^ Boston’s new Mayor : Marty Walsh of Dorchester

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Yesterday at about 10 pm the result was in : Marty Walsh is the new Mayor of Boston.

John Connolly conceded at about that time and, in his final speech to about 500 supporters at the Westin Hotel, said “I know Marty wants to do good things for Boston. He WILL do good things for Boston. He has my full support.”

And so the long campaign ended.

Unofficial City results give Walsh 72,514 votes to John Connolly’s 67,606. The margin of victory for Walsh was 3.49 % : a small margin but a telling one.

John Connolly won only the following :  the reform-minded “new Boston” Wards — 3, 4, 5, 9, and 21 plus Fort Hill (Ward 11, Precinct 1) and the Seaport Precinct in Ward 6 ; his home Wards 19 and 20; and his special, personal bastion in Charlestown (Ward 2). The City map of results suggests that he also won Ward 22. Everywhere else it was Walsh’s day.

Walsh won large in South Boston and huge in Dorchester, took about a 15 to 20 point majority in Wards 12 and 14, carried Wards 8, 10 and 11, held Connolly’s margin down in some parts of Roslindale west of Washington Street; and then defeated Connolly in the decisive Wards : very narrowly in East Boston (Ward 1 — by 3803 to Connolly’s 3739) and strongly in Hyde Park-Mattapan (ward 18). Walsh did especially well in the Readville part of ward 18, where Tom Menino lives but also Angelo Scaccia, the long-time State representative whose endorsement of Walsh may well have proved the most significant of all. Next most significant was surely the quiet blessing given to Walsh by Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, who won twice yesterday : he helped Walsh carry Ward 1 (albeit narrowly) and he now gets Walsh out of the House, where he has been a thorn in the side of the last two speakers.

This result is no surprise. it has been in the cards for three weeks at least.

Walsh won because :

1.he had almost unanimous support in his “traditional Irish” base

2.vast money and people support from Labor (although not from all Unions; Local 103 stayed neutral)

3.even vaster national Labor PAC support in money

4.endorsements by three of the Primary season’s major mayoral candidates — all of them of color, and thus significant to the City’s voters of color; but also all of them tremendously beholden to labor unions, SEIU 1199 especially. Charlotte Golar-Richie, Felix G. Arroyo, and John Fl. Barros together gave the Walsh campaign an air of racial inclusiveness. Who will ever forget that iconic picture of them and Walsh walking together up a Dorchester street ?

5.endorsements by State Legislators , several community groups, and two (2) Congressmen, also answering to Labor constituencies, one who cam aboard early (Stephen Lynch) and the other (Mike Capuano), who saw the above endorsements happening and calculated that they had better get on board too

6.the decision by many people on the margins of work that they need a better job first, better schools later

7.institutional and money support from developers and contractors whose profits depend on the Boston building boom which requires building trades workers in order to build

8.even more entrenched institutional support from the colleges, zoning lawyers, BRA administrators, and lobbyists whose profits, epansion plans, and just plain connections and co-operation in planning and zoning matters help each other to do their do’s

9.endorsement by about 22 “progressive” Legislators, whose support allowed Walsh to magnify his limited, albeit genuinely heroic, “progressive” credentials

10.his own, low key personality and confidence in his authenticity, which stands out maybe best when  he doesn’t have a ready answer for a question — moments that happened a lot in his campaign.

11.the campaign’s 40 position papers, written with contributions from (says the Walsh campaign) 600 people, who thus became invested in their success and so part of Walsh’s GOTV army. These position papers, unleashed in the last two weeks, made Walsh look authentically Mayoral.


^ conceding : John Connolly speaks

Against this vast array of established support, John Connolly could muster only (1) a citizen reform movement, one that had barely existed until his campaign coalesced it (2) his two personal neighborhood bases, West Roxbury-Roslindale and Charlestown (3) demonstrable mastery of the City budget and (4) his opponent’s binding arbitration bill, which almost derailed the Walsh campaign and gave Connolly a major issue.

Connolly also raised big money. He actually raised a bit more than Walsh did, though less in the campaign’s “crunch time.” He obviously looked a winner to many.

But it was not to be.

The newness of the citizen reform movement begun by Connolly’s campaign, its vulnerablity to entrenched push back, its untested status, and Connolly’s own air of high-mindedness — so long unheard in Boston’s municipal politics that many voters, likely, did not know what to make of it — all put Connolly on the shade side of the election sundial as soon as the Primary was over and voters started to look closely at what was what.

Frankly, that Connolly came so close to actually winning yesterday sends a strong message, i think, to Marty Walsh that he has a lot to prove; and to entrenched Boston power that while its strength remains barely good enough to win, its days are almost surely numbered as we move forward into the new era of non-union work ; of nightlife and nerdy ways ; of  schools that either do their best or see themselves lose all public conscience (and rightly so); and of  small innovative units collaborating competitively via conferencing and social media — as un-institutional a life as one can possibly imagine.

The break-up of entrenched power is coming. The power knows it. This time, it has held on — just barely. Next time, the liberation.

—- Michael Freedberg / here and Sphere

STORY UPDATED 11/06/13 at 7:55 PM


Walsh at Cape V Senior^ in search of the Undecided : Marty Walsh with John Barros meeting Cape Verdean Seniors

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Boston, November 4, 2013 — on this Final day of the campaign, with voting tomorrow, what are the two candidates doing ? When one looks, one sees two very different messages being sent.

Marty Walsh, whose campaign has built itself around numerous politicians’ endorsing him, has spent today in their company : South Boston with former State Senator Jack Hart the Holgate Senior Center in Roxbury with Councillor Tito Jackson the Cape Verdean Senior Center with John Barros;

4. with former St. Rep. Marie St. Fleur visiting Haitian Seniors; and and Walsh’s home area of Adams Corner, Dorchester with a bunch of officials ; State Rep. Dan Cullinane, State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, and City Councillor Frank Baker.

Walsh’s trips to Senior Centers comports with poll findings that Seniors are significantly represented among the undecided vote still available.

Connolly w Chin^ in search of Asian women, said to figure largely among the undecided : John Connolly with THE Frank Chin and Sherry Dong, this morning

Meanwhile, John Connolly, who has endorsers albeit far fewer than Walsh, is going about (with one event exception) by himself, being the Citizen against the machine.

Connolly started his day on CBS Boston’s morning show; went from there to Forest Hills Station to greet voters; then to Digitas Corp. to address technology innovators; then to Chinatown as guest of Sherry Dong and Chinatown’s “Mr. Big,” Frank Chin — his one big power endorsement event of the day; next to Centre Street in Jamaica Plain; then briefly to his Roxbury HQ to greet workers; then to The mall of Roxbury to greet voters, and, finally to McDonald’s, where the staff and regulars held a meet and greet for him. And his day continues.

Connolly’s visits, especially to the Taishanese Association, also comport with poll findings. According thereto, Asian women count high among the remaining undecideds.

And so it goes. The citizen reformer standing (more or less) alone against entrenched power versus …entrenched power displaying its power, each man in search of demonstrating his message to voters still unsure of which message to trust, or to endorse.

Tomorrow we will find out.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ brilliant move : making Marty Walsh “the union guy” into a 40-position paper policy wonk

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As the Mayor campaign finally heads, exhausted, to the big day tomorrow, it might be time to take a look at the moves that each candidate has made that have gotten them — whichever man wins — to the winner’s circle. Because both Walsh and Connolly have done events in their campaign that stand out for boldness, brilliance, and value to the city.

Walsh : to me his truly brilliant move was to commission no less than forty (40) position papers and to engage the input of over 600 contributors (number comes from spokesperson Joyce Linehan) to their content. First, having so many detailed position papers and policy plans showed that “the union guy” wasn’t just a union guy; that he might actually see the bigger city and have some idea how to address its concerns. Second, those 600 contributors became fully invested, intellectually and emotionally in a campaign that had asked for, and received, their sincere input. that’s a lot of policy opinion leadership and very Mayoral. Whoever suggested this tactic is a master of campaign presentation.


^ the boldness of reform : John Connolly confronts head on the City’s most entrenched instititutional bureaucracy

Connolly : boldly challenging the City’s most entrenched institutional bureaucracy, its public schools, took huge risk. One never wants to set a huge city bureaucracy against oneself in a city election, because all its people will be sure to vote — against you, whereas you cannot be sure that those who want to change that bureaucracy will all vote FOR you. Yet Connolly did it. He confronted the public school institution directly, uncompromisingly, top to bottom, and personally set an example for what a teacher or principal should do ; and thus made himself the voice of reform generally, on many issues; and thus because the voice of all the new Boston interests that are rapidly re-making the central city — and rippling those changes out to the close-in neighborhoods as well.

Tomorrow we will find out which man’s most brilliant move tallies the bigger number.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ citizen action in a classic citizen campiagn ; john Connolly being blessed by the black Ministers’ Alliance three weeks ago

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As I look at where John Connolly’s campaign stands now, in contrast to Marty Walsh’s, the thought strikes me : these are last days of citizen action in Boston elections. No matter which man wins.

A true Citizen Movement — moms for school transformation — faces a vast army of interest groups, established powers, and institutional stubbornness. The candidate of Moms raised pretty fair money, but, until last week, when, faced with a sledge hammer of money opposite, he agreed to take his own “outside” money, he found himself confronted by an array of money scandalous in its immensity. This money array has not entered the vote arena out of any goodness of heart. It defends institutional hardball and, let it be said, ripens the thousands of people who staff the money-disgorging institutions which feel threatened by Citizen action.

