^ not a good day for the 5th Suffolk’s Carlos Henriquez
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“OMG !” is how the website known as “buzzfeed” might put the big political news coming out of Dorchester yesterday. A jury in Medford found 5th Suffolk District Stater Representaive Carlos Henriquez guilty of two counts of assault and battery. After which the trial judge, Michele Hogan, sentenced Henriquez to two and a half years in the Middlesex House of Correction, six months to be served.
Henriquez was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs, a photo seen by everyone who read today’s Globe or Herald.
I got the word via my twitter feed at about 3:00 PM. Immediately after came a report that Speaker Robert DeLeo requested Henriquez’s resignation; Governor Patrick and Mayor Walsh soon followed. Republican leaders repeated the call — eager to pile on. Would have been wiser had they said nothing.
Will Henriquez resign his office ? It looks simple, but it isn’t. The voters have a right to elect, even re-elect, a person convicted of a misdemeanor. My opinion is that Henriquez should do what his District’s voters want. If they want him to resign, resign. If they are OK with him representing him, no one else has any right to overstep things. I have not sampled opinion in his District, but Henriquez’s troubles have not gone unnoticed among the District’s activists, and he is sure to hear that many of them have had enough.
The many exchanges that I had with Henriquez during the recent Mayor campaign didn’t exactly inspire me. Before the primary, he was nowhere to be heard from; after Arroyo, Barros, and Golar-Richie endorsed Marty Walsh, however, and were joined by some others, Henriquez was suddenly an apostle for Walsh, furious in his intensity, all over twitter chanting Walsh’s praises, arguing at length with Connolly people whom he knew ; and almost all of what the suddenly converted Henriquez said was 100 percent standard Walsh talking point. Not one word from his own experience or observation of a man who, after all, was his state house colleague AND political neighbor. I did not exactly form a high impression of Henriquez’s perspicacity, or loyalty, or his ability to convince anyone of anything.
None of the above is a crime; and, truth be, it seems to me excessive to sentence to jail a man with no criminal record on a misdemeanor conviction. Probation is what we usually do, and rightly. We seek reformation, not retribution. Did Henriquez not receive the mediation that we accord most misdemeanor defendants because he is a legislator ?
That said, resignation seems likely; Speaker DeLeo will seek expulsion if Henriquez doesn’t resign. Of all the State representative openings that have occurred in Boston the past year — five so far, this would be a sixth ! — this one offers truly fascinating possibilities.
One : Charlotte Golar Richie once held this seat. Might she run for it again, regain the political currency that she lacked last year, and, with the backing of communities of color — who very much want a Mayor of color as soon as feasible — run against Walsh in 2017 ?
Two : John Barros also lives in the District and owns Cesaria, a very popular restaurant on Bowdoin Street. Might he run and win and then become a Mayor candidate in 2017 on the same grounds that I posited for Golar-Richie ?
As of 2011, the District included Ward 7 Precinct 10; Ward 8, Precincts 5 and 7; Ward 12, Precinct 6; Precincts 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 of Ward 13; all of Ward 15 except precinct 6; and Ward 17, Precinct 2. It seems made for Barros.
Of course, momentous possibilities may not come to pass. Both Golar-Richie and Barros campaigned exhaustingly last year. Both have the ear of Mayor Walsh. Who could blame them for not running for yet another office to possibly no great result ? The District does not lack for ambitious new names who will surely run. But whoever does run and win, one fact of the 5th Suffolk district stands out : low voter participation. In its 18 precincts, only 6547 people voted in the Mayor election — about 31 to 33 % of the total registration. Compare that to turnouts of 50 to 80 % in precincts where Walsh or Connolly held a base. Whoever the new 5th Suffolk representative is, he or she should make it a priority to engage the 2/3 of voters who didn’t respond to last year’s intense mayor campaign.
^ better news, right next door, in the 13th Suffolk ; candidate Gene Gorman greets his supporters in Savin Hill
Meanwhile, the Dorchester State Rep seat that Mayor Walsh resigned, next door to the 5th, has a special election on tap; there are — it seems — six candidates in the race, and I attended a reception for one of them, Gene Gorman. The Harp & Bard, scene of many Dorchester political “times,” was plenty full at 7.30 Pm as Gorman, a first time candidate, spoke to the almost 100 people assisting. “Why are we here ?” asked Gorman, “Because we’ve embraced this idea of city life for a lifetime. it’s an important decision. Dorchester by choice.”
Gorman recounted how he, a North Carolina native who now teaches at Emerson College, moved to Savin Hill, because he chose to; and how, a few years ago, he and his wife decided “we wanted a little more room and so we found a house on Melville Park — in Dorchester still.” There, he said proudly, he “served on the governing board of the Robert Frost innovation school. They wanted to close it down. We parents protested , they kept it open, and now it’s a Level One school, one of the strongest performing schools in the whole system !”
^ solid friends in “Dot” : Gene Gorman embraced by Jim and Millie Rooney — at the Harp & Bard on Savin hill Avenue
Gorman spoke of “progress and transformation” — John Connolly’s theme; and, as Gorman is one of the “new Bostonians” who Connolly’s campaign so appealed to, I almost expected to hear that Gorman had been a supporter. But no; he had volunteered for “Marty,” wrote policy papers for him, and served on Walsh’s Housing task Force during the Transition. Gorman has now resigned that work, to concentrate on the campaign. Judging from last night’s turn out and his own command of the effort, Gorman seems a serious contender even in a field boasting several candidates with major local clout.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere