Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh promised today to help Mayor Thomas M. Menino negotiate a contract with the city’s police union, if the City Council votes it down.
“I certainly will offer my services to Mayor Menino in the interim to sit down with both sides,”Walsh said at a news conference this afternoon. “We can certainly get to yes.”
He declined to offer the council advice on which way to vote. “I think the council’s going to make their decision. … I will accept whatever their decision is, whatever they vote.”
Walsh’s comments came the day after he beat City Councilor John R. Connolly in the first open mayoral race in a generation.
If the City Council votes down the contract recommend by an arbitrator, Walsh’s attempts to get a compromise will be closely watched because during the election Connolly questioned whether Walsh, a state representative who worked at the same time as a union leader, was too closely tied to labor to protect the city’s finances in contract negotiations. Walsh countered that his experience would help him in contract talks.
The recent arbitrator’s ruling called for an increase in Boston police salaries that city officials say would amount to a 25.4 percent hike over six years. Critics have called those terms too generous. Connolly vowed to vote against the contract on the council. Walsh has said that the arbitrator’s ruling was “out of line” and “not in the best interest of the taxpayers.” But he has stopped short of asking the Council to vote against it.
Earlier today, Menino welcomed Walsh to City Hall to discuss the transition to a new administration in January.
Walsh arrived at the end of Menino’s weekly cabinet meeting, and city department heads greeted the incoming mayor with applause, according to several people in the room. Walsh and Menino then met in the mayor’s fifth-floor office before addressing a throng of reporters in the lobby.
“Let me welcome mayor-elect Walsh to City Hall,” Menino said as cameras flashed. “Marty and I just had a good conversation about the transition.”
The city included $50,000 in this year’s budget for the transition. It includes office space at 100 Franklin St. for Walsh. A search firm has also been placed on retainer to help Walsh find staff throughout the country, Menino said.
“We’re in good hands. Marty has the ability, I think, to take the city to the next level,” Menino said. “This is not about Marty Walsh and Tom Menino. It’s about the city of Boston and how we continue to move the city forward. I have a lot of confidence in this young man.”
Walsh thanked Menino for his kindness and thanked him for his 20 years of service to the city.
“He’s been a great mayor,” Walsh said. I’m honored to be here today.”
In the afternoon news conference, Walsh also said he would be making an announcement about his transition team on Friday.
He said Menino had talked to him about what it’s like to be a new mayor and given him some advice, telling him that “a lot of people are going to be coming at you. You have a lot of friends right now” — but advising him to keep the city’s interests first.