Hiller Instinct: Mayor Walsh is too loyal

BOSTON (WHDH) - It’s strike two at Boston City Hall.

Keep count, and keep in mind: Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence and three times is a pattern. Before Marty Walsh was mayor, he was a state representative with strong union connections. He joined a laborers’ union when he was 21 and later became its president. He was also the leader of the Boston Building Trades Council.

Union support helped Walsh win the mayor’s office, so after the election, I always wondered how loyal Walsh would be to the unions. To me, the answer is too much, and I’m not sure he sees it.

After Kevin Brissette, Walsh’s Director of Tourism, Sports and Entertainment was arrested last month, and charged with “union related extortion”, the mayor made it sound as if it didn’t have anything to do with him.

“I don’t condone any of this type of behavior and any of this alleged behavior,” Mayor Walsh said in May. “I tell everyone to be honest, up front, and very open.”

Today, after the mayor’s chief of staff of intergovernmental affairs, Tim Sullivan, was arrested, Walsh again made it sound as if he doesn’t run city hall.

“If these allegations are true, I’m not happy about them,” Walsh said.

The mayor does seem to understand that – fairly or unfairly – he is responsible for everything that happens at city hall.

“I feel bad for what’s happening here, but certainly it’s something I don’t stand for,” Walsh said.

Next year, Marty Walsh will be up for re-election for the first time, which is when elected officials are most vulnerable. Boston has a habit of electing mayors for life: Kevin White, 4 terms; Ray Flynn, 3 terms; Tom Menino, 5 terms. If Walsh wants to join that list, he needs to make sure his union ties don’t strangle him.

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