After a flurry of closed-session meetings in December, the City Council hired an outside consultant to review the city's lease with Prevratil and make recommendations on its future. Mayor Beverly O'Neill used her 2003 State of the City address to pledge a thorough examination of city expenditures and some hard-line belt tightening. Nonetheless, O'Neill refused to be interviewed for this story.
If Prevratil took rent credits undeservedly, it's unclear whether the city could recover its money. Prevratil is already millions of dollars in debt and swimming in lawsuits—involving Prevratil, the for-profit Queen's Seaport Development Inc. and the nonprofit RMS Foundation, according to a 2002 report. Plus, state and federal tax liens surround him.
"We do have concerns about that," said an official in the city auditor's office who requested anonymity. "I guess the city manager would take first shot at it, then the city attorney would get involved. But you can see the numbers. It doesn't look good." He pauses. "Meanwhile, you know, the Queen Mary is sitting over there, like she has for all these years, and we'll see if people even want to ask anymore, how things got that way."