Thursday, September 20, 2007

Transcript of City Council Candidates Forum on September 17

The transcript is not yet completed, but I thought I would post the Q&A in the moderator-prepared question portion of the event.

Corrections to . Since this is a transcript (rather than commentary), no reader comments are allowed at the end of the post.

A-B District City Council Candidates Forum
2007 September 17, 7:10 pm -- 8:40 pm
Brighton Elks Lodge
Moderator: Michael Pahre

Candidates Present (left-to-right from audience's perspective): James Jenner, Alex Selvig, Tim Schofield, Mark Ciommo, Rosie Hanlon

Candidate Not Present: Greg Glennon

OPENING STATEMENTS (2 minutes per candidate):
[to be completed]

MODERATOR-PREPARED QUESTIONS (1 minute response per candidate):

QUESTION: Roughly 25% of new housing built in recent years in Boston is categorized as "affordable," a result of requirements at the city level. Vancouver, British Columbia, on the other hand, has not required affordable housing to be built, but instead required 25% family-friendly housing be built as part of new projects, resulting in a return of families to their city center, according to the Boston Globe Magazine. Do you favor regulations requiring family-friendly housing or affordable housing?

JENNER: I have to say I am not familiar with the housing in Vancouver, but I think they kind-of go along the same lines of bringing families to the community and keeping families there. And I completely support that, yes. We have a lot of affordable housing in this area and contracts that are about to expire on some government buildings, I believe, next year. There's the potential of losing some affordable housing apartments in this are. So, it's definitely important that we maintain a standard of living that everyone can be comfortable in and survive, and won't have to live paycheck-to-paycheck and can stay in the community that the work. Raised [inaudible] children in. So, yeah, I completely support it, definitely.

QUESTION: What is your vision of the specific elements that would make housing "family-friendly"?

SELVIG: Specific elements... you could even start by not having it be the housing at all. You could have it be the environment that those houses are placed in. We could have more green spaces. We could have clean parks. We could have better transportation networks, schools that are closer to these people's homes, as opposed to being three neighborhoods away, for example. I think would go a long way in attracting families [inaudible].

QUESTION: State-wide and in Boston, citizens average $700-800 annually per capita in spending on the Massachusetts Lottery, according to the Watertown TAB. Do we need more or less gambling in the City of Boston, and what should we do about it?

SCHOFIELD: Obviously, we all saw that the Governor today released a plan. I have to say that, if I could turn back the clock 30 years ago, 30 years, I'm not a huge fan of gambling. But I also want to be realistic as to the place that it has in our society today. And the fact is that there are a lot of folks who are traveling to Connecticut, to Atlantic City, to Las Vegas to gamble. We don't want to ignore that reality. My concern is that if we're going to have gambling in this state, I want to make sure that it is highly regulated, I want to be sure that the jobs that are created are good-paying jobs, with health care, with pensions. So I wish that we didn't have gambling as part of our culture, frankly, I don't know that it's a good thing in the big picture. But I don't want to be naive, it is part of our society. And it is an opportunity for us to create [inaudible], create the jobs, create tax revenues, to be used in the way the Governor is proposing: to fix our streets, to lower property taxes, then I do support that.

QUESTION: Historically in Boston, residential property taxes have contributed around 30% to the tax base while commercial properties contributed 70%. In the last few years, the residential tax contribution has risen steadily to more than 42% overall. Is this the appropriate relative contribution to the tax base between residential and commercial properties? -- that's 42% residential, and 58% commercial.

HANLON: The commercial taxes is a big part of the maintainance of the city. I do think that it is fair. I do think that the commercial taxes should be higher than the residential taxes. So, my answer is, yes, I do believe that the commercial should bear a bigger burden because they are drawing people into our streets, and... yes, I do.

MODERATOR: If I could: the nature of the question was that the residential proportion has raised in the last two decades, whereas the commercial percentage of the overall rate has gone down in the last two decades. Do you think that direction, of residential going up, and commercial going down, is the correct direction for it to be headed?

HANLON: Thank you. I do not want to see the residential taxes going up. We do have to keep our businesses here -- we don't want to see our businesses fleeing. I do not want to see our residential taxes go up. I don't know if I'm answering this correctly.

CIOMMO: I believe that the commercial tax rate should be higher, and I believe the Mayor went to the Legislature, maybe two years ago, because statutorily he had to get approval from the Legislature to raise the commercial ceiling so to reduce the residential burden. I would say that, in what I've been reading recently, the housing market right now is kind of stagnated, while the commercial industry has actually boomed downtown. So I would hope that we will see that in our next assessments. And also, that if we need to go back to the Legislature again, as a City Councilor I will support the administration and the delegation of City Councilors to make sure that the residential burden is lessened.

MODERATOR: Next set of questions... as you might start to notice in the subsequent questions, we may bounce around a bit, not strictly go from left-to-right.

QUESTION: Often, the city will cite illegal front yard parking, excessive numbers of tenants, etc., but there is little or no followup after the property owner pays the one-time fine. How would you put teeth into ISD enforcement in order to force property owners to correct violations?

JENNER: I think, if you want to hurt somebody in terms of a property owner -- landlord, like that -- the only way to do it is in the pocketbook. And I think stiff fines, raising fines, and enforcing those fines, is probably the only way you're going to get that message that those people that this is not going to be tolerated. You know, you're breaking the law, not just little things you can look over and say, "Oh, well, you know he has one more person that he's allowed, or he's an extra car here and it's illegally parked and it's not really in the way." There are major issues, it's breaking the law. You know, you are breaking the law, regardless, and you need to keep fines for that. And if it is repeated fines happen, I wouldn't be opposed to a, like, three strikes sort of setup, where if the same person gets three strikes, then, you know, maybe they lose their right to be able to rent out to people or have off-street parking, things like that.

CIOMMO: Well, I agree with James, you have to hit them in the pocketbook. And one way would be to put a lien, I would give a few chances. I would give them the opportunity to apply to some of the homeworks programs that the city has to offer, if they needed the financing. Certainly, the best way to put teeth is to put it in the form of the lien on their property, and penalize them severly until they undo the damage they've done to their neighborhood.

MODERATOR: Now is the chance for me to make a little plug. Online, I write for the Brighton Centered Blog. Online, we did a crowdsourced questionnaire, and on the back side of your agenda, you will see the seven questions that were posed. If you go online to the website that's there you'll see answer to these seven questions. And what I note is that Question #1: some of the candidates that I didn't call on here, actually gave an answer which included the question I just posed in their response. So if you want to hear more of the candidates responding to that question, you can go online to the blog. Secondly, we have some copies of those answers. All the candidates responded to it. Those copies are near to the entrance to both sides. So afterwards, pick them up if you are not someone who goes online.

QUESTION: Developers often seek approval from the Zoning Board of Appeal prior to presenting their plans to the civic groups, such as the BAIA and the ACA. How can this situation be addressed?

SELVIG: I think that this is a procedural problem. I think they should not be able to apply for a zoning variance before they submit plans. If those plans fit in with current zoning, then, yes, there would be approval. If they don't fit in, then they have to go through the propert process. They need to go in front of the citizens' groups. I think that this should be a hard-and-fast rule, so they cannot bypass the system.

MODERATOR: What the system was, actually, what people complain about in BAIA is that first they go to the Zoning Board of Appeal, but then they tell them to come to BAIA afterwards, just to get a rubber stamp. How do you avoid that specific problem of getting the initial approval from the ZBA prior to coming to the specific...

SELVIG: How do I handle the problem that they're getting approval first, and retroactively they are getting the rubber stamp. Yes, I've been to a couple of meetings where that has actually happened. The problem with the BAIA and the other civic groups is that their role is purely advisory. So essentially what the ZBA is saying, for us it's fine. But why don't you go ask your neighborhood? And, you know, oftentimes what happens is that the ZBA's decision is final. The decision of the BAIA really doesn't have much bearing, unfortunately. They are trying to be nice by saying, "Go to the community, put it in front of them," but the ZBA -- Zoning Board of Appeal -- really doesn't have to listen.

MODERATOR: Would somebody else like to say how could we address this, that the ZBA is basically giving tacit approval in advance -- before they go in front of the civic associations?

