BOSTON MAYOR RACE : CONNOLLY RECOVERS NICELY; WALSH FOCUSES; THE FIELD GETS SOME MOJO

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^ John Connolly : what schools flap ?  — here he is in East Boston

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We will admit it : we didn’t think that John Connolly would be able to surmount the huge flap over a $ 500,000 “outside” money dump that that smothered his campaign. But he has.

We thought sure that his schools agenda would look less reformist, — as a result of his being gifted by Stand for Children, an Oregon-based advocacy group debunked by some for relying hugely on corporate money of a seriously regressive sort — than insidious. For about three quarters of a day, it looked like we had it right.

But then, in less than an evening, Connolly struck back, fully. Supporters rallied to his side — publicly and unreservedly. He touted his “green-ist” credentials as the campaign voice of Boston’s “park people.” Big-name Democrats like Ian Bowles stepped up.  And he rejected the $ 500,000 for once and all, in a statement that left little doubt that he was quite angry at being ambushed by a group purporting to support his candidacy.

How effective was Connolly’s response ? Rival Dan Conley congratulated him on rejecting the money. THAT good.

Connolly also benefitted by an over-reaction by Felix G. Arroyo, who not only touted his support for Boston Teachers (and their Union, the BTU),which was OK, but then proceeded to assert that as Mayor he would work to eradicate poverty in Boston. Oh really ?

So here we are, on August 22nd, with a Mayoral Forum, taking place tonight at the newly re-steepled white church on Dorchester Center Hill, and 32 days left before Primary Day, and all is back on course. What WERE we thinking ?

Yes, a few doubts linger about Connolly’s commitment to school reform that isn’t a corporate take-over. You can see the doubts in his Twitter feed. But he is confronting the doubters, indeed, allowing their doubting tweets to stand in his Twitter list for all to read. this is a smart move.

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^ Marty Walsh on L Street : pressing some Wards 6 and 7 flesh and moving on up

Meanwhile, in South Boston, Marty Walsh is taking care of some unattended business. Last night former Senator Jack hart co[-hosted a huge party for him; during the day, Walsh greeted voters along L Street. Jon Connolly has cozied big-time up to South Boston’s State Representative, Nick Collins. Bringing Jack Hart into play allowed Walsh to send Connolly a message — and one to Coll;ins as well. It has always seemed sure that the strongly labor-backed Walsh would dominate in South Boston, but lately that primacy has come into doubt. Today there seems less doubt in play.

The Walsh campaign moves ahead to another neighborhood where support from his fellow State Representative has eluded him : East Boston. In this case, the legislator (Carlo Basile) has actually endorsed a rival. So, on Monday Walsh will host a “Mondays with Marty” in East Boston. It will be interesting to see who and how many come to hear him speak.

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^ Rob Consalvo : neighborhood schools. In Kenmore Square ?

The rest of the Mayor race’s bigger hopefuls seem finally to have found their stride. was it the Connolly flap that tweaked them ? It seems so. Many of his rivals suddenly became advocates for neighborhood schools (Consalvo), or opponents of charter school increases (Ross), or voices for public school teachers and the under-performing schools (Arroyo). Golar-Richie pushed a women’s safety agenda — significant certainly,l in light of the murder of Amy Lord, not to mention the killing, in nearby Waltham, allegedly by Jared Remy — Jerry Remy’s son — of his girlfriend.

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^ Charlotte Golar Richie in the North End,. with St. Rep. Aaron Michlewitz.

Connolly also launched his first television ads. So has Consalvo. Marty Walsh probably has them running also, though we haven’t yet seen any.

Every night now, Boston voters have a vast choice of campaign events to drop in on, or events of their own for candidates to appear at (for us at Here and Sphere too). Every day there’s a meet-and-greet — or three, or five — going on somewhere in the City. It’s all out sprint time, indeed a typhoon of sprints, as the campaign approaches the first week of September and all that that portends for political weather.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

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BOSTON MAYOR RACE : THE SCHOOLS ISSUE GETS DIVISIVE

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^ John Connolly : SFCs $ 500,000 guy

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The cat is out of the bag now. Big-time.

About a week ago we mused, on our Facebook page, that there would soon be huge money entering the Mayor election on behalf of a “major” candidate. As Marty Walsh had already said, “and it won’t be for me,” we concluded that the money at issue would go to John Connolly.

Today’s Boston Globe confirms it. Stand for Children (SFC), a non-profit, school reform advocacy group based in Oregon, will spend at least $ 500,000 to promote John Connolly’s candidacy. And why not ? His schools agenda conforms almost exactly to SFC’s. He, like SFC,supports a longer school day, more stringent teacher performance standards, counseling for all children, and — yes — an increase in the number of charter schools. None of this should have been fire-storm news.

Still, no sooner did the Globe article appear than all hell broke loose. The brother of candidate Felix G. Arroyo attacked SFC on his Facebook page as “anti-teachers union, pro-privatization …group ‘Stand ON Children'” and linked to an article about SFC headlined “profiteering and Union-busting repackaged as school reform.”

Nor is Arroyo the only candidate who supports the Boston Teachers Union in opposing authorizing more charter schools. So do candidates Charles Clemons, Rob Consalvo, and Michael Ross.

Meanwhile, candidates Barros, Conley, Connolly, Walczak, and Walsh support lifting State law’s current limitation on how many there can be of charter schools. Of these five, SFC picked Connolly as its “most aligned with us” candidate. That is what advocacy groups do.

Of course a hue and cry also arose about “outside money” coming into what has paraded itself as a locally funded, “people’s pledge” campaign (the pledge refers to an agreement made between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren in their 2012 Senate race, not to accept outside PAC money.) Candidates opposing SFC’s schools position cried the loudest; Consalvo even asked all Mayor candidates to take that “people’s pledge.”

