BOSTON MAYOR : MANAGEMENT IS THE MESSAGE

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

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

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

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

(to learn more about Daniel Koh, follow this link to his Huff post bio : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-koh/ )

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

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

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

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

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

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

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

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

#BOSPOLI : A SILLY KERFUFFLE

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^ a Councillor, not a Don Quixote ; Michelle Wu (with Philip Frattaroli and Marty Keogh at the Frattaroli family’s post-Columbus Day Parade reception

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There’s much flap going around now,as silly a brouhaha as I’ve observed in this entire Boston campaign cycle, including an op-ed by my old Boston Phoenix colleague Yvonne Abraham, to the effect that Councillor-elect Michelle Wu shouldn’t vote for Bill Linehan as the new Council President.. Supposedly she should vote for a Councillor who “shares her agenda.” Today’s Globe quotes several persons, described as “progressives,’ who promise not to support Wu for re-election if she votes for Linehan. This is zealotry of the Tea Party kind, to which the Left, as we’ve seen in the past, is hardly immune. One quoted voice even says that “Unless (Wu) changes her mind…she’s a one-term city councillor.”

This is rubbish. It’s also as silly as a political kerfuffle can be. Boston’;s City Council has no power that the mayor doesn’t want it to have. It can propose, it can debate, it can re-arrange the musical chairs by which Council Committee chairmen are chosen; but it can’t do a damned thing of significant importance without the Mayor thumbing up.

Sure, individual Councillors can have an independent impact, if they’re willing to get frozen out by the Mayor. John Connolly pursued an independent course. Others have done so. But when the chips are on the table, and the Mayor’s agenda is at stake, you will no more find a majority of the 13 Councillors opposing than you’ll find a sting ray in your briefcase on Christmas eve.

So what’s the big deal here ? Let’s try a little political reality, for a change, and lose the ideological version of cgi-created film monsters.

The rule governing voting for Council President has long been : “vote for the weakest.”

In this case ( 1 ) Bill Linehan is no threat to run for Mayor against Marty Walsh ( 2 ) ramping up either Tito Jackson or Matt O’Malley to Council President — both of whom want the honorific — would be a threat and ( 3 ) ramping either man up to Council President would impede the 2017 (or 2021) mayor race plans of the REAL potential candidate of significance. (It’s Jackson’s and O’Malley’s very strength as Councillors that make them musts-to-avoid as Council President. Get my meaning ?)

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^ Matt O’Malley of Council District 6 : his record-breaking vote makes him unelectable as a Council President

Most important, Linehan has no base at all independent of Mayor-elect Walsh’s core support and thus has no power to oppose him on any item of import.

THAT is how Council Presidents are chosen. Stupid indeed is the newly elected Councillor who bucks that reality; and Michelle Wu is far from stupid. I applaud her acumen in this matter.

As for being re-elected, Wu’s husband notes that even if you subtract her entire vote from wards 4, 5, 11, and 19 she still won by 14,000 votes. This is an apt subtraction, because 2015 will be a Council-only election, and in these, the voters of Wards 4, 5, and 11 turn out far fewer voters than they do in a Mayoral election. Wu’s re-election will be decided in Wards 20, 18, 2, 16, and 17, and of course also in Chinatown’s Ward 3 Precinct 7. All of these feature constituencies very different from the wards identified with Tea Party Leftism or comfortable urban reform. And you know what else ? Wards 4, 5, 11, and 19 contain plenty of voters who aren’t Tea-Left. Of the 15,000 or so voters who will likely turn out in 2015 in those four wards, Wu will comfortably win at least one-third — probably more. She may slip from second to third or even fourth (though I doubt that); but re-elected she surely will be, assuming that she does the job of city-wide Councillor in painstaking daily detail. Which I have no doubt at all she will do.

— Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere