Reporter's Notebook: Murphy says he’s set for 3d term as Council head

Gintautas Dumcius, News Editor
Dec. 27, 2012

City Council President Stephen Murphy says he has the votes for another term as the ceremonial head of the 13-member body. His office released a list of names supporting his bid in an email to reporters: City Councillors At-Large Felix Arroyo and John Connolly, as well as District Councillors Frank Baker (Dorchester), Mark Ciommo (Allston-Brighton), Rob Consalvo (Hyde Park), Tito Jackson (Dorchester), Sal LaMattina (East Boston), Bill Linehan (South Boston), and Matt O’Malley (Jamaica Plain).

Notably left off the list in the release: City Councillor At-Large Ayanna Pressley and District Councillors Charles Yancey (Dorchester) and Michael Ross (Mission Hill). Ross has previously served two terms as Council president, while Yancey got the job for a term due to a fight between two warring councillors in 2001.

This year’s race was a departure from feistier battles for the presidency, which becomes a powerful post should the mayor’s office open up, at which point the Council president becomes acting mayor. Murphy, Ross, and O’Malley were among the names City Hall insiders floated as president possibles, but questions about who was up and who was down in the days before Murphy’s announcement were largely greeted with a shrug.

The story behind Murphy’s win will likely be laid bare when committee assignments are distributed next month.

First elected to the council in 1997, he is expected to be reelected to the presidency on Jan. 7 at the first council meeting of the year, meaning he will have the job, which comes with a large corner office and helps with fundraising, in a municipal election year.

Michelle Wu, a South End resident and former Elizabeth Warren aide, has already formally thrown her hat in the ring and started fundraising for her at-large candidacy.

In 2011, when Murphy and his fellow councillors at-large were up for reelection and facing a challenge from former Councillor Michael Flaherty, Murphy played the role of council president and defender. He stressed that the incumbents – himself, Arroyo, Pressley and Connolly – functioned well together. (Though Murphy and Arroyo were apparently peeved when Pressley and Connolly broke off and campaigned together near the end of the race.) Murphy survived the election, barely edging Flaherty out of fourth place and retaining his seat on the council.

A Dorchester native who lives in Hyde Park, Murphy frequently eyes a higher office; he has unsuccessfully run for state treasurer and Suffolk County sheriff. “I am humbled by the vote of confidence in my leadership expressed by my colleagues,” Murphy said in a statement last week. “The coming year will be a difficult one as the City of Boston faces a tough fiscal climate. I believe that through cooperation with my colleagues in government and the Mayor, I will be able to lead the City Council through another successful year.”

Ex-City Hall aide launches tech advocacy group
City Councillor At-Large Pressley’s former chief of staff is launching a regional tech advocacy organization. James Chisholm, who stepped down from his City Hall post in May for a job at Resolute Consulting’s Boston office, is taking on the executive director job at The New England Tech Project.

The group’s priorities include increasing the amount of technological infrastructure, broadband access in urban and rural areas, and technology-related instruction in schools, said Chisholm, who is maintaining his job at Resolute, where he’s a vice president. The Tech Project will also advocate for entrepreneurs and technology consumers at various levels of government.

Chisholm noted that the New England region plays a large role in the “innovation economy. But we’re facing growing competition from up-and-coming tech hubs like New York City, Washington, D.C., Austin, and Chicago. It’s not us vs. Silicon Valley anymore,” he said. “Government and technology move at very different speeds. And oftentimes, government and the tech community seem to be speaking two entirely different languages. The New England Tech Project hopes to bridge that gap between government and the tech community and ensure that our focus is where it should be- growing our tech-driven economy for the benefit of our entire region.”