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^ Rob Consalvo : people’s pledge not to accept SFC money …

It is a given that big money is spent on big elections, and in Boston there’s none bigger than an open election for Mayor — especially now, with the City in the midst of a construction boom and a Downtown revitalizing as a place to shop, work, party, and live. Connolly has latched onto the downtown wave, and his schools agenda hews close not only to SFC’s but also to that of Governor Patrick, to legislation adopted in 20120 and to a schools agreement concluded in 2012. It signals that he absolutely means to see the agreements enacted in 2010 and 2012 adopted throughout the Boston School system. Also that he, if elected, will powerfully push for more charter schools and for a longer school day. Radical ? Not at all. most voters agree with all of it. Anti-union ? only if the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) sees it that way.

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 Marty Walsh : Labor’s guy supports lifting charter schools cap

Fascinating it is, to see how far out of step with voter sentiment the BTU has become. Forty years ago, Boston teachers were being elected to the City’s School Committee simply because they were teachers. the profession had that much respect. The schools of that day were racially segregated, and that was wrong; but to most parents they provided an education that comported well with what parents then expected : preparation to enter the then industrial and public-employee workforce.

Today public employee jobs still exist aplenty, but industrial employment mostly does not. If your child is going to be hireable into the technologically savvy economy — even into public employment — he or she needs more than just to pass an MCAS test or three. He or she needs to become computer fluent, conversant with mobile technology, program languages capable; failure-free in spelling, grammar, technical writing, Windows, Unix, network administration, mathematics, and, yes, current events; as well as able to create an Adobe PDF document, not to overlook all kinds of other forms and formats that today’s businesses create and modify every minute. These skills and arts cannot be mastered in a school that settles for average achievement in a short school day. The children of 40 years ago needed to know mainly how to respond to a boss and to concentrate on tasks repeated over and over. Today’s child needs to master work teams, social graces, how to take and respond to criticism and give it; how to book travel and negotiate airports; to speak and read more than one language; and such like.

That corporations might just have an interest in seeing that Boston’s school graduates can handle strongly all these skills and arts may seem like “corporatism” to some. To us it seems only common sense. Corporations hire a large number of those graduating. If they cannot fill that large number of hires in Boston, why shouldn’t they relocate to cities whose graduates can fill them ? The same is true for start-ups. Boston has far more than its share of these because we care about education. we will not settle for the out of date or the average. Teachers Unions, like all institutions, develop an institutional undertow of their own; the Union is led by those who began in it decades ago and then rose to power inside it, notwithstanding the huge societal and economic changes going on outside. Because Teachers’ Unions leaders must respond to its membership, and because its membership goes by seniority just as it insists on seniority as a job securement, so the Teachers’ leaders fight to hold on to bargains already won — even as these bargains lose their cogency to what is needed of schools. And thus the Teachers; union has lost a great deal of the solid support and respect that it once had among Boston voters.

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^ Felix Arroyo : advocate for Boston Teachers Union

The BTU seems not to understand how cornered it is in the arena of public opinion. While the MTA (Massachusetts Teachers Alliance) has heard the message and opted into the State’s reform process, it is not clear that the BTU has faced the music. Until charter schools, it was the BTU way or no way; public schools, or off to the suburbs or to parochial school. The coming of charter schools, however, which operate something like parochial schools, in which teachers are paid less but have much more input, along with parents, into curriculum and administration, parents now have choices. No wonder that they are exercising those choices.

It is no way a bad thing that Boston school parents now have choices. Heck, they want even more choices ! Why should they not have them ? It is their children who are going to school, after all; and schools exist for their students, not for their employees. School employees only serve. SFC’s backing of John Connolly’s campaign puts the ball of school improvement and school flexibility directly into the Teachers’ court — and to the voters.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

UPDATE : Because of today’s release, by the BTU, of a poll purporting to show that few voters support more charter schools, we will be posting a follow-up to the above story. This story is likely to grow even bigger as Primary Day approaches.

BOSTON MAYOR : ROSS, CONNOLLY, ARROYO, AND WALSH IN COMMAND AT MAIN STREETS COALITION FORUM; DAN CONLEY EFFECTIVE TOO

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^ the Twelve : Arroyo, Barros, Clemons, Conley, Connolly, Consalvo, Golar-Richie, Ross, Walczak, Walsh, Wyatt, Yancey

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Supporters of Mike Ross, John Connolly, Felix Arroyo, and Marty Walsh can sleep well tonight.  At the Forum held by the Main Streets coalition of 20 Coalition members, their candidates spoke well informed on every topic asked, indeed eloquently at times. Each seems to have his vision of the mayor’s mission well in place, and each saw the questions — mostly the concerns of small, neighborhood business, because that is what the Main Streets program is about — authoritatively in their particular mission’s terms. Dan Conley spoke effectively too, albeit in detail only — no grand themes did he embrace.

At a Forum, a candidate uses forensic skills. Speaking at a podium or into a microphone isn’t all that matters to a campaign — far from it — but voters do want to know that the candidates they are assessing can speak to the issues on voters’ minds and do so boldly, without resort to talking points. At the main Streets Coalition Forum, held in Upham’s Corner’s Strand Theater, the five candidates so far mentioned aced the test. If only the theater had been more full. It holds easily 1200 people, but most seats were empty. Let’s say that 300 were in the room, many of them supporters of local favorites John Barros, who lives nearby; Charlotte Golar-Richie, who lives almost as close by as Barros; and Felix Arroyo.

The evening had its highlights. Each of the effective speakers chalked up several.

On the question of what to do with the BRA, Marty Walsh and John Connolly answered well. Said Walsh : “Certain things are working, but much is lacking. Costs of construction don’t get figured properly. Main Streets organizations aren’t told where to apply to fill slots on their boards.” Connolly gave this answer : “going into the BRA should be like walking into an apple store : serve the customer. We should utilize technology to make the BRA’s services more user friendly. There should be a time limit on all BRA Board members. we should know how the BRA plans to create jobs and housing.”

