Boston Mayor Tom Menino announced on Tuesday that he has named Peter Meade as the new director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Several Catholic church properties in Boston are likely up for sale soon, and Meade also has deep ties to Jack Connors, so this appointment will be an interesting one to follow in the future.
The Boston Globe reported:
Peter Meade was introduced this morning at City Hall as the new director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Meade is a long-time Democratic operative and a former executive for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.
Meade’s appointment comes as the city struggles to recover from a sharp real estate downturn that has delayed many large development projects, including several on the South Boston Waterfront and the redevelopment of the former Filene’s property in Downtown Crossing.
Meade does not have deep experience as a real estate professional, but is a well-known civic leader in Boston and has worked in and around city and state politics for decades.
He also worked for 12 years as executive vice president of Blue Cross Blue Shield and as managing director of Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications, a Boston public relations firm.
A long-time associate of the Kennedy family, Meade recently served as chairman of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy and as head of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.
The Boston Herald had a similar report, saying:
“Though Meade has little planning or development experience, he is well-respected in business and political circles and considered a bridge-builder and a high-level problem-solver.”
Not having real estate or development experience seems to be good for the resume around Boston lately if you want to get a job in real estate development. Long-time readers will recall how the current Director of Real Estate for the Boston Archdiocese was a loan officer at the Abington Savings Bank with then-CEO Jim McDonough and also had no prior experience with real estate or property management.
Peter Meade is in the news alot. This December 31, 2006 Boston Globe magazine article, “The Influential,” cites him as a “Bostononian of the Year.” Here are some additional details on Meade’s civic leadership and involvement in the Archdiocese of Boston and related entities, some of which we discussed in Caritas Coincidences last August:
- Meade was executive VP for corporate affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield from 1996 through February of 2008.
- On the political front, he attended this $1,000/plate fundraiser for Barack Obama’s PAC. Meade also moderated one of the fall 2009 U.S. Senate campaign debates, after having donated to Martha Coakley, who was one of the candidates in the debate.
- He was Vice Chair of Catholic Charities (and Neal Finnegan was Chair) when they accepted money from Voice of the Faithful in 2003 against the wishes of then-apostolic administrator Bishop Richard Lennon, and Meade was later Chair of Catholic Charities when Fr. Bryan Hehir was President.
- Meade was brought back into the archdiocesan fold by Fr. Hehir when he was named on October 7, 2004 to co-chair the Meade-Eisner Reconfiguration Review Commission that reviewed and reversed a number of parish closing decisions.
- In September 2005, when the archdiocese removed Fr. Walter Cuenin as pastor at Our Lady Help of Christians for issues with his handling of expenses, Meade was quoted in the Boston Herald (click on graphic to zoom) as follows: ” ‘Not even my dog believes that story.’ So says Peter Meade, hand-picked co-chairman of Archbishop Sean O’Malley’s church-closing committee, about the official ‘story’ that the archdiocese axed a popular Newton pastor over a car lease and stipend that violated church rules.”
- As Chair of Catholic Charities of Boston, Meade honored Mayor Menino at a December 9, 2005 Catholic Charities fundraiser dinner. Because the honoring of a politician who opposes Church moral principles is not permitted under USCCB guidelines (see “Catholics in Political Life“), after public complaints at the time, Cardinal O’Malley pulled out from attending the event.
- Meade resigned as board chair from Catholic Charities in April of 2006 after the Vatican ruled that Catholic Charities could not broker adoptions to children of gay couples.
- Later in 2006, he and Jack Connors collaborated on the healthcare insurance law to cover uninsured Massachusetts residents.
- In June of 2008, Meade was given a six-figure salary managing director job at Rasky Baerlein, the same PR firm used by the Archdiocese, Catholic Charities, and Caritas Christi.
- In August 2009, Meade left Rasky to take over as President and CEO of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate being built at the JFK Library in Dorchester, where, according to the Boston Herald he helped spend tens of millions in taxpayer dollars to honor the late Sen. Kennedy. The Herald reported, “the amount of taxpayer money being funneled to a Dorchester shrine to the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has ballooned to $38 million and could rise to at least $68 million this year, infuriating watchdog groups who insist the project should be privately funded.” Jack Connors has been leading the efforts for the Kennedy Institute to raise $125 million in private funds.
- In February of 2011, Meade announced he was leaving his job leading the Edward M. Kennedy Institute.
So, Peter has quite a resume. Most recently, within the scope of about 3 years, Meade has worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA, Rasky Baerlein, and the Ted Kennedy Institute. Now he is going to start at the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
BCI readers have been asking questions already. How will this affect closed churches in Boston that the archdiocese is looking to sell, such as Holy Trinity? Is Jack looking for something in this from the BRA? Does Mayor Menino need something from Jack or from Peter? Good questions. We will have to wait and see what the answers are down the road.