Another Arrest Tied to Georgia Gun Pipeline

Shawn Young: Gun seized from his Topliff St. home has been linked to illegal 'straw' purchases in Georgia. Photo credit: Dorchester Reporter

By Callum Borchers

A year after murder by gunfire spiked 66 percent in Boston, the city is on pace for an equally deadly 2011 as weapons imported from states with relaxed gun laws continue to wind up on local streets.

Through Sept. 18, there have been 36 deadly shootings in Boston this year, only one fewer than at the same time last year, when the final tally was 58. There were 35 fatal shootings in all of 2009.

Shootings throughout the city in which a victim was hit but did not die also remain high. A total of 162 people have been wounded in shootings through Sept. 18, one more victim than on the same date a year ago.

While the number of individuals arrested with illegal firearms has fallen 12 percent this year, compared to the same nine-month period in 2010, a recent arrest illustrates how some of the guns end up in the hands of criminals in Boston.

A .45-caliber Taurus Millennium seized during an Aug. 2 drug bust in Dorchester was the third recovered by Boston Police from a batch of 18 such weapons reportedly funneled to Boston via illegal straw purchases in Georgia. A pair of convicted felons bought the weapons, which are known to be preferred by gang members for their deadly-powerful punch yet small size, in Georgia in 2009 using “straws,” in this case two female accomplices with clean records.

The first of the 18 Taurus guns was seized in Boston in May 2009 — seven weeks after it had been purchased in Georgia — following its use in a city shooting. The second Taurus was seized during a gang-related investigation several months later, in September 2009.

According to a search warrant from the most recent recovery in August, the Boston Police Drug Control Unit began investigating 30-year-old Shawn J. Young in April, after a confidential informant reported that Young, a 6-foot-2, 270-pound bouncer at McFadden Pub who goes by the street name “Fat Boy,” was selling crack cocaine from his home on Topliff Street, a side street lined with three-decker homes on the slope of Meetinghouse Hill. Working with the Drug Control Unit, the informant made five drug purchases from Young between April and July, all under police surveillance.

Police executed the warrant on Aug. 2 and arrested Young, who has previous convictions for firearm possession and drug dealing. Among the contraband was the Taurus Millennium handgun, which was loaded with 10 rounds.

On Sept. 8, Young was indicted on a federal charge of illegal firearm possession, which carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence, and is now in the custody of the US Marshal’s office.

Illegal possession cases like Young’s and gun violence in general are highly concentrated in local neighborhoods, as Watchdog New England and the Dorchester Reporter reported last December. So far this year, 75 percent of the city’s shootings — including murders and non-fatal incidents — took place in the three police districts that cover Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan. The alarming number is no aberration. In every year from 2004 to 2010, no less than 68 percent of Boston shootings occurred in those three neighborhoods. The seven-year average was 76 percent.

In prosecuting gun- and gang-related cases, state and federal law enforcement officials meet weekly to decide which ones merit transfer to federal court, said Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk District Attorney’s office.

“The decision is made on the facts of the case, the defendant’s record, and the relevant laws,” Wark said. “In some respects, Massachusetts gun statutes can be stricter than federal laws, and in others the federal prosecutors are able to obtain harsher sentences.”

In the Young case, the serial number on his gun matched that of a weapon purchased by Erron Denise Love-Morgan on April 26, 2009, at a gun show in Norcross, Ga. Love-Morgan and another woman, Casita Qwanet Washington, acted as straws for felons Anthony Vincent Cartman and Tchaka Jamal Shields, buying 18 Taurus firearms on their behalf over a two-month period, according to an indictment handed down last December by a federal grand jury in Atlanta.

It is illegal to buy a weapon for someone else to conceal the identity of its true purchaser. Cartman and Shields had criminal records that prohibited them from buying guns, so they recruited Love-Morgan and Washington to serve as proxies, according to the indictment.

How the 18 handguns made their way from Atlanta to Boston could not be determined. But Shields, one of the four indicted in the straw purchase scheme, was born in Boston and has long-standing ties to the city. During a detention hearing in January, Shields’s mother testified that her son has an aunt and some cousins in Boston and that he travels here with some regularity.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Plummer, who is prosecuting the case in Atlanta, said in a recent interview with the Reporter that he could not provide a direct answer to a question about whether Shields brought the guns to Boston himself or sold the weapons to middle men who took them north. But Plummer said “read between the lines” when asked about Shields’s connections to the city and the short period of time it took for one of the guns to find its way to Boston.

