The Race for City Hall

John Connolly to decide his position on 25.4 percent pay raise for patrol officers within 24 hours

Mayoral candidate John Connolly said today he will decide within the next 24 hours how he will vote on an arbitrators decision to award Boston police patrol officers a 25.4 percent raise over six years, a vote that is facing the City Council where Connolly is an at-large member.

“I’m not going to do anything to hurt the fiscal health of the city,’’ Connolly said this afternoon.

He said he spent Sunday meeting with Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s team to get their input into the financial implications of the $80 million award for the patrol officers represented by the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association.

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Menino is urging the City Council, which controls the city’s finances and must vote on whether to fund the otherwise-binding ruling, to scuttle the award. Menino’s administration wants to avoid setting a precedent that would discourage unions from settling voluntarily when better deals can routinely be had in arbitration.

Connolly said criticism of Menino for his stance on the vote was unwarranted.

“I think it’s outlandish to blame the mayor,’’ Connolly said. “This is about binding arbitration.”

Connolly’s opponent in the general election, state Representative Martin J. Walsh, criticized Menino for not successfully negotiating a contract, which set the stage for the arbitration award for patrol officers. Walsh called Menino “irresponsible.’’

Connolly said he plans to meet with the BPPA, the largest union in the police department, at 5 p.m. today.

“I’m also thinking about the patrolmen who haven’t had a raise in five years,’’ Connolly said.

The pay raise for patrol officers has emerged as a hot issue between Walsh and Connolly, who finished first and second in the Sept. 24 preliminary election and are now competing to succeed Menino, who has held office for the last 20 years.

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