BOSTON MAYOR RACE : BIG BUSINESS AND DEVILISH DETAILS @ BACK BAY ASSOCIATION FORUM

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^ Dan Conley, John Connolly, Rob Consalvo at this morning’s Back Bay Association Forum

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This morning the Back bay Neighborhood Association held its Mayor Forum in an appropriate setting : the conference center of Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. Big granite-walled office bureaucracies are the Back Bay’s money machine.

People fear money machines, and no neighborhood association in the City is more feared by the various business seeking to locate, or to develop real estate. Members live in some of the City’s highest income census tracts; achievement and dominance come naturally to the 200 well-dressed Forum attendees. Attentively they regarded the twelve candidates, answering questions put to them by Tom Keane and his co-host, as if they were job-interviewing — grilling — a room full of interns.

The Forum topics featured, unsurprisingly, zoning, permitting, development, the BRA, and late night closing hours — seriously complex issues all — and the banning of plastic bags.

But to the questions. Some were addressed only to some of the candidates, others to all.

To a question, to some, about what to do with the BRA, John Connolly gave the most well thought answer : “Planning should be an independent function. It’s about having real holistic planning — the process should not be for influence peddling. We need to modernize Inspectional services (ISD). (we) need honest conversations about zoning. We need to move beyond outdated zoning laws).”

The City’s permitting process has come under severe attack in most of this campaign’s Forums, for good reason. All the candidates want the process reformed, som radically. Charles Yancey cited “hostile employees’ at ISD’s office due to “inadequate training for the job.” Dan Conley promised “a bottom to top review’ and said that permitting “should be able to be done online.’ He would also “reform the zoning process.” John Barros decried the process a “illogical…unpredictable.”

Clearly ISD is in for a huge shake-up no matter who becomes the next Mayor.

To a question about “90 % of fire alarm calls not being for actual fires,” Rob Consalvo insisted that :we need more public safety, not less.” Marty Walsh, who has the Boston Firemen’s Union endorsement, admitted that the “number of fires are down” but insisted that “I don’t want to be the mayor who closes a firehouse.” Felix Arroyo said “municipal research says that we need to increase fire efficiency” — whatever that meant — and Charlotte Golar-Richie gave a similarly non-committal answer. And then it was Dan Conley’s turn. He did not waste it :

“There is overwhelming evidence that the Fire Department needs a full review and thus a Mayor who will reform the Fire department,” he said, aiming his remarks directly at Marty Walsh, whom polls show him tied with for second place in the Primary.

To which Conley added, “reform… was posed years ago when I was on the Council, but it was put on the shelf. (Stare Rep) Nick Collins has a bill in the legislature to allow fire people to respond as EMTs. it’s a crazy bill, but the firemen don’t have enough work to do, so this is a way to give them some work.”

Conley’s could have been the Forum’s big moment, but he was immediately knocked back by Charles Yancey, who said “If someone is injured within a block of a firehouse and the EMT’s can’t get there first, the Fire Department must save that life !” Mike Ross’s follow-up — “I’m the only Council member who has stood up to the Fire Department” — sounded like a shrug.

All the candidates were then asked a series of “yes or no, do you support” questions. Most of these at various Forums have been no-brainers to which all answered an easy yes or a no. Not so at this Forum. candidates had to think about whether to allow later closing hours, a “traffic congestion tax,” plastic bags, and Segway. Responses were divided.

Last came a round in which one candidate posed a question to one other, until all twelve candidates had either asked or answered. Obviously the intent was to have candidates emphasize their differences, but only two of the questions rose above the minutiae of Council votes little known to average voters.

The first useful question was Rob Consalvo’s to Marty Walsh, who has proposed razing the current City Hall and redeveloping its huge, centrally located plaza : “How will the city function while city hall is bulldozed, as you suggest ?” Walsh’s answer was as good as Conley’s on Fire Department reform : “Bulldoze is not my word,” said Walsh. “it aas the Herald’s. I want to offer City Hall Plaza to developers for proposals. It will give us 135 million dollars and 12 million a year in tax revenue. I want to reconnect Hanover steer and Quincy market…the next growth area in the City is government center !” Walsh’s answer highlighted his support by the city’s construction unions –and his being the Building Boom Candidate.

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^ Bill Walczak and Marty Walsh : the moralist vs. the building boom candidate

Mike Ross then asked Bill Walczak what he would do for city development if the city had no casino — as Walczak endlessly repeats — but one were then created “seven feet from our door” (in Everett) ? This gave Walczak his opportunity to rail against casinos in general — “I don’t want casinos anywhere” — in the moralistic manner that he truly believes and which gives his candidacy something of the social-issue darkness that has bedeviled a great deal of the national political debate these past five years or so. Who is he — who is anyone ? — to tell people how or where to spend their money ?

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^ Charlotte Golar-Richie and Mike Ross : on Ross’s home ground ? Or maybe not ?

It was difficult to tell which candidates most impressed the association’s members. Unlike the teachers union activists at their Forum, no one cheered or clapped hands. They received the candidates’ often passionate talk as calmly as candidate David Wyatt sits on a stage — though without his facial shrug. Many of the 200 worked laptops ; were they noting points ? Recording testimony as if at a deposition ? Maybe so. And who will they vote for ? This is Mike Ross’s home ground — the Council district that he represents — yet he hardly seemed the crowd favorite — although in the Forum’s humor moments, when he laughed, so did the 200. Maybe that was it. Maybe this Forum was a kind of in-group entertainment, and Mike Ross has its 200 votes in the bank.

If i were he, I wouldn’t count on it.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : YES, THE GLOBE POLL MATTERS

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^ well ahead : John Connolly

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The University of New Hampshire finally released its poll of the Boston mayor race, and its message has locust-plagued the City’s spin doctors. Just about every candidate purports to believe that the poll is good for him — or her. If only !

It’s hard to believe that none of the twelve candidates is known by more than 68 % of the voters polled. Does that mean that the poll sample has reached well beyond the 100,000 “likely” voters who even the least bullish pundit thinks will turn out ? The poll also doesn’t say how many of its respondents came from which of the city’s 22 wards. We are left to guess what electorate was polled.