Shields’s attorney, L. Burton Finlayson, declined to comment on his client’s ties to Boston and whether or not he played a role in transporting the guns to Boston.

Shields pleaded guilty in June to the federal charge of firearms trafficking. He is being held at a detention facility in Lovejoy, Ga. and faces up to five years in prison. The two women also pleaded guilty and are free on bond. Cartman, who had been on the run, was apprehended in the Bronx in August.

It is unclear if Shields and Cartman have any relationship with Young or how many times the gun found at Young’s house changed hands before ending up in his. Young’s attorney, public defender Stylianus Sinnis, could not be reached for comment.

As Watchdog New England and the Reporter reported in January, investigators say most guns used by criminals in Boston are purchased originally in Georgia, New Hampshire, Maine, or Vermont, four of the 33 states nationwide that do not require full background checks. Massachusetts does.

A 2000 study by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showed straw purchases are a popular way for people like Shields and Cartman — whose status as felons would have blocked attempts by them to buy guns in person, even in Georgia — to evade gun control laws.

The relative ease of obtaining weapons has contributed to a rise in violent crime in Boston over the last two years, reversing the positive trend of 2009. That year, there were 223 shootings in which a victim was wounded or killed, 28 percent fewer than in 2008.

But shootings crept back upward last year, to 258 — a 16 percent increase — and the city is on target to match the shooting total this year. The 198 shootings through Sept. 18 are as many as there were at the same time in 2010.

Callum Borchers is a reporting co-op with Watchdog New England, the Initiative for Investigative Reporting at Northeastern University, which has teamed with the Dorchester Reporter to conduct in-depth reports on neighborhoods issues. The Initiative is supported by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Callum Borchers may be reached via e-mail at callum.borchers@gmail.com Pat Tarantino of the Dorchester Reporter contributed to this report.

Knight Foundation Blog calls The Initiative for Investigative Reporting a “win-win endeavor”

Today’s piece for the John S. and James L. KnightFoundation blog has spotlighted the work of Watchdog New England. Calling the initiative a “win-win” for students, the community and the local media outlets with which Watchdog partners, the post points to the impact the non-profit has had since it first opened its virtual doors:

For students, the program provides the opportunity to collaborate with journalists and professors on hard-hitting local pieces; for the news organizations, the program offers quality, in-depth stories fit for publication. For communities, the program has shed light on important local issues, including the Dorchester local government’s plans for crime-ridden properties and Cambridge’s lax inspections of school cafeterias.

Read the complete piece here.

Legislative panel to get city’s plan on troubled properties

By Rachel Zarrell and Stephen Kurkjian

The residences shown below, all located in police districts C-11, B-2 or B-3, are among the most well known addresses in the city for Boston Police. In a single year these homes have been the subject of anywhere from seven to 25 emergency calls each, for incidents ranging from alleged drug activity, to assault and battery and breaking and entering, according to police reports from the last 12-18 months obtained by the Reporter and Watchdog New England.

There are several factors that the city of Boston’s newly established Problem Properties Task Force weighs to determine if a residence is a “problem property,” such as whether there is an absentee landlord, if the structure is “run down” and inspectional services violations. The Reporter team looked at residences with at least eight incidents, because that is the treshhold that city officials have set in a proposed new policy that would fine landlords to pay for police cruisers to be stationed outside their building.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Click on a photo in the slideshow above for detailed information about each property.

This is the final segment of a two-part investigation into Dorchester and Mattapan’s biggest “problem properties” and the City of Boston’s proposed response.

Council panel to review plans on troubled properties

Correction: An earlier version of this article, “Legislative panel to get city’s plan on troubled properties,” incorrectly said that a State House committee will hear testimony from top members of the Menino Administration on its plans for confronting absentee landlords next week. In fact, the Tuesday hearing will be before the City Council’s Committee on Government Operations chaired by Councillor Feeney. The hearing will include proposals from both the Menino Administration and from Councillors Feeney and Ross, and will be on July 6 at 1 p.m. The Reporter regrets its error.

