LABOR INTENSIVE — Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is leading the Biden administration’s efforts on workforce development and labor talks at clogged West Coast ports, traveling the country touting strong jobs numbers and serving as a walking billboard for Dunkin’ pretty much anywhere he goes.
Yet the former Boston mayor still keeps tabs on the city he returns home to on weekends. Playbook caught up with Walsh ahead of his Saturday speech at the New Hampshire Democratic Party convention to chat about the growing unionization movement, the potential state takeover of the Boston Public Schools and how he feels like he’s “cheating” on Doughboy Donuts with all that Dunks (and the occasional Starbucks). Our interview has been edited and condensed for length:
There’s a growing union push in Massachusetts. Why do you think that’s happening?
The impacts of the pandemic, on the workforce, as we all know, have been monumental. … President [Joe] Biden’s message of supporting collective bargaining and worker organizing and worker empowerment, I think that’s one thing. And then also workers are looking collectively, at this moment in time. … A lot of younger people are saying wait a second, there’s something to organized labor. So I think a lot of it’s naturally happening and I think some of it is intentional. Some of the unions are intentionally organizing workers as well.
You’re a state House alum. Do you support state Senate staffers’ push to unionize?
I support anyone that wants to collective bargain. I support them.
The state is threatening a takeover of BPS. Is that warranted?
When I was the mayor, we worked out an agreement with the Department of [Elementary and Secondary] Education to help turn our schools around. And then Covid happens. It’s very difficult to implement the changes and what you needed to do when kids are literally learning for almost a year not in school. I would hope that the state would work with the city of Boston and allow Mayor [Michelle] Wu the opportunity to bring in a new superintendent and kind of philosophy to be able to make her mark on the school district. And it’s really challenging, it’s hard to do that, with a potential takeover.
And I don’t think the Department of Education is prepared to take over the entire Boston Public Schools system. It’s 56,000 people. So what I would say is work off the guiding principles we put in place, extend that a little bit, maybe put some other [procedures] in place … but allow this mayor, this school committee and the new superintendent to do their jobs.
People come to New Hampshire when they’re eyeing a run for president. Are you looking to run for higher office?
I have a job and I love my job. And I have a boss and I love my boss. I’m just up here today to talk to some Democrats.
Would you run for president in the future?
I’m not running for anything in the future right now. We’ll see what happens.
GOOD TUESDAY MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. State Attorney General Maura Healey is putting a big chunk of her $5.2 million gubernatorial campaign war chest to use.
Healey’s team has placed $4.5 million in television ad buys through the November general election. That includes about $755,500 in reservations for the weeks leading up to the September preliminary election, her campaign confirmed to Playbook.
The fall airwaves were getting crowded even before Healey booked her slots. Candidates and outside groups involved in New Hampshire’s contested federal races have been buying up airtime in the Boston media market for months already, and ballot-question campaigns are likely to follow suit.
TODAY — Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announces grants at the Quinsigamond Community College Healthcare and Workforce Development Center in Worcester at 11:30 a.m. Senate President Karen Spilka addresses the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce at 7:45 a.m. at the InterContinental in Boston. GOP governor candidate Chris Doughty tours the Massachusetts Maritime Academy at 8:45 a.m. Wu speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony at the William E. Carter School at 11 a.m. GOP candidates including Geoff Diehl, Rayla Campbell, Jay McMahon, Donnie Palmer, Hamilton Rodrigues, Jeffrey Sossa-Paquette and Dean Tran, and former state veterans Secretary Francisco Urena, participate in a rally at 6:30 p.m. at the Athenian Corner in Lowell.
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— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Rep. Jake Auchincloss is endorsing former Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell for state attorney general, saying that in the face of “a cyclone of NRA zealots, anti-abortion crusaders and democracy deniers” Campbell will “continue Massachusetts’ proud tradition of national leadership in defense of equal justice under the law.”
— STAFFING SHAKEUP: Quentin Palfrey is without a campaign manager roughly two weeks after he secured the state Democratic Party’s endorsement for attorney general. But Palfrey spokesperson Joe Caiazzo told Playbook “this was always the plan” as the campaign shifted from convention prep to September primary push, and that there’s no plan to hire another CM.
Palfrey’s former campaign manager, Jeremy Comeau, told Playbook that the “campaign is restructuring post-convention” and that he is now serving as senior adviser. Caiazzo said “Jeremy did a terrific job guiding us to win the endorsement of the Massachusetts Democratic Party at the convention and collect over 14,000 signatures” to get Palfrey on the primary ballot.
— CASH DASH: GOP governor hopeful Chris Doughty and his wife, Leslie, are hosting a fundraiser at his Wrentham home at 6 p.m. Monday, with a suggested minimum donation of $50.
— “Sullivan calls for new blood in Secretary of State’s Office,” by Christian M. Wade, Newburyport News: “[Tanisha] Sullivan, a corporate attorney, said she wants [to] bring ‘fresh ideas’ to the secretary’s office with a focus on increasing voting participation in marginalized communities, improving transparency in the state’s public records laws, and ensuring that securities regulations protect investors while encouraging economic growth.”
