Meet the Boston Municipal Research Bureau

Sam Tyler, the chief of the Boston Municipal “Research” Bureau, is focused like a laser on ridding the city’s schools of lazy, overpaid teachers. Thirsty work indeed!

Expert research. Independent analysis. Trusted results. What else is there to be said about this combination think tank, number cruncher and self-appointed “change agent” that the Boston Globe once called “A powerful force for constructive change in city government? I certainly can’t think of anything…

Now for those of you who might be new to the Boston Municipal Research Bureau’s particular brand of “research,” the EduShyster is pleased to give you a quick and handy overview. The Bureau’s unbiased, independent perspective largely consists of the following: Boston teachers are lazy and overpaid (as are all of the city’s public employees) and are protected by an iron-clad, 15,000 page contract that they have unilaterally imposed upon the city. That’s it. The group’s widely cited “reports” largely consist of their crack staff researchers making these points over and over again in an attractive, two-column format complete with contrasting fonts, plenty of pull quotes and the occasional sidebar for reiterating the highlights of the “report.”

But don’t take my word for it. Sample their latest offering, a special “report” on the state of negotiations between the Boston Public Schools and the Boston Teachers Union. Clocking in at just 5 pages (that includes a shout out to the Bureau’s “cabinet” members, 17 of the city’s corporate titans, including Fidelity, State Street Bank and John Hancock), this is beach reading for the “reformer” set.

Of course, the Bureau doesn’t spend all of its time crusading against lazy teachers in Boston (did I mention that they are overpaid and protected by an iron-clad, 15,000 page contract? Scratch that: the contract has ballooned to 17,000 pages just since I started writing this). Recently the group’s chief, Sam Tyler, spoke out against a $30 per year cost of living increase for Boston retirees, warning that such move wouldn’t be “fiscally prudent.” Besides the city needs that money to fork over a $11.5 million tax break to State Street Corporation, the vice president of which, Joseph McGrail Jr., sits on the Bureau’s Board of Directors. Tyler explained the justness of the tax giveaway to the Boston Globe this way:

Samuel Tyler, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, said the tax break is a fair price for the city to pay.

“It’s important for Boston to continue to be thought of as one of the top financial centers in the country,’’ Tyler said. “A cost of $11.5 million in a city with a $2.4 billion budget seems very reasonable if it keeps State Street in Boston and brings them to the waterfront.’’

Apparently the Globe’s own researchers were off that day as nowhere in the article is it mentioned that State Street is essentially Mr. Tyler’s boss. But what’s a little conflict of interest between friends anyway?

In other words it is completely appropriate to refer to Tyler and the Boston Municipal “Research” Bureau as “nonpartisan financial watchdogs.” As in watch dog  peddle  thinly veiled agenda disguised as research or watch dog do the bidding of its corporate overlords, or my particular favorite: watch dog chase corporate agenda car. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.