Pols yuk it up at Southie St. Patrick's Day breakfast

By 
Michael P. Norton, State House News Service
Mar. 16, 2014

State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry took center stage at Sunday's event in South Boston. Photo by Chris Lovett

The state’s political elite paused for a group selfie, turned the probation department hiring scandal into a laugh line, and took pokes at Republicans Charlie Baker and Scott Brown during the annual St. Patrick’s Day political breakfast Sunday morning.

Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry opened the proceedings at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center by dedicating the event to former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, urging participants to make him laugh amid reports over the weekend that he’s battling advanced form of cancer.

“He doesn’t want to turn on the TV and see our long faces,” Forry said. “I want the laughter and energy and prayers and positivity to flow from our breakfast hall here today to fill the mayor and his family with good cheer and courage. We love you mayor.”

A Haitian-American from Dorchester, Forry took over host duties from a string of male officeholders from South Boston, including Jack Hart, Stephen Lynch and William Bulger. Forry won her Senate seat by defeating Rep. Nick Collins of South Boston, who Forry suggested could lead the next Haitian Unity Parade.

“For those of you watching at home do not adjust your television set,” she declared at the outset. “There is nothing wrong with the picture on your TV. That is right everyone. That’s right. I’m a woman!”

Throwing his arm around Forry, Gov. Deval Patrick, the state’s first African-American governor, opened by exclaiming, “Have a good look everybody. This is what a Forry and a Patrick looks like these days.”

Patrick zeroed in Baker, his 2010 opponent and a candidate for governor again this year.

Noting their differences on policy issues during the 2010 campaign, Patrick said they now both believe in climate change, want to raise minimum wage, and support commuter rail extension to the South Coast.

“At this rate before the campaign is over we will both be black men from the south side of Chicago,” Patrick said.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren also targeted Baker. “He was once called the heart and soul of the Weld administration, which is like being called the smartest Kardashian,” Warren said.

Warren also surfaced her former opponent, Scott Brown. "I want to take a moment to remember those who are no longer with us,” Warren said. “But enough about Scott Brown moving to New Hampshire."

Introduced by Forry as “the lonely Republican, the last standing man,” Baker acknowledged he’d been questioned about his decision to attend an event dominated by Democrats, but said if “that crowd” was ready to embrace Forry as the host then “just maybe they’re ready to think about voting for a Republican for governor in November.” Forry’s was ready with a quick response. “Not yet Charlie. We’re not there yet guys.”

In his turn at the mic, Patrick raised the upcoming corruption trial of former Probation Commissioner John O’Brien, who is accused or rigging hiring at the department based on lists of job candidates favored by politicians.

“I’m hoping that some of your will put in a good word for me with the probation department,” said Patrick, who says he’ll look for work in the private sector after finishing his second term as governor this year.

Rep. Stephen Lynch of South Boston opened by addressing the state’s top elected officials seated to his left and right. “To all my colleagues in government here at the head table or as they call us down at the federal courthouse - the Jack O’Brien witness list.”

Lynch joined Forry in an instructional video to show her how to protect a street-side parking spot “if it even looks like it might snow,” emphasizing, “Above all, you’ve got to make sure no one ever touches your chair.”

Referring to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Lynch said it was different having a construction worker running City Hall. “When the city’s MCAS scores came back, Marty was very concerned that our tenth graders were only swearing at a fifth grade level,” Lynch said.

Getting what looked like a hard, belly laugh from Baker and the rest of the crowd, Lynch also chimed in on marijuana policy talks. “You never have to worry about the Republicans in Congress smoking pot because that would actually require them to pass something,” he said.

Several officeholders leaned on pre-packaged videos and photos, rather than traditional stand-up.

Attorney general candidate Warren Tolman narrated a video about outgoing Senate President Therese Murray, who is not seeking re-election as she nears the term limit for the Senate’s top official. The video ended with Murray joking that she’s changed her mind and will stay on in the Senate, or as Forry put it as “queen of everything.”

“Senate President Murray, for the next six months, you’re outstanding,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh later joked.

Walsh said he’d been asked about bringing Irish traditions to the mayor’s office. “And I said, ‘Just a couple of grudges.’ ”

Walsh also joked about an “absentee landlord” and a “problem property” in Dorchester, holding up a photo of The Boston Globe and saying, “I want to show you the property that I’m happy we’re getting rid of. And as you know I’ve been looking for a place to move City Hall. And I’m thinking why not Morrissey Boulevard? Half the people working in City Hall live in Dorchester now, and they can walk to work.”

Before orchestrating an impromptu group selfie, House Speaker Robert DeLeo addressed Murray, telling her, “Your warmth - that icy smile is something I’m going to miss terribly.” He went on to characterize Murray’s likely successor, Amherst Democrat Stan Rosenberg, as “my pal buddy.”

DeLeo also displayed a series of selfies from his recent tour through South Boston. ‘I spent a whole day in this city,” he said. “I had an upset stomach from eating everything I could.”

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