Nonetheless, the poll does not drop out of the sky. It accurately reflects, in fact, the money raising that we’ve been reporting — amounts and trends up or down in each candidate’s deposits. It also accords fairly well with what we glean from our observation of the various campaigns. We believe what the poll says. So here are the numbers for the top four :

John Connolly gets 15 % of the vote and is known by 68 % of the voters
Dan Conley gets 10 % and is known by 65 % of the voters
Marty Walsh gets 10 % and is known by 58 % of the voters
Charlotte Golar-Richie gets 10 % and is known by only 50 % of the voters.

Striking facts : (1) Though clearly less well known than Walsh or Conley, Golar-Richie polls equally with them (2) Connolly is measurably ahead of all three, well beyond the poll’s margin of error (3) Walsh has actually lost since the last UNH poll, in which he had 11 %. He has lost 10% of his vote, after a week of being slammed as a union guy — a loss well in line with the political rule that attacks can cost a candidate up to, but not likely more than, said ten percent.

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^ Marty Walsh : must prove on Primary day that he’s more than a union guy

Can Walsh recover and secure the second Final spot ? Of course he can. He has lots of money, is running excellent TV ads, and has a superb election day organization working hard and enthusiastically. He doesn’t need many more votes to put him close to Connolly.

Nonetheless, the poll shows that a full 25 % of its voters remain undecided. That’s a lot of undecideds only nine days before voting day. This is where Golar-Richie’s potential looks big. If she can get 10% of the vote with only 50% of voters knowing her, how hard will it be for her to get another 5 % from the 25 % who are undecided ? All she has to do is win the same percentage from them as she has won from the decided.

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^ Charlotte Golar-Richie : big potential to move up

Will 15% be enough to secure second spot ? It will not win the top spot. Surely John Connolly will win additional votes from that 25 % undecided. My guess is that he finishes with 21 %. As for the second spot, I will be surprised if whoever gets it wins more than 15 %. It is unlikely that a catch-up candidate will win more undecideds than a candidate who is strong AND perceived to be strong.

I will give Connolly an additional 6 %, Golar-Richie 5 %, Walsh an additional 5 % on the basis of a strong election day pull, and Conley only 4 %, because he polls only equal with Walsh although better known.

The poll shows that the other eight candidates are very much out of the running. Felix Arroyo, John Barros, and Rob Consalvo all win 6 %, Mike Ross 5 %, Bill Walczak 4 %, Charles Yancey 3 %, Charles Clemons 2 %. Arroyo is not known by 34 %, Consalvo by 50 %, Ross by 47 % ; the others poll even less well known. How likely is it that candidates so not-known will garner major vote numbers from the 25 % who remain undecided ? My experience is that the undecideds tend to vote for the most known candidates, not the less well known. Many are undecided because they don’t know any of the candidates, but just as many, likely, are undecided because they know several and like them all.

My guess for these following candidates is that Arroyo wins 7 % but not more. I am truly surprised to see in a poll that though he is better known than Walsh or Golar-Richie, he draws much less of a vote and has a higher unfavorable (21 %) than ANY of the other candidates. Ross wins 7 % — on the strength of substantial funds in his account. Barros wins 7 % (he has surged since the last poll, doubling his vote from 3 %). Consalvo wins 7 % (and maybe less; he has no money). Walczak wins 5 % (he is, after all, against casinos). Which leaves not much for the others.

My guess could be wrong and probably is wrong. But not by much, unless a major story breaks in the next six days or so. Marty Walsh is battling Charlotte Golar-Richie for the second spot on the November ballot. It’s his election day enthusiasm and reach versus her ability to win the same proportion of the undecideds a she has won of those who have chosen. And even then it looks oh so close. Maybe even a recount. It might be a very long night on Primary Day.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : CONNOLLY, WALSH, ROSS DOMINANT AT ARTS FORUM; HERALD DEBATE LESS INSTRUCTIVE. BUT ….

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^ so many would-be mayors, so few Will-be’s…

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Bostonians had not one but two Mayor Forums to attend to tonight. First came Create the Vote’s Forum on Arts, Culture, and Creativity. Half an hour later came the campaign’s first televised debate, hosted by Joe Battenfield of the Boston Herald. Nine of the twelve hopefuls answered questions at Create the Vote’s Forum — Dan Conley, David Wyatt, and Charles Yancey missed out. All twelve took part in the televised debate.

Very little ground was covered in either Forum that earlier Forums had not already addressed. There were, of course, some specific questions that several candidates gave obviously ad hoc responses to. Yet none of the candidates surprised. All gave answers, to every question, well within the range of their agendas already long since worked out in admirable detail. This was as true of the Herald debate — of which we saw only part — as of the Arts Forum.

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^ large audience — and fully aware of what it wanted to hear

The differences tonight were the size of the audience and the command that the various candidates demonstrated in applying their respective agendas to the specific questions. Here was surprise. Felix Arroyo’s soft-spoken, highly personal narratives did not often command the same attention in these Forum’s big-hall and aggressively moderated formats that he easily wielded in earlier, more intimate Forums. His best moment was his paean to the Jamaica plain Music Festival, which he had attended the previous day.

John Barros, too, gave less developed answers to questions than his usual. Barros has a message of change that requires time to explicate. Given little time, he resorted to quips and smiles as a kind of narrative shorthand that, probably, those seeing him for the first time missed the significance of. He also overreached noticeably when, in response to a question about arts classes in Boston schools, he said, “no kid should be allowed to graduate high school without at least one arts class.”

Surprising, too, was the Arts Forum audience’s applause for Bill Walczak, who repeated, with hardly any new elaboration, his usual mantras : he’s from Codman Square, and he’s against the casino.

Charlotte Golar-Richie had strong moments — “I will be an arts Mayor,’ she promised; “I aspired to BE an artist. I will partner with non-profits to raise arts funds, and I will establish a blueprint for the arts. It’s a social and an economic driver.” But her response to a question, “what were your two most memorable moneys in the arts,” was less inspired: “watching neighborhood kids do the Nutcracker.” Rob Consalvo’s responses sounded entirely generic — “we must assure every kid has arts classes…the budget must include cultural affairs” — except to that “memorable moments question, in which he cited his home area of Hyde Park for its Riverside Theater, perhaps Boston’s most notable community stage play company.

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^ no food in the foyer this time, but drinks were served and much conversation was exchanged.

