Fortunately, I Don't Need the Boston Herald to Offer My Two Cents to Marty Walsh

Friday, January 10, 2014

The day after New Year’s, a bunch of prominent folks offered advice to incoming Boston Mayor Marty Walsh in an article featured prominently in the Boston Herald.

The headline on the article had two lines or “decks,” as they are sometimes called in the newspaper business.  The top deck said, “The Reshaping of City Hall,” the bottom, “Hub Power Brokers Offer Plan of Action.” 

Fifteen power brokers -- 14 men and one woman -- were allotted space in the Herald to give some advice to Walsh in their own words.  There were thus 15 separate mini-chapters in the story, each with its own sub-headline, the purpose of which was to describe the kernel of each broker’s advice.  Here’s what those sub-headlines said:

Eugene Rivers: Address Boston’s ‘soft apartheid’

Emmett Folgert: Be a champion for teens

Mike Ross: Nurture old and new neighborhoods

Jack Kelly: Find leaders that share vision

George Regan: Define yourself

Joe Slavet: Don’t try to be another Menino

Doug Rubin: Compassion is key to success

Scott Ferson: Develop your own identity

Matthew Cahill: Transparency key

John Dunlap: All about balance

John Fish: Easy does it

Joe Fallon: Build on development

Paul Levy: Focus on health centers

Dusty Rhodes: Embrace business

Robert Beal: Keep talent in Boston

I must have been out of the office the day the Herald called to see if I had any pearls of wisdom for Mayor Walsh, which of course I do.  I’m bummed about that.  But fortunately I have this blog thing going.

Blogs were invented to give everybody, no matter how little they know or how poorly they express themselves, the opportunity to get a word in, regardless of whether anybody wants to hear it or not.   How I love the blogosphere.

If the Herald had caught up with me, this is what my headlined mini-chapter would have looked like:

John Hahesy: Beware sycophantectis!

There is a Roman proverb that says, There is no remedy for the bite of the sycophant.  You’re an educated man, so I know you know what a sycophant is.  But, for my enemies and other nitwits, I’m providing the dictionary definition: “a servile, self-seeking flatterer.”  Big-city mayors attract sycophants the way popcorn attracts pigeons.  This is not news to you.  However, knowing that sycophants lurk around every corner will not necessarily protect you from the incurable infection that almost always results from their repeated and prolonged biting. Once infected, a mayor or any other elected leader for that matter will suffer from impaired perception and judgment.  Those impairments ultimately result in detachment from the voters who once admired you and inevitable defeat at the polls.  There’s a story, perhaps apocryphal, about Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York.  The cardinal had just been installed and was showing an old friend of his, a brother priest, around his palatial residence next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  “Look at this! Isn’t it amazing,” Spellman supposedly said. His friend, who was visibly unimpressed, shook his head and replied, “Don’t you realize: No one is going to tell you the truth ever again.”  (By the way his cardinal-ship developed, Spellman obviously did not take this warning to heart.)  You need someone around you now, preferably an old and trusted friend, someone who knew you when few could have imagined that you’d be Mayor of Boston one day, a person who can look you in the eye, tell you the plain truth, and not worry, or care, that you might get pissed off.  That’s why I’m glad you chose Gene O’Flaherty to be your Corporation Counsel, the city’s top lawyer.  Gene has known you for a very long time.  You two are like brothers. He loves you.  He loves you enough to tell you the truth.  You love him enough to see that you need the truth, the whole Geno truth, every day.

1 comment:

Gene said...

Spot on as usual. Maybe the Herald was reluctant to print the unvarnished truth. Hope the mayor reads your blog.

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