August 26, 2021
The Boston police patrolmen’s union last week declined to back a candidate for mayor while opting to back five candidates in the race for the at-large slots on the City Council.
“None of the candidates for mayor have requested our endorsement to date,” the union’s president, Larry Calderone, said in an email to the Reporter.
Most candidates, whatever office they run for, typically seek out and tout endorsements from public sector unions, regardless of whether the endorsements come with door-knockers and an influx of cash or little beyond the paper the backing is printed on.
The Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association (BPPA) is a unique case at this time. Its endorsement would hit as the police department is beset by scandals, ranging from a Walsh-appointed commissioner ousted after accusations of domestic violence to an overtime theft scheme revealed by federal prosecutors to a former officer being accused of sexually assaulting children in the 1990s.
On social media, the patrolmen’s union has been derisively called the Boston Pedophile Protection Association, stemming from the revelation earlier this year that the police department did not fire the accused officer, Patrick Rose, after a threat from the union that he later led.
The lack of an endorsement aside, the union has not donated to any of the mayoral candidates, though City Councillor Annissa Essaibi George leads in most donations from police among the candidates.
Earlier this year, the BPPA clashed with City Councillor Andrea Campbell, one of the five candidates running for mayor, after she said they had yet to explain “why they enabled and elevated an accused child molester.”
At a public forum broadcast online in July, Calderone said, “What Mr. Rose was accused of is horrible and disgusting. What our predecessors may or may not have been involved in is unbeknownst to this new leadership team here with me. We had no involvement with it.”
The next mayor will be tasked with negotiating a new contract with the union after the expiration of the old one last year. In Massachusetts, public safety unions have often resisted reforms while demanding pay hikes.
As for the at-large candidates, their endorsements are a different story. The union endorsed five, even though voters only get to choose four on the Sept. 14 ballot.
“It so happens that the field for ‘At-Large’ candidates is very large this election season,” Calderone said in his email.
The five candidates endorsed by the BPPA are: incumbent Mike Flaherty, Erin Murphy, Jon Spillane, Donnie Palmer, and Bridget Nee-Walsh.
Murphy was quick to tout the union’s endorsement. “As a single mom raising my family in Dorchester and as someone who grew up here, I know how important collaboration between the police and the community is,” she said in an email to supporters.
Spillane also said he was “proud” of the endorsement. “[Four] generations of my family have worn the BPD uniform,” he said, noting on Twitter a great-grandfather who participated in the police strike of 1919.
The union also endorsed incumbent Frank Baker for reelection in District 3, and said it is backing Brian Worrell in District 4, which is vacant due to Campbell’s run for mayor. T
The union did not endorse any of the eight candidates in District 7, which is also vacant thanks to the mayor’s race. Acting Mayor Kim Janey is vacating the seat to run for a full four-year term.