It used to be that Martin J. Walsh could pump out a press release and watch it disappear into the ether, unnoticed.
That was Martin J. Walsh, state representative. On his first full day as mayor of Boston on Tuesday, Walsh called a press conference, and dozens of journalists flocked to City Hall. Television cameras had already greeted Walsh as he arrived for work in the morning. Others stalked him at home in Savin Hill.
“I walked out to a Boston newspaper reporter and camera person taking pictures of me on my first day,” Walsh said later in an interview, describing what he found when he stepped out of his home. “I felt like it was my first day of school.”
In many ways, Tuesday was like school, a crash course in being a big city mayor. Walsh’s day was a whirlwind of disparate tasks. He signed a flurry of documents to keep the bureaucracy grinding forward; announced six appointments to his administration, including two top staff members; got briefed on regulations for medical marijuana; heard about vacancies on the Public Health Commission board; and managed to give his security detail the slip as he explored the concrete corridors of City Hall.
That was all before lunch. By the end of the day, he would have another string of meetings and a dinner date with all 13 members of the City Council (significant others included) at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. at Old City Hall.
Between meetings, Walsh acknowledged that one of his biggest challenges will be getting used to the furious pace, especially the first few months, as he assembles his team and restructures his Cabinet.
“At the State House, you sit down and talk about something, and then after a while you work it through,” Walsh said. “Here, you have to make decisions like today.”
The six appointments began to provide definition to the nascent administration. Walsh tapped his close friend, Joyce Linehan, to be chief of policy. Linehan (no immediate relation to City Council President Bill Linehan) is an arts publicist and grass-roots political organizer from Dorchester who joined Walsh’s mayoral campaign in its infancy.
She had insisted for months that she would not join the administration but later changed her mind. “I would be nuts to turn it down,” Linehan said.
Walsh named another campaign adviser, Joseph Rull, as director of operations. Rull previously worked for the state and as an adviser to former mayor Thomas M. Menino. He lives in Norwell and will be required to move to Boston within six months. Rull’s role will be similar to Michael Kineavy’s in the Menino administration, overseeing day-to-day management, say Walsh’s advisers.
Walsh appointed another close friend, state Representative Eugene L. O’Flaherty, as the city’s corporation counsel. O’Flaherty lives in Chelsea and must also move to Boston.
Other appointments included Alejandra St. Guillen, executive director of the Latino political organization ¿Oiste?, who will be interim director of the Office of New Bostonians. Keith Williams, the city’s associate director of neighborhood services, will serve as interim director of the Office of Small and Local Business Enterprise. Trinh T. Nguyen, chief of staff for the Boston Housing Authority, was appointed interim director of the Office of Jobs and Community Service.
After celebrating his inauguration deep into Monday evening, Walsh started Tuesday at home with a cup of tea and newspapers. He arrived at City Hall just after 9 a.m., clutching a cup of coffee as he emerged from a black Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid.
“Last night was fun, but I was happy to go home and go to bed,” Walsh told reporters before ducking into his private elevator at City Hall. “I was there till probably 12. It was hard. So many people wanted to take pictures. I think I took more pictures yesterday than I have in my whole life.”
On the fifth floor, the mayor’s office held reminders of Menino, who served 20 years and was the city’s longest-
serving chief executive. The office had the same 10-foot-long mahogany table, the same desk lamps, and the same green leather couches, including the throw blanket decorated with the city seal.
Menino left a handful of knickknacks behind, including a bust of a young Abraham Lincoln; two paintings; and a framed drawing of a firefighters memorial. But the walls were studded with screws where pictures once hung.
Walsh had begun to fill the space with his own keepsakes: a Wheaties cereal box with a picture of his face, a sculpture of iron workers sitting on an I-beam eating lunch, a close-up photograph of the hands of an Irish farmer, and a framed palm card from when his father ran for executive board of his union, Laborers Local 223.
Walsh had a desktop computer installed, marking a milestone in the mayor’s office. Menino never had a computer on his desk. Menino never really sat at the desk and instead held court at the head of the 10-foot mahogany table.
“I will be a desk person,” Walsh said, but then he pointed to where Menino sat. “But I kind of like the seat there.”
If there was a hiccup on day one, it came midmorning, when Walsh abandoned the mayor’s quarters to explore the floor above. He went office by office on the sixth floor to say hello to city workers, but forgot to notify his security team.
“I got scolded a bit because I’m not supposed to walk around the building without police,” Walsh said. “I kind of snuck out on them, which I will again.”
“I’m the mayor of Boston,” he said. “But I’m still Marty Walsh. I’m still going to talk to people and say, ‘Hi,’ and do my thing.”