BOSTON POLS : CAUCUS — WARD 20 ; AMBITION — 5TH SUFFOLK

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^basic democracy : Democratic state chairman Tom McGee of Lynn instructs West Roxbury’s ward 20 caucus

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There may be secret money in the Big Picture, but at the small level where actual people live, vote, and run for office, the money doesn’t taint. Whether it’s caucusing in West Roxbury or manoeuvering a run for State Representative in Dorchester, you find politics basic, the real deal, activism for its own sake. So it was, this morning at Boston Ward 20’s Democratic Party caucus, attended by almost 200 people. So it has been the past two days, since the House expelled Carlos Henriquez, leaving the 5th Suffolk State Representative seat vacant awaiting seekers.

But first, the caucus. I chose Ward 20’s because it is Boston’s biggest voting ward; many were sure to attend to elect 29 delegates to the Democratic convention. The caucus met in the community room at West Roxbury’s Police Station. Attendees and candidate volunteers filled every nook — the hallway too. The State Party chairman was there, Tom McGee of Lynn; so were two competing slates of delegates, a Don Berwick group led by Helen Bello — who hosted the huge Berwick house party that I wrote about recently — and a Juliette Kayyem list led by an old friend, Paul Nevins, an employment lawyer. A group of independent names was nominated too, well known people sure to draw votes on name alone; and attendees voted as much for names they knew as for any slate; there wasn’t at all the structure that I had expected of this meeting. It seemed as much a meet and greet as an election.

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^ Ward 20 state Representative Ed Coppinger discusses matters with Here and Sphere follower Michelle Von Vogler

There was voting, but mostly there was conversation as faces familiar or new worked the room. State Senator Mike Rush was there, as was West Roxbury State Representative Ed Coppinger. Governor candidate Martha Coakley worked the room for about 20 minutes, then left. District Attorney Dan Conley shook hands. So did Congressman Steve Lynch. Old friends Carole White (Kevin White’s sister in law) and Marilyn LaRosa were elected; I noticed Helen Greaney in the room and Greg Haugh also — two other Haugh’s sought election as delegates — and Ann Murphy, still glamorous as ever, now working as an aide to Mike Rush. A couple of Boston Teachers Union activists signed in — but I did not see Ward 20’s biggest BTU name, Ed Doherty — and people from both the Connolly and Walsh mayor campaigns.

Circulating as well were four who ran last year for City Council : local resident Marty Keogh, Jack Kelly, and winners Steve Murphy and Michelle Wu. It was a “good hit,” as pols say of an event well worth being seen at.

UPDATE ON DELEGATES ELECTED : Thanks to Rob for posting to me the entire list, mostly of the usual Ward 20 activists (including two Haugh’s and a BTU active, City Council candidate Marty Keogh, a Marty Walsh cabinet member — Alejandra St. Guillen — and at least one State Employee) and two Don Berwick delegates. Take a look :

Female Delegates:
Alyssa Ordway – 75 votes
Carole White – 74
Ann Cushing – 71
Cathy Fumara – 68
Helen Haugh – 68
Diana Orthman – 68
Marilyn LaRosa – 65
Patricia Malone – 65
Anita Salmu – 65
Margaret Sullivan – 63
Josiane Martinez – 60
Alejandra St. Guillen – 59
Sue Anderson – 58
Heather Bello – 26
Hema Kailasam – 21
Jennifer McGoldrick (Alternate)
Pamela Keogh (Alternate)

Male Delegates:
Robert Orthman – 69 votes
David Isberg – 66
Steve Smith – 66
Marty Keogh – 65
Bill Smith – 64
Kevin Walsh – 64
Bill MacGregor – 63
George Donahue – 62
Joe Haugh – 60
John Fumara – 59
Leo Connell – 58
Tom Hanktankis – 58
Patrick Murray – 58
Larry Connolly – 56
Bob Tumposky – 56

(UPDATED 02/09/14 at 10.45 AM)

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And now to the 5th Suffolk District, in Dorchester, where the expulsion of Carlos Henriquez has left a gaping hole…

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will he be the first Uphams Corner state Rep since Jim Hart 40 years ago ? John Barros may become a candidate in the 5th Suffolk special election… But so might the woman pictured below, Karen Charles of the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood :

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The 5th Suffolk State Representative seat in the Massachusetts House won’t be vacant for long. Already the hungry are circling, impatient, guessing and out-guessing. The big news is that John Barros, who ran for mayor last year and impressed many, is seriously considering a run. Barros lives in the heart of the District, owns a successful restaurant in it,. and would be an elite voice for 40,000 people very much in need of one. Barros is not, however, the only notable who is thinking publicly about running. There’s also Karen Charles, who works at WGBH (full disclosure : WGBH’s Peter Kadzis was my editor at the Boston Phoenix and remains a friend professionally and personally), and who, with her husband Kevin Peterson, an NAACP activist, make a formidable team of articulate reformers and who are said to be close to Charlotte Golar-Richie, who once represented the 5th Suffolk, still lives in it, and who was, like Barros, a candidate in last year’s Mayor campaign.

In that Mayor campaign, Barros won 2,072 votes in the 5th District’s 20 precincts; Golar-Richie won 1,465. Barros thus starts with a 600 vote advantage. That isn’t the entire story, though, Felix Arroyo won 570 votes in the District; and Carlos Henriquez, of Hispanic origin like Arroyo, is said to intend running again to reclaim his seat. Even if he does not run, the 570 Arroyo votes seem up for grabs, not to mention the 313 won by Charles Yancey and the 495 won by John Connolly. (Marty Walsh’s 640 votes might split between Barros and a Golar-Richie-backed candidate, as both she and Barros helped Walsh win the Final).

That said, Barros certainly would enter the race as the favorite no matter who else decides to run — including Henriquez himself. The two men are said to be close friends as well as political allies, and some speculate that if Henriquez runs — and he probably will — Barros will not. We shall see. Whatever the case may happen, this is a District that badly needs an A-list voice. It has always had a working-class majority even in the days, not too long ago, when much of it was Roxbury Red Raider country. The “5th” includes the entire Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood, one of Boston’s most impacted by gang violence; a stretch of Blue Hill Avenue that Red Raiders knew as “Cherry Valley,” once almost entirely blighted but, of late, enjoying the beginnings of a resurgence (as anyone familiar with local hot-spot Merengue Restaurant knows); Upham’s Corner and half of Jones Hill (where I had my first adult job, working as go-fer to state Rep. Jim Hart); and, of Roxbury, the north side of Dudley Side from Hibernian Hall eastward, all the way past the Governor Shirley mansion to and including “the Prairie” ball field (where Red Raider teams played Park League baseball and football). None of the district is high-income; not much of it is middle-income. Everyone benefits from having an eloquent and respected voice in the legislature, but the people of the 5th Suffolk would benefit more than most.

There will be a special election to fill the vacancy. It will be called soon — the date of it as yet unknown but probably early May. It will be a short campaign, a local effort, politics at its most basic and not much different from that Ward 20 caucus that I attended this morning. More voters to reach, yes, but not much more structure. It also looks now to be the most attention-getting time that the 40,000 people of the “5th” have gained in many, many years if ever. Let the democracy of it begin.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

#BOSPOLI : A SILLY KERFUFFLE

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^ a Councillor, not a Don Quixote ; Michelle Wu (with Philip Frattaroli and Marty Keogh at the Frattaroli family’s post-Columbus Day Parade reception

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There’s much flap going around now,as silly a brouhaha as I’ve observed in this entire Boston campaign cycle, including an op-ed by my old Boston Phoenix colleague Yvonne Abraham, to the effect that Councillor-elect Michelle Wu shouldn’t vote for Bill Linehan as the new Council President.. Supposedly she should vote for a Councillor who “shares her agenda.” Today’s Globe quotes several persons, described as “progressives,’ who promise not to support Wu for re-election if she votes for Linehan. This is zealotry of the Tea Party kind, to which the Left, as we’ve seen in the past, is hardly immune. One quoted voice even says that “Unless (Wu) changes her mind…she’s a one-term city councillor.”

This is rubbish. It’s also as silly as a political kerfuffle can be. Boston’;s City Council has no power that the mayor doesn’t want it to have. It can propose, it can debate, it can re-arrange the musical chairs by which Council Committee chairmen are chosen; but it can’t do a damned thing of significant importance without the Mayor thumbing up.

Sure, individual Councillors can have an independent impact, if they’re willing to get frozen out by the Mayor. John Connolly pursued an independent course. Others have done so. But when the chips are on the table, and the Mayor’s agenda is at stake, you will no more find a majority of the 13 Councillors opposing than you’ll find a sting ray in your briefcase on Christmas eve.