In both Forums, command honors went to Marty Walsh and John Connolly; Mike Ross also spoke authoritatively at the Arts Forum. All three men have made it quite clear that they have a vision of the mayor’s office broad as well as deep, detailed as well as thematic.

Ross’s best moment — though he had many — was his response to the memorable arts question : “I am an oil painter. My oils hang on my walls at home…(Yes) arts in every school,” he added. “We need arts and festivals of the arts, and we need in our affordable housing plan housing that includes for artists !” Much applause greeted this answer, and justly; hardly any artist living in Boston is not one step away from not being able to afford the place he or she lives in.

Marty Walsh answered every arts question clearly, concisely, but his best, most original moment responded to a question “which city outside Boston do you look to for inspiration ?” “Montreal,” Walsh said without hesitation. “What they do: public arts and festivals all year round, all over the city. Here in Boston we struggle just to keep First Night !” He is right about Montreal, which hosts a Film Festival, the Juste Pour Rire comedy festival, one of the world’s largest international Jazz Festivals, and two Franco-folies festivals (of francophone pop music. Montreal’s not a city that many Mayor candidates would think of when answering this question. Walsh gets it.

His best applause arose from his answer to a question about raising the city’s arts budget. (Every candidate agreed that this should be done.) Said Walsh, “Change the culture of the BRA ! Create an office of economic planning so that arts can be included (directly) in planning !”

Connolly, too, answered this question memorably : “We spend one one-hundredth of a percent of our budget on the arts. Lobby the legislature for more funds ! we need to work with institutions (in the city), so that if they invest in the arts…and yes, use the capital budget, to build an arts infrastructure !” the applause was loud and long.

Connolly promised to raise the office of city arts commissioner to cabinet status and, as he says at every Forum, to “make the office user friendly, like an apple store.” The line continues to be a good one.

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^ John Connolly : good one-liners and a seriously thematic agenda

Entirely missing from the arts Forum was any discussion of performance difficulties in Boston : no late night transit, the 2:00 A.M. closing hour — and the milling around as clubs empty their patrons onto streets with no transport option except scarce taxis; fights sometimes ensue; or the expense of parking, the racism in Theater District nightclubs, problems with bouncers. Not to mention drug mishaps that shut down entertainment arts. Nothing of all of this was discussed at the only Forum where it seemed to be a vital part of the purpose…

The Herald debate offered the candidates scant opportunity to explain at length or to imagine and create. With twelve on stage, it was difficulty enough to give the candidates time enough to say “hi.’ (David Wyatt almost didn’t say even that, bit that’s how he is at every Forum he decides to attend.) in any case, the real action in this campaign is no longer in the Forums but outside, on the street. Forums worked during August, when the campaigns were just beginning to ramp up. Now, the ramp is so up it tweaks the heavens. Every candidate with any semblance of seriousness spends all day now doing meet and greets, shaking hands at T stations and at supermarkets. The truly ramped up go to house parties two and three a night, shake hands at bingos, go to street parties, block parties, hold fund raiders, even rallies. And they door-knock, while their volunteers phone-call to voters from phone banks. They garner big endorsements and hold press conferences to announce them. And their volunteers do huge stand-outs — sign-holds — that you cannot miss. Sometimes competing stand-outs buffet the traveler along various neighborhoods’ main streets.

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^ the real campaign was outside the theater, on the street.

The many Boston City Council candidates are doing the same thing.

We will continue to cover the Mayor Forums as they take place — including two Forums tomorrow. That said, we will, from Wednesday morning on, shift our focus to covering the campaign where it is most heated: on the streets where voters live, dine, work, and shop.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE — THE MONEY, LOUD AND CLEAR

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^ much love and affection for John Connolly and Marty Walsh

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In this campaign, as in any other, the money report as campaign’s vote day approaches, does NOT lie.  Any more than a kiss and a hug lie.

With only 16 days remaining before primary day in this one, Boston’s 12 would-be Mayors have been adjudged clearly by donors. Two are out of it; three are losing ground badly. Three are trying hard to catch up. Two who were raising a ton of money are raising a bit less. and two are raking in money faster than a speeding bullet. Let’s look:

Out of It — David Wyatt raised less than 100.00. Charles Clemons less than 3,000.00.

Losing ground badly :

Charles Yancey had 21,504.68 on August 14th; raised  2459.25 from August 15th to August 31st; and had 22,263.93 at the end of the month.

Rob Consalvo had 128,024.51 on August 14th; raised 71,999.59 from the 15th through the 31st; and had a balance of only 66,376.46 as the month ended.

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^ Hyde park’s Rob Consalvo : feeling less loved than formerly

Trying to play catch-up :

John F. Barros had 56,566.70 BB on August 14th; raised 33,788.28 in the next 17 days; and had 68,946.48 as August ended.

Felix Arroyo had 158,579.39 on hand on August 14th, In the next 17 days he raised 31,852.32. At month’s end he had a very respectable 149,449.20.

Charlotte Golar-Richie reported a bit less than Arroyo. She had 132318.23 ; in the next 17 days she did well, raising 42,134.63. At month’s end, though, she still had less on hand than Arroyo. Just 125,355.52

Bill Walczak could boast of 131,419.97 in his account on August 14th. He then added another 36,627.00, giving him a respectable 113,819.10 at month’s end.

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^ Bill Walczak : respectably liked and even a hug or two

Two who were raising tons of money now raised slightly less :

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^ lots of love for Mike Ross, but a but fewer hugs this past week. (photo taken at last night’s Madison Park High School mayor Forum)

Mike Ross on August 14th had all of 486,135.08. From then till August 31, he took in 102,863.12, leaving him a still impressive 452,415.72 at month’s close.

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^ Charlotte Golar-Richie : looking happier, at last night’s Mayoral Forum at Madison park high School

Dan Conley had money to spare on August 14th :  890,638.63. He took in less than previously, however. just  82973.80 Nonetheless, he still had lots of green at month’s end : 612,598.80

All of the above tell a fascinating story of donor assessment of their candidates’ chances. And if so, what do the donors of our top two candidates tell us ? They smell victory, and they are likely to be correct.

Marty Walsh had 560,670.62 on August 14th, He then proceeded to raise 276,500.05, more than three times what Conley raised. At month’s end he had 658,120.12, more than the previously over-funded Conley.

