The Hill and the Hall Week in Review
Each Friday, Paul McMorrow will take you inside the smoke-filled rooms and darkly-lit corridors of government to bring you the hottest and juiciest political tidbits. This week: If Michael Flaherty is really running for mayor, how come no one wants his seat? Plus: The legislature is reduced to song.
Let’s assume for a minute that Michael Flaherty is going to run for mayor next year. That’s still no sure thing, but given his vociferous opposition to all things Tommy and his recent show of financial strength, observers inside City Hall believe it’s at least a strong possibility. And since Flaherty’s mayoral run is entirely within the realm of possibility, this question is worth asking: Why doesn’t anybody seem to want the at-large City Council seat Flaherty might be about to vacate?
The politically-inclined classes usually rip each other to pieces over the prospect of snagging an at-large seat — not to mention the generous salary, citywide exposure, and primo parking spot that come with the office.
The seat that Maura Hennigan vacated in 2005 inspired a 15-person bloodbath that swept Sam Yoon into office. The previous election cycle, in 2003, saw a dozen challengers trash around in an unsuccessful attempt at knocking off four entrenched incumbents. Then came last year’s rain-soaked exercise in fascism and not caring about anything at all.
That apathy—matched by a startling lack of ambition from anybody with half a chance of getting elected—doesn’t appear to have abated. Thus far, the possible departure of the council’s wealthiest, most entrenched incumbent hasn’t inspired much interest.
Two candidates, former Nantucket selectman/rotary aficionado Doug Bennett (buoyed by donations from Paul Cellucci, Bob Hedlund, and Charlie Baker) and Haitian activist Jean-Claude Sanon, have jumped into the race, and, uh, that’s it.
We’ve heard that 2007’s last-place finisher, David James Wyatt, might be eyeing another run. (His current campaign account balance: $-48.43.) Rumors are also circulating that somebody named Arroyo might take a shot at the seat. Since the affable Felix Sr. appeared largely disinterested in the job the last time he had it, and Albert’s still waiting on word from his doctor, that would leave Felix Jr., a political organizer with SEIU Local 615.
The point is, this isn’t the most fearsome slate of candidates to ever vie for office. Names notable for their absence from City Hall gossip circles include Susan Passoni, Eddie Flynn, and Matt O’Malley. At least one close political observer suggested that if Sonia Chang Diaz weren’t playing Ahab to a whale named Dianne, she’d be a lock for the open seat. And why would Bruce Wall bother running for council, when he could make the mayor’s life so much more miserable by launching a mayoral campaign?
To be sure, most political operatives are focusing their time, money, and attention—not to mention their ambition—on the presidential race. They’re assuming at least one Senate seat opens up soon, and preparing for the jockeying that will ensue between Martha Coakley, Tim Cahill, along with most of the Congressional delegation (and the jobs-bonanza dominoes that will fall as those A-listers seize promotions). In this climate, locking yourself into a high-paying city-level job might be the worst career move a pol with big eyes could make.
But while very few seem interested in joining the fracas, the schlubs who currently troll the halls of the fifth floor are said to have already begun to turn up the heat on each other. “This place will be a shitstorm next summer,” says someone inside City Hall, alluding to the prospective mayoral race. This person adds, quickly, that it’ll be, “A nasty year” from the start.
That’s because it’s easier to count the pols who don’t want to be the next council president than to count the ones who do. Mike Ross, Steve Murphy, and Charles Yancey are all said to be interested, and credible cases could be made for Yoon, Rob Consalvo, and John Tobin.
Half a dozen councilors scrambling to undercut each other, with the prize of being next in line for the mayor’s office? It’s going to be a fun few months.
It seems that the crush of end-of-session work the Legislature is currently enduring—these guys have been in session three whole days a week—may be getting to some people. During Thursday’s drawn-out debate on Hollywood East tax credits, Rep. Angelo Scaccia expressed his opposition. In full song.
Initial reports that he was backed by a chorus line of leggy, high-kicking backbenchers could not be confirmed at press time.
Scaccia’s colleagues greeted his efforts with rousing applause. So, for an encore, the Hyde Park Rep hit Hollywood with a devastating combination of class warfare and utter nonsense:
“Why are we in government? Are we here to protect the well-endowed? Is it our job to make the rich richer? We’re not going to lose much or gain much. And maybe it’s worth it to see some stud like myself walking down the street. But it’s not worth it, Mr. Speaker … Maybe they’re pretty or handsome and tall, but they don’t need our money. It’s the people in our districts who need our help. They blow in one week and blow out the next week. I don’t know how many hamburgers they eat when they’re here. But it ain’t than much … I hope the bill doesn’t pass, and I’m going to come back for an encore again because people have told me I might have a shot at this Hollywood myself.”
The debate wasn’t all yuks and dulcet tones, though. At one point, Steven D’Amico, who led the failed assault on the tax breaks, refused to yield the floor to Garrett Bradley, a film industry backer. D’Amico did yield to Matt Patrick, who happens to agree with him on the issue of striking a blow against bloated L.A. fat cats.
This fact inspired the more cinematically-inclined Reps in the chamber to rain a chorus of boos upon the pair. (An unrelated item, but one that must be discussed: What’s with Garrett Bradley’s dreamy soft-light headshot? Here’s hoping that unfortunate trip to the Hanover Mall at least included a stop at Orange Julius.)