PROFILING BOSTON CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES: AYANNA PRESSLEY

 

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In the November 2009 election, Ayanna Pressley became the first woman of color ever elected to the Boston City Council. She was re-elected in 2011, finishing first in 13 wards and in the City as a whole. Her rise from unknown to the top has surprised many; but in the internet age, when candidates can become very known very quickly, and where a fresh face and articulate person can become liked almost as quickly, her rise seems less unique. There will surely be more Ayanna Pressley stories than not in Boston elections to come.

She grew up in Chicago and came here to attend Boston university. Until recently, growing up 1000 miles from Boston, and not being at least the child, or grandchild, of Boston residents, was an all but impossible start for any success at all in Boston elections. But the internet age has modified that; today one can grow up anywhere and have Boston voters feel close friendship to you. Pressley’s success proves it.

Granted that she did have some political experience here in Massachusetts, first as an aide to Congressman Joseph Kennedy II and then in the office of then Senator John Kerry.

We first heard her speak in person at a “community conversation,’ as a candidate house party is now called, at a house named “Ashmonticello” on Dorchester’s Adams Street hard by the Neponset River about a block from Lower Mills. There she answered questions from about 5 people, many of them schools or progressive-issue activists. She stood in front of the gathered, dressed in professional businesswoman style and, in a sweet soprano voice — her meet and greet voice too — gave detailed, evenly delivered responses.

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Most of the questions addressed the proposal that has become her hallmark : a Home Rule Petition, to the legislature, to grant Boston control over its own liquor licenses.

Some background : under Massachusetts law, all Cities are state-chartered entities; and as such, they must petition the State if they desire to make changes in the state statutes governing their charter. Boston is thye only city whose liquor licenses require State approval. This was done over 100 years ago, when State and City were grievously at odds politically and ethically.

Pressley explained her petition at the “Ashmonticello” as something needed not just for its own sake but becaue the granting of liquor licenses enables restaurants to succeed; and restaurants, as she pouts it, create “destination neighborhoods.” She wants all of Boston’s major neighborhoods to have destination strength; and, as she adds, successful neighborhood restaurants give rise to successful neighborhood businesses of many other kinds.

Every City Council candidate in this year’s election hashad to state a position on Pressley’s Home Rule petition, the most significant home Rule reform presented seriously in many years. It also provides a specific example of the neighborhood-centered planning thaty she, like so many candidates running in this election, including the mayor candidates, call for as an overdue BRA reform.

Pressley has conducted as city-wide and active a street-level campaign as any Council candidate. We have seen her in Meeting house Hill, on Dochester Avenue, in Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, and downtown. She has endorsement of palnned parenthood and of several Democratic party Ward Committees. After the Primary we will focus in greater length on the focus and outreach of her seeking a third Council term.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

PROFILING BOSTON’S CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES : PHILIP FRATTAROLI

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^ Philip Frattaroli ; at a restaurant, of course….

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Not many candidates for Boston City Council come from the restaurant business. Indeed, it’s hard for me to think of even one. Enter Philip Frattaroli, who owns and operates Ducali in the North End, where he lives in a “fifth floor walk-up,” as he puts it, a living situation not at all uncommon in that ancient part of Boston. restaurants, too, are common in the North end, but not since Dom Caposella, who after losing a race for State Representative, opened a fine dining spot named “Dom’s,” on Commercial Street, decades ago has North End politics and restauranting come together, as Frattaroli has now done at age 31.

Frattaroli was born in the North End — “how different it was !” he recalls — into a family that, like so many North Enders since 1900, had come from Southern Italy : the town of Avellino (Dad) and the Abruzzese (Mom). And, as Frattaroli tells it, they soon opened up a restaurant — and moved to Winchester, where their son graduated from high school.

“I grew up in the restaurant business,’ he says. “it was something i wanted no part of as a career, though. and when my brother was killed by a negligent driver, it changed how I looked at everything. So after college, I went to Suffolk Law School and then to practice law.” But the restaurant business came back into his life anyway “I came up with an idea for a place and so decided to get involved in my own restaurant. Thus Ducali.”

Being a small businessman, says Frattaroli, makes him “a candidate who knows what it might be to lose money.” And as a restaurant owner, “I know what a small (food) business has to go through, all the licensing, the city departments…I’m a lawyer, and it’s hard for me. imagine what it’s like for an immigrant.” But, he continues, “I’ve created jobs in the city, I’ve been through the 1010 Mass Avenue (inspectional services department) process. (Don’t forget) “the North End turned around (and became what it now is) because of small business.”

Having heard this assertion, I felt the need to ask him an obvious licensing question : “So, do you agree with Councillor Pressley’s Home Rule petition to give Boston power over its own liquor licenses ?”

Frattaroli responded at gtreat length. After all, this is the issue he lives by:

“Not sure I agree. To go to an uncapped liquor license system (means that) all the small businesses that have played by the rules will suffer. Their licence is their chef asset. Her home rule proposal needs to be modified. Somerville didn’t go to an uncapped system when they revamped their licensing a few years ago; why should Boston ?

“The licenses aren’t the problem, it’s where they are given out. Some neighborhoods have too many, some have none. Ten percent of all people (employed) in Boston are employed in the restaurant business. The goal here is (to not hurt them). With me, you have somebody who knows the business (and I’m saying that an) uncapped system is going to hurt the current restaurants. Keep some cap on the total.”

It’s clear from the above conversation that Frattaroli’s unique quality as a Councillor is his experience in the restaurant business. thus went Here and Sphere’s first question to candidates. the conversation continues (“HnS” for Here and Sphere):

HnS : What are your two top priorities as a Councillor at Large ?

Frattaroli : “First, small businesses and how the City treats them. Second, young families. We need to make the city easier for them to stay. This involves, first, better assignment process for schools. Schools have to be neighborhood schools. Second, sports programs in the schools, such as Boston Youth Wrestling. it’s proven that kids involved in wrestling don;t drop out of school, and wrestling, unlike basketball or football, is for kids of all shapes and sizes. third, late night transit. it;s better for the city and for safety and for the businesses. Lots of younger people work late and can’t get home.”

HnS : What about the BRA ? Replace or rerform ? If reform, in what ways ?

Frattaroli : “reform it. My friend bought a condo and had to pay the BRA a percentage of the buy price ! he BRA should be treated just like a government agency.

“There should also be transparency. How did the Seaport area get all big-chain, nationally owned restaurants, and none locally owned ? (We still don’t know the process of that.) And to get there you have to have a car — it’s too far to walk. Who planned that ? It all has to be reformed. I’m on the local neighborhood council, and we can’t find out what is happening. (As for the Council having a say,) the budget for the BRA. that is where we come in.

HnS : School reform : what on John Connolly’s school agenda do you favor ?

Frattaroli : “There’s data on what works. We have to replicate (that.) Innovation schools (work). (Take) the Eliot. The teachers there have given up some of their contract perks. We can’t (just) hold on to a system that protects vested interests. (I think of) a school in South Boston (that) had a teacher who was teacher of the year, yet the school had to let him go because he was the last one in !

“A longer school day ? As long as its used the right way, yes. We have to take best practices that work, and apploy them here.”

HnS : Lift the cap on charter schools ?

Frattaroli : “Yes, i think I’d vote to raise the cap. Competition is good. Restaurants are a meritocracy. (why not schools ?) Charter schools (apply) a lot of innovations.”

HnS : Marty Walsh says there’s a heroin epidmeic in Boston. Do you agree ?

Frattaroli : “There’s a drug problem. Whatever the drug is — it’s in society in general. The sports thing that I mentioned is so important (here). As a wrestler, as a kid, I was saved. I made sure that I was never not ready. Kids in sports have mentors. Especially the young men; it’s an important part of their coming of age.”

Frattaroli has had success raising money for his first run at public office. He has raised $ 70,000, he tells me, with a smile. It continues. “You’ll see,” he says. “On Monday evening there’s a fundraiser for me at Ecco in East Boston. the State Rep, Carlo Basile, will be there. Come and see how we’re doing !”

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

PROFILING THE BOSTON CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES : CATHERINE O’NEILL

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^ Catherine O’Neill, of the Lower Mills O’Neills, conversing with a roomfull of Seniors at Foley House, South Boston

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There’s something of a Dorchester revival afoot in the City of Boston, an irish-name revival too. Here, in a city decreasingly peopled by those of Irish-name, we see on the Council at-Large ballot a Mike Flaherty; a Stephen J. Murphy; a Jack Kelly, Marty Keough, Chris Conroy, and — by no means the least — the subject of today’s profile, Catherine M. O’Neill, of the large and well, well-known O’Neills of Lower Mills.

