At least, unlike in the Zimmerman case, the shooter in the case of State of Florida v. Michael Dunn didn’t get acquitted. On all but one count of the indictment, the trial jury found him guilty. As the New York times reported, “guilty of three counts of second-degree attempted murder for getting out of his car and firing several times at the Dodge Durango sport utility vehicle in which Jordan Davis, 17, was killed. Three other teenagers, the subjects of the attempted murder charges, were in the car but were not struck. Mr. Dunn continued to fire at the vehicle even as it pulled away. On the attempted murder convictions, he could be sentenced to 60 years in prison.”

Naturally, Dunn claimed self-defense. It’s what you do in Florida after you’ve killed somebody. In Florida all you have to do is show that you were in fear of your life — a judgment entirely subjective, unprovable — and bang ! No problemo, you are free to kill again.

Admittedly I have overstated. Your belief that you are afraid for your life must be reasonable in the circumstances. That’s not much to go on, but once there’s a law giving armed people the right to fight back, not under a duty to retreat — which was for hundreds of years the good sense of our common law — it’s some comfort to know that a shooter has to pass at least the “reasonable belief” test.

Dunn failed even this.

He pulls up next to the car with the teens in it, starts an argument with them — perfect strangers to him; who would do that ? — about the loudness of their music; then, when one of the teens objects to being “told what to do,” he takes a loaded gun out of his car’s glove compartment and shoots. He says he saw a weapon. Oh really ? At night, through his driver’s side window and the other car window ? No weapon was found by the police. Not very surprising.

The trial was “racially charged.” How could it NOT be ? Dunn is white, the kids in the car Black. Many a middle aged white man, alone, finding a car full of black teens next to him, is afraid; but his usual response is to say nothing — as people on a late night subway train often do when Black teens get aboard. But Dunn had a loaded gun in his car. He was not afraid. He was ready for battle, and when he was talked back to, battle he gave.

That was why he had a loaded gun in his car. “Fuck with me and it’ll be the last fuck you’ll ever do.’ that — or something like it — was surely his mindset. He then ordered a pizza , went back to his home and poured a drink ? Of course he did.

That’s pretty harsh of me to write, but can you think of anything less harsh to say about a man who closes an argument that he had no need to start by shooting the person who argues back at him ?

Comparisons to the Zimmerman case have been put and will continue to be put. The two cases do not compare, except for the mindset. In Zimmerman, the person he targeted, Trayvon Martin, actually fought back, physically, and seems to have beaten Zimmerman up — at which point Zimmerman probably WAS in reasonable fear of his life. That he had no business initiating the chain of events that led to his being beaten up, the jury was correct to find, did not deny to him a self-defense argument that would have applied even in a “duty to retreat” jurisdiction. In a “duty to retreat” jurisdiction, a person may, if no retreat is possible — as it wasn’t for Zimmerman, on the ground being beaten — use reasonable force to defend himself. My own position in Zimmerman is that, having initiated the chain of events that led to the shooting, he cannot escape culpability by claiming self-defense when the chain of events turned against him. But the Florida jury’s verdict was not outrageous.

This Dunn case is nothing like Zimmerman. Dunn initiated the chain of events and at all points was the aggressor; he was never in any danger at all — certainly not in any danger when he shot ten times at the car driving away. He was angry, so angry that he “lost it,” as one infamous Massachusetts murderer said as to why he shot a woman at a Route 24 rest stop at 2 AM some years ago.

The Florida jury correctly found Dunn guilty on all counts except first degree murder.
The jury seems to have had doubts what occurred while the Dunn car and that of the teens was parked. that a shot was then fired was proved, but first degree murder requires a plan, formed prior to the event, to kill someone. Clearly in the Dunn case there was no such. what i do not understand is why he wasn’t found guilty of manslaughter. if you shoot a gun at someone, and that person dies, the criminal nature of the act of shooting requires , in Massachusetts, at least a manslaughter verdict.

All that being said, I do see progress in the Dunn case verdict. a Florida jury has found that no self-defense argument will lie, even under a right-to-fire law, unless the shooter’s belief that he is in danger is warranted; and that it is not and will not, henceforth, be reasonable for a white man to be in fear merely because he finds himself parking next to a car with black teenagers in it. Or, that he can be in fear, but he must keep that fear to himself and not act it out.

Can there be any doubt that many Caucasian people feel such a fear in the presence of black teenagers ? The President himself, in a speech not too long ago, recalled times in his life when he could hear car doors locking when he walked up the street. this entirely racial fear is a huge reason why the Michael Dunns of America buy guns, load them, keep loaded guns on or near their person. This racial fear is why gun and ammo manufacturers make huge profits; it’s why there are a reported 310,000,000 guns in private hands (as opposed to 4,000,000 in the military). This racial fear is why the gun and ammo makers pay the NRA to bully legislators in every state they target.

Racial fear stoking the gun industry sits at the core of today’s right wing. Not every right wing person is a racist, but racial fear is the message, the anti-social, armed vigilante mindset that gives right wing venom its venomous edge. It’s what those who talk loudest about “the 2nd amendment” really mean. Thus I find it progress in a Florida jury putting at least some limit to how much armed racial venom they will tolerate.

Sentencing now awaits. Dunn faces a substantial prison term : Image

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


^ “impaired judgment” ? the 5th Suffolk’s Carlos Henriquez addressing the Massachusetts house during debate on expelling him

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Not very often do you see a Legislature vote to expel a member. It hasn’t happened in Massachusetts since the late 1970s, when State Senator Joseph DiCarlo was booted for taking bribes. I well remember that day. DiCarlo was a boisterous, dominant presence, the Senate’s majority leader. His crime was a felony, a high crime by any legislature’s definition. Expelling him was a big deal, a giant of politics crashing and burning.