JENNER: I think, you know, the principle here is that basically the community is coming as an after-thought of when somebody's already gotten the approval. And I think that we've dealt with that with Boston College and Harvard, and the extensions and past dealings. And it's just another example of regular, old government thinking that, you know, they can do what they want and they know that we'll go ask the community later, and if they raise up, then maybe we'll look at it again. The bottom line is that these are our backyards. We live here. And we should be the first ones to have the say in any kind of development or zoning, or any kind of thing that happens in our neighborhood.

QUESTION: Your law firm's website promotes the fact that: "The Boston Board of Appeal granted a zoning variance to our client for the construction of a deck in the South End." Yet in the July 23rd candidates forum, you stated, "The first thing I think we have to do is to enforce the zoning that we have." How can you reconcile your work seeking zoning variances with your insistence that the City better enforce the zoning code?

SCHOFIELD: I have a very good answer to that, which is this: the ISD screwed up. Let me tell you what happened to my client in that case. My client applied for a building permit, wanting to put a deck on the back of their condominium, they were told they could. When ISD filled out the appropriate paperwork, ISD approved it and issued the building permit. My client just spoke, they don't know any better, they did what they were told to do. They went to build the deck, they notified their neighbors, Hey, we're gonna start building, if the construction company is being noisy, or anything's going on, please let us know. Well, the neighbors got very upset, they said: Well, we didn't know you were going to build the deck. Our client, before they spent $15,000, went back to ISD, hey, are you sure we can build this deck, because the neighbors told us we can't build the deck? Oh no, you're good, you've got a building permit, go forth and build your deck. Two days after the deck was done, ISD issued a stop work order, and told them they had to tear down their $15,000 deck. What are they supposed to do in that situation? Literally, what are they supposed to do? What we did is we appealed, we ultimately reached a negotiation with the neighbors, and we cut the deck in half. Every lawsuit has a story, and that's the story.

CIOMMO: Why wasn't the abutter made aware before that even happened?

SCHOFIELD: Well, I think I can't answer that, because I wasn't involved before that, the neighbors ...[inaudible, overlapping]

MODERATOR: It may be a fair question, this is not a debate, so we are not posing questions back-and-forth. Ask him afterwards. [laughter]

QUESTION: You have made drug abuse an important issue in your campaign. But you have lobbied for beer and wine licenses - for example, Esperia Grill this month - yet many people consider alcohol to be a gateway drug. How do you reconcile your advocacy against drug abuse with your advocacy for more alcohol licensing?

HANLON: My job as Executive Director of Brighton Main Streets is to bring economic stability and [inaudible] to work to bring more vibrance and more restaurants. And I have not advocated for bars, I have advocated for beer and wine licenses served with food with dinner. I am a strong advocate of education to bring the community awareness of the problems that we have of the substance abuse. We have children that are dying, and I will not stop this, to advocate for such a strong issue and such a dangerous issue for our families. I was a co-founder of the parents empowerment group, to let people know of this problem. I am a member of the Allston-Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force, and I will continue to do so, and work with the schools and our law enforcement, and our elected officials, and the parents of our community.

QUESTION: Local elected officials typically are given the opportunity to nominate neighborhood residents to the City's appointed boards and committees - such as the BRA's institutional task forces - and the City often appoints one of each elected official's nominees. Without referring to any individual people, how do you plan to avoid conflicts-of-interest when nominating people, if you are elected?

SELVIG: I think that even if people do have some kind of intimate connection to the university that they are making decisions for -- whose projects they are making decisions for -- that's OK. The important part is that there be a good mix -- that there be people who absolutely have no ties. That the community at large is represented, that all segments of it are represented. So, yes, there will be people with interests, one way or another, does it mean [inaudible] opposed to anything the university wants to do, and there are people who will be happy with everything the university wants to do. We need to make sure there is a balance, there is a mix. I think that taking one person from each representative list -- or maybe two -- and really striving for that balance is really important. People should disclose what their interests are when they are being appointed. They should disclose in public what kind of gratuities they have received, what kind of scholarships they have received, what kind of rental agreements they have with these kind of universities, etc. We should note that they should still be allowed to serve.

QUESTION: On April 17th, the BC Task Force held an unannounced meeting at 5:30 pm, closed to the public, with BRA and BC officials; both of you were members of the task force at the time, and, I believe, participated in this private meeting. The Suffolk County District Attorney's office later issued an opinion that the meeting was in violation of Massachusett's Open Meeting Law. If you are elected, will such private meetings be a neighborhood-wide hallmark of your tenure as City Councilor?

