Ray Dooley, architect of Ray Flynn’s longshot win for Mayor of Boston, chief of staff to Congressman Joe Kennedy and friend to a lot of those of us who love politics and policy passed away yesterday of pancreatic cancer. He was 54.
Today, many of us who worked for Ray Flynn recalled our friend fondly. This writer got his first job at City Hall via Dooley. I had been up in Maine and New Hampshire making the rounds with the dissolving Alan Cranston for President campaign and returned to Boston after Cranston’s withdrawal from the race. Upon getting home, there was an answering machine message from Ray, “if you’re done with all that, we could use you at City Hall”. I went from Area Code 603 to Room 603 in a flash.
Ray had a knack for finding talent (this writer excepted) and utilizing it well. If you were doing your job, well, keep doing what you’re doing. And to do your job, you worked around the clock, the signin sheets on Saturdays ran for pages. At one point or another in the Flynn days, the state house lobbying team included such luminaries as David Passafaro, Mayor Menino’s former chief of staff; Arline Isaacson of the Mass. Gay and Lesbian Political Alliance, Mary Beth Cahill of Senator Kerry’s campaign, former State Representative Susan Tracy and Boston Health Net chief Frank Doyle. A dedicated progressive, Ray also recognized the need to protect the Administration’s fiscal credibility, which he did with talent like George Russell (now VP at State Street)and his successor, the late Lee Jackson (who also died long before his time, on Ron Brown’s plane); Ted Jankowski (now Deputy City Manager in Worcester) and Bob Ciolek, former director of the Mass. Health and Facilities Administration.
Anyway, enough name dropping. Well, maybe a little more. The Globe obituary today said nothing of one of Ray’s greatest victories — his close friend Tom Gallagher’s win for state representative in Brighton in 1980. Ray created one of the most impressed field operations anyone has seen at the local level and sent an unabashed progressive to the State House to fight for the needs of working families and needy people. Funny, he did the same thing over and over again — from Brighton to Boston to Ireland.
So anyway, Ray, thanks for giving this Brighton boy a chance to serve in city government. I got to fight to protect tenants rights in the Mayor’s housing office, organize a rally against Reagan’s budget cuts my first week as Federal Relations Director, travel the country with Ray Flynn during his year as President of the US Conference of Mayors, visit such tourist attractions as Scranton, Pa and Grand Rapids, Michigan as part of Flynn’s campaign for Bill Clinton, and set foot in the Oval Office as the mayor lobbied for his eventual post at the Vatican (Flynn — “go say hello to the President”; an awed me — “Sir, the Mayor wanted me to tell you what a good job you’re doing; Clinton — “I thought he wanted you to tell me what a good job he’s doing!”)
And Ray, while your beloved Orioles lost all three games to the Sox this weekend, I’d like to think they were paying tribute to your Sharks softball team, who went years between games won. Good thing you had politics to balance the ledger …those wins really counted.
Regards up there from all of us. You’ll be missed.
(A tribute to Ray Dooley is currently being planned by his friends. Donations to a trust fund for his 3 children can be sent to the Raymond C. Dooley Family Trust, c/o Kirkpatrick and Lockhart Nichols Graham LLP, State Street Financial Center, One Lincoln Street, Boston, MA 02111-2950)