It is the type of scandal that hasn't been seen at Boston City Hall since the days of Kevin White- more than a generation ago. Timothy Sullivan, a top advisor to Mayor Marty Walsh, is the second high ranking official to be indicted. He follows another member of Walsh's inner circle, Kevin Brissette, who was similarly charged last month with extorting promoters of Boston Calling, an annual musical festival.  

Today's indictment out of the U.S attorney's office charges that both men were part of a plan to withhold permits from the concert's promoters unless union workers were hired to work the show, even though they weren't needed. This investigation is on top of what's been a tough couple of months for Walsh. The sudden resignation of the headmaster of Boston Latin School after a series of racial problems at the esteemed exam school has been a political quagmire.

Walsh was a champion of Indycar Boston, a proposed road race thru the Seaport that stalled and has left many ticketholders without refunds-- and is being investigated by Attorney General Maura Healey. The mayor was also a champion of the effort to bring the olympics here-  another idea that got nowhere fast.

Workers’ rights attorney,  Lydia Edwards (@lydiaforsenate); criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor Brad Bailey (@Brad4Justice); and Kevin C. Peterson, founder of the New Democracy Coalition; join Jim to examine what all of this means for Walsh's ability to lead the city.

Kevin Peterson started the discussion by saying that politically, this is a bad look for Mayor Walsh. This could possibly be a sign of corruption within the administration. “I don’t think there’s any personal corruption on his end, but it’s looking like there’s can be corruption within the administration. That’s going to hurt him long term politically, particularly as he gears up for re-election next year,” said Peterson.

Brad Bailey added his expertise as a former prosecutor, “Well certainly, anytime you’re looking at the inner circle of any political organization or group, people are going to start looking around seeing who may be next, that’s possible. But also, Jim, the feds are masters at taking unindicted co-conspirators and expanding the roles of evidence by claiming other people are involved, in order to get evidence otherwise they wouldn’t be able to. So that’s some of what’s going on there”

Lydia Edwards is a workers’ rights lawyer. She finds this to be not fair at all, mainly because these were agreements that guaranteed eight jobs with good wages. She said, “If you look at it in terms of workers’ rights, and an advocate for in terms of what the city and what Boston should do, when it comes to negotiating and looking at contracts, I want to know that my mayor is sitting there and assuring that people are having a chance and shot at good wages.” She also emphasized that in her opinion, this is not a criminal issue- to ensure that eight people are hired on a city contract.

Bailey came back in by saying, “extortion is very easy in terms of the elements depriving of other people of property, extortion of acts affecting interstate commerce, and acting under the color of right as a governmental official of depriving another of a property. That’s not a lot in terms of proving beyond a reasonable doubt.”

For Peterson the point is that Mayor Walsh has to own the fact that any of this is coming to the public view. “He may not be corrupt, his administration may not be corrupt, but certainly the waters are troubled and certainly there’s a stench within the administration, and he has to won the stench.”

Edwards refuted that Mayor Walsh is accepting and owning that this has happened. She added that Walsh said he will open himself up to any investigation to see what is going on. To that end, Jim responded by mentioning several instances where Mayor Walsh refused to answer whether or not he would give more information on any situations under scrutiny or investigation. Peterson finds that the mayor has not been acting in a way that Edwards suggested- being open and available to the public to answer questions. Peterson finds that they mayor had a similar response around the controversy of the Boston Latin School.

Bailey added that the feds are masters at bringing pressure. The fact that the indicted men are facing up to 20 years, it is a major incentive for anyone involved to give information.

Jim went on to mention that in other cities Mayors and other officials are consistently criticized- even for small actions. Here in Boston, there seems to be a silence among the citizens around the several controversies involving Walsh’s administration: Indycar, Boston 2024, BLS, and two administrators being indicted. Peterson being a grassroots organizer thinks that Mayor Tom Menino set that precedent. He said that in the grassroots, there is some rumbling about what is going on in city Hall. Peterson does think that there is politically and metaphorically, “blood on the floor.”

For more on this conversation, click on the video above.