BC and BC High
graduate Michael Flaherty, A&S ’91, is the
youngest person to ever lead the Boston City
As the new president of the Boston
City Council, it seems like a safe bet to say that 1991
BC graduate Michael Flaherty has a long career ahead of
him. At 36, he is the youngest man to ever stand at the
head of the City Council.
For many Boston
politicians, it was only a few elections ago that the
Celtics were the 1986 World Champions. Back then,
Michael Flaherty was still studying algebra, learning
how to drive a stick shift and following BC
"Watching some of the games back in the
Flutie days, even if they weren't winning, you felt like
your were part of the game," says Flaherty, sitting in
his comfortable office overlooking City Hall
It was an era of Boston sports legends
when Flaherty was growing up in South Boston. Flutie
threw up a Hail Mary only a Catholic school could
foster. The Red Sox blew their chances at a World Series
victory. The Celtics were contenders year in and year
Flaherty was studying at BC High when the
New England Patriots went to the Super Bowl for the
first time. On that Sunday in January 1986, he witnessed
the demise of the Pats as the Bears romped over New
"I watched that game with my dad
and my brother. I saw that one first hand," says
Flaherty, with a cynical smile any Boston sports
enthusiast would recognize.
"It was bad luck for
the Patriots," he continues. "We reached the Super Bowl
but we faced a powerhouse NFC team."
entered Boston College in 1987 as a commuter student.
The 36-year-old politician was born and raised in South
Boston and because of lack of housing on the BC campus,
lived at home until his junior year.
a decade later, Boston College, like many of its fellow
Boston institutes of higher learning, faces a housing
shortage, which means that more students are taking
housing options that could otherwise be used for low
"In his State of the City
address, the Mayor [Thomas Menino] asked for
partnerships with the universities in the city of
Boston, the BCs, the BUs, the Northeasterns, the
Harvards, as a way to alleviate the housing crisis in
the city," says Flaherty.
The housing issue is of
particular importance to Flaherty, as he chaired the
City Council committee that acts as the liaison between
the city, its residents and the universities.
and his committee worked over the past year to increase
the amount of affordable housing for students in the
city, but Flaherty emphasizes the need for the schools'
"We want students who are good
neighbors. And the schools are part of our
neighborhoods. That is what city council is about.
Representing the neighborhoods." Flaherty sees it as his
duty as a human to serve his fellow citizens.
his short tenure as a city councilor at large, Flaherty
has witnessed the sale of Boston's oldest sports
franchise and the championship of one of its
(relatively) newer teams. But as a lifelong resident of
Boston, this father of two has dealt with issues much
larger than local sports.
Boston has lost room
for its lower-income residents due to the
"yuppifi-cation" of its citizenry, according to
Flaherty. This increase in young urban professionals
crept into most parts of the city long before Flaherty
ever held office.
"In the 1990s there was
gentrification in South Boston, Charlestown, the Back
Bay, and this meant that many of the fixed income
residents, older citizens, were going to be squeezed out
of the city," he says. Flaherty conveys this message in
the same way he has said it many times.
time I was graduating college, people weren't returning
home to their native communities," Flaherty explains.
"They stayed in the city after graduation. The economy
was coming out of a recession and there was more
opportunity for the students who were finishing
This trend caused the city to get
younger at the cost of those who could not afford the
increases in housing costs within Boston, leaving
Flaherty and Boston City Hall with a serious hurdle to
"'Men for others.' That's what they taught
us at BC," Flaherty recalls with a serious look on his
face. It is a motto he has carried with him.
College might seem like an eternity sometimes
but rest assured, the world of professional dress and
weighty decisions is not that far off. Flaherty still
remembers his days on the Heights as if it were
"Lots of guys would just eat all their
meals at College Sub, Pino's or Presto's," says
Flaherty, who lived in Edmond's and Mod 41A during his
two years on campus. He commuted from his South Boston
home his first two years.
"Everyone who lived on
campus had to have the meal plan and so for a lot of
people, you'd take five or six friends and you'd get a
place on Sutherland for less money," he
Now, the same problems plague Boston and
its universities as when Michael Flaherty was rising
He now sees it as his obligation to
help resolve this problem. For a man who considers
public service his duty to society, Michael Flaherty
tries his best each day to live and work with the Jesuit
values instilled in him during his four years at BC.
"These are new times, a new country," says
With a young leader at
the head of its City Council, it certainly looks like a
new day may come for Boston.