Archive for the ‘Boston Politics’ Category

Mayor Menino at the Municipal Research Bureau: Expand the Emerald Necklace to the Charles

March 7, 2008

Mayor Menino just finished his speech to the Boston Municipal Research Bureau. While the mayor didn’t use the words “emerald necklace,” he sketched out a vision that will expand Frederick Law Olmstead’s historic plan for Boston system of parks to the Charles River.

Menino posited using the opportunity of the repair project of the Storrow Drive Tunnel as a chance to rework the city’s green space, a time to take, what he called, “a big picture view.”

“We can create a seamless connection of green space from the Public Garden to the Esplanade while improving transportation,” told attendees at the Seaport Hotel. “Think about this for a minute: we can reopen the riverfront to residents, connect the Charles River and the Public Garden, and create more green space in the heart of our downtown neighborhoods.”

The mayor’s idea is one that makes sense — why is it so hard to get to the Charles from downtown — and demonstrates his continued energy and vision.

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Barack Obama Makes Final Pitch in Boston

February 5, 2008

Obama, appearing in Boston right now alongside Deval Patrick, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, is giving his standard stump speech. But he is so confident and relaxed, he is absolutely at his best. The total package, stylistically, is far superior to Hillary Clinton’s appearance earlier today in Worcester.

“They did not want a politics based on p.r. and spin,” Obama said of voters. “They wanted straight talk.””I am here to report to you my bet has paid off, because the American people are ready for change.”

The atmosphere — and the speech — are very similar to what I saw in the days immediately leading up to the New Hampshire primary. Then, as now, it’s difficult to translate energy and excitement into votes. In New Hampshire, like many members of the press, I was misled by what I saw in Lebanon and in Manchester.

I wonder how much a relatively stolid event, such as the one where Richard Neal, the congressman from Springfield, stressed the Clinton’s contribution to the peace process in Northern Ireland, and Jim McGovern promoted Hillary Clinton’s health care plan, will help to get out traditional voters versus the tremendous energy of the hooting, hollering, chanting, clapping youthful crowd of tonight.

Mayor Menino’s State of the City

January 16, 2008

In a night filled with news, tonight just happened to be Mayor Menino’s State of the City Address. And, in historical terms, it was a doozy. He called for the end of busing in Boston. For anybody familiar with Boston’s history, the way in which the desegregation plan ordered by Judge Arthur Garrity tore up the city during the 1970s looms as one of the momentous events of the last 50 years.

The event’s planners set the stage for the announcement perfectly.The night began with a series of Boston public school students greeting the audience in their native tongues — Vietnamese, Cape Verdean, Haitian Creole, Spanish, Arabic and English — a reflection of the demographic reality of today’s Boston public schools. During his speech, Mayor Menino also expressed the growing recognition of the quality of the schools. He then spoke of his proposal as one that would save money and be green.

“Right now, we’re spending tens of millions a year on yellow school buses,” Mayor Menino said. “We can save significant money on the majority of transportation costs which currently total about 40 million dollars. If we do nothing, this number will reach 60 million within five years. That’s crazy. I will not allow us to pour dollar after dollar into gas tanks [when] we could invest more of that money in our classrooms.”

Also good for the mayor: At tonight’s Democratic debate from Nevada, Tim Russert asked the candidates about “Mayors Against Illegal Drugs,” which Mayor Menino started with Mayor Bloomberg.

George Romney and MLK

December 21, 2007

Hats off to David Bernstein for his scoop that George Romney, contrary to the assertion of his presidential candidate son, never marched with Martin Luther King. It’s not often that The Boston Globe credits The Phoenix with a story, but it’s exactly what Michael Levenson does in his story today: “Romney’s account of his father marching with King was first challenged this week by the Boston Phoenix and then yesterday by the Detroit Free Press, each of which reported they could find no news accounts or other evidence that George Romney and King marched together.”

BTW, Peter Kadzis made a rare foray into writing instead of editing or appearing on t.v. His take on Dapper O’Neil reflects his deep knowledge of Boston politics. I like this line which put the city councillor into national and historical context, “O’Neil was one of a gang of politicians who played the roles of brevet-rank George Wallaces.”

Connolly Announces for Boston City Council

June 15, 2007

Speaking to what looked to be some 100 supporters at the Sons of Italy Hall in Roslindale, John Connolly announced his second run for at-large city councillor in Boston. Connolly came in as the fifth leading vote-getter in 2005 (four others made it), leaving him a hair short of joining the council.

Connolly is running for the council with a fancy resume: he’s an an associate at the law firm of Hanify & King and a graduate of Harvard College and Boston College Law School. Having said that, he’s seems to be planning the kind of nuts-and-bolts campaign required to make a serious run for the city council. Council elections — particularly those when the Mayor is not up for election — turn on organization. Connolly is clearly planning to take advantage of his base in West Roxbury/Roslindale, known in local parlance as “the Parkway” for its proximity to the VFW and (I believe) the West Roxbury Parkways. During the last election, Connolly faced competition from Patricia White and Matt O’Malley, both with roots in the area. This time around, White has moved out of the city, and Connolly has won the endorsement of O’Malley, who was on hand at tonight’s announcement.

He targeted his talk at winning the support of area voters. “I believe in these Parkway neighborhoods,” he said, going on to reference John Tobin, the district city councillor in West Roxbury, who was also present at the announcement. “I want to give John Tobin a second voice on the council.” He went on to invoke Tobin’s name at least another 7 times.

Suffolk County Clerk Maura Hennigan, a one-time at-large city councillor and candidate for mayor, was in attendance as was Boston Herald columnist Wayne Woodlief. Roslindale’s doggedly responsive city councillor, Robert Consalvo, was not present.

Connolly described his goal for the city council. “The city council can become a more articulate and more independent voice for the neighborhoods,” Connolly said. Connolly did not mention Mayor Thomas M. Menino in his speech.

Asked about Mayor Menino following his remarks, Connolly said, “I think the Mayor does a great job, but he can’t do it alone.”

Connolly, the son of former Secretary of State Michael Connolly, clearly has politics in his blood. Most people with his academic pedigree don’t seek to spend their summers in the grueling routine of door-knocking, canvassing voters at picnics and softball games, and attending often mind-bogglingly tedious community meetings. It’s good for the system that he wants to be a candidate again. He’ll have to get past Michael Flaherty, Sam Yoon, Felix Arroyo and Steve Murphy, however, to achieve his dream — a two year stint on the Boston City Council.

Disclosure: Regular readers of this site know (and sometimes tire of hearing) that I served for more than three years as the press secretary for Mayor Menino. For my view of the Mayor, click here.