John Connolly refused an “outside” donor’s 500,000 ? He could afford to. On August 14th he had 727,725.46. In the next two weeks, during which the “outside” donor flap nicked his campaign briefly he took in 161,783.00. At the end of August he had 589,759.97 in his account.

The money lead boasted by Walsh and Connolly has continued. Admittedly incomplete reports for the first week of September show Walsh taking in 58,311.99 and Connolly 74,418. No one else gained anything like these sums. Golar-Richie did the next; donors gave her 14,400.00. Dan Conley took in 13,923.90; Mike Ross, only 7,417.00. Felix Arroyo reported 1,776.04. Consalvo ? His report remains to be filed. same for John Barros and Bill Walczak.

The campaign moves on, crushing some, squeezing others, challenging a few to outdo themselves — maybe — and gifting the lucky two with ever more signs of love and affection.

—- Moichael Freedberg

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : PRESSURE POLITICS TAKE OVER

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^ crunch time numbers cruncher : Charlotte Golar-Richie

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The City’s Black political leaders are gathering, it is reported, to try pushing some of the candidates of color out of the race for Mayor. This comes as no surprise. The surprise is that it didn’t happen sooner. Or even that it was needed at all. it should have been obvious to every one of Boston’s six candidates of color that if there were more than two, none would make it to November. Even with only two, it’s no guarantee. But with six ? And so the pressure begins to get to the obvious : have the “extras” drop out and endorse Charlotte Golar-Richie.

Good luck with that. Why should John Barros, her chief competitor within the Black community, drop out and endorse her ? His vision is very different from hers, his connections more like Connolly”s or Mike Ross’s. As for Charles Yancey and Charles Clemons, each has his own agendas that will seem better served by remaining in the race.

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^  John barros (on left) : crunched out ? probably not

The intended recipient of said endorsements claims no part in this effort. That’s wise. No voter likes having a candidate trying to limit a voter’s range of choices. Yet Golar-Richie has been making a dedicated effort of late to bring Boston’s Black political “heavies” into her campaign and has had notable success doing so. She knows better than anyone that if six candidates of color remain in contention on September 24, it will be next to impossible for her to get the 22 % of the vote that some wise heads say will be the November entry point. And so the pressure, by her key supporters, if not by her, cannot be avoided.

Golar-Richie is hardly the only contender using pressure right now. Marty Walsh used the Greater Boston AFL-CIO’s annual Labor day breakfast to make his Labor banner a must for as many union activists as possible. Walsh’s chief rival, John Connolly, has brought forth several endorsements of note, the latest being State Representative Nick Collins of South Boston, who just this morning announced his formal support for Connolly at a press conference in front of the Perry K to 8 school on east Seventh Street in South Boston. At that conference Collins and Connolly emphasized the pair’s long collaboration on Boston Public School reform. Both also emphasized the needed for much more transparent city administration and a dedication to safe neighborhoods — a topic gruseomely dumped into South Boston affairs this past year.

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^ John Connolly with Rep. Nick Collins’s brother and Charles Levin at a recent South Booston Leadership conference. His endorsement by Nick Collins seemed likely, soon after this.

Connolly has made much, too, of endorsement by State Representatives Jay Livingstone (Back Bay, Beacon Hill), Carlo Basile (east Boston), and Ed Coppinger (West Roxbury). As his main competitor, Marty Walsh, is a State Representative too, these endorsements hurt Walsh as much as they aid Connolly. (Walsh, meanwhile, has the open support of State Rep Liz Malia and former State Senator Jack Hart.) But the main effect of these endorsements — none of which have yet gone to Dan Conley, who polls a strong third on most lists; will he get any ? — is to pressure the voters. If the pollsters are right, that fully one-third of all who are likely to vote remain undecided about who to choose, endorsements by elected Representatives are intended to push those undecideds to make up their minds. It will surely do that, at least for some.

There will be much more of this pressure coming. Boston’s State Senators ( Chang-Diaz, Dorcena-Forry, Brian Joyce, Mike Rush, Petrucelli ) have yet to choose. Congressmen Lynch and Capuano may weigh in. So might past legislators and major Boston civic associations. As long as the undecided vote remains sizeable, endorsements will be asked for- and probably given. The pressure is on now — on the voters, to decide, once and for all, who to send to the November final.

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^ Dan Conley : strong third in polls, but no big endorsements yet

The pressure is also on the twelve contenders. Surely all of them know that they either have a good chance of making “the cut,” are losing ground, or are as out of the running as can be. The candidates out of the running can shrug it off and enjoy two and a half weeks more of forums and speaking on the issues. The candidates one feels for are those who are losing ground. Mike Ross, Felix Arroyo, and Rob Consalvo all, at one time, looked strongly in contention. All have found themselves blocked, however — Arroyo by not receiving union endorsements he might have won, Consalvo by too small a base, Ross by not having command of his own, zipcar-bicycle-restaurants base — and, in Arroyo’s case, passed over by leaders and political activists who made his father a political success and did the same, at the Council level, for the son. Arroyo, Consalvo, and Ross have had to learn, perhaps painfully, that when one is running to be Boston’s all-the-marbles Mayor, people make an all-the-marbles choice of whom to be with.

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^ Mel King : should, by all philosophical coincidence, be with Felix Arroyo, but it appears that he isn’t.

And so, as we head into the typhoon of pressure, four boats remain afloat : Connolly, Walsh, Golar-Richie, and Dan Conley. Boston’s next Mayor will be one of these. The voters are beginning to realize it and to decide just who it is that they like.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : THE FIGHT FOR VOTES

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^ The top two continue to be the top two.

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Yesterday was a holiday, Labor Day.

Oh really ? Not for the serious candidates for Mayor, it wasn’t. They knocked on doors, stood out at supermakets meeting and greeting, held fund-raiders, made speeches. Still, it wasn’t as simple as that. There was method in their movements. they “worked their base.”

Marty Walsh, who has made every effort in this campaign to live up to his being a “son of labor,” gave a declaration-of-agenda speech at the Greater Boston Labor Council’s annual labor day breakfast.

Felix Arroyo, who has campaigned as tribune of the city’s needy, outlined his “pathways out of poverty” in a speech to public housing residents in South Boston.

John Connolly, of West Roxbury, greeted shoppers for ten hours at Roche Brothers on Centre street.