The Menino Administration is seeking legislative approval to advance its crackdown on landlords whose properties have drawn a constant stream of police calls. Next week, a State House committee will hear testimony from top members of the Menino Administration who want to expand the legal definition of a “public nuisance” to cover any property where the Boston Police have had to respond to a 911 call regarding serious crime on four occasions during the prior year.

Under the city’s proposal, the landlord would be subject to a $300 fine for every occasion that a property is designated a public nuisance. Additionally, if the address is the site of eight or more serious police calls in a given year, the property owner would be assessed the cost of the police responses. A separate provision in the proposal would allow for such fines levied on landlords whose properties are cited for four or more sustained violations by the city’s Inspectional Services Department in one year’s time.

The hearing before the Joint Committee for Government Operations is scheduled for July 6, according to Dot Joyce, Menino’s spokeswoman.

In presenting the proposal last month to the Boston City Council, which also must approve the measure, Menino described its aim this way: “The purpose of this amendment is to empower the city to police properties that exhibit an elevated and notorious atmosphere or criminal and other disturbing activity rising to such a level as to endanger the common good and general welfare of a specific neighborhood or the city in general.”

Greg Vasil, CEO of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, said the board’s members who are landlords plan to testify at the hearings to try to make the “problem properties legislation” as fair as possible, “something that makes sense for the owner/landlord community.”

Vasil wants to “make sure the number of calls that trip the trigger [for fines] make sense for the actual size of the property owned,” giving as an example landlords who own 50- or 100-unit buildings where 911 calls may be a frequent occurrence. “Before you know it you may have eight police calls on the property, but it may be 50 or 100 units, and in reality that’s really not a lot compared to the actual size,” he said.

“We understand the city saying they definitely want to make landlords responsible, and I think a lot of the properties that they’re looking at are smaller properties, three families, four families, six families maybe, and some of the units our members own are larger buildings. So we want to make sure when you own a larger building… that if you have a high number of police calls over time that it’s counted properly,” Vasil said.

Menino’s initiative to crack down on properties that trigger multiple police calls began after a May 7 shooting on the platform of the Savin Hill MBTA station that resulted in the death of 19-year-old Derek Matulina, who was born and raised in the neighborhood. Initially the media reported that the alleged assailant – or witnesses to the crime – had fled into a nearby three-decker at 47-49 Savin Hill Ave.

While police now doubt that the address served as a hiding place for the alleged killer, it was not surprising that those familiar with the neighborhood would find such reports credible. The property has long been in physical decline, and community and City Hall tolerance to that decline had allowed the six-family house to become a hangout for neighborhood toughs, if not a breeding ground for crime.

Following an emotional community meeting that was attended by Derek Matulina’s father and sister, the administration assembled a task force of city department heads to find a way of striking at those properties — and their owners — that generate a steady stream of police calls.

An initial review of police data showed that more than a dozen properties in the Dorchester and Mattapan neighborhoods were responsible for 20 calls or more between May 2010 and May 2011. In interviews with the Dorchester Reporter, some landlords whose properties generated numerous police calls complained about the laws concerning landlord-tenant issues and said that the city should seek to make it easier for them to evict tenants who are responsible for the calls.

Asked about recommending changes to make it easier to evict problem tenants, Menino spokeswoman Joyce said: “This legislation is aimed at absentee landlords who look the other way when presented with problems at their property with either tenants’ violent/illegal behavior or cleanliness issues.”

Read part one of this story.

This story was produced through the Watchdog New England-Dorchester Reporter partnership. View the original story on Dorchester Reporter’s website.

City plans crackdown on ‘problem properties’; owners facing fines

47-49 Savin Hill Ave: Six-family house has been source of concern in Savin Hill. (Photo Credit: Dorchester Reporter)

By Stephen Kurkjian and Rachel Zarrell

When 19-year-old Derek Matulina was shot to death at the Savin Hill MBTA station on May 7, his father instinctively knew the house where the alleged killer, Nhu Ahn Nguyencq, was initially reported to have fled after the shooting.

Having lived in Savin Hill for over a decade, Robert Matulina, now 61, remembered the house as an eyesore even before he left the neighborhood 10 years ago. While police now doubt the initial media accounts that the house had been a hiding place for the alleged killer and, possibly, witnesses to the crime, it was not surprising that those familiar with the neighborhood would find such reports credible.

