Boss Tweed, Boss Baker — whoever thought the twain would meet?
But here we have Governor Charlie Baker and his political crew facing accusations of Tammany Hall tactics, twisting arms and using the powers of his office to corral patronage hires to line up behind him in an increasingly nasty intraparty power struggle.
In an e-mail obtained by the Globe, Lisa Barstow, a Baker administration hire who is also a state committeewoman and veteran conservative activist, expressed anguish over what she described as pressure from Baker’s political team to back a candidate for an open seat on the Republican State Committee.
“The HARD ANVIL of the corner office came down on me last week with vengeance and NO MERCY . . . and WITH FORCE . . . made me endorse Peter Lorenz,’’ Barstow, who was recently appointed to be director of community relations at the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, wrote in a Feb. 3 e-mail circulating among her friends in GOP circles. “This is a sickening state for me.”
Lorenz, of Brookline, is a candidate for the state committee in the First Middlesex and Norfolk Senate District. The conservatives, meanwhile, are backing Tom Mountain of Newton in the three-way fight for an open seat.
Baker aides, however, were unequivocal in their denial of any such pressure exerted. They said no one from his staff contacted Barstow and twisted her arm.
“It’s absolutely not true,’’ said Jim Conroy, a chief political adviser to Baker. “It is exactly opposite to the way we operated.”
Still, something was upsetting Barstow.
“I won’t even begin to tell you the HELL I have been put through and the expectations put on me with and about Lorenz,’’ she wrote. “The hell I am paying now by endorsing is NOTHING to compare with what I would get as punishment for NOT doing so. . . . The torture to say no to endorsing Lorenz surely would put me in the hospital from stress. . . . I know my body and the chronic stomach illnesses I’ve already been dealing with for years.”
Baker’s venture into this nasty battle with the conservative wing of his party is sure adding a new dimension to his profile. He is showing he has more tools in his box than just, as he says, “blocking and tackling’’ state government.
Wu hires PR firm
Following recent tradition, City Council President Michelle Wu has hired a Boston public relations firm to help put a spotlight on the work of the legislative body.
Wu hired Colette Phillips Communications, which lists among its specialties diversity marketing and communications.
The councilor said the firm will be paid from her campaign fund.
The company will highlight the council “through as many channels as possible,’’ said Wu, heaping praise on the owner, Colette Phillips.
“I feel the media is critical to highlighting what we do. But in my conversations with Colette, we’ve made it very clear that it’s much more than just outreach to the media,’’ Wu said. “It’s about engaging communities and making sure we’re being as inclusive as possible in our communications.”
Wu is following the footsteps of Councilor Bill Linehan, who hired Regan Communications Group during his tenure as president.
Former councilor Stephen J. Murphy, who also served as council president, also hired an outside public relations firm.
Linehan said he hired Regan in 2013 after he came under intense media scrutiny — in the middle of an election — over who should host an annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in 2013.
Linehan said that at the time he needed professionals to handle the avalanche of press.
“I was finding I was making more news,’’ he said with a chuckle. “I always did the press myself, but I found that it was too distracting.”
He kept Regan Communications while serving as council president, saying the job added much more work and he needed professional guidance when dealing with the press. He used funds from his campaign to pay the company.
“I think it is wise for Michelle to do that,’’ he said. “You don’t want to be in a rush giving an offhand remark to the press that could sting the next day.”
Meghan E. Irons
On State House steps, a Democratic divide
The dueling press conferences on the State House steps Wednesday morning, one for Hillary Clinton and one for Bernie Sanders, were, in part, about race.
The Sanders gathering was hosted by a group calling itself “Latinos for Bernie.”
The Clinton gathering was a who’s who of Boston-area black politicians: state Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, Boston City Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Tito Jackson, Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins, and former state secretary of public safety Andrea Cabral.
There was plenty of talk about who would serve what constituency. Cabral called Clinton’s Harlem speech Tuesday laying out a program for racial equality a “remarkable” thing: “A presidential candidate,” she said, “laid out an agenda specific to African-Americans.”
Patricia Montes, a Honduran immigrant and activist speaking at the Sanders event, said Sanders offered a refreshing vision that recognized the impact of American foreign policy on the immigration crisis in the United States.
But the events also spoke to another divide. The speakers at the Clinton event, backed by two full rows of supporters, are a part of the new political establishment in Boston. And they spoke for an establishment candidate.
They felt compelled, several times, to say that they were “not taking anything for granted” in the Massachusetts presidential primary and that they would campaign for every vote.
The Sanders press conference, a smaller affair, included a couple of elected Latino officials — Suffolk County Register of Probate and Family Court Felix D. Arroyo and Lawrence City Council president Kendrys Vasquez. But they spoke in a language Sanders would recognize.
Vasquez said Sanders first “shocked the world” when he won the mayoralty of Burlington, Vt., in 1981.
“We will once again shock the whole world.” he said, “when we win the presidency of the United States.”
‘Dear District 4 . . .’
On the cover of a colorful newsletter, a Boston city councilor is captured in a photograph giving a speech at City Hall.
Two more images of that same councilor appear on Page 2.
The person in the pictures is not Charles Yancey, a former city councilor and a master at producing regular newsletters with his picture plastered cover to cover.
It’s his successor Andrea J. Campbell.
To be fair, there were just three pictures of Campbell in the Feb. 8 debut of her monthly newsletter titled “Dear District 4.”
By contrast, the November/December issue of Yancey’s newsletter — titled “YANCEY 2015” — had 16 photos. The July 2015 edition had 20 Yancey images.
Volume 1 of Campbell’s three-page newsletter included images of the new councilor giving her first speech in council chambers, making a point at an event, and posing with a Dorchester group that had just received a $20,000 grant for a STEM innovation program.
The newsletter included a note from Campbell, saying her office is striving to be responsive, elevate the level of civic engagement, and raise expectations in the district.
“Expect to be part of the narrative of District 4, because I need your input and leadership,’’ Campbell wrote.
Other features in the newsletter include a blurb on a tracking system her office established for fielding constituent requests, a note about investments in the district, and a list of the council committees she is either chairing or serving on.
“Government works best when residents are engaged in the democratic process,’’ Campbell said in a statement. “It is essential that we remain connected, so that residents can directly inform our work and help us craft the best solutions.”
Meghan E. Irons