For Walsh’s chief of staff, a super birthday gift
Mayor Martin J. Walsh, a longtime New England Patriots season-ticket holder, skipped the Super Bowl this month because he said it was important for him to be in Boston as another snowstorm bore down on the city.
But Walsh’s chief of staff, Daniel A. Koh, did make the trip to Phoenix for the game.
“I’m very glad I went now,” Koh said. “Midway through the third quarter I wasn’t so sure.”
The trip, Koh said, was a 30th birthday gift from his longtime girlfriend, Amy Sennett, vice president of strategic initiatives at Boston 2024, the entity organizing the city’s bid for the Summer Olympics. Koh said Sennett paid for the tickets. (He sat in section 442, row 14.)
They flew commercial to Phoenix the Saturday before the game. Because of the impending storm, Koh acknowledged he had some concerns about leaving. It was important, Koh said, that the mayor was in Boston for the storm.
“It’s the Super Bowl,” Koh said. “The mayor was supportive of me going there. She had arranged all this for me.”
The Monday after the big game, the storm dumping 16 more inches of snow on Boston forced Koh to take a circuitous route home. He drove to San Diego, flew to Dallas and then Philadelphia before taking a train to Boston.
The difficult homecoming was worth it: Koh rode through confetti in the Patriots victory parade on a duck boat crowded with city employees, Walsh’s cousins and friends, and others.
“I was in the mayor’s duck boat,” Koh said. “The mayor wasn’t there, but he wanted somebody to be in it. I could have gotten a much worse assignment.” — ANDREW RYAN
‘She’s going to lose!’
It was one of the iconic moments of Scott Brown’s 2010 victory over Martha Coakley, and the fight over President Obama’s health care law: the commander-in-chief despairing over Coakley’s reluctance about retail politicking outside a chilly Fenway Park.
So iconic, in fact, that Coakley helped launch her 2014 gubernatorial campaign with a symbolically significant stop on Yawkey Way.
Now, a longtime Obama adviser and witness to the presidential lamentations has put the story in his own words. David Axelrod’s new book, “Believer,” describes the scene when Obama learned of the gaffe:
“The president strolled into my office just as I was hearing the details, and inveterate ESPN watcher that he is, the cultural meaning of the gaffe was not lost on him. ‘Nooooo!’ he cried in disbelief, grabbing my shirt for emphasis. ‘She didn’t say that?’ At this point, the president of the United States began jumping up and down in exasperation. ‘She’s going to lose! She’s going to lose!’ ” — JIM O’SULLIVAN
Mayor Martin J. Walsh made a staggering claim this week: The number of Boston public works employees has shrunk by two-thirds since the Blizzard of ’78, but Walsh said his staff has done a better job clearing snow.
“Back when the Blizzard of ’78 happened, DPW in the city of Boston had 1,200 employees,” Walsh told a room full of reporters. “We’re at about 400 right now.”
He added, “The Blizzard of ’78 wasn’t this much snow and the city was crippled. We haven’t been crippled. We’ve been open within 48 hours after all three of these storms.”
Walsh has shown hyperbolic tendencies since taking office, and in this case the truth is more complicated. In 1978, Boston relied largely on municipal employees to plow streets. In 2015, the city uses predominately private contractors. For a major storm, the city may deploy 600 plows and snow removal vehicles, but roughly 85 percent are private contractors, according to Walsh’s communications director, Laura Oggeri.
But Oggeri stood by Walsh’s claim. “Public Works Department currently employs approximately 450 people, while in 1978 that number was 1,200,” Oggeri said in a follow-up. (Boston has spent $30 million on snow removal already this winter. The entire winter of 1977-78 the city spent $6.7 million, which when adjusted for inflation is about $24.5 million.)
Raymond L. Flynn served on the City Council in 1978 and had a penchant for riding with plow drivers when he later served as mayor. Budget constraints forced the gradual shift to more private contractors.
“I’d take the 1,200 [city employees] any day of the week,” Flynn said. Private contractors “don’t have the same level of pride in the city.”
For the larger public works crews of the 1970s, it was more than a job, Flynn said. Public works was a vocation imbued with civic pride.
“You could have 2,500 people out there,” Flynn said, “If they don’t have the pride, it’s not going to work.” — ANDREW RYAN
Man of the people
No highfalutin Gazette, Globe, or Observer for him! Representative Stephen Lynch, a former ironworker, sent his first newsletter last week (what took him so long?) and gave it an appropriately blue-collar name: “Lynch’s Lunch Bucket Bulletin.” The just-plain-folks South Boston Democrat said his goal is to send biweekly lunch-bucket news to constituents. “My plan is to highlight recent votes, legislation that may be on the House calendar for consideration, bills I have introduced or cosponsored, committee hearings and deliberations, oversight investigations, and more.” Sign up now and don’t miss a thing! — MICHAEL LEVENSON
Granite State diplomacy
If Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire has mastered anything in her many, many years in politics, it would be the art of public diplomacy.
Asked last week on “Hardball with Chris Matthews” whether her fellow Granite State senator, Kelly Ayotte, would make a good candidate for vice president, Shaheen didn’t hesitate.
“I think New Hampshire would be very happy to have Senator Ayotte on the ticket,” Shaheen said.
Matthews laughed. “Glad she wouldn’t be in New Hampshire anymore?”
Ayotte, of course, is a Republican; Shaheen, a Democrat. Ayotte’s hypothetical departure for the GOP ticket would make it easier for the Democrats to win Ayotte’s Senate seat in 2016.
Shaheen protested. “No,” she said, Ayotte would be an asset to the state as veep because she’s someone “who understands the state, knows what we need, who appreciates and is committed to New Hampshire.” — FELICE BELMAN
The unofficial cabbie
City Councilor Tito Jackson was at a downtown diner after work Monday when one of the cooks informed him that he had to walk home because the MBTA had canceled all services for the night. Jackson offered to give the man a ride home to the South End. Then he drove his Toyota Prius to the Jackson Square train station, hopping out of his car and announcing to stranded passengers that he was their district councilor and was there to help.
“I’m here to give you a free ride home,’’ he recalled saying. “We packed up, and we went.”
He put five people into his Prius, dropping them off at their destinations. He’d also posted a message on Facebook, offering rides.
“If you or someone you know is stranded and needs a ride in Boston, please let me know and I will come get you,’’ Jackson wrote on Facebook. “My trusty Prius is out and about ready to help.”
A stranded passenger responded: “I live pretty close . . . Come pick us up!” according to a posting.
Jackson returned to Jackson Square several times, and transported 35 riders home Monday.
The following day, he said, he picked up 10 people at local bus stops. — MEGHAN IRONS