In contrast, yesterdays 146 to 5 vote — to accept the House Ethics Committee’s unanimous resolution to expel the 5th Suffolk District’s Carlos Henriquez — seemed like small potatoes. Yes, his conviction on two misdemeanor counts of assault and battery on a woman was serious. He should have resigned. Had he any concern for the well-being of his 40,000 constituents, many of them needing a full-time legislative voice, he WOULD have resigned. Of this affair he has made many statements. He is innocent, he says — again and again. Not once has he grasped that that isn’t the point ; that the point is his 40,000 constituents. Not once, in his “I am innocent” statement on the floor of the house yesterday did he address a bigger picture. Indeed, he had the temerity to say that domestic violence is a serious crime and cannot be tolerated !

Having delivered this message, he then walked out of the House, an insult to every member and, I suppose, intended as such.

Debate on the Ethics Resolution — H. 3894 — lasted more than an hour. Speaker DeLeo, on whose complaint the Ethics Committee was acting — seemed ready to let his members speak as long as they liked. Several did. Most supported the committee recommendation, some sadly, a few angrily. Over the top was Malden’s Chris Fallon, who shouted his disapproval of domestic violence, very much the candidate — as he is — seeking a state Senate seat, the one vacated by newly elected Congresswowman Katherine Clark.


^ cogently arguing for censure, not expulsion : Russell Holmes of the 6th Suffolk District

Representative Russell Holmes, of the 6th Suffolk District bordering Henriquez’s 5th, offered an amendment to the Ethics Committee’s resolution. He asked that the House censure Henriquez, not expel him. Holmes’s amendment made two strong points : that with parole, Henriquez will be out of jail by mid April, well before a special election to replace him occurs; and that his crime did not explicitly violate the House Rules and thus could not warrant expulsion.


^ “this is a sad day for us all, i don;t enjoy this task at all” : Ethics Committee Acting  Chairman David Nangle of Lowell

The Ethics Committee’s finding, that Henriquez had violated Rule 16A, which addresses a member’s impaired judgment, did seem strained. Arguing the point, Reps. Garrett Bradley and David Nangle (acting Ethics Chairman) asserted that, being convicted of a crime of domestic violence, Henriquez’s ability to judge domestic violence legislation was impaired. Really ? if anything, his judgment on such legislation has probably become more acute. As for Henriquez being free of jail by mid-April, Bradley and Nangle argued that that was not the point; that Henriquez is quite free to seek re-election to his seat and to be allowed to take his seat if elected.

They’re right on this. It has happened in other legislatures, including Congress.

Yet even if the Ethics Committee’s Rule 16A argument stretched things, there was a general sense in the House that Henriquez no longer had any credibility to address domestic violence matters and that, by his continued insistence on innocence and not resigning, Henriquez had impaired his own judgment on the matter. Representative Ted Speliotis of Danvers voiced the feelings of many when he noted that, by walking out before the end of debate, Henriquez had insulted the “institution.”

No one, not even Russell Holmes, argued with the Ethics Committee’s finding that domestic violence is a serious matter and cannot be taken lightly by the House. Accepting this argument, the House now deems expulsion no longer limited to felonies; that a misdemeanor conviction of domestic violence is full grounds for expelling a member. As Representative Bradley said, “we’ve never faced this situation before, this is a case of first impression.”

But to return to Russell Holmes’s amendment : it was defeated with only 10 members voting “Yes.” Among the Yeas were Representatives Gloria Fox, Byron Rushing, Carl Sciortino, Denise Provost, Holmes himself, Benjamin Swan, John Rogers, and Angelo Scaccia.

Holmes himself said that Henriquez should have resigned. Little wonder that the actual expulsion vote was even more one sided. Voting not to expel were only Carl Sciortino, Denise Provost, Gloria Fox, Benjamin Swan and, after some hesitation, Holmes too.

A special election for the 5th Suffolk District has been called.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ the old ways first, then the new, maybe : Trin Nuguyen, Alejandra St. Guillen, Joyce Linehan, Joe Rull, Keith Williams, Eugene O’Flaherty

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Mayor Walsh’s first list of appointments has already generated much controversy. I find a lot of the talk otiose. A new Mayor will make new appointments. Who knows if all will last ? Abraham Lincoln, newly at war, made many appointments of generals, but not for two to three years did he identify a team who would and could do the job. It would not surprise if Walsh’s appointments follow a like course.

That said, the current appointments do accord us a look at how Walsh thinks. In the campaign he promised to create a cabinet of adminstratiors that would reflect the cultural diversity of today’s Boston. This he appears to be doing. The appointment of William Gross as deputy Police Commissioner fulfills a commitment in particular to apppoint a person of color to a Police leadership position. His cabinet also now includes Alejandra St. Guillen of Oiste, Felix G. Arroyo (as Chief of Health and human Services), Keith Williams, and Trinh T. Nguyen. St. Guillen will interim direct the Office of New Bostonians; Nguyen, the Office of Jobs and Community Service. Williams, who served Mayor Menino as deputy director of Neighborhood Services, will interim manage the Office of Small Business. These appointments stand; yet all, except Arroyo, are positions of deputy level. The top positions in the new Mayor’s adminstration have gone almost all to people who to Walsh are long-established, close associates and friends. The only exception so far is new police Commissioner William Evans; and even he is a man of tradition.


^ campaign commitment honored : new Deputy Police Commissioner Bill Gross

The two-level division of Walsh appointments mirrors how the Mayor campaign played out. First aboard were Walsh’s core supporters, those who were wth him before the 12-candidate primary. From them has Walsh called upon Joyce Linehan, his new director of policy; Joe Rull, his chief of Operations; Chelsea-Charlestown State Represenative Eugene O’Flaherty, who will be his Corporations Counsel; and — reportedly — former State Representative Brian Golden, of Brighton, as interim director of the BRA. At second remove come those who Walsh added to his support vote after the primary — including Felix G. Arroyo, who alone among second-wavers has earned a first level position in the Walsh administration. One is led to believe that Walsh has said, “First group, I trust. Second group, I will see if I can trust.”

That Walsh seems to value long time relationship so highly isn’t unusual at all in local politics. It’s the norm. It’s how Boston voters vote, and it’s why Boston politics changes hardly at all, especially compared to Boston commerce, Boston residence, Boston fashion and social life. Being a “new” Bostonian is a disadvantage in city governance. It was both the great strength of John Connolly’s campaign — because “new” Boston is so dynamic a presence now, and quite numerous — but it was also that campaign’s big weakness. The old knew its opponent very well, identified it very specifically both geographically and in lifestyle. Walsh has made the very practical decision to emphasize the old and the long-time — shrewdly, if ruthlessly — and to accord the new and the briefly recognized an entry, yes : but not the big prizes. Incremental change it is. We know the drill.

Brian Golden

^ George W. Bush favorited : former St. Rep Brian Golden of Brighton may be directing Mayor Walsh’s BRA

It’s also fascinating to see how many of Walsh’s long-timers now live outside the city and will have to move back into it in order to take positions in his administration. Can I also note that many of these long-timers are politicians of very conservative views ? Brian Golden endorsed George W. Bush in 2004. Eugene O’Flaherty is one of the most socially conservative Democrats in the Legislature. I don’t know Joe Rull’s political opinions, but he is a South Boston native — and Southie is right now by far the most Republican-voting neighborhood in the City. Doubtless all three men will accomodate their views to Walsh’s Left-tinged labor traditionalism — because when you take a job with the boss, you do so knowing what he wants of you. But the appointment to high City office of political people much, much more conservative “at heart” (as most will tell you privately) than the brief they are given has been a fact of Boston city governance as long as I can remember. There hasn’t been a Mayor administered by operatives of reformist mind since Kevin White’s first two terms.

No wonder that Michelle Wu voted for Bill Linehan for Council President. She gets the message coming from the corner office — and from 40 years before it, of governance by very conservative folks. The theme is clear.

—- Mke Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ probably the most-viewed face in Boston today : 29-year old Daniel Koh, who will be Mayor-elect Marty Walsh’s Chief of staff

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“Management” is the message that Mayor-elect Walsh is sending so far. Changes in polkicy may be coming; certainly his core supporters insist on it; but for now, the prioority is to manage better what already is.

We saw the message previewed at the Transition Team Hearings, in which each Task Force found its suggestions divided into “keep,” “implenent,” and “dream” components. Categorization helped task force participants to appraise the impact of their ideas — and to traffic-cop the discussion toward flow, not tie-ups. Still, it wasn’t clear then that traffic-copping would become a policy in itself; but it looks that that is what has happened.

The selction of Huffington Post chief staff manager Daniel Koh to be Walsh’s chief of staff confirms it. Koh is a manager, not a politician. He holds an advanced degree in management; method is his milieu, application his brief. Havard; Phillips Andover (disclosure : my school too). He worked in Mayor Menino’s administration prior to joining Huff post. His selection assures that the policies will be Walsh’s, the implementation, Koh’s. Sometimes chiefs of politicians’ staffs inject policy ideas of their own. It’s all too easy for an office holder’s office manager to control the action. Koh will not — probably can not — do that to Walsh : or maybe I should say, he and Walsh agree completely, that management will be the policy and thus Koh will have free rein to make it happen as he deems best.

(to learn more about Daniel Koh, follow this link to his Huff post bio : )

The selection has won almost universal applause. Nearly everyone understands that, despite Tom Menino’s remarkable popularity with voters, his City Hall abounds in seat of the pants. “Temperamental” is its key. Who knows what, or who, will be the priority tomorrow, or the next day, of Menino’s impromptu, grudge-freckled mind ? As for the BRA, the less said the better. Developers either got aboard Mayor Menino’s Indiana Jones-like chase horse or they risked getting poofed, or cornered. Communities into which developments were to be deposited found themselves labyrinthed, door-locked, sweet-and-sour talked. One heard it at all the Mayoral Forums during the campaign, in every part of the city. Heard also was an almost universal demand to simplify the City’s permitting process — or should I call it “permitting adventure” ? Permitting should eanble enterprise,l not discourage it, much less laugh at it.

Nobody much mentioned the taxi scandal during the campaign; it wasn’t laid at Menino’s door; but nowhere in City governance was Menino’s managerial unavilability more on view. For how many years had the City’s taxi drivers been allowed to be cheated, gouged, disrespected by taxi medallion owners, with not a whisper of investigation undertaken, much less corrective action ? It happend on Menino’s watch, and he knows it did. So do we.

Walsh appears determined to not let that sort of sinkhole exist on his watch. This is a good thing, and a wise one. Walsh knows that the City is divided on most of the major policy areas he will eventually have to face. School reform, City unions, staffing diversity, traffic and bikes, poverty and achidvement, public safety — all portend division that Walsh, elected by a coalition internally mjuch at odds, cannot afford to take hold. On management of what the City does already do, however, there is almost no disagreement : it needs dramatic improvement. Order out of anarchy, simplicity from confusion.

Improving City management was the message of two Mayoral campaigns that did not win : Rob Consalvo and Dan Conley. Walsh won almost all the Consalvo votes : voters who don’t like Walsh’s charter schools record and don’t readily comport with his trade union style but who chose him nonetheless. These voters must be happy to see Walsh adopt Consalvo’s signature theme. As for Dan Conley voters, Walsh won hardly any. His emphasis on City administration first can only be a pleasant surprise to voters who did not envision Walsh as an administrator of anything.

You all know that we at Here and Sphere favored John Connolly. But I saw in Dan Conley a very capable second choice. Thus I too find Walsh’s “management first” message a wise one. The policy decisions can wait while he — and we — fix the process by which those policy decisions will be implemented.

Meanwhile, Councillor Ayanna Pressley has announced that she will seek the Council Presidency. She is said to have Matt O’Malley’s vote and Tito Jackson’s. The wheels are turning. Oh yes they are.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

UPDATE : Now I am getting reports that Bill Linehan will have no less than 8 votes out of 13.  Even so, Ayanna Pressley has made her move. And a statement.


Michael Curry NAACP

^ “access, opportunity and results” : Michael Curry of the Boston NAACP and son at a rally recently

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In Friday’s Boston Globe appeared an article by Akilah Johnson in which was made clear that incoming mayor Marty Walsh will be monitored on his response to diversity issues and held accountable for his actions. Wrote Johnson in the article :

The group, calling itself The Inclusive Boston Alliance, is developing a score card to scrutinize the creation and implementation of education, public safety, employment, and economic development policies. The group plans to conduct status checks after the first 100 days of Walsh’s administration and again at the six-month, one-year, two-year, and four-year marks.

Access, opportunity, and results have to be the building blocks of the Walsh administration,” said Michael Curry, president of the Boston Branch NAACP, one of the organizations involved in the alliance. “That’s what communities of color voted for.”

The alliance, which plans to formally announce its intentions Friday, includes the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, the Commonwealth Compact at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and MassVOTE. These and several other community and civil rights groups came together during the campaign and held two debates focused on issues affecting communities of color.

In no way can any of this be a surprise to Walsh. He actively sought votes from Boston’s communities of color. The vote that they provided him tallied more than his own Primary vote. As I wrote immediately after the Primary and before it : one of the odd features of this election was that whoever won, a big majority of his vote would come from people who didn’t want him. It proved so. Now we see what the consequences are. The new Mayor either adopts as a priority the demands of those who voted for him as skeptics rather than supporters, or he is in trouble right away.

It would have been no different had John Connolly won. Except for one thing : Connolly was a much stronger candidate, politically, than Walsh. As Paul McMorrow has astutely pointed out, Connolly defeated Walsh in 95 of Boston’s 137 Caucasian-majority precincts. Connolly didn’t need to win any of the 118 COC-majority precincts; he only needed to break even, or to lose them slightly. Walsh needed to win these 118 precincts by 15 points. (He won all but 11, most of them by 20 to 25 points).

The numbers prove it. In the Final, Walsh carried 49 selected precincts (in Wards 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, m15, 17, and 18) by 5687 votes : almost 800 more votes than his city-wide win margin. In the Primary, Walsh won those same 49 precincts by a mere 110 votes. Between September 24 and November 5, Walsh’s Black community endorsers alone (I leave out precincts where Felix G. Arroyo was strong; his situation is different; see my Note below) brought Walsh an additional 5577 votes : again, about 700 more than his Final election win margin. Walsh has been called a “bridge Mayor” — bridge between the Menino years and a Mayor of color. The numbers and the politics of Connolly voters make a strong case for that assessment.

Connolly would have had much more liberty to negotiate the monitoring groups agenda than has Walsh. It is not clear to me that this calculation played a role in the endorsements that John Barros, Charlotte Golar-Richie, Gloria Fox, Russell Holmes, and most other politicians of color accorded Marty Walsh. But it would surprise me if (1) the political advantage offered them by Walsh’s vote weakness didn’t occur pretty soon after the endorsements were given and (2) the advantage didn’t occur right away to many of these endorsers’ advisors.

And another thing : make no mistake. Boston’s communities of color want a Mayor who “looks like them,’ as the campaign’s mantra often put it,  as soon as they can elect one. A Mayor Connolly would have been very hard to beat: because it is not at all clear that Marty Walsh’s Caucasian vote base would vote by 15 to 20 points for a candidate of color as readily as the precincts of color voted for Walsh. Whereas John Connolly’s voters are much more open to such a candidate and have always been. Can anyone doubt that had Walsh faced Charlotte Golar-Richie, she would have beaten Marty in almost every Ward carried by Connolly ?

Mayor Walsh will be much easier to defeat, than would have Connolly, if not in 2017 then definitely in 2021. I think that both parts of his coalition know this very well indeed. I think he knows it, too. He is moving all the chess pieces right now to make himself trusted as well as accepted, and nobody in Boston politics is better able to get there. But can he ? It will be interesting to see how Walsh’s political vulnerability plays out at the tables of power where Boston’s — and his — political future is decided.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

NOTE : I have left out Felix G. Arroyo frrom my analysis for three reasons : ( 1 ) he is Hispanic, not Black, and has a significantly smaller vote base than Charlotte Golar-Richie had ( 2 ) his endorsement was, I feel, given entirely sincerely on the issues and not in any way out of real-politik calculation and ( 3 ) if he is to win a fight to be Mayor he will have to break free of the coalition that he whole-heartedly embraced this time around. It won’t be easy, but Arroyo has tgime on his side. He’s only 34 years old !



^ Charlotte Golar-Richie gives a talk : ‘all the isms are alive and well…racism, sexism…”

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The Mayor of Boston campaign of 2013 may be over, but evidently it’s not over. Last night Charlotte Golar-Richie, who finished third in the September Primary, was the key speaker at a conference hosted by University of Massachusetts’s Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy.

NOTE : If there were any doubt about the institutional colossi that encumber Boston politics, the very length of that host name — “University of Massachusetts Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy” — should set our heads nodding, But I digresss…

The topic for discussion was “Opening Doors : Women’s Political Leadership in Boston.” It seems a timely topic, given the prominence of several women in elected office within the City. One thinks of State Senators Sonia Chang-Diaz and Linda Dorcena-Forry (and of former State Senator Marian Walsh), of Councillors Ayanna Pressley and (newly) Michelle Wu, of State Representatives Gloria Fox and Liz Malia. One might also think of Abby Browne and Marian Ego, school committee members back in the day, and even of Elvira “Pixie” Palladino and Louise Day Hicks longer ago — but Palladino and Hicks were severely incorrect politically and thus not “women’ despite being women; and one could even mention the late, fishwife-mouthed Katherine Craven, a City Councillor, and State Representative Katherine Kane (who died about two weeks ago), both women in politics long before there needed be an educational institution hosting said discussion.

One could have mentioned all of the above; and mentioned the significant involvement of women in Boston politics well before that, from Abolitionist champions to Progressive era women of conscience to civil rights and civic leaders like Susan Story Lyman, Melnea Cass, Stella Trafford, Alice Hennessey, and my own mother. Mentioning all of these, one wonders what sort of “doors” still need to be “opened.’ Are they not already wide wide beckoning ? But no. Evidently the failure of one woman candidate to become Mayor of Boston trumps all of the successes that women in politics have had, are having, and, likely, will have in Boston.

In any case, the night being given over to defeat, it was quite appropriate for Charlotte Golar-Richie to trumpet the notes of defeat’s song :

“The isms are still alive and well in Boston…racism, sexism…along with that misogyny thing.’
“For women the stakes are high. Women of color, the stakes are higher.”

To which lament many Forum pundits added their oboe and bassoon :

Priti Rao : “I think there’s a lot of voter fatigue in this state.’
Joyce Ferriabough Bolling : “Charlotte lost because her base did not come out.”
Paul Watanabe ; “Globe’s editorial op-ed was devastating.”
The entire discussion panel : “EMILY’s list failed her.”

Golar-Richie then summed up this Sonata of Defeat by saying that she “opened the doors, someone else will have to walk through.”

As you have doubtless surmised, I shrug both my shoulders at Golar-Richie’s speech. Not once did she allow that perhaps she was not exactly an authoritative candidate. Not once did she acknowledge that in a field of twelve, whence eleven candidates ended up losing, she was hardly alone in being among the eleven. Why was Golar-Richie entitled — I use the verb on purpose — to a better result than the other ten losers ? Were John Barros, Dan Conley, Mike Ross, and Felix G. Arroyo not equally worthy candidates  ? Not to mention John Connolly.

Fact is that, in the 17,000-odd Forums that i attended at which Golar-Richie spoke, I found her performance wildly uneven ; strong one day, out of focus the next; vague sometimes, insightful at others. There was no such vaguery about Mike Ross, john Connolly, John Barros, Dan Conley, Marty Walsh, and even Charles Yancey and Rob Consalvo.

But in assessing Golar-Richie as a candidate there is no need to measure her performance at Forums. When her crunch time truly came, after the primary, and she had to decide, quickly, whether to endorse John Connolly or Marty Walsh, she flubbed the role. She delayed her decision, hemmed and hawed; when after some days she finally endorsed Marty Walsh, all of her support group went the other way, to John Connolly. Compare her handling to the focus and unity that Arroyo and Barros brought to their Walsh endorsements..

So, to respond to Charlotte : no, I do NOT think that “all the isms are in place.” Nor do I think that the bar is doubly high for women of color. Tell me how Michelle Wu’s finishing second out of eight, for City Council, on her first run ever for public office, demonstrates either of Golar-Richie’s assertions. Golar-Richie is simply WRONG. She did not fail to become Boston’s Mayor because she is a woman. She failed because she wasn’t a strong enough candidate.

And finally, Golar-Richie’s assertion that she lost because “all the isms are alive and well in Boston” disrespects Marty Walsh. Did he beat Golar-Richie because he is male, or because he simply had a stronger base of votes, as a sitting state representative and respected union leader ? Golar-Richie’s suggestion tells me what she really thinks of Walsh. It’s not pretty.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



John Connolly — Marty Walsh ; time to prospect the numbers

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Enough polls have been taken of Boston’s Mayoral Final now that we can already conclude much about the race. By the numbers, taking the average of all five recent polls, John Connolly holds a lead of about 43.4 % to Marty Walsh’s 37.3 %. The remaining 19.7 % of voters say they’re undecided. The next ,most important statistic is how steady the two candidate’s support has been. Since the first Final polls appeared, Walsh has polled either 36 % or 37 %, with the exception of one poll that gave him 39 %; Connolly, meanwhile, has polled 44 % or 45 % since before the primary, although two of the five recent polls showed him backing to 41 and 40 % respectively. And in those two polls, his lost voters did not move to Walsh. They became undecided. Walsh’s okay performance in the first debate moved some, his endorsement by a platoon of well-known’s moved the rest — but as i said, not to him; only to undecided.

My former editor in chief at the Boston Phoenix, Peter Kadzis, says that the race is now all about Walsh; that Connolly is “holding on” — his words — and Walsh is moving ahead. I see it just the opposite. Connolly’s support seems consistent, unshakable. The question in the minds of the 55 to 60 % of voters not yet moving to Connolly is whether he really SHOULD be the next Mayor. They are either giving Walsh a second look or — more likely — just learning who he is and willing to hear more. that does not translate, in my mind, to “moving Walsh’s way.”

A closer look at the Globe poll’s numbers seems to weaken Kadzis’s argument. If the poll’s “leaners’ are added to the committeds, Connolly has 47%, Walsh 38% of the vote, with only 15% undecided. this is a significant gap. A candidate who is 9 points down with only 15% undecided practically has to win every undecided vote or else lose.

The poll also suggests that all the energy that Walsh put into winning his spate of endorsements hasn’t helped him much,. Though he gets Arroyo’s September voters by 15 to 9, and Barros voters 13 to 9, he loses Charlotte Golar-Richie voters 19 to 26. Winning his three endorsers; votes by 47 to 44 won’t cut it.

No poll yet done reflects Connolly’s commanding performance in the second debate, held two nights ago. My guess is that that debate moved a measurable chunk of the 14.7% undecideds to Connolly. Even if that is true, however, even if a new poll shows the race Connolly 46-50 and Walsh 37-40, the race is far from wrapped. This is not a presidential election, where almost every voter is sure to vote. many voters won’t bother unless they are TAKEN to the polls. Which means organization, a field army, as all pollsters take care to point out. Walsh is the field-army candidate. That his army may be mostly union activists is a problem impression for him to risk, but on election day that doesn’t matter. Even if the burliest union guy who ever snarled on a picket line shows up at your door to take you to the polls, you will go, because yes, you know it’s your duty to do so. And your almost uncast vote will count just as much as the most dedicated supporter’s.

How much is a dedicated field army worth ? In the many Boston city campaigns that I field-directed, each election day door-knocker could bring eight to ten voters to the polls, of whom maybe half would not have voted without that contact being made. The biggest precinct organization I ever worked with had about 16 people aboard. So, assuming all 16 do their job all day long, good “field’ can add about 64 votes to the total. Walsh probably can’t do much “field” in Wards 4, 5, and most of 3, but in the other 19 he can do plenty. They total 227 precincts. If all his “field people” do their job all day, they can add 227 x 64 = 14,528 votes to the total turnout. that equals about 9.5% of the likely final turnout number.

Of course his “field vote” WON’T total 14,528, for four reasons:

1.On Primary day his people already turned out almost all its vote, in walsh’s strongest precincts. There isn’t much new vote there to get.

2.Some voters whom “field people” bring to the polls don’t vote for that candidate. Not many, probably, but some.

3.All of Walsh’s field people can NOT “do their job” all day long. Traffic, missed communication, voters not answering the door — the fog of election war degrades even the finest field organization. From personal experience I can attest that if Walsh’s field works accomplish two thirds of their goal, they’ll have done well.

4.Connolly may not have a ready-made army of union activists, but he is hardly without committed, hard-working volunteers. Whatever vote Walsh people bring to the polls, Connolly can bring at least half that.

My conclusion ? Walsh can probably add about 8,000 votes to the total, Connolly 4,000. Which gives Walsh a net plus of 4,000 votes. that will likely be about 3 % of the total turnout.

in the Primary, of course, that 4,000 additional vote was good enough, with 12 candidates on the ballot and nobody having a huge number, to move Walsh past Connolly into first place. He managed slightly over 20,000 votes on that day. His field 4,000 comprised 20 % of it. No such bump will Walsh get on November 5th. If he is to win — and he well might — he will have to EARN it, not bring it.

— — —


^ 1967 : Tony D’Arcangelo, who was John Sears’s East Boston guy in that campaign


Melnea Cass : what Clayton Turnbull and the Black Ministers have been to John Connolly, she was to John Sears in 1967.


^ John Sears, 1967 :much of what John Connolly is this year, he was in 1967.

POST SCRIPT : Is this 1967 again ? It seems that it is. Then we had a patrician urban reformer, John Sears — a Republican, even — running against the ultimate, South Boston Irish traditionalist, Louise Day Hicks. Sears did not win in the Primary — being a Republican hurt — but Kevin White, who did win, stepped right into Sears’s shoes. And what sort of voters did Sears command ? The young and well educated voters of Wards 3, 4, and 5; italian voters; and the black community. Does this look familiar ? Of course it does. John Connolly has John Sears’s vote, to which he has added his own Wards 19 and 20 and his mother’s home Ward 2 in Charlestown.

It almost amazes me to see how little has actually changed in Boston’s voting patterns and community alliances. The one thing that Has changed is the political party. in 1967, high-minded, education-oriented, parks and green, visionary urban reform was the hallmark of the Massachusetts Republican party — and still very much in power — as was the party’s solid connection to Italian voters and the Black Community (Melnea Cass, after whom the Boulevard was named, was a pillar of 1960s Black Boston — and was, in those days of senator Ed Brooke, a Republican state Committeewoman very active in the Sears campaign.) Today, the policy and community descendants of the 1967 Republican party are almost all Democrats : Obama Democrats, in fact. But then, is Barack Obama himself not precisely the educated, urban, high-minded reformer who would have been that kind of Republican two generations ago ?

— Micahel Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ a classic stump speech ; Clayton Turnbull saying it real for John Connolly

— — —

Boston’s voters of color — black, brown, or yellow — have come of age in this campaign like never before. Whoever wins on November 5th, the breadth and sophistication of participation in it by voters Black, Hispanic, Caribbean, or Asian far surpasses anything that Boston has seen at least since the Abolitionist Era. Yes, you can say that these voters’ participation in the election of Barack Obama in 2008 (and in 2012) was strong, broad, and passionate. But Obama is himself a person of color. The participation this time is to the campaigns of two “white guys.” One man fairly well known, the other hardly at all.


^ the way it’s done — but until this year, not so much : State Senator Linda Dorcena-Forry going all out for Marty Walsh (with Felix G. arroyo at his side)

Not only the community leaders have participated, though they have upped their game in this respect. The new development is the participation of every sort of voter of color : union activists, church congregations, business leaders, hip hop DJs, restaurant and club promoters, artists, social networks, political operatives, contractors, and just plain folks. And not only are they participating; they are doing so with an issues agenda. On twitter and at facebook I have read their posts about the contest. Their observations show a knowledge of what’s at stake, and what’s behind the scenes, that matches anything I’ve read by anyone who isn’t a media pro — and show as shrewd a knowledge of the politics as even some media people. Nor is the participation in communities of color merely social mediating. Large numbers of folks are door-knocking, doing meet and greets (i.e., house parties), phone-banking, even fund-raising — for these two white guys who would be Mayor.


^ into the heart of the matter : Pastor Bruce Wall and friends stand with John Connolly

As one who, back in his political operative days in Boston, was often given the task of co-ordinating the City’s Black wards (in those days it was 9, 12, 14 and part of 13 and 15), I well remember when Black participation — the City then had few Hispanic or Viet Namese voters, and Chinatown was an entirely different matter — in a major city election consisted of paying hired volunteers “walking money” to pay to people who would stand at the polling places on election day and hold a sign or pass out palm cards. The candidate himself would rarely visit the Black wards, and what Black leaders there were did not protest this. They expected it. The candidate really had no reason to visit. “Covering the polls” on election day, if you could actually get it done in most of those 40 or so precincts, was usually good enough to win the day. And after that, it was usually good enough for a Mayor to hire a couple of Black ward leaders, to appoint one as an election commissioner, and, eventually, to hire Black youth workers. Even after the horrific crisis over school busing, in the mid-1970s, this situation prevailed.

Change began with Mel King’s campaign in 1983. King was then a state Representative, but not just that. He had a long history of involvement with progressive (indeed, very Left-wing) activism in Boston running back to the 1960s with the implementation, in Boston, of a local adjunct of President Johnson ‘s anti=poverty programs. King had a large following ranging from Robert Kennedy-inspired “white progressives” to activists in the black community, and, with their support and votes King reached the Final election — the first Mayoral Black candidate to do so. Ray Flynn, of South Boston, eventually won the election; but he made a serious effort to visit Boston’s Black neighborhoods and to connect with its leaders. Few votes for him resulted, but there were some; and there were activists who supported him, some quite vigorously. Once elected, Flynn brought those activists into City government. And more : he added Felix D. Arroyo — father of Felix G. Arroyo — into his administration at a high level and also connected as widely as he could with King supporters.


^ what Ray Flynn started with Felix D. Arroyo, Marty Walsh has summed up with Felix G. Arroyo.

What Flynn began, Menino built upon; but his building work was administrative. It remained electorally untested, for the most part. That phase has now definitively ended. Boston’s communities of color — and communities of new immigrants — are stepping now into the contact sport that is election politics and are being wooed by both Walsh and Connolly with an intensity that assures that henceforth the “communities of color” vote will be as necessary a part of any City campaign as “the Italian vote” has been for the past 60 years.

The prejudice evident in the Sacco-Vanzetti crisis of the 1920s, and its tragic end, made integration of Boston’s Italian vote into city politics a necessary goal. It took 30 years to complete that process. It has taken the city almost 40 years, after the “busing” crisis, to integrate its “communities of color” vote similarly, but it has now been done.

If nothing else comes out of this intense and sometimes nasty campaign, the work of integrating communities of color into Boston’s political establishment is an victory the city can take pride in.

— Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere


Walsh endorsed

^ receiving the blessing : Congressman Mike Capuano says that Marty Walsh is OK

— — —

It is said, by Marty Walsh’s campaign, that it has “momentum.” Well ? What campaign doesn’t ? Every campaign worth a shiny ha’penny moves ahead with its things to do and tries to move more mightily. What “Team Walsh” — this year’s cant for “volunteers” — really means is that are catching up. As evidence they cite the bushel of endorsements they’ve received from current or past elected officials. (By my count, it’s now Connolly 9, Walsh 16.) But winning the endorsement skirmish comes at a price., In the 1959 Mayor election, John E. Powers had all the endorsements, John Collins none.

Collins won.

At a time when many people are fed up with elected officials’ inability to keep promises, and when many more no longer believe what an elected official says, having endorsement by elected officials as your big magillah may not be the win-win the endorsee thinks it is. Already Connolly is doing the John Collins move : pointing out in his speeches that, as he said this morning at a rally, “so many politicians have endorsed Marty Walsh I almost expect Barack Obama to endorse him !” (He laughed. So did the entire room.) “All I’ve got,” he continued, are the people !” Saying it as he nodded to the 170 or so leaders and people gathered to support him.

There does seem to be a gathering strength to Walsh’s campaign. I sense it. He is drawing larger gatherings than Connolly (although today’s rally at Roxbury’s Hibernian Hall drew plenty) and has more of them. Connolly continues to do house parties — tons of them — but at house parties he reaches 20, 30, maybe 4r0 people. Walsh at his rallies reaches 100, 200, even 300. This is what you’d expect, of a candidate scantly known to most voters but now endorsed by “big names.” Tons of voters must be asking “who is this Walsh ? I never heard of him before. But Big Pol # 6 is supporting him ? Guess I ought to go see what he’s all about.”

This is good politics. Marty Walsh has huge clout with the unions local and national, but his name recognition doesn’t match up to the clout. So, use the huge clout to draw the voters’ attention to (1) who you are and (2) that you have huge clout. It’s a simple tactic, and it is working. Walsh is by now a known name probably throughout Boston. It also impresses voters that the Endorsing Big Pols are, in some cases, working their supporters on his behalf and even are working themselves. This gives credence to the message that Walsh Has Clout.

Clout matters. Voters like to kn ow that their mayor is a Big Gun, a Giant who can make the State House salaam and the Feds say “Yessir !” Don;t we all want that Strong a Mayor rather than a merely local biggie. So the Walsh message does resound.

Of course the Big Pols pushing his clout have a purpose to their passion. I have written about their purpose often during this campaign — no need to revisit it right now. Today I’m merely recognizing that it is there and that voters are weighing seriously a man they hardly knew or didn’t know at all even two months ago.

Connolly today^ John Connolly endorsed by few, supported by many. But HOW many ?

John Connolly’s task is harder. As he is already fairly well known, having been elected to the Council citywide three times, he does not evoke voter curiosity as to who he is. The voters already know who he is. What Connolly has to do is say, “you know me, you know what I’m about, now I’m asking you to support what I’m about.” The phrase “what I am about” implies a MOVEMENT, not just “momentum.” But it is not easy to move people. If it were, there would be hundreds of Jesus’s and Mohammeds; but  there were only two. Movements rarely arise. Even at the lower intensity of political movement they come only now and then. Gene McCarthy for President was such a movement. Reagan in 2000. Obama in 2008.

All these were geared to huge national purposes. City politics does not rise to that level. John Connolly seeks to lead a school transformation movement (and, since the Primary, has connected it to several mother reforms and transformations). Yet at today’s rally, Connolly’s endorsers talked of his “independence’ and that he would give the community of color “not just an ear but a seat at the table” and “not just a seat at the table but a partnering.” To me it sounds like nuance.

Can Connolly’s school transformation and nuanced view of access to power beat Marty Walsh’ s “this who I am, and I have clout” ? We will see. Myself, I say this : IF it weren’t for the contradictions in his campaign, and the smallness of the single interest that it represents, Walsh would be the winner on November 5th. If.

Of course, if if’s were horses, beggars would be riders.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ in governance, substance IS style. john Connolly meeting with gang members and Ministers in Roxbury yesterday

—- —- —-
So now the Mayor race is about “leadership style” ?

What is this ? A fashion show ? An audition for Downton Abbey or such like ?

To read some big name columnists, or to surf my facebook wall, one would think so. it is said — by Marty Walsh supporters — that some elected officilas in Boston’s communities of color are endorsing Walsh because they don ‘t like John Connolly’s leadership style. A good friend of mine — who knows politics much better than that — also made that point to me this morning.

I would like to differ. I would submit that the idea that some elected officials of color have endorsed Marty Walsh is because of “leadership style” is a rather plump grade of effluent.

Politicians don’t endorse because of style points. They endorse because it serves their interests to do so. What are their interests ? One : getting re-elected. two : responding to their most active and vocal constituents. Three : their own policy agendas. Four : all three of the above.

More credible is the suggestion that elected officials of color have endorsed Marty Walsh because he has an urgency about him. This does seem to be the case. We wrote about that exact aspect of Walsh’s campaign almost a month ago. Walsh is urgent, Connolly long-term. Walsh wants stuff now. Connolly wants now to be just the beginning of a vision, a direction. Walsh’s message resonates with people who need help immediately. Connolly’s gains those who say “yes, right now is important; but what next ?” This too we wrote about back in September and again in our editorial endorsing John Connolly. You see it in how the candidates talk about employment. Walsh says “jobs.” Connolly says “careers.”

Between these two visions there is no easy common ground. It depends how you live your life. If you need more money right away, and getting it sets to one side steps you need to take to gain a career, you must choose either the money right away or the career steps. You probably can’t do both. In many of Boston’s communities of color, where incomes remain below average and unemployment (or under-employment) above average, voters are conflicted in just this way. That is why one sees elected leaders of these communities often endorsing Walsh while at the same time many of the actual activists are going with Connolly. The elected leaders hear the cries of urgency. The activists are building a future.

photo (4)

^ urgency — and union jobs now ; Marty Walsh has plenty to offer

The elected leaders are responding to the cries of urgency because that is what constituent service is all about. People building a future can’t do it by calling an elected official’s office for help. Elected officials aren’t set up to build people’s futures. That’s what city administration and state offices of economic development do. But elected officials are set up to assist constituents in need — of neighborhood legal services, an addiction intervention, a problem at school, etc. Thus, in the Mayor’s race, some elected officials of color are picking the man they think will respond most quickly and helpfully to constituent help calls.

But there is a flaw in their analysis (assuming this is in fact how they see Walsh versus Connolly). The Mayor, no matter how sincerely he wants to remedy ills, can’t do it himself. His administration does that. And that is why when I was looking at the campaigns with an eye to recommending an endorsement to my Here and Sphere partner, I looked at how the two campaigns ran. Because, for me, in every campaign for an office essentially administrative, how the campaign is set up and carried out says a lot about how the man or woman will set up and administer when he or she is elected.

With the Walsh campaign I saw a well-managed street presence but a difficult internal process and a message full of contradictions.

With the Connolly campaign, i saw an efficient schedule, a state of the art volunteer outreach, and a campiagn message superbly focused and presented.

I not only saw this. I wrote about it back in mid-September.

May I ask, if “leadership style” — i.e., constituent services — is the avatar here, how come the many, many elected officials who have endorsed John Connolly missed what the elected officials of color now with Walsh see ? Is delivery of city help to people needing it any less important to Sal LaMattina than to John Barros ? Less important to Nick Collins than to Carlos Henriquez ? And what of the many elected officials who are endorsing neither ? Do they simply not give a damn about their constituents’ need for such services ?

Or is it that the elected officials supporting John Connolly want better schools — which will take years to accomplish ; look at the problems now engulfing the Dever and McCormack schools in Marty Walsh’s State representative District — so that their constituents’ children can have great careers ?

Whereas those backing Marty Walsh would rather not take on the Boston Teachers Union – as Connolly has — with school reform and see less political kerfuffle — if Walsh becomes Mayor  — in securing for their people a huge favor : union membership in the building trades and thus jobs now in the Boston building boom while it lasts ?

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

NOTE : a suggestion has also been published that John Connolly was merely ‘stylin'” when he invited the Boston Globe to accompany him as he met with gang leaders in Roxbury — “using them as props,’ said the detractors.  This is the sheerest garbage. I propose that said gang leaders were thrilled to have their stories register upon the City’s biggest newspaper. They weren’t “props,” they were the REASON. ‘Nuff said on that one.