photo (7)

^ Mel King : says that his endorsement was prompted by the “young adults” of Right to the City,” whom he “encouraged to do this analysis” of “its questionnaire to both candidates.”

—- —- —-

A letter from Mel King in today’s Boston Globe prompts me to write a column about Marty Walsh’s impending Mayoralty that I was already thinking about. In his letter, King — the Grand Old man of street-theater activism, decades before Occupy — says :

“A group called Right To the City, composed of various organizations working on access to affordable housing, good jobs, quality education, and sustainable community development, seeks to enable a cross section of racial, ethic, and income groups to remain and participate in all aspects of Boston.’

The letter continues : “The group’s members, a new rainbow coalition, are in the forefront of such issues as foreclosure blockades to protect people’s homes, stopping no-fault tenant evictions, and fighting alongside unions for construction jobs.”

This letter fascinates me. It raises all sorts of questions :

1.The second quote sums up the organization City Life/Vida Urbana, of which Steve Meacham, a man very close to both Felix Arroyo’s, is the justly respected spokesperson. Vida Urbana does all but one (that, see below) of the things cited in that quote. Yet in the Primary, when it most mattered, King did not back Felix G. Arroyo. He was closest to Charles Clemons, a man of almost Republican economic views, and to Clemons’s major supporters — all of whom ended up supporting John Connolly.

2.The first quote mentions affordable housing initiatives as one of Right To the City’s priorities. Did King not know — does he not YET know ? — that one of John Connolly’s primary endorsers, State Representative Jay Livingstone, filed and shepherded a $ 1.4 billion affordable housing bond bill that Governor Patrick signed into law just last week ? Later in his letter King says that “the group felt that Walsh was more responsive to its concerns.” Not true of the affordable housing issue.

3.King then says, “Having encouraged these young adults to do this analysis, I joined with them.” King then talks about watching Walsh, at several rallies : “I saw evidence of ways Walsh’s campaign included people.” True enough; but did King not manage to see a few of John Connolly’s rallies ? If not, why not ? It would be fascinating to know what inclusion King did NOT see at the Connolly rallies.

These questions merit answering. Can I start with the one thing, in King’s quote, that City Life does NOT do :  “…fighting alongside unions for construction jobs” ?

These seven words express the reason why King finally joined a group comprised chiefly of Felix G. Arroyo people, to endorse a man about whom this most original of Boston citizens had nothing original to say…

Construction jobs and unions were Walsh’s cliche. The Construction Chief’s campaign piled forty stories of Mayor-initiative atop that cliche, space well built and beautifully appointed by 600 architects of policy hired for the job. The cliche is what King clings to.

Time is coming soon now when that policy building will have to be built. Will it be ? CAN it be ?

Walsh is hemmed in by his union support even more than he is empowered by it. If he favors his unions supporters too obviously, he will hand a perfect “See ? we told you so” issue to a 2017 opponent. If he cracks at the next City union contract crunch time… or, if he pushes back against the City unions, as he did against the school bus drivers… If he proceeds with the infamous House Bill 2467…or if that bill is never heard from again : whichever way Walsh chooses, either the opposition will gain or his supporters will complain. Which is it to be ?

Implementing even a fraction of the 40 policy initiatives that his campaign crafted and published will require intricate management. Compromise and collaboration won’t suffice. Every one of Walsh’s policy proposals shifts the job descriptions of those who will have to carry them out. City employees, like union workers, resist work rule changes. gho will assure that the city employees tasked to carry out Walsh’s initiatives will comply ? Will feel enthusiastic about it ?

Enter, perhaps, some of those business, university, and Union partnerships that Walsh talked of during the campaign.

And then comes the Boston Public Schools, which, according to State evaluation, appear able to educate properly barely half their students.

