Alderman O’Donovan resigns, nominates Courtney O’Keefe

On April 17, 2013, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

Courtney O’Keefe sits with outbound Ward 5 Alderman Sean O’Donavan, who has nominated O’Keefe to serve out the remainder of his term. ~Photo by Donald Norton

Courtney O’Keefe sits with outbound Ward 5 Alderman Sean O’Donovan, who has nominated O’Keefe to serve out the remainder of his term.
– Photo by Donald Norton

By Harry Kane

In a shocking turn of events, Sean O’Donovan announced his resignation as Ward 5 Alderman on April 11, citing family obligations and an increased workload at his law practice as reasons for retirement.

O’Donovan began his political career 19 years ago in the School Committee. In 2000, he became Ward 5 Alderman, and has served the community since, “with dignity, class and honor,” said Alderman-At-Large Bruce Desmond.

O’Donovan made many important decisions regarding the creation of city ordinances and use of city funds. “It’s hard to think of Ward 5 and not have O’Donovan attached to it,” said Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston.

Over his years as alderman, O’Donovan assisted in the renovation of open spaces, parks and playgrounds. “I was involved in the voting of the Assembly Square initiative, and also the Union Square zoning,” he said. “We’ve had some positive revitalization in Magoun Square, and more is needed.” And, O’Donovan fought to keep the Benjamin G. Brown School “alive.”

“It’s time to start a new chapter in life,” O’Donovan admitted. “I can’t give the proper amount of time to the Ward 5 alderman’s position.”

The alderman recommended Ward 5 resident Courtney O’Keefe as his replacement.  “She’s an activist, not only in Magoun Square and in Ward 5, but throughout the city,” O’Donovan said. O’Donovan explained that his mind is “at ease” with his decision, and that O’Keefe is “extremely capable.”  He added, “She is someone who has ardently supported for the benefit of Ward 5.”

While most of the aldermen agreed that O’Keefe is a good choice, her confirmation was not accepted at the April 11 BOA meeting. Instead, the motion to appoint O’Keefe has been referred to the appointments subcommittee for further deliberation.

O’Keefe would be the first openly gay member on the board and the fourth female to be an alderman. O’Keefe is a lifelong Magoun Square resident. Her father even owned a sub shop in Magoun Square back in the late 70’s before she was born. And, O’Keefe has her own website called Ward 5 Online, which has been on the web since 2009.

“That was an opportunity for me to bring so much information from many different avenues here in the city,” said O’Keefe, about her Ward 5 Online website. “I used the meeting portal, I use the ResiStat blog, The Somerville News. It just brings it all into one place, one hub for Ward 5 residents. It was an unbiased approach to Somerville.” O’Keefe said she would continue the website, whether it be on Ward 5 online or on her own personal website.

O’Keefe was not upset after the aldermen postponed her appointment. “To get this nomination from him is an honor,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to the extension of the community path from Cedar Street to Lowell Street,” O’Keefe said. She’s also looking forward to seeing if they can do some zoning changes to capitalize on the space that Somerville has, find more viable ways to use CPA funding, and connect Magoun Square business owners. She is for increased affordable housing, backing local businesses, strengthening the local economy and keeping government transparent.

All of the aldermen voiced their opinions last Thursday evening. At-Large-Alderman Bruce Desmond said, “We have an unprecedented opportunity,” when referring to the possibility of appointing the first openly gay woman to the board.

Ward 7 Alderman Robert Trane did not want to debate the topic. He said that O’Donovan had put a name before the board and that the board should appoint her. “Any other way to handle this would be a slap in the face,” said Alderman Trane, when opposition to the appointment became evident.

Yet, some of the other aldermen had some issues with appointing O’Keefe on the spot, without first bringing it to a subcommittee for deliberation. Ward 4 Alderman Tony Lafuente said, “I don’t like appointments.” Lafuente worked hard to become alderman and said that the constituents have a right to vote someone in. He added, “This will be the last time that I ever vote for someone to be appointed.”

 updated 4/17/13


33 Responses to “Alderman O’Donovan resigns, nominates Courtney O’Keefe”

  1. Ah, The Process says:

    So for the first time in recent memory, an aldermanic appointee was not given the courtesy of a day-of vote? For the first time in recent memory, the appointee was not that ward’s School Committee person?

    The process was fine for Bastardi a month ago (and lots other before her, including O’Donovan) but not O’Keefe? This is Gewirtz steaming over the screwjob given to Niedergang. Granted, I think Niedergang would have lost to either O’Donovan or O’Keefe, but that’s neither here nor there. Gewirtz is mad because there isn’t another PDSer on the board besides her.

    Trane ought to resign, appoint someone who the board cannot legitimately challenge (I understand Rossetti does not want to be the alderman), and leave Ballantyne out in the cold to further isolate Gewirtz. Her blatantly political tactics, and focus on puff legislation (no plastic bags? Board Orders to ask about the community garden and a solar program?). She is vindictive and petty.

  2. Josh says:

    Can anyone remember the last time Ward 5 had an alderman the voters actually picked? Macaluso……Koty……O’Donovan.

  3. Mr. Ward Four says:

    Good move, get out before the shit hits the fan.

  4. Linda says:

    Rebekah passed up the chance to appoint the first woman to represent ward five and the first openly-gay member of the boa. shame, shame, shame.

  5. ya ya says:

    Macaluso……Koty……O’Donovan. All did great things in the ward……all repeatedly won back the seat.

  6. JMB says:

    Josh – might have been Congressman (then Ward Alderman) Mike Capuano in the 70s!

  7. Blood Hound says:

    Well five weeks ago my race this year will be good practice if Joey Cakes goes on to look else where, to be ready to run for his post. Now I need to take care of my law practice, my home life or just mabe put a LITTLE light between elected office and just being a political hack right Howie?? One less Boss Hog as a buffer for you on the board to take the heat for you. Now lets see maybe Bruce dont run, Maureens blue bottle runs dry! and she dont win, is Tom up for another term, Joey Cakes they just might have anough balls to say NO!

  8. Barry the Pig says:

    Something does not add up here…

  9. Noabitya says:

    At least AldermanTrane speaks out for his constituents and speaks up about Tufts. He has done a good job watching out for his constituents needs.

    I sat on a “citizens zoning committee” when Tufts was planning on placing dorms all along the blvd thus devalueing the nearby homes so Tufts could buy them up and create more Tax Exempt Tufts owned property.

    The “citizens zoning committee” created a “buffer zone” they stopped Tufts from doing that. We also came across Tufts “Future Goals” which showed on a map of West Somerville illustrating Tufts plan to take over a large areas, (whole city blocks) of streets and homes for future expansion.

    There are several “Realty Agencies” that are “fronts” that buy up property for Tufts so the citizens/neighbors are not aware of what is happening till it is a done deal. They had maps, aerial photos, etc of West Somerville showing their planned take over. (sort of reminds you of Hitler & his Gestapo)

    Thus voting for anyone with any affiliation with Tufts University for a position in city government is an anti citizen vote. so WATCH OUT for those Pro Tufts PDS’rs and their friends when elections take place.

  10. SomMom says:

    Is no one else in Somerville upset that democracy is a sham as long as our politicians can resign when they have less than a year left to their term and appoint whoever they want to take their place?

    This goes beyond the question of who they’re choosing to the question of WHY are they resigning when they were able to handle their elected office and their law firm and their development projects and their family life for a whole decade, and now they can’t handle it for another couple months?

    … and the BOA was already talking about changing this rule, which is why they didn’t just say “Oh, OK Sean, we’ll OK your choice to take over your ward tonight.”

  11. snuggles says:

    This feels wrong to me. I’d like the opportunity to VOTE for my alder, uh, person. Not have an unelected person selected by the outgoing pol. This is a democracy, let’s try to pretend that we care about representative govt, and not nepotism and inside deals.

  12. Jeff says:

    can’t wait to vote for court in november

  13. Steve says:

    pds is shooting themselves in the foot…should becky boo get married and have kids-she couldn’t appoint another pds person to her seat.

    if they stopped for a minute and thought about what they were doing they would see that they could use the same thing to keep their seat pds all the time.

  14. hhhmmmm.... says:

    nothing to do with that Phoenix article??? two aldermen resign, rumors about a third.

  15. Somerbreeze says:

    Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the White Envelope has been passed to a new generation of Somerville pols, born in the city, tempered by favoritism, disciplined by hard and bitter ward bosses….

  16. A.Moore says:

    It is really something here in Somerville. One can appoint their successor but not all the time. We change the rules here at random or is it because someone does not fit with the powers that be? Why is everyone ditching their responsability of their elected position? I Know we don’t want to pay a bunch of money to run an election for a small period of time. Maybe the person dumping thier position should have that in their contract that they have to pay for a special election for stepping down. What do other cities do? Maybe it;s time for a set of rules if this is going to happen so often here. And “with dignity, class and honor,” he would have finished his commitment.

  17. Riiiiiiight says:

    snuggles & sommom–you paying for this special election?!?! cuz I sure as hell don’t want to.

  18. T.O. says:

    While I don’t agree with the appointment process, I don’t think there is a viable alternative. The alternative is a special election, probably costing $100,000, and with such low turnout that we would probably get the city’s pick anyway, to serve for probably 3 months before running again. The reason it seems unreasonable is because it has been abused. And why is this such a problem now, when 3 months ago an Alderman left his elected post for a cushy City Hall job, and no one said boo. At least Sean is apparently leaving city employment altogether.

  19. Noabitya says:

    Years back when the mayor’s position went vacant during the term. The President of the BOA was suppose to step in to fill the vacancy, & so on & so on down the line. One time it actually ended up with Jack Havican, the DPW Commissioner, filling in as acting mayor. So move the City Clerk into the position and the Assiatant City Clerk into the Clerk’s position and cut the hackorama festivities that are going on now.

  20. mary says:

    Congratulations for a job well done, and your years of service and sacrifice given on those many nights and days handling other people’s problems and working for Ward 5. A Long history of good Alderman choices in Ward 5, starting with Macaluso, Koty and O’Donovan now I wish Courtney the very best in her call to duty and if Sean O’Donovan says she’s a good choice I and my family will support her. Say what you want but Sean beat all his opponents over the years handily, the residents of Ward 5 made sure Sean was elected over and over these past 19 years, that says it a lot. Best of luck Sean to you and your family, we know he’s not going anywhere, he’s still going to be part of the community. I for one old lady in Ward 5 wish him and his family nothing but the best, good bless.

  21. Darnell says:

    This might only be the beginning. Stay tuned folks. Could it be that the chickens are coming home to roost?

    I predict that the Phoenix story will come out soon and it will be an eye opener.

  22. Jim says:

    Spot on Mary! My wife and I will be supporting Courtney all the way.

  23. Marco says:

    Chicken’s come home to roost? investigation going on ? Phoenix reporter touting a hot story, really? unless these people have the inside track on the DA’s office or AG’s office, this is nothing but pure negative lies and scare shit, sounds like what the guys in Washington DC spread in particular the one in the White House…
    I know some are hopeful that bad shit happens in this city, but kind of hard to believe to be honest with you, unless i hear it from someone who attended the Grand Jury to speak, lets move along, unless your looking for it in our Police Department, then that’s different!

  24. Foss Park Pool Shark says:

    Marco, You sound Petrified.

  25. SomerHome says:

    Two things seem obvious. First, all that noise that Trane, Desmond, SOD and others made about appointing Maureen Bastardi because she was the other elected Ward 1 official was just a rationale for the machine’s keeping control of the seat. Their blatant hypocrisy is laughable.

    Second, even though Courtney O’Keefe was the second person who SOD asked to replace him, she wouldn’t have been picked if the machine wasn’t confident of her obedience.

  26. Fuhgettaboutit! says:

    From a 2006 Somerville News Blog:

    Special Board of Aldermen meeting Wednesday

    By George P. Hassett

    The president of the Board of Aldermen (BOA) has organized a special meeting to address recent allegations of improper fundraising activity.

    Joe Voutour, who resigned from his position as highway superintendant at the Department of Public Works (DPW) this month, last week accused DPW Commissioner Stan Koty of ordering him to secretly collect campaign cash for Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, a crime punishable by up to a year in prison.

    Curtatone has notified the state ethics commission and has called for an internal investigation.

    Heuston requested that Curtatone, City Solicitor John Gannon, Koty and Police Lieutenant Bernard Cotter appear at Wednesday’s meeting.

    The public is invited to attend.

  27. Mike says:

    Here we go……..

  28. average320 says:

    Very Interesting,,,,2 alderman resign, one gets a pay raise after accepting a city job, where there is smoke, there is fire ! The law dept & spd investigators covered up the votour investigation, they couldn’t find the illiegally installed driveway curb cuts boss hog had done on a hoilday without any permits or payments to the city, and ya they are still there ! and one had a parking meter removed near vinnies. cooincidentally the benefactors were mayor contributors. The investigators couldn,t find a bleeding elephant in a snow storm. Another quicidence, the ethics investigation by the state could not find any wrong doing, although they were told the city insurance collector (bartett consolodated) was making out checks payable to home depot, per order of boss hog, and it just happens that city solicitor gannons wife, was the chair of the ethics board pay raise committee. and lets not forget that when the mayor was advised that a judge (female) was appointed to the SPD building lawsuit, he said ” I know her, get her on the phone”,,,and the SPD lost the suit ! There is more, but not for today. and did you know cotter was a contributor and promoted during that period.

  29. Luke says:

    What is there to deliberate? Courtney hasn’t missed an event or meeting in the past decade. Approve her already.

  30. JMB says:

    SomerHome, who was the first person SOD asked?

  31. average320 says:

    Something smells fishy, two alderman resign suddenly, one gets a city job, and after accepting the position, he gets a big pay raise ! The votour thing was covered up by the investigators and state. The investigators could not find 3 illiegal driveways installed on a monday holiday, no permits or fees, to the city, by boss hog. one of them required removing a parking meter on lower broadway, near a popular sub shop. They also failed to find the checks made out to home depot, from city insurance collection vendor, per direction of bh. incidentially, the lt investigator was a contributor and promoted at the same time frame. and the city top legal guy’s wife, was on the pay raise committee for the state ethics board. and when joey cakes was told the name of the judge, who would be sitting on the lawsuit case against the city, from the superior officers union, he said ‘ I know her from school days, get her on the phone”. the superiors lost the case. yu deleted my previous post with the same above info, but i have a printed copy, and may share it. the ball is in your court.

  32. Darnell says:

    If it looks like a duck,quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck-It’s a duck Huey,Dewey,Louie,Daisy,Donald, and Daffy must be in the employ of the City because there’s a lot of waddling going on up at City Hall.

  33. Mike says:

    “…there’s a lot of waddling going on up at City Hall.”

    none of them are mark neidergang or the pds posse

    where’s mark?

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