For Ed Flynn, awkward roles of race healer and redistricting foe
WHEN WILLIAM FAULKNER famously observed that “the past is never dead, it isn’t even past,” he wasn’t referring to Boston’s troubled history on matters of race – but he might as well have been.
In the midst of the city reflecting on the life of Mel King – framed by the idea that his historic run for mayor 40 years ago ushered in a new day in Boston race relations – the divisions that once defined the city seem to have sprung back to life in a federal lawsuit challenging new city council district lines approved by the City Council and signed into law by Mayor Michelle Wu last fall. And in a generational echo of the 1983 race that pitted King against ultimate victor Ray Flynn, the former mayor’s son, Ed Flynn, figures prominently in the current conflict over redistricting.
Ed Flynn has cut a profile much like the one his father had after becoming mayor, a loyal son of Southie who has gone to great lengths to promote racial harmony and heal divisions, not inflame them. The redistricting showdown, however, is testing that in a way the younger Flynn hasn’t faced since winning his seat in 2017.
The council approved the new map governing its nine district-based seats on a 9-4 vote, with its four more moderate White members voting against the plan.
Flynn and Baker joined at-large city councilors Michael Flaherty and Erin Murphy in voting against the plan. Opponents say the map has fractured longtime communities, with Flynn objecting to the splitting of two big South Boston public housing developments into separate districts. Baker has lashed out at the division into separate districts of the precincts surrounding the Adams Village business area in southern Dorchester.
Baker has contributed $10,000 from his campaign account to the federal lawsuit challenging the map, and all four of the councilors who voted against the plan were at the Moakley federal courthouse on Monday, where a judge is hearing arguments in a case seeking an injunction to stop the map from going into effect for the municipal election this fall.
The arguments animating the opposition can have a head spinning feel to them, depending on who’s speaking.
While proponents of the new map say they were guided by the federal Voting Rights Act, which is designed to protect minority voting power, Baker has ripped the plan as an attack on White voters.
“They’re telling us White people don’t matter,” he said at a heated South Boston community meeting on the redistricting plan last October.
Flynn took a decidedly different tack at the meeting. He’s aligned with the council’s three most conservative White members in a stark divide that’s hard to ignore. But Flynn argued that the bloc of nine councilors who approved the map, which includes all six minority members, were ignoring minority residents by breaking Southie’s public housing projects, which have large minority populations, into separate districts.
“When my colleagues tried to divide communities of color in my district, that’s personal to me,” Flynn said.
Flynn demurred when asked yesterday about the redistricting showdown now playing out in court. “Out of respect for the judicial process, I’m not going to comment on the case until a decision is made,” he said.
Tough transition: William “Batch” Batchelder has been living outside in a Greenfield park for three years and is discovering the skills he used to survive during that period don’t match up well with his current pursuit of a place to live. Read more.
Got to have art: Beth Francis and Karen Ristuben of the Essex County Community Foundation and Emily Bronson and Peter Taylor of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation explain how arts enrich the state’s civic life. Read more.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
The head of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, David D’Arcangelo, is leaving his post following a Globe report detailing multiple allegations of verbal abuse and mismanagement against him. (Boston Globe)
Conservative Republican state Rep. Nicholas Boldyga of Southwick has filed a bill to legalize psychedelic mushrooms, citing evidence of their benefit in treating PTSD, mental illness, and depression. (Boston Herald)
Gov. Maura Healey announces the members of a Governor’s Council on Latino Empowerment. (State House News Service)
Boston City Councilor Kenzie Bok will give up her seat next month to run the Boston Housing Authority. (Boston Globe)
Boston will take part in a violence prevention initiative based at the University of Maryland amid concerns about rising gun violence rates. (Boston Herald)
Mass General Brigham declined to voluntarily recognize a union of residents, interns, and fellows, so employees will now move forward with a vote. (GBH)
The circus finally came to town as former president Donald Trump was processed and appeared at his arraignment in New York City, where he entered a not guilty plea to charges related to hush-money payments to a porn star in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election. (Washington Post) The New York Times says the 34-count indictment against Trump includes an unexpected allegation – that he falsified business records in part to deceive state tax authorities – that may strengthen a case that many experts say was otherwise a risky one for prosecutors to bring.
Brandon Johnson, a liberal county commissioner and paid organizer with the Chicago Teachers Union, narrowly defeated more conservative hopeful Paul Vallas to win the race for Chicago mayor. (Chicago Sun-Times)
A School Committee meeting in Easthampton was postponed when Zoom and public access television were overwhelmed by people trying to weigh in on the decision to withdraw a job offer to a candidate for school superintendent who referred to two woman officials as “ladies” in a recent email. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)
A new UMass Amherst logo gets mixed reviews from students. (New England Public Radio)
Former Worcester city manager Edward Augustus Jr. is stepping down as chancellor of Dean College after less than a year, saying “a more traditional format” of management is a better option for the school. (MassLive)
CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTSDistrict attorneys across the state are increasing their use of “dangerousness hearings” to keep those being charged locked up before the case goes to trial. Essex County is the most aggressive in using the hearings. (Gloucester Times)
MEDIADan Kennedy surveys newspaper front pages from Donald Trump’s day in a New York courtroom. (Media Nation)