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Meet the Mayoral Candidates: If you could fix one thing about Boston schools, what would it be?

Posted by Alex Pearlman July 30, 2013 02:44 PM

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Even as childless professionals and empty-nesters stream into Boston, the city is still struggling, after decades of effort, to create a public school system that offers high-quality education to all of its children. Bostonians have debated adding more charter schools, bringing in tutors, and extending the school day, among other things. The system, which still bears the scars of the desegregation fight of the 1970s, just revamped its method of assigning children to schools. Still, skepticism remains.

So, how to address it? We asked the Boston mayoral candidates what they would do if they could wave a magic wand and fix one single thing about the public schools. Here are their answers. If you have suggestions of your own, post them in the comments section below, or tweet them at #BosMayor.

Dan Conley, @DanFConley
Suffolk District Attorney

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for DanConley.jpgMy "magic wand" fix for Boston Public Schools would be to close the achievement gap between minority and white students. Ensuring that all children, regardless of background, are reaching academic proficiency is the best thing we can do to guarantee greater social and economic accomplishment later in life. Our young people have made Boston into one of the greatest cities in America -- imagine our potential when every child is given the tools they need to fully participate in the economic life of this city. But there is no magic wand to wave. Instead, I'm pushing for common-sense reforms to our education system that will improve opportunities for every child, and in the process, close that achievement gap. This includes lifting the cap on charter schools, implementing metrics-based teacher evaluations, and targeting at-risk schools for turnaround measures before they fail. As mayor, I'll commit to these reforms and much more- with or without a magic wand.


Feliz Arroyo, @FelixArroyo
Boston City Councilor


John Connolly, @JohnRConnolly
Boston City Councilor

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for johnconnolly.jpgWe need to decentralize the top-heavy Boston Public Schools central bureaucracy and reform our Boston teachers contract to provide every school with the level of autonomy that innovation, pilot, turnaround, and in-district charter schools have. When we give schools more autonomy, we have the opportunity to empower great principals and teachers to be creative and reach every student. To make this work, we have to invest in developing world-class principals. As mayor, I will partner with nonprofits and educational institutions to recruit, develop, and support the highest-caliber principals. Principals need to have the flexibility and autonomy to work with teachers and parents to make their schools great. Principals should be empowered to make hiring, budget, and programming decisions without interference from the BPS bureaucracy. Empowered school leaders would be able to extend the school day and forge community partnerships in order to provide students with academic enrichment and innovative, engaging learning opportunities.


Rob Consalvo, @RobConsalvo
Boston City Councilor

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Rob Consalvo.jpgIf I had a magic wand, I would make sure that every kid with special needs has everything they need to learn and to grow as successful, well-rounded students with the same educational opportunities as their peers. It seems like common sense that more resources should be dedicated to the children who need the most help, but all too often that's not how it works. Improving struggling schools and investing in the futures of children who need a little extra help is the single most effective action we can take to make Boston Public Schools better.


Charlotte Golar-Richie, @Charlotte4Mayor
Former State Representative

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Charlotte Golar Richie .jpgIf I could wave my magic wand, I would make Madison Park Vocational Technical High School a world-class, skills training, and job readiness institution for the youth of Boston. I envision making the school the best in the nation through a concerted collaboration that includes business, community, public and private academic institutions, organized labor, and young people working together. I would work to make it a school that prepares our students for jobs in the emerging and growth sectors such as: green energy, healthcare, and life sciences. We need to lay a strong foundation that supports a rigorous educational curriculum backed by direct work experience and on the job training where necessary. This guarantees that jobs will be made available to successful graduates. A strong vocational education program will provide Boston’s economy with the educated workforce needed for the 21st century.

Meet the Mayoral Candidates: What's the role of the neighborhood watch?

Posted by Alex Pearlman July 26, 2013 01:06 PM

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Photo by nickfindley/Flickr

The abduction of Amy Lord outside her South Boston apartment -- her terrifying travels to five different ATMs, in plain sight of early morning commuters -- has renewed discussions about how Boston's residents might be able to look out for one another. Some of Boston's most disturbing crimes, such as June's deadly midday shooting in Mattapan, take place in city neighborhoods, where residents can serve as eyes, ears, and early warning signs. Nationwide, the Trayvon Martin case in Florida has intensified the debate about the benefits and risks of citizen crime-fighting. But what place should residents play in watching over the streets of Boston?

For the latest installment of our election series, we asked the mayoral candidates what role neighborhood watches should play in crime-fighting. Here are their answers. Add your thoughts to the comments, or tweet at the hashtag #BosMayor.


Rob Consalvo, @RobConsalvo
Boston City Councilor

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Rob Consalvo.jpgMy vision for making Boston safer includes efforts to target the people who commit crimes, the places where crimes happen and the tools criminals use to inflict violence on our neighborhoods. Neighborhood watches can be effective tools to prevent criminals from acting, but I'm also focused on wrap-around programs that help prevent at-risk young people from drifting down the wrong path and smart intervention strategies that help offenders reenter our communities as productive members.


Marty Walsh, @Marty_Walsh
State Representative

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for martywalsh.jpgStrong local crime watch groups are an essential part of any community and overall public safety network. They can be the eyes and ears on the ground for law enforcement and a direct dissemination of information for localized spikes in criminal activity. These groups of neighbors also add to the general fabric of the city by introducing neighbors and creating a sense of community. My administration would foster not just the bottom down information resource, but the bottom up as residents know their community best. I would have a robust centralized community officer program and an annual summit so that various crime watch groups could learn from each other on the best practices and ways to utilize city services.


