Reporter's Notebook: A busy time for the new guy, filling all the important seats
Joyce Linehan, the owner of a public relations business based out of her home in Lower Mills, was adamant in the days after the mayoral election: After spending most of 2013 on the campaign trail with Marty Walsh, working on policy matters and playing the part of close confidant, she wasn’t going to work at City Hall.
On Tuesday, she was inside the Eagle Room, off of the mayoral suite, standing next to five other hires and behind the man she helped elect. “I know what I said,” she stated in a blog post later in the day, explaining that she was taking the job of chief of policy.
She added: “How could I not do this? It’s a mid-life career change for sure – as well as a wholesale cultural change. Aside from one short summer between my junior and senior year of high school at the First National Bank of Boston, I have never actually worked in an office. I seldom wear shoes that aren’t sneakers. I do not own one business suit. This should be interesting.”
In the room, Linehan was joined by state Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty, a Chelsea Democrat and Irish American who was elected to the State House around the same time as Walsh, and Alejandra St. Guillen, the executive director of Oiste, a group geared towards getting more Latinos and Latinas elected to office. Like Linehan, O’Flaherty and St. Guillen were reluctant to leave their current jobs, but Walsh managed to persuade them otherwise after campaigns to cajole them into City Hall.
O’Flaherty will be corporation counsel, the city’s top attorney, and St. Guillen will serve as interim director of the Office of New Bostonians. O’Flaherty told reporters he expects to start the new job on Feb. 3.
Three other appointments were also announced: Joe Rull, who was Walsh’s field director and inside the boiler room at a union hall on Election Night, will be chief of operations; Trinh Nguyen, most recently the chief of staff at the Boston Housing Authority, will head the administration’s Office of Jobs & Community Services on an interim basis; and Keith Williams, who has worked inside City Hall in a variety of capacities including in the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, has been appointed to oversee the Boston Jobs Policy as the interim director of Small Business.
The six appointments announced on Tuesday afternoon were not only diverse in gender and ethnicity, but also somewhat diverse in ideology as well. O’Flaherty is a conservative Democrat who as House chair of the Joint Committee on Judiciary has clashed with judicial reform activists, while Linehan is a self-described “unabashed liberal.” O’Flaherty and Rull live outside of Boston – O’Flaherty in Chelsea and Rull in Norwell – and they will get a six-month grace period to move inside city limits.
Another position was announced on Tuesday night: William Evans, the acting police commissioner after Ed Davis stepped down last year, will be permanent as of Thursday. WCVB-TV’s Janet Wu reported the appointment, a leak that caused the Walsh administration to quickly put out a statement confirming the move.
In one of the administration’s first bumps in the road, the Walsh statement was an exact copy of Mayor Thomas Menino’s statement when he appointed Evans as the interim. Hours later, a spokeswoman issued a revised release with an apology and a new quote. “Commissioner Evans has been an exceptional leader to the Boston Police Department, and public safety is one of my biggest priorities,” Walsh said in the statement. “Commissioner Evans has been an invaluable resource to me during this transition period, and I know that his expertise and governance of the Police Department will be a key component to my Administration.”
Walsh has also appointed Chief John Hasson, a member of the Boston Fire Department since 1973, as interim fire commissioner.
Over the weekend, he announced that Daniel Arrigg Koh, who has worked for Arianna Huffington and her website, the Huffington Post, will be his chief of staff, and ex-rival Felix Arroyo, a former city councillor at-large, will be the chief of health and human services.
An Andover native who briefly contemplated running for state representative, Koh, the son of Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health and human services under President Obama, is largely unknown in Boston political circles. Arroyo is the son of Felix D. Arroyo, a former city councillor at-large himself. “We’ve had many conversations after the campaign, and that’s his passion,” Walsh said on WCVB’s “On the Record,” a political chat show that aired Sunday. “His passion is around young people, his passion is around disparities and health disparities, the communities and neighborhoods.”
On his first day in office, after returning from Conte Forum, Walsh swore in two members of the School Committee: Hardin Coleman, a Boston University dean who was appointed by Mayor Menino to fill John Barros’s slot in 2013 after Barros left to run for mayor, and Michael Loconto, a West Roxbury attorney. Loconto, a Boston Public Schools parent, fills the slot of Mary Tamer, who supported John Connolly in the mayoral election. Her term had expired.
The seven-member School Committee met late Monday afternoon, and re-elected Michael O’Neill, a financial service executive, as its chairman. The committee will be working with a search panel to find the next superintendent, while John McDonough, the department’s budget chief, serves as interim. O’Neill noted that McDonough had received a shout-out in Walsh’s inaugural address, offering a vote of confidence for the interim superintendent. There was no mention of a time frame for choosing somebody permanent, he added.
Team Walsh’s move into City Hall is expected to continue for another month. “The transition will go on probably into February, so we still have public meetings taking place and folks are getting their final reports ready and all that sort of stuff, so there’s plenty of work still to be done,” Linehan said. The Franklin Street transition headquarters will stay open until at least the end of January, according to Linehan.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Reporter correspondent Mike Deehan contributed to this report. Material from State House News Service was also used. Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at dotnews.com/litdrop. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow us on Twitter: @LitDrop and @gintautasd.