— GAS TAX TALK REVS UP AGAIN: President Joe Biden will decide by the end of the week whether he’ll support a federal gas tax holiday that could save motorists up to 18 cents per gallon at the gas pump. Connecticut’s Democratic-controlled legislature and governor temporarily suspended their state’s gas tax. Democratic New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan has made her calls to shelve the gas tax a key part of her reelection campaign messaging. Yet Massachusetts House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka last week again pumped the brakes on the concept.
Republican state lawmakers, along with a handful of Democrats, are urging leadership to reconsider and include a gas tax holiday as part of a yet-to-be-announced tax-relief package.
And state Sen. Eric Lesser, who’s running for lieutenant governor, said on WCVB’s “On the Record” over the weekend that “it’s appropriate to suspend the gas tax if we can do two things at the same time: protect the state’s bond rating, which we have indication we can, and the second thing that’s very important is to preserve the funding streams for our infrastructure projects.”
Lesser said he “would be prepared to enthusiastically vote for a proposal that does that.” Lesser voted against a Republican-led proposal to suspend the gas tax in March, prior to analysis showing it was “unlikely” to harm the state’s bond rating. Lesser also voted against a gas tax holiday as part of a broader tax-relief package shot down during last month’s Senate budget debate, telling Playbook he “wasn’t prepared to vote for” the full slate of tax breaks spun out of Gov. Charlie Baker’s $700 million tax-relief proposal, which is still under consideration by the legislature.
“I certainly have made my point very clear on the gas tax issue,” Lesser told Playbook. “My hope and my expectation is we’ll be taking it up soon.”
FWIW, average gas prices have dipped below $5 a gallon.
— “Massachusetts lawmakers are fighting the clock to finish their term. But they’re facing an unusual crush of circumstances,” by Matt Stout and Samantha J. Gross, Boston Globe: “House Speaker Ronald Mariano has privately urged lawmakers to speed the pace of their closed-door negotiations, on issues such as climate and energy legislation. Democratic leaders say they’re crafting various contingency plans for if, or when, Supreme Court decisions sweeping away abortion rights and gun safety requirements upend decades-old law. … Mariano said failing to reach a tax relief deal would be a ‘missed opportunity,’ and given the few weeks remaining, suggested the chambers must work together to shape its details.”
— “The strange Mass. crime wave over catalytic converters and the bill aiming to curb theft,” by Simon Levien, Boston Globe: “Catalytic converters, a pollutant-reducing device that’s in nearly every modern car, have become catnip for car thieves across Massachusetts, as sky-high metal prices have led to a huge payday for the pilfered part. … Representative Steven Howitt, a Republican from Seekonk, has led a bipartisan push to curb these thefts. And with its momentum, his bill just might become law before the state House breaks for summer recess.”
— “COVID vaccines for small children are available starting Tuesday, but local parents are divided over whether to get them,” by Felice J. Freyer and Mike Damiano, Boston Globe: “As the long-awaited and newly authorized COVID-19 vaccines for children 6 months through 5 years old start arriving in the state this week, it remains an open question whether parents will leap at the chance to vaccinate their kids.”
— “Massachusetts overall performed well in its response to COVID, study finds,” by Marie Szaniszlo, Boston Herald: “Massachusetts ranked second in a new study that measures states’ overall response to COVID-19.”
— “The whiter the Boston neighborhood, the easier it can be to find a restaurant with a license to serve booze, report shows,” by Danny McDonald, Boston Globe: “As the Boston City Council debates efforts to get more liquor licenses in the hands of entrepreneurs of color, a new report is putting hard numbers behind what many Boston politicians and restaurateurs have known for years: Generally speaking, the whiter the Boston neighborhood, the easier it is to find a restaurant with a license to serve booze.”
— “Boston ‘city-wide warrant sweep’ called for by politicians as Mass and Cass drug problems flare outward,” by Sean Philip Cotter and Flint McColgan, Boston Herald: “A group of Boston elected officials are calling for a ‘city-wide warrant sweep’ of people accused of trafficking drugs, guns and other human beings as they say the crisis at Mass and Cass continues to ripple outward. … The signees included U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, state Sen. Nick Collins, state Rep. David Biele, City Council President Ed Flynn and City Councilors Frank Baker, Michael Flaherty and Erin Murphy.”
— “Campaign cash keeps coming in as Michelle Wu’s ‘inauguration’ approaches,” by Sean Philip Cotter, Boston Herald: “The mayor’s million-dollar-plus inauguration is scheduled for next week as cash has continued to pile in — and her campaign account remains a money factory, swelling back into the hundreds of thousands even as she spends more than $30,000 a month. … In a different account, the mayor has been raising dough for her ‘inauguration’ — now coming after more than 14% of the mayor’s four-year term is up — which is a free ‘summer block party’ scheduled for next Thursday, June 30, and will be paid for with a fund that has amassed nearly $1.1 million.”