It would be hard to have been any sort of active Boston citizen these past forty years and not known at least one of Catherine O’Neill’s siblings. Her brother Tim has been a public prosecutor since the early 1970s; brother Tom was a legendary principal at Mattapan’s famed Solomon Lewenberg School. Brother Ted O’Neill has been well-known too, and her late brother Mike — known to hundreds of politically busy Bostonians as “wide Mike,” — who always reminded me of what the poet and playwright Brendan Behan must have looked like, a presence as physically awesome as he was likeable.

Catherine O’Neil has Mike’s fierce eyes and Viking face, and something of Tim’s soft forehead, and it’s hard to figure how this writer somehow did not meet her back when her brothers were a constant presence. Turns out that her career  followed an entirely different trajectory ; she’s a published playwright (that Behan connection ?) and a media person who hosted The Boston Connection, All About Boston, and the Dorchester Connection, all on BBN-TV.

O’Neill went to St. Gregory’s School — where her Dad was a janitor — for thirteen years, then got her degree from Suffolk University in communication and journalism. She also has a master’s degree in Fine Arts.

She never married — a loss for the best Boston men of my generation — but as a child growing up in a large family, it comes second nature to her to care about people. And so, when Elizabeth Warren, who knew of O’Neill from television , asked her to work on her Senate campaign, O’Neill was ready to take her caring into the formal political groove,

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^ Catherine O’Neill with senator Elizabeth Warren

She found the experience to her liking, and after Warren was elected, went to work in the campaign of her Lower Mills neighbor, Linda Dorcena-Forry — wife of Bill Forry, whose father Ed was “Mr Dorchester News” for several decades — for State Senator. Dorcena-Forry was already the Lower Mills area’s State Representative; indeed, O’Neill had been her field director in her 2005 first campaign. Dorcena-Forry’s Senate campaign made history. She won over the South Boston candidate, becoming the first Dorchester candidate to do so, and the first person of color to represent the District.

O’Neill was now ready to become a candidate herself; and when Tom Menino’s decision it to run for a fifth Mayoral term opened up two of Boston’s four at-large Council seats, her time had arrived.

We chatted with O’Neill three times; stood with her as she greeted voters at a Marty Walsh rally in East boston; and saw her in action conversing with voters at the Foley House in South Boston. There was never a minute in which she did not connect eye to eye with voters together an d singly; the experienced media hostess this was ever in command, credible, likeable. Thus our first question — what special qualities do you possess to make you uniquely qualified as a Councillor ? — answered itself.  Not many Council candidates are published playwrights and accomplished television show hosts,

Our conversation continues (Here and Sphere as “HnS”) :

HnS : Your first priority as a Councillor ?

O’Neill: Seniors. My Mom is 93 years old. I know the needs of seniors first hand. Seniors need all the help they can get. Longer stop lights at crossings, better curb cuts. Safety of the neighborhoods !  I will be an advocate for seniors ~!

Here and Sphere (HnS) : Do you favor lifting the charter school cap ?

O’Neill: no, I do not favor it.

HnS : What school reforms do you favor ?

O’Neill: I think a longer school day is a good idea.

HnS : The BRA : replace / reform ? If so, how ?

O’Neill: There needs to be separation of planning and decision, so that the community can have input.

HnS : Speaking of safety, Marty Walsh has said there’s a heroin epidemic in the city. Do you agree ?

O’Neill : The first documentary I did, for BBN television — in 2001, produced and wrote — was on the heroin problem in the city of Boston. It was epidemic in proportion then, and I know we still have that problem with it in our city. The shame is not to be a heroin addict; the shame is not to do anything about it. Heroin addicts, and addicts generally, usually have no advocate. There’s nobody out there beating a drum for people who unfortunately are addicted to heroin.  and I…i would be an advocate. we need more beds for women (addicts too). I really do know a lot about his subject, because of my friend, now deceased, who was the head of the drug corps at South Boston District Court,. it was he who asked me to do the documentary.”

That O’Neill proved so conversant of Boston’s heroin problem surprised me. It probably shouldn’t have. It’s the kind of problem that a television discussion show, such as O’Neill hosted, wants to focus on. Proof that her television experience offers more than just show time to the City Council if she’s elected.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

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^ Catherine O’Neill advocating to Seniors at the Foley House on H Street in South Boston.

