We’ve been here before.
The Dig last covered William Tauro back in December 2015, when the Somerville News Weekly publisher and Donald Trump fanboy took a debunked report of a threat by a Somerville elementary school student and publicized it until he caught the attention of the Make America Great Again people. At the time, Tauro responded to widespread local criticism by exclaiming: “Just recently got a call from the Trump Camp asking me for my permission to use my Somerville School article! Fucking ahy! Take that and shove it up your ass!”
In some ways, Sunday’s Somerville News Weekly article accusing Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone of “racketeering” and “extortion” is even more absurd and shorter on facts than the author’s notorious school threat scoop. Nevertheless, the article was shared hundreds of times within hours of being posted on Sunday morning, while Tauro claimed it had been viewed in excess of 10,000 times in that span.
For all its hefty accusations, the Somerville News Weekly exclusive is notably vague on details. It’s insane that anyone would share such trash, and if the article hadn’t gone relatively viral we would have left it alone to die naturally. But it has been shared extensively, and as one of the few outlets that has actually done deep reporting on Curtatone, has reporters with institutional Somerville memory on our team, and has a record of criticizing Mayor Joe and the rosy Somerville-is-the-new-Brooklyn narrative that is embraced by his administration, we thought DigBoston was a somewhat neutral voice on the matter that could help shine some light on this pseudo event, which has already reached a hell of a lot more eyeballs than such virtually fake news deserves.
On that note, please allow us to explain this shit show in slow motion, both for those who sort of know what’s going on, as well as for those who were simply hoodwinked by the headline. Excerpts from the Somerville News Weekly article, “FBI Racketeering/Extortion Probe Being Sought Against Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone,” are in italics, followed by annotations by our Somerville brain trust…
A complaint was sought and evidence presented this past week with the Boston Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Anti-Corruption Unit, asking the Bureau to pursue charges against Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone with allegations accusing the six term mayor of racketeering and extortion.
The multiple allegations against the Mayor are stemming back to several stalled development deals within the City of Somerville – accusing the Mayor of “shaking down” property owners, forcing/extorting property owners to use his own connected (favored) developers, racketeering, and tampering with an MBTA property bidding process, while depriving a Somerville (bowling alley) property owner of his rights.
Read carefully… all this says is that Tauro contacted and complained to the FBI. Which is different than an FBI investigation, or so we thought. Add in some buzzwords like “shaking down,” “extortion,” and “racketeering” though, and the reader might assume that some supporting details or documents will follow. That reader would be wrong.
Before going further, one has to wonder if Tauro alone is behind the column. Because the rants that follow sound a lot like those of ousted Somerville School Committee member James Norton, whose Somerville News Weekly columns often feature unlettered tirades against the Black Lives Matter banner on Somerville City Hall, as well as criticisms of the city’s sanctuary stance on immigrants. Whoever had a hand in writing it, the rambling continues…
In the case of the bowling alley, the Mayor and a local real estate developer are named as approaching and allegedly attempting to deprive the property owner of his rights with respect to his fifty-year old bowling alley business/property and attempting to bypass a state mandated bidding process, then allegedly trying to bribe the property owner to vacate the property by offering him a 2% limited partnership share in the real estate development involving a predated paperwork-packet of the $70 million dollar, pre-bid, multiple-unit real estate development deal.
It’s like walking into someone else’s dinner conversation, and they’re reluctant to offer prerequisites. Nothing but more unnamed accusers in this epic 93-word sentence. However veiled the references (always a sign of exceptional journalism), this passage may refer to Herbert “Butchy” Foster, whose tiny old bowling alley sits near the planned site of a Green Line stop in Ball Square (the establishment currently has a banner outside announcing 50 years of business). Foster, whose father was a co-defendant of Winter Hill mob boss Howie Winter in his infamous pinball machine conviction, might know a thing or two about shakedowns, but Tauro leaves it all to the imagination…
Allegations were also were made that Mayor Curtatone deliberately closed a highway off-ramp of McGrath Highway to deprive local businesses of potential automobile traffic in an attempt to starve them of business after an alleged failed attempt to buy out and take over the business owner’s properties.
Again, it’s short on details, but the Tauro family owns property around McGrath Highway, and Tauro has been complaining about related issues a lot. Like in this comment…
How about those two henchmen that occupy the Somerville Planning Department and the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development are they being brought to life with a political grand puppeteer to purposely stall these developments which planned stall tactics and to open the path for these partner’s developments to go through?
