and to avoid having liquor stores on every corner. We need to be careful when comparing areas, because I dont think anyone is expecting downtown Marblehead to turn into a cesspool of ugly run down liquor stores if the rule was eliminated, but if not properly controlled places like Lawrence, Lynn, Chelsea, and Roxbury could very easily go down that path.

Also I dont believe any area has "no reports" of underage drinking or purchasing. We have a tendancy of putting other cities and towns in other areas on a pedestal as if Boston was some back water hickville or something.

It doesn't matter by that metric

Boston has been losing population for some time. Here are some historical figures:

1900: 560,892
1920: 748,060
1940: 770,816
1960: 697,197
1980: 562,994
2000: 589,141
2005: 559,034 (estimated)

By that logic, there should be the same number as there were in 1900!

Students, tourism

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You would think by now that they would have amended it to account for the tourist and student population factors.

How has that changed?

The census does actually count many students - those in off-campus apartments, graduate students, etc. That "adjustment" versus the number living in student housing early in the last century is likely less than you think - particularly when you consider how many small residential schools there used to be (e.g. normal schools, that did teacher training; nursing schools, etc.)


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I was thinking it was just a possibility. But tourism, undoubtedly, is way up since 1906. Anyway, the stranglehold that the state legislature has on liquor licensing in Boston is, in my opinion, ridiculous. A liquor license shouldn't be prohibitively expensive to obtain for new establishments.


Im also guessing that back

Im also guessing that back in 1906 it wasnt so easy to travel from Quincy to Boston/Malden to Boston/Natick to Boston. There are many more people traveling to the city for nightly visits to the local bars then there would have been a hundred years ago. Youd also have to take the office population into account. How many people work in the city but go home at the end of the day? Its huge.

the November 2006 ballot question

would have established a new category of "wine in food stores" license which was not subject to the 3 store limit. This license would have allowed only wine, not beer.

I expect Chuckie Turner

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To go on a riff about how keeping money in your bra is just part of a "cultural practice," and doesn't prove anything.

Besides which, her constituents expect her to push the envelope.

Interesting variant

Mom always taught me to stuff from the top.

I have to admit, certain things to be snuck past concert security fit better underneath, though. Like camera batteries.

I sense a new market

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Underwire bras with little pockets, for those things a girl doesn't want to mention. Like camera batteries and hundred-dollar bills.


Every legislator needs one

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It'll be a success if we apply culturally sensitive marketing.
So don your Bosom Buddy ™ and head down to the shabeen
Cuz Boston pols need bras with holes for wearin’ o’ the green

Sooooo.... who is

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Anyone know offhand who "House Representative Z" is? Other than keeping all the players straight, this USA v. Dianne Wilkerson makes for some good rainy day reading.

Envelope drop to Globe columnist Walker

Here is the text from the FBI agent's affidavit (pp.8-9) connecting Sen. Wilkerson with Globe columnist Adrian Walker:

"WILKERSON told the CW [Cooperating Witness] in a recorded conversation on or about July 11, 2007, that she sent a package of material to a Boston Globe columnist about the lack of liquor licenses available to minorities in the City of Boston."

As a blogger myself, I've received my own fair share of (anonymous) envelope drops trying to get me to write a political hit piece. They've all ended up in the circular file.

Maybe we could all chip in to buy a wastebasket for Walker?

Did he know it was a strip club?

Assuming that this is the same DejaVu that people have linked to above, did Adrian Walker know it was a strip club, and purposefully conceal that information in his column, calling it a 'supper club' instead?

Imagine writing: "No one strip club is going to revitalize a neighborhood."

Do we know that?

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"Deja Vu" is a pretty common name for a restaurant. Could we be talking about two different enterprises - one in Chinatown and Wilkerson's?

Boston has a regulated

Boston has a regulated "adult" district - strip clubs can't be opened anywhere else in the city.

Investigate source's agenda

Nonetheless, when somebody sends you a "packet", if you want to use it you ought to be prepared to do some substantial investigation to figure out the agenda of the person who sent it to you. (The affidavit left unclear if Wilkerson's envelope was anonymous or signed.)


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Walker has had issues doing research on columns, as in, he doesn't seem to do much - he just goes and talks to somebody, then writes up his notes.

Senator Y

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That would be Michael Morrissey of Quincy.

I wonder how the FBI decided when to use names and when to use letters. Why Senator Y but Mayor Menino? Why not Senator Y and Mayor O?

Representative Z

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The one the complaint alleges Wilkerson wanted to give a $5,000 payment to?

This one's a bit trickier. In the discussions about the surplus state land, Wilkerson allegedly mentions needing the support of a particular state rep, and later says" "We have since secured the support of the Assistant Majority Leader of the House ... who happens to be ... a state rep. And I am his Senator."

Couple of things here. First, presumably disposal of state land would fall under the purview of the Joint Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets. Hey, Wilkerson is on that committee! But the ranking House member is David Flynn of Bridgewater.

So is he Z? Later, the affidavit talks about how Rep. Z was insisting on a community meeting on the plan. Seems kind of unlikely some guy from Bridgewater would do that.

But what of the state rep who swears fealty to Wilkerson? That would be State Rep and Assistant Majority Whip Byron Rushing - whose district makes up part of Wilkerson's.


I smell a movie coming out

I smell a movie coming out of all this, luckily we have Hollywood East moving into Plymouth and the North Shore lol.

The funny thing is all this inside politics stuff is pretty normal, as others have said, if you just take the damn money out of the picture. Im always amazed at how crazy this woman really is, its just one thing after another with her and yet she kept on running knowing that if any of this came out in the open she would be slaughtered in the press.


Think she'll quit her campaign???

From AW:
"She must suspend that campaign immediately, if she has an ounce of common sense left. She cannot possibly present herself to voters as a plausible representative of their interests."

Since when has she had any common sense? It would not surprise me if she continued life as if this didn't happen.

I'm surprised we havn't heard any response at all from her.

BC Law School

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She got her JD there in 1981. They must be so proud.