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

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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

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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

PA WOMAN CHARGED AFTER KILLING NEWBORN IN SPORTS-BAR BATHROOM

arrest phot amanda

 Born ,wrapped in a bag right out of the restroom garbage can, then carelessly discarded in the tank of a sports-bar bathroom — and left to die! That was the quick and atrocious beginning of life — right to the tragic death — for this Pennsylvania newborn boy.

screenshots of the bathroom

26-year-old Allentown Pennsylvania resident, Amanda Catherine Hein — went out with friends on August 18th to watch a pay-per-view wrestling match, at Starters Pub in Bethlehem Pennsylvania. While sitting with her party at a booth in the bar, she began experiencing severe back pain and excused herself. According to witnesses including her friend “Rivera” — she was gone for a lengthy period of time, possibly 40 minutes or longer — before returning, grabbing her purse and heading outside. Hein smoked a cigarette before returning to the group to finish watching the rest of the wrestling match. Say’s District Attorney: John Morganelli.  At some point “Rivera” noticing a fairly large amount of blood on the seat asked Hein “if she needed to go to the hospital?” — to which she replied ” I have no insurance”, at that point Hein was dropped off at home.

starterspub side view

Starters Pub a sports bar on Route 378 in Bethlehem Pennsylvania — an estimated 30 miles from Philadelphia — is now the admitted crime scene of the baby boy’s disconcerting death.Bar owner Dave Rank was still in disbelief, and clearly still in shock as he explained that — A cleaning crew for the pub found the baby boy the following morning August 18th, in the tank of the woman’s bathroom toilet, after attempting to flush it repeatedly with no result — they lifted the tank’s top to find a hellish scene.

starters pub route 378 back door

When D.A. Morganelli was asked his thoughts on what Hein was thinking he answered — ” I have no idea what goes on in her head”– noticeably unnerved, he said ” I have no clue.”‘

starters pub heins

According to the Northampton County coroner, the newborn was at least 33 to 36 weeks gestational age — meaning he was fully viable, able to survive outside the womb . Court records also indicate that the baby was born alive and healthy.

survival rate

After learning the gruesome details — Amanda’s stepmother Louiseanne Hein clearly heartbroken and appalled told reporters that she had no idea Amanda was even pregnant. She said that looking back a planned parenthood letter addressed to Amanda now makes sense. Through teary eyes and honest transparent expression — grief-stricken Louiseanne exclaimed through sobbing sentences: “We told her she always had a home here” and that ” we would have worked something out!”

Via Amanda Hein's Facebook
Via Amanda Hein’s Facebook

Even neighbor Victor Rosario reinforced the theorized “Secret Pregnancy” by stating — “I didn’t even know she was pregnant, she didn’t look pregnant!”

On August 20th Amanda Hein was interviewed by authorities. She admitted giving birth to the baby boy in the bathroom, and disposing of him.  This gut wrenching confession, has earned Hein the rightful charge of Criminal Homicide. In Pennsylvania, “intentional murder of a child under the age of 12 is a Capital Offense — punishable by way of the death penalty. On Monday Hein was charged with one count of Criminal Homicide — thus the possibility of imposing the death penalty looms, if Hein is proven guilty.

Hein is being held without bail — as of last week no representation had been officially listed. The  authorities are still searching for the father of the baby.

Educate others safe haven

This incident has resurfaced the topic of SAFE HAVEN’S — as New Jersey and Pennsylvania both have “Anonymous drop off laws.” The Safe Haven laws, and places are now pushing harder to educate people about the State’s laws regarding Safe Haven’s.

safe haven sign

Established in 2002 after an infant girl they called “baby Mary” was discovered in a Sunbury Pennsylvania trash compactor.  EVERY hospital in P.A. are Safe Haven’s only needing to meet minimal criteria.

  • The child must be a non-injured, non-emergent newborn.
  • The newborn must be under the age of 28 days in Pennsylvania.
  • The newborn must be under the age of 30 days in New Jersey

If those criteria are met — the newborn will be accepted and taken in — NO QUESTIONS ASKED — and completely anonymous if the person dropping off the child so chooses.

safe haven incubator

With help in place like Safe Haven’s and a multitude of other resources — there is NO NEED for the senseless and horrifying deaths of any healthy newborn. Educate yourselves, and those around you — IT MAY SAVE A BABY’S LIFE.

Written By: Heather Cornell

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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

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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 CITY COUNCIL RACE : Jack Kelly Makes Name for Himself, One Barbecue at a Time

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^ Having Their Cake and eating It Too ; Allston-Brighton liaison Angela Holm enjoying cake with City Council at-large candidate Jack Kelly — outside a barbecue in North Allston this past Sunday.

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Because the highly contested Boston Mayoral Race commands most attention, the race for Boston City Council has, for the most part, been pushed to the side stage.

Jack Kelly hopes to change that.

He graduated  from the University of Massachusetts at Boston with a degree in Political Science. Most recently, he’s been working as a Community Liaison for Massachusetts General Hospital, helping to bring awareness to the plight of Substance Abuse and HIV in various high-risk sections of the City.

In our profile of Kelly, we noted his interesting bio. As his campaign has gained serious momentum, we decided to follow up. How is he gathering the strength that has become so evident in his run ?

Thus Here and Sphere caught up with Kelly at a neighborhood barbecue in Allston. We asked him especially about the response he has received so far, from Boston voters.

HnS: How is the Campaign going so far?

Kelly: The Campaign is going very, very well. We just picked up another endorsement today from State Rep. Carlo Basile (D-East Boston) amongst many. We’re here in Allston today. It’s not only diverse economically, but culturally as well as with history.

HnS: What has been the most important thing that you have learned so far on the campaign?

Kelly: Lots of things. I go to a lot of barbeques, and I want to eat, but I don’t (laughs). In fact, I think that I’ve lost about fifteen pounds, walking around, going from barbecue-to-barbecue.

HnS: Well, you do look great.

Kelly: Thanks (Laughs). I think that the issues for most Bostonians are universal. I think that sometimes people here see these issues differently because they are segregated in a sense. But if you do go into those neighborhoods, the issues are very, very similar.

HnS: Say you’re elected to the City Council, and regardless of who is elected Mayor, in four years from now, where do you see Boston?

Kelly: I think that there are several good Mayoral candidates, and whoever is elected Mayor, if I am elected to the City Council, my hope is that I can help steer the City in the right direction. I want to continue the good work that Mayor Menino has done. Boston is going to be very good. Not just because of its leadership, but because of its people.

HnS: What has been the most pressing issue in this campaign that you have heard from voters?

Kelly: I think it’s a combination of schools, public safety, and sometimes they sort of migrate into one big conglomerated issue. A lot of people are also concerned about public parking and development. It also depends on what neighborhood you’re in, as far as issues are concerned. If you wanted to pick one issue that is universally applied to all people, it would be the schools.”

The campaign continues. We expect to see Kelly often in the four weeks that remain till Primary day.

— Dave Morrison / Here and Sphere

WE PROFILE BOSTON’S CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES : RAMON SOTO

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^ Ramon Soto : from co-ordinator to candidate.

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We met RAMON SOTO yesterday, in the North End, as the celebration of St. Anthony’s day was winding down. Even at 5 P.M. the day was hot and sunny and the crowds lively as Soto talked to us in one of the many new bar-terrasses that offer a touch of Europe to those who live or visit Boston’s oldest residential neighborhood. Soto is making his first run for elective office, seeking one of Boston’s four city-wide Council seats. He’s had events in Jamaica Plain, South Boston, and among the city’s Latino communities, and he is pumped.

No sooner has our talk begun than he makes a headline.

“I live in Mission Hill,’ he says. “at 16 Parker Hill Avenue.”

“But that is the street that Donna Summer grew up on!” we exclaim.

To which Soto responds, “Yes ! She lived in the exact same house that I live in now ! The owner often talks to me of her. On the anniversary of her death he had the house all decked out in pink.”

“So tragic, her death vat age 63,” we say.

“Yes, and I can never forget her, can I ?”

Immediately we like Ramon Soto a lot.

Beyond being a Donna Summer fan, Soto enjoys a long resume of Boston-area political work at the center of power. “My first time (in politics), I worked for Michael Morrissey, who was running for state senator in Quincy – Braintree. In Braintree, he finished third, but in the part that I was in charge of, he was first. (He won the race and) brought me aboard.

“From there, i joined the communications staff of Mayor Menino. Job title ; “constituent service co-ordinator.” Which meant that I worked on his e-mails. There were hundreds of e-mails on every issue, so he said to me, ‘if i have to sign them, I want the answers to be what I am saying.’ And together we worked out the right answer for him, for each issue. These weren’t boiler plate answers. I rewrote them all. it taught me all about the broader issues and gave me a knowledge of the people to go to if the Mayor wanted an issue dealt with.

“That was only my day job, though,’ Soto notes. “I wasn’t making much just doing his e-mails, so at night I bartended. I learned a lot about (city) life doing that.”

Soto rose even higher in the political backstage. He took a leave to work on the 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign. As a Clinton delegate, he attended the Democratic national convention and, after Clinton released her delegates, he became known to the Obama people and was hired to work much of Eastern Massachusetts — “in reality, New Hampshire,” Soto notes — in the Fall campaign.

After Obama’s victory, Soto was back in City Hall, now as co-ordinator for resources going to the Boston School system. “Our goal was to gather all these resources into one arena, so that parents can do one-stop help at their kids’ schools.”

Yet for this tireless man being a schools co-ordinator was not enough. “I also was the City;s co-ordinator to the 2010 census process,” he says. “(My mission was) to go into the nail salons, bodegas, barber shops, and churches an d make sure the people knew that 400 million in federal dollars would come to the City if we counted everybody; those were the stakes. They got the message. We had the highest city census participation in thirty years.”

Such is the life of Ramon Soto, who can justly claim a nuts-and-bolts, working connection to every corner of Boston.

Because this bio fully answers our usual first question to candidates, “what qualities single you out as a potential Councillor,’ our interview moved directly to the other six questions. The questions and Soto’s answers follow.

Here and Sphere (HnS) : What are your two top priorities to work on if you’re elected ?

Soto : First, continue and expand the ‘circle of promise’ program. Second, youth violence. If we can get the guns off our streets — advocacy groups need to come together on this — maybe a gun buy back — we can end this scourge. Background checks for all gun sales, including between family members, which is how many youths obtain their guns.”

HnS : Casino vote — citywide or East Boston only ?

Soto : “East Boston only. It’s their neighborhood, it’s their autonomy.”

HnS : School reform — longer school day, yes or no ? Do you favor any of the other reforms in Connolly’s agenda ?

Soto : “Stronger Court Street structure. Everybody there is doing a great job, but it’s too centralized. more voices need to be heard. Bi-lingual education is a mistake — it delays a kid’s mastering English. Dual-language schools, that’s more like it, indeed vitally important.

“We need at least a five year plan to assess the state of our schools. A full scale, flexible but comprehensive analysis of where we are now. Today the assignment process puts school quality against assignment rules. We need to assure that kids have better options, closer to home. And (when we do this analysis) we need to engage the parents !

“Longer school day make sense. Bring the school day in line with the work day. But until we totally assess the schools we can’t decide what to do with the longer school day. (Also,) I’m a realist about the funds available. (Perhaps) we can get after-school programs (from outside the teachers’ time constraints.”

5. HnS : Charter schools — lift cap ? {Partial lift ?

Soto : “(I’m) against lifting the charter cap. If we want to get the public schools right, then we have to focus on the schools we already have.”

6. HnS : BRA — re[place reform (and, if so, in what ways) ? Should there be a separate board for planning ?

Soto : “the Council does not have the final word (here). The mayor has to sign off. But as far a i am involved, I do not want to increase the red tape. Developers fund the BRA. Just let’s have more transparency and a more comprehensive process that involves the neighborhood.

“Economic development plan ? (Maybe just) more red tape. Better to just open up more communication with the community.”

7. Hns : Marty Walsh says ‘There’s a heroin epidemic in the city now.’ Do you agree ?

Soto : “Yes there is a heroin epidemic. I had my wallet stolen the other day !

“Yes we can do something about it. talk to the kids out there — but it’s really about the family. Families in trouble tend to make bad decisions.

“Government has ways of encouraging families; there’s a billion dollars in the cit available to help families. (Much of it is) plugged into the schools. And it’s about treatment and therapy. You can’t (simply arrest your way out of it. The drug unit at the BPD does a great job, but it’s really about stopping (the drugs). (And) it’s not just Boston. it’;s everywhere.”

You can find out more about Ramon Soto and his agenda by visiting his website at http://www.Ramon4Boston.com

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere