Editorial: What to expect next in Walsh-City Hall transition

If you’ve spent the last few days luxuriating in— or recovering from— Sunday night’s big victory by the Florida Patriots, there’s plenty to catch up on in the suddenly super-charged world of Boston politics. As President Biden would likely say: “Look, here’s the deal, folks.”

Last Thursday, Mayor Walsh got his much-anticipated hearing before a US Senate committee charged with reviewing his credentials to serve as the next US Secretary of Labor. To say that it went favorably for Walsh would be a wild understatement. It was a love fest, with the most revealing exchange centered on Hizzonah’s passion for the delightful coffee served up at Doughboy Donuts— a South Boston establishment that has the good fortune of being located on Dorchester Avenue.

As smooth as the hearing went for our neighbor, he’s not yet out the door at Government Center. While the Senate committee will undoubtedly green-light his appointment— and send it to the full Senate for a vote— we don’t yet know exactly when that will happen.

The chair of the committee— Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)— said that the body will allow ten days for written testimony to be submitted— stretching the timeline into next week. The Senate, of course, is otherwise occupied at the moment with the second impeachment of the last president. And, to further gum up the works, Congress is scheduled to be off next week for a break that coincides with school vacation week in many parts of the country, including our own.

So, at this point, Mayor Walsh is not likely to get a confirmation vote until the last week of February at the earliest. It could, we’re told, stretch into March. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, the day after his hearing in DC, Mayor Walsh signed the Home Rule petition to skip a special election to replace him when he resigns. The measure will bypass a spring-summer special election, stick with the regularly scheduled elections in the fall, and keep soon-to-be-acting Mayor Kim Janey in the mayor’s office through November (at least.) Walsh’s approval came after a near-unanimous vote (Councillor Essaibi George abstained) by councillors last Wednesday.

But, Walsh’s sign-off only brings the effort to skip a special mayoral election to the 50-yard-line. It goes next to state lawmakers, who must review Boston’s petition and pass it through both chambers. Then, Gov. Baker needs to sign it.

Members of the Legislature who represent the city discussed the measure in a call on Monday and resolved that the current head of the Boston delegation— Rep. Chynah Tyler of Roxbury— will file a bill with the House Clerk’s office to advance the home rule petition. As of Tuesday, the bill had not yet been filed.

Once it is, the clerk’s office will make a determination on which of several legislative committees will give it a hearing. That committee will, most likely, “report favorably” on Boston’s petition and set a date for a vote for the House, followed by the Senate. But, given that Beacon Hill is also taking a pause next week for February’s school break, it’ll most likely get pushed into the final week of the month.

So, for now, Mayor Walsh remains in charge of the city with a cabinet that is largely intact, even if the mayor himself is beginning to split his own time getting prepped for a major national post. In the meantime, Council President Janey— faced with the daunting task of getting her own team and herself ready to take charge— has a couple of more weeks to do so.

It’s a dynamic situation. So, stay tuned for updates by following our reporting team at DotNews.com and on Twitter at @DotNews.

-Bill Forry

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