Flynn dons political sneakers, goes one-on-one with legislature

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Having friends in high places can be a real asset, especially within Massachusetts government circles and atop Beacon Hill. Boston's Mayor-elect Raymond L. Flynn thus almost surely can count on a lot of sympathetic ears whenever he drops in at the State House, a place where he may spend considerable time during the coming months and years.

The big question, however, is to what extent friendships among former Beacon Hill colleagues will produce favorable responses to some of Mr. Flynn's legislative proposals.

While Flynn is far too practical a politician to take anything for granted, particularly lawmaker support for measures that might cost the commonwealth more , he anticipates less difficulty in selling his ideas than did outgoing Mayor Kevin H. White.

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Unlike Mayor White, whose relations with the legislature were rocky at worst and remotely cordial at best, Flynn is not expected to rely on the persuasive talents of paid lobbyists.

Mayor White, it may be recalled, got off on the wrong foot with members of the House and the Senate when, upon his election to the city's helm 16 years ago , he served notice that he would not step down from his post as secretary of state until state lawmakers approved certain legislation. The measure, finally enacted, provided for state takeover of what had been the local government's share of welfare costs.

Certain lawmakers were particularly anxious to have the secretary of state's chair vacant, since the new occupant would be chosen by the legislature, and former House Speaker John F. X. Davoren, a Milford Democrat, had his sights set on it. And the latter's departure from the legislature cleared the way for fomrer state Rep. Robert H. Quinn, a Boston Democrat, to gain the House rostrum.

The cost takeover measure might well have passed anyway, but the White push from behind the scenes and the ambitions of Mr. Davoren and Mr. Quinn probably made it happen a bit sooner.

As was the situation in November 1967, when Mayor White was first elected, Mayor-elect Flynn approaches Boston's executive chair at a time when concern for the city's financial status has spurred a new drive for increased revenue.

Already awaiting lawmaker attention at their 1984 sitting is a variety of Flynn-sponsored, wallet-relief proposals for the capital city.

These include a 15 percent parking excise tax, a boost in the hotel-motel occupancy tax from 5.7 percent to 8 percent, and a levy on certain property sales where the seller had held ownership for but a few years. Other key items on the mayor-elect's Beacon Hill shopping list are state takeover of all Suffolk County courthouse and jail costs, phased-in state assumption of the local share of Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority operating deficits, and state payments in-lieu-of-taxes to Boston for certain state-owned property within the city.

Most of these proposals are anything but new, a lot of lawmaker help will surely be necessary if any of them are to make it in 1984. Much may depend on how compelling a case Flynn can make before his former fellow-legislators.

None of these proposals, or others that are sure to follow from the Boston executive suite, are cast in concrete. If senators and representatives can come up with a plan by which the mayor gets significantly more money to run the city, Flynn, for whom pride of authorship is not all that important, can be expected to work for its passage.

Some veteran observers on the Massachusetts lawmaking scene, however, are skeptical how successful pleas for appreciable new revenues for Boston will be next year. It is an election year, and senators and representatives may be hesitant to go along with anything that would tap the purses of their constituents.

Those with doubts about the mayor-elect's effectiveness during the coming 12 months suggest that prospects might be considerably brighter for various proposals to increase Flynn's grasp on Boston's administrative reins.

One measure, which the incoming mayor has indicated he might file, would make the Boston police commissioner coterminus with the municipal chief executive. This would clear the way for replacing Police Commissioner Joseph Jordan, a Mayor White appointee whose current five-year term extends nearly to the end of the Flynn's own term.

As busy as Flynn is sure to be taking over and settling into his new position at City Hall, he just might become as visible at the State House as some of the senators and representatives.

Crucial to the Flynn legislative program, next year or any year - is enlisting the support of rank-and-file senators and representatives as well as the leadership. Senate President William M. Bulger (D) of Boston presumably could be an invaluable ally, although probably a quiet one. Both men not only served in the legislature together for eight overlapping years - Flynn in the House and Bulger in the upper chamber - but they also are both residents of South Boston.

Besides Mr. Bulger, 24 other members in the 40-seat Senate and 91 members in the 170-chair house served in the legislature with Boston's mayor-elect. Flynn left in January 1978 to devote full time to his City Council responsibilities.

While hardly buddy-buddy with either House Speaker Thomas W. McGee (D) of Lynn or state Rep. George Keverian (D) of Everett (who has challenged the speaker for control of the gavel in 1985), Flynn has been on good terms with both. In his dealings within the legislature, the mayor-elect would stand to gain nothing by being drawn into the continuing and increasingly bitter battle for political leadership.

Within 36 hours of his election, Flynn was on Beacon Hill touching bases with state lawmakers, including a chat with Gov. Michael S. Dukakis. Governor Dukakis , who got along famously with outgoing Mayor White during his current term and his earlier one from 1975 to 1978, made it clear he looked forward to working with Flynn.

However, Dukakis made no commitment that would involve backing any elements of Flynn's legislation to help Boston's financial status. Rarely does the governor take firm stands on the proposals of others, especially plans of a controversial nature.

As pledged in his 1982 gubernatorial comeback campaign, Dukakis favors increased local aid (money from the federal government that is distributed by the states to its municipalities) to all cities and towns in the commonwealth, achieved by turning over 40 percent of the annual growth revenue from the income , sales, and corporate taxes. A substantial portion of all such monies distributed, no matter what allocation formula is used, will benefit Boston most.

Although the governor and mayor-elect are both Democrats, they are on different political wavelengths when social issues are concerned. Dukakis is a liberal and Flynn, a conservative. This was most evident during Dukakis's first administration, when he vetoed Flynn-sponsored efforts to ban public funding of abortions for welfare recipients.

But any differences of the past are not likely to interfere with today's relationship between the newly elected mayor and the more-seasoned head of state. It is important to both men, as well as to the commonwealth, that the capital city keep its fiscal house in order to avoid any sweeping bailout by the state.

For that reason, the executive branches of both city and state government may need to keep in much closer touch than in the past.

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