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^ John Connolly ; an apple store government, with equity funding for small businesses

Even stronger was Ross’s answer : “Remove all affordable housing plans from the BRA. We shouldn’t decentralize the BRA in the middle of a building boom, but affordable housing must be the first principle of any developer’s plans.” Conley’s answer was also memorable : “the BRA has a lack of predictability, accountability, transparency. I will publish all BRA decisions on my website. Splitting the BRA would hurt its effectiveness.”

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^ Dan Conley : no big vision, but much useful reform

As these answers make clear, the candidates are divided on whether planning should be a separate process from that of BRA approval. The voters will have to decide that one for themselves.

On the permitting and licensing process, all of the effective speakers agreed that it takes far too long to navigate the process and costs far too much to get so many city agencies to sign off a plan. Ross said it best : “We need less bureaucracy ! in this city it should take 30 days — no more — to get a business permitted. No business owner should have to call an elected official to get his business open !” Walsh added this : “27 permits to get an outdoor vending business licensed. That’s just not right !” Arroyo made much the same points, though more gently. You could hear the frustration in Ross’s and Walsh’s words; clearly they have heard horror stories galore from business people in Boston.

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^ Mike Ross : “restaurants are ambassadors for a neighborhood.”

The candidates were asked if they support Councillor Ayanna Pressley’s home rule petition to the State legislature to have all of Boston’s Licensing Board appointed by the mayor; under current law, the Governor appoints a member. All the “major” candidates said yes, but Ross’s answer stood out. It just might have been the best by any candidate to any question posed : “Must say to you that the legislature is very reluctant to give this power up. But restaurants are ambassadors for a neighborhood. If people are visiting a neighborhood in the city and can’t have their hosts take them to a local restaurant because there isn’t one, that hurts the neighborhood.” On which point Arroyo noted that Mattapan, for instance, has almost none of the 1000 liquor licences in Boston, ‘and,” said he, “that’s just plain wrong.”

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^ Arroyo : the people’s candidate. And why not ? it worked for Scott Brown.

Finally, the candidates were asked about funding for small neighborhood businesses. Here Walsh gave the most effective answer : “Small banks need to give back to the community they’re in. The Mayor can make a difference by picking where the City deposits its money.” Arroyo noted that he has legislation filed to require banks to disclose how much and where they lend out money into the neighborhood they serve. Connolly made his own characteristic, tech-savvy point : “We should be talking equity investment, not just lending, to be available to local businesses. Call it a ‘buy Boston’ program.”

So there you have it. Connolly sees the Mayor as the director of an Apple store and maybe the entire Apple business, too. Walsh’s Mayor would bend city agencies to the needs of the construction boom and the businesses it is empowering. Arroyo as Mayor will serve people where they live, informally as they live, and make these living informalities his priority. Dan Conley will work quickly to de-mystify the arcane ways of City Hall and City planning. And Mike Ross will do much the same as Arroyo, but with a broader vision that includes developers as well as informal people.

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^ “traditional” Marty Walsh : authority and command even at a new-Boston Forum

Ross was the evening’s good surprise. I did not expect him to give voice as eloquently as Arroyo to the frustrations that average people have with City Hall: but he did so. Arroyo spoke from the heart; Ross spoke from the heart and the head; his is the true voice of classic urban progressive reform in this campaign, a voice that recalls the great urban reform speakers of a hundred years ago. Unfortunately for Ross, there aren’t all that many 2013 voters who speak, or respond to, the voice of classic urban reform.

The evening also surprised in a bad way :

Rob Consalvo spoke much too quickly and lowered his eyes most of the time. He needs to look up and speak deliberately; say less words, more meaning.

John Barros disappointed. We had heard that he has the most eloquent vision of a city in progress; at this Forum he retreated from boldness to a kind of guy-next-door friendliness. That persona might elect a City Councillor; as a would be Mayor it failed.

Charlotte Golar-Richie continues to see herself as an administrator — more capable than the current, but an administrator most of all. That is not a message to win votes. Voters want an advocate, not a manager. The Mayor can hire managers.

—– Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : THE STRATEGY OF FELIX G. ARROYO

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^ Felix G. Arroyo at the Dominican Parade. (photo by Eroc Arroyo-montano)

With only 35 days remaining before the September primary, Boston’s candidates for mayor had better be presenting — or mirroring — a really Big Story or they have no chance of finishing in the top two.  John Connolly’s Big story is being the “education Mayor.” Marty Walsh’s big theme is “Boston’s construction boom, its businesses and laborers.”

Only one other candidate seems to have a really big Story in hand: Felix G. Arroyo. His story appears a social-issue, left-leaning one. He is pushing to be THE candidate of Hispanics, of committed left-leaning labor, and of the lesbian, gay, and transgender communities. Given Boston’s overwhelmingly left-leaning, socially progressive voting record, Arroyo’s big story makes election sense. Of course it’s the only story available to him, given Connolly’s and Walsh’s dominance of the other two big Boston stories. Yet Arroyo has surely not chosen this path because there was no other for him. His life bio almost dictates it. His father, Felix D. Arroyo, achieved major political success in Boston by winning to his side almost all of the Left and building upon it. Arroyo junior would have been ill-advised not to have followed his Father’s successful — and well remembered — course.

That said, Arroyo junior’s story line confronts obstacles that Walsh’s and Connolly’s don’t. First, the election for mayor is not a national election in which Presidential and Congressional issues command the voter. Boston’s Mayor ballot doesn’t even list political parties — and in fact eleven of the 12 candidates are Democrats, including all of Arroyo’s major rivals.

Second, because social issues do not divide Boston as they do the nation — almost all Boston voters are socially progressive and look favorably upon organized labor — it is NOT Arroyo versus everybody else. Connolly has significant support from the constituencies that Arroyo needs, and even Marty Walsh, supported by openly gay State Representative Liz Malia, has a flag planted in the socially liberal camp too.

Third, the issues in a Mayor election don’t fall neatly into progressive against conservative. Trash collection, casino development, the BRA, school improvement, snow removal, traffic issues, and zoning have their own dynamic. The Mayor administers the city; he does not legislate wages, labor union rights, abortion, or pay equity. He is a bureaucrat, not a preacher to the nations.

There is no progressive or conservative way run a Boston city budget. The voters demand services, and that is that. These have to be paid for, and they are. And though yes, the Mayor can set a socially progressive tone, or not, and establish strong outreach to LGBT people, or not, no one is going to be elected Mayor this year who isn’t completely committed to social progressivism.

Lastly, few voters in a city election want to vote for a candidate who looks unable to win. The perception that Arroyo is not likely has already cost him a union endorsement and is likely to move voters favorably disposed to him to give him more kudos than votes.

I am not saying that Arroyo can’t get past the Primary; there is a large enough “new Boston” vote that indeed he can. Yet even as a “new Boston,” he is cornered. Its vote is by no means mostly his. Charlotte Golar Richie and, it appears, both Mike Ross and John Barros will have significant support therefrom — support that for the most part could be Arroyo’s were Ross, Golar-Richie, and Barros not in the race. But they are.

I make one final observation : Arroyo’s campaign story reminds us of Mel King’s themes in 1983. King, too, was a candidate of the Left — the very far Left. in 1983, being far Left got King into the final. But King was the only far Left candidate — and the only candidate of color — running in 1983. This time there are three significant candidates of color on the ballot. Moreover, King’s far left views guaranteed his overwhelming defeat in 1983. Today, Boston has moved left; such views would not automatically spell November doom. They would, however, still generate strong opposition from a Boston business community enjoying a huge building boom — and the popularity that comes with it. Furthermore, downtown Boston is heavy with technology people, finance executives, and education and medical people who, thirty years ago, either didn’t exist or mostly lived in the suburbs. These voters are surely socially progressive, but far Left views on labor and the economy don’t speak their language of prosperity and enterprise.

Arroyo may yet gather to him, in a 12-candidate primary, enough voters to threaten the current two leaders. I like his enthusiasm and also sense a pragmatism in him (as in his Dad) that belies his image as a left-leaning ideologue. (Mel King he isn’t.) Arroyo would, I think, make an exciting Mayor, one who could bring the current Boston prosperity to many who have yet had the opportunity to participate. The excitement that i feel for Arroyo as Mayor surely excites his followers. If he does not make it past the Primary, as looks highly likely, he will have a significant say ion which of the two finalists does win the prize.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : LABOR, CONSTRUCTION, AND THE B.R.A.

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^ Local 26 Hotel Workers have endorsed Marty Walsh

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On August 2nd, the Hospitality Workers union (Hotel employees) decided to endorse Marty Walsh for mayor rather than Felix Arroyo. This was a significant move. Arroyo had expected endorsement from a Union membership mostly people of color and not a construction trade, all of whose endorsing Locals have so far gone with Walsh, a former Building Trades leader.

The Hospitality Workers made a nuts and bolts ddecision that Arroyo, their sentimental favorite, could not win, but that Walsh can. That’a how it goes in crunch time.

You can make a good case, too, that hotel workers are bound to the construction trades. Why ? Simple : hotels have to be built before they can hire Hospitality workers. Much hotel building is going on in Boston, and more is planned. There’s construction of all kinds afoot, but when looking at the building boom and what it portends for construction workers, one shouldn’t overlook the hotel component. Thus the Walsh endorsement fits.

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^ construction jobs galore — hotel workers too 

Boston’s construction boom may be the most significant event affecting the election of a next Mayor. What to do about the City’s schools, and how to fit them into the City’s new, technology economy has wider provenance, but at greater length of time. Just as the school riddle boosts John Connolly’s campaign, so the construction boom lifts Marty Walsh.

He, alone of the twelve Mayoral hopefuls, seeks to replace the Boston Redevelopment Authority (B.R.A.), not just reform it (as John Connolly suggests) or tweak it merely (the position — no surprise — of most other candidates). Walsh told the Boston Globe, in response to its editorial board’s questionnaire, that he would replace the BRA with an economic development agency whose director would serve under a contract and be less accountable to the mayor’s office. Wrote Walsh, “Under my plan, the mayor will have less direct power; multiple current entities with similar responsibilities will be morphed into one, creating tax savings and eliminating duplication.”

Walsh’s BRA proposal would put economic development in Boston more into the hands of construction companies and workers than it has been. It also portends greater input for Boston neighborhoods.

His suggestion makes some sense. The current BRA, still much the same in its power relationships as when it was first created in 1957, answers to the Mayor and implements his policy goals. That mattered in 1957 and for a long time thereafter, when neighborhoods had not awakened to, or were formulating, their needs and identity. Walsh is saying that, today, a Mayor-controlled BRA works against the interests of Boston’s neighborhoods, which have found their own identities and needs now and want the power to pursue them.

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^ Boston, as the BRA sees it 

Still, the economic development agency that Walsh wants to create in place of the BRA, which in nits current form he would do away with, would give much power to the construction industry and construction labor along with local planning boards. This looks a lot like free-wheeling and, in part, a return to the 1950s, before Massachusetts instituted zoning laws. Today, all building projects must seek permits and zoning opinions at the City Planning Offices in 1010 Massachusetts Avenue. Would Walsh’s economic planning board engender a series of neighborhood permitting and zoning opinion agencies ? It could be. Under Mayor Kevin White, “Little City Halls” were set up in many Boston neighborhoods. Their authority was limited; their political outreach was almost limitless.

There would be good in localization of development planning but also much grief. And if Walsh does not foresee localization of zoning and development approvals, would his economic planning board be that different from today’s BRA ? What difference would it really make to have City development answer to the construction business rather than the mayor ? Would that be better for the city ? And what of the City’s centralized Water & Sewer Commission ? We would love to hear what Walsh has to say about these details of his plan.

Meanwhile, Walsh continues to accumulate Union endorsements and some high-fives from the City’s traditional businesses.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

JIM FOURATT ON THE NEW YORK CITY MAYOR RACE

Here and Sphere has watched, from its onset, the loopy-palooza of a five-way Primary contest to determine who will likely succeed three-term Mike Bloomberg as New York City’s Mayor. It’s been a campaign just like the City it’s taking place in : big, loud, full of tricks and trick bags, shady-ness, a cheeky openly lesbian City Council President, a re-run candidate, new names, and — as we all know so well — the joys of sex-texting as presented by one “Carlos Danger,” who day-lights as candidate Anthony Weiner.

In addition Weiner, the Democratic Primary candidates are City Council President Christine Quinn, from Manhattan;  Bill DeBlasio, New York City Public Advocate (an elected position);  John Liu, City Comptroller (also an elected position);  and Bill Thompson, past Comptroller and candidate for mayor in 2009. (there is also a Republican Primary, in which former MTA chairman Joseph Lhota faces John Castimatidis, who owns the Red apple Group and also is CEO of the Gristede’s Supermarket chain.)

Who heads the list in polls changes from day to day, maybe from hour to hour, as this city of multi-millions living in every sort of different surrounding, on every sort of income level, by every manner of lifestyle, language — oddity, pushcart, sandwich board, rollerina, shell game, shopping binge, hard hat,  limo and taxi — moves through its demolition derby of a campaign toward choosing a next “how’m I doing” kind of Mayor.

One with power over a budget huger than that of almost every State and many nations, a budget encompassing hundreds of parks, schools and shelters, courts and police precincts, as well as hundreds of thousands of city employees, and tons of targets for the world’s terroristas.

What a job. And what a riot circus it all is.

NYC Mayor ... 5

^ The Big Five : Bill Thompson, Christine Quinn, Joseph Liu, Bill DeBlasio and in the center ring — Anthony Weiner

We are lucky to have an ongoing report by Jim Fouratt, progressive activist, articulate and earnestly opinionated, a New York City resident in the Big Apple’s grand tradition of citizen advocates. In fact we are reprinting his posted status reports from his Facebook page — as near to an on the street / intelligent view of the election as any we have read or expect to read.

August 6th : SHOULD CANDIDATE JOHN LIU GET MATCHING FUNDS ? YES

This morning I attended the hearing at the New York City Campaign Finance Board where they were to announce the granting of matching funds ($6 for every dollar under $175) for the Democratic Primary on Sept 10, Only John Liu, the City Controller and Mayoral was denied funds (over 3 million dollars) , The Board has 5 members, 2 appointed by Mayor Bloomberg (whose administration Liu exposed in a millions of dollars scam ) and two by the Speaker of the City Council Christine Quinn who also is running for Mayor and who will do anything to knock out her opposition for the nomination and the Mayor after consultation with the Speaker appoints the Chair. Liu’s lawyer argued for the granting of the matching funds They did mot. I thought each should have recused themselves . They did not. Listen to the Liu’s lawyer’s presentation…you will learn much more than from the mainstream media. Shocking.. or how Billionsberg and Boss Quinn get their revenge . Judge for your self :

August 2nd  AN INFORMED VOTE, NOT JUST AN EMOTIONAL VOTE : ANTHONY WEINER :

Maybe some NYers will get their noise out of his crotch and smell the fresh ideas Weiner is putting forward… i think the way he has handled the media drubbing is a good sign how he will handle actual matters that matter to most New Yorkers. Have you read his platform and his ideas? As to the people dredging up his positions from 25 years ago as the deBlasio folk seem stuck on ..how about finding out how he stands on rent regulation issues now? I did and found his answer for what happened in 1992 convincing Or the fact that he rides his bike to campaign stops should , one would think , answer were he is on bike lanes today. Remember we are electing a Mayor not a Pope… and yes i think he is wrong on the West Bank .. and will continue to challenge him on it … Please if you don’t want to support him for any reason .. than I suggest you stop targeting him and take on Quinn and her deceits and Thompson’s business and friendship alliances and look at Lui and how he stood up to the Mayor and had both the Times and the Post attacking him … just like Weiner. in the end what is important is an informed vote …not just an emotional vote … and yes i love you all.

Weiner defends his campaign here : 

July 29th : READ THE LETTER THAT  ANTHONY WEINER SENT TO VOTERS TODAY

I wonder how many of you so outraged about Wiener’s personal life would speak truthfully about your own sex life if a phalanx of cameras and mics were thrust in your face . Both your actual sex life and your fantasy sex life? Not that i personally care unless you are sleeping with me!

Anthony Wiener talks about a single payer for New York City, supports home rule (city) on rent regulation legislature and ride a bike to rallies… and that is just the beginning of why I think we should be talking politics and not tabloid gossip. He broke no law. All participants were consenting adults and how he and the woman he loves deals with it is their, NOT my, business,

here is what he sent to voters today”

“Dear Jim:

So here is what I learned this weekend – a lot of people who don’t have a vote, want to decide who our next Mayor will be.

TV pundits, newspaper publishers and, of course, my opponents – they’ve all made up their minds that they want to stop our campaign right now.

Well, at least they are consistent. These same folks have been howling about me running from the moment I first got in.