It used to be, in America, that money had no place in elections; that its presence therein was considered scandalous, even criminal. Candidates shunned campaigning; it ws thought unseemly to stump and door-knock. The office sought the man, not vice versa. The common custom was that holding elective office was an honor and a duty, onerous and of necessity disinterested as much as possible. Obviously those days have long since vanished into bat belfry cobwebs.

Yet even once money came into politics — via Mark Hanna and his vast donation organization for William McKinley in 1896 — and even as the man began to seek the office, by Woodrow Wilson’s time at the latest — citizen action was still the driving force. Money paid for printing campaign lierature. it paid election day ward heelers. But money did not in that era invent interest groips, pay for think tanks, assemble voter profiles, control newspapers. Today money does all of these things.

Example : the Tea party, which would have been a very small, albeit extremely sulfuric, anger cult had not Freedom Works, the Koch Brothers, and the Heritage Foundation vacuumed millions of corporate dollars and spewed them out to the Tea party’s organizers. The Tea Party is fake citizen action. It gets all of its heft by way of media outlets (and their talk show charlatans) which exploit the Tea “movement” in order to generate advertising dollars. The entire thing is fraudulent, utterly bogus, a stain upon whatever honor remains in our political system.

Money endows the vast institutions of learning that have grown up in America ever since the 1862 Justin Morrill Act that created land grant state colleges. Money is the motive force behind the so-called churches whose talk-show host-type pastors have pushed so vociferously into our current politics. We like to think of academics and pastors as avatars of citizen action. They certainly were such in the Abolitionist movement and later in the 1890-1920 progressive era of social reform — the grand decades of true citizen reform action. Even then, of course, reform movements faced stubborn opposition; but with sledgehammer money absent from the fight, citizen action triumphed.

Not so today. At the Presidential level, Barack Obama trumped money institution oligarchy only because he represented a long prior citizen movement — civil rights — and was its climacric event. Once in office, however, Obama found himself blocked at every turn by fake ‘movements,” millionaired media, profit center “churches,’ and billionaired proganandists.

Here in Massachusetts, the cataclysmic US Senate race between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren was a fight between money movements and only money movements. Even with outside money excluded, the Warren campaign based itself in the theory that how voters in other states voted for Senator should dictate how Massachusetts voters voted. This was a radical parliament-arization of a system set up to be nothing of the kind ; it should have been shown the door ; yet it resonated, because in nation as drowned by institutional flood, it now really does matter to voters in Massachusetts what Senator voters in Oklahoma or Wisconsin vote for. It matters because there really are no longer any states with state-specific interests. There’s only nationwide pressure groups funded by billionaire money streams.

Senator Warren’s vote-getting operation also drew upon an NSA-like data bank in which every voter found him or herself identified, categorized, boxed, and labeled. This we will all now have to live with. It is nice for a campaign to try to identify its voters; that’s how one gets elected. But to maintain a data bank as invasive as Warren’s — and which has now found its way into the Walsh campaign — is an invasion of privacy every bit as intolerable as the snooping done by the NSA. Voter data as invasive as Warren’s does not come cheap. It is fueled by huge money,. It is said that Warren raised 52 million dollars to defeat Scott Brown. 52 million ! In one United states Senate race !

I call it corruption. Not of the old criminal kind, to be sure. But corruption indeed. Corruption of the very basis of our electoral system.

So now we come to the Walsh campaign. If it looks to you like a labor union, State House, developers and deal makers, local version of the Elizabeth Warren campaign, do not scratch your head : you see exactly what is. The Walsh campaign is the artillery of institutional power, the infantry of entrenched buddy buddy, and — almost now an after thought — a scout platoon of local labor unions : upon all of which veessel is found a beautifully carved bowsprit named Marty Walsh, a man with a laudable life story and a reputation for integtrity.

Competing against this huge ship of state with its gorgeous bowsprit, we find the good ship John Connolly. What is Connolly’s camapign but a throwback to the days, almost 100 years gone, of citizen action ? Of reform, of betterment ?

Watching — and liking — Connolly’s campaign I am struck by its historicity. It’s the kind of camapign that I, decrepit old as I am, studied 50-60 years ago in school : a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, it is. School moms want to dramatically reform the schools. Candidate wants to reform, even remake City Hall for a very different era. Candidate leads with passion and policy and decent but not obscene money. Moms in tennis shoes gather to help him.

This, dear reader, was what we of my day learned was citizenship.

We now see the result. The candidate of citizen action stands very much an underdog, while the candidate of institutional goniffs struts the streets as an over-dog.

I fully expect that even if John Connolly wins, he will, like Barack Obama since 2009, find himself and his citizen reformers blocked at every turn by immovable institutions employing tens of thousands of people hard-assing to defend their benefits, security, and control; by interest groups determined to chomp the city budget into morsels of pay raise; by the State House crowd, which has always wanted to dictate Boston’s governance; and by the money caches which in nasty secrecy are now pouring their mints into preventing the thing most dangerous to corrupt government : citizen action.

—- Michael Freedberg / here and Sphere


^ institutional high hand : Tom Keady, whom i knew way back when, and as sharp a political mind as I have met in my life, now Boston College’s Director of Development, said tyo be “the architect: of the Marty Walsh campaign.



^ to the levers of power : Mel King standing with Marty Walsh

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On Wednesday, Mel King, grand man of the Old Left, endorsed Marty Walsh for Mayor at a press conference in the South End. Joining him was former State Representative Royal Bolling, Jr, of Grove Hall, as well as Felix G. Arroyo and John F. Barros. All was friendly; all joined in a ring of hands as King declared that “I stand with Walsh” and “there’s a new rainbow coalition !” It was a moving scene. At age 85 King won’t have too many more such moments; but he is well entitled to this one. Thirty years ago he himself was in a Mayoral Final versus South Boston’s Ray Flynn…

Thirty years ago ! King’s history in Boston politics goes farther back than that. Like Walsh, he was a State Representative. Before that, he was a very vocal, confrontational activist, of a type then common, brought to prominence in the late 1960s by President Lyndon Johnson’s Anti-poverty program. There was lots of money in that program, and a great deal of community planning power — the Model Cities Program overlapped and abetted it — and King was at its center along with activists gentler and, it has to be said, more lastingly effective. Yet effective or not, King drew a following — devoted — on the Left and the Far Left, and this he kept intact, it following him into that 1983 Mayor election in which he lost badly, like Barry Goldwater an ideologue before his time.

Would it be too melodramatic to say that King’s time was yesterday’s press conference ? This was the not the first occasion that Mel King has endorsed a candidate from a constituency not close to his own — in 2009 he and Ray Flynn held a joint endorsement conference for Mike Flaherty; but that was a challenge to an entrenched incumbent, one whom King — and Flynn — both felt had overstayed his time or forgotten “the people.” This time King was endorsing in an open election : endorsing the candidate of established power. So the question presses for an answer : why did he do it ?

One is tempted to conclude that, as Walsh has successfully coalesced all the strands of Boston’s Labor Left, so King the Old Left icon simply joined the party — gave it his imprimatur, as it were. That’s the obvious answer. i think it’s the wrong answer.

For King, the Left is oratory. His objective has always been something else : get people of color to the levers of power. For King, the Left is a means to pry those levers away from the established forces. And Marty Walsh has finally been revealed, this week, not as “the union guy” (though he Is that) but as the quintessential levers of power candidate. The BRA insider candidate. The candidate of developers needing Building Trades union laborers, multi-million dollar money deals, zoning persuasiveness, and planning clout.

Thus the endorsement. The levers of power now reach out from Walsh to King and his fellow seekers of the elvers.

I do not mean to suggest that for King, union solidarity and power to the workers do not matter. They’re part of his life mission.

Prior to the Primary, King was closest to Charles Clemons, a radio station owner whose economic views aren’t much different from Herman Cain’s. King did not support Felix Arroyo — though 30 years ago he and Arroyo’s father Felix D. Arroyo were strong allies — nor did he support John Barros or Charlotte Golar-Richie. It is simple to figure out why : Clemons’s radio station is a lever of power. All media are levers of might. Barros, Arroyo, and Golar-Richie had none, or lesser such levers. Thus King’s support for Clemons, a candidate who was not going to get to the Final in any scenario. King seemed to be saying that he’d prefer to stand by a lever of power that he could count on rather than chance things with the other three.

The Primary proved his skepticism correct : none of the three made it into the Final. King was now free to choose a candidate on better odds : one of the finalists WOULD win. For an entire month he did not choose. But then came polls showing that the wind was blowing in the Walsh direction, and doing so because Walsh’s campaign was wielding goliath-an levers of Hulk power :
$ 2,400,000 — and counting — of special interest money is one hell of a power lever !

King’s choice was thus a simple one, and the man who made his reputation on confronting Irish politcians from the seaside Wards joined hands with one in a “new rainbow coalition.”

Keady beaming ... 10.30.13

^ high point of a thirty-plus year career in Irish Democratic Boston politics : Tom Keady praying that this is not just an illusion

And, symbol of the power levers thus levered, there was Walsh’s reported svengali, Tom Keady — now Boston college’s Director of Development, but long known to me from a time when, as a young political, he worked for then Speaker of the house Tip O’Neill, whose Congressional District included Keady’s home precinct in Brighton’s Ward 22.

Not for himself, at age 85, did King link to Walsh power.This was done, rather, for the next generation of King people. It was a gift from the Grand Old Man of “Arise Ye and take what is rightfully yours.” As such, it is likely to be a powerful endorsement, if it hasn’t come too late in the race in which the tide seems to have already turned..

— Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ gulping down face to face the nectar of Negative Punch : Marty Walsh vs. John Connolly

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A month ago I wrote that the Final campaign had to go negative. 65 % of those who voted on Primary day did not vote for either Walsh or Connolly; each, and certainly the winner, would get the big majority of his votes from people who did not want him.

Last night at Debate Number three we saw that negative, at the beginning and at the end. It bookmarked the debate. Clearly both men were determined to assure that, of two men not liked by most voters, his opponent would be liked less.

Walsh attacked Connolly as a “corporate lawyer” and for not doing anything as a City Councillor. “Name one thing you have done,” Walsh challenged. “Did you as a Councillor bring any jobs at all to Boston ?” Connolly had a strong answer to that. Three strong ones, in fact.

Connolly attacked Walsh far more cogently, or at least I thought so. He cited Walsh’s now infamous House Bill 2467, which would take away City Councils’ power to approve or turn down labor arbitrators’ awards, and, at the end of the debate, he noted that Walsh, as chairman of the House Ethics Committee, “took no action” – Walsh’s own words, when asked — despite “one legislator going to jail,” as Connolly noted.

Listening to this attack, Walsh’s face grew grim, his eyes grimmer. If looks could kill…but he did not lose his temper, did Walsh, although at the grimmest point he seemed about to. He is said to have a terrifying temper. We almost saw it.

His record is open to substantial question; but so far the voters do not seem to care about what he has been and done. They want to know what he is going to DO. And during the middle of the debate — really more a Forum, with questions being asked by the moderator, than an actual debate — Walsh talked on and on about his policy proposals, numerous proposals — almost a policy wonk. It was very effective, because what newly watching voter expected “the union guy” to talk in detail about parks, young violence, the BRA, enterprise, budgets, etc etc ? Walsh talked abut them all. He sounded like a Mayor.

Connolly sounded like an insurgent; a challenger; the underdog. It was a shrewd role for him to adopt, as he did the day before the debate on the wings of his internal poll showing the race tied 43 to 43. It was also shrewd because the Walsh campaign’s attacks on Connolly, fueled by huge money, mailings, and an army of union door-knockers, had succeeded in getting voters to care a lot about what, said Walsh, Connolly has been and not much at all about what he would DO as Mayor. At the debate, Connolly time and again had to reassert that he is a City Councillor with a strong record of accomplishment.

It is never good when, at a campaign’s final debate, the man who looks like the challenger has to fend off accusations from the man who looks like the incumbent. But in this case, the man who talks like the incumbent isn’t. He doesn’t have a record to defend. Thus Connolly was punching not a bag but a might-have-been.

Today we found out, at 1:00 PM, exactly what the debate portended : a new UMass Poll finds Walsh now leading Connolly 47 to 40; that people really do believe that Connolly is a corporate lawyer, not a City Councillor; and that Walsh represents the poor and middle class.

Connolly’s hope is knowing that that poll did not take into accoungt the strong questions that he raised at the third debate about Walsh’s record and connections. Unhappily for Connolly, the poll does take in Walsh’s very weak performance at the second debate. If voters watching that debate did not decide for Connolly,. how will they decide for him now, after Walsh’s best debate performance of the three ?

Connolly has six days to change voters’ perception, to get them thinking about Walsh’s status quo attitude, his army of one interest group, his base in the city’s most unreconstructed communities — hardly a home plate whence to hit a home run for the future city. Can Connolly do it ? It’;s all up to him at this point.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ a fighting reformer, a transformer even : John Connolly addresses supporters at last night’s Debate watch party at Merengue on Blue Hill Avenue

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As this year’s race for mayor of Boston approaches voting day, it has become ever clearer that we are beset by the grip of old politics. We must shake off this dead hand, and do it now. Old politics thrives in old institutions set up long ago to address long-ago challenges. unhappily, the institutional drag survives long after those challenges have been met, its vested interests a grievous obstacle to progress. Such is the case in Boston’s mayor race. It’s why the Marty Walsh campaign looms large as we head to voting day.

Old politics are a curse. We have seen how old, reactionary politics of the Tea party have almost devoured the GOP, rendered it practically useless to most Americans. In the same way, as we wrote over a month ago, the campaign for Mayor has split the Democratic party between Obama Democrats and the Left. That split has now become as clear as the hulk of Godzilla stalking a japanese movie.

We like President Obama because he speaks for the innovation society that is already here and for the rise of new leadership from it, leadership that now takes on the task of transforming our schools, careers, social connections, lifestyles.

This innovation politics has, however,m divided the Democratic party, just as the rise, a decade ago, of pragmatic conservatism split the GOP.

In Boston, the Marty Walsh campaign has made its pact with the Left and its money. Granted that it had no choice. Facing John Connolly, a quintessential Obama Democrat, Walsh by himself had the votes only of union households and the City’s oldest political community (and not even all of that). Thus his move, after the Primary, using his leadership position in Boston Organized labor to bring to his side politicians with large numbers of Union households in their Districts, and, at the same time, union money and door-knockers from everywhere.

Walsh’s army is motivated by people who dare not risk what they already have. But people cannot just cling to what they have or know, because the economic and social world is changing faster than a speeding bullet. It is upon us all, and all of us must begin to move even faster.

This entails some risk; but the risk of not innovating, re-imagining, everything — schools, work, careers, connections, entrepreneurship — is far far greater.

The new economy is much, much bigger than the Democratic Left’s constituencies. Union households comprise about 14 % of all workers. Most work coming into being today is not union-appropriate. The careers of today and tomorrow come in small business units, laboratories of innovation, connected by co-operative competition. They aren’t assembly line. They aren’t low-skill.

We agree that low skill work needs enactment of a living wage, so that people who work such jobs can participate fully in the economy — and so that we the public aren’t forced to subsidize slave wage employers who need EBT and welfare in order to survive because hey aren’t paid enough. But the minimum wage is a State Legislature matter, not a mayor’s.

The mayor of Boston has a different mission : to guide the innovation economy into being, including innovated schools, policing, health care, social connectedness and an end to social segregation.

This is John Connolly’s message. It’s why today we proudly confirm the endorsement we gave to Connolly on October 7th.

John Connolly’s open door message  means innovation supporters as well. One of the features we most applaud about the John Connolly campaign is the newness of his following, Few of Connolly’s people have any history at all in Boston politics. Some come from the Obama campaign, some too from Senator Warren’s, and, yes, some from (Republican) Paul Cellucci’s years. But by far the most are brand new to political combat, and most of these come from communities themselves new to the arena. this we like. Like it a Lot. The newer the better, in fact. Because that’s what America is, at its finest : new, new, tomorrow, a future goal. Morning in America, as Ronald Reagan put it.

Morning means change and the unexpected, even the unpredictable. Into this morning, the politics of the Left needs to step, together with the Obama Democrats whose agenda the Left now recoils from, ominously.

And finally, as a coda to our endorsement, let us add this : the Democratic party cannot be split. Today it’s the only feasible party of national government. It needs to hold together, in Boston and nationally, to direct the new economy, the new society. Until such time as the GOP returns to the field of common sense and forward, splitting the Democratic party, as the Left seems now intent on doing, really is playing with fire.

— Michael Freedberg, editor in chief / Here and Sphere



^ the underdog in South Boston with St rep Nick Collins and, on the left, a man whom you may recognize —  and his son.

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After weeks of leading in the polls for Mayor of Boston, John Connolly today anointed himself the underdog. He even had a poll to prove it. This morning he allowed the Globe to observe as he gave a talk to his finance committee in which he revealed that his campaign’s internal poll shows the race now tied, 43 to 43. This, after a Globe poll last week found Connolly leading 47 to 38 (with leaners assigned). Connolly declared that poll “an outlier’ and said that in fact another poll last week, showing him ahead only 41 to 39, was more accurate.

The release, by Connolly himself, of a poll so bad for him puzzled many. Walsh people gloated that he, the “candidate of working families,” as his spin doctors put it, “had huge momentum.” And doubtless the news of said poll invigorated the already vigorous Walsh door-knockers. So why, then, did Connolly make such a move ?

The answer should be obvious.

By assuming the position of underdog, Connolly gave himself three huge advantages :

1.People who had simply assumed that Connolly would be the next Mayor now had to think again; to contemplate — envision — confront — Walsh as Mayor, with all of its implications, many of them not good for the fisc. This is why Connolly has been gradually stressing — and is now emphasizing — his mastery of the City budget, ahead of his original stance as “the education Mayor.”

2.Given the mountain of big-pol endorsements given to Walsh in the past 16 days, and reports of a tidal wave of Labor Union money from all over, Connolly said something like, “OK, Marty, you ant to be the overdog ? Go right head, be the overdog.  by all means — be my guest !”

3.People like underdogs. They want the small guy to beat the big guy. If not, Sylvester Stallone would not be a multi millionaire today. (As I mention a lot, it is 1959 all over again; John F. Collins with few endorsers against John E. Powers with all of them. Collins won.)