So what’s the big deal here ? Let’s try a little political reality, for a change, and lose the ideological version of cgi-created film monsters.

The rule governing voting for Council President has long been : “vote for the weakest.”

In this case ( 1 ) Bill Linehan is no threat to run for Mayor against Marty Walsh ( 2 ) ramping up either Tito Jackson or Matt O’Malley to Council President — both of whom want the honorific — would be a threat and ( 3 ) ramping either man up to Council President would impede the 2017 (or 2021) mayor race plans of the REAL potential candidate of significance. (It’s Jackson’s and O’Malley’s very strength as Councillors that make them musts-to-avoid as Council President. Get my meaning ?)

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^ Matt O’Malley of Council District 6 : his record-breaking vote makes him unelectable as a Council President

Most important, Linehan has no base at all independent of Mayor-elect Walsh’s core support and thus has no power to oppose him on any item of import.

THAT is how Council Presidents are chosen. Stupid indeed is the newly elected Councillor who bucks that reality; and Michelle Wu is far from stupid. I applaud her acumen in this matter.

As for being re-elected, Wu’s husband notes that even if you subtract her entire vote from wards 4, 5, 11, and 19 she still won by 14,000 votes. This is an apt subtraction, because 2015 will be a Council-only election, and in these, the voters of Wards 4, 5, and 11 turn out far fewer voters than they do in a Mayoral election. Wu’s re-election will be decided in Wards 20, 18, 2, 16, and 17, and of course also in Chinatown’s Ward 3 Precinct 7. All of these feature constituencies very different from the wards identified with Tea Party Leftism or comfortable urban reform. And you know what else ? Wards 4, 5, 11, and 19 contain plenty of voters who aren’t Tea-Left. Of the 15,000 or so voters who will likely turn out in 2015 in those four wards, Wu will comfortably win at least one-third — probably more. She may slip from second to third or even fourth (though I doubt that); but re-elected she surely will be, assuming that she does the job of city-wide Councillor in painstaking daily detail. Which I have no doubt at all she will do.

— Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

A NIGHT OF DEFEAT : THE CHARLOTTE GOLAR RICHIE TALK

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^ Charlotte Golar-Richie gives a talk : ‘all the isms are alive and well…racism, sexism…”

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The Mayor of Boston campaign of 2013 may be over, but evidently it’s not over. Last night Charlotte Golar-Richie, who finished third in the September Primary, was the key speaker at a conference hosted by University of Massachusetts’s Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy.

NOTE : If there were any doubt about the institutional colossi that encumber Boston politics, the very length of that host name — “University of Massachusetts Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy” — should set our heads nodding, But I digresss…

The topic for discussion was “Opening Doors : Women’s Political Leadership in Boston.” It seems a timely topic, given the prominence of several women in elected office within the City. One thinks of State Senators Sonia Chang-Diaz and Linda Dorcena-Forry (and of former State Senator Marian Walsh), of Councillors Ayanna Pressley and (newly) Michelle Wu, of State Representatives Gloria Fox and Liz Malia. One might also think of Abby Browne and Marian Ego, school committee members back in the day, and even of Elvira “Pixie” Palladino and Louise Day Hicks longer ago — but Palladino and Hicks were severely incorrect politically and thus not “women’ despite being women; and one could even mention the late, fishwife-mouthed Katherine Craven, a City Councillor, and State Representative Katherine Kane (who died about two weeks ago), both women in politics long before there needed be an educational institution hosting said discussion.

One could have mentioned all of the above; and mentioned the significant involvement of women in Boston politics well before that, from Abolitionist champions to Progressive era women of conscience to civil rights and civic leaders like Susan Story Lyman, Melnea Cass, Stella Trafford, Alice Hennessey, and my own mother. Mentioning all of these, one wonders what sort of “doors” still need to be “opened.’ Are they not already wide wide beckoning ? But no. Evidently the failure of one woman candidate to become Mayor of Boston trumps all of the successes that women in politics have had, are having, and, likely, will have in Boston.

In any case, the night being given over to defeat, it was quite appropriate for Charlotte Golar-Richie to trumpet the notes of defeat’s song :

“The isms are still alive and well in Boston…racism, sexism…along with that misogyny thing.’
“For women the stakes are high. Women of color, the stakes are higher.”

