Another Beacon Hill pay raise deal goes nowhere
On Beacon Hill, everything almost inevitably comes back to pay hikes. And, just as often, some hard feelings.
The latest episode involved a move to raise the pay for some House committee leaders. The plan blew up when Senate president Stan Rosenberg found out he wasn’t getting House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s support for his proposal to give the Senate more power to determine the fate of its bills.
The issues collided when DeLeo wanted Rosenberg’s commitment to approve legislation to double — to $15,000 — the extra pay given to the chairmen of three committees: Judiciary, Education, and Transportation. The plan also called for $7,500 stipends for a handful of committee vice chairs.
DeLeo’s argument was that the workload for those three committees was far too much to attract lawmakers to want to chair them with just the current $7,500 in extra pay added to their $61,133 annual base salary. Rosenberg, just a month into office, was not about to ask his colleagues to take a vote on a legislative pay hikes.
“No one is willing to take that fight on,’’ said one top Democratic lawmaker.
DeLeo insists he never linked the pay issue to the Senate rules changes. He says he opposes Rosenberg’s proposal because it requires hiring scores of new staff for the new Senate committees that Rosenberg wants to create.
“Speaker DeLeo never raised, nor would he consider, a proposal linking salary increases to the Senate plan on joint committees or any other legislative action,’’ said DeLeo spokesman Seth Gitell. “The Senate proposal on joint committees is completely unacceptable.”
The grappling left some hard feelings between the two branches and the leadership. Rosenberg’s decision to suddenly turn and walk away left his House counterparts flummoxed, an inauspicious beginning for a relationship that is traditionally fraught with tension and ruptures. The kerfuffle delayed DeLeo’s release of his committee assignments in order to avoid the conflict of interest law that would, according to some legal experts, have prohibited any incumbent chairman or vice chair from taking a raise in their extra pay during this newly convened two-year legislative session.
“There was some bad communication; it was mishandled,’’ said the legislator.
Still rooting for Golar Richie
The question came during a panel discussion on the state of Boston’s political leadership Tuesday at Darryl’s Corner, a popular restaurant on Tremont Street in Boston.
“I want to know why Charlotte Golar Richie is not the mayor,’’ a man demanded.
The restaurant, packed with the who’s-who of the African-American community, erupted in cheers. Golar Richie, sitting in the audience, smiled and nodded. The former mayoral candidate fell short in her 2012 campaign, placing third in the primary election. And some in the black community believe her loss left a vacuum.
The panelists — who included political consultant Joyce Ferriabough Bolling and former state senator Dianne Wilkerson — urged more people to run for political office or push their elected officials to get things done. They also weighed in on development in Dudley Square, where the new Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building opened as the home for the School Department. The crowd expressed support for a stalled proposal to erect a hotel near the square. Some in the community are pressing for higher wages and unionization at the hotel.
Meghan E. Irons
As he gears up for another election, council president Bill Linehan is getting some high-profile help from his good friend in the corner office at City Hall. Mayor Martin J. Walsh hosted a campaign kickoff bash for Linehan at the Seaport Hotel’s Lighthouse Ballroom on Wednesday evening, the campaigns for both Linehan and Walsh said.
An e-mailed invitation shows the mayor’s name in bold letters: “Mayor Martin J. Walsh hosts an event to honor Boston City Council President Bill Linehan.”
Laurie Bosio, a spokeswoman for the Walsh campaign, said the mayor has always supported local elected officials.
Since taking office, Walsh has vowed better relations with the council, starting with the president. Linehan, who represents South Boston and the South End, has appeared with the mayor at one of his snow-related press conferences. And the two men were arm-in-arm on a fifth-floor balcony waving at fans during the New England Patriots’ parade this month. The Walsh-Linehan ties could be a boon for the South Boston councilor, but it could rankle progressives. Linehan is viewed by progressives as representative of old Boston, and the new mayor is known for his liberal leanings.
Meghan E. Irons
In Kansas City, a goof from Ayotte
Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire got tepid reviews for her keynote speech before the Missouri Republican Party’s annual meeting in Kansas City last Friday evening.
As the Kansas City Star reported, Ayotte goofed in criticizing the Affordable Care Act, twice referencing the “800 million taxpayers” sent faulty notices. As the newspaper dryly noted: “The figure was incorrect. The administration said this week it has sent out 800,000 bad notices, not 800 million. There are roughly 320 million people in the United States.”
Kansas City columnist Dave Helling summed up her performance like this:
“Ayotte was solid but needs to up her game if she really wants a spot on the 2016 GOP ticket as some believe. . . . In a banquet hall in Kansas City, on a Friday evening, the mistake means nothing. As a vice-presidential candidate, though, the error would be magnified (cf. Joe Biden, Sarah Palin, et al).”
Vacancy in Roxbury
One of former mayor Thomas M. Menino’s high-profile community appointments is leaving his post after more than a decade.
Darnell Williams, chairman of the Roxbury Strategic Master Plan Oversight Committee, submitted his resignation to the Boston Redevelopment Authority on Monday. “I just decided it was time to move on,’’ said Williams, who is also president of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts. “Eleven years is a long time.”
The mayor appoints members of the committee, whose volunteers work with the city to redevelop 10 parcels of land in Roxbury left vacant as a result of failed urban policies. The committee chairman is often at the center of debates over progress in the neighborhood versus gentrification.
Meghan E. Irons
Campaign mechanics lesson, from the expert
Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire was the only Democrat in a competitive Senate race in the country to win reelection last year. Now her former campaign manager has been tapped to run a workshop at Harvard’s Institute of Politics this spring.
Mike Vlacich will lead a “Campaign and Advocacy” workshop for eight weeks. Before the Shaheen campaign, Vlacich was a top Democratic aide in New Hampshire. He managed a campaign for governor in 2006 that set the record for the biggest win in state history. (Incumbent John Lynch beat GOP challenger Jim Coburn that year, 74 to 26 percent.)
Harvard said the workshop is meant to help students get a “hands-on” look at campaign mechanics, featuring weekly workshops with Democratic and Republican political operatives.
“Our students are the future of politics,” said Esten Perez, communications director for Harvard’s Institute of Politics. “The Campaign and Advocacy workshop will ensure that students have the tools they need to lead 21st-century campaigns.”
Shaheen finds a silver lining
In an interview with Harvard students, Senator Jeanne Shaheen found perhaps a silver lining to her party’s recent loss in a local congressional race.
The Harvard Political Review asked the New Hampshire Democrat whether she would support term limits for members of Congress. No, she replied, not necessary.
“I think the voters are very good about deciding when they want to change the person who represents them,” Shaheen said. “We’ve seen it in the New Hampshire First Congressional District that’s switched hands twice in the last two elections. So, I think the voters can make that determination, and they do on a regular basis.”
Shaheen was referring to the seat won in November by Republican Frank Guinta. He beat Democrat Carol Shea-Porter, who had beaten him in 2012 — before he beat her in 2010.
Unlike in many districts across the country, incumbents in eastern New Hampshire are vulnerable from the moment they take office.