The three-decker at 47-49 Savin Hill Ave. has long been in physical decline, and community and City Hall tolerance to that decline had allowed the six-family house to become a hang-out for neighborhood toughs, if not a breeding ground for crime.

If it could happen at such a highly-visible address on Savin Hill’s main road, then the entire neighborhood was vulnerable. That was the message that Robert Matulina as well as Derek’s sister, Leah Murphy Bailly, underscored at a neighborhood meeting that they attended just a few days after Derek’s murder. The meeting— held at the Cristo Rey school building — drew an estimated 300 people, including several of Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s closest advisers. And spurred by that meeting’s message, the city has established an initiative to strike at the nagging problem of neighborhood crime by focusing on the properties that generate the most police 911 calls.

In the coming days, the administration intends to begin directing owners of properties that have been responsible for eight or more police calls in the past year to take steps toward solving the problems by warning or evicting the troublemakers. If they fail to take action, the owners will face fines themselves.

At the outset, the landlords will be contacted by the city and told of the high number of crimes that have taken place at the residences. The landlords will be told that if they don’t participate in an action plan to address the problem immediately, the city will begin to assess fines against them under a new municipal ordinance that Menino submitted to the Boston City Council.

Although many details of the effort are still be worked out – it likely will take statutory changes to make the job of evicting problem tenants easier – the initiative of forcing landlords to get more involved in policing their tenants’ behavior is a good one, city officials said.

“The mayor was very focused on this right from the start, from the weekend that the shooting took place,” said Michael Kineavy, Menino’s chief of policy and planning who is overseeing a multi-agency task force aimed at addressing the problem. “He impressed on us on the need for doing things differently. Let the police do their work there first, but once they’re done, let’s focus on what the other agencies can do with the police department to stop future problems from occurring” at the properties.

This is not the first time that City Hall has sought to crack down on properties that had become crime centers in Boston. For ten years, beginning under Mayor Raymond Flynn and continuing through Menino’s administration, the city worked with federal law enforcement and housing authorities to crack down on residences that had been turned into drug dens. About 250 such properties were seized and turned into affordable housing sites under the program, but the effort ended about 10 years ago when the federal funds dried up.

But the killing in Savin Hill moved Menino to call on his inner circle to come up with a new program. An initial review of the database on Boston Police Department 911 calls shows there is no shortage of problem properties – and property owners – to concentrate on. In Dorchester and Mattapan alone, about a dozen single or multiple-family residences were found to have generated more than ten police calls, many of them involving serious crime such as gun violence, drug dealing, and assault and battery, in the last year ending May 25.

Bringing the weight of City Hall on landlords to pay more attention to attacking the problem of crime at their properties may be the right approach. Several landlords contacted in recent days by the Dorchester Reporter said they intended to address the problem immediately, while others said they had already begun eviction proceedings against unruly tenants.

Margarita Ortiz, who owns a three-decker on Draper Street in Dorchester, was contacted by the city concerning the multiple number of times that police had been summoned there. Agreeing that the property was “run-down,” she blamed the calls on a person who often visits one of her tenants. The city official “told me about what I have to do with the problems,” Ortiz said.

James Hatfield, who owns an apartment building on Pearl Street in Dorchester, said that when the city contacted him about the high number of incidents at his property, he was already in the process of trying to remove his problem tenant.

“They contacted me about a month ago, told me there were some problems over there,” Hatfield said. “I told them at the time I basically had resolved [them]; there were a couple of problem tenants in the building and basically I had already gotten them out by the time police had called me.”

Still, the ambitious goal of forcing landlords to join the front-line in the effort to reduce crime faces legal impediments. Problem tenants, even those who have been arrested for crimes, have rights in Massachusetts housing courts that make evicting them a long, arduous process.

Richard J. Henken, president of Schochet Associates, which owns or manages about 30 apartment buildings in New England, a third of them located in Boston, said the city’s initiative to assess fines on those landlords whose properties are responsible for multiple police calls should involve a balanced approach.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily fair that all of the responsibility be brought to bear directly on the landlord, especially where there are situations where the landlord is making good faith efforts to deal with the troubled residents, the problem residents,” Henken said. “To the extent that the landlord can claim that he or she has been working in good faith to ameliorate the problem, either through eviction proceedings or through resistance to cease and desist from the behavior that’s causing the problems.”

