John Connolly for Mayor
Melvin B. Miller | 10/15/2013, 9:28 a.m.
For 20 years Tom Menino has been the hard-working, popular mayor of Boston. He was considered to be politically invulnerable. John Connolly was the only candidate with the courage to enter the race for mayor when everyone thought the battle would be against Menino. Connolly was willing to put his safe seat on the Boston City Council on the line for the opportunity to implement his programs to benefit the citizens of Boston. He is the only candidate voters can rely on to have the courage to hold excessive union demands at bay.
This was not the first time Connolly took great risks to stand on principle. In the prior city election he campaigned with Ayanna Pressley to bridge the racial divide in politics. Both he and Pressley won, and in the recent preliminary election Pressley topped the ticket with 42,875 votes. Connolly’s earlier position was clearly beneficial.
Now the taxpayers of Boston face an enormous risk and the new mayor must be committed to stand against this challenge. Unionized public sector workers are increasing their demands for benefits that would have to be financed by Boston’s limited tax base. About 54 percent of Boston’s budget pays for schools and public safety (police and fire department). The strongest unions are in those sectors.
Connolly voted against approval of the Boston Teachers Union contract, primarily because it did not guarantee the needed extended day for students. And he has indicated that he will vote to return the police contract to arbitration. Those votes protect both the interests of the city’s students and the taxpayers.
Working people have a propensity to support unions. That attitude is understandable with industrial unions in companies that might not adopt worker friendly policies. However, public sector unions require closer scrutiny. Financial adjustments come from the taxpayers, not the pockets of rich industrialists. Connolly has the courage and the character to oppose union abuses.
The present police contract under arbitration indicates how matters can become distorted. The police want a 25.4 percent increase over six years. They believe that this raise in pay is owed to them even though there has been no increase for several years in the wages of Boston workers in private industry and commerce. Executives’ pay has indeed gone up, but workers’ pay has remained static.
According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in Boston earned an average wage of $60,403, a level higher than the national average. But that is chump change compared to the pay of Boston police patrolmen. A study of the payroll records indicates that Boston police officers, on average, earn almost $110,000 per year from base pay, overtime and paid details. More than 100 officers even earned more than $140,000 in 2012.
Cities across the country have been financially plagued by excessive salary and benefits plans that have been negotiated by public sector unions. These windfalls have induced public workers to join unions and now 36 percent are unionized compared with only 12 percent of those in industrial jobs. Boston needs a mayor who will fight against unreasonable union demands. Connolly is that man.
The union tactic has been to force negotiations into mediation where the result will more likely favor the union. Only the mayor and the city council will then be able to oppose the mediator’s decision. But for several years, Connolly’s opponent has been trying to pass legislation in the House of Representatives that would make the mediator’s ruling final.
Boston needs Connolly as a mayor who will protect the solvency of the city and assure fair treatment of taxpayers while still pursuing the progressive development of the city.