Bill Walzcak, @BillWalczak
Community leader

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for BillWalczak.jpgNeighborhood watches are the eyes and ears of policing. Well organized watches can create safe neighborhoods by working closely with the police department. They can be enhanced via technology, however, and when I am mayor, we will have electronic alert systems across Boston similar to one that I started in my neighborhood of Columbia-Savin Hill, which alerted residents of crime incidents through email. Through this system we will get timely information on the incidents happening in our neighborhoods electronically so we can be better able to assist in keeping our communities safe.


Dan Conley, @DanFConley
Suffolk District Attorney

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for DanConley.jpgNeighborhood watches are an important and longstanding part of Boston's community policing strategy. Ongoing communication between police, prosecutors and neighborhood residents not only gives residents a greater sense of ownership and control, but provides law enforcement with vital feedback that helps to target resources towards the individuals and issues that most negatively impact the safety and quality of life in a community. Neighborhood watches also build a stronger sense of community within specific neighborhoods as the simple fact of knowing your neighbors is a crucial part of improving one's feeling of safety.


John Connolly, @JohnRConnolly
Boston City Councilor

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for johnconnolly.jpgBoston has a rich network of crime watches, civic associations, and community groups. This network is an effective and essential part of making our neighborhoods safe. These organizations not only deter crime, but also foster leadership, investment and commitment between neighbors. Crime watches are also a key part of true community policing and create an avenue for residents and police to work together.


Charlotte Golar-Richie, @Charlotte4Mayor
Former State Representative

Thumbnail image for Charlotte Golar Richie .jpgBoston’s resident-led neighborhood groups from every community are essential partners for the city to improve public safety and implement successful crime reduction strategies. They advocate for a community policing model beyond standard enforcement to include intervention and prevention. Block associations organize neighbors around teaching safety skills, building relationships with police and bonding together for a safer street environment – they are the key to “see something say something.” Informed block groups also serve as the important connection to city policy-makers to ensure that steps are taken to address safety concerns while at the same time respecting residents' rights. I have worked with great groups, from Meetinghouse Hill to Grove Hall to the South End, that made the difference in the decline of crime during the 90s. As Mayor, I’ll convene a congress of resident-led groups and ensure that Boston continues to work together with the block watch network on an ongoing basis.


John Barros, @JohnFBarros
Former school board member

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for johnbarros.jpgNeighborhood watch groups strengthen the civic infrastructure of the city in general while playing a key role in preventing crime. The more vigilant and organized the residents of our neighborhoods are the more effective the police and other city departments can be in responding to the needs of the area. Boston's neighborhood watches usually meet monthly with police and city staff to report local issues and coordinate services. They also organize block parties and other activities that bring neighbors together and build relationships. They ensure residents are working with the city to build a strong community fabric that protects against the conditions that invite crime.


Felix Arroyo, @FelixArroyo
Boston City Councilor


Mike Ross, @MikeForBoston
Boston City Councilor

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for mike_ross_headshot1.jpgPolice can't do it alone. They need neighborhood residents to play their role. A police officer could walk down a random street and not notice anything is out of place, a long term resident could open her door and notice right away that something isn't right. The strongest defense against crime is an active community where neighbor knows neighbor - where anonymity cannot serve as a place for criminals to hide. The Boston Police Department has rightly made community policing a priority. We should build on those efforts to ensure that housing, human service, and all other public agencies provide easy avenues for neighborhood groups to identify and communicate problems. In addition, we need neighborhood police substations and satellite offices, especially in high crime areas, so that communities know where they can find their local police.

Anthony Weiner: Guilty of Sex or Stupidity?

Posted by Noah Guiney July 25, 2013 09:15 PM

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The name's Danger. Carlos Danger.

Of all of the scandals to possibly torpedo a political career, Anthony Weiner’s might just be the most absurd. He's hardly the first politician to find himself in a compromising situation. He's not the first to relapse, either. But the nature of his latest sexting scandal – more naked selfies? "Carlos Danger"? Really? – puts Weiner in a league of his own.

Now, as New Yorkers debate whether they want a Weiner for their mayor, people elsewhere in America are wondering what his situation says about our culture. Some speculate that, if Weiner had just had a garden-variety affair, the voters might be more willing to forgive. When it comes to sex scandals, have our standards relaxed? Is Weiner being punished for stupidity, not impropriety? Would he be getting this much attention if his pseudonym weren't so blissfully easy to mock? Here are some theories about what the Weiner scandal really means. Add yours to the comments, or tweet at the hashtag #Weinergate. (And please, don't send photos.)


Sexting scandals reveal a worrying trend

msanfilippo.jpgWhile it’s hard to imagine the U.S. electing an unmarried president – male or female – any time soon, Americans have come to accept a certain degree of sexual shenanigans from white heterosexual male politicians. However, any extramarital sexual behavior (let alone sex scandal) involving women, LGBTQ politicians, and politicians of color appears to be career-ending for anyone not named Barney Frank. With these norms in place, “sexting” enables sexual exhibitionism (often without consent) of the sort Anthony Weiner seems drawn to, with the kind of hypervisuality that steals headlines. But this only reinforces our culture’s hypocrisy regarding sexuality as a privilege afforded some more than others.
Maria San Filippo
@cinemariasf
Author of The B Word: Bisexuality in Contemporary Film and Television
Visiting Assistant Professor of Gender Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington


It's not worth the time of day

Richard_Kim.jpgNow let’s turn to Carlos Danger, Weiner’s online pseudonym and alter-id. His prolific sexting took place before, during and after his wife’s pregnancy. He was caught doing it, denied it, admitted it, promised not do it again, did it again and admitted it—again. All of this makes him stupid, boorish, adolescent and deceitful about sex, but no more so than the millions of men (and some women) who do the same thing. It might also make him a bad husband, but only his wife Huma Abedin can be the judge of that, and it is really none of our business what she thinks, what arrangement they do or do not have and whether or not she should leave him. Nothing Carlos Danger did was illegal or coercive, and, it should be pointed out, none of it actually involved physical contact. His behavior and his marriage are entirely unworthy of public concern.
Richard Kim, The Nation @RichardKimNYC
Blog Post, July 24 2013


Work with what you have


Too real


It's just sad

You could digest the scraps of correspondence between Weiner and his latest cyber paramour in any order—the way he eagerly asked if she had read his New York Times Magazine profile or looked at his previous dick pics, the way he dangled a Politico blogging gig in front of her nose, as if to emphasize how Big and Important he is—and come to the same conclusion. Here is a man desperate, as he told the Times, “to be liked and admired,” but going about it all wrong. Men: In the vast majority of cases, sending out images of your penis, contra a noble defense of crotch shotting by Anne Lowrey in the pages of Slate two years ago, is juvenile, inexpert, and above all, sad.
Katy Waldman
, Slate @xwaldie
Blog post, July 24, 2013

The other uncomfortable truth

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Need help picking your sexting pseudonym?

Use Slate magazine's fantastic Carlos Danger name generator!


Make a classy exit

Cape Traffic: Is there any way out?

Posted by Noah Guiney July 22, 2013 07:46 AM

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ugh.

Bostonians have a lot to endure in July and August, from 95-degree heat waves to the New York Yankees. Historically, the endless crawl on Route 6 through Cape Cod was one of these seasonal nuisances. But this past Fourth of July weekend set a new standard for adversity: a traffic jam of almost-Biblical proportions, which tied up drivers for longer than six hours in some places.

As Boston grows, more and more people will be traveling to the Cape in the summertime, reveling in the natural beauty, the seaside towns, the shark-spotting. But adding more cars to Cape traffic has the potential to make six-hour delays a weekly phenomenon. Can we encourage tourism on Cape Cod without overloading the area's already strained infrastructure? Should we invest in public transport to the Cape to encourage people not to drive? Or can we get creative with the resources we have? Below are some ideas for innovative solutions to this looming problem. Add yours to the comments, or tweet them at #CapeCodTraffic.


Why race down on weekends when you can go mid-week?

Halligan Headshot.pngAt HubSpot, we believe your vacation days should be spent relaxing, not in bumper to bumper traffic on the Sagamore Bridge, so all year long, we give our employees the flexibility to optimize their schedule for work results instead of face time. Being able to store and share data in the cloud, and tools like GoToMeeting, have changed how we live and work. Doing your job well is no longer dependent on physically being at work as the office becomes more of an “idea” and less of a “place.” We take this shift seriously at HubSpot; our employees have an unlimited vacation ‘policy’, but in turn we hire exceptional people and expect them to create remarkable results. The result: employees spend more time solving problems on behalf of our customers and less time worrying about being able to leave by 4 to beat traffic.
Brian Halligan
@bhalligan
CEO, Hubspot


Stop kidding yourself


New train routes reduce traffic

Tom.jpgThis year, the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority has sponsored the CapeFlyer, a new train service that operates on summer weekends from South Station to Hyannis, making travel easier and more enjoyable while reducing congestion and greenhouse gases. The cost is reasonable: just $20 dollars one way from Boston to Hyannis. It’s a special opportunity for people to visit Cape Cod, but it is not just a novelty. It is a reliable, safe, and punctual way of getting to where you need to go. Some have asked if we should extend the season or provide more weekly service. We have focused on making sure that the service that we have promised – seasonal, weekend rail – is successful and fiscally responsible before we consider next steps. In September, we will work with business leaders, elected officials and state partners to determine what should be offered going forward.
Thomas Cahir @capeFLYER
Administrator, Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority


Look to the past for future solutions

bc9b943c5f40f91e27dc3be11bd8f874.jpegConnect existing rail lines and build new ones so that residents and tourists alike could travel from Provincetown to Hyannis to Boston without ever getting near to a road. The biggest obstacle is right of way issues, which communities should be able to work together on to overcome. It's how the region was built up in the first place. And it's the obvious fix for its future too.
Rob Anderson @rcand
Owner of the Canteen Restaurant in Provincetown, Former Globe Opinion Writer


Keep things in perspective


All choices have pros and cons

I also traveled from PTown to the South End on Sunday. It took 2 hours door to door. How? A magical new technology called a boat. The Cape is actually much more accessible without a car than most vacation places. What people don't realize is that if you live in some far-flung suburb and buy a house in some remote Cape town, that's a choice, and like all choices there are pros and cons. One con is that a car is the only way to get there and that means sitting in traffic sometimes. For me the con is living in a smaller city space. The difference is that I don't act like the cons from my choices are an emergency that the government needs to step in and fix.
AlexMa
Boston Globe comment


Stay sane, my friends

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Meet the Mayoral Candidates: How would you improve late-night transportation?

Posted by Alex Pearlman July 18, 2013 04:34 PM

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Some cities have 24-hour gyms. Some have thickets of all-night diners. And some, like Boston, go nearly dark in the wee hours. But even if Boston suddenly became a late-night city, getting there from here would be a problem. The T stops running shortly after midnight. Late-night cabs are scarce. And while Boston's lack of late-night transportation often comes up in the framework of neighborhoods vs. revelers, it's also an issue for service industry workers, a hindrance to startup culture, and a barrier to new commerce.

This week, we asked Boston's mayoral candidates what they would do to improve the state of late-night transportation in the city. Here's what they said. Add your thoughts to the comments, or tweet at the hashtag #BosMayor.


John Connolly, @JohnRConnolly
Boston City Councilor

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for johnconnolly.jpgI will forcefully advocate for full funding of the MBTA and ensure it receives the resources it needs. We are hurting the economic potential of this city with limited T hours, so we have to extend MBTA hours past midnight.
I support a Boston with 24/7 options in appropriate parts of the city. Too often, the debate involves only a discussion about liquor. This is really about ensuring that Boston has a rich, welcoming, and inclusive arts, culture, and social life so that we attract and retain talent and draw visitors that create jobs and fuel our economic engine. We need restaurants, coffee shops, gyms, galleries, and performance space with extended hours. We need more arts festivals and a real commitment to public art. And to do this, we need an MBTA with extended hours and better transportation infrastructure.


Bill Walczak, @BillWalczak
Community Leader

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for BillWalczak.jpgIt is imperative that we improve late-night transportation in Boston. Many service-industry employees work until 2:00am and 3:00am and they are being forced to spend exorbitant amounts on cab fares or walk long distances through unsafe neighborhoods. Boston needs to become a 24-hour city, extending the runtimes of buses and subways, in order to cater to the needs of those workers as well as to stimulate business that comes from the bustling nightlife that exists in our city. We also need to reform our taxi system, bringing in an independent group to determine the right amount of medallions for the city, beginning to treat taxi drivers as full-time employees instead of contracted workers, and allowing for a regional taxi system that works with surrounding areas that we all understand to be part of the larger fabric of the Boston community.


John Barros, @JohnFBarros
Former school board member

Thumbnail image for johnbarros.jpgTo extend service hours I will work closely with the Governor to fully fund the MBTA capital program and put the MBTA on sound financial footing, while strongly advocating that the MBTA needs to be affordable and safe for all residents of Boston. In order to help make late night service a reality Boston needs to be a partner in helping to increase usage of public transit. To help increase ridership, I will work towards the implementation of a U-Pass for all university students in Boston through bulk purchases of passes by universities. In addition, I will provide more incentives to increase residential and commercial density along the transit nodes.


Felix Arroyo, @FelixArroyo
Boston City Councilor

Thumbnail image for Felix G Arroyo.jpgI believe our MBTA should be 24/7. It will help contribute to the livelihood and economic development of our city. If we are serious about investing in Boston, we must be serious about investing in transportation. We need the right balance of increased funding and reforms to support economic growth and improve transportation options for all residents of Boston. I support progressive new revenue options and reforms necessary to fund the city's critically needed long-term investments.


Mike Ross, @MikeforBoston
Boston City Councilor

mike_ross_headshot1.jpgThe next mayor of Boston will have to make public transportation their priority. Not only will I bring late night public transit to Boston, I've done it before. In 2001, I worked with the MBTA and a group of students to start the Night Owl, and for years Boston had late night bus service. I'll find a way to bring that back.


Charlotte Golar-Richie, @Charlotte4Mayor
Former State Representative

Thumbnail image for Charlotte Golar Richie .jpgAs mayor, I would strongly encourage the MBTA to make improvements to the system by organizing an effort to understand better where people want to go at night. I’d make sure that, along those routes, there is better street lighting, and better information given to people about scheduling, such as organizing a city-sponsored smart phone mobility application that will give people real-time information and updates about public transportation. I’d also make an effort to create transportation hubs in the city, by identifying places where people want to be; those hubs could have things like pedicabs, schedules, and zip cars. The idea of creating these hubs and keeping them open at night could be a way to improve people's mobility so that they’d know that if they got to a hub, they’d be able to find one or more ways to get to their destination late at night.

Meet the Mayoral Candidates: How would you ease apartment overcrowding?

Posted by Joanna Weiss July 15, 2013 06:32 PM

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19 people lived here

Overcrowded apartments have long been part of the Boston landscape: students, young adults and others, packed into houses that weren't designed for dorm-style living. Those conditions can be dangerous, even deadly. In April, a fire raged through a crowded house in Allston, killing a Boston University student and injuring 15 others. The tragedy shed light on a system of absentee landlords and weak housing inspections, and highlighted the challenges of living in a city where rents continue to soar.

This week, we asked Boston's mayoral candidates what they would do to ease overcrowding in neighborhoods like Allston. Here are their answers. Add your thoughts to the comments or tweet at the hashtag #BosMayor.


Marty Walsh, @Marty_Walsh
State Representative

martywalsh.jpgThere should be a city ordinance about standards and clear regulations for the City of Boston’s landlords; this includes regulations for absentee-landlords. Regulations should include over-crowding, public safety, sanitary, recycling, maintenance, and other quality of life standards. There should also be a way for tenants to file complaints and have ISD periodically review and respond to them. Boston currently has the Citizens Connect app for residents to inform the city about problems such as potholes or broken streetlights. Perhaps a Tenant App would work to address housing problems. There needs to be a balance of fairness and due process for both tenants and the landlords. As mayor, I will make sure that both are equally represented and heard.


Dan Conley, @DanFConley
Suffolk District Attorney

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for DanConley.jpgWe should be proud that Boston is continuing to attract residents, but if that growth isn't properly handled, everyone's quality of life is impacted. That's why, as mayor, I'll place a renewed emphasis on housing and safety code inspections in order to crack down on landlords with unsafe concentrations of tenants. I'll also work to implement Mayor Menino's 2020 plan, which would add 30,000 new units of housing and open up 1 million square feet of city-owned property for middle-class housing development. And especially in neighborhoods like Allston and Brighton, City Hall needs to work hand-in-hand with universities to more efficiently plan student growth and housing solutions -- a step I promise to take as mayor. That said, it's important to remember that limited density helps keep rent levels in check. I don't want to solve overcrowding by pricing all but the wealthiest Bostonians out of our city.


John Connolly, @JohnRConnolly
Boston City Councilor

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for johnconnolly.jpgOvercrowding and safety in rental housing are significant concerns across the city. As Mayor, I will hold absentee landlords accountable and ensure that current laws are enforced. I will also work for the development of more housing options such as micro–apartments, which can be more affordable and environmentally friendly, three-bedroom housing for families, and mixed-use/mixed-income developments that combine residential and retail uses linked to public transportation. This type of smart growth will help to ensure safe, vibrant, diverse, and accessible communities.


Bill Walczak, @BillWalczak
Community Leader

Thumbnail image for BillWalczak.jpgWe need to construct more affordable housing throughout every neighborhood in Boston. Something must be done to decongest Allston while also retaining the many residents who want to live in the city but are forced into subpar or unaffordable living conditions. In order to keep people in Boston, we must do a better job of providing housing as well as means of public transportation whether by bus, train, or commuter rail. This is why I am a strong proponent of transit-oriented development, which also promotes the use of affordable public transit and reduces traffic on our roads.


Rob Consalvo, @RobConsalvo
Boston City Councilor

Rob Consalvo.jpgWhat the people of Boston want most is safe, healthy and affordable housing. As City Councilor, the Chair of the City Council’s Housing Committee, and a Trustee of the Neighborhood Housing Trust, I have led the fight to build more market rate and affordable housing to help ease overcrowding. I have led efforts to pass legislation to enforce code and health laws and crack down on absentee landlords. We can solve overcrowding by providing more market rate and affordable housing and expanding public transportation into Boston. With better public transportation we can connect ALL our neighborhoods to downtown and the universities – opening up new housing options citywide. As mayor, I'll work with schools to develop more on-campus housing and I'll work to develop an innovative neighborhood transportation plan to ensure all residents live within a five-minute walk to public transportation or alternative transportation to make Boston better for our future.


Charlotte Golar Richie, @Charlotte4Mayor
Former State Representative

Charlotte Golar Richie .jpgTo ease overcrowding in neighborhoods like Allston, I will prioritize community input regarding the Zoning Board, BRA, DND, ISD and other city agencies. I will also recruit the large institutions in the neighborhood, requiring them (Harvard, St. Elizabeth's, BU) to get involved in crafting solutions to overcrowding, such as building more on-campus housing. These institutions can work with the city and private developers to create a workable plan.
I support the recently passed city ordinance that addresses the overcrowding of students in private apartments and will work to increase the supply of rental housing for neighborhood residents. As the former Chief of Housing and Director of the Department of Neighborhood Development, I wrestled complicated housing issues and worked cooperatively and effectively with neighborhoods to expand the supply of affordable and workforce housing, so that families and seniors could remain in their neighborhoods.


John Barros, @JohnFBarros
Former school board member

johnbarros.jpgAs a city we must ensure that all individuals are living in a safe environment. This includes first time renters such as college students. We have some ordinances designed to address overcrowding specifically that is not working. One idea for addressing the issue is to have the city partner with colleges and universities as a part of the lease process for all their students. If our high ed institutions are part of the lease we can ask that the city is invited to inspect every unit that houses a student annually. The ability for regular inspections would increase responsible living and safety.


Mike Ross, @MikeforBoston
Boston City Councilor


mike_ross_headshot1.jpgHow do we ease overcrowding? It's simple: build more housing.

There are neighborhoods that are craving development and housing opportunities. Building there relieves pressures not just in Allston, but across the city. That has to include affordable housing, too. If we're serious about affordable housing, it can't be the first thing we deal away when a new building is going up.

We also need to work with our colleges and universities to build more dorms, so students can stay on campus and aren't putting more pressure on the strained housing market.


Felix Arroyo, @FelixArroyo
Boston City Councilor

Should Boston limit new parking spaces?

Posted by Joanna Weiss July 11, 2013 11:44 AM

parking spaces.jpg
Location, location, location

How coveted is a parking space in Boston? So much that this lovely pair of tandem spaces in the Back Bay recently sold at auction for $560,000. (The winning bidder, who already owned three spaces, said she'll use them for "guests and workers.") That's why so many heads turned when the Boston Redevelopment Authority announced plans to approve new apartment buildings with little or no required parking -- because, officials said, so many city residents already don't use cars.

Reaction has been mixed, and a little explosive. Some cheer the move away from cars, and think the end of parking mandates will help rein in housing costs. But some say parking is still essential in a city that lacks late-night-transit -- and is battered by winter weather, and is trying to attract more families. Do you park a car in Boston? Do you want the city to have more parking spaces, or fewer? Here are some thoughts about the looming war on cars. Add yours to the comments, or tweet at the hashtag #BostonParking.


It's parking vs. people

Q.pngOne parking space roughly occupies about 300sf, enough room for a small studio apartment. On average architects and developers currently need to match one parking space per unit, which drives up the cost of development to house vehicles and decreases housing availability for residents. Not only is this economically taxing on builders and residents, but it begs the question: What city do we want to live in? Do we want to keep depending on cars that congest our streets and consume acres of land in an urban model where transit systems and density make them obsolete or do we redirect funds into infrastructure improvements, green street initiatives, bike parking, and housing? Cars aren’t our top priority; it’s people. Our cities are growing and we need to strategically think about how we want to define our spaces. Do we make room for parking or people?
Quinton Kerns, @QisforQuentin
Designer, ADD Inc.


What about the people over 35?

Larry Harmon mug.jpgThis car-free city thing is getting out of hand. Whoever is driving this movement probably doesn’t spend much time shuttling elderly relatives to medical appointments or picking up the kids from their friends’ houses across town...There are still plenty of voters out there with more to do after work than walk to a nearby restaurant and decide which craft beer to match with which sushi roll...If Boston officials are so confident of a car-free future, they should charge a small fortune for new on-street residential parking permits in densely settled neighborhoods. Theoretically, there should be few takers. Current sticker holders, meanwhile, would retain permanent rights to free on-street parking. Upon sale or vacancy of their units, the sticker could be transferred to a new owner or tenant.
Lawrence Harmon, Globe columnist
"Car Free Future? Not for Families." Boston Globe, July 13, 2013


Everyone on the T? Really?

"The goal is to encourage the use of public transportation."
This would make sense if public transportation were underused, but it is not. It can't even handle the current ridership. So my reaction to this statement was pretty much: hIfnD7N.gif


Reddit user Gemini6Ice, on an r/boston thread about parking.


Neighborhood groups: Go back to school!



Just let the market do its work

matty.jpegBoston officials should be commended for this. But what they really ought to do is something radical, and it’s the exact same thing every other city and suburb in America ought to do: reduce the number of required spaces to zero. To be clear, that’s not to say nobody should build new parking spaces. Cars are very useful, and if you want to own one, you need someplace to put it. A parking space is valuable, and so reasonable real-estate developers will typically want to feature parking spaces as part of a new development. But parking spaces are a building amenity like any other—granite countertops or spacious bathtubs or a fitness center or a roof deck—and so they’re something the real-estate market is capable of generating in the quantity that people demand.
Matthew Yglesias, @mattyglesias
"Out, Damned Spot," Slate, July 9, 2013


Why people need cars

Having a car is not the same thing as driving it to work. The BRA needs to wake up and realize that. As another commenter stated young urban couples want to travel outside the city during non-working hours. Not having a car makes that impossible in most instances unless they use Zipcar. A city where transit services, such as they are, shut down just after midnight has no business making it difficult for people to park their personal vehicles near their homes
-- SML49

Not only that but people seem to forget that we are not Portland, OR. We get SNOW here and lots of it, and bitter cold winters that do not support bike riding 12 months a year. We need public transportation that is reliable and scaled to serve the growing number of residents that are flocking to our city.
-- Tony91
Reader comments, Bostonglobe.com


Less demand on the way?

parking infographic.jpg
Boston Globe infographic

Meet the Mayoral Candidates: Should Boston's school day be extended?

Posted by Joanna Weiss July 11, 2013 06:25 AM

Thumbnail image for extended school day.jpg

Should Boston Public Schools have longer days? The question often comes up in discussions about improving city schools. Some say extended school time -- for instruction or enrichment -- is a key reason Boston's charter schools outperform its traditional schools on test scores. But some advocates warn that longer days are no panacea. And extended days have been notoriously hard to implement: A proposal to stretch the day by 45 minutes was a major sticking point in last year's teacher contract negotiations, and the School Department eventually dropped the demand.

This week, we asked Boston's mayoral candidates if they'd work to extend the school day in Boston -- and if so, how. Here's what they said. Add your thoughts to the comments, or tweet at the hashtag #bosmayor.

Charlotte Golar Richie, @Charlotte4Mayor
Former state representative

Charlotte Golar Richie .jpgYes. We want a longer school day and a longer school year! Kids in Boston don't have to go home to tend to the crops, as my students did in Kenya! We need our students at school, making sure they understand the lessons of the day, and receiving any help they need w/homework. Longer school days will provide students with opportunities to improve their math and reading comprehension skills, as well as their test-taking skills, so they'll be prepared for the MCAS. Also, we want our students in enrichment programs: art, music and athletics; and we want them to learn a second language. Finally, a longer school day would afford older students with the chance to plan for and apply to college and other post-secondary school programs.


Dan Conley, @DanFConley
Suffolk District Attorney

DanConley.jpgIt should be extended. Obviously, achieving a breakthrough with the Boston Teacher's Union would be desirable and something I will strive for, but short of that there are other ways to extend the school day. Lifting the charter school cap will give parents more options to choose from public charter schools that typically offer longer school days. By extending turnaround powers to level 3 schools, which comprise nearly half the schools in the system, those schools would also have the ability to extend their school days. Partnering with area non-profits that offer important educational enrichment opportunities like arts and music is another way of creatively extending school days for parents and children. Ultimately, we need a system that gives genuine autonomy to schools so that parents, principals and teachers are working together and making meaningful decisions about their children's education.


John Connolly, @JohnRConnolly
Boston City Councilor

johnconnolly.jpgYes. Currently, Boston's school day is one of the shortest in the nation. As a former teacher and current BPS parent, I believe that we must lengthen the school day to guarantee every student regular art, science, music, and physical education. As Chair of the City Council’s Education Committee, I held hearings on the Boston Teachers Union contract where families and students called for extending the school day. When the contract did not include a single additional minute of instruction, I was the only Councilor who voted against it. As mayor, I will negotiate a contract that extends the school day and pays our teachers well. During BPS budget reviews, I advocated for creative partnerships to extend learning time. We must use every strategy available to us, including Innovation status and partnerships with organizations like Citizen Schools, City Year, and local universities, to get our kids the education they deserve.


Felix Arroyo, @FelixArroyo
Boston City Councilor

Felix G Arroyo.jpgAll of our children deserve a first class education because they are first class students. We must invest in our public schools, ensure that our curriculum is reflective of today's world, and provide our teachers with the resources they need so that they can focus on teaching and our students can focus on learning. I believe that school should be extended for all of our students so they have access to arts, theatre, music and dance as well as physical education and sports. Extended learning time will help us make sure every child has access to a quality education.


Mike Ross, @MikeforBoston
Boston City Councilor

Bill Walczak, @BillWalczak
Community leader

BillWalczak.jpgThe school day must be extended for Boston Public School students, though extended time must be used appropriately to ensure its effectiveness in achieving greater success for students. At Codman Academy, extended school time allows for students to participate in arts, programming, and expeditionary learning activities, leading to stronger performance. Every graduate of Codman Academy has gone on to attend a 4-year college or university. In order to accomplish this, we need a mayor with experience negotiating with unions, which I have. We also need a mayor who can bring people together to accomplish difficult tasks. There is no doubt that the teacher's union, lawmakers, parents, and the school committee all have the best interest of students in mind. Everybody wants to be part of a success story and I’m confident that there is common ground to be found that allows us extended learning time in our public schools.


John Barros, @JohnFBarros
Former school board member

johnbarros.jpgWe need a citywide learning system in Boston which extends the school day, but also extends learning opportunities outside of schools that equally focuses on academic proficiency as well as socio-emotional development, arts, music and character building. We extend learning time through greater scheduling flexibility that stagger the work day for teachers and building school-community partnerships with non-profits, businesses, and higher learning institutions to create shared accountability and goals.


Marty Walsh, @Marty_Walsh
State Representative

martywalsh.jpgThe claim has been made that Boston has the shortest school day in the country. This is not correct. The day for Boston elementary schools is 6.5 hours, the Massachusetts state average. The national average is 6.7 hours, 12 minutes more than our elementary schools. Our middle and high schools have a 20 minute longer day, above the national average. However, we can all agree that more instruction time is better. And this issue must be addressed right away. As Mayor, I would pledge to immediately work with the superintendent and BTU to revisit the contract that failed to result in a longer day. There needs to be academic and non-academic after-school programs to provide wrap-around services for all our students. There are some solutions like City Year, Bell Foundation and arts programs that are great options. This issue is critical to our children's ability to compete. Therefore, we have an obligation to go back to the table with the union and reach agreement about the length of the day.

Crowdsourcing the #LabDebates: What would you ask the candidates?

Posted by Alex Pearlman July 8, 2013 04:24 PM

Help wanted: Debate planning. As part of our series on the Boston mayoral race, Boston.comment will be hosting a series of candidate forums in the Globe Lab: casual conversations, featuring a handful of candidates at a time, streaming live on Boston.com. Now, we're asking readers to help us narrow down the list of topics. Vote here for the subjects you'd most like to see the mayoral candidates discuss. To suggest specific questions, add them to the comments, or tweet them at #LabDebates.


Fireworks: Freedom of Expression or Fire Hazard?

Posted by Noah Guiney July 3, 2013 01:15 PM

fireworks1.jpg

Across the country, the Fourth of July is a time to celebrate America’s birthday by taking in an awe-inspiring fireworks display. In Massachusetts, it’s also time to revisit the seemingly endless debate on whether fireworks should be legalized. The Bay State is one of only four states to prohibit the use and sale of fireworks by individuals. State legislators -- such as former representative Richard Bastien from Gardner -- have had trouble legalizing products that many see as dangerous. But pyrotechnic enthusiasts argue that fireworks are now safer than ever, and that banning roman candles denies large amounts of tax revenue to the state.

How do you feel about the prospect of legalizing fireworks in Massachusetts? Should patriotic Americans have the right to shoot off firecrackers to their hearts’ content, or should we leave explosive entertainment to the professionals on the Esplanade? Below are some thoughts on the issue. To weigh in, comment below, or tweet at the hashtag #legalfireworks.


Catch up with the rest of the country


newjenmug_bigger.jpgIn California and elsewhere, legal fireworks are marked “safe and sane.” Here in Massachusetts, we’re safe and insane, secure in the straitjacket of the nation’s strictest fireworks laws, while rocking in the Cradle of Liberty. “Leave the fireworks to the professionals,” the state fire marshal says in his video message. Two hundred years and a powdered wig ago, he’d have said, “Leave the governance to the Georges.” I’m no fire marshal, but I do know how to hold a sparkler in a manner in which I retain all my digits. Of course, that knowledge comes from experience. Growing up in South Carolina, I visited Casey’s Fireworks every July 3 and Dec. 31 to purchase playthings with fuses, which I would then set off in the front yard with no adult supervision. Times have changed, yes, it’s true. The fireworks have gotten safer.
Jennifer Graham @mypetdemocrats
Globe Columnist.
Globe Column, July 1 2013


Show some respect


aca02b4c1189b58138c09e36e42ab8ed_bigger.jpegA great fireworks display is the perfect way to celebrate the Fourth, but it is better for everyone if we leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals. There are some obvious safety concerns that come with shooting off fireworks in largely residential areas made up of closely-packed, wood-frame houses, but besides from that, Boston residents must keep in mind the needs of others as well. Many of our veterans, as well as survivors of the Marathon bombings, suffer from psychological issues relating to post-traumatic stress, and our restraint on the Fourth of July will be seen as a sign of respect for our friends and neighbors still recovering from the wounds that they suffered. Shooting off a DIY fireworks extravaganza from your roof deck isn’t doing anyone any favors. Let’s all celebrate the Fourth of July together, in way that doesn’t alienate those that still need our help.
Noah Guiney @NoahGuiney
Boston Globe Editorial writer


No fire works in MA? As if!




We can't just build a wall around Massachusetts


rich Bastien.jpegSimply put, the ban that we have doesn't work. Anyone in Massachusetts can drive an hour and purchase fireworks. Given that fireworks are being used at any point in any day, it makes sense to legalize them, as 46 other states have done, and bring that sales tax revenue back into the state. People can be either for or against fireworks and I respect their opinions on it. I have had people come up to me and say that they have had stressful reactions to fireworks, but my answer to that is that that doesn't stop them from being used. Short of putting a 37-foot wall around the state, we can't keep fireworks out.
Richard Bastien @RichBastien
Former state representative from Gardner


Stephen D. Coan, the state fire marshal, posted a video on YouTube urging Massachusetts residents to obey the law this Fourth of July.



Meet the Mayoral Candidates: What's your favorite Boston movie?

Posted by Alex Pearlman July 1, 2013 01:25 PM

ben-affleck-venn-diagram.jpg

Who’s devoted to “Good Will Hunting”? Who’s a sucker for “The Departed”? Who loves “The Thomas Crown Affair"? Who has fond memories of “The Verdict”?
We have plenty of serious questions for Boston’s mayoral candidates this summer, but we also want to find out a little more about them. So for the holiday week, we asked them to tell us their favorite Boston-themed movies – and the reasons for their choices.

We realized this would be a tough one – and we figured that none of them was likely to pick “Ted.” But we’d like to think their choices are a little bit revealing The candidates’ picks are below. Add yours to the comments, or tweet at the hashtag #BosMayor.


Bill Walczak, @BillWalczak
Community leader

BillWalczak.jpgMy favorite Boston movie is "The Verdict," the 1982 movie starring Paul Newman and Charlotte Rampling, about a medical malpractice case at a Boston hospital. The pursuit of truth and justice within the medical world is a theme which resonates with me. Superb acting, intense scenes and a stirring redemption story ending with justice for the aggrieved family make this my favorite.


Rob Consalvo, @RobConsalvo
Boston City Councilor

Thumbnail image for Rob Consalvo.jpgThis one’s tough - there are so many great Boston movies. "Fever Pitch" – the Sox! "The Thomas Crown Affair" – Steve McQueen! But if I have to pick one – it’s "Good Will Hunting." Only two kids from Southie could have captured our spirit so perfectly. You can’t help but root for Will Hunting as he struggles to find his place in life. He’s suffered horrible abuse, run afoul of the law and hasn’t come close to satisfying his intellectual potential. But he’s survived, made a family of friends and eventually finds his path to a happy future. It encapsulates everything that makes Boston great. Family and friends…love and loyalty…history and hope. But most of all, it’s about the promise that one’s past doesn’t determine one’s future. That’s what Boston is all about. Besides, you gotta love a movie that so perfectly weaves in Carlton Fisk and Game Six!


Felix Arroyo, @FelixArroyo
Boston City Councilor


Dan Conley, @DanFConley
Suffolk District Attorney

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for DanConley.jpg"The Friends of Eddie Coyle" gets my nod for 2 reasons. First, it was written by Robert Parker George V. Higgins, a Boston Massachusetts native and one of the greatest crime fiction writers ever. Second, it has one of the single best lines in movie history: “Life is hard, but it’s a lot harder when you’re stupid.”


Rep. Martin Walsh, @Marty_Walsh
State Representative

Thumbnail image for martywalsh.jpg"The Verdict." I love that movie. It’s a great, old-fashioned David-vs.-Goliath courtroom drama about redemption. The Southie scenes were fun to watch, and the accents weren’t too bad. It’s a great performance by Paul Newman in a career of great performances.




John Connolly, @JohnRConnolly
Boston City Councilor

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for johnconnolly.jpgAnything but "Fever Pitch."


Mike Ross, @MikeForBoston
Boston City Councilor


Watch my insta-review to hear why #GoodWillHunting is the best #Boston movie ever. #bostoncomment #bospoli #mikeforboston by @mikeforboston

About Boston.comment

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Our producer is Alex Pearlman, with contributions (and sea monsters) from Noah Guiney. To join the conversation, post a comment, tweet with our daily hashtag, or follow us on Twitter @BostonComment.

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