SCHOFIELD: The direct answer is "no", it will not be a hallmark of my service. I think it's important to note a couple of things. One, I think we have to acknowledge that the BRA's lawyers have a different opinion, so what the District Attorney says, others disagree. For me, frankly, that was my second meeting on the task force, and perhaps I was a bit naive at the meeting. The point of the meeting, I think it is important to understand this, it was a logistics meeting. The previous meeting had been one of the largest they had had in a long time. I think everyone who was there will agree it didn't run very smoothly. And so the task force looked around and went, we have got to organize these meetings better, this isn't going to work. The community and [inaudible] chance to speak. So the meeting was organizational. Frankly, it was before this issue came up, in hindsight people wouldn't have had that meeting. But it was of the best of intentions that [inaudible] some of what Alex said. It is important to remember that people on these task forces are members of these community dedicating their time for something that [inaudible] the bad guy, that's what BC wants, that's what Harvard wants.

HANLON: No, it will not be a hallmark of mine, either. As a task force member of over ten years, it takes a lot of work, it takes a lot of passion, it takes a lot of time to go and work on these groups, and to gather up the information. We are spokespersons for the community. We need to take the thoughts and the ideas and the concerns of the community, and put them all together so we can organize meetings and have a very structured, thoughtful process. There's nothing, nothing hidden in these meetings, except for to strategize. It doesn't bother the universities if we're not together, if we're not unified. So, as an experienced task force member, I will continue to advocate [inaudible] to continue to work, to make sure that the concerns are constantly heard and delivered to any of the institutional expansion [inaudible] universities or large developments.

QUESTION: In interviews I conducted, both of you candidates stated that institutional expansion was one of the most important issues facing Allston-Brighton. Between January 1 and April 30, 2007 - i.e., in the four months immediately prior to Councilor McDermott's announcement that he would not seek re-election - three of the six candidates -- Ciommo, Glennon, and Jenner -- and Glennon is not here -- did not attend meetings of any BRA institutional task force (Harvard, BC, or St. Elizabeth's), according to public records provided by the BRA. Furthermore, two of the candidates -- Glennon and Jenner -- did not submit public comments to either the BRA or MEPA related to Harvard's science complex earlier this month. Assuming that the public records I have assembled are accurate about attendance and submission of public comments, what does this record of attendance and submitting public comments tell about your commitment to the issue of institutional expansion?

CIOMMO: I do happen to know just about everybody on the task force, and I have confidence in the task force and in the residents who are attending meetings. I continue to raise my family, I continue to work my job, I continue to run Little League, I continue to go back to the things that I have done in this community for a long time. And I trusted the people, the folks that have participated on the task force, and the residents that have attended those meetings. But now I am going for a position in which this is a major issue. I believe I have the experience and the skill to work with the City Council to bring my colleagues on the City Council and to fight this expansion. And that's why I'm in this race.

JENNER: Your research is correct. And part of my answer is that, up until the point of BC's master plan and Harvard's Science Complex, I wasn't even aware of the massive amount of impact that these plans were going to have on the neighborhood. Like many of you, were not informed by BC or Harvard of their plans -- you know, they do a lot of dealings inner-house, and Alex actually brought this up many times in the campaign that the community wasn't informed. Aside from that, I have the internet at my house, and I stay informed on the issues. The month I was laid up after losing my toe, kind of put me out of going to those meetings. But I just, honestly, I wasn't aware of it until Jerry announcing, that I looked into it and realized what a deep impact it's gonna have, and that's why I've made it one of my key candidate issues.

QUESTION: Boston College has proposed to build 90 beds of graduate student or seminarian housing next to the Foster Rock on property that abuts the Orthodox Jewish Community on Portina Road. As City Councilor, how would you address BC's proposal?

SCHOFIELD: I'm opposed to the proposal simply because if you look at the space that they have on the Archdiocese property and the uses that we as a community have told them are acceptable to us, I think that graduate housing, particularly seminarian housing, is one of the uses that I think we all agree. So it is really not fair to have this huge piece of property and you are going to put these units at the bottom of the hill of one of the most stable family neighborhoods he have in this community. Furthermore, the Foster Rock, of course, Charlie Vasiliades could tell you, is one of the great environmental -- great green, although I guess you cannot call a rock green -- one of the great green spaces in our community. So again, putting those uses there seems to me, once again, is not taking advantage of the space they have for the appropriate uses. There is a place for that housing, but I don't think that's the location for it.

CIOMMO: I would want to talk to the abutters, again, the families off of Portina Road. Graduate housing, you're talking about a different demographic than undergrads, you're talking about possibly young people... or are you talking about seminarians, I'm sorry?

MODERATOR: They proposed for graduate students or seminarians.

CIOMMO: Graduate students, again, are a different demographic than undergraduate students. You might be adding young families to the neighborhood. In that case, I would look at the demographic proposed for that site. But I would also like to talk to the abutters on Portina Road and see what is acceptable to them. Actually see what the proposal is -- the scope and size of the project. And then make a decision. I want more facts before I make a decision like that.

MODERATOR: Is there anyone else who would like to address that question... I'll go backwards... I guess Rosie?

HANLON: It is my belief that it is seminarian housing and not graduate housing at the bottom of that. And there is low to no impact with that development. Again, Boston College hasn't submitted their final plan; they did go before part of the task forces. Request was to go [inaudible] was out in the Allston-Brighton area. Their final plans have not been proposed to the community. Low to no impact is something that we can look at. There is going to be give-and-take when it does come to the master plan, and this might be one of the tools that we can work with.

MODERATOR: St. Elizabeth's Medical Center proposed last year to build a new emergency room and a new access road for it. Many oppose the access road because it would cut through protected open space, cut down many trees, and pass close to the St. Gabriel's Monastery, an historical building. The project has since had difficulty gaining final approval at the state level due to issues related to this road. As a member of the task force, I believe you voted in favor of the St. E.'s proposal. Do you stand by your vote?

HANLON: Again, as a task force member you are infused with a lot of information. We get many hours, many meetings, going for walks, taking a look at this property, seeing the logistics, where we gave them other options -- asked if there were other options where this emergency room could be built or access road, etc. And reality is, no, because there is a lot of ledge up there. We desperately need a new emergency room, that was very much outdated. Myself, my family, go to the emergency room, and you're in the hallway waiting to be treated. So the emergency room is a necessity for the community. The access road was actually developed on our suggestion, because the initial road was going right into a neighborhood street, and the abutters did not want that. So that's how it came up to along Monastery Road. So, yes, I do, and there were give-and-takes with that as far as green space, [inaudible] in our community.

MODERATOR: Harvard University has proposed to construct a combination art museum and art storage facility near Barry's Corner in North Allston. Do you support their proposal or any specific alternative?

JENNER: This is probably one of the only points that I would support in terms of Harvard's plan, because I think bringing art to the community is a valuable asset. And I think having a gallery or museum or storage area down in that area, you know, if they allow people to display that, store, citizens go in and see some beautiful pieces and things. I have no problem with that. That probably is one of the only points in their plan that I don't have an issue with at this point.

SELVIG: One of the biggest things that Harvard seems to be doing is in their entire plan for Allston is proposing buildings that don't comply with the North Allston Strategic Framework. This is a document that was drawn up by community groups to figure out what would be a livable situation. What would be a great combination of university use and projects that would actually sustain the community around it. It was a very carefully drafted document. A lot of people put in a lot of time on this thing; Harvard was a part of this. Now, all of a sudden, they are proposing buildings that don't comply with this anymore. They have gone on and done their own thing. So, I don't think it's a good use for Barry's Corner unless the actual building does comply with the North Allston Strategic Framework.

MODERATOR: Next set of questions related to open space. North Allston and North Brighton suffer from poor direct access to the Charles River. What specific elements should be in Harvard's institutional master plan to improve public access to the Charles River.

HANLON: One of the things that I've been working on in my experience with Brighton Main Streets goes directly with this. We're working on wayfinding and directional signage and ways to access open space. Harvard's plan I would like to see better wayfinding, better access, better bicycle paths, making family-friendly, pedestrian-friendly, handicap-friendly, so that we have better access to this beautiful resource that we have, to the Charles River.

JENNER: It's kind of one of those questions that you're going to get a very similar answer from everyone. I would like to see some bike lanes put in, obviously, improving the infrastructure and actually keeping the promises and maybe re-paving the sidewalks. And making sure crosswalks are paved in that area. And, I'm not opposed to overpasses, at certain points, to get to that [inaudible], obviously that would have to be something that the community discusses in terms of constructing those. We have to take safety into consideration, also. A general, monetary, good-will -- fix the sidewalks, paint the cross-walks, give us some good lights at those cross-signals, make sure that people who want to appreciate the Charles River for the beauty that it is, especially after the massive cleanup its undergone. Have the ability to do stuff.

MODERATOR: Several years ago, the City Council passed an ordinance providing a mechanism for citizens to create "Dog Recreation Spaces" -- so-called "dog parks" -- within public parks. What specific details in this ordinance are good or bad, and what, if anything, would you change in the ordinance to improve it?

CIOMMO: I have to tell you, I don't know the ordinance. I do know, I was speaking to someone the other day about the first dog park run that was instituted, I believe it is in the South End. So, what I would do is see how that works, not being familiar with the ordinance, to be honest with you. But I would see how that works, and try to implement it. We have, I'll tell you, I've knocked a lot of doors in this neighborhood. Everybody has a dog. [inaudible audience noise] So, I believe that we need to provide for the people in our community who have pets. So I would look at that, but I would look at the pilot project in the South End first and see what the results are from that.

SCHOFIELD: I also think that dog parks are important. The only thing I would want to ensure is that they are a segregated place for the dogs. A lot of people are afraid of dogs, so running in an open park can place a lot of concern for people. I think the one in the South End has a segregated space for the dogs for people to run. I tell, on the Common there's actually a dog walk area which is incredibly popular. And when I walk by there frequently when I'm going to court or I'm going downtown, and I'm always -- I love the community that it creates, actually. You see these people who all live on Beacon Hill, the Back Bay, and they are all "doggie friends" as they call each other. I have some friends, and they frequently say that I have no idea what that person's name is, but the dog is "Spot," I know that. You know it actually is a community-building tool, and I think that we should support that. Look, people have needs for -- there are a lot of dogs in this community, I think that would be a good community building tool. But let's make sure the dogs are segregated, [inaudible] those people who may be afraid of dogs, [elderly] and children.

QUESTION: You are a rower, operate a business selling shells, and have had a personal affiliation with Community Rowing Inc. You also made past statements, including on your website, that you are a green space advocate. Community Rowing has begun construction of a new facility along the Charles River. Did you, or do you, support this project? If so, how do you reconcile your suppport with its associated loss of the community's open space?

SELVIG: Well, the actual footprint of the boathouse is not large, and most of it is actually being built on a location that was a parking lot. So there really isn't much associated loss of green space in that particular location. One of the wonderful things that Community Rowing does, is that it does provide access to the Charles River. I will tie back to the previous question, is how do we improve access to the Charles River? We have made facilities available for people to use the river. Community Rowing's boathouse is actually one of those facilities. And the fact that it is a community rowing boathouse means that every single one of us can go down there and enjoy the Charles River and learn how to row. Most of us see the Charles just driving by, but it's a wonderful, wonderful place: it's full of wildlife, it's clean now. I've been swimming in it. I've had full access to the Charles River for about 20 years, and all of you should really take advantage of it, too. So I do approve of Community Rowing's boathouse.

MODERATOR: Now, for the next set of questions, we are going to talk about public schools. We are going to start from the right-hand-side and work to the left now.

QUESTION: You served on the Site Council and Steering Committee for the Gardner School as they successfully lobbied to become a Pilot School within BPS. According to the BPS website, the Gardner is therefore "part of a network of innovative schools that are free from teachers' union and BPS work rules." In your role at the Gardner, are you anti-teacher's union?

CIOMMO: When I did this it was year's ago when my children were attending kindergarten, and we worked with Boston College School of Social Work and Education to get funding to provide for the extended services school. So, right now, the pilot school model, actually 2/3 of the teachers have to vote to accept the pilot in their school. So, I support that the teachers want to do that, then I support it. I do not support, at this point, charter schools, because it does undermine the teacher's union.

QUESTION: Both of you have previously stated that you are advocates for BPS to return to neighborhood or community schools. I believe you used the term "community schools." If enacted, would such a plan further segregate the Boston schools, as well as exacerbate the achievement gap?

HANLON: No, it wouldn't. I strongly support community schools, and what I would like to see is a one-mile radius for parents to be able to choose the school of their choice within the community. We are losing our families, and this is a fact. I spoke to somebody in the post office today that moved -- twenty years ago, I think was around twenty years ago -- anyway, he moved when his children were going to school because he wanted his children to go to a community school. I would strongly support that we bring a one-mile radius. This is going to lessen transportation [inaudible]. So we can put this money back into the schools, and bring the faith of the parents to know that there are great resources, that their children will stay with them in the neighborhood. I still have best friends that I went to kindergarten with. I think it's all about community and society, isn't it, to keep us together. No, it won't -- if I can just address the segregation -- Allston-Brighton is one of the most harmoniously diverse communities in the city of Boston. We're blessed.

QUESTION: Name one public school in Allston-Brighton that you consider to be a successful model that can be replicated across the entire Boston Public School system?

SCHOFIELD: Mary Lyons School. When you talk to people in this community, when you door knock on this community -- public schools, public schools, public schools, that's what people talk about when you look at why we've families over the years. It's interesting, you see that, it's interesting, it's sort-of like your local football team, people sort of talk about the public schools in a generic sense, they don't talk about their school, talk about schools in our community that are good. We have many, many good elementary schools in this community. Where I think the Mary Lyons is a model, because it is a K-8 model, and I think, ultimately, that's the system we need to have. A strong K-8 school will keep a family in this community. Ask anybody whose children who go to Mary Lyons, they'll tell you, It's tremendous, I love it, and we're there K-8. We're in this community. So the Mary Lyons is the model that I think we need to replicate in this neighborhood and throughout the [inaudible] city.

JENNER: You must be a mind-reader, Tim, because that was my answer, actually. And, you know, it is because of the K-8 model. Not breaking up a child's learning progression is a key thing. And to keep them motivated, and to keep them rolling forward, as opposed to having to change schools as a sixth-grader and go to a different class, different teacher. There's something to be said for familiarity when it comes to teaching children. You know, when many of you parents out there know, when you're helping your kids study for a test, repetitiveness, repetitiveness helps them memorize things. So, it's kind of the same model, where you keep them there K-8. I like K-12 personally. You keep them there K-8 and you know they get familiar, teacher's know their learning style, they know how to get children to retain information as important in their learning. So, again, my answer would be the Mary Lyons again, thank you.

QUESTION: Name one public school in Allston-Brighton that you consider to be at-risk, and what would you, as City Councilor, do about it?

SELVIG: I actually understand the Garfield School has had a significant drop in enrollment, and there is some question as to whether or that school -- I don't want to start rumors here, don't start getting scared -- there's actually some question as to whether that school will continue to stay open. Again, part of the problem is that we're losing families in Allston-Brighton -- they're fewer and fewer children here. And so, if there are empty buildings, if there aren't enough students, then schools will have to be consolidated and some of them will have to be closed. Was there a second part to the question?

MODERATOR: The question was, what school is at-risk, and what would you do about it?

SELVIG: I would love to have more families in Allston-Brighton. We're working on starting our own right now, and hopefully there will be enough time for us to populate the Garfield. [laughter] Bringing families back to Allston-Brighton, one at a time.

CIOMMO: I would just say that I've read a lot recently, especially about the violence and assaults in our public schools. And you can't have good teaching and learning and productive environment unless the teachers and the students feel safe. And I know Brighton High is one of the higher assault rates in the city of Boston. So, if I'm elected City Councilor, the first thing I'm doing is making our classrooms safe for the children and students.

QUESTION: Next, and this is a non-standard question, and we will see... I'm asking everybody, I'm going to start with Tim Schofield and work my way left. Just to name a person, a single name: Mayor Menino has not endorsed a candidate in this preliminary election. Despite this, who among the six candidates would you say is the "Mayor's Candidates"?

SCHOFIELD: I get to go first, right?

MODERATOR: Yes. Just a name, not a full answer.

SCHOFIELD: The Boston Phoenix tells me that it's Mark Ciommo.

SELVIG: Ciommo.

JENNER: Schofield.

CIOMMO: Tim Schofield was the Ward 21 co-chair for the Menino campaign...

SCHOFIELD: That is true, and Deval Patrick ... [inaudible]

MODERATOR: Ciommo, is that you're answer, Schofield?


HANLON: Me. [laughter] Me. [laughter] Me.

MODERATOR: There are two very confident answers, and so Tim Schofield and Mark Ciommo, I'm going to offer this question to each of you:

QUESTION: Since the other candidates also closely associate you with the Mayor, is this a blessing or a curse?

SCHOFIELD: Look, the reality is that we're sending a City Councilor to go there to do a job for us, and the Mayor is an important part of that job. I think it is important for the next City Councilor for this community to have good relationships with everybody -- the Mayor, the other City Councilors, I'm proud to have been endorsed by Sam Yoon, by Felix Arroyo. Look, I'm going to go there and represent this community. And if the Mayor and I agree on something, I'm going to take his help and I'm going to use that for our neighborhood. And if we disagree on something, then he'll know about it. But I don't think we should be making blanket statements. This job is about building relationships and accomplishing goals for this community. We need a City Councilor who is going to do what it takes -- if that means working with the Mayor, if that means standing up to the Mayor, so be it. Whatever you need to do so represent this community, that's what I'm going to do.

CIOMMO: All I can say is that for the past 20 years in this community, I've been in an executive position for the better part of those 20 years working on the behalf of the citizens of this community -- first, as the assistant director of the Jackson-Mann Community Center, and for the past 14 years, at the Veronica Smith Senior Center. And I have to work with the Mayor. He helps provide services that I deliver to the seniors in Allston-Brighton. I have to work with the Mayor as president of Little League, to make sure our parks and playgrounds get cleaned and the fields get mowed. As a Hobart Park Neighborhood Association founding member, I had to work with the Mayor to re-design the park, organize a community build, find funding from the grounds funds to erect the ornamental fencing and the historical markers. So, I will work with the Mayor, but I've always been a strong and independent voice on behalf of the citizens of this community, and I will continue to be that as your next City Councilor.

QUESTION: On August 20th, the Environmental Protection Agency released allegations against Chestnut Hill Realty Corporation for violating federal law related to lead paint disclosure, including for residential properties they rent in Brighton. This was reported briefly in the City Weekly a week ago. If you were City Councilor when you read such a news report, what specific actions would you take, if any?

SELVIG: If I were City Councilor when that happened, I would push for an inspection of all that realtor's properties. If there were any lead paint that were found that hadn't been disclosed that the landlord or owner actually knew about, we would force them to mitigate -- which means basically, de-lead the entire house. Now, there are issues with lead, I believe, for children under six and up to a height of four feet, I think is what needs to be de-leaded. Apparently, if those buildings are not rented to families with young children, believe it or not, it's OK to have lead in their houses. But if there was a family with children, then that property must be de-leaded.

QUESTION: Regarding constituent services, do you support or oppose rolling out a 311 service in Boston? And, if so, why?

JENNER: Well, I have to be honest, I have to look into the issue a little bit more, because I'm not familiar with a 311 service.

SELVIG: It's a New York thing.

MODERATOR: It's in a number of cities. Pass that [question around]. Timi, would you like to try that?

SCHOFIELD: Absolutely. It's been adopted in a number of cities: Baltimore, for example. Essentially, what it is, instead of dialing 911 for an emergency, if you have an issue with City Hall, you dial 311. And there is one person, operator, who will filter you to the appropriate person. So that if you are calling about a building permit, if you are calling about an abandoned car in front of your house, street light -- any of these things, if you are a small business starting up, it's designed to really facilitate a more consumer-friendly government. And a lot of cities have adopted it with great success. Absolutely, Boston should adopt it.

QUESTION: Have you used the Mayor's Constituent Service hotline, either the phone number or the online version? Is it an effective tool for constituent services? What would you change about it?

HANLON: No, I have not used it. I have referred people to the hotline. What I would like to do about it, I think the 311 service is a good tool to direct people. I think it's important that people... For instance, I get calls about parking, where [inaudible] services is what I would refer them to the Mayor's hotline. So I think it is important that there's a simple number, such as 311, that people can find out where they can park, where resident parking can be [?], that there are issues that they need to have addressed, they need to have a switchboard, if you will, to be able to direct people [inaudible].

[to be completed]

CLOSING STATEMENTS (2 minutes per candidate):
[to be completed]

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