^ Mike Flaherty opening his West Roxbury headquarters

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o sooner in our interview did I ask Mike Flaherty, candidate for an at-large Council seat, about the BPPA award — the arbitrator’s grant of a 25.4% raise that aroused much outrage across the city — than he raises the papers he’s been holding and says, “I’ve got a copy of the arbitrator’s decision tight here. Been reading it this morning.”

Chance ? Probably. But as the saying goes, “chance favors the prepared mind.”

Flaherty is prepared. He touts his experience — was on the Council for ten years, including a stint as Council president, before running for Mayor in 2009 and losing a comeback Council bid in 2011 — and proves its value as he answers my questions.

Marty Walsh’s proposal to move City hall and sell the builoding, then evelop the plaza ? “No,” says F;laherty. “I was against Mayor Menino’s proposal to move it to the Seaport district. Right now it anchors to Faneuil Hall, it is accessible to all. The location is stellar.

“My proposal,” Flaherty contiunues, “is to make City hall a green model, retrofitting the building. Open the building up ! Right now much of the buiulding is clozsed. There are hallways that lead to nowhere. open it up.

“as for the plaza, it is technically owned by the BRA., you are limited in waht you can do, b ecause the MBTA lies directly underneath and limits what you can do with founbdations.”

Flaherty goes on to consider the huge engineeing challenges of building skyscraper office towers on top of three MBTA subway lines — and the cost of it. He makes a solid caze that even at 125 million to 150 million salae price the costs might make it a losing proposition.

Clearly he won’t be supporting Marty Walsh’s proposal were Walsh to become Mayor. So of course I now ask him how he feels about John Connolly’s scholol regforms ? Does his eperience lead him to effecgtive ctitique thereof ?

“John and i arer like minded on school issues,” Flaherty says — as he then gpoes on to make aproposal of his own, on e I have not heard yet ftom Conniolly ; “I woiuld like to see us crerate a Year 13 — withy an SAT test component, because without it they just barely get throiugh to a state school. It’s if many thousands of kids come to our universities, but unless they go to an exam school the Boston kids don’t get in.

“Year 13 could be a aprtnership with a college and college prpofessors. Maybe the program includes adopting a school building and contributing to our tax revebue.”

Flaherty also supports a measure that Connolly does mention : “we need a great trade school. We used to have Bodton Technical. now the best trade school is in Worcester” — he says this as if it were a huge scandal — “It shoiuld be in Baoton !”

Flaherty isn’t an uncritical fan of the MCAs. “It’s ane valuation of teachets too and thyus i,mpacts how they teach.”

We return to talking about the BPPA award. Flaherty hasn’t merely read it. “The police deserve a raise,”he says, “and I would send this contract back for further negotiations. I would insist on mandatory, random drug and alcohol testing.” He also discusses several aspects oc the award off the record; and though I cannot publish what he discussed, I can say this ; he knows the Patrolemens’ contract a lot better than the public may think its City Councillors do.

Flaherty also touts his record of outreach to every corner of the city, one that he proved to me at events I attended in neighborhoods that, historically, South Boston guys had scant interplay with. And a South Boston guy he is. His dad was a Southie State Representative back in the day, and Flaherty remembers those days — but does not cling to them. Flaherty practices politics in the present and seems doing well by it. In 2011 he did not make a Council comeback — as he says, “it was hard. There were four incumbents and they ran as a team. There’s two open seats this time and a completely different dynamic — but in this year’s Primary he finished a strong second.

A win on November 5th seems assured — and for good and valid reasons.

—- Michael Fredberg / Here and Sphere