Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tuesday Will Be Huge: Endorsements

Smearing the ovals is always important and even more so November 5, 2013. Obviously for Bostonians, choosing a new Mayor will likely set the new tone and agenda for 12, maybe even 20, years.

The City Council composition will change more than it has in memory. Going beyond the strong-Mayor/weak-Council cliché, we need only look at how much the Council has done beyond its statutory budget-approval power. We expect and demand much more than replacing toppled stop signs from the crew of 13.

This time, with four Councilors not running for reelection because they ran exclusively for Mayor, the change will be dramatic. I confess that I regret that Arroyo, Consalvo, Ross, and Connolly will be gone. Each has been active and brought his own visions and schemes.

I sometimes make light of their grandiloquent claims of being legislators. The archaic MA Home Rule system means that all municipalities here, even the biggest one, have to beg the commonwealth for any changes in governance and any plan to raise revenue. Yet if you look through the résumés on the Councilor pages at, you can see what each has accomplished. It's impressive and a good reason to consider Councilor votes carefully.

Only one district Councilor (Frank Baker in D3) is unopposed. The other incumbents should win reelection easily...except for do-nothing Bill Linehan (D2). There, Suzanne Lee, who almost unseated him two years ago and lost by only 97 votes, has a great chance of winning.

I'm not in that district and maybe shouldn't comment. She's a great progressive with a solid platform. Were I in D2, I'd vote for her.

Where I can vote is in my D5, for at-large Councilors and for Mayor.

  • District 5 Council. My preferred candidate, Mimi Turchinetz, just missed the runoff. Neither remaining, Tim McCarthy or Jean-Claude Sanon, excites me. Rob Consalvo was great on both constituent services and implementing improvements. I can't see either of the two coming to his level. However, McCarthy at least has done the services job for the Mayor for years. So he has the slight edge here. 
  • At-Large Council. You can pick up to four out of eight running. Two existing ones definitely need to return. Steve Murphy is the one all Councilors turn to with the can-we-afford-that questions. He knows money. Plus, he's been a worthy Council President for the past three years, keeping everyone on track and making sure the key discussions and votes happen. Ayanna Pressley is a strong social activist, particularly on issues for women and girls, including violence. Then I urge turning to, if you pardon that overworked term, new blood. Michell Wu has specific planks for jobs, education and safety and good credentials already. and Jeff Ross is a youngish lawyer with big social visions, oh, and he's comfortable saying he'd be the first openly gay Councilor. He'd be a good addition to help keep the Council acting for the right reasons as well as toward the right goals. We can't have too much of that. 

The Big One

Mayor. I wish I had the perfect candidate, someone I could get as excited about as Elizabeth Warren for US Senate. At least along with my research, stump-speech visits, and forum and debate attending and watching, I had the benefit of talking with both Marty Walsh and John Connolly at Left Ahead. In fact, I held off until the recent chats to make a final decision. Both are liberal-to-progressive sorts with good positions on nearly everything. Either should be a good Mayor.

Neither is a great orator (although Connolly has an edge in public speaking) nor a charismatic presence. Of course, our beloved Mayor Thomas Michael Menino was not and is not, not when running for D5 Council nor for Mayor. He both won again and again and again, and has done a fine job.

I ended up deciding to go with John Connolly for several key factors. Emotionally, I have been appalled at the calumnies against him, even at lefty joints I frequent, like BlueMassGroup. Five or six folk who post diaries or comments there have pounded him for months, with often false and even paranoid slanders. For example, he has long said and written that he was a former teacher for serving as such two years at a Jesuit middle school in NYC and the one year at a charter school back here. The anti-Connolly types repeated the lies that he claimed to be a career teacher and was thus a fraud. Instead, he said that those three years made such an impression that he has worked to improve schools for all and eagerly took on the arduous duties of the Council's education committee for four years. They, and amusingly enough those who comment on the Boston Herald site, also love the loony rap about his surely, absolutely (but without any evidence) brief career at Ropes & Gray as proof of something nefarious and terrible. In fact, his two-plus years there had him as a junior, a newbie, who really didn't get connected to big shots and others the slanderers irrationally hold that somehow must have happened. They have him as a 15-year "corporate lawyer," as a mark of shame. Both the time and duties are false. Also, his irresponsible accusers take him to task for "privilege," as in attending private prep school in Boston (even though Walsh did too), having graduated from Harvard and getting a BC law degree. By any local standards, all those things are traditionally virtues and suggest competence and smarts. Trying to twist them into insults is beyond silly.

Finally for Walsh, I really only have one serious problem with him and he hasn't been at all helpful here. He's had a life as a union leader, getting into it as naturally via his father as Connolly did via his Secretary of the Commonwealth dad. He's made many hundreds of thousands from union pol positions. I have been a union member and support unions strongly. However, Walsh's trust-me attitude sucks. He has tried repeatedly to get Beacon Hill to pass legislation that would mandate arbitration rulings on municipalities, as in taking away budget approval power from the Boston City Council. His response to questions about this, as in the recent Boston Police Patrolmen's award was to trust him. Trust him that the contracts would never get to an arbiter. Trust him that he'd be so on top of union issues that he'd work out a deal before a crisis. I can't do that. I've seen and known far too many politicians for far too long to accept just trust me. (I think of the POTUS an his spying and drones crap. I don't trust him on either.)

It is not a begrudging endorsement of Connolly. I ate their platforms repeatedly in the many ways they served them to me. Connolly has the edge on vision and path to his goals.

The Picks

  • Mayor John R. Connolly
  • At-LargeStephen J. Murphy, Ayanna S. Pressley, Michelle Wu, Jeffrey Michael Ross
  • D5 CouncilTimothy P. McCarthy

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