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Election roundup: Essaibi George has a husband problem

The Globe reports on Doug George's ongoing battles with City Hall over the residential units he builds and runs, or as the Globe puts it, "has routinely flouted city and state housing and building laws," which might become even more of an issue should his wife become mayor, what with ultimate control over the zoning board and ISD (and the BPDA for larger projects).

Competing candidate John Barros, whose pre-City Hall life focused on building affordable housing, says he's particularly troubled by a zoning-board hearing at which an aide to Essaibi George voiced opposition to a development Doug didn't want built.

This is troubling if true, and Councilor Essaibi George owes Boston voters some answers today. Failure to comply with the state ethics laws by concealing personal interest in real estate development projects raises legitimate concerns about the misuse of public office for personal gain. Bostonians deserve transparency and are owed an honest explanation.

What the Globe and Barros didn't note about the zoning board, though, is that, unlike other at-large councilors, Essaibi George routinely has her aide speak at zoning hearings on projects across the city, typically on the side of whatever the neighborhood associations want, which in this case was to also stop the project (Flaherty almost always has something to say on South Boston projects, but only occasionally says anything about projects elsewhere, Wu and Mejia only rarely have their aides say anything at hearings).

Meanwhile, City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo and his father, Register of Probate Felix Arroyo, are backing David Halbert for one of the four at-large council seats. Son says:

He has the vision, the drive, and the tenacity necessary to be an effective changemaker at City Hall. We share a belief in collaborative politics and putting equity at the forefront of our decision-making. David is exactly the kind of person I want to have as a partner on the Boston City Council.


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George then sued the zoning board, noting twice in the complaint that three city councilors had opposed the neighboring project — without mentioning that one of the councilors was his wife.

I find it very hard to believe Ms. Essaibi-George didn't know this was a conflict of interest issue at the time, as her staff claims in the article.

Voting closed 92

And from experience I can tell you how very long and detailed the virtual Conflict of Interest training is for city and state workers.

There’s even a test question that is literally THIS scenario. The more I hear of Ms. Essaibi-George the less I like.

Voting closed 83

I need to take the state training/test, and this does sound exactly like one of the questions!

Voting closed 23

Her husband has zero obligation to mention his wife's job in his lawsuit. His lawyer would be a bad lawyer for even suggesting that he does.

Yes the councilor should have disclosed her financial interest openly, to be on the safe side. But even if this is a conflict of interest violation, it's a minor one over disclosure. It's not like AEG herself exercised authority to approve/deny the project. All her aide did was relay the objection from a neighborhood group, at a public hearing where anyone can speak.

This is the specific incident:

If you want to judge it fairly, watch the video from the beginning.

Voting closed 34

I’m curious of your background, but as a municipal employee, her actions are well within bounds as a fireable offense should the State Ethics Board step in. But they rarely do - particularly with the moneyed and powerful.

But my union job would be on the line if I even took dog treats from a local business if they thought my position in the government would give them an advantage in the incredibly lucrative city shelter business. /s

This whole situation stinks and if you can’t smell it, you’re part of the problem.

Voting closed 27

Assuming your union job is state/local not federal, your job wouldn't be on the line at all if you took less than $49.99 worth of dog treats. if you took $50.01 worth of dog treats, then you might have a bribe problem.

AEG's problem is not that she accepted a bribe but that she got caught with "an appearance of a conflict of interest". And in this case, by all appearances, the interests of her office and her husband were not in conflict anyway; her aide and the other two councillor's aides were all on the same side. It was also at a public hearing, which is literally not lobbying (based on the origin of the word). AEG could/should have conducted herself exactly the same way that she did, except she should have also submitted a disclosure form. That's minor as far as ethics violations go.

I agree her husband's messes are a valid concern for everyone. The way Boston works, if she became Mayor she wouldn't even need to say anything. A disclosure form would work like an advertisement. City employees will show deference to her family on their own initiative, no matter what the city's interests are. We've been seeing that exact thing happen with the acting mayor the past few months.

Voting closed 22

I like her a lot because she is a little unpolished without being full blown crazy when you do not agree with her. It is refreshing because she is local and is a blend of old and new. I love the soccer mom vibe she sends off. She is clearly Dorchester and does not care who cares.

Th bad side to that lack of polish is stuff like this. I get that she has aids speak at many hearings but there is no need to speak up every time, especially if there is a conflict. Especially when two other Councillors are already stepping up. Even if she rubber stamps these things en mass her aids must know who her husband is. The fact that she is ok with perception of conflict is troubling.

Is it a reason not to vote for her? I do not know. I am not sure if it hurts her with her base. If she loses in the primary by a sliver of votes this would be the reason why.

Voting closed 38

I also appreciate that she's genuine and not worried about acting a certain pretentious way. I have always found her pleasant when I've interacted with her.

I will not be voting for her though, because I want a mayor who understands the problems with policing, including family policing.

Voting closed 55

Essaibi George is corrupt and licks the boots of dirty cops. But she’s from Dorchester so it’s ok? You know people have no choice in where they are born, right? It’s completely random.

Voting closed 43

Not helpful at all. This is an example of the unpolished but will call you call sorts of names side of the coin I do not like. She would not say the same things about you. Not the best way to collect votes.

Voting closed 22

her campaign manager Cam Charbonnier literally ran from me when I tried to ask him why so many Trump supporters and Westie whiteys like Annissa when she was speaking to a crowd of 98% white jakes at Florian Hall last month!

Voting closed 55

Dorchester political ops guys don't run from stumpy Revere guys with swirls in their eyes.

Voting closed 47

the vast majority of the crowd would likely be nonwhite. Would that make them racist? Would it make her anti-white? What are candidates supposed to do, hand select a diverse audience and designate the meeting place, or visit as many corners of the city and speak to as many people as possible?

Voting closed 26

Given how weary people are of developers and the BPDA, I'm not sure why anybody would support Essaibi-George. It appears that she's used her position as a city councilor to put her thumb on the scale for her husband and herself and I see no indication that she wouldn't continue to do so (while wielding more power) as mayor. No thanks.

Voting closed 48

this might have been a fatal blow against Annissa by the BG. It seems like the race has come down to Janey vs. Wu.

Voting closed 47

A few months back. Doug interrupted her as she was speaking to the group to point out to the "business owners" that "all of the other candidates will bring about rent control if they get elected"

It had the slimiest "Those people will be moving to your neighborhood if you don't elect my wife" vibes when he said it.

Voting closed 12