But this race isn’t about them. It’s about you. You should decide

I knew that revelations about my past private life might come back to embarrass me. I never hid from that possibility. But, I waged this campaign on a bet that the citizens of my city would be more interested in a vision for improving their lives rather than in old stories about mine.I am going to continue to lead the debate about ideas for the middle class and those struggling to make it. Soon, I will publish yet another book of ideas for New York. I will be giving more policy speeches and revamping our website to include even more ways that New Yorkers can become involved with our campaign. I’ll be showing up at community forums, televised debates, street fairs, worship services and just about everywhere that New Yorkers gather. In short, I’m going to keep doing what I’ve always done. I’m going to keep on fighting for my city. And then you get to decide who will be our next Mayor, not them.I hope to see you soon,Anthony”
JULY 23rd : RANT AGAINST COUNCIL PRESIDENT CHRISTINE QUINN
To all New York City voters and out-of staters who think it quite wonderful that the next Mayor of New York may be a woman and a lesbian. And i am talking to people like those in Emily’s list. Here is an entry into why most progressive people of ALL sexual orientations are united in their opposition to Speaker Quinn, Her old-time political machine tactics of control and punishment are seeded throughout this piece. I personally have seen her make members of the City Council cry when she whips them for not bending to her will. Get rid of her and her terrible political machine, A predator on the quality of life in this city.
July 10th : RANT ON THE CONTINUING FOCUS ON ANTHONY WEINER – ELIOT SPITZER SEX DOINGS
 am sick and tired of sleazy media jokes about sextexing .. (what is wrong with consenting adults doing it anyway … its safe sex and no one gets preggers) so please can we get back to what is important ? Or are we going to get stuck in ny post gossip inspired exchanged. What does the private, consensual sex activities of a politician have to do with how effective they can be as elected officials. Both Wiener and Spitzer stood up to wall street ..and they were right .. and they were brought down by wall street agents (see excellent documentary client 9 re spitzer) . So lets talk issues : Stringer vs Spitzer, Weiner vs Quinn or Liu …. and Weiner has put single payer health insurance for NYC on the table… and that is a huge reason to look at him…. and yes today he came out in favor of bike lanes .. and that flipped my helmet…. only Lui also remains in focus .. (uh as of today that is!)
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— Jim Fouratt on Facebook
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NOTE from Here and Sphere ; as long as Jim Fouratt permits us we will continue to post his reports on the New York City Mayor campaign. We also expect to supplement Jim’s observations with reports from our own newsies as the first voting day — the Primary — approaches — MF

THE DETROIT BANKRUPTCY IS A STEP OF PROGRESS

Am re-posting our bankruptcy-law analysis of the Detroit bankruptcy. Updating it, too.

The issue of pension obligations has come to dominate the bigger picture of this bankruptcy. it shouldn’t, for the reasons given in this article. Pensioners will be treated as a separate creditor class, one whose vote to approve any reorganization plan must be given, or the plan cannot be confirmed by the Court.

There is also now a campaign going on to elect a new Mayor, as current mayor Dave Bing declined to run again. Much is being made of the new Mayor’s lack of authority over a city being run by a court-appointed manager. The much being made is beside the point.The campaign raises all sorts of vital issues ; the future of the city — toward what goal or goals / who will be involved / How long will it take ? what about race relations inside the city ? crime ?  schools ? Businesses and zoning ?

All of these will be discussed by the City;s voters, and when, eventually, the mayor to be elected does take control — and that will happen once the City gets its reorganization plan conformed by the court — the discussions and decisions made in this Mayor campaign will ground whatever city will be built thereupon.

Game on. Let the politics begin.

— Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

 

Here and Sphere

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^ Detroit : on the move at Movement

Three weeks ago Here and Sphere published Susan Domitrz-Sapienza’s extensively researched story on the comeback of Detroit. As she noted, the economy of “Automobile City” had already reached its bottom and was — and is now — expanding along several lines newly established. The decision of the city’s state-appointed manager to file a Chapter 9 (Municipal) bankruptcy petition would seem, at first, to contradict our reporter’s finding. In fact, the Chapter 9 filing conforms our reporter’s conclusion.

To learn why, one needs to know a bit more about bankruptcy law than the common perception. Most people think of the word “bankruptcy” as the end, a kind of giving up the ghost. This perception is false. There are two kinds of bankruptcy cases. The one that most people think of is “liquidation,” in a liquidation, yes: the petitioner is in fact giving up…

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BOSTON MAYOR RACE : DAN CONLEY FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL ?

 

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^ Dan Conley : more a law officer than a Mayor ?

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Question : has any Suffolk County District Attorney ever been elected Boston’s mayor ? This writer can’t think of one.

Perhaps this is why rumors abound that Dan Conley, the current “DA,” will leave the Mayor race to seek the office of Massachusetts Attorney General instead. Supposedly all that Conley is waiting for is current “AG” Martha Coakley announcing her candidacy for Governor – a decision that all observers expect.

If true, the move by Conley makes sense. He has amassed barrels of money – at last report his account had well over $ 1,000,000 on hand – and proposed a bold agenda, yet still lags in recent polls that show him running third to Marty Walsh and John Connolly. It is Connolly and Walsh who have won the past week’s major endorsements; Conley was passed by.

The murder of Amy Lord and the pending indictments of Aaron Hernandez have brought enormous publicity to Dan Conley. Yet none of it has helped his Mayoral hopes. If anything, the publicity has actually hurt Conley. Crime and prosecution are certainly big matters to voters; but they are not matters that people identify with being Mayor.

The issues that voters ascribe to their Mayor are these : zoning; schools;  development;  civil rights; and, most sweeping of all, quality of life – in the neighborhoods, with street cleaning and snow removal as well as road repair, and Downtown, moving it to a closing hour more progressive than the current 2 A.M. absurdity. Conley, as District Attorney, deals with hardly any of this.

