Watch Dan Koh run — though for what?

December 27, 2016 - running watch

The third of 3 profiles of a advisers closest to Mayor Martin J. Walsh as he embarks on his bid for reelection.

Dan Koh wants to run. Maybe for Congress. Maybe for another office.

“I’d be disingenuous,” pronounced a mayor’s 31-year-old arch of staff, “if we pronounced I’d never suspicion about it.”


Has a debate already begun? Is that since Koh so mostly finds himself in a spotlight? Or does that simulate a mind-meld that has grown between Koh and Mayor Martin J. Walsh — a trainer happy to relinquish a starring role?

Think about it: Why was a arch of staff on stage, articulate about his large suspicion for a baseball-like batting normal to magnitude City Hall performance? Why was Koh surrounded by cameras, kneeling during a Boston Marathon finish line, proposing to his girlfriend? (The mayor’s press bureau helped corral media to constraint a moment.)

Chiefs of staff customarily work in a shadows. It’s inaugurated officials in a limelight. But in Koh, Boston City Hall has something it has not seen given 1968. Remember that 27-year-old Harvard wunderkind who took a reins as arch of staff in a administration of Kevin H. White?

Maybe in Koh, a mayor has unleashed a Barney Frank for a new generation.

“The mayor is not in a slightest threatened by Dan. we don’t consider he’s sceptical of a press,” pronounced Frank, a former congressman who has spent time in his aged City Hall bureau with Koh. “I’ve been unequivocally tender with their relationship, a probity of it, a mutual confidence.”


Frank removed that White “said to me, ‘Hey look, if they write good things about you, people know we allocated you. That reflects good on me. Nobody thinks we came down here from Mars.’ ”

That’s since Walsh discharged a reporter’s doubt about either Koh was regulating his post as a domestic springboard. The mayor might be 18 years comparison than Koh, though Walsh pronounced a dual organisation have fake an astonishing friendship.

They can review any other’s expressions — any other’s eyes — communicating though words, like spouses or siblings do. It’s a marriage, they say, of Koh’s Harvard Business School smarts and Walsh’s Dorchester travel sense.

“We’ve unequivocally schooled off any other,” Walsh said. “I’m positively some-more methodical now. . . . He’s picked adult a lot of my passion for politics.”

And Koh’s ubiquity in a press? From TV to imitation to Twitter?

“That things doesn’t worry me,” Walsh said. “Never did, never will. we indeed consider it’s great.”

Other staffers also get press, Walsh and Koh said. Look during mercantile growth arch John Barros. Or housing arch Sheila Dillon.

Koh has a powerful pedigree from a domestic family. He is equal tools Harvard (undergrad and B-school) and Huffington Post (managed an online radio network.) At City Hall, Koh has advocated for analytics and video “data dashboards” for Boston officials, pulling a account that hip, immature technophiles have taken over Government Center.

He glances during his Apple watch. He is a to-do list maker, a check-off-the-box-and-get-it-done guy.

Koh believes supervision is a force for good. He removed holding calls from struggling Gloucester lobstermen as an novice for former senator Edward M. Kennedy. Koh pronounced his many delightful impulse is carrying a ramp bound for a Roxbury senior. The genuine victories, Koh said, are assisting constituents.

He credited a mayor for everything. It was Walsh who empowered him, Walsh who wanted initiatives such as high-speed Verizon FIOS Internet and television. It was Walsh’s vision. Koh pronounced it’s his pursuit to execute.

Walsh ticked off accomplishments involving Koh: streamlining permits, overhauling a Cabinet structure, a new 311 helpline, a supervision enlightenment built to resemble a ball plan minute in a “Moneyballbook and movie. Exhibit A: a administration’s many material accomplishment, General Electric’s preference to immigrate to Boston. Koh sealed a deal.

“He was a man who was on a calls for a city who unequivocally helped us get over a finish line,” pronounced Ann Klee, General Electric’s clamp trainer for Boston growth and operations. “He’s not a large celebrity in a room, though a courteous man who listens initial and afterwards talks during a right time.”

But Koh’s watch includes missteps: a implosion of a Olympics bid; a luckless IndyCar race; a sovereign complaint of dual City Hall dialect heads. (Koh won’t contend either he has hired a counsel or seemed before a grand jury.)

“You get a clarity that if a boat had been tighter run, if [Walsh] had a stronger arch of staff, maybe a lot of these open family errors and bone-headed domestic moves could have been avoided,” pronounced Thomas Whalen
, an author and domestic historian during Boston University.

Perhaps a underside of Walsh’s tenure came a final Wednesday in June. Federal authorities arrested a second City Hall dialect head. A neighborhood coffee hour took a turn as a mayor faced a overflow of media and picket signs from 3 groups of protesters.

Koh left that day for his marriage in Milwaukee, posting a playful, ridicule debate aphorism on Facebook that riffed off his fiancee’s final name, Sennett, that sounds like Senate.

“Here. We. Go,” Koh writes. “#kohforsennett2016”

Every marriage has a hashtag, he said, and that was his.

