Moments after winning another term as president of the Boston City Council, Stephen J. Murphy pushed through a vote for a longtime political ally.
With no public notice or discussion, Murphy unexpectedly called last week for the reelection of his former colleague, Maureen E. Feeney, as city clerk, extending her tenure until at least 2016. The job has long been criticized because the clerk draws an annual municipal pay of almost $102,000 and is also allowed to collect tens of thousands more in fees for weddings performed during the workday at City Hall.
The timing of Feeney’s reelection was a departure from the City Council tradition of electing clerks just prior to the start of their term in February. Councilors learned of the vote just before it occurred, but none objected.
Councilors did not stop to discuss the performance of Feeney, who resigned from the council after almost two decades and become clerk in January 2012. Nor did any councilors ask whether Feeney had complied with new rules enacted last year to regulate weddings in the city clerk’s office, a measure passed to quell criticism of elected officials handing a lucrative job to a longtime colleague.
The unanimous vote took less than two minutes as each of the 13 councilors spoke Feeney’s name aloud. As the City Council chamber erupted in applause, Feeney turned to Murphy and mouthed “thank you.” She then walked to the council president’s podium, reached up, and shook his hand.
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