City Councilor John R. Connolly again went after the legislative record of his mayoral opponent, state Representative Martin J. Walsh, arguing that Walsh’s efforts in the State House would have undermined funding for community police programs.
“You need to be a real independent leader who can work for all the interests in Boston if we’re going to get our priorities straight in this city,” Connolly said at a news conference Monday in front of Schrafft’s Chocolate factory in Charlestown, before he was scheduled to speak at a violence-prevention forum. “My opponent’s legislative record indicates the exact opposite.”
At issue is an arbitration bill Walsh has been pushing for a decade on Beacon Hill that Walsh says would provide more financial safeguards during labor disputes by forcing compromise between unions and municipalities.
But government watchdogs argue that Walsh’s proposal would eliminate the requirement that the City Council approve arbitration awards for police and firefighters.
Under the bill backed by Walsh, the ruling of an arbitrator would be final and binding. Walsh has maintained that the threat of binding arbitration could force the sides into compromising.
Walsh’s efforts in the State House have become fodder for Connolly as the City Council weighs whether to approve an arbitration award to Boston police officers that city officials said would amount to a 25.4 percent pay hike over six years. The police union has countered that the award would begin to bring the base salary of patrol officers in line with firefighters and that only the most senior officers would see that kind of pay hike.
During a hearing last week on the award, Connolly said that city officials warned that paying for the award could necessitate a slew of cuts in other areas of the budget, including to community policing.
“That’s not acceptable,” said Connolly, who has stated he will vote not to approve funding the award. The council has not scheduled a vote on the award.
A spokesman for Walsh pointed out that in 2009, Connolly voted with the rest of the City Council to approve budget cuts that would have led to the elimination of 67 police officer positions.
“The only person in this race who has voted to reduce the number of cops on Boston’s streets is John Connolly,” said the spokesman, Kyle Sullivan.
Those 67 jobs ultimately were saved through federal grants. It is unlikely that the arbitration award would lead to cuts of police officers or other public safety personnel, said Sam Tyler, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, a taxpayer watchdog group that opposes funding the award.
Federal grants continue to fund dozens of positions in the department on the condition that the department not lay off members of its force, while the Fire Department is contractually obligated to maintain a certain number of firefighters assigned to each shift, Tyler said.
That means the cuts would most likely come from other city departments, like parks and recreation or inspectional services, he said.
“The only immediate area that the city has to reduce spending is in personnel,” Tyler said.
Flaherty tops at-large field in October fund-raising
Michael Flaherty, a former Boston City Council president, raised far more than his other competitors seeking four at-large seats during the first two weeks of October, according to filings with the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance.
Flaherty raised $17,755, compared with $10,950 by the current council president, Stephen J. Murphy, and $8,009 collected by immigration attorney Jeffrey Michael Ross from Oct. 1-15, according to the filings.
But Murphy, a councilor from Hyde Park who is seeking his a ninth term, has the most cash on hand among the candidates for the citywide seats. He has $110,000 one week before the Nov. 5 vote, according to his campaign.
Murphy has taken heat for not pressing to quickly hold a council vote on a police pay hike. But his inaction on the council does not seem to be slowing his fund-raising. Campaign donations came from residents in places such as Topsfield, Salem, and Quincy.
Flaherty has $20,898 on hand, and Ross reported he has a total of $12,246, the filings show. Michelle Wu, a South End attorney, raised $7,731 in the first two weeks of October, and has $90,845 on hand.
Candidate Jack F. Kelly III took in $6,183 during the period and has a total of $30,838.
Not far behind is teacher and businesswoman Annisa Essaibi-George, who took in $5,763 and has $9,444 in total, according to the campaign and finance office.
Ayanna Pressley, who is seeking a third term, raised $5,484 during the first two weeks of October and has $58,256 cash on hand.
Martin Keogh, a lawyer and former council aide, raised just $500 in the recent period and has $2,111 cash on hand.