^ John Connolly — Marty Walsh : first face off of three

—- —- —-

Boston’s first face to face between John Connolly and Marty Walsh was a winner for both men. John Connolly was the clear winner on presentation and policy discussion. Walsh, however, also won, by simply showing up and holding his own, most of the night, and occasionally on top. He benefited by being the lesser known of the two. It’s always that way in a first debate. the underdog always wins; and with 18 to 23 percent of Boston’s voters undecided — so say the recent polls — Walsh almost couldn’t lose. and as he was always articulate and quite knowledgeable during the Forums held before Primary day, it was pretty clear that he WOULDN’T lose.

That Walsh won last night we see by twitter follower numbers. Since the debate began, Walsh has picked up 64 new twitter follows, Connolly 40. (Numbers as of 10.40 AM today.) Small evidence, but palpable. Last night Walsh increased his support more than Connolly did.

Still, Connolly did gain. He stayed reasonably close to Walsh only because his policy presentation commanded the night. The first five questions were about education, Connolly’s issue; education came up again later, and often. He also dominated Walsh on city finances and budget issues. How could he not ? It gave him the opportunity to raise “the union issue,” Walsh’s riskiest attribute, in a context that emphasized its risk. But there was more. Walsh exhibited a lack of understanding of admittedly technical finance matters. He tried to attack Connolly for not being present during a certain city union contract negotiation ; Connolly pointed out that by law he was not allowed to be there, in the negotiating room. Responding to a question about raising City revenue, Walsh talked about bringing in new businesses — but on a regional basis. How would bringing new businesses to Somerville — a city that he specifically cited — add revenue to Boston ? The question was not asked of him.

My observers pointed out that, in discussion of the bill that Walsh has filed to remove City Council review power over arbitrators’ union contract awards, when pressed on its effect, he said “no comment.” It was the big talking point for most journos. Myself, I found it a proper answer. That hill, House 2467, is one that hangs over Walsh’s campaign like a storm of belfry bats. Far better to shut up than to talk of it.

That bill will come up again, though. two debaters remain. Walsh will no longer be the lesser known man. Unless Walsh quickly finds a way to master the details of city finances, and to deflect the effect on them of higher city worker pay awards, and to explain away House 2467, the contradictions in his campaign will stand out for all viewers to grasp, much to his detriment.


^ Pastor Bruce Wall, Meg Connolly, John Connolly, Pastor Minyard Culpeper, Pastor William Dickerson

Meanwhile, Connolly is deepening his connection to Boston’s Black community and widening it, to people not often reached by anyone, and in ways I haven’t seen since John Sears ran for Mayor in 1967. That was before the huge social and political split that took place during the fight over Boston school segregation and school busing, a crisis whose passions took almost two generations to abate. Connolly’s achievement — worked at over many, many years — seems to me to have entirely swamped Walsh’s endorsement by Charlotte Golar-Richie. In campaigns as serious as this one, years and years of hard won trust and connection, on a very personal level too, can not be turned aside by a two-month embrace, no matter how noble and sincere the outreach.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ center field and left field : Charlotte Golar-Richie and Marty walsh

On Saturday morning at 10 A.M., at a rally called by herself, Charlotte Golar-Richie endorsed Marty Walsh for Mayor.

With her at the endorsing conference were Felix Arroyo and John Barros, both of whom had already endorsed Walsh a few days prior. Seeing the three of them walking with Charlotte Golar-Richie to the conference like the Beatles — as Dorchester’s Joyce Linehan put it — on their Abbey Road LP cover was quite the experience. It seemed a seminal moment in Boston city politics : the Four Horsemen of the “Working families” Apocalypse…

Walsh’s face wore a stun, as if he too couldn’t quite believe he now had the support of the Primary ballot’s three leading candidates of color. Frankly, I was stunned too. But not for long. Hardy had Golar-Richie finished speaking when the news broke that basically her entire campaign staff — finance chairman, field director, and the staffs of several of her local headquarters — were all joining the John Connolly campaign.

Now I was beyond stunned. What the dickens was going on here ? You endorse one guy, and essentially all your people go to work for the other guy ? The same day, no less ?  Surely Golar-Richie had to know. And if so, what was the significance of her endorsement ? I began to ask myself some questions :

1.Why did Golar-Richie not endorse at the same time that Barros and Arroyo did ? Reportedly they asked her to join with them. But she did not. Why ?

2.Why did she wait three full days thereafter — during which time the CUPAC and Black Ministerial Alliance, both of which groups had backed her in the Primary, publicly endorsed Connolly — before finally doing what Barros and Arroyo had asked her to do on Tuesday ?

3.Why did she not endorse John Connolly, since almost all of her staff did so ?