Were Conley to leave the mayor race, who would benefit most of the 9 % of voters that current polls give him ? Nine percent of the likely Primary vote totals about 14,000 votes. Obviously the 14,000 will not go only to one Mayoral contender. That said, as we see it, the largest block of this 14,000 will go to the remaining “traditional” candidates. And not just any of them; the most significant benefits will surely go to Councillor-at-Large John Connolly and State Representative Marty Walsh, and not to District 5’s City Councillor, Rob Consalvo.

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^ Rob Consalvo : being squeezed out ?

Here’s why we see Conley’s support going chiefly to Connolly and Walsh:

Conley lives in Ward 20. So does John Connolly. Connolly is polling in first p[lace. As voters like to pick winners rather than give up a vote on someone who won’t likely win, Connolly is sure to pick up most of the “local guy” vote that Conley is now drawing. Consalvo, too, has strong support in Ward 20; but he has failed to win recent endorsements, indeed was passed on by St. Rep. Carlo Basile of East Boston. If Consalvo can’tr win  the support of an Italian-name legislator, who can he win that he does not already have ? He will pick up some Conley votes, yes; but not nearly enough.

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^ John Connolly : will benefit if Conley leaves Mayor race

But that’s not the whole story. Conley has paid much attention for months now to South Boston. He campaigned there on April lst, when that neighborhood (and Dorchester) chose a new State Senator. (Here and Sphere photographed him that day campaigning among voters at Gate of Heaven parish hall, where two South Boston precincts voted.) South Boston  is still home to large numbers of city and county employees; and Conley’s Irish name surely still draws many votes in the City’s archetypal Irish-name neighborhood (though that is changing, as we all know).

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^ Dan Conley campaigning at Gate of Heaven parish hall on April lst.

In Southie, the winner of most Conley votes would likely be Marty Walsh, not John Connolly. Walsh lives in Savin Hill, the Dorchester neighborhood closest to “Southie” culturally and proximately. Like Connolly, Walsh, looks a winner. He polls a close second to Connolly and has significant support from Labor Unions both public and private – groups strongly represented in the South Boston’s vote.

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^ Marty Walsh : major support from the City;’s Unions – strong in South Boston

For some time now, the September primary for this year’s Mayor race has looked like a Walsh and Connolly “final.” Dan Conley leaving it to run for Attorney General makes this Primary result almost a certainty. It WILL Be a certainty if the many “new Boston” candidates now dividing about 25 % of the likely Primary vote don’t stop chasing their own individual dreams, none of which can come true if all keep on chasing. The “new Boston” vote can command the Primary and win the “final.” But it can’t do anything if it continues on its current eight-candidate course.

Dan Conley’s momentous decision awaits.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : INTO THE FAR TURN NOW

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^ a John Connolly – Marty Walsh final ?

August will arrive this week, leaving only seven weeks until Primary day, at which the two Boston Mayoral Finalists will be chosen. At this point the preliminaries are over; the race is taking on a distinct shape; and those on the wrong side of the taking are beginning to get shelved. It’s the beginning of crunch time. Where does the race stand as the crunch starts ?

Polls have been taken and published. These show that John Connolly, Marty Walsh, Dan Conley, and Rob Consalvo occupy a “top tier” — grabbing from 8 % to 12 % of the assured primary vote — and that Felix Arroyo, Charlotte Golar Richie, and Mike Ross make a “second tier,” each at 5 % of the assumed vote. Four other candidates, Charles Yancey, John Barros, Bill Walczak, and Charles Clemons, also draw a measurable vote.

No surprises in any of this — nor is it a surprise that the “new Boston” candidates are splitting among themselves a vote that, if unified, would assure such candidate making it to the Final.

Arroyo, Ross, and Golar-Richie, their support totaled, easily top the “traditional” field. Indeed, their potential vote should be larger than polled: because the polls taken have tended to concentrate on the most assured voters — namely, the “traditional” voters. Surely, if one or other of the “new Boston” candidates is seen as having a solid chance of winning, “new Boston” voters will turn out in larger than polled numbers. Being seen as a solid potential winner is the major indicator, in almost every election, of a candidate’s ability to turn out voters.

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^ Felix G. Arroyo : solid contender if the “new Boston’ vote unifies

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^ Charlotte Golar-Richie : a sure winner in November If she can get to the Final

Unhappily for “new Boston,” this Primary  offers no fewer than six viable “new city” candidates. None has made a move to drop out. The six probably draw about 20 % of the polled sample, and on Primary day might garner measurably more. It will do no good, however, if all six continue in the race. All six will lose. This is a disappointing prospect and one that we at Here and Sphere decry. We feel that it is time for Boston to elect a “new Boston” Mayor, “new” voters representing at least two-thirds — probably more — of the entire city vote.

If no “new Boston” candidate withdraws soon, before the ballot is printed, the chances are strong that the Final will choose between two “traditionalists.” Currently the top two candidates in polls are City Councillor at Large John Connolly, at 12 %, and state Representative Marty Walsh, at 11 %. We feel that’s an accurate picture. Walsh, a four term Representative, has a solid Dorchester base extending strongly now into South Boston and, somewhat less strongly, into Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, and Roslindale. He has won the backing of Local 18, the Boston firefighters’ Union. As for John Connolly, son of former Secretary of State Michael J. Connolly, he lives in Ward 20 — which will likely cast ten to 12 % of the entire Primary vote — and has shown broad city-wide support besides. Connolly is waging an active house party and issues campaign, focusing on Boston Schools parents. He can also count on much trust from city workers and their families gained during his terms on the Council.

Dan Conley, the Suffolk County District attorney, has by far the most money, but his city wide support seems surface at most; huge publicity for him, thanks to the many murder investigations under way, does not seem to have added anything to his image as a possible Mayor. Crime, after all, is a huge issue, but not a big Mayoral issue. Schools, development, zoning, and culture seem the issues most germane to the mayor’s office. (NOTE : a report in today’s Herald opines that Conley might switch to run for Massachusetts Attorney Geerral if Martha Coakley, as expected, declares for Governor, Conley has not responded yet.)

