MAGOV14 : CANDIDATES NIGHT IN BOSTON’S WARD 3

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As politically savvy, now, as she has always been personally c harming : Juliette Kayyem at Boston’s Ward 3 Forum

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About 35 activists in Boston’s Ward 3 gathered in a basement room of the Michael Nazzaro Center in the North End to listen to a line of Democratic candidates for governotr, attorney general, and lieutenant governor. the candidates were introduced by committee chairman Jason Aluia, spoke, then took questions. However brief each’s time, much ws learned. The candidates for governor, especially, now know what they are about, and why; the vagueness of January has left us, its place taken by almost jarring specificity.

Three governor aspirants spoke : Juliette Kayyem, Steve Grossman, and Joe Avellone. All have evolved — Kayyem the most.

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running against Charlie Baker, he is : Steve Grossman at ward 3 Forum

Grossman continues to have succinct answers in great detail for every issue given him, and he has shifted to “general election mode” ; half of his talk attacked Charlie Baker, whose campaign themes — at which Grossman guesses — he was happy to dismiss. Unhappily for Grossman, Baker’s themes aren’t at all what Grossman told ward 3’s Democratic activists they would be.

Avellone has long had his theme : fighting substance abuse — he’ll appoint a cabinet level officer of Recovery and Re-entry. Very good idea; and Avellone had no problem answering my question about the state’s 56 million dollar health connector disaster by calling for an immediate waiver from the Federal ACA. He’s the first Democratic governor candidate to do so.

Juliette Kayyem has grown enormously as a political leader and is evolving faster and more fully every week. This I had already seen. Last night she spoke with great clarity about criminal justice reform — which is coming to be her companion issue to “better data management,’ her first — in ways most voters have already come to agree with, bit which, as she said, has been taken up first by Republican governors “because they can; no one will accuse them of being soft on crime.” She’s right, and persuasive. how can Democratic activists in progressive Massachusetts refuse to demand reforms that Republican governors, no less, are already implementing ?

This is the second time, in as many Forums, that I have heard Kayyem evoke the example of Republican reform as a prod to the Massachusetts Democratic party ; last week, at the ProgressiveMass Forum, when quizzed about her role in Bush-era interrogation discussions, she cited John McCain as taking the same torture position that she advocated. And ;praised him.

I had a longish talk with Kayyem before the ward 3 Forum about how she would deal with the Speaker of the House, who rules all Massachusetts legislation, regardless of governors or anybody else. During our discussion Kayyem suggested ways of dealing but did not mention the method that I now think she has right at hand. How better to move the Democratic Speaker than to show that the reforms she wants are already being done by Republicans ? At the very least, this line of argument puts the Speaker on the defensive even.

Will Kayyem make this an explicit tactic ? We shall see. It has legs, if she wants them.

I also learned much at the ward 3 Forum about three of the Democrats’ Lieutenant Governor candidates. Here is potential embarrassment aplenty for whoever becomes the governor nominee, because none of the three has a resume even close to the long experience of local and state government possessed by Baker’s running mate Karyn Polito. Nor do they have any of her charisma. Still, two of the three spoke well and boast resumes strong on bureaucratic accomplishment.

James arena-deRosa and Steve Kerrigan both claim stints as Obama administrators, to which Kerrigan adds time as a staffer for the later Ted Kennedy. Arena deRosa spoke eloquently about his passion for politics (though to my knowledge he has never been a candidate before now), Kerrigan of his sense of duty. both men discussed a few of the major issues that their boss, the governor, might delegate to them to help with.

Still, neither man can possibly tell who that boss will be; where Karyn Polito have already had three months to synchronise and to combine their long and varied experience of state government both executive and legislative, it’s strictly guess work whether Arena deRosa or Kerrigan will get along with whoever the Democratic nominee is, much less blend well with him or her. And don;t scoff : I well remember how fully Mike Dukakis shunted aside his own lieutenant governor, Thomas P. O’Neill III, or how utterly Democratic governor nominee John Silber, in 1990, threw his running mate Marjorie Clapprood under the bus.

Mike Lake also spoke. His words had more smile in them than mile, however. I do not see a bright future for him as second clarinet to the first Democrat.

But to return to Juliette Kayyem : I have now seen and heard enough to be able to say it : she is my pick for the Democratic primary. This is not a formal Here and Sphere endorsement, as i have yet to talk of it with my partner. But it is my personal choice. Juliette Kayyem is best able to compete with Charlie Baker. She’s less rigid, intellectually or personally, than Steve Grossman, bolder than Martha Coakley, much more realistic than Don Berwick, and of wider experience and personal charisma than Joe Avellone.

—- Mike 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