Only Golar-Richie herself knows the answer to these questions. Maybe she will tell us. until she does, however, a few answers suggest themselves simply by the nature of the events. What i think happened is this :

1.Golar-Richie did not want the impact of her endorsement to be diluted as part of a group. She would endorse alone and draw all the attention.

2.She was always a careful candidate whose campaign hallmark was caution and flexibility to all sides –in keeping with her persona as a manager impartial. Thus the waiting period, during which she “carefully assessed” Connolly and Walsh. “Careful assessment’ would lend gravitas to her decision when it came.

3.Meanwhile, she was known to have been one of Menino’s choices to succeed him, and she had been part of his administration; and Menino had already and obviously chosen to give help to Connolly. The period of “careful assessment” allowed her staffers quietly to make their arrangements to join the Connolly camp and thus put a smile on Menino’s chin.

4.Now having assured her staffers of a safe haven — and herself of having gifted Connolly the meat of her campaign — she was free at last to take care of a significant task of personal politics :  ( a ) an endorsement of Connolly by her would allow Arroyo and Barros to box her out, among voters of color (if she chooses to run for elected office again) as not being for “working families”; of favoring the “banker’s candidate” — the ‘school privatizer” — as folks in various camps close to Barros, Arroyo, and Walsh were aleady saying; and ( b ) an endorsement of Walsh would prevent that. Thus Walsh it had to be. A gamble, but a well planned one.

I am guessing that the feverish phone calls back and forth that the Herald’s Peter Gelzinis said took place from Thursday into Friday were about that very issue. Charlotte’s Menino friends told her to get with Connolly : and so she pondered, and gave her staff (and the PAC’s) time to do exactly that. Meanwhile, Charlotte’s Walsh-supporting friends told her to endorse Walsh or be boxed out. And so, once the backstage work was safely done, she endorsed Walsh.

Simple. Shrewd. The reward of caution.

Many smart politicians play both sides of a divide. It’s one of the most successful ways to occupy the political center. Occupying the center — what former Boston Mayor candidate John Sears calls “Playing center field” — was Golar-Richie’s campaign theme, its tone, its distinction, its claim to seriousness. She owns it, and as long as she can “play center field” without errors, she’ll be a serious force in political baseball no matter which man becomes Mayor.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ Abbey Road (as Dorchester’s Joyce Linehan says) : Charlotte joins Team Walsh

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The picture that heads my column is one that I admit I never expected to see in this Mayor election. Charlotte Golar-Richie, the quiet, cautious, middle of the road administrator, endorses Marty Walsh, her opposite in every way.

It’s a big boost for Walsh and will certainly have an effect on the November 5th vote. Until Golar-Richie came forward, Walsh’s campaign looked lost and losing. Just in the first five of Boston’s 22 wards he looked down by 10,000 votes. Now that margin looks quite less.

I opine thus not because of the mere fact of Golar-Richie’s endorsement but on account of WHY. The answer is not simple or obvious. Sure, there are personal issues and policy differences that have developed over the years of Connolly’s service on the Council, between him and some activists who certainly Golar-Richie talked to. But i prefer not to think that Golar-Richie chose because of personal stuff. She’s bigger than that. And her endorsement speech offers a wider clue : she talked about Walsh being a Mayor for “working families.” That phrase never crossed her lips during the Primary. They are Walsh’s theme. So who was she saying them to ?

There’s answer for this question too : she was saying them to the union activists who oppose the school reforms that John Connolly wants. These reforms have drawn the ire of Teachers’ Union activists since they were first bruited. Yet they are exactly the reforms being advocated by President Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, and, in Massachusetts by Democrats for education reform.

Why would union activists, Democrats all, oppose so resolutely reforms being proposed by a Democratic President ? In the twitter-sphere — and the blog-o-sphere — one finds out. There one finds a growing anger among progressive people against the radicalized GOP and also against a President whom these activists see as “giving away too much” to the GOP. The radicalization of the GOP is, as Bill Moyers writes astutely, the big political story of the year. Almost as big a story is the like radicalization taking ground inside the Democratic party. You cannot radicalize an electorate in only one direction; voters who differ aren’t going to just sit still and let a radical party take over — or block — the nation ‘s direction. Activists DO things. And so activists on the progressive tip are doing.

In Boston’s Mayor election that has now come to mean opposing a school reform led by Democrats ! The verbal overkill abounds : that Connolly’s school agenda means “privatization” of the public schools, that it’s “some outside group” doing it, that “he’s a jerk,” etc etc. In fact, John Connolly is about as traditional a patrician urban reformer as you can find. What is there in his suggestions for a longer school day, greater leeway for principals to choose teaching staff, core curriculum, and support for charter schools as an alternative, that requires raising the hue and cry ? Horace Mann’s school reforms of the 1840s were no less ambitious, nor the much more radical reforms advocated by John Dewey 110 years ago. 50 years from now, John Connolly’s reforms will look as obvious as Dewey’s and Mann’s reforms 50 years after their day.

The older a nation and its institutions become, the harder it is to reform them. Our nation has aged greatly since 1840, 1900, even since 1965. Reforming our associations today seems almost impossible to do; those vested in them simply WILL NOT change. We see it in Washington, where he Tea party opposes everything and anything that will make this nation fairer and better. Now we see it here in Boston.

Reform of Boston’s schools should begin with the teachers; and with the parents; but for too long there has been disconnect — indeed, a widening of it — that has made school reform a bridge broken; and John Connolly, himself a former teacher and a public school parent, has stepped in to span the reform forward. For this he has incurred the enthusiastic support of school parents, and the support of education-agenda Obama Democrats — and the ire of teacher activists and many economic progressives.

I have had personal experience of this disconnect. I read the Boston Teachers’ Union ten-page schools manifesto several times. For some months I have tried to moderate between friends in the Union and the Connolly agenda. I suggested that the BTU should endorse Connolly, saying we differ on how to reform the schools, but we are one in making schools the top city priority.” I failed. I hope we can still talk and be friends.

I suspect there are many, involved in Boston’s civic matters, who are saying something like.

The education-issue split in the Massachusetts Democratic party seems a portentous event. Add to that the economic split : progressive activists dislike the Obama administration’s ties to big finance. In Boston, some fear that John Connolly is the banker candidate. The business development candidate, he surely is. It’s where Boston is headed and has been headed for at least the last dozen years. But Connolly is by no means a Koch Brother or ALEC guy. He might say, in his own words, that the business of Boston is business, but Connolly’s business looks as if it will be a business culture tolerant, diverse, and open to all who have talent; with all lifestyles fully respected; a “green” business culture and one that supports living wage legislation. This is controversial ? Seems that it is.

The Tea Party first arose in very “red’ states, where the “reformers” were all GOP. Massachusetts is a very “blue” state. Here the Democratic party is almost all, and, as the people of a democracy usually find themselves on the opposite side of issues, splitting the Massachusetts Democratic party is the only option. But ; if that were all that is now happening in this mayor election, it might be set aside afterward. it isn’t. The national Democratic party is splitting too, as progressive activists, tired of President Obama’s cautious generosity of style, are taking the matter of opposing Tea regression into their own hands. We see it in Texas with Wendy Davis, in California thanks to Governor Brown, in the talk of nominating Elizabeth Warren for President rather than Hillary. We see the fight everywhere against Wal Mart and for a much more livable minimum wage.

Yet John Connolly agrees with progressive activists on all those issues — passionately and uncompromisingly so. Only on the issue of school reform do he and the activists differ; and that one difference is now enough to cast him as the activists’ bogeyman, the evil enemy. To those who have watched the Tea party demonize conservative GOP Senators who “aren’t conservative enough,” it all looks depressingly familiar.

This is what Charlotte Golar-Richie has decided to take sides with. People do what they are gonna do.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BREAKING : Just as I began to post this column, word came that Charlotte’s campaign field director Darryl Smith, AND her Finance chairman Clayton Turnbull are BOTH going to work for John Connolly. Talk about timing !


^ Golar-Richie’s Field Director announces that he is joining John Connolly : (Connolly seen here with former Council candidate Philip Frattaroli and his Dad.)


NOTE : Here and Sphere, for which I write, has endorsed Marty Walsh’s opponent. The following article is my own opinion, however.

Bartlett yard Marty Walsh

^ Courage and a voice for working people : Marty Walsh at Bartlett Street Bus Yard

Courage is the word that comes to my mind when I think of Marty Walsh and his campaign. For a guy who seems almost introverted, who really doesn’t sense the social wave, who comes from a part of Boston that is visibly shrinking in reach and number, to run for mayor of a City I don’t think he really understands seems an act of huge courage. This is a good thing. By no means do I disparage Walsh’s public persona. It has won friends of all sorts in the Legislature. It has elevated him to the top among those who know him best. I have, in previous columns, called Walsh “a hero of civil rights.” This he definitely is.

His courage — to break loose of the hermetic cultural world in which he grew up; to see himself as one and the same with people living very differently from how life along “Dot Ave — has brought Walsh almost to election as Mayor of Boston. He bested ten rivals in the Primary with a total vote that topped his Final opponent, John Connolly. As he himself claimed it, at a large outdoor rally on election eve : “Tomorrow we will top the ticket !”

But…. Walsh is a “union guy” — was business manager of the Boston Building trades Council — and has built his campaign on continuing the current downtown building boom and the jobs it provides. There is nothing at all wrong with this. The building boom is real. It is good for all Bostonians. It creates jobs, good paying jobs for workers who then spend that money into the city’s economy. All good. But the more that Walsh is a union guy, the less he is the man of courage; the less he is one brave man breaking free of — fighting against — the Old Boston and its old ways.

His challenge, as a Mayor finalist is, how does he bring Boston labor unions into the new Boston, the coming Boston of business innovation, business lifestyle, business politics ? Indeed — as many voters are asking — is becoming Mayor the best way even to do this ? At times in the past month or so, Walsh has talked — sermonized, almost — about recruiting businesses to Boston; taking them from Texas, South Carolina, from all over; of opening up a Boston office of business recruitment. This sounds odd speech coming from a union guy. Few of the businesses he would be preaching Boston to are union shops. There are, by percentage, fewer Union households in Boston than there used to be. In Walsh’s business recruitment world, they will be a smaller percentage still.

At which point Walsh’s courage begets contradiction.

And conundrum : for if union households would decline in numerical importance in a Walsh-for-business Boston, there would be no decline at all in the importance of the Police and Firefighter Unions, or of the Boston Teachers Union. Or of the School Bus Drivers Union. Need I say more : and into the two recent labor union events that have angered almost all Boston — Walsh too — came the news, via John Connolly, that Walsh has five times filed a bill (H. 2467 this year) to make labor arbitration awards final, taking review power away from municipal councils. A request was made that he withdraw the bill. He declined to do so.

Walsh’s strategy now, as a finalist, is to bring to his side working-class voters of diverse origins and skin color. He has John Barros’s endorsement, and he has Felix G. Arroyo’s endorsement — and his strategist, Doug Rubin — and now often voices the message that was Arroyo’s : pathways out of poverty by way of better schools and safer neighborhoods. It’s a good message. It builds upon Walsh’s own story and upon his support base. The Boston building boom should provide building trades jobs for Latino Bostonians, Cape Verdean Bostonians, Viet Namese Bostonians, all Bostonians. And yet…

…the argument did not work for Arroyo in the primary and seems unfitted to what Boston is like today. It is a message not too different from Mel King’s and Ray Flynn’s in 1983. But Boston has become much more entrepreneurial in the past 30 years. (And Mel King himself is close today to Charles Clemons, who was a Mayoral candidate and is a radio entrepreneur with an economic point of view almost Republican.) Boston today is more prosperous than in 1983, more upper middle class. No social group desires radical school improvement more passionately than the upper middle class — and those who would join it. Upper middle class parents push their children to excel. Sometimes they overdo it, but that is what the new Boston often is. Achievement, and bicycles. Downtown boutiques — and advanced courses in every high school grade. Diversity and social metro-lifestyle — because all entrepreneur brains have worthy ideas to pick up on. Upper middle class parents like new ideas. And they’re in a hurry to get them.

Marty Walsh understands this dynamic well, I think. But he cannot be its voice. Because it already has a voice, a man who is of it and personifies it : John Connolly. Thus Walsh has chosen the only course left for him : to voice for the people who would like to be in a hurry but can’t be because they have too much other stuff — dysfunctional homes, kids going astray, language barriers at home, working three jobs to make ends meet; that sort of thing — on their plate.

It is good that Marty Walsh is committing to be the voice of those trying to catch up to the people in a hurry. No one speaks it with more personal conviction. But in doing so, he has, ironically, narrowed his reach. Because John Connolly’s campaign extends far beyond upper middle class parents. He has brought to his side Boston Wards very different from upper middle class — Charlestown, East Boston, North End, much of Roxbury and Mattapan — for whom access to the Mayor’s office and the Mayor’s ear is vital. Connolly looks like the winner to these constituencies, including some which did not vote for either him or Walsh in the primary. They can see how things shape, and they are surely correct in thinking that their support assures a Connolly victory and thus access to his office and ear. And yesterday both Communities United’s PAC and the black Ministerial Alliance endorsed him.

photo (12)

Against this dynamic and this perception, Marty Walsh now fights courageously, doing proud those who believe in him.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ John Connolly : “our city is terribly segregated socially — kids of color see what’s available here and they say ‘no thank you.'”


^ Marty Walsh ; “there will be no discrimination in my administration, i won;t stand for it !”

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Last night’s Forum at CUPAC (Community United PAC) in the heart of Boston’s Black Ward 14 was one of the most elevated forums this dramatic Mayor campaign has yet seen. Addressing — then being questioned by — a room full of Black police, the Vulcans (Black firefighters), and several articulate community activists, first Marty Walsh spoke masterfully, and then so did John Connolly.

To a room full of people who aren’t exactly thrilled to have two “Irish” candidates put upon them, and trying to express his ordinary-guy status in life, Walsh said, “Yesterday I was at a meeting with Jack Connors — you know ? because he’s Jack Connors — on the 60th floor. I was uncomfortable. Later I was at a meeting in Grove hall. I was more comfortable with them.” The people understood his point.

Said Connolly an hour later — not an ordinary guy but, of sorts, a teacher (which he was) : “diversity is in my heart…if we want to reach every corner of this city, every (city) department needs look like the city. it’s vital that teachers of color be there to mentor kids. It’s also good for my daughter !” He was roundly applauded.

Both men had almost always performed with authority at Forums during the Primary. So it was no surprise to see them take command at this Forum. Impressed I was, however, to see them stepping up their forensics to the next level. Each articulated a vision of the city he wants Boston to be; and each could command the support of almost everybody. Still, there were significant differences in the two candidates’ grasp of issues questioned of them by CUPAC board members and several Forum attendees.


^ Former State senator Bill Owens addressed a question to Marty Walsh


^ Minister Don (Muhammed) addressed a very blunt race justice question to Marty Walsh

Walsh was questioned very bluntly ; would he commit to full inclusion, in his cabinet, of people of color ? Yes, he would. Would he commit to appoint a black police commissioner ? No, he could not commit to that. Did he support an elected school committee ? No, he felt that the appointed school committee simply needed to be expanded to include every community. How did be feel about his “own white privilege” ? The question set Walsh aback — Connolly, with his wider cultural reach, could have answered better — but he made a vow as firmly as I have ever seen him : “there will be no discrimination in my administration. I won’t stand for it !” Would he bring back civics to the school curriculum ? Said Walsh, “it’s a disgrace that we don’t teach our kids the history of our nation, the world, and the neighborhoods. Yes I support civics !” Would he as Mayor see that the neighborhood gets connected to the city’s tourism ? He saw this question differently from as it was asked : “tourists yes, but we need to bring pride to our communities. Not just tourists.”

How at a Forum sponsored in part by Black police could the BPPA arbitration award not come up ? it did. Would Walsh, known to be a union guy, balance the interests of unions and the taxpayers ? Answered Walsh : “My union experience will enable me as mayor to negotiate at the table. My intention is to settle a contract before it ever gets there (to arbitration). I have asked the BPPA and the Mayor to go back to the table. (and yes), when I am making a decision as Mayor the residents will always come first !”

He was well and long applauded. Then it was john Connolly’s turn.

Connolly was questioned on the themes that are his. What was his plan to recruit more teachers of color ? “Recruit more principals of color too,” he answered. “reach out and have community based organizations recruit teachers and principals of color.”

Had he a plan to eliminate the current trend of youth violence ? Yes, said Connolly, a plan that includes everyone and every program, because youth violence has so many causes. He would prioritize the search for a new school superintendent and a new police commissioner; and would have a city-wide summit on sate neighborhoods. Was Connolly amenable to having vocational programs put into the city’s high schools ? Yes, Connolly was amenable and presented his plan to have each high school offer a unique vocational program; some “partnering” with unions, some with a university, others with a non-profit organization.

To all of these questions the audience heard Connolly’s responses politely. there was some applause — not much. Things changed, however, once the BPPA award was put to him for opinion. “I’m inclined to vote against it,” he said. “Look, I know that you guys work hard and deserve good pay. But I want to rethink the entire contract, get rid of the flaws. You guys work way too many hours” — he was interrupted here by much applause — “we need to correct those flaws in the contract.” Applause there was.

Then came the question that cinched Connolly’s presentation for many — and for me. “Too many young people of color,” said the questioner, “with talent, graduate and move away. They see the discrimination in the city’s social life. What will you do to keep young people of color here, with social opportunity as well as work opportunity ?” Answered Connolly ; “Our city is terribly segregated socially. How many people of color do you see in the restaurants, the night spots ? Not many. Kids of color see what’s available here and they say “no thank you.’ And the downtown discrimination ! Clubs that get cited ! Other cities get it; we need to change !”

The applause was loud and long.


^ John Connolly : “other cities get it. we need to change !”

After it came more of the usual questions — the BRA, planning, affordable housing; and all were answered well and in detail, as Connolly, like Walsh, knows how; but for me, Connolly, by his savvy answer to the question on social discrimination, showed that he understands that he black community;s frustration with “two Irish candidates” is not simply political. it is social. It is cultural. Boston really Is a socially segregated city. Every night I see it, I feel it. It does need to end. talented young people of color are not going to stand for it and will take their talents elsewhere. And what of the white people they leave behind ? Are they any the more enriched for being separated from their contemporaries who happen to be of color — and maybe even of a different cultural bent ?

Connolly talked of how we get tourism in Boston “by luck, because we are an old city.” He is right ; we ARE lucky that way. But we need to become a destination city for who we are, not just for the history that happened here. Ending social discrimination in our city’s restaurants, night life, and friendships is the front line in this necessary battle.

Which is not to say that Marty Walsh’s heart is not in the right place. it is. Nobody in our politics has a stronger civil rights record than he. But the battle is not only political. it is moral and it is social. And this, John Connolly clearly gets.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ planting his flag in precincts of color : Marty Walsh at Bartlett Street Garage (ward 9 Precinct 5)

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Marty Walsh’s big effort to win at least a majority of voters of color continues. He is getting advice from a respected operative who knows where Walsh should up, and he is showing up and doing it relentlessly. It is essential if Walsh intends to get into the win game for November. Why ? Let us look at the numbers. (I ask my readers’ indulgence on this. It’s a lot of statistics to read, but voting is measured in statistics. They matter totally.)

We have selected 40 precincts dominated by voters of color, by which we mean Black community voters, not Cape Verdean or Hispanic. 40 precincts is, I think, a lot fairer to both candidates than the Globe’s recent one-precinct story featuring a precinct that is far from typical. Here is the list, and the September 24th result. Keep in mind that by far the majority of voters picked Golar-Richie, Barros, Clemons, and even Arroyo.

Ward 12 Precincts 2 and 4
(along the West side of Blue Hill Avenue) ……….. Connolly 68 Walsh 55
Ward 12Precincts 6 and 8
(further up the west side of Blue Hill Avenue to Grove Hall)
…………………………………………………………….          Connolly 42 Walsh 37
Ward 12 Precincts 3 and 5
(along Warren Street along M. L. King Blvd) ……. Connolly 48 Walsh 46
Ward 12 Precincts 7 and 9
(south of M. L. King Blvd to Seaver Street) ……..  Connolly 93 Walsh 73
Ward 14 complete (14 precincts)
(easterly side of Blue Hill Ave from Fayston Street all the way to walk Hill Street, and across Blue Hill west to Harvard St from Talbot Ave south) .. Connolly 479 Walsh 371
Ward 18 Precincts 3 and 21 (Almont Field area) .. Connolly 125 Walsh 81
Ward 18 Precincts 2 and 4 (Mattapan Sq)………… Connolly 85 Walsh 77
Ward 18 Precinct 15 (along River Street, railroad underpass to Hungtington Ave)\
…………                                                                     Connolly 54 Walsh 29
Ward 10 Precinct 7 (Bromley Heath housing)…… Connolly 29 Walsh 27
Ward 11 Precincts 2 aand 3 (along Washington Street from Cedar Street to Columbus Ave)
…………                                                                     Connolly 60 Walsh 60
Ward 17 Precincts 1 and 3 (Washington Street Dorchester from Park Street south)
…………                                                                     Connolly 80 Walsh 108
Ward 17 Precincts 5 and 7 (Codman Sq. west) … Connolly 33 Walsh 40
Ward 17 Precincts 8 and 10 (Codman square South and Norfolk Street west)
………….                                                                   Connolly 84 Walsh 68
Ward 15 Precincts 2 and 8 (Richfield Street / Bowdoin-Geneva and Charles Street north of
Fields Corner ………………………………………….       Connolly 45 Walsh 71
TOTAL VOTE IN 40 PRECINCTS ………………….       Connolly 1357 Walsh 1188

On Final election day these 40 precincts will likely cast a total of about 16,000 votes. If so, it means that about 13,470 votes are up for grabs, with — if the September proportions hold — an advantage to Connolly of about eight points = 1100 votes. It’s a small advantage, but as the precinct numbers show, it was, except for areas close to Walsh’s Dorchester, a consistent one for Connolly. Given how poorly Walsh performed on Primary day outside of his South Boston / seaside Dorchester base, it’s a consistent 1100 vote loss he can’t afford. But there is more to it for him than just the 1100 votes. Look:

White candidates of good will often campaign in Black communities not simply to try to win Black voters’ votes. These candidates know that many white voters are watching them and are assured of these candidates’ progressive or reformist bona fides thereby. Walsh’s serious effort in Boston’s most Black voter precincts is thus an effort to impress white voters in neighborhoods dominated by progressive or reformist whites, all of which he lost decisively on September 24th. He can’t BE Felix Arroyo, or John Barros, and certainly can’t do Charlotte Golar-Richie; but he can try to impress their white, reformist allies.

Will it work ? It might. All depends on how strongly progressive or reformist voters rate winning voters of color’s confidence, compared to the campaign’s hottest agenda issues : school reform, jobs and the building boom, the bicycle/Hubway movement, restaurants and liquor licences, diversity in the police force and Mayor’s cabinet. Yet even if Walsh’s larger objective fails, the vigor of his campaign in the 40 precincts (and some others) will keep him from being beaten decisive therein by John Connolly. This is no minor factor. Historically, Boston’s communities of color have been much more easily drawn to patrician, even Brahmin reformers like Connolly than to candidates with rough edges and laborer’s hands, who Marty Walsh personifies.

Anybody who meets Walsh sees pretty quickly that he is as passionate a reformer as he is about Labor. The only question is, how many voters of color will meet him ? And believe him ? His success on Novemnber 5th probably depends on it.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ Speaking plainly and taking the heat : Marty Walsh at Talbot Avenue “Monday”

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Marty Walsh, one of the two finalists to become Boston’s next mayor, is making a major push to win the city’s communities of color. He is meeting voters in Dudley Square, along Blue Hill avenue, and in Mattapan, at bus stops, along shopping districts, in restaurants. If he wants to win in November, it’s something he must do and thus is spending a lot of these last six weeks of the campaign doing it. Last night he upped his push by holding a “Monday With Marty” at the old and storied Carver hall — now Russell Auditorium — on Talbot Avenue.

About 80 people, most of them from the neighborhood, showed up to “have a conversation” with Walsh. Many were female — a good sign for a candidate whose campaign has had a “burly white union guy” image. But a “union guy” he is; his campaign theme has been jobs and more jobs; and at Russell Auditorium he talked about jobs first : “Kids will stay in school if we give them a reason to stay in school,” Walsh said, about the high drop-out rate in the Talbot Avenue area and how it often leads to jail. “It’s an important message we send to the neighborhood. You go to jail, all the hopes of being a police officer, fire-fighter, teacher go out the window.”

Walsh was the Building Trades Council business manager, and his campaign has always stressed construction (and its jobs). Often this for Walsh translates to talk about constructing new schools, to replace schools built, as he always mentions, between 1870 and 1926. Thus at the Russell, after delivering the message, he promised, “I will establish an office of new school construction,” he said. “A billion-dollar plan. We will build those schools as community centers, used 18 hours a day.”

And of course he then talked about his 150 million dollar proposal to sell City hall and develop all of City hall plaza for commercial use — “adding all that money to the City tax rolls,” he pointed out. No one in the room missed the point : developing City Hall Plaza means construction jobs. Lots of them.

Walsh also stepped directly onto his opponent John Connolly’s school reform turf. Citing his work as a board member of a successful charter school, Walsh insisted : “I can prove that I am the candidate who will change the schools, not just talk about it.


^ frustrated, but listening : the crowd at Walsh’s Talbot Avenue “conversation.”

It was a strong and articulate stump speech as Walsh has shown he knows how. He stressed is Dorchester roots and the skin color diversity of the district he represents, which, as he noted, “begins just down the street from here.” Still, the audience, albeit polite, proved, once the discussion portion of the event began, that it was not at all pleased with having to choose between Walsh and Connolly. To be quite specific, the Russell audience was sick and tired of having “Irish” mayors, and it said so, in words almost that blunt. In question after question, people let Walsh have it ; the lack of diversity on the police force, police disrespecting them when they call 911; guns everywhere in the community, but not in the white neighborhoods; the utter failure of Madison Park High School. One man — wearing a “Boston raider” t shirt, a man who easily, were he white, could have been a burly Marty Walsh Union guy — angrily pointed out that he never sees people of color in downtown construction jobs nor minority contractors. He challenged Walsh on what he was going to do about it, and about the lack of high-ranking policemen of color.

The scene reminded me a lot of what Robert Kennedy faced, almost 50 years ago, when, as United States Attorney General, he took himself to Black Community meetings to listen to — be insulted by — the frustrations and anger of people of color about what was going on in the South — and in the North too. It made me pretty upset to find that the Russell crowd was making the same points, almost in the same heated expressions, as I had hoped we had put paid to back in RFK’s day. Obviously we have not put paid to the existence of skin color discrimination and divisions.


^ palpable : the confrontation of community and candidate

Walsh listened to it all, respectfully, no sign of anger on his face; almost certainly he agreed with everything the people were saying. He answered every question as best he could. He said much that needed to be said. And if his eloquence did not rise to that of RFK, that’s no criticism, for how many politicians these days do speak at RFK’s level of moral fervor ? Still, Walsh’s even tone and plain language, if it did not inspire the audience, engendered respect.

Will respect be enough to bring to Walsh a majority of votes from Boston’s most economically isolated communities of color ? John Connolly has long been active in Boston’s neighborhoods of-color and has expanded his presence therein all through the campaign. His patrician presence has long — since the days of Boston Brahmin reformers — found more favor among Boston ‘s people of color than Walsh’s rough accents, which, to many Boston people of color mean the old school segregation racism. That memory is unfair to Walsh; and his dogged outreach to Boston people of color is changing minds. But he isn’t, as was RFK, the brother of a President. As for John Connolly, he’s the son of a former Secretary of state and a District Court System ‘s chief judge. If to Boston’s people of color, Walsh exemplifies building trades jobs and a hug and handshake of heart to heart solidarity — a feeling that Walsh proves every day — Connolly exemplifies entry, for people of color, to the board rooms and “tables of power” where the highest aspirations are decided.

Walsh’s outreach is a superb portent for Boston’s political future. And that is how Walsh put it at the Russell : “it’s not about me being Mayor. it’s about the future of Boston.” There he spoke truth, as he almost always does.

My feeling is that Walsh will have to win the votes of Boston’s people of color almost one family at a time and that he must do it if he’s to get into the win game. We’re talking 25 % of the total final vote. He has less than five weeks to make it work.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

UPDATE October 2, 2013 at 1.00 AM : earlier this afternoon Marty visited the Bartlett Garage art works and met many of the makers. This is one of Roxbury’;s best-liked secret places, and it says a lot about the canny advice he is now getting — from someone who knows — about where to go and who to see in “the ‘Bury” and along Blue Hill avenue. Tonight he’ll be at the MAMLEO Forum at 61 Columbia Road. The outreach continues at full force.


Here and Sphere note —- as aftermath to the Zimmerman case and to President Obama’s dramatic speech, a conversation and then some has begun in America’s Black communities and among commentators. High on our list of cutting edge commentators is Ron Wynn, of Nashville, TN, who speaks out on Being Black in America with an insistence that reminds us of Bill Press speaking out on progressive politics. we at here and Sphere highly esteem both men, but especially Ron Wynn, whom we are honored to call personal friend.

Being Black in America — and the raw topic of black on black violence that is part of the general conversation — are talks that every American of good will should at least listen closely to, maybe even join. Thus the following Guest Editorial shall serve to begin that conversation at Here and Sphere.


^ news commentator Ron Wynn of Nashville, TN

Wynn : “The current issue of Ebony magazine has the third in a continuing series on crime and violence in the Black community, this one focusing on Chicago. Time’s array of articles on race and the Martin verdict include a lengthy column by Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter on the need for less talk and more action in regards to killings and crime in Black neighborhoods. These on top of a series of columns, essays, and articles I’ve seen on  Black websites ranging from Black Voices and Black America com. to The Root and Black Agenda Report. I mention this only because I still see people saying that no one’s talking about nor cares about crime in Black neighborhoods, and in particular Blacks who kill other Blacks. If you want to believe that, fine, but there’s ample evidence that shows you are incorrect making that in Black neighborhoods. These on top of a series of columns, essays, and articles I’ve seen

A friend of Wynn’s then commented thus : “This should also serve as a reminder to folks (or a revelation) that Ebony Magazine has dealt with the Black-On-Black crime matter as far back as 1979. I remember and still have this copy of the publication.

WYNN : “There are a few (just a few) truly concerned people in the Black community who honestly haven’t seen these articles or know about the ongoing battles against crime that many have been fighting for years. But much of this rhetoric is standard right-wing deflection stuff, designed to try and quell the anger over the unjust Martin verdict. The people at National Review or on the Wall Street Journal editorial board could care less how many Black people died in Chicago on any weekend.

Wynn also attended a Nashville area protest of the Trayvon Martin / Zimmerman verdict. Here is his report  :

“Incredible experience this afternoon at the Federal courthouse. For almost two hours (actually close to three since I got there 45 minutes early) a diverse crowd that truly represented the spectrum of Nashville got together to hear words of wisdom, inspiration, information and education at the prayer vigil for Trayvon Martin. But it was much more that just a vigil. Speaker after speaker urged all of us to do more than just show up today and go home. Voter registration, community advocacy and citizen participation were repeatedly emphasized, and a host of viewpoints were represented during the event. I was thrilled to see so many of my friends and others I didn’t know by name, but were delighted to see. A truly memorable event.”:

You can (and should) connect to Ron Wynn at Facebook. Meanwhile, Here and Sphere shall be reposting his Facebook reports on Being black in America from time to time as we go forward.