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^ superb campaign but not enough ? Rob Consalvo

Then there’s Rob Consalvo, who holds the district Council seat that Mayor Menino held from which he won election as Mayor. Consalvo has the problem of bringing together a widely dispersed — and much less ethnic than it used to be — “Italian” vote, from East Boston, the North End, and Hyde Park, and of lacking much city-wide familiarity. That he has nonetheless managed to poll close to the top vote-getters is a credit to the detail and mastery of his very professionally directed campaign. Can Consalvo, thus well directed, perhaps make it into the final ? Probably not.

Which leaves Boston to choose between two men as different as similarly backgrounded people can be. it will, actually, somewhat resemble the 1983 race between David Finnegan and Ray Flynn to choose who would face “new Boston” candidate Mel King. Finnegan lived in West Roxbury, Flynn in South Boston, and as one shrewd observer said, it was a race between “discount store cashiers” and “Boston Latin School.” The same class gulf may well apply to a Walsh versus Connolly Final. The Flynn and Finnegan fight was heated and often bitter — the two men seemed to despise one another. Expect nothing less if a Walsh versus Connolly Final imposes itself on a City that can use some drama not arising, thank goodness, from murder indictments and trials.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : THE FIRST MONTH

Mayor connections : Hyde Park’s Rob Consalvo at BAGLY (Boston Area Gay & Lesbian Youth) event

Mayor Tom Menino’s more or less last minute announcement that he would not be running for re-election set of what has turned out to be a mad scramble, by a hurrying multitude, to get to the “final” in which only two will face off. To date there are twenty-four (24 !) candidates signed up, making 1967’s eight look sparse. Could 24 people actually all have a chance to get past the September primary ? The answer is yes, for most: because in a four and a half month campaign, anyone can shape up. Usually a run for an office as powerful as Boston Mayor begins well in advance — at least a year before, maybe two. Indeed, as any veteran campaigner in Boston knows, your whole life — maybe also those of your parents and grandparents — goes into making you strong on vote day. Still, all that life history of connections and re-connections needs to be organized and called upon. That this year a candidate will get only 20-odd weeks, no matter who he or she is, grievously levels the odds.

Some things remain the same, however. Candidates holding current office already have made their connections and reconnectiions. They are combat ready. The first battle is to collect 3,000 certifiable nomination signatures. Large organization in place makes it easier to collect at least 3,000 signatures — and to submit them first, because if a voter signs more than one Mayoral nomination paper — and many do — only the first submitted counts. Consider also this : for 24 candidates to qualify for the ballot, at least 72,000 signatures will need to count. that is fully 20% plus of ALL Boston voters. The City has probably never seen such a huge street-level effort.

Probably half the 24 will actually make it onto the ballot. So what comes next ? Already the major eight or so candidates are running all over the city; marching parades, meeting and greeting at eateries, shaking hands at festivals and crowd gatherings, congratulating park League sports teams; holding coffee parties in neighborhoods; advancing an agenda. But does any of this even matter on vote day ? Not many voters give their vote, in a multi-candidate field, to a candidate they happen to meet once, or even twice. Likely they have already known at least one of the “major 8” already and have interacted with him or her. It is difficult for another candidate to overtop a voter’s long experience of another candidate. Truly, in local politics, it’s an axiom that the longer that one has known a candidate, the more likely he or she is to vote for that candidate.

The force of this axiom is likely why the “major 8′ are spending so much time right now acmpaigning to communitiues of voters — LGBT and allies, Haitians, Cape Verdeans, Asians, “new Boston — who for the most part do NOT have long connection with Boston politics. If the long-connected voters — the “traditional” voters of Wards 6, 7, 16, 19, 20, and half of 18; and the “new Boston” voters of Wards 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 21 — are pretty much already “in the bag” for one or another of the “majors,” then it makes sense for them to seek out whatever they can bag up from the less connected communities.

Less connected voters also means “issues” voters. Voters who may not be able to say to a “major”, “geez, I knew your Daddy back in the West End — great guy,” for example, can judge that candidate’s stand on the issues. Thus the rolling out of agendas, that we have already seen from the canniest candidates: Dan Conley (gun control; citywide casino referendum), Felix Arroyo (labor rights), and Marty Walsh (education).

Canny candidates have also sought, smartly, to demonstrate that however they may be “based” in a long-connected community, they have the respect and support of leaders of the less connected. thus Charlotte Golar Richie, African-American of Dorchester, parades endorsements by State Reps. Michael Moran of Ward 22 and Aaron Michlewitz of Wards 3 and 8, and the Callahan Brothers of Ward 2. Likewise Marty Walsh, Irish-American from Ward 16, has the support of openly gay State Rep. Liz Malia of Jamaica Plain. City Councillor John R Connolly, too, strongly based in ward 20, has a house-sign campaign going on all over the city. Almost certainly the other “majors” will, if they can, announce similar cross-community support.

Ward 16’s Marty Walsh greeting City Life / Viuda Urbana supporters at the SEIU Hall.

This, then, is the exciting phase of the Boston mayor campaign. watching the city’s long-connected candidates dig deeply into its less-connected communities enhances the city’s togetherness and makes everyone feel that he or she counts in the halls of power. It is “retail politics” at its truest. It’s also a campaign phase that didn’t exist until Ray Flynn made it happen in 1983, as a South Boston guy campaigning among Jamaica Plain lefties. Before Flynn, Boston mayor races were combats of the powerful versus the powerful — the less so didn’t matter much and were, in fact, often pushed out of the city entirely by “urban renewal.” And Flynn himself had already worked with Jamaica Plain activists on Logan Airport issues, specifically approach run overflights of residential areas. This year, the “majors’ are seeking out the less connected voters no matter what, for their own sakes. This year, the less connected are being welcomed into the halls of city power.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere