Friday, October 16, 2009

Blogging the Councilor-At-Large Candidates Forum

Adam Gaffin at Universal Hub blogged extensively the candidates forum for the Boston City Councilor-At-Large race. It's worth a long read.

Here are some interesting excerpts:

Felix G. Arroyo provides insight as to why so many elderly Russian Jewish voters backed him last month: because of his work for immigrant rights.

Andrew Kenneally wants the city to strong-arm universities' institutional expansion by holding back re-zoning and building permits in order to demand more money through PILOT.

Incumbents John Connolly and Stephen Murphy listed their accomplishments during the last two years:
Connolly: Two legislative accomplishments you're most proud of.
Connolly. 1. Securing committment from mayor to triple number of hybrids in city fleet. 2. Working with Murphy on financial-disclosure law.

Murphy. 1. Financial accountability ordinance with Connolly. 2. Reformed retirement-board system (people out injured five-six years). 3. Grease-duct ordinance after Tai Ho fire.
Tomas Gonzalez made reference to the BRA's task forces when calling for some reform at the agency, questioning whether the mayor should be appointing their members.

Connolly noted that Mayor Thomas Menino's proposal (a bill in the state legislature) for state-chartered public schools that would be controlled by the Boston School Committee is too vague to evaluate.

Kenneally bucks the tide by opposing charters schools altogether:

Should the charter school cap be lifted for Boston even if it leads to public school closures?
Kenneally. I'm against charter schools for a number of reasons. One: I believe i nunions. Steal money away from Boston public schools. They pick and choose - they don't take special needs students. Success based on false data.

Tito Jackson repeatedly exhibited a good sense of humor, including some self-deprecating remarks.

Ayanna Pressley identified increased transparency and increased community input as reforms that are needed at the BRA sooner rather than later.

Doug Bennett puts the blame squarely on Mayor Menino for the Filene's hole (and Christo art installation):
Should anyone in city government be held accountable for giant holes in the ground?

Bennett. Yeah, Mayor Menino should be held accountable. I think the BRA should be elected. Filene's looks like a bomb went off in the center of Boston.

Casino Gambling

Gaffin also gives a good summary of where the candidates stand on the issue of casino gambling.

I agree with his assessment that the candidates sounded generally supportive of the idea of having a casino somewhere in the City of Boston. That is a change from two years ago.

While the issue is one in front of the state legislature, it matters at the municipal level because a community will have the opportunity to welcome or block any proposed casino within the city limits. Middleborough's town meeting met and voted on a particular proposal put forward by the Wampanoag. More action from other communities around Massachusetts is likely if the bill begins to gain traction in the legislature -- which is likely, now that the House Speaker is supportive of the idea.

Most surprising to me was the support for the idea expressed by Andrew Kenneally, who lives in East Boston and would be most directly impacted by such a casino. My instinct is that East Boston residents will be the loudest opponents of the proposal; Kenneally's response leads me to rethink that assumption.

Image by Abigail Furey; all rights reserved. Candidates [left-to-right]: Felix G. Arroyo, Andrew Kenneally, John Connolly (incumbent), Doug Bennett, Tito Jackson, Ayanna Pressley, and Stephen Murphy. Not picture: Tomas Gonzalez, who arrived a few minutes later.

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