— “New subway wait times highlight longtime T trouble: staffing,” by Taylor Dolven and Matt Stout, Boston Globe: “MBTA riders endured longer commutes on Monday as the T throttled back subway service, the latest fallout from the agency’s persistent failure to maintain staffing levels federal transit officials say are needed to keep the system safe. The extended times between trains on the Red, Orange, and Blue lines were put into place after federal regulators found some dispatchers in the operations control center working 20-hour shifts with just four hours off, and demanded the T staff up. … MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the agency is offering $10,000 bonuses to hire badly needed dispatchers, and has increased its recruiting capacity. But the path is steep to fill key positions.”
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden has been endorsed for a full term by former Suffolk DA Ralph Martin and Boston’s Ward 15 Democratic Committee.
— NEW this AM: State Rep. Jake Oliveira has been endorsed for state senator in the Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester district by the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, his campaign said.
— “North Adams School Committee member Tara Jacobs is running for the Western Mass. seat on the Governor’s Council,” by Scott Stafford, Berkshire Eagle.
— “Attleboro area congressman’s office denies any culpability in alleged Capitol breach,” by Stephen Peterson, The Sun Chronicle: “U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss’s office on Monday denied any culpability in an alleged breach of the Capitol by staffers of a late-night CBS comedy show. … ‘The congressman had a scheduled interview with CBS, as did other members of Congress,’ Matt Corridoni, a spokesman for Auchincloss, said Monday. ‘Our contact with them ended well before the building closed for the evening. We do not condone any inappropriate activity and cannot speak to anything that occurred after hours.’”
— “Democrats call for a universal charging standard,” by Nat Rubio-Licht, Protocol: “In a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey and Bernie Sanders asked that the U.S. establish uniform charging accessory standards, arguing that planned obsolescence in consumer electronics causes financial stress and environmental harm.”
— “As transformational chancellor departs, UMass Amherst takes stock of newfound prestige,” by Alexander Thompson, Boston Globe: “The school has shot up from 52nd in 2010 to 26th this year in the coveted U.S. News and World Report rankings of public universities, while applications to the school have grown 30 percent in the past decade — even as the state’s number of high school graduates has stagnated.”
— “Northampton delays rules curbing plastic use by businesses,” by Brian Steele, Daily Hampshire Gazette: “The City Council has voted again to delay implementation of the packaging and plastic reduction ordinance that was set to go into effect on Jan. 1, citing continued economic pressures on local businesses and restaurants that would be expected to comply with new rules for takeout containers, plastic bags and more.”
— “‘The worst of small-town governments’: In Stoughton, latest police scandal adds to long history of trouble,” by Dugan Arnett and Laura Crimaldi, Boston Globe: “Despite its modest size, the agency has weathered state and federal criminal prosecutions, intense infighting that has led to several civil lawsuits, and an FBI probe into public corruption. … Now, the department finds itself once again mired in scandal, this time sparked by the February 2021 death of Sandra Birchmore, a 23-year-old pregnant woman with extensive ties to Stoughton police.”
— “Falmouth residents oppose AR-15 deal between police and gun store,” by Asad Jung, Cape Cod Times: “The deal entails the police department buying 38 semi-automatic weapons from Powderhorn Outfitters, and trading in 21 semi-automatic weapons, 20 of which are AR-15s, to receive credit toward the purchase. Over 300 Falmouth residents signed a petition for the town to dismantle and destroy the police department’s surplus weapons rather than trade them in.”
— “Shipments of baby formula arrive at Logan Airport from London,” by Travis Andersen, Boston Globe.
— “Massachusetts communities celebrate Juneteenth,” by Matt Baskin and Kana Ruhalter, GBH News.
— “Sex and monkeypox: CDC puts out guidance on how you should do it if you’ve caught it,” by Sean Philip Cotter, Boston Herald.
— “Rachael Rollins named vice-chair of U.S. Attorney General’s civil rights advisory committee,” by Flint McColgan, Boston Herald.
— GRANITE STATE OF MIND: Labor Secretary Marty Walsh was quick to tell Playbook, and others gathered at the New Hampshire Democratic Party convention on Saturday, that he’s not running for higher office. But Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker? “I think he should be our next president,” one delegate told POLITICO. As the state’s top Democratic officials zeroed in on abortion rights, Walsh received rousing applause for a speech that largely focused on rebuilding the economy and on propping up the Granite State Democrats seeking reelection to Congress.
TRANSITIONS — The Rev. Willie Bodrick II, senior pastor at the Twelfth Baptist Church, has been named the new president and CEO of The American City Coalition.
WEEKEND WEDDING — State auditor candidate Chris Dempsey and Anna Cilluffo were married on the water in Hull on Saturday. The couple met while singing around the piano at Jacob Wirth’s in Boston’s Theater District and got engaged last summer Tweet.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY — to former state Rep. James Dwyer and Mason Reynolds. Happy belated to Galen Clark, who celebrated Sunday.
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