Easier for Walsh will be what he is already masterful at, with long partnerships in place : continuing the Boston building boom. And ramping it up. The Building trades people and the developers who accord them a living can expect to work the BRA a lot more invitingly than they did under Mayor Menino. City hall plaza — a good idea, if rather impracticable — and hotels galore, new school buildings, Downtown Crossing, Dudley Square, Jackson Square — and more. The next few years will surely be a field day for Boston construction. Probably, also, for workers from the City’s communities of color, whose entry into the Building trades Walsh has long sought, with less success than he would like.

This is one deal that Walsh can definitely close.

It seems, however, that Walsh and his team want to say and do everything they can to distract the voters’ attention from this deal. The Walsh Mayoralty, in their talk and print, puts on an ear-ful of masquerade. Is there a reason why the Walsh team so gilds their developer-deal lily ? Certainly it’s not that building trades jobs are a bad thing. They’re very much a good thing. Then what IS it that they are cos-playing about ? Do I sense a price tag dressed in domino in the background ? (Yes, I am thinking Venice here — an echo only, since we won’t be getting a Venetian casino, sigh.) Perhaps when we find out who the “One Boston PAC” is — the half-million bucks that Joce Hutt is harlequin-ing for — we’ll find out who is carnivalling in Walsh’s political pasquinade.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ New Boston versus a revolutionary “old Boston’ alliance : breakdown of Tuesday’s vote by WBUR

—-      —-      —-

Thanks to the superb interactive map posted by WBUR, my final article about the Boston mayor race that elected Marty Walsh two days ago is made simple. All of my readers should look at the WBUR map and study it. The whole story is in it.

But now to my final thoughts :

1.Marty Walsh achieved office by revolutionizing Boston’s political alliances.

Always heretofore, Boston’s communities of color had voted in alliance with the City’s patrician, high minded, urban reformers, based historically in Beacon Hill, Bay Village, and the Back Bay. This alliance was the core of the old Republican party grounded in Abolition, a GOP that has just about vanished from the scene. It had, until Tuesday, lived on strongly in Boston city politics, even though now entirely within the Democratic party, at least since the 2000 election.

Walsh succeeded at breaking this alliance. Though he won almost no votes among high minded urban reformers — Ward 5 (Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Bay Village) was his worst in the City, worse for him even than John Connolly’s home ward — Walsh won the City’s Wards of color decisively, every single one of them. (I can, in fact, find only one majority black precinct that Connolly carried : Fort Hill in Roxbury).

Never before in a city election had Boston’s wards of color voted with the City’s “old Irish’ wards of which Walsh is the epitome. An abyss of contention divided the two communities. To win one was almost to guarantee losing the other. Attempts were made; but none succeeded as did Walsh’s work. The divide transcended party. Walsh’s base is the most Republican-voting part of Boston, the wards of color the most Democratic. Yet on Tuesday the two areas joined up to give Walsh his unprecedented win.

Of course the Republican votes of today’s South Boston and “Irish” Dorchester are completely different from the Republican votes of forty, sixty, 100 years ago. This is pro-life, socially conservative Republicanism, not Abolition and high-minded reform. And of course, the voters of color who moved their wards to Walsh aren’t the old, high-minded, enterprising, church-based descendants of Abolition and reform; they are union workers and those who seek to be. And of course, that is the connection : it was union labor politics that has brought the two communities together — an achievement that Marty Walsh can claim as his unique contribution. I seriously doubt that any other labor union politician could have done it. None is trusted as profoundly as is Walsh, both within union politics and without.

2. High-minded urban reform is far from defeated; indeed, it is Boston’s fastest growing political movement.

Led by John Connolly, who practically created the new version of it by his campaign, high-minded, urban reform all but captured City hall on its first try. The movement forged a base more solid than even Walsh’s and moved to its side one part — Charlestown — of the old “Irish” Boston that would have once been Walsh’s for the taking. And in fact, though a smaller achievement numerically than Walsh’s, the move of Charlestown into the urban reform camp proved just as formidable. Only Ward 5 and one other ward of the City produced a larger percentage increase in voter turnout from the primary. (More about that ward later.)