Lastly, with their man now drawing the underdog card, Connolly’s workers can no longer be complacent. Their man is NOT going to coast to a ten-point victory. They will have to work for it — work hard and long and with the foul winds of desperation at their backs. Connolly’s voters too. They know they can’t stay home on election day.

This is the mindset you want your organization to have going into the last week before election day. You want your people committed to aee you win. Connolly as underdog is putting his people to that test. As well he should.

As for Walsh’s people, they need to know this, and I am sure that the smartest of them already knows it : Walsh has bet the farm on his winning.

If he does not do so, likely it is that there will never be another significant Mayor campaign from a base tribally Irish and Union labor. Walsh’s city is receding into history. Indeed, even if Connolly does not win, the society whence Walsh’s core support arises will dwindle and calcify as stony as the statue of Paul Revere in the North End. There already IS a new Boston. entirely new. It is fresh and exciting, open and flush with innovation. It can only grow, and pollenate and bloom, because there is no other way forward. This the Walsh people sense. They’re in  a race against time.  It’s why they have felt such heat, all campaign long, as Connolly seeks to apply to his people, now, with all the marbles anted in.

— Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ addition versus subtraction ? Politics at its most basic lesson

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My friend Dan Winslow, an insurgent, civil rights Republican to whose US Senate campaign I consulted before gearing up Here and Sphere, liked to say to me, “addition, not subtraction.” Every time I groused about our campaign finding favor with this or that constituency whose agenda or outlook I disagreed with, he would say it to me : “Addition, not subtraction.”

Winslow has since left the State Legislature — a huge loss for imaginative politics in Massachusetts and for a constructive GOP — but his observation remains so true. In our democracy of many, many communities, interests, and individuals, the successful campaign draws from many people different. More singly defined campaigns tend otherwise. There are so, so many voters; hardly any single interest can compass more than a small portion. It’s a losing situation in almost all cases. And once the “everybody else” begin to not see themselves within that single interest, the single interest campaign is cooked.

In this election, there is a single interest campaign almost feral in its singularity. Martin Walsh is a fine, fine man, and a hero of civil rights and personal struggle. By no means should any one disparage him. His friends follow him passionately : that says a whole lot. But as a candidate — on the large picture — he has defined single interest politics. He is a labor leader, labor unions are his career, his expertise, his theme, his following. Articulate he is — though not in debate — and, on many issues, extremely well informed. But everywhere he goes it is palpable that his goals are labor union goals. Labor union’s goals are not, however, everybody’s. Union labor comprises about 14 % of Boston voters. That is a mighty small minority. And the City’s wisest labor leaders know it. They know that if union labor is to advance it must join with other constituencies, other interests, and add to a coalition, not stand alone.

Marty Walsh has worked tirelessly in his campaign to attract other interests. He addresses arts issues, school issues, diversity, interfaith, even innovation; has commissioned 40 position papers, 37 of which his campaign reports are now written; has won to his side many politicians from Boston’s communities of color plus some State Legislators and two Boston Congressmen. Clearly he knows that without allies, his labor union following cannot win.

Walsh has bet the farm, that his outreach will not expose labor’s numerical weakness. This is to risk a lot.

He has allowed labor unions to become a major issue in this campaign; and that is bad for labor unions ; because labor unions aren’t exactly popular with most of the public, even in Massachusetts. Strikes send an unpleasant message of intimidation and intransigence. Take the school bus drivers’ walkout, for example. Yes, Walsh condemned it. But the impression made was not an untrue one. Everyone also remembers the Verizon strike, with its images of angry picketers and stories of vandalism. Nor have Boston’s public worker unions exactly made friends and influenced people. Arbitrators’ awards that risk the City’s finances and portend cuts in other City services make City unions look militantly selfish. Same too for the Boston Teachers’ Union (BTU), which so far refuses to accept that school transformation will happen and that it would be better to help forge it rather than doggedly resist it.

Walsh rejects none of it. How can he ?

Thus his campaign has put labor unions under public scrutiny, in all their stubbornness, their resistance to change, their adversary attitude to everybody else. The passion, the heavy-handedness, the rush of politicians to get with Walsh because they don’t want to break with labor — all of it has been a disaster for labor because it has engendered criticism of labor unions from people who would not have gone down that road, and because those criticisms have now become the common perception.

Labor actually emerges weaker from this campaign than had Walsh not become a candidate. As the respected leader of a powerful force in the city, Walsh had enormous influence. As a candidate, he has risked that influence upon a pitiless test : the judgment of the voters.

ALL the voters.

