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Zoning-board member with business tie to man facing federal bribery charges over a zoning issue suddenly resigns

Galvin

The Globe reports that Craig Galvin, a Dorchester real-estate broker whom Mayor Walsh recently re-appointed to another term on the Zoning Board of Appeal, resigned this weekend.

Galvin was the broker for a two-unit condo building in Dorchester built by John Lynch, who agreed to plead guilty to federal bribery charges for taking $60,000 in payments from a developer to try to convince a zoning-board member to vote for an extension he needed on an 11-unit project on H Street in South Boston. That extension let him sell the project to another developer at a profit.

The board had initially approved the project in 2014, granted him an extension after he was unable to start work before the approval ran out, then, in 2017, considered granting him another extension - this time after the first extension had run out. Galvin was the only member to vote for the extension at a hearing at which the developer, Steven Turner, failed to appear. At that hearing, the board's attorney told members that he had heard from John Lynch, at the time a mid-level manager at the BPDA with no direct involvement in zoning issues, in the hallway outside the eighth-flooring hearing room that Turner would not be attending the hearing.

Two weeks later, though, Galvin made a successful motion to grant Turner the extension after Turner did appear with his lawyer and his architect, James Christopher.

Christopher took over the work from his father, William, after Mayor Walsh appointed the elder Christopher as ISD commissioner. William Christopher, who took a leave of absence on Friday from his current city job as head of efforts to clean up Methadone Mile, worked at the Department of Neighborhood Development with Tuner and Lynch in the Menino administration.

Walsh last week announced he was hiring an outside law firm to review how developments get through the city zoning process in general and a separate lawyer, a former federal prosecutor, to look at possible criminal wrongdoing spinning out of the Lynch charges. The US Attorney's office has said its investigation, which led to the charges against Lynch, is continuing.

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Comments

As a resident of South Boston, I'm watching this story develop into what has the makings of a major scandal.
In South Boston many of have watched the scale of development transform our neighborhood from one that had many families with kids into what some have been calling a playground for transients.
We also have watched with frustration what appears to be a city government that ignores the concerns of residents. We watch single family homes being razed and replaced with multi-unit buildings. These buildings are adding to congestion in an already crowded neighborhood.
The concerns are many. I know the neighborhood is changing and those changes will continue. What is most troubling is that this scandal kind of confirms what many have suspected for a long time.
There is a lot of cynicism and distrust of our city government.

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From the Seaport down to the Polish Triangle.

Nobody cared when the gentrification started because of the stereotypical Southie reputation (crime, racism, poor people, drunks) was seen as a blight on the city and the change was generally welcomed.

Not to mention it's not like people were tossed into the street. Low income homeowners of dilapidated and falling over triple deckers were walking away with, in some cases, MILLIONS of dollars.
What's not to love, right?!

Then, and I don't know if there was a single project or moment in time, but the change was...different.

People renovating single family homes and doing "This Old House" type of work on existing structures started to go away and the "knock it all down and make a box" mentality took over.

As that happened, families left. For many reasons, but one was the change in demographics. It wasn't gentrifying like JP or West Roxbury had.

Sure, there are still a few hangers on (making boatloads from renting out Ma's old place) but most of the families have been replaced by Range Rovers and zombies.

It's far less safe than it was 10 years ago, the traffic is horrendous, the streets are literally covered in garbage, and unless a Big Dig-scale project happens (lol), it's only gonna get worse.

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Hi. I've lived in Southie my whole life. I'm not a criminal, racist, poor or alcoholic. Nor am I a "hanger on" either. Many, many of us bought our own places and "ma" still has hers.

I agree many people did cash in because they wanted to. Good for them. However, most people I know who have moved from the neighborhood left because of the parking and overcrowding.

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I was there for a decade and you need to work on your reading comprehension.

My post wasn't a dig at the people, it was a dig at the developers.

I too bought a place, then sold it.

Have fun!

Southie was always on borrowed time as a predominantly Irish working class enclave given its proximity to downtown. And that time came post-Recession as demand to live in this city has exploded. That is not about corruption, that is basic supply and demand. The same thing is happening in other neighborhoods, Southie is not unique in that respect. Where Southie is unique is the ingrained resistance to this and any societal change. We all know full well what you mean when you bemoan "transients." And now the residents of Southie are holding the City at gunpoint and demanding zoning changes to limit development. All that will do is raise your rents and housing prices even more; and the cycle will continue. You could push new housing development to a place like the empty Edison Plant site to protect more established residential streets but instead you all fight that too. It is very disappointing to see elected officials going along with all this, from the usual suspects like Michael Flaherty to someone like Michelle Wu who really should know better but is playing politics. I don't give him much credit for anything but Marty Walsh seems to be the only one who understands this but looks like he's bowing down to the NIMBYs now too as re-election calls.

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Trust me, we all know: Southie hates outsiders, especially "transients".

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After the feds have cleaned out the crooks in city hall can they took a look at the shady real estate deals at the MBTA?

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I would like to thank the bribing developer; he is doing a great service to the City.

For many of us who follow closely zoning matters, some of these shady deals were quite obvious; especially with Galvin and the Christophers. Some of these eyebrow raising deals had already been covered by our esteemed local reporters (Dorchester Reporter and Bay State Banner). But someone had to get caught giving a substantial bribe for a full blown investigation to get underway.

Some of this is not even hidden. Consider this page of Galvingroup's own website for instance.
https://www.galvingroupre.com/landingpages/category/buildings/

This is what it says at the bottom of that Galvingroup's webpage: "Similarly, when dealing with zoning and the permitting process, our team members are subject-matter experts who can provide key insights and support in meeting with the community, abutters, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the BRA, and other stakeholders."

How could Craig Galvin possibly be considered a fair ZBA board member? Walsh knows Craig well and he knew exactly who he was appointing to the ZBA board when he did so.

A genuine thank you to developer Steve Turner and henchman John Lynch for their generous contribution in helping bring all this (or at least some of it) to the daylight! $60k was a small price to pay.

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If every single zoning request in Boston requires a variance, then the system is ripe for corruption. You pay, you play.

But unless someone overhauls the system in toto, this scandal is no doubt the tip of a rotting carcass of an iceberg. And nobody in status quo Marty's administration has any incentive to uproot the money tree.

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Isn't around to see this unfold.

Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Ha.

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isnt Uconn Construction one of the Gavin bros who has multiple projects that required variances in roxbury

What does this mean for the recent zoning decisions?

That's a good question since collectively, the people tied to this case have been involved in hundreds of building permits over the past 5 years in one form or another.

My guess is it all depends in how far the feds want to dig into it. It's all up to them because I wouldn't count on the City to offer anything but obstruction. In spite of the mayor's pledge for a thorough investigation, I am sure that there are plenty of City folks working overtime to sweep as much evidence as possible under the carpet.

Will anyone remember this on election day.

n/t