The Boston Globe - 08.08.2019

(Joyce) #1

THURSDAY, AUGUST 8, 2019 The Boston Globe The Region A


into higher office.
“A verdict like this is never
good; it’s never good when peo-
ple in youradministration are
convicted,” said Scott Ferson,a
Democratic political consul-
tant.
While the verdict is political-
ly damaging, Ferson said, the
mayor could still play the case
in his favor by arguinghe is a
staunch union supporter who
stood by his aides in what many
people believe is a questionable
case that has merits for appeal.
“He’s standingby thesetwo
guysfromthe very beginning,
and I think people do appreci-
ate that, and I thinkthat speaks
a lot to his character,” Ferson
said. “Other people, from the
very first indictment, would
have ran away.”
What is clearis that the na-
ture of the case hits at the nexus
of Walsh’s politicalcareer.
Walsh, 52, a state representa-
tive for morethana decade
from Dorchester, was raised
throughthe trades unionsand
headed the Boston Building
Trades before he was elected
mayor in 2013.
He won with abundant
unionsupport, and organized
laborgroupsfromacross the
country spentmorethan$
million on his election — an un-
precedented amount in Boston.
After his win, Walsh vowed that
his union background would
not interfere with his interests
as mayor.
But only months after he
was inaugurated in January
2014,the two worlds collided.
In May of that year, Walsh ap-
peared on the set for filmingof
the popular reality show “Top
Chef” during a stop in Boston
— part of his efforts to market
the city. It was a decision he lat-
er regretted after learning that
Teamsters had planned to pick-
et the non-unionized produc-
tion of the show.
Walsh was so concerned
with the appearance of support-
ing a non-unionproduction
that he sought ways to retract
his appearanceon the show. A


uWALSH
ContinuedfromPageA


city review of officials’ involve-
mentwiththe Teamsters’ pro-
test of the showyielded no
criminalwrongdoing but
showedthat city officialsen-
gaged in a concerted effort to
save the mayor’s reputation.
Federal prosecutors argued,
though, that the mayor’s inter-
est in supporting unions resur-
facedmonths later, as organiz-
ers for the Boston Calling music
festival beganpreparations for
that show’s September produc-
tion on City Hall Plaza.
Brissette, 54, and Sullivan,
39, wereconvicted Wednesday
on charges that they forced the
Crash LineProductionsorga-
nizers to hire union stagehands
for Boston Callingunderthe
threat the festival couldlose lu-
crative permits. Prosecutors
said that Brissette and Sullivan
were acting out in Walsh’s polit-
ical interests, a charge the may-
or has denied.
Testimony in the two-week
trial showedthe disorganized,
innerworkingsof a fledgling
mayoral administration, with
aidesscramblingover ways to
support the show— all the
whileworriedaboutthe possi-
bility of a union picket on the
front steps of City Hall.
Attorneys for Brissette and
Sullivan soughtto showduring
the trial that the defendants
never threatenedthe Boston
Calling producers, even if they
encouraged them to hire union
workers to avoid protests. They
accused prosecutors of crimi-

nalizingthegive-and-takeof
City Hall politics and vowedto
appeal Wednesday’s conviction.
At trial, two top Walsh allies
— Joyce Linehan,Walsh’s chief
of policy, and former operations
head Joe Rull — both testified
with immunity agreements,
meaningthey were promised,
in exchange for theircoopera-
tion,that they wouldnot be
prosecutedfor anythingthey
said on the stand.
Several City Hall observers
also questioned whetherthe
case was an overreach. They say
the verdict arguably would
make taboo any government of-
ficial’s effort to advocate for a
constituent or an advocacy
group,whether it be organized
labor or a humanrights group.
Michael McCormack,a for-
mer city councilor and political
consultant, said the nuts and
bolts of the case are no different
thanthe tug-and-give of every-
day City Hall business dealings,
suchas whendeveloperspro-
pose community benefits to
help grease approval for a
building project.
“It’s just part of the gameof
politics,and in big citiesand
states it’s played every day. Bos-
ton is no different. Doesn’t
make it a crime,” he said.
Several political observers
questioned how far the mayor
will now be willing to go in ad-
vocating for unions, such as
when he intervened at the nurs-
es’ strike at Tufts Medical Cen-
ter in 2017and encouraged
both sides to return to the nego-
tiating table.
“This verdict will have a
chilling effect on advocates and
public servants whoseekto
protect and improve the lives of
those in our city while receiving
no personal benefit whatsoev-
er,” said City CouncilorLydia
Edwards, a strong unionadvo-
cate whocalledthe casea
“damaging precedent” in a
statement.
Then there’s the matter of
Walsh’s political ambitions. Af-
ter a resounding victory for a
second term in 2017, he has not
ruledout a run for governor.
A Suffolk University/Boston

Globe poll, with the federal trial
looming, showed that Walsh
had maintainedwidespread
support, with 57 percentof
likely Democratic primary vot-
ers surveyed saying they had a
favorable impression of him.
Peter Ubertaccio, a political
scienceprofessorat Stonehill
College who has followedthe
case,said that Walsh’s union
ties “run deep,” and he predict-
ed the verdict will do little to
deterhisoveralladvocacyfor
labor. But he questioned the im-
pact the case could have on
Walsh’s political ambitions: The
mayor has preserved his blue-
collar, union-member political
base in the city, but the political
landscape in the city is shifting.
Any race for statewide office
wouldlikely encounter a num-
ber of candidates who would
raise the issue.“It will be used
by his opponents to taint him as
tolerant of politicalcorruption,

and in a crowded statewide pri-
mary, that could hurt,” he said.
He added,though,that,
“Walsh is a union guy, unions
are very supportive of him,
they’re not going to turn away
from him.

“I just don’t think this will
cause Marty Walsh to turn away
from the union cause,” he said.

MiltonJ. Valencia canbe
reached at
milton.valencia@globe.com.

Walsh likely to feel impact of verdict in future races


CRAIGF. WALKER/GLOBESTAFF/FILE
MayorMartin J. Walshhas
oftenbenefitedfromhis
tiesto unions.

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