Archive for May, 2011

Get Your At-Large Candidates Right Here!

Lower urgency brings its own danger. In the case of at-large Boston City Council race, we’ll see who runs the smartest campaign…without a September preliminary election.

Cross-post note: This appears at Marry In Massachusetts.

A tip of the toupee to the Globe’s Andrew Ryan for a detailed recap of situation and players. The lead and one punchline is that half of those who pulled nomination papers seem to have gotten the 1,500 valid sigs to get on the ballot (we’ll know for sure in a couple of days after certification) and that nine instead of the seven would have triggered a preliminary to winnow the field to eight. The final will result in the top four winning.

The consensus big players all qualified and remain:

The other two challengers so far seem to be:
  • Sean Ryan, who has run before
  • Will Dorcena, short-term known best as brother of MA Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry
Getting on ballot immediately speaks well of their organizational skills. A preliminary would have been a plus to the lesser known candidates, as well as the fine-tuning possibilities listed in the Globe piece (the other punchline).

Amusingly for me, Sean Ryan is ubiquitous, as he has been before this race. He attends public meetings, hearings, political announcements and more. He makes himself well known and is always eager to discuss his positions or yours. For some background, see the post on him when he ran for Council two years ago.

I’ll have to get to know Dorcena. At LA, we had discounted lining up 14 candidates. I think grabbing two more is reasonable.

For the five horsemen of the great choosing, we’re getting an early start at Left Ahead.
Candidate Podcast URL
Flaherty 5/17 – online
Connolly 5/24 – online
Arroyo 6/7 at 2:30 PM
Murphy 6/9 at 2:30 PM
Pressley 6/14 at noon
For those who have spoken with us, a post on the podcast and the show in a player for download is at that URL at Left Ahead. These are also available at our BlogTalkRadio site or on iTunes.

The links for the upcoming shows are to the live stream URLs. If you can’t catch those shows at those times, you can use that URL, Left Ahead or iTunes afterward for an on-demand play or download.

Clearly I am excited by the at-large race. With no national, statewide or mayoral contests on the ballot in Boston, this is our political highlight this season. I’ll be hitting every debate or forum I can. With only seven in the race, these shouldn’t be beauty pageants nor quip skirmishes. Issues big and small should be in the air.

It will be a feast for gourmets and gourmands of democracy and rhetoric. Partake.



Connolly Back for More Podcast

If you want to see passion, ask John Connolly about schools. The at-large Boston City Councilor heads the body’s education committee and is wired on the subject.

He joined us today to talk about what he does on Council and the pending elections in November and maybe with a preliminary in September if nine or more candidates qualify. The general election puts the top eight on the ballot for the four at-large seats in the 13 member body. This race should have been low-key, even boring, with no statewide, mayoral or national pols up here. However, with former at-large member, ex-Council President, and challenger to Mayor Tom Menino on the ballot for at-large, it is suddenly exciting. Mike Flaherty wants back in.

Connolly said that effectively there are now five incumbents for the four seats. He figures any one of them could lose. Yet he lists the niches the four current ones have:

  • Ayanna Pressley is “a voice that’s been missing” and raises important issues the Council would otherwise not consider. She is also the first woman of color ever.
  • Felix Arroyo “led the charge” on preserving he libraries and for worker’s rights. He is the Council’s sole Latino member.
  • Steve Murphy, current President, “is our fiscal hawk.”
  • Connolly himself leads in education.

Connolly said they all work together well, but that each has earned constituencies for what they emphasize individually.

Click below to listen in as he speaks of the current and pending challenges in budgeting a school system that uses over $1 billion a year. He admits that he has not quite gotten to his goal — “I have not been successful in accounting for every dollar.” He also says he’s still working on convincing the School Committee to push down as much money as possible to the site level. He rues the long-term top-down management style. He doesn’t find the BPS “sordid and unseemly,” rather sometimes “misdirected and mismanaged.

He touches on teacher contracts too. He’d like to see a trade-off whereby Boston pays its teachers more and gets more in return, including a longer school day. He notes that our effective 5.5-hour education day puts us in the nation’s lowest 2%.

Of course, we could not let him away without a discussion of the out-of-date frozen foods he found and investigated. He said here that he did not expect the kind of publicity that engendered. Yet, he described himself as “heartbroken” to find the school serving lower quality, poor tasting food. He noted that 70% of the students qualify for free or reduced-price meals and that their school lunches “may be the best meal a child gets in a day.” He explained what improvements resulted and what is still to happen.

Finally, he described the pending elections. He said that “I never feel secure. That makes for a successful office holder for reelection.”

icon for podpress  John ConnollyConn [32:32m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Connolly’s City Council Campaign

The second in our series of at-large Boston City Council candidates will be next Tuesday, May 24th, when incumbent John Connolly joins us. This will be three hours earlier than normal. You can catch the live stream at 11:30 AM here.

After the show, you can listen to or download it there, here at Left Ahead or on iTunes.

He is one of the Young Turks on Council. With school-age kids of his own, he has a particular passion for public schools. He chairs the body’s education committee, with its recessionary budget difficulties, assignment battles and more. For some reason he enjoys that. He also got a high profile from uncovering and leading an investigation into past-date food served in the BPS system.

Connolly has steadily grown in voter popularity to the point of being one of the two top vote getters.

We’ll ask him about his agenda and campaign plans.


Flaherty Livens Race Podcast

Here’s one Boston pol not afraid of powerful, longest serving Mayor Thomas Menino. Michael Flaherty enlivened the at-large City Councilor race by announcing his campaign to rejoin the body.

Our conversation with him today (click the player below to listen) dug into what he wants to do if he returns, why he’d run rather than just work his law practice, how he’ll campaign, and…a lot…on what he sees as the flaws with what he calls “one of the most powerful mayors and most petty mayors” in Boston history.

Two years ago the former Council President stepped back to try to unseat Menino. Then as now, he found the Councilors “frequently marginalized,” and thus less effective than they should be. Listen in as he describes initiatives, like a 13th year of school to prepare BPS students who need this to succeed in college. He stresses the check-and-balance role of the Council and differentiates it from being “cheerleaders.”

icon for podpress  Michael Flaherty [33:29m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Flaherty Back in the Fight

Former Boston City Council President Michael Flaherty wants an at-large seat back. He stepped away to run against Mayor Tom Menino two years ago. Apparently he just can’t stand being away from City Hall.

He’ll join us at 2:30 PM Eastern Tuesday, May 17th. If you can listen to the live stream, go here then. Otherwise, to catch his show on demand, come back here to Left Ahead, go to the show URL, or get us on iTunes.

We expect him to talk about his proposals and visions, including preparing BPS kids for success in college. We’re sure he’ll also deal with why he deserves an incumbent’s seat and what he’ll do to get one.


Boston & MA Updates Podcast

We went up and down the hall today, opening doors and peeking in them. There was:

  • The suddenly hot at-large Boston City Council race, with 13 total, including the four incumbents and form biggy Councilor Mike Flaherty.
  • We hit on whose running, who really has shots and what their liabilities might be.
  • We went two steps up to the candidates for U.S. Senate for the first full term after Scott Brown replaced the late Ted Kennedy. We discussed Setti Warren and Alan Khazei in particular.
  • We wound up with the drive to do a WI-style trumping of public-employee collective bargaining. We don’t buy disclaimers from MA legislators that it’s very different.
icon for podpress  Boston & MA Updates [31:09m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Post bin Laden Opportunities Podcast

Flippancy aside (this show was billed Zombie bin Laden), we ended talking about this huge moment, including but far beyond Osama bin Laden’s take-down. We ended up calling for progressive sorts to think about what they want our government to do and let the Administration and Congress know.

Sure, Al Qaeda is still there and it or similar terrorists will hit small and maybe big short- and mid-term. Yet, in this democratic spring of aspiring nations trying to throw off their oppressive governments throughout North Africa and the Middle East, we have a greater opportunity to create partners and allies. Properly handled, we could stifle terrorists and create a more peaceful larger world. This is a moment like none other since the end of WWII.

In today’s show, Ryan and Mike spoke of some of the things we need to change, and chances for us to tell our President and Congressional delegations to do. There’s the hundreds of billions annually thrown away on Cold War defenses against non-existent enemies (Rep. Barney Frank is on that and will need support). There’s the craziness that torturing people and massively spying on Americans keeps us safe. In fact, those are what bin Laden wanted to drive us to all along.

Listen in as we kick around what we see as the opportunities available. We want to see time, effort and money spent more on expanding a democratic world, rather than pretending we can build and hide in a Fortress U.S.A.

icon for podpress  Zombie bin Laden [27:35m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Bye-bye bin Laden. Now What?

Joining the mobs speaking of the death of Osama bin Laden —rather what we figure it means — we’ll noodle immediate, mid-term, and farther out effects. If you’re around Tuesday 5/3 at 2:30 PM Eastern, listen live here. If you also have keen insights to share, do so at 718-664-6966.

Only hours after the death, we’re hearing justification for Gitmo, total disruption of terrorism, no change in terrorism, certain 2012 Obama reelection, only an ephemeral bump in his ratings and much, much more. We’ll be in the fray with our own SWAG.

If you can’t catch the show live, return and feel free to listen on demand. Then tell us how brilliant or asinine we were.