Two Marty Walsh pals land jobs at BRA [Boston Herald :: ]
(Boston Herald (MA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 12--Two political operatives from Mayor Martin J. Walsh's campaign have landed jobs at the Boston Redevelopment Authority, an agency often criticized as a bastion of cronyism and targeted by Walsh for reform.
The two hires -- neither of whom have development or urban planning backgrounds -- joined the BRA on Feb. 18, less than three weeks before the Walsh administration began a purge of the agency last Friday.
According to the BRA, Phil Cohen was hired as an assistant to acting BRA director Brian Golden "to provide administrative and client relation support to the director, facilitate the non-board of directors activities of the office, and manages public records requests on behalf of the agency as directed by the executive secretary." Cohen was the Walsh campaign's deputy field director. Prior to that, he worked as a union organizer for Service Employees International Union.
The BRA said it hired John Swenson as a "business analyst/project manger" in the agency's management information systems department.
Swenson, who volunteered on the Walsh campaign and was a paid consultant to his inaugural committee, was U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch's "new media director" and campaign manager.
BRA spokeswoman Melina Schuler said in a statement: "Phil Cohen and John Swenson will serve in roles that are key to improving the BRA's systems as the agency goes through some critical transitions. Phil Cohen's political science and government background inform his role as an assistant to the director, where he will streamline the agency's responses to inquiries that come in under Massachusetts' Public Record law. In addition, John Swenson brings significant private sector experience as a director of project management and client services to his role analyzing the existing MIS workflow protocols to create efficiencies in our business processes."
Neither Cohen nor Swenson could be reached for comment. Walsh spokeswoman Kate Norton said, "The BRA is an independent authority and makes its own decisions about hiring."
Longtime BRA critic Shirley Kressel indicated she is willing to give the Walsh administration "the benefit of a doubt" on apparent political hires, saying she views the appointments not "as business as usual" at City Hall.
"I have a feeling these guys are being hired as the eyes and ears of Walsh in the BRA. They are not high-powered jobs you give to take over the agency and to do your will," Kressel said.
"I don't think this is hiring cronies from his campaign as payback. To me it's kind of a good sign. He is understanding that the BRA is not the kind of place you can learn about from audits or documents."
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