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Hynes Convention Center

The John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center located in Boston's Back Bay has of exhibit space and can accommodate up to four concurrent events. The Center is named after Boston Mayor John Hynes. It features of meeting space with 38 permanent rooms and a grand ballroom.

The convention center is connected by aerial passageways to a nearby hotel complex and can be reached by public transportation via the Hynes Convention Center station on the MBTA Green Line and, using the passageways, via the Back Bay (MBTA station) station on the Orange Line, commuter rail and Amtrak. It was later used as a money source by James J. Bulger, William Bulger, Stephen Flemmi, John Martorano and The Winter Hill Gang.

History

In 1980, the voters of Massachusetts overwhelmingly approved a referendum question that capped increases in local property taxes at 2½% a year, unless the voters, rather than elected officials, approved an override. Because of the mandated percentage, the new law became known as Proposition 2½, and it changed politics in Massachusetts profoundly, by making the cities and towns more reliant than ever on financial aid from the commonwealth. Suddenly, state government was playing a larger role than ever in the daily lives of the population. Then the city of Boston was dealt another financial body blow. For years, it had been assessing commercial property at a higher rate than residential. Finally, however, the commercial interests had gone to court, and prevailed. The city owed millions of dollars in rebates, and, because of Proposition 2½, had no way to raise the money it needed to pay off the court judgement. In 1981, the fiscal crisis in Boston gave William Bulger the opportunity to bail out the city and simultaneously concentrate more power. The plan was developed not by Billy, but by the staff of his United States House Committee on Ways and Means chairman, Chester G. Atkins. The city would sell some of its prime real estate to the state, for cash. The Hynes Convention Center on Boylston Street was the obvious choice. The city needed a new hall, and couldn't afford to build one. But the state government could issue bonds to pay for the new hall, and the resulting debt could be paid off with revenue from the city's most successful cash generator, the parking garage under the Boston Common. The budgetary constraints imposed by Proposition 2½ gave William Bulger an opportunity to run the Senate with an iron hand. The mantra was that everyone had to tighten their belts, but the reality was that some belts wouldn't be tightened as much as others. In South Boston, Mayor Kevin White threatened to close the L Street Bathhouse, where children like William Bulger and gangsters like Frank Salemme had hung out in the summer ever since Dennis Curley had been mayor. To shut down what Bulger considered a South Boston tradition was unthinkable. The agency received a $280,000 appropriation for the next fiscal year to keep the venerial disease-plagued bathhouse open for business with the help of the MCCA and Senate.

The creation of the MCCA

To build and then oversee the new convention center on Boylston Street, the state set up the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA). The MCCA was formed to generate significant regional economic activity by attracting conventions, tradeshows, and other events to its acclaimed world-class facilities while maximizing the investment return for the residents and businesses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The MCCA took over management and operation of the Hynes Convention Center, the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts and the Boston Common garage. Under the informal agreement worked out with Mayor Kevin White and Governor Edward J. King, Billy Bulger's apointees would dominate the MCCA board, and with that power came control of employment. The MCCA provided jobs for friends of both William Bulger and his brother James J. Bulger. Because it was an "authority", it was difficult to have its financial records revealed and less accessible to the press. And the money, through the garage and later a hotel-money occupancy tax, would flow endlessly. The enabling legislation flew through the General Court, and Governor King signed it into law. Except for one member appointed by the MCCA board was state Treasurer Bob Crane, a friend of William Bulger. Mayor White also had his son-in-law Thomas Finnerty appointed. The actual day-to-day management of the MCCA was handled by longtime James J. Bulger aide Francis X. Joyce. The MCCA board bestowed on him what was at the time a $75,000-annual salary with lifetime security. Also on the board was Nicholas Rizzo, the appointee of the House speaker. He would later go to prison for embezzling money from the 1992 presidential campaign of Paul Tsongas, but in the early 1980s, Rizzo was not yet considered corrupt in the public eye. He was the press's main source of information about what was going on inside the MCCA. Rizzo was not on the same terms as William Bulger and considered an outsider. Michael Dukakis did not want any trouble. In July 1983, when Rizzo's term expired, he was not reappointed to the board. A year later, Thomas Finnerty's term expired except he was a team player with Michael Dukakis and he was reappointed. Ex-Boston FBI Special Agent Robert Sheehan also worked in some capacity at the center before retiring. The MCCA board met in Bob Crane's second-floor State House office, one floor down from William Bulger's plush Senate chambers. Whenever the board considered anything that related to Billy Bulger, Crane would roll his eyes toward the ceiling and say, "This is for the little man upstairs."