Charlotte Golar-Richie firmed up her support among the City’s old-line Black leadership.

Dan Conley schmoozed with a fellow District Attorney.

Rob Consalvo, of Hyde Park, held a huge bash in…Hyde Park.

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^ Felix Arroyo : is his “base” big enough ? Will it turn out in big enough numbers ?

That these folks campaigned to their “base” is no mistake. With three weeks left until Primary Day, and at least sevEn potential winners running, the time for Mayor hopefuls to campaign all across Boston has ended. They’d be kidding themselves if not. By now, the voters who are going to actually vote on September 24th have gotten to know many of the serious candidates fairly well. they probably like several. But a candidate can’t settle for being liked along with others. It is time now to assure the votes of those who know the candidate best — to “bank” them (as we used to say; and to keep those votes away from all rivals. That means visiting the “base” a lot now — again and again.

Still, no candidate with a serious chance of making it to the November final can afford to forget voters not in his or her “base.” Second-choice votes may well make the difference between making it to November and not. Consider, too, that even the two finalists will likely not get more than 20% of the Primary vote. Which means that the ultimate winner in November will owe a majority of his November vote to people who did NOT vote for him or her in the Primary. A serious candidate must work to become many voters’ second choice even now, before they will actually vote for that candidate. Fascinating !

Working for second-choice votes requires a candidate to not get too narrow with his or her theme. Narrow themes, like Bill Walczak’s “no casino” mantra, may win some first-choice votes, but they don;t sow many second-choice seeds. (Example : Mel King in 1983. He voiced the far left’a agenda as stridently as today’s Tea voices the far right.. Far left purism got King to the final but guaranteed his November defeat.) Several of the candidates in this Primary have voiced narrow themes, though none so stridently as King in 1983.

We have talked of a candidate’s “base.” What of their count ? At this point, the candidates’ bases can be counted with some confidence :

Marty Walsh has the largest base : organized Labor — to the extent that its members live in the City ; many don’t — and much of Dorchester, a strong showing in South Boston, and no less than second in Charlestown.

John Connolly has the next largest base : school reform-minded parents — and West Roxbury-Roslindale, which by itself will likely total 10 % of the city’s primary vote.

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Rob Consalvo : loss of vision or clarity ?

All of the other candidates all have problems gathering a base big enough to measure up to Connolly or Walsh. There is, actually no way that Conley, Arroyo, Golar-Richie, Ross, or Consalvo can win the Primary on base votes only. Each draws significantly from the others — less so from Walsh and Connolly, because Walsh and Connolly are now perceived by many voters as likely to win the Primary; and voters who like one or both of Walsh and Connolly, as well as some of the other contenders, would defy voting behavior were they to vote for someone they perceive as not likely to win.

Of all the candidates trying to catch Connolly or Walsh, the one who has the strongest chance is Golar-Richie. As the only woman in the race, she has unique appeal to Boston voters, most of whom are female. Arroyo must win to nhis side many voters who do not often vote in City Primaries. Consalvo needs to find a campaign rationale. Dan Conley suffers from simply being too much like Connolly or Walsh in outlook and image. As for Mike Ross, he doesn’t have a message that resonates much beyond Downtown life.

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^ Charlotte Golar-Richie : do not count her out. And if she makes it to November…..

For Walsh and Connolly, the task now is to speak broad themes, inclusive themes, and look as well as talk as Boston’s visionary and also ambassador to the entire economic world. They must talk big in magnet words and make voters look to a brighter day.

The chasers need to attack the leaders, question their themes, dispute their ability to do what they say they will do — and to show how they, the chasers, can do the big stuff better.

Soon we will see if they can do that.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : THE END OF AUGUST MONEY MESSAGE

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^ Marty Walsh ; big money raised, big voter support

—- —- —-

A candidate can begin his fund-raising by asking friends and colleagues. But in the Boston Mayor campaign, once the August 15th to August 30th reporting period arrives, that go-to reserve has long been tapped, and the money raised comes almost all from people and entities making a hard assessment of the candidate’s chances of winning.

Donors’ assessments of a candidate’s chances aren’t votes, but they’re a pretty good indication of what people who know a thing or two about the campaign think is happening. So let’s look at the money as reported to the State’s Office of campaign Finance  (not including David Wyatt, who has raised less than 100.00.) :

From the beginning of 2013 through August 15th —

Arroyo — raised 219,578.09

Barros — raised 137,977.48

Clemons — raised 8,673.65

Conley —- raised 736,057.35

Connolly —- raised 925,985.96

Consalvo — raised 496,340.72

Golar-Richie —- raised 217,625.14

Ross —- raised 649,014.94

Walczak — raised 260,122.95

Walsh — raised 961,748.51

Yancey — raised 28,092.16

From August 16th through August 30th, this is what has been so far reported (caution : there may be more reports filed next week) —-

Arroyo — raised 13,962.63

Barros — raised 19,523.28

Conley — raised 71,425.80

Connolly — raided 65,674.00

Consalvo — raised  31,089.59

Golar-Richie — raised 32,979.54

Ross —- raised 79,533.12

Walczak — raised 17,053.00

Walsh — raised 213,287.04

(Yancey and Clemons filed no reports for this period that we could find.)

The message in the money is fairly clear:

First, Marty Walsh has dramatically increased his money intake, while Felix Arroyo’s fundraising shows a significant fall-off.

These two seem connected and no coincidence. The endorsement of Marty Walsh by the Hotel and hospitality Workers’ Union was given during this two-week period. It was an endorsement that Arroyo was counting on; a Union most of whose members are people of color, many of these Hispanic.

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^ Felix Arroyo ; an inspiring message, delivered with empathy and command; but a Union endorsement lost has taken its toll.

Second, as Arroyo’s money tree has shed leaves, that of Golar-Richie has blossomed quite a bit. Only Walsh, Connolly, Conley, and Ross raised more than her 32,979.94 intake. Perhaps this is why her headquarters are always open, people actively working in them, and why at Forums her discussion of the issues has become much more authoritative and convincing.

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^ Charlotte Golar-Richie : benefitting big-time from fall-offs by several rival candidates and by her own stronger performance on the stump

Third, Rob Consalvo, who during the first summer months of the campaign looked strong both in his Hyde park base and across much of the city, has lost both his money mojo and his persuasiveness at Forums.