At the same time, Henken said, the city is justified in assessing fines against absentee landlords who are not responding responsibly to crime that may be occurring at their properties. “In a situation where a landlord is not paying attention to this stuff, or a landlord has not taken action to keep their property in good shape, or they haven’t taken action to make sure folks are abiding by the rules and the laws – clearly for those folks, there’s no excuse.”

“But …,” Henken added, “for the vast majority of the landlords that I think you could potentially talk to, we all understand that it’s in our best interest as landlords to not have eight police calls, to not have a small number of residents who are ruining the living environment for the rest of the residents. We want the same thing the city does, it’s just a question of how you do it.”

While the Problem Property Task Force is intent on targeting those properties that have been responsible for multiple police calls, left unaddressed are the numerous others – often in the same neighborhood – that, while in rundown conditions or even abandoned, have not yet become crime centers.

Take 14 Ditson St. in the Fields Corner neighborhood. The three-decker has not prompted any police calls, but it has been boarded up since being hit by a fire several years ago. Neighborhood residents were so concerned with its blighted condition that they called a neighborhood meeting that was attended by Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley.

While he sympathized with residents’ concerns, Conley reminded those assembled at a neighborhood meeting in late April that the city could only act to take control of the property if it were deemed a public health menace or if the owners failed to pay their property taxes.

Barry Mullen-Barry, a long-time Dorchester affordable housing advocate, expressed frustration that the Ditson Street address would not be covered by the Menino Administration’s initiative on problem properties. “It’s only a matter of time before squatters set in or it becomes a drug den, or even worse,” Mullen-Barry said. “Why can’t something be done before police need to be called?”

That sentiment was echoed by Robert Matulina, a retired electrician now living in Florida, whose son’s death led to the initiative. “I saw it so often during Derek’s life – kids with no jobs start hanging out at some property that’s been abandoned or become rundown,” he said. “And inevitably, before long, the kids start abusing the property, abusing the neighbors, abusing the entire neighborhood.”

Next: A closer look at some of Dorchester and Mattapan’s busiest addresses for police activity.

This story was produced through the Watchdog New England-Dorchester Reporter partnership. View the original story on Dorchester Reporter’s website.

Community center shake-up prompts longtime members to cry foul

The Cleveland Community Center (Photo by Stephen Kurkjian)

By Stephen Kurkjian

A bitter split has erupted among past and current members of the citywide board that oversees the network of neighborhood community centers set up to provide a range of after-school programs for youths and families across the city.

Several of the five veteran members of the board who were unceremoniously sacked from the board last October are threatening to take their complaint to the state attorney general’s office – that political gamesmanship played a role in the election that resulted in their removals.

Three of the five contended in interviews that top members of the Menino administration, including Daphne Griffin, director of the Boston Centers for Youth & Families, had engineered their removal from the board last October because they had expressed dissent over her performance in leading the city’s 38 community centers.

The question of how to improve the performance of the city’s community centers, which, despite costing the city more than $20 million a year, have failed to provide high-level, active programming on a consistent and complete level, was at the core of the dispute.

Griffin, who has been director of Boston Centers for Youth & Families since 2008, says that a total restructuring of the role – and membership – of the citywide council was needed. A series of bylaw changes were instituted in 2009 to make the council more advisory than operational in nature and provide it with members who had fundraising clout in the city. They also were meant to help find members who would ensure that community centers in poorer neighborhoods without active groups maintained sufficient programming.

The dissenters contended that while they agreed with her overall push to change the council’s roles, they had little faith in Griffin’s leadership and came to believe that they were removed to blunt their criticisms and allow her to centralize control of the community centers.

“To me, this whole thing was engineered by Daphne Griffin, without a shadow of a doubt, to get rid of some dissidents to her way of doing things,” said David J. Gorman, an 80-year old West Roxbury resident who has been involved in the Ohrenberger School’s community center since it was established in the early 1970s. “This was clearly set up by her and it had the support of the mayor.”

Griffin denied that she had worked behind the scenes to remove the five members, saying she was “surprised as anyone” by the October 25 vote that resulted in their ouster. However, she acknowledged that she considered some of the five to be “antagonistic” to her leadership of the community centers and the citywide council, and that prior to the vote she had spoken with Mayor Thomas M. Menino and others in the administration about her ideas for reconfiguring the council.

