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Boston Redevelopment Authority cuts secret deals with developers — at the expense of affordable housing

Globe investigations found the BRA’s board — Paul Foster, vice chairman Timothy J. Burke, former chairman Clarence J. Jones, Michael P. Monahan, and treasurer Consuelo Gonzales-Thornell — rubber-stamped deals the BRA staff negotiated privately with developers, often with the mayor’s imprimatur.
Globe investigations found the BRA’s board — Paul Foster, vice chairman Timothy J. Burke, former chairman Clarence J. Jones, Michael P. Monahan, and treasurer Consuelo Gonzales-Thornell — rubber-stamped deals the BRA staff negotiated privately with developers, often with the mayor’s imprimatur.Credit: Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff

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Boston Redevelopment Authority board members “didn’t have a clue” that they were giving a secret benefit to a friend of Mayor Thomas M. Menino when they approved construction of luxury housing near Boston Common, admits board member Paul Foster.

Foster and his colleagues, who oversee the most powerful government agency in the city, simply did what they almost always do: They unanimously approved the BRA staff recommendation. Their 2011 vote for the upscale residences at Millennium Place was one in a string of 1,492 consecutive board votes unanimously supporting whatever the staff said — almost always with no discussion or questions.

In the three minutes they took to approve Millennium Place, board members didn’t discover that the staff had quietly tucked a potential $5.9 million discount on development fees into the deal with Anthony Pangaro, the longtime Menino financial backer representing Millennium.

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