“A KID FROM TAFT STREET IS NOW MAYOR OF BOSTON !”

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^ taking the three-part oath as Boston’s 48th Mayor :Martin Joseph Walsh of District 3

—- —- —-

So said Marty Walsh after being sworn in as Boston’s 48th Mayor. Chief Justice Roderick Ireland swore Walsh in. Walsh’s Mom and brother and his gal-pal Lorrie Higgins stood by to watch the “kid from Taft Street” official become His Honor. It was a moving moment no matter which of the 12 Mayoral candidates you wanted. Walsh grew up without a big name, on a three-decker street, surrounded by temptations, some of which befell him. And now here he was, the City’s leader, holder of perhaps the most powerful elected office in Massachusetts.

Other men have traced the same kind of path from bottom to top. One thinks of Diocletian, Roman Emperor, yet born a slave, who rose, who educated himself. Or of Abraham Lincoln. Or Fiorello LaGuardia and Al Smith. It is, in fact, a commonplace of politics, that those on the bottom often believe in the system more truly than many on the top and who, aspiring, steel themselves to rise within it, no matter how long or painful the climb, and to become the steward of it and of all it represents. There have been innumerable Marty Walshes in history. And yet…it is still moving to see an actual Marty Walsh actually become Boston’s Mayor and to see the gathered thousands of Boston’s elite and non-elite actually there, in Conte Forum, to witness his becoming Mayor and to cheer it.

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^ Senator Elizabeth Warren delivering her remarks to “my friend Marty”

The powerful did not hang back. Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke eloquently about the passion that she and Walsh, so she said, share for alleviating inequality and the achievement gap. Governor Deval Patrick, choosing a light comic note, told Walsh that he would wake up from “a day of blur” but to savor the moment anyway. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston also sat on stage. Yo Yo Ma performed the “Danny Boy Serenade” with dominant intensity and equally masterful delicacy. The entire City Council, all 13 members, sat on the other side of the podium and took its own oath. The front rows of the Forum found a seated multitude of descendants of former Mayors : Flynns, Whites, Fitzgeralds, Hyneses, Collinses — lending depth to the occasion’s topside.

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^ the gathered thousands included a huge segment from Dorchester, all of whom cheered loudly when their Councillor, Frank Baker, was sworn in.

Walsh then delivered an inaugural address sturdy and point by point clear. All the themes of his campaign took a turn : collaboration, diversity in staffing, improving education, ending the achievement gap, attacking violent crime, and assuring full equality to all Bostonians no matter what their sexual orientation, lifestyle or origin. He thanked “,my sisters and brothers in labor” — was roundly cheered — and almost in the next sentence said “let it be known that Boston is open for business.” Here he spoke of “innovation in every neighborhood, not just downtown” and of small business, start-ups, and businesses big.

It was a firm speech, confidently delivered, steady as she goes. Which may well be the defining tenor of Walsh’s administration.

And so you have it. Marty Walsh is your Mayor. Yep.

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^ from Chelsea, with what mission ? new corporations counsel Eugene O’Flaherty, currently chairman of the State’s House Judiciary Committee

Hardly two hours had elapsed after that “yep” when an announcement was made at least as portentous as the inauguration itself : State Representative Eugene O’Flaherty, of Chelsea, is giving up his House seat and his House Judiciary Committee chairmanship, moving from Chelsea to Boston, and becoming Walsh’s chief corporations counsel : the city;s top lawyer. I admit that this choice surprised me completely. It was easy enough to believe that Walsh wanted O’Flaherty, who was first elected to the House in the same year as he (1996). The two men share much heritage. The difficult part for me was, why would O’Flaherty take the job ? He isn’t just a State Representative, he is one of the chamber’s key leaders. And also have to move house. There has to be a big story going on, and what it is, I can only speculate. It may involve the Steve Wynn casino project : O’Flaherty represents Charlestown, which Walsh did not come close to winning on election day and which will; be heavily impacted. Is O’Flaherty being asked to use his particular knowledge of the area to win the best mitigation package possible from Wynn, including — a top Walsh priority — construction jobs ? or perhaps to sue the Wynn project, or the Suffolk Downs Revere-only casino project if needed ?

We will soon find out.

We will also find out who Walsh chooses to head the other City departments. Of only one such did he say there would be a “nationwide search” : schools superintendent. Of course so. No Bostonian would want the thankless, frustrating job. (One of his two school committee appointments has already caused comment : replacing charter school principal Mary Tamer with labor lawyer Michael Loconto.) As the school committee appointment shows, not many Bostonians Walsh might name as superintendent would avoid raising an outcry from one interest group or another. Compared to schools superintendent, it’ll be easy to pick a Police Commissioner and one for the Fire Department. No nationwide search needed there.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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