The new urban reform movement — “NURM,” let us call it — with its agenda of school transformation, enterprise innovation, bicycles and parks, public safety, and the importance of listening to those who are crying out — has firmly taken hold of all of the Downtown core of Boston : ( 1 ) Chinatown ( 2 ) the Waterfront (3) the Seaport (4) the North End (5) all of the South End, including its extension beyond Massachusetts Avenue into what used to be called “Lower Roxbury” and (6) all of Ward 5. And, as I said, Charlestown too.

Add to this the half of East Boston from Day Square to the Harbor; Jamaica Plain west of the Orange Line; Allston and almost all of Brighton; and a strong majority of West Roxbury and a smaller but still majority of Roslindale, and you have a significant voting bloc. And please note : NURM Boston is growing, while the areas in Marty Walsh’s coalition are receding. Case in point : that Fort Hill precinct. Roxbury is changing. it is becoming more entrepreneurial, racially mixed, socially connected to itself. Four years from now — eight, twelve — much of Roxbury will be voting with the South End. The same can be said of South Boston. From primary to final, John Connolly improved his percentage of the vote in the South Boston precincts closer to the Seaport. Four to 12 years from now much of South Boston will be voting like the Seaport, not against it.

Entrepreneurs both white and Black were the vanguard of John Connolly’s urban reform voting bloc. They weren’t just donors to his funds. They took leadership roles on the front lines of getting votes. from Greg Selkoe to Darryl Settles, Clayton Turnbull to BostInno, Akrobatik to Phil Frattaroli, business innovators fought and often won the battle, in a way that I had not seen since the late 1960s.

Their numbers will grow. I suspect too that so will their front line activism.


^ the Hyde park part of ward 18 : where the Connolly campaign was beaten

3. Ward 18 proved decisive, although it needn’t have.

The Connolly campaign got out-manoeuvered badly in ward 18 — 75,000 people, the largest ward in the City : all of Hyde Park and Mattapan and a part of Roslindale — and ended up losing every one of its 23 precincts.

Granted that none of Ward 18 is “new Boston” in any way, it was not at all assured to Marty Walsh.

Connolly’s problems in the ward began early. Because he announced his campaign while it still looked as if Tom Menino — who lives in ward 18 and was once its District Councillor — would run again, Connolly accorded the ward a lesser priority. Then, when Menino announced that he would not be running again, the area’s current Councillor, Rob Consalvo, stepped up. In the final, the area’s State Representative, Angelo Scaccia, endorsed Marty Walsh, along with several other local political leaders. And John Connolly ? He concentrated his effort so aggressively on the wards of color that, somehow, the power part of Ward 18 got back-burnered.

It should never have been thus. How can you plan to run for Mayor, even against a ward 18 man, and not assemble a ward 18 team early on ? Angelo Scaccia is not all-conquering. He has had many very close elections in his long career. So yes, you talk to Chris Donato, who almost defeated Scaccia not too many years ago. And yes, you pay a visit to Pat Tierney up on Fairmount Hill; you ask if her famous actress daughter Maura Tierney will consider doing a video in support of you. You go to Maureen Costello, Jack Scully, Paul Loconte, Bill Sinnott, Brad White, John Grady, Bill Broderick Jr., Tony Ferzoco, Al Thomas, Tim Lowney, Donny at the Bowling Alley, Joseph Pulgini (who ended up with Walsh, early too) — all whom I respected back in the day; probably I am missing many — and you say, “OK, I understand that you might not be with me if Tom runs but if he doesn’t run, are you with me ?” You do it early and you do it aggressively. And maybe many of the people I have named don’t join you; but some will. So, you build a team in the City’s largest Ward and you keep on building it.

John Connolly may have done some or even all of the above. But I saw no evidence of it. Connolly did, after the Primary, bring to his side Dave Vittorini, Councillor Consalvo’s aide; and Vittorini knows tons of people; but this was the Charlotte Golar-Richie situation all over again : the candidate’s workers went to Connolly, but the candidate him or herself either went to Walsh or stayed neutral.

Little wonder that Vittorini’s efforts were not at all enough to dent Marty Walsh’s Ward 18 campaign. Walsh brought Congressman Mike Capuano all the way from Somerville to Hyde Park to do his endorsement press conference. The Ward’s many BTU people — who loved Consalvo’s “the BTU agenda is my agenda” message — chose Walsh, of course. Thus it came about that on Tuesday Marty Walsh won ward 18 by at least 12 points. Won every precinct of it.

And now to the casino vote. Ward 1 — East Boston — almost doubled its primary vote total as 7324 voters cast casino yea or nay ballots. The nays had it. How was this possible ? How did a majority of people vote against jobs and money ? Who organized and paid for the “no casino’ campaign ?

The answer should be as obvious as the bad breath of a wino. Steve Wynn did it. I have no proof; nor do I need any. It was hugely in Wynn’s interest not to have a possible contending casino applicant right next door to his planned Everett casino — overwhelmingly approved by Everett voters. It would be malpractice for Wynn NOT to fund a “no casino” campaign in East Boston and, I have no doubt, to promise its organizers that there will be lots of juicy jobs in his Everett casino if the East Boston vote went to the “no” side. As it did.

Tuesday was a very very good day for Steve Wynn. Very good indeed.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ Boston’s new Mayor : Marty Walsh of Dorchester

—-      —-      —-

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

—-      —-      —-

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

—-      —-      —-

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.


Yesterday I posted our endorsements for Boston’s four at-Large Council seats. There was some push-back. Folks evidently do not grasp our method or else disagree that we should use it. The disagreement I can handle : these are our endorsements, so be it. as for comprehending, I will lay out my criteria once more :

1. We insist that a Councillor be independent of the Mayor, even in opposition to him. The Council has little enough power as it is. What good is a Councillor almost powerless if he or she does not stand free of the Mayor and criticize his agenda when it deserves criticism ?
2. We also want an at-large Councillor to demonstrate as much city-wide support as he or she can manage.
3. A Councillor should OF COURSE demonstrate knowledge of the main issues and be able to address them in speeches and on paper.
The above are all the criteria I have used in giving our endorsements. Simple.
On these criteria, there are three candidates who merit Here and Sphere’s unqualified endorsement. I also list their “score” on the two criteria on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest :

photo (10)

1. Jack Kelly.  Independence of Connolly : 4 Independence of Walsh : 3 City-wide support : 4 ability to address issues : 4
Total score : 15

photo (10)

2. Mike Flaherty : Independence of Connolly : 3 Independence of Walsh : 4 City wide support : 5 Ability to address issues : 5
Total score : 17

photo (9)

3. Ayanna Pressley : Independence of Connolly : 2 Independence of Walsh : 4 City wide support : 5 ability to address issues : 4.5
Total score : 15.5

Four of the five other candidates merit our endorsement, but a qualified one due to their perceived closeness to one or the other Mayor candidates or a lesser city-wide support than we see in the above three :

4. Marty Keogh : independence of Connolly : 4 Independence of Walsh : 1 City-wide support : 3 ability to address issues : 4
Total score : 12
5. Michelle Wu : Independence of Connolly : 2 independence of Walsh : 4 City-wide support : 5 ability to address issues : 3
Total score : 14
6. Annissa Essaibi George : independence of Connolly : 5 Independence of Walsh : 1 City-wide support : 3.5 ability to address issues : 3.5
Total score : 13
7. Jeff Ross : independence of Connolly : 2 Independence of Walsh : 4 City-wide support : 4 ability to address issues : 3.5
Total score 13.5

You will notice that we make no mention of Stephen Murphy. This is not to disparage Stephen, who has been a personal friend of this writer for many, many years. My reasons for leaving Stephen off the list are two : ( 1 ) I think that his best work — connecting “new Boston” constituencies to “traditional” Boston — is accomplished ; and ( 2 ) Steve was hardly a profile in boldness once the arbitrator’s BPPA award was brought back to the City Council for approval or disapproval. Steve : ya gotta lead, buddy !

OK, so there you have it : our Council endorsements. Now go ye and vote as ye think best.

— 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