As long as we’re dealing in rumors, word around Somerville is that Tauro and his brothers made a sudden loud and unannounced appearance at City Hall after they were blocked from developing one of their properties because of contaminated ground soil. Sources say that loud angry voices could be heard outside the mayor’s office during the ensuing meeting. But back to the Somerville News Weekly’s Sunday report, relentless typos and all…
Additional allegations [sic] were were also made and charges being sought against a high-ranking DPW Administrator and two Somerville affiliates of another local news publication, who allegedly conspired with Mayor Curtatone. Along with multiple allegations of witness intimidation and extortion by attempting to slander the Somerville News Weekly and it’s publishers/contributors at the request of the Mayor – most likely attempting to discredit them and stop them from publicizing any bad press and exposing damaging information regarding scandals by Mayor Curtatone and his Administration over the past three years, especially during this current election campaign cycle. The unnamed DPW Administrator, along with the local affiliates of the other news publication including that paper’s publisher, are being accused of allegedly using fictitious social media aliases over the past two years in order to carry out the plan ordered by the Mayor.
Conspired to do what? Along with what? And whom? Does anyone else feel like this was a personal diary entry that somehow wound up getting published?
Allow us to translate the best that we can: these accusations seemingly arise from a petty local newspaper war between two former co-publishers, who primarily use their platforms to sling mud at each other. Tauro was once co-publisher of the Somerville News, not to be confused with his current Somerville News Weekly venture, along with a realtor named Donald Norton. For almost 15 years, Norton used his column in that paper to spew hate and spread false rumors about political nemeses, most of whom were young progressives and women.
The Somerville News is now defunct, and Norton runs another paper, the Somerville Times, out of his real estate office. Tauro, meanwhile, distributes his own weekly lesson in hate and misspellings, with Donald Norton’s son James Norton siding with Tauro. The result: massive fun laughing at this cheap provincial infighting, but also a significant ongoing failure on the part of local journalism. All of which should help explain the following bit of gibberish, at least a little bit…
Coupled with an online assault on social media platforms, various slanderous accusations were published by the two affiliates in their newspaper to further broadcast harassment and fabricated propaganda to intimidate the Somerville News Weekly publisher in exchange for being later compensated by the Mayor with exclusive real estate broker listings to the previously mentioned development deals, as well as the majority of the City of Somerville’s lucrative legal ads for their newspaper – all at the taxpayers expense.
Recently, a social media account popped up with an anonymous user threatening to attack Tauro, and to expose his allegedly fraudulent dealings. Decent reading, but it was removed over the weekend.
Regarding the legal ad thing at the end. That’s important. Publishing legal notices from the city is lucrative for the Somerville Times, and Norton’s papers, whether they were named the News or the Times, noticeably softened their tone against the mayor once those ads started appearing. Recently, Tauro has been complaining in print that the city will not advertise legal notices in his rag.
The allegations are being brought forward by a group of property owners, along with another newspaper publisher this past Friday in Boston. The allegations go on to accuse Mayor Curtatone and the DPW Administrator of attempting to sway multiple real estate deals with abuse of power via an elaborate real estate scheme that involves racketeering and extortion of multi-million dollar land deals in Somerville.
We have no freaking idea what he’s talking about here, or rather we don’t have enough information to publicly comment, other than to say we can confirm that the Dig is not the other publisher. Wait though, there’s even more…
These allegations also involve a former Somerville alderman/local attorney, as well as two current Ward Aldermen. It all started back over two years ago with when the Somerville News Weekly first published and exposed the City of Somerville Department of Public Works with a story regarding an article written about an “ALLEGED SOMERVILLE DPW OVERTIME SCANDAL” that lead up to a six part story series on multiple Somerville stalled developments and corruption within the Curtatone Administration.
The “former Somerville alderman/local attorney” description fits Sean O’Donovan, who has become a power player in Boston politics with his law partner, Eugene O’Flaherty, becoming the top attorney for the City of Boston under Mayor Marty Walsh.
Even amongst all the overwhelming evidence presented in last years Somerville News Weekly “Alleged Somerville DPW Overtime Scandal” story, no arrests, no terminations, or reprimands have been ordered by the Curtatone Administration.
Overwhelming evidence? The story consisted of four sentences and contained no actual facts! This is the bulk of the post…
Find out who the players are and how they did it!
Hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars allegedly being scooped away by a handful of city employees for their own personal gain.
That’s it! No details. A trend of sorts with this outlet, which ends the Curtatone post by asking readers to bring their own scandalous condiments to top the nothingburger…
Mayor Curtatone is facing two opponents in this coming primary in September.
The Somerville News Weekly is urging Mayor Curtatone, his DPW Administrator and the two ward aldermen to step down amidst these allegations.
This story is still developing while the FBI’s Anti-Corruption and the FBI Online Forensic Unit conducts further investigations and seeks Federal warrants into this matter.
If you or anyone you know have fallen victim to this or any similar stalled development scandal deal please feel free to contact me at the Somerville News Weekly at [email protected] or 617-293-2016 and I will assist to guide you through the filing a complaint process. All calls will remain strictly confidential.
You can also contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation directly at (857) 386-2000 and refer to this article to file your complaint.
The FBI is seeking warrants? Huh. We’re going to reach out to them to ask, and will let you know if there is any update. Don’t hold your breath.