“People who wish to criticize, they have each right to,” Koh said. “At a finish of a day, it was my wedding. we due it to my family and my mother to be vehement about it.”

There will always be critics. But Koh has also gained admirers.

“He is a extensive envoy for a mayor and a administration,” pronounced Mo Cowan, who served as former administrator Deval Patrick’s arch of staff and served 5 months as an halt US senator. “When he engages, we feel assured that we are enchanting with someone who has a certainty of a mayor and is behaving on interest of a mayor.”

Koh also has a following inside City Hall. The administration has hired Koh’s high school and college classmates and friends of his friends. The mayor asked him to puncture low into his network for talent, Koh said, and he’s unapproachable of a hires.

One of Koh’s fans inside a administration is Jascha Franklin-Hodge
, who had not met Koh until being interviewed and hired as a city’s arch information officer. Franklin-Hodge described Koh as a conductor heading a rope of city government.

“He’s a man that we go to if I’m stranded with something,” Franklin-Hodge said. “He’s a unequivocally discerning thinker, and so he’s means to be courteous and get to a core of a doubt and assistance we pierce forward.”

But Koh has also been polarizing. Early in a administration, a City Hall energy onslaught emerged. “Team Dan or Team Joe?” review one Globe story. It was Koh opposite Joe Rull, a high-ranking Walsh debate help who became a city’s executive of operations. Koh eventually triumphed, and Rull left a administration.

Rull did not respond for comment. Walsh disputes a sincerity of a story. Koh concurred that he and Rull fought, though like brothers.

Koh has converted adversaries into allies. As a dream for a Boston Olympics faltered, Koh reached out to one of a loudest voices of antithesis on Twitter. It was Robin Jacks, an organizer of a organisation No Boston 2024.

Koh treated her to Pinkberry solidified yogurt on Newbury Street. The review led to a assembly with a mayor. They discussed a homeless, a rising cost of housing, area issues.

Her sense was that Koh “wants to be overtly favourite and respected,” Jacks said. “If someone is insane during him, we consider it is a unequivocally terrifying place for him.” She discharged a doubt suggesting that Koh’s proclivity might be a vital bid to vacate a foe.

“Down a highway politically, we don’t consider I’m a advantage to him,” Jacks said. “If he’s using for bureau during some point, either we like him or don’t like him is irrelevant.”

“I overtly like Dan.”

Maybe Koh’s super-sized participation says some-more about a mayor than it does a arch of staff. Or maybe Koh’s Twitter-and-Facebook proceed is a new approach for a arch of staff in an open-source world. Gone are a shadows and smoky back rooms.

“The pursuit is opposite for each arch of staff and each mayor since a lot of it depends on a attribute between a dual people,” pronounced David Passafaro, who described being cumulative to his table when he served as former mayor Thomas M. Menino’s arch of staff. “Mayor Menino had 5 or 6 chiefs of staff, and a pursuit was opposite each time.”

The Walsh-Koh attribute has extended outward City Hall. Walsh trafficked to Milwaukee as a groomsman in Koh’s wedding. The mayor showed adult during a wake for Koh’s grandfather in Andover.

“He is over a crony and over a trainer to me,” Koh said. “I overtly adore a guy. I’m not fearful to contend that. we adore him.”

And Walsh?

“I can see it being a lifelong friendship,” a mayor said.

Doesn’t anything bug we about a guy?

“He cooking salad each singular day,” Walsh said. “He never cooking a duck parm.”

It’s true. Koh power-lunches on a chopped salad during a Oceanaire Seafood Room.

Koh has lifted eyebrows. He hold his rendezvous celebration during a Parkman House, an exuberant city-owned mansion. (Records show Koh paid a $500 customary price to use a space).

He has left to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Paris, Japan. It’s $50,000 in travel. Almost all a bills were paid by foundations, not taxpayers. Like a outing that put him in a snowy plateau of Davos, Switzerland. Koh was interviewed as “chief of staff to a City of Boston.”

Koh is some-more than a boldfaced name. He publicly lambasted Boston Public Library curators for unwell to offer as “an eccentric check” on former library trainer Amy E. Ryan and her staff after dual profitable prints went blank after being misfiled. The New York Times reported that Walsh and Koh “pursued a box with a prosecutor’s zeal.” A Globe columnist nicknamed a arch of staff a “Koh-mayor.” The design was located, though not before a abdication of Ryan.

Before this job, Koh didn’t know Walsh. When Walsh announced Koh’s appointment, a Boston Herald columnist wrote, “Daniel . . . Who?”

Now, Koh’s big-time form in City Hall has sparked gibberish about his ambition. Gossip strong when a Eagle-Tribune journal ran dual Koh features in August. Could a Andover local be eying a run for Congress when Niki Tsongas retires?

“Congresswoman Tsongas is doing an extraordinary pursuit there, and we have no enterprise in doing anything to interrupt that,” Koh said, fiddling with his bullion marriage band. “I haven’t suspicion about a singular chair and said, ‘This is where I’m going to go.’ ”

“I’m unequivocally happy,” Koh added, “with a pursuit that we have.”

Andrew Ryan can be reached during

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