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^ Rob Consalvo ; what has gone wrong here ? And why ?

Fourth, Dan Conley, despite rumors of being difficult to get along with or work for, remains a strong contender who understands the details of City administration and how to correct its deficiencies. he polls a strong third place, and his 71,425.80 raised says that his supporters feel that he can make up the gap between where he polls and the top two. He might indeed do that.

Fifth, Mike Ross continues to draw big money, much bigger than his standing — tied for 4th place — would seem to justify. His performance at Forums is almost always dominant; but his range of interests seems limited to the lifestyle of Downtown. Perhaps his donations increased because of the impact — however brief — of the Stand Up For Children (SFC) “outside money” flap upon John Connolly’s campaign; because Ross, although no friend of the SFC agenda, stands even more pointedly for the apple-store, zipcar, bicycles world envisioned by Connolly than Connolly does. Indeed, Ross personifies it. Interesting to note that Connolly reported only 65,674.00 in donations for this period. Could it have been that some Connolly supporters were looking for a fall-back candidate just in case ?

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^ Mike Ross : big money and a chance now to be taken very seriously

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^ John Connolly : none of the other candidates has been as buffeted as he. that’s what happens when you poll in first place.

Meanwhile, Marty Walsh, with the Hotel and Hospitality Workers endorsement in hand, and no missteps on the issues, and with strong performances at his “Mondays With Marty” rallies, saw his fundraising increase beyond all expectations.

Walsh and Golar-Richie look well positioned to gain the votes of the one-third of likely voters who, in recent polls, remain undecided whom to back. But Connolly has recovered strongly from the SFC affair, and Felix Arroyo has a message of hope and friendship that he is delivering in person — and at Forums — to the City’s citizens stuck in low income lives.

Our conclusion ? Walsh first; Connolly second, but perhaps shaky. Conley third, but with the chance that Golar-Richie will overtake him and maybe Connolly too. then Arroyo and Ross, with Consalvo fading to 5th and maybe farther down than that.

There’s not much time left to alter these trajectories once the voters — and most of the candidates — return from a well-deserved weekend on the Cape.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

UPDATE 09.01.13 at 10.30 AM : this morning’s Boston Globe reports that Felix G. Arroyo raised 101,324.00 in August. (The report appears on a back page, easy to miss.) The impression the brief article wants to create is that Arroyo increased his fundraising. Indeed, for all of August, that is true, OUR article, however, focuses on what was raised in the period August 15 to 30. It tells a much different story — and not only for Arroyo.

In the first weeks of August, Arroyo looked like the rising star of the campaign; union endorsements from unions heavy with people of color looked likely. Then came the Hotel and hospitality Workers’ decision to go with Marty Walsh despite, a Union spokesman Brian Lang put it, the union’s admiration for Arroyo.

THIS is the sort of movement that our focus on August’s last two weeks was meant to catch. Using the total August figures would, we thought, miss “the action.” — MF / HnS

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : CONNOLLY, WALSH, and ARROYO IN COMMAND at SOUTH END BUSINESS ALLIANCE FORUM

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^ Charles Clemons, John Connolly, and felix Arroyo at SEBA Forum

—- —- —

Last night’s Mayoral Forum at the Calderwood Center on Tremont Street asked the most pointed questions and addressed more topics than at any Forum we’ve observed so far. It being the South End, heart and stomach — excellent hors d’oeuvres were served in the foyer — of the “new Boston,” comprehensiveness was to be expected. Basic just won’t do for a locus of million-dollar condos.

Hosted by the South End Business Alliance — SEBA — the Forum gathered an audience of about 200. it was a well informed group, with definite preferences: favorable answers from the candidates drew approving cheers and applause; unfavorable ones were given the silent treatment. There was plenty of each.

That said, this Forum made clear what has portended for some time now : that the leading candidates, according to polls, are leading for good reason. They have greatest command of the issues — big and not so big — and of how to address them. Connolly, Walsh, and Arroyo made their points with specificity, each man inputting his own expertise and vision, each speaking his own language — and doing so with persuasive conviction. For Connolly, that meant the most modern of cities : zipcar, apple store, user-friendly, bicycles, lifestyle diversity — and biolab 4. For Arroyo, it meant a city in which pathways out of poverty are a priority. Marty Walsh saw a partnership city, between business and labor, the Mayor working in team with the City Council and with the Boston delegation to the state Legislature.

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^ an audience informed and knowing what they want

The other candidates on stage — Charlotte Golar-Richie worked the foyer but did not sit in; Consalvo and Wyatt made no appearance at all — answered less strongly. Mike Ross, who has spoken eloquently at earlier Forums, seemed less in command here — perhaps it was the questions, which did not fit his vision of fun city — restaurants, liquor licenses, and neighborhood nightlife. His best answer fitted that slot : “Yes I am a supporter of food trucks (which SEBA’s restaurant members don’t like), but keep in mind that some good food trucks have stepped up to be bricks-and-mortar restaurants.”

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^ Mike Ross : food trucks to restaurants

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^ John Barros : seeing City hall from his neighborhood (Mike Ross to his right)

John Barros and Bill Walczak spoke from the viewpoint of their particular experience ; schools for Barros, the Codman square Health Center for Walczak. The tactic made their answers sound provincial. a Mayor should see the neighborhoods from City hall. Barros and Walczak did the reverse : looked at City hall from a neighborhood. And Walczak, as always, offered his “no casino” mantra.

Dan Conley stayed at the Forum only long enough to respond to a twenty-question round robin of “yes, no, or thinking about it” quickie answers to this or that one-word issue : casinos, liquor licenses, South Boston parade, audit the city, change the BRA, and such like. As for Charles Yancey and Charles Clemons, each made a couple of notable points — specific to their personal resumes — but both lacked preparation, and it showed.

Each candidate was asked what was his proudest moments, in public life and in his work. Marty Walsh answered thus : “protecting jobs. We passed legislation which has allowed technology companies to bring in new jobs that for he most part were in California. But hey, it wasn’t just about me. (It’s) working with a team. It’s not just you, it’s going to be working collaboratively.”

Then Felix Arroyo : “my proudest moment on the Council ? There was an attempt to close our city’s libraries. I was instrumental in stopping that. Before that, the work that I did in organizing janitors. They were making eight dollars an hour,. now they’re making fifteen.”