To which lament many Forum pundits added their oboe and bassoon :

Priti Rao : “I think there’s a lot of voter fatigue in this state.’
Joyce Ferriabough Bolling : “Charlotte lost because her base did not come out.”
Paul Watanabe ; “Globe’s editorial op-ed was devastating.”
The entire discussion panel : “EMILY’s list failed her.”

Golar-Richie then summed up this Sonata of Defeat by saying that she “opened the doors, someone else will have to walk through.”

As you have doubtless surmised, I shrug both my shoulders at Golar-Richie’s speech. Not once did she allow that perhaps she was not exactly an authoritative candidate. Not once did she acknowledge that in a field of twelve, whence eleven candidates ended up losing, she was hardly alone in being among the eleven. Why was Golar-Richie entitled — I use the verb on purpose — to a better result than the other ten losers ? Were John Barros, Dan Conley, Mike Ross, and Felix G. Arroyo not equally worthy candidates  ? Not to mention John Connolly.

Fact is that, in the 17,000-odd Forums that i attended at which Golar-Richie spoke, I found her performance wildly uneven ; strong one day, out of focus the next; vague sometimes, insightful at others. There was no such vaguery about Mike Ross, john Connolly, John Barros, Dan Conley, Marty Walsh, and even Charles Yancey and Rob Consalvo.

But in assessing Golar-Richie as a candidate there is no need to measure her performance at Forums. When her crunch time truly came, after the primary, and she had to decide, quickly, whether to endorse John Connolly or Marty Walsh, she flubbed the role. She delayed her decision, hemmed and hawed; when after some days she finally endorsed Marty Walsh, all of her support group went the other way, to John Connolly. Compare her handling to the focus and unity that Arroyo and Barros brought to their Walsh endorsements..

So, to respond to Charlotte : no, I do NOT think that “all the isms are in place.” Nor do I think that the bar is doubly high for women of color. Tell me how Michelle Wu’s finishing second out of eight, for City Council, on her first run ever for public office, demonstrates either of Golar-Richie’s assertions. Golar-Richie is simply WRONG. She did not fail to become Boston’s Mayor because she is a woman. She failed because she wasn’t a strong enough candidate.

And finally, Golar-Richie’s assertion that she lost because “all the isms are alive and well in Boston” disrespects Marty Walsh. Did he beat Golar-Richie because he is male, or because he simply had a stronger base of votes, as a sitting state representative and respected union leader ? Golar-Richie’s suggestion tells me what she really thinks of Walsh. It’s not pretty.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON ELECTION : CITY COUNCIL ENDORSEMENTS

Yesterday I posted our endorsements for Boston’s four at-Large Council seats. There was some push-back. Folks evidently do not grasp our method or else disagree that we should use it. The disagreement I can handle : these are our endorsements, so be it. as for comprehending, I will lay out my criteria once more :

1. We insist that a Councillor be independent of the Mayor, even in opposition to him. The Council has little enough power as it is. What good is a Councillor almost powerless if he or she does not stand free of the Mayor and criticize his agenda when it deserves criticism ?
2. We also want an at-large Councillor to demonstrate as much city-wide support as he or she can manage.
3. A Councillor should OF COURSE demonstrate knowledge of the main issues and be able to address them in speeches and on paper.
The above are all the criteria I have used in giving our endorsements. Simple.
On these criteria, there are three candidates who merit Here and Sphere’s unqualified endorsement. I also list their “score” on the two criteria on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest :

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1. Jack Kelly.  Independence of Connolly : 4 Independence of Walsh : 3 City-wide support : 4 ability to address issues : 4
Total score : 15

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2. Mike Flaherty : Independence of Connolly : 3 Independence of Walsh : 4 City wide support : 5 Ability to address issues : 5
Total score : 17

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3. Ayanna Pressley : Independence of Connolly : 2 Independence of Walsh : 4 City wide support : 5 ability to address issues : 4.5
Total score : 15.5

Four of the five other candidates merit our endorsement, but a qualified one due to their perceived closeness to one or the other Mayor candidates or a lesser city-wide support than we see in the above three :

4. Marty Keogh : independence of Connolly : 4 Independence of Walsh : 1 City-wide support : 3 ability to address issues : 4
Total score : 12
5. Michelle Wu : Independence of Connolly : 2 independence of Walsh : 4 City-wide support : 5 ability to address issues : 3
Total score : 14
6. Annissa Essaibi George : independence of Connolly : 5 Independence of Walsh : 1 City-wide support : 3.5 ability to address issues : 3.5
Total score : 13
7. Jeff Ross : independence of Connolly : 2 Independence of Walsh : 4 City-wide support : 4 ability to address issues : 3.5
Total score 13.5

You will notice that we make no mention of Stephen Murphy. This is not to disparage Stephen, who has been a personal friend of this writer for many, many years. My reasons for leaving Stephen off the list are two : ( 1 ) I think that his best work — connecting “new Boston” constituencies to “traditional” Boston — is accomplished ; and ( 2 ) Steve was hardly a profile in boldness once the arbitrator’s BPPA award was brought back to the City Council for approval or disapproval. Steve : ya gotta lead, buddy !

OK, so there you have it : our Council endorsements. Now go ye and vote as ye think best.

— Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON ELECTION : CITY COUNCIL AT-LARGE FINAL — A FIRST LOOK

Boston’s City Council has little power via the present City charter. Such little as it has is most effectively directed to questioning the Mayor’s agenda. Even though the Council almost always gets onto the Mayor’s side on such, merely by questioning it awakens the City’s voters to agenda items that might not win most voters’ favor. And they are less easily brought aboard the Mayor’s agenda than are the Council members.

Every Mayoral agenda contains items that voters might justly question. That’s why we, at Here and Sphere, in making our endorsement and suggestions for the Council, rank a candidate’s potential independence first of all. We want the Council to answer to constituencies that the Mayor’s agenda does not favor. We see the Mayor’s proposals and the Council response as a kind of labor negotiation, one in which a common middle ground is reached. For that reason, we especially insist that the at-Large (city-wide) elected Councillors demonstrate this independence.

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^ Jack Kelly : independence almost assured — we endorse ! (photo  by Kelly campaign)

Which is why we balance our endorsement of John Connolly for Mayor with an endorsement of jack Kelly as a city-wide Councillor. He will be as comprehensive a “voice for labor’ as anyone of the eight candidates on the ballot. None, to our knowledge, has received as many Union endorsements as has he. Moreover, Kelly is not only a “voice for labor.” He has Planned Parenthood’s endorsement, that of District Four Councillor Tito Jackson, and the support of at least two Boston Globe columnists so far.  And just today, he gained endorsement by Ramon Soto, who was an at-large Council candidate himself.

Kelly addresses issues only after careful study — no Council candidate is more thoughtful. His enjoyment of people is infectious; everybody sees it. If anyone in this year’s election has the inner stuff to enthuse almost everyone, it is Jack Kelly.

The other seven candidates include four of the seven who we “suggested” in the Primary. The three who missed the cut — Chris Conroy, Catherine O’Neill, and Phil Frattaroli  — will, we hope, be heard from again. The four “suggested’s” who did make it — incumbent Ayanna Pressley and newcomers Annissa Essaibi George, Marty Keogh, and Jeff Ross, all of whom we like a lot — now find themselves in competition with three whom we did not suggest. These are serious contenders : incumbent Stephen J. Murphy; former Councillor Mike Flaherty; and one newcomer, Michelle Wu.

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^ Annissa Essaibi George : very Dorchester and as “Dot” is Boston’s largest neighborhood, that’s reason enough to like. we do.

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^ Jeff Ross : hard work and a proven, long time commitment to Bostonians needing a voice

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^ Marty Keogh : the voice of Wards 18 and 20 — is it enough ? we hope it is.

We continue to like our four “survivors.” We understand that at least one, even of them, will not be elected in November. Yet we cannot simply dismiss Flaherty, Murphy, and Wu any longer. So how, at first look, do we judge their candidacy ?

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^ strong in every neighborhood of Boston : Mike Flaherty

1.Mike Flaherty has put together a citywide vote as uniformly strong as any Council candidate. And city-wide strength is something we want to see in a city-wide candidate. It’s almost as important as independence.

After failing to win election in 2011 — having lost badly in 2009 when he challenged mayor Menino — Flaherty has won back all the voter confidence that had appeared no longer his. We would be very surprised if Flaherty does not win back his Council seat, and we will be doing a Profile of him next week. In which we will take the temperature of his independence of mind.

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^ Stephen Murphy : what has he yet to do that he has not already done ?

2.Stephen J. Murphy has been a personal friend of this writer for almost our entire adult lives. Indepenence from Mayor Menino is built into his soul. Murphy’s mild, gentlemanly manner belies a passionate commitment to traditional Boston ways and agendas — into which he has, much more smoothly than I thought likely, blended all kinds of “new Boston’ constituencies. Murphy seems to say, “you may be think you’re one of those ‘new Bostonians,’ but you’ll fit right into traditional Boston, I will take you there, and you will like it.” No one else on the Council could have done this important mission as successfully.

My only question of Murphy’s continuing on the Council is whether or not his work hasn’t been fully accomplished. What has he still left to do that others can’t do ? I will be asking him this question in a coming profile.

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^ Michelle Wu : impressive bio

3.Michelle Wu. She was said to be all over the city; we have all seen her worn-out-shoes news story. Yet I, despite being all over the City at street level myself, since the beginning of August, only met Wu for the first time at the Roslindale parade. Where did she wear out those shoes ?

The Wu candidacy puzzles me. She took fourth spot in the Primary by a huge margin : how did she become so well known ? so well thought of ? Better known than marty Keogh ? Better thought vof than teacher and neighborhood activist Annissa Essaibi George ? More worthy a progressive than Jeff Ross ? Her personal story is impressive : harvard Law School graduate and care provider for her widowed mother. Her political story seems even more to the point : she was a campaign staffer for Senator Elizabeth Warren, the most popular politician in Massachusetts.

Yet others in this year’s Council campaign worked for Warren as well. All, even Jeff Ross, who grew up on the West Coast, have longer and deeper attachment to Boston than Wu, who only recently moved to the City. Why the Council ? To me, at first look, Wu seems better fitted to head a city administrative department than to be a elected voice. If the theme is “new Boston,” Ross, to our mind, fits the bill much more profoundly than Wu. Surely her biography and Warren connection impressed many voters who don’t accord their Council votes a policy importance. To me, using a Councillor vote to congratulate an impressive personal achievement is to disrespect the Council. A Councillor should be more than a graduation day photograph.

That said, we will be talking to Michelle Wu next week and asking her what there is about her candidacy other than a very impressive bio.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON CITY COUNCIL RACE, A BAD IDEA IS PUT AND MUST BE REJECTED

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^ diverse fooderies : a bad idea posed by a City Council candidate would erase this picture

Political people pose bad ideas in every campaign. It seems to come with the territory and sets us back. In Boston this year, where some 19 candidates are running to fill four (4) at-large Council seats, one candidate — who has attracted much attention — has no put forth an idea which should sink her campaign pretty quickly : she suggests that new restaurant licenses be non-transferable.

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^ Michelle for Boston ? Not now she isn’t

Making restaurant licenses non-transferable would pretty much end the restaurant business in Boston except for the very rich. restaurants start up all the time. Most fail. While open, often as a family venture without big bucks, their vast diversity of cuisines makes life in the City a food adventure. Because there are in Boston today many food adventurers, some of these newly opened restaurants succeed, for a longer time than most. The City needs this kind of adventure.

In a Boston with non-transferable restaurant licenses, there will be a lot fewer food adventures. The one factor that makes opening a new restaurant less risk than otherwise is that, at least, the closing restaurant can transfer its license — to a new location, or by sale to a new owner. Such licences are valuable, because restaurant licences do not multiply like locusts. They are fairly few. Taking the value out of such licenses will only guarantee that the fat-cat restaurant chains and millionaire-backed, downtown eateries will not have to fight small adventurous food joints for the dollars of people going out to eat.

With this proposal now on the table of a candidate with a following, those massively financed food emporia are toasting in today’s six-figure salary downtown Boston, woot-woot-ing on twelve-dollar mimosas before eighty-dollar-a-plate dinners.

Some who read this op-ed may be likening restaurant licenses to the taxi licenses whose rarity and manipulations have caused such a scandal — justly — in Boston this year. In fact restaurant licenses are nothing at all like taxi medallions. There’s an extremely limited number of taxi medallions, and they have tended to be bought up by monopolists. and why not ? Every taxi ride is the same : passenger and fare. restaurants are in no way the same. Some may succeed, others don’t. The cuisine is different. No one accumulates restaurant licenses.

Restaurant licenses must be freely transferable and encouraged to be so. To negate their transferability is a very, VERY bad idea. We oppose it.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere