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Mayor Walsh vetoes creation of panel on men of color

Cites initiatives on black, Latino males

Mayor Martin J. Walsh has vetoed a City Council initiative to create a commission in the mayor’s office advocating for black and Latino men and boys, igniting another power struggle between Boston’s new mayor and the city’s legislative body.

City Councilor Tito Jackson first championed the idea in February to establish a 21-member board to advise Walsh and subsequent mayors on issues pertaining to black and Latino men and boys. The City Council unanimously passed the measure last month.

In a letter made public Monday, Walsh argued that the commission on black and Latino men and boys would “duplicate and complicate efforts that my administration is already engaged in.” The mayor also said he rejected the initiative because it technically violated the city charter.


Walsh has made Boston a key participant in President Obama’s national initiative, “My Brother’s Keeper.” He was one of a handful of mayors to visit the White House in July. In September, his administration launched a 40-member advisory committee that includes Jackson. “I recognize and share your commitment to the success of men of color in our community and commend your attention to this important mission,” Walsh wrote in the letter, adding that the mayor’s advisory committee “shares commitments embodied in your proposed” commission.

Jackson was circumspect Monday after learning of Walsh’s veto, which will be filed at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. “I have not had a chance to speak with the mayor directly,” Jackson said, acknowledging that Walsh shared his concerns about the urgent issues facing black and Latino men and boys. “I am sure we can work together on these important issues moving forward.”

Walsh’s initiative is being spearheaded by Felix G. Arroyo and John F. Barros, who both ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year, endorsed Walsh, and took jobs in his administration. Jackson also endorsed Walsh for mayor. The initiative has held one community summit and has scheduled another for 9 a.m. Dec. 6 at the James P. Timilty Middle School in Roxbury.


The mayor’s initiative “is broader in the scope of the work hitting on the exact same issues that were raised with the possibility of that commission,” said Barros, the city’s chief of economic development. “This goes deeper.”

Walsh took office in January as Boston’s first new mayor in 20 years. He vowed a new era of cooperation with the City Council, but the honeymoon was brief. In recent months, Walsh has tussled with the council over school transportation and a push he made to exempt top aides from the city’s residency requirement.

The most significant clash came when Walsh vetoed a $20,000 raise that councilors had voted to give themselves. On Monday, Walsh made good on a pledge to resurrect the Compensation Advisory Board, a mayoral-appointed body that makes recommendations about pay for the council and other city officials.

Walsh reappointed the compensation board’s chairwoman, Deborah Shah, and named four new members. The mayor ordered the panel to conduct an expedited analysis on potential raises for councilors, with a report due by February. The board is expected to gather data from Boston-area municipalities and from comparable cities across the nation.

The new appointees include Michael Curry, president of the Boston Branch NAACP, and Carol Fulp, president of the Partnership Inc., an organization founded to raise the profile of people of color in Boston’s business community.


The board will also include Amy E. Sheridan, a partner in law firm Sullivan & Worcester whose practice concentrates on employee benefits and executive compensation, and William F. Sinnott, who served for eight years as Boston’s corporation counsel under Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

As a sign of harmony, Walsh issued a press release that included a statement from City Council President Bill Linehan, who led the push for a raise for councilors.

“I am encouraged that the mayor is reconstituting the Compensation Advisory Board and charging them with immediately addressing council salaries,” Linehan said. “I am pleased with the selection of the members of the board and the mayor’s willingness to include council recommendations.”

Andrew Ryan is at andrew.ryan@globe.com;on Twitter @globeandrewryan.