Connolly : “most important council work ? getting a strict energy efficient city code passed. as an attorney, my proudest moment wa represennting a client, pro bono, two guys here in the South End (who were victims) in a gay-bashing case.”

Another not so typical Forum question was then posed ; ‘have you started thinking about who you would include in your administration — in your cabinet — as Mayor ?” The strongest candidates gave the most intriguing and thoughtful answers.

Walsh : “a new superintendent of schools first…the hierarchy of the Police department should be revamped. Look at the Fire department too. Include all the city in my discussions and decisions.”

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^ Marty Walsh : vows big changes at the Police department

Connolly : “new generation, new leadership. Superintendant of schools — how about one who is non-traditional ? A city-wide summit on public health. Begin overhauling city hall to be user-friendly.”

Arroyo : “A diverse cabinet that shares my values. A superintendant of schools who knows that you have to work with everyone.”

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^ john Connolly and Felix Arroyo : will they work with the Council ? So they say…

Next came a question guaranteed to elicit an unreal answer: “how will you as Mayor work with the City Council ?”

Connolly : “We are better when we disagree. I want a council that is bold and independent. Disagreement makes us better.” (to which I comment : “sounds good, but that’s not how it plays out. The Mayor may let the council gripe, but he has the power and the Council doesn’t.”)

Arroyo — “The Council is there because the voters put them there. But more importantly” — and here he pointed to the Forum audience — “I want to work with YOU !” (to which I comment : “a slick way of ducking the question !”)

Walsh : “The city council is a partner. I would also include the Boston legislative delegation and also legislators from around the state. The mayor can’t do it alone, he’s not a dictator.” (to which I comment “no, but the Mayor often thinks he is.”)

By this time the Forum had shredded badly. Conley first, but then Ross, Barros, Clemons, even Connolly, one after the other, had to leave to attend other events. Only Arroyo and Walsh said they were here for the duration.

They all apologized, of course. But as the race is now well into crunch time, every candidate with any chance at all has more events on his or her daily schedule than could be attended in three days. And so it goes. rush, greet, rush, talk, rush, talk, greet, talk, rush. You want to keep up ? You will have to rush, rush too.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : CONNOLLY, GOLAR-RICHIE TAKE COMMAND AT “STAND UP FOR SENIORS” FORUM; BARROS EFFECTIVE TOO

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^ John Connolly : the day was his

—- —- —-

The Deutsches Altenheim, on Centre Street in West Roxbury, put itself center-stage in Boston’s mayor race by hosting a “stand Up for seniors’ forum. Because there are 12 candidates in the action, the sponsors divided the field into two parts. On Saturday over 100 seniors at the “old ones’ home” — which is what “Altenheim” means in German — the home was founded by Boston’s then German immigrant community — heard from Dan Conley, Felix Arroyo, Marty Walsh, Bill Walczak, David Wyatt, and Rob Consalvo. Yesterday, an even larger crowd, maybe 150, listened to — and questioned — the other six Mayor hopefuls. Between them there was much difference, both in positions advocated and in command of city governance.

The day belonged to John Connolly, who lives in West Roxbury and grew up in Roslindale, and to Charlotte Golar-Richie, who delivered her most authoritative Forum argument to date. In response to a question about quality of life in the neighborhood, she emphasized her focus on the safety of women, which also is, as she noted, an issue for seniors, most of whom are female.

She spoke with unforgettable detail about seniors who find themselves plagued with scams, because older people often save their money and credit rather than spend it : “late at night they may answer the phone and respond to a voice and give their credit card number. then  the credit card bill arrives with unwarranted charges. There should be a way to get those charges removed !”

Golar-Richie also put forth suggestions for improving women’s safety on public transportation.

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^ Charlotte Golar-Richie : her most authorotative Forum performance yet

Still, as effective and on point as Golar-Richie spoke, John Connolly assumed command of the Forum. Confident in speaking on home ground, to voters who know him a well as he knows them, he first addressed a question about scams that plague elderly people more than most, that “it’s hard to block phone numbers because they can always switch to another and then another. This is a problem of outreach and awareness. Seniors are often unaware, living often in isolation. we should use the city’s elderly commission to increase outreach.” Given a question about broken sidewalks being a serious hazard for older people, he responded with impressive command of detail : “this sis partly a public utilities issue. The phone company and electric dig up the streets, their contractors do, and then they don;t pout it back the way it it was. we need to set city standards, a check list, for such digs and see that the contractors adhere to them.

Connolly had more to say on the streets and sidewalks issue (which though hardly epic, are matters that every city resident is plagued by all the time). Given a question about the difficulty that seniors have in crossing a main street before the stoplights change, Connolly said, “we need to do a thorough streets and intersections assessment, so that when we design an intersection, we take into account pedestrians as well as motorists.”

And then came a moment that candidates hope they will have. A question was asked about money to keep the West Roxbury library open on weekends : is there the money to do so, or not ? Connolly said that funding for the library was tenuous at best; that it’s always low on the list of funding priorities. Candidate Charles Clemons — often given to blanket assertions that sound good — smiled widely. “Of course the money is there.” he roared, in the loud voice of an ex-policeman (which he is) “The city just paid 13 million dollars to buy a particular building in downtown that was assessed for six million !”

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^ Charles Clemons : one blanket assertion too many

It was Connolly’s chance. “It’s two different things, Charles. Libraries and the staff salaries are paid out of the city’s spending budget. Capital purchases are made from a different budget, the capital budget. You can’t use the capital budget to pay salaries or open libraries, it’s against the law.”

This is what winning candidates show that they can do. And though there was much well-informed discussion thereafter, by John Barros especially — Golar-Richie had had to leave the Forum to get to another event, and her comments were missed — of streets, snow removal, and phone call blocking, the big moment was Connolly’s, and the Altenheim voters knew it.

There was one other dramatic moment. Someone asked candidate Chares Yancey why he is running both for Mayor and for re-election to his city council seat, when all the other councillor candidates in the Mayor’s race were giving up their council seats ? It was a question many voters have wanted to ask. Why, indeed ?

Yancey — who ceaselessly repeated his mantra “My name is Charles Yancey, and i’m running for Mayor” — said, “i’m glad you asked that question.”