Griffin said that while she regretted the removal of individuals who had long been dedicated towards improving the performance of the community centers, the citywide council desperately needed to change its focus – from operational to one of providing more overall guidance to neighborhood community centers and adding fundraising clout.

“From a visibility and fundraising standpoint, we were looking to think outside the box,” Griffin said. “I was personally looking to re-energize the board as a whole.”

Asked about the possibility that the ousted members might file an official complaint to the attorney general’s office, Griffin said:  “They should follow the course they think they need to. If the attorney general finds there to be an issue, then, of course, we would look at all of it.”

Kerry Costello of Jamaica Plain, one of the five council members ousted last October and a public school psychologist who has long been an active member of the board that oversees community centers in Jamaica Plain, said she did not disagree with Griffin’s goals. But she said her frequent clashes with Griffin centered on her concerns that Griffin was not a proven leader and yet she was seeking to centralize all policy decisions and spending by the local community centers within BCYF.

The responsibility for running the community centers had long been a shared one – between the BCYF’s central office and local citizen boards that determine what kind of programming is best suited for the centers’ roles in their neighborhoods.

However, as an in-depth article in the Reporter in March detailed, more than half of the community centers are failing to provide a full range of programming for youths and families. Invariably, those centers offering the least active programming were overseen by local boards that were inactive or barely in place.

To offset that imbalance and make sure these centers received adequate funding to operate active programming, Griffin backed several bylaw changes made in 2009 that were meant to clarify how the council operated and how members were to be elected. Kerry Costello said that while she agreed with the overall goals of those changes, she had expressed concern about the protocol being followed in adopting them.

“I wanted to make sure that all interests were served, the community centers, the neighborhood groups as well as City Hall,” said Costello. But when she brought it up to the bylaw committee, she was told “all the work was done, these are the changes,” she said.

Costello said this week that she would sign her name to the dissenters’ complaint, a draft of which viewed by the Reporter alleges that the election resulting in the removal of the five from the board was “illegal.”

Specifically, the complaint asserts that the by-laws of the board were improperly changed shortly before the October election that altered the process for becoming a member of the board. In addition to be being a member of a council for one of the neighborhood centers, which had been the sole determining factor in the past, members had to be “ratified” by a majority of the other members of the citywide board.

When the votes were counted, five members – Gorman, Costello, Bertha Banks, Steve Godfrey, and Wayne Martin – failed to win a majority and were dismissed from the citywide council. Like Costello and Gorman, the others had long been members of the citywide council because of their continuing membership on neighborhood boards.

A draft of the complaint maintains that many of the 11 members of the citywide council who voted to oust the “dissenting” five are aligned with the Menino administration as city employees, city vendors, or political allies of the mayor.

Michael Lynch, treasurer of the citywide council, denied that the ouster of the five resulted from any secret initiative to remove dissenters. Instead, he said, a year before the election of last October, the council had approved a new set of bylaws that called for the membership of the council to be altered to bring community advocates as well as those with fundraising abilities on as members.

“That the membership of the council was about to change should not have been a surprise to anyone,” said Lynch, who heads the Mayor’s Office of Cable Communications.

However, what was new for the October 2010 meeting was the mandate that each member joining the council would have to be approved by a majority of the members attending the meeting. That mandate had not been among the changes in the council’s bylaws that had been approved in 2009; but it was among the provisions that were included in a memorandum sent out to all members five days before the meeting on how the election process would proceed.

Before the balloting took place, Costello, saying she “saw the handwriting on the wall,” moved to have the council vote as one to approve the entire slate of 16 individuals whose names had been placed in nomination. But that motion was rejected; the 16 members proceeded to cast their individual ballots, and the five dissidents were out.

Ken Ryan of South Boston, a Menino political ally who chaired the committee meeting, did not return repeated phone call requests for interviews on how the majority-approval provision had made its way into the electoral process. Nikko Mendoza, then clerk of the citywide council and the author of the October memorandum outlining the new election procedure, did not respond to a call for comment either.

Mendoza has since left City Hall and is now deputy director of governmental affairs inside the office of Governor Deval Patrick.

This story was produced as part of a collaboration between Watchdog New England and the Dorchester Reporter. Read the original story.