Election Day in Boston: Will the unions rule?

Since my pick for Mayor, Charlotte Golar Richie is not in the final, I will vote for Marty Walsh.  Some of the reasons are in Kevin Cullen’s column in today’s Boston Globe.  [Warning:  This is a subscriber link so I will quote more of it than I normally would.]

Mercifully, the campaign for mayor of Boston is over, and while I have no idea who will emerge the winner at the polls, I am quite certain who lost most in this race: union workers.

If there was a message, both explicit and subliminal, in all the debates and some of the news coverage, it’s that the city’s unions and unions in general are peopled by greedy, unreasonable, insatiable Bolsheviks who would gladly make Boston go the way of Detroit as long as they can get Bunker Hill Day off.

Funny, but I don’t know union workers who think like that, but then I’m in the tank.

My father was able to raise a family, and my mother was able to be a stay-at-home mom, because he belonged to a union. I belong to a union, and at one point, for reasons that remain a mystery, was elected president of the editorial workers at the Boston Herald back when Ronald Reagan became the darling of free marketeers everywhere by busting up the air traffic controllers union.

I grew up in a union household.  We were taught not to cross picket lines.  I joined SEIU 888 when I had the opportunity and helped negotiate one contract with the City of Boston.  I’m with Kevin.

With all due respect to Tommy Nee from the patrolman’s association and Richie Paris of Local 718 of the firefighters, if they think they had it hard with Tommy Menino’s minions, try negotiating a contract with the union-busting lawyers Rupert Murdoch flew in and sicced on us at Herald Square back in the day. I was just a kid and naively suggested to one of those Armani-clad lawyers my earnest wish that we could agree to add a dental plan because many of my members didn’t earn enough to get their cavities filled. He looked down his glasses at me and sniffed, “Maybe they should get a second job.”

That’s exactly the attitude of McDonald’s and Walmart and any number of corporations that pay their leaders millions and their workers so little that they have to get a second job or, in many cases, file for government assistance. Taxpayers subsidize corporations that pay their people off in the dark.

“Look,” Tommy Nee was saying, “unions built this country. They built this city. And right now union members make up a big chunk of the middle class in Boston. But they are stereotyped and disparaged in a way that would be considered deeply unfair if you were talking about any other group.”

I’m not sure that people know that if you work for the City you have to live in the City for at least the first ten years of your employment, but if you are priced out of the housing market, it can get tough.

The Globe and the Herald editorial pages can’t agree on what time it is, but they agree on the danger of electing a mayor who is a union activist.

It’s perfectly legitimate to ask if Marty Walsh would be beholden to unions, especially given the amount of money that unions have given his campaign, but both candidates should have been asked just as often if they’d be beholden to developers or law firms or any number of other monied interests.

The emphasis on the threat that unions pose to the future of the city left many union workers wishing they were only half as powerful as their critics believe them to be.

Martin J. Walsh at a Central Boston Elder Services meeting Thursday in Roxbury,

Martin J. Walsh at a Central Boston Elder Services meeting Thursday in Roxbury,

But I’m not just voting for Walsh because he is a union man.  I like his proposal to re-do the Boston Redevelopment Authority and what he has said about changes to education. There is also evidence from his time in the state legislature that he knows how to built coalitions.

I don’t know if Walsh can win, but I think he is the best man to make changes that will transition the City from the Menino Era.

Photograph:  Jessica Rinaldi For The Boston Globe

Boston’s Ward 11, Precinct 1 and the next Mayor

I haven’t posted for a while for a couple of reasons:  first I was depressed by the sameness of the news and second, I had to travel to a memorial service for an uncle who passed away at 91.  But before I left town, I voted in the preliminary election for the next mayor of Boston.  Unfortunately, my preferred candidate, Charlotte Golar Richie, finished third.  The top two who will face off in November are both Irish men leading some to lament that Boston has made no progress even though it is a majority minority city.  That is true, but both Marty Walsh and John Connolly are good progressives so it isn’t all bad.  The issue for both of them will be to expand out of their normal voter bases.  This may be easier for Connolly who had votes from more parts of the City.

The Boston Sunday Globe ran an interesting story on the front page this morning about my precinct.  I know it well having represented it on the Democratic Ward Committee for a number of years and having, over the last 19 years, canvassed every house at one time or another.  11/1 is an example of a precinct in which neither Walsh or Connolly did very well

Tucked away in a quiet corner of Roxbury, the Highland Park section of Fort Hill is lined with stately brownstones, rambling gardens, and campaign signs showing political allegiances as diverse as the neighborhood’s population. Fences and yard signs still advertise support for an array of unsuccessful mayoral candidates, including Charlotte Golar Richie, John Barros, and City Councilors Mike Ross and Felix G. Arroyo.

What united voters here in last week’s preliminary election was not a shared loyalty to one candidate, but a collective aversion to two — the eventual winners. Eighty-eight percent of voters in this progressive precinct backed someone other than state Representative Martin J. Walsh or Councilor at Large John R. Connolly. Located within the broad swath of Boston’s inner city where neither finalist claimed victory, Fort Hill is among the voting precincts where they had their weakest showings. Of 261 votes cast for mayor in this precinct last week, only four went to Walsh.

There are 5 adults living in my building and we had 3 yard signs:  Rob Consalvo, Charles Yancey and Charlotte Golar Richie.

Voters in Ward 11/1

Voters in Ward 11/1

Ward 11 is a pretty well racially integrated neighborhood with a high rate of owner occupancy even in the 2 family homes with rental units.

A white female neighbor, who declined to give her name, said she had voted for Golar Richie, the only woman in the race, who would have been the city’s first female mayor and first black mayor. Now, she said, “I have to decide who’s less offensive.”

That attitude itself is offensive to voters like Valerie Madden, a Connolly volunteer who had tried to get her neighbors here to rally around Connolly’s campaign.

“People would tell me frankly, ‘I like him. He’s a good candidate. But I’m not going to vote for him because he’s white,’ ” Madden said.

Madden, who is white, and whose husband is biracial, said she didn’t have the “bandwidth to chide my neighbors because I know that where they’re coming from is a place of good intentions.”

I read this as wanting to elect a mayor who is not white, not as not wanting for vote for someone white.  The precinct votes overwhelmingly for our congressman who is white, for Senators Warren and Markey and voted in large numbers for the current Mayor who is also white.  But I do understand Valerie’s frustration.  She started working for Connolly before Mayor Menino announced his retirement.

Looking at the vote totals, Charlotte took the precinct by a wide margin while finishing third overall.  It will be interesting to see who, if anyone she endorses.  If I were Connolly or Walsh, I would be seeking her help.  I’m disappointed, but console myself with the thought that we are in a time of transition.  With Tom Menino having been mayor for 20 years, who knows if the next mayor will be long tenured or serve a single term as the City gets accustomed to a mayor not named Menino.

Vote distribution in 11/1.

Vote distribution in 11/1.

The daughters of Nancy Pelosi

I’ve always thought Nancy Pelosi was one tough woman.  She would never have allowed her caucus to do to her what is happening to John Boehner and she knows how to count her votes.  I remember watching C-SPAN during the votes for health care – that was a cliff hanger – but I knew that before it came to the follower Speaker Pelosi had counted her votes.  Maybe it would be close, but it would pass.  I don’t know if she will want to stick around long enough for the Democrats to take back the majority again, but she has women coming up behind her.  I’m not talking members of Congress here like Patty Murray and Tammy Duckworth,  to name only two of many, but at the state and local level.

I was reminded of this by a story in the Daily Beast yesterday.    What first caught my eye was that one of the pictures is of my former boss and current Boston Mayoral candidate, Charlotte Golar Richie.

Dem WomenCharlotte is in the upper left.

The story by Patricia Murphy begins

They’re fierce, they’re fearless, and they’re shaking up races and state houses across the country. Meet the new breed of Democratic women who make no apologies for themselves, their beliefs, or their party.

The article says this about Charlotte

In 2000 The Boston Globe wrote, “People who matter in politics predict that Charlotte Golar Richie will be the first black mayor of Boston.” Thirteen years later the former adviser to Mayor Tom Menino and Gov. Deval Patrick, onetime state legislator, and nonprofit executive is finally making a run at the Globe’s prediction in a crowded Democratic field. At a recent campaign rally, she danced herself onto the stage and told the crowd, “If you really want to make change, you can’t be sitting on the sidelines, people! You’ve got to be in it to win it. And I’m in it.” As for the chance to be the first woman to run the city, Golar Richie said, “Women in politics have been dutiful followers. Now it’s my turn. It’s our turn.”

As with the two others in the top row with her, Alison Lundergan Grimes and Wendy Davis,  Charlotte is in a tough race.  Actually Davis hasn’t said yet if she is running for re-election as Texas state rep or will run for governor, but Lundergan Grimes is taking on Mitch McConnell in Kentucky.

Like Christine Quinn who is running for mayor in New York City (bottom right), Charlotte is the woman in a race for with a lot of the candidates – all men.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if New York and Boston both elect their first women mayors this year?  Nancy Pelosi will be proud and the Republicans who like to rail against her will have lost again.