No one laughed, but…

He had an explanation, too ; “I am providing the voters of my district a choice. If I am re-elected councillor and am elected mayor, i will make my choice then, at that time.”

This, from the candidate who over and over again touted that “I have 30 years of experience in city budgets, more than any other candidate in the race.” Maybe experience isn’t an unmixed blessing.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : WALSH, ARROYO, BARROS and ROSS DOMINATE YOUTH GROUP FORUM

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^ the Nine : Yancey, Wyatt, walsh, Walczak, empty chair (Ross came later), Golar-Richie, Clemons, Barros, Arroyo

—- —- —-

Nine of the 12 candidates running to be Boston’s next Mayor took their seats at tonight’s Youth Group Forum held at the newly steepled parish Church on Meeting House Hill in Dorchester. About 150 residents of the neighborhood sat in the old New England pews to listen as the Mayors-to-be answered questions posed by speakers selected by the Cape Verdean Community UNIDO’s Youth Leadership Academy.

Dan Conley, John Connolly, and Rob Consalvo did not participate.

Questions to the candidates addressed dual-language education, school reform and preparation for technology jobs, and how to curb violence in the community. Mike Ross — who arrived late, but apologized — gave strong answers; even stronger, John Barros and Felix Arroyo, whose eloquence is second no nobody’s on behalf of those who live in Boston but lack access to the best. Strongest of all, surprisingly, was Marty Walsh, who had obviously prepared himself for the types of questions likely to be asked him. He spoke deliberately, in detail and with feeling, applying his work as a legislator and stating his goals for changing how the Mayor’s office confronts the problems that this Forum’s youth sponsors will be dealing with.

One issue that has turmoiled Boston voters recently, that of a longer school day, was settled. All the “major” candidates called for a longer school day, even Felix Arroyo, who has aligned himself with the Boston Teachers Union most closely of all the hopefuls. He, Walsh, and Barros gave the directest answers on what a longer school day should focus on. Barros’s call for a two-shift teaching force might roil the BTU a bit, however.

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^ John Barros (Felix Arroyo on his right): “for the longer school day we should have teacher shifts, an early shift for the morning and lunch hours and a late shift for the afternoon.”

On the question of dual language schools, Both Arroyo and Barros spoke with personal experience. Said Arroyo,  “I grew up in a subsidized apartment with immigrant parents who spoke ‘espagnol.’ I know what it’s like to grow up among kids who I did not understand because they spoke English… we have only four dual language schools. Parents of all backgrounds want dual language education. Look at the Hernandez School, it works well. I look for the day when we have many different language’d dual-language schools. French, Cape Verdean Creole, even Mandarin. Why not mandarin ?”

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^ Felix Arroyo (John Barros on his left) speaking to the schools issue : “every Boston school child deserves the best education because every child is a best child.”

Barros ; “I’m a son of cape Verdean immigrants. When I joined the city’s school committee, and in my work, I fought to assure that all Boston public school students learn English fully.” These sentiments were of course reiterated by other candidates at the forum, of whom Charlers Clemons nloted that he was ideally suited to understand the disconnecvgt between studenyts who come to bostyon with anoyher language and the Ejglish-language adyuklt world. “Not by language but by my heritage. My father descends from slaves brought here on slave ships; my mother from the Brewsters on the Mayflower.”

It was a memorable, if not conclusively Mayoral moment. And led almost inevitably to Walsh’s comment : “My parents didn’t face a language challenge, but they were challenged too. Both had less than a high school diploma.” Walsh, who grew up and still lives in the Dorchester section directly abutting Meeting House Hill, discussed the funding process for dual language education and his part in it as a 16-year legislator. He concluded with a challenge: “We should have two different kinds of dual-language schools. When a child’s first language is English, we should have them learn another language !”

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^ Marty Walsh ; “with a longer school day we shouldn’t just have more classroom but also some programs, the arts.”

The question on preparation for graduating to the City’s best jobs brought this comment by Arroyo : “The next mayor has to have as a priority closing the ‘achievement gap.’ And it begins very young. If a child falls behind in the third grade, even , it is already too late. We need to teach financial literacy, too, to all our children.”

Walsh ; “we don’t just need to change our city’s jobs policy for the kids, We need to rewrite it. Right now we’re being sued because our city jobs policy doesn’t meet the US Constitution !”

Many of he candidates mentioned Madison park High School — the technical high school closest to Meeting House Hill — in their answers to this question. Barros ; “We absolutely do invest in technical High schools in Boston. Now we have to make sure that Madison park has a technology center. And more ; Boston residency, for Boston jobs.”

Charles Clemons, a former Boston police officer, was skeptical ; “residency policy ? It has never been enforced. We give parking tickets and licensing fines but we don;t enforce residency. Why not ?”

The forum moved on to discussing the problem of violence in the Meeting House Hill neighborhood and others.  Many of the candidates addressed the issue well.

Mike Ross had now joined the group and, with his usual grasp of big-picture basics, said : “there’s diversity needed (on the police force). It’s not OK that there is not one police captain of color nor one who is female….the opposite of violence is opportunity (for kids at risk).”

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^ Mike Ross : was at another event; apologized for coming late; and, as always, spoke well and to the point

Arroyo : “there’s a short term strategy and a long term strategy. Short term : back to community policing. Police bicycling through the community. Long term : if we are not serious about ending the cycle of poverty we’re not serious about reducing crime.”

Walsh, who has said “there’s a heroin epidemic in the City right now,” gave this pledge : “(if I’m elected,) The first meeting that i will have in my office will be on violence. we have to attack this problem one street at a time, one family at a time.”

I have highlighted the answers given by candidates Walsh, Arroyo, Barros,and Ross most of all because they addressed the questions, gave answers which signal that some thought has taken place in the brains about these issues, and demonstrated seriousness about doing the job, not just campaigning for it. The other candidates present either gave rambling, conversational responses — Charlotte Golar-Richie — or ones that seemed too narrowly focused, locally and in minutiae — Charles Clemons and Bill Walczak. Others of the nine on stage seemed to be talking more to themselves than to the voters. One wonders why they are running. At this stage, with less than five weeks till Primary day, there’s no time left for candidacies that won’t, or can;t command the issues on a large scale. Mayor of Boston is the most difficult political job, maybe, in all New England. Fumble-itis, vagueness, and circuitous thinking are NOT in the job description.