Meanwhile, John Connolly keeps on adding to his following the “everybody else” who are not members of City labor unions or followers of Walsh’s labor-allied office holders.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere


John C Marty W Roxbury

^ The Budget Master versus the Union Master : who will do a better job of untangling City union contracts ? (photo by Chris Lovett of BNN, posted at FB)

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Who knew that the labor contract concept of “pay parity” would become a defining issue in this year’s mayor campaign ? I doubt if many voters know even what “pay parity” is. I sure didn’t, and I’ve spent half a lifetime swimming in Boston city politics. Yet we DO know that negotiating contracts with the City’s public employee unions — some 33 of them, I think — is one of the Mayor’s top responsibilities; and the two finalists both come well equipped to master such negotiations. Marty Walsh is himself a labor leader, and John Connolly a master of the city’s budgets and finance. Thus the “can he negotiate a city worker contract ?” question would seem to be easily answered “Yes.” But it isn’t.

The question became hard to answer on the day, about three weeks ago, when the arbitrator deciding the new Boston Police Patrolmens’ Association contract announced a raise of 25.4% over six years. The City heard the news and went into emotional hemmhorage. $ 80,000,000 this award would cost ? And what now when the Fire Fighters Local 718 came to the table next year ? how much would they want ? After all, their last contract negotiation had gone past arbitration to rejection by the City Council and, finally, a raise that just barely missed forcing the City to close its libraries.

Dropping this bomb into the middle of a heavily populated Mayor campaign looked sure to affect the outcome. Suddenly everyone wanted to read Arbitrator Buckalew’s 1-page decision. In it we meet the concept of ‘pay parity.’

The decision does not explain how Buckalew applied the concept, but — I beg you bear with me — it goes like this : ( 1 ) most agree that Boston’s Police and Fire fighters should get something like pay parity ( 2 ) but do we apply parity to their base pay, or do we factor in their second job income ( 3 ) if we factor in the extra income of both groups, the award achieves pay parity : each union’s members earn 107,900 to 109,000 a year in total ( 4 ) but wait : the Fire fighters’ extra income isn’t from public employment, it’s from second jobs; whereas the Police extra income comes from overtime and details, most of it public payroll work ( 5 therefore it’s unfair to include the Fire Fighters’ second job income in calculating pay parity ( 6 ) but if you don’t, then the Police pay is almost 60% higher than what the Fire Fighters earn from public work.

You got that ? Read it again. Then cough.

A link to the Arbitrator’s Decision follows. i know that you cannot WAIT to read it, but just in case you do want to read it, here it is :

Click to access Scanned%20BPPA%20Award.pdf

Unhappily, the only mention of pay parity in the entire 11-page award is found on page one, in which the arbitrator awards a “one time parity adjustment” of $ 2000 payable on January 1, 2014. Other than that, he does not talk of parity, but simple math says that he based his parity award on base pay, not total pay. The 25.4% six-years of pay raises, too, build upon base pay. This seems fair enough — were it not that both the Fire fighters and the Police earn an average annual pay about 40,000.00 higher than base. By what justification do these two work groups merit pay raises much more generous than those granted the City’s other 30 unions (Boston Teachers Union not included) ? Given the outsize award, the certainty that the Fire fighters will next year demand their own base-pay parity adjustment, and the high degree of union activism in this year’s campaign, what avails the City’s voters but to expect a large attack upon City budgets and solvency ?

After all, Tom Menino, even with his 83 % approval rating assuring re-election every four years, could not halt the growth of Police and Fire fighter pay awards. How will a Mayor who depends utterly on union support do so ?

Still, why need it come to this ? There is another scale for determining workers’ pay ; pay equity. We apply it when measuring how workers in approximately equal jobs are to be equally paid. Can we not find a way to apply pay equity to the contract negotiations of Boston’s police and Fire fighters ? (not to mention the City’s other unions.) Fire fighting isn’t police work, and vice versa, but the two careers share much ; on duty, off duty; life-threatening work; calls upon a moment’s notice; working from district stations. Both careers require passing an exam. Both require skill in emergency response. It would be so much easier to settle both unions’ contracts in one negotiation applying pay equity. And more : the pay equity principle would, eventually, once the City’s tax revenue can fund it, bestow a needed raise upon workers in the unions not blessed as are the Police and Fire fighters.

But that would mean change — reform — thinking outside the box : a concept just about as foreign to Boston City governance as scientific evidence is to a Creationist.

This must change. City governance needs to be re-thought, and soon, because as the society it governs is changing rapidly, if city governance does not change, it will be an obstacle rather than an empowerment. Much of Boston governance already is an obstacle. That much has been made clear by at least half of the 12 Mayor hopefuls who competed in the Primary.

Which leads us to the question ; who can better untangle the City’s labor conundrums : the Union Master, Marty Walsh, or the Budget master, John Connolly ? Guess we will soon find out.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere