WBZ TV (Boston)
May 21, 2003
An exclusive I-Team investigation.
speaker Tom Finneran. The politician responsible for spending
millions of your tax dollars on legislative perks.
The I-Team has
found that the speaker actually changed his district to make it
easier for him to win re-election.
I-Team Reporter Joe Bergantino
on how Finneran's backroom maneuvers are costing you hundreds of
thousands of dollars.
There is a stark contrast between Tom
Finneran --who is white and Irish... And the neighborhood he lives
in and represents.
The Mattapan section of Boston--where Finneran
lives-- is about 95 per cent people of color.
So how has Finneran
managed to get re-elected from this area time and time again?
George Pillsbury, Money and Politics Project:
"He took out
thousands of black voters and he put in thousands of white voters
and he did this in a calculated way to insure he could win
As one of the state's most powerful politicians,
Finneran has a lot of say in how legislative districts get created.
Since 1987, Finneran has re-carved his district by adding precincts
with 8700 more white voters ...and eliminating precincts with about
2300 minority voters.
James Cofield, Black Political Task Force:
"The districts were drawn in such a way to reduce the minority
population in these districts in violation of federal law."
look at these maps.
By 2001, 74 percent of voting age residents in
Finneran's district were minority. Minority voter turnout was high.
And the risk of a serious challenge was a strong possibility.
Finneran gobbled up a piece of Milton--which is mostly white-- and
moved it into his district. He added on this white section of
Dorchester and then dropped these three precincts...where minorities
voted in large numbers.
Bottom line--Finneran's district went from
74 per cent to 61 percent minority.
Maude Hurd lives in one of the
precincts no longer in Finneran's district.
Maude Hurd, Dorchester
"I'm angry . I'm very angry that not only did he do it. We
didn't know it was done until after the fact."
So how did this
Finneran hired this attorney--his life long friend Larry
DiCara--to carve up every district in Massachusetts--including
It happened here at the state house--behind closed
And guess what...so far, it's cost you about 500 thousand of
your tax dollars paid to the law firm where Larry DiCara is a
"This is an abuse of taxpayer dollars.
Spending money to deny other people the chance to run against you.
No one would say that's a good use of taxpayer dollars."
As for Tom
Finneran--he refused a sit-down interview so we caught up with him.
"I think it's a silly accusation. I've always run
in a district that has a majority of minority folks and that's still
But the fact is many of the minorities left in
Finneran's district are not citizens and are not eligible to vote
Rob Richie, Center For Voting and Democracy:
mastered the art of incumbent protection. It's one of the best
examples, if not the best example, of legislators drawing districts
that keep them safe from voters. Meaning safe from competition."
For Tom Finneran that's meant running unopposed in most elections.
Last year, he kept his job as one of the state's most powerful
politicians with only 76 hundred votes.
The governor --needed more
than a million.
How and why Finneran changed the make-up of his own
district is the subject of a federal lawsuit- scheduled to go to
trial this summer.