Reporter’s Notebook: Legislators home in on NFL-players labor skirmish
State lawmakers are weighing in on the possibility that a labor dispute will cancel the National Football League’s 2011 season, lobbying the owner of the Patriots and arguing it could negatively impact the local economy if the labor dispute isn’t settled.
State Rep. Marty Walsh, a Dorchester Democrat and a season ticket holder for 20 years, wrote to Patriots owner Robert Kraft earlier this fall, noting that the football team directly and indirectly generates an estimated 2,500 jobs, $11 million in revenue for local businesses and over $10 million in income tax revenue. Kraft has taken the Patriots from a football team to an “enterprise,” he told the Reporter on Tuesday. “You’re talking about a big boost to the local economy.”
The current collective bargaining agreement between 32 owners and the players union expires on March 3. Players get about 60 percent of revenues, which owners contend is too much. The Associated Press reported earlier this month that the executive director of the players’ union advised players to hoard their last three paychecks since the union’s “internal deadline” for a collective bargaining agreement has passed.
“In the past two decades, major league baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League have each lost seasons to labor disputes,” Walsh, a top labor leader, wrote in a September letter. “We all remember the empty stadiums, empty streets, and ill-will wrought by those work stoppages. Nobody wants to re-live that experience.”
And, the Notebook might add, presumably nobody would want to watch any movies that another NFL labor dispute might spawn, like the 1987 lockout did in giving us the Keanu Reeves vehicle, “The Replacements.”
Other lawmakers who have weighed in with similar letters include state Sen. Brian Joyce, a Democrat who represents Milton.
Asked for comment on a potential lockout and local lawmakers lobbying him, Kraft told the Reporter, “They should lobby the union. We’re negotiating hard.” Asked if he would commit to no lockout next year, Kraft said, “We’re here to celebrate the governor today, thank you,” and walked away.
His comments came after a press conference at Faneuil Hall on Gov. Deval Patrick’s plans for his scaled-down second inaugural on Jan. 6. Both were joined at the podium by Patriots players Kevin Faulk, Patrick Chung, and Vince Wilfork, as well as Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca and former Bruins player Cam Neely, among others. They were there as inaugural “partners” announcing details for the inaugural.
Walsh received a response from Robyn Glaser, the Patriots’ lawyer, who said the league was “working hard” to reach a new agreement with the union. “We are sensitive to the impact of our team on communities throughout New England,” she wrote. “We know that, in the end, we will have an agreement that will be good for the future of the game and for our fans. The only question is when.”
Preliminary election to replace Turner likely set for Feb. 15, final election on March 15
The preliminary special election to replace former City Councillor Chuck Turner will be held on Feb. 15, with a final election set for March 15, under an order the City Council was expected to approve after the Reporter went to press this week.
Turner, District 7’s representative on the 13-member body, was expelled from the council by an 11-1 vote on Dec. 1 after a federal jury found him guilty of corruption charges. District 7 includes Dorchester, Roxbury, and parts of the Fenway and the South End.
Tito Jackson, a top political aide to Gov. Patrick who has not yet announced his candidacy, is considered the heavy favorite in the race to succeed Turner. Other potential candidates include Monica Dean, a former chief of staff and family member of former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson; Natalie Carithers, former chief of staff to retiring state Rep. Willie Mae Allen (D-Mattapan); Candace Sealey, one of the district’s liaisons for U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano; Roxbury Neighborhood Council’s Robert Terrell, and Roxbury attorney Hassan Williams, who unsuccessfully mounted a primary challenge against state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain).
Perennial candidate for public office Althea Garrison announced her candidacy via a fax to the Reporter last week.
Whoever wins – as well as those who lose and are interested in running again – will have to pull nomination papers again in April for November’s City Council election when all councillors are up for re-election.
Turner told his former colleagues before the expulsion that whatever happens, he would not run for the district seat again and endorsed Jackson as his successor.
“Two years ago, I told Tito Jackson that if he wanted the District 7 seat, I would support him in 2013 given my decision to run for only one more term,” Turner wrote in an October e-mail to councillors. “However, over the weekend, I told him that I would support him in a special election if I am removed from the Council or in next year’s regular election if allowed to stay. He indicated he is interested and ready to run for City Council either immediately or next year.”
Quote of Note: Gov. Patrick’s budget chief
“Depending on the final tax revenue estimate for next year and certain other revenue estimates, we are currently projecting that state spending next fiscal year will need to be one to one and a half billion [dollars] below estimated spending this fiscal year,” Gov. Patrick’s budget chief Jay Gonzalez said at the start of a hearing lawmakers held this week at the State House to take testimony from economic experts.
In other words, as the Patriots players union put it: start hoarding paychecks.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at dotnews.com/litdrop. Material from State House News Service was used in this report.