The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, June 10, 2004

The Boston Cops: a great story, pity about the Convention...

It's crying out for a six to eight thousand word wrap in the New Yorker. So many angles, so much great trivia.

For instance: Adrian Walker says in the Globe today:
this battle [is] about two strong and stubborn personalities...Menino and...Nee. This became personal a long time ago.

He talks about
the accumulated bad blood of recent years, exemplified by the heckling of Menino's family by the BPPA at the State of the City speech last year.

What's up with that?

...Officer Thomas M. Menino Jr. has been pressured to toe the union line in opposition to his father.

We have tales of goon-on-goon confrontation.

And Menino - like, for instance, Margaret Thatcher in her 1980s confrontation with the miners - is carefully husbanding (if he's any sense) the benefit of a big union split.

According to a Herald piece, Nee, entirely in the spirit of the agreement of last week, was showing leadership on the picket-line:
...pickets from the police union and an array of other city unions turned back a crane that tried to enter the FleetCenter's gates with shouts of "scab'' and a stream of angry invective.

The driver, after several attempts to nudge his crane forward, threw up his hands, evoking wild cheering from the picketers.

"You should be ashamed of yourself,'' yelled a construction manager who tried to guide the truck through.

On the details of the dispute, a little elucidation from a Globe piece: apparently, 4% increases for each of the final three years of the four year contract are agreed - the dispute is over the first year, for which the BPPA has demanded 4% and the City has offered 0%. Apparently,
In 2003, the average Boston patrolman made $57,200 in base pay and $80,400 in overtime, paid details, and Quinn Bill educational incentives.

Not exactly the poorest cops in the land.

All this local detail is delightful, of course. But no hiding that the main interest is the effect of the fiasco on Democratic politics nationally.

Kerry, the local boy (up to a point), obviously needs to tread carefully. His policy of masterly inactivity, which has worked so well for him on Iraq, is certainly the default here.

There is the prospect of a Sister Souljah moment: but far more likely - given the record of orneriness and GOP-support of the BPPA - is humiliation: one word from me and they do as they like. Menino's divide and rule strategy with the unions would be at risk from outside intervention of any kind, one would have thought. And, even if Menino invited to Kerry to step in - well, the Mayor's judgement doesn't exactly seem to have been flawless in the police pay issue generally.

The Senior Senator from Massachusetts, Mr Chappaquiddick, has been active, though, according to the Globe:
In recent days Kennedy has contacted AFL-CIO leader John Sweeney, other labor leaders in Washington, and top Massachusetts Democrats and congressmen to open as many channels as possible to urge the Boston unions to put an end to the pickets at the FleetCenter.

Menino says
national politicians might be able to help
but then demonstrates his flakiness:
The only way anyone can help is if they give us a barrel full of money.

Which is a stupid thing to say from various perspectives: there will be no barrel of money, most likely [1]; but, even if there were, boasting about it would only make Nee and his boys dig in their heels and up their demands.

The Globe piece also refers back to the 2001 round of contracts, where the firemen gave him the treatment, and, at the last minute, won a big deal. The City coffers were fuller then, though.

Joan Vennochi [2] in the Globe today lays the problem at the presumptive candidate's door:
JOHN KERRY has a plan for health care, the economy, and the war in Iraq. How about announcing a plan to stand up to organized labor when it acts like a spoiled bully?

She gets a nice Nee-ism from the picket-line -
It's like the Mafia
- and further particulars on the crane incident (the one mentioned above, I think):
"Game's on," said Nee, as the driver started down Causeway Street then stopped before turning into the Fleet Center. A theatrical entreaty from Nee to the driver -- "Listen to your heart" -- quickly descended into expletives and threats from the rest of the pack. It all played out against the constant chant of "Do not cross, do not cross."

The crane driver looked at the surging line of picketers, listened to what they shouted, shook his head and turned away. Victory for the union.

And, after some why, oh why! guff familiar to readers of the (UK) Daily Mail of old, we get this:
What if Kerry stood up to the picket line and asked them to let crane drivers and others in to do the work needed for the convention? How many votes would he pick up with a stand like that?

In this sort of piece, rhetorical questions scream their (rhetorical) answer. With this, I'm not sure. And don't know that Vennochi is sure either. Chances are, the cops would ignore him or shout him down. In which case, the answer to the second question is minus carloads!

And - these union hoodlums often seem to have a sense of humour - Nee supposedly said he would
Nee said he would "walk John Kerry in to be nominated."

Is that an endorsement?

  1. Failing the sort of lateral thinking I called for yesterday.

  2. Is Vennochi on the list of Hateworthy Harpies with Nedra Pickler, Elisabeth Bumiller, Jodi Wilgoren and others too numerous to mention? I know not: the Howler dissed her on February 7 and February 10 2003.

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