The Boston Common Garage

The entrance to the Boston Common garage is located on Charles Street directly across from the Public Gardens. It is approximately eight blocks from the convention center itself. The Republican Party Massachusetts State Senate election candidate John de Jong and state treasurer candidate Joseph Malone vowed to "clean up" the MCCA. The final bill for the convention center, including interest on the bonds, was $450 million, approximately $200 million over the planned budget. The potential for luring major conventions to a city with a cold climate like Boston's turned out to have been greatly overestimated, and soon the Hynes was advertising it's availability for wedding receptions and bar mitzvahs--- competing with local union halls and private function rooms. The annual MCCA deficit was supposed to be covered by a new tax on hotel rooms in the city, and by the revenues from the Boston Common garage, which had been a reliable cash flow for the city in the past. The Boston Common parking facility is now considered to be a state-of-the-art parking facility located beneath Boston Common and can provide parking for 1,300 vehicles.

Embezzlement and theft at the MCCA

But under the new MCCA management, maintenance work on the Boston Common garage was neglected, and eventually it had to be closed for massive repairs that cost more millions and plunged the MCCA even deeper into debt. The new state treasurer of Massachusetts sought an appraisal of the Hynes Convention Center, the building on which William Bulger had spared no expense when he created the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority. Including debt service on the bonds, the MCCA admitted that the building had cost tax payers at least $450 million. With a new state-funded convention center about to open in South Boston, the treasurer decided that the center was no longer viable as a commercial property, if indeed it had ever been. He asked that the appraisal be based on the land's worth if the Hynes were torn down and replaced with housing units. Using these parameters, the appraisers decided that the Hynes true current value was at $35 million.

In 2003, William Bulger claimed in court that he had nothing to do with the hiring policies at the MCCA, which he had personally set up and then handed over to the former mailman from South Boston named Francis X. Joyce. Francis had been William Bulger's top aide at the State House as well as the tin whistle player in Billy's band, The Irish Volunteers. As soon as he was appointed, Joyce hired the daughter of John Martorano and an associate of Steven Flemmi who both quickly began stealing large amounts of cash from the parking lot cash registers. Lisa stole $21,000 in MCCA funds; her uncle James Martorano who was out of prison by that time, had to reimburse the agency. The payments were negotiated between James J. Bulger and an MCCA executive Robert Sheenan, who was also a former Boston FBI agent. Despite spending hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on outside legal assistance, the MCCA also employed Harold Clancy, former editor of The Record American who was a longtime friend of William Bulger. He later hired the daughter of James J. Bulger's long-time girlfriend Teresa, Nancy Stanley. William would later comment that "she was a good worker." Another employee was Edward Goss, an associate of Stephen Flemmi and charter Winter Hill Gang member who later received a job as a cashier at the MCCA's Under-Common garage. He was later convicted of stealing money from the registers.

In January 2003, Francis X. Joyce, the hand-picked executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, was forced out with a golden parachute that included $72,000 for thirty-eight weeks of unused vacation, an $80,000 bonus, and a retroactive $24,000 pay raise, to $150,000, which also raised his annual pension to $75,000.

The 75 State Street Affair

Harold Brown was the largest landlord in Massachusetts. In the summer of 1988 he was looking to become a major developer, and he had his eye on a city owned garage at 75 State Street, just south of the booming Quincy Market area. Harold had bought up most of the land he needed, but the garage remained beyond his grasp, and until he had the final parcel in his hand, he could not begin construction of his skyscraper at 75 State Street. In 1982, the garage had been transferred from the city to the Boston Redevelopment Authority as part of the same legislative deal that had created the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority. Under the legislation, the Boston Redevelopment Authority was required to sell the garage, to whomever it's board chose. At the very least, William Bulger exercised great influence over the members of both the BRA and the MCCA boards, and it was they who would decided who, in addition to Harold Brown, was going to make a lot of money on 75 State Street. It was suggested that Brown needed someone to "protect" his "interests" at City Hall. He approached Thomas Finnerty, William Bulger's long-time law partner. At the time Finnerty was serving on the MCCA board, where he watched over the Bulger family interests. Brown would later charge that Finnerty made it clear to him that the garage would not be sold to him by the BRA unless "a satisfactory financial arrangement" was made. After stalling for almost two years, Brown in 1985 finally signed a deal with Finnerty to pay him $1.8 million for his so-called monitoring of the sale at City Hall. In July 1985 Brown gave Finnerty a first installment of $50,000, and Finnerty established a new bank account for the money. A month later, William Bulger and Finnerty each took $225,000 of Brown's money. In October, they split another $30,000. In September 1985, two months after Harold had paid Finnerty the first installment of $50,000, Brown was indicted for lying to a federal grand jury about a $1,000 bribe he'd delivered to a Boston Building Department employee. Then on November 15, 1985, a superseding indictment against Brown had been issued, and in the new version, Brown was accused of making payments in a doughnut shop to a Boston city councillor, as well as to "other public officials." As a board member of the MCCA, Thomas Finnerty was a public official. The story broke in the Friday papers, and by Sunday, William Bulger had issued his first repayment check to Finnerty. Brown by now had enough of Thomas Finnerty and federal indictments, so he refused to make the second payment. Negotiations dragged on for more than a year, but finally, in May 1987, Finnerty sued Harold Brown for $426,000. The deal may have looked shady, but Finnerty did have a signed contract, and he had every reason to believe that Brown would want to settle, to prevent his name from being tarnished. Instead, Brown stood firm in his determination not to pay. In the countersuit that Brown filed against Finnerty, Brown claimed that the initial $500,000 payment had been extorted from him, and that the "purported contract was a sham device to sell improper political influence and was the product of duress." In 1990 the newly appointed Attorney General Luther Scott Harshbarger reinvestigated the 75 State Street scandal. The results of his office's probe were released in September of 1991. The investigators pointed out that "notwithstanding Bulger's assertation that he repaid the entire $42,000 to Finnerty, "substantially all of those funds were later returned from that trust to Bulger over the next twelve months." For an example, they cited a $61,000 check issued by the St. Boltoph Trust, to which Billy had repaid his supposed loan, on June 6, 1986. The check was made out to Thomas Finnerty, public accountant. Three days later, Finnerty issued a check for $61,000 payable to "William Bulger." Billy then deposited the money in the same Fidelity municipal bond account "which ten months earlier had been used to accept the original St. Boltoph checks which Bulger later repaid." The investigators also looked at transactions between Thomas Finnerty, William Bulger and Richard McDonough. Richard and Billy also "received over $50,000 from a firm in California known as Herbalife reportedly for out of state 'consulting' activities by McDonough and Bulger on behalf of that firm." In the last four months of 1985, Billy took more than $50,000 out of the Finnerty law firm. In 1986, the firm issued him checks worth more than $350,000. There were no followups to the report and no indictments handed down for any of them.

Annual occupants

  • Anime Boston is one of the events which regularly occupies the Hynes with around 15,000 attendees.
  • First Night Boston has used space at the Hynes each New Year's Eve.
  • CollegeFest is a back-to-school college marketing event held yearly at the Hynes with around 15,000 attendees.
  • Berkley College of Music has a yearly jazz festival/competition, drawing in high school jazz bands from both inside and outside of New England.

Nearby hotels

  • [Colonnade Hotel Boston] is connected underground via the Prudential Center T Stop and Prudential Mall.
  • Copley Square Hotel
  • Mandarin Oriental
  • Hilton Back Bay
  • Sheraton Boston is directly connected to the convention center.
  • Marriott Copley Place is connected to the convention center via the Copley Place Mall.
  • Westin Copley Place is connected to the convention center via the Copley Place Mall.

External links

References

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