Many mayoral mini-mes

Rob Consalvo, in this profile by WBUR’s David Scharfenberg, doesn’t try to hide his message that a Consalvo administration would look a lot like the Menino administration. “In Consalvo world,” writes Scharfenberg, “ a status quo strategy is something like a no-brainer.”

“He’s only got a 90 percent approval rating,” Consalvo, one of 12 candidates for mayor, says of the city’s retiring 20-year incumbent. “Anybody that thinks they’re looking for change — I’ve got news for ya.”

With that, the Hyde Park pol who has been derisively dubbed the “mini-me” because of his effort to march in lockstep with a guy who got his start representing the same council district not only doesn’t try to hide from the moniker, he seems to wear it as a badge of honor.

But he has a lot of company. 

Against the backdrop of a retiring five-term mayor whose poll numbers remain sky-high, a mayoral race whose contenders seem more nervous about alienating any group of voters than in taking tough stands seems to have spawned a whole school of mini-mes.

On the casino issue, it’s been perilous to even suggest that the entire city should have a say on the issue as opposed to only the East Boston residents who would be closed to the proposed Suffolk Downs gambling site. Limiting the vote to Eastie residents is Menino’s position, which has somehow made it the default stand for candidates looking to succeed him  When Suffolk DA Dan Conley announced in May that he supported a citywide vote, the earth shook. The Globe immediately framed it as a move that runs the risk of “alienating Menino, who remains a powerful force.”

Bill Walczak has now gone one step further, announcing this week that he opposes outright a casino in Boston. The move landed him at the top the Globe’s front page.  Andrew Ryan wrote that with a large field of contenders, “candidates need issues that will distinguish them from one another.”  But just as often the candidates seem reluctant to say anything that might make them stand out — especially if it involves taking a position at odds with the man they hope to succeed. 

On the same day that the paper put Walczak’s anti-casino announcement above the fold, it featured a story on the candidates’ positions on a dozen or so issues.  Many of them seemed to be something less than the most burning issues facing the city. Nevertheless, the responses were telling when it comes to sizing up candidates on the mini-me index.

Should Boston welcome a Walmart store, something Menino has said won’t happen on his watch?  Only Mike Ross had the temerity to say he would. The others might as well have responded, “What Tommy said.” (Not Marty Walsh, though; he wouldn’t even answer the question.) 

This morning, Globe business columnist Shirley Leung trots out the odd notion that we ought to let the market decide whether a Walmart is right for Boston, and she gives Ross some props for saying so.  “This isn’t Soviet Russia,” she writes.

Maybe not. But we’ve become some weird municipal approximation of it when it comes to certain issues, and more than a little bit of that has infected the mayor’s race.

A little glasnost seems in order.

                                                                                                                                                                 –MICHAEL JONAS

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

One of the major partners in the Quincy Center project pulls out of the deal, the Patriot Ledger reports.

With federal officials demanding a refund of $2 million misspent by Worcester, Telegram & Gazette columnist Clive McFarlane says it always seems the neediest are the ones taking the hit.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The Globe writes about Elizabeth Warren’s habit of not taking questions from reporters while making her way through the Capitol hallways, and gets a bunch of her colleagues to indirectly say she’s a wimp by bragging about how they’re happy to have reporters fire away at them.  “It may not be earth-shattering, or even important, but it is unusual,” write Noah Bierman and Matt Viser in a story that nonetheless finds itself featured on the paper’s front page.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration pledges $5 million to $10 million for projects that would help build the North Atlantic fishery, the Gloucester Times reports.

Arkansas’s attorney general rules that school staffers cannot carry guns.

ELECTIONS

The Globe reports that Consalvo wants to beef up a 2010 ordinance he authored that imposes fines on banks that don’t maintain property they have foreclosed on.

The Clintons are less than thrilled with their surrogate son-in-law Anthony Weiner, but deep ties remain between the Clinton operation and the Weiner campaign. The Clinton camp shrugs it off as helping a friend. But, hey, at least Weiner has Jimmy MacMillan fully in his corner.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Motorola is assembling its new phone in a Texas plant, but that doesn’t mean the stateside jobs will boast high wages.

HEALTH CARE

Jordan Hospital signs a deal to affiliate with Beth Israel Deaconess, the Patriot Ledger reports.

Consumer Reports ranks hospitals based on adverse events during surgery, the Herald News reports.

One of the only patches of peaceful green space near Boston Children’s Hospital may be giving way to a $600 million hospital expansion.

TRANSPORTATION

More and more teens are waiting before they get their driver’s license, NECN reports.

Salem installs new smart meters that offer 30 minutes of free time, the Salem News reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

West Virginia lawmakers criticize “war on coal” in Washington.

We’re really not sure which category to put this under, but a five-foot shark was dumped at the doorway of Nantucket restaurant in the wee hours of Thursday.

A Northborough farmer was found guilty of eight counts of illegal dumping on his

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Authorities will charge Edwin Alemany with murder in the death in 24-year-old Amy Lord.

It was put up or shut up day at the Moakley courthouse, where we learned that Whitey Bulger, prior bravado to the contrary notwithstanding, will not testify in his own defense. Among the photos submitted in court by the defense, presumably to humanize Bulger in some way, was a blurry shot of him sitting on a couch with a priest who has now been identified as a pedophile who was defrocked by the Vatican in the 1980s for allegedly sexual abuse of boys. (Insert jokes here about the priest serving as an apt character witness for Bulger.)  In a weird twist, Bulger’s lawyer, J.W. Carney, this morning said Bulger wants the $822,000 in cash found in his hideaway California apartment given to families of two of his alleged victims.

Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian is defending his department’s security procedures after a prisoner being taken to Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary for treatment managed to get free of restraints and shoot a sheriff’s deputy with the deputy’s gun before being shot by the officer’s partner.

Two teens in Lowell hold up a drug dealer, who calls police to report the theft, the Sun reports.

An Aaron Hernandez jail letter says God has a plan for him and “something good will come of this,” TMZ reports.

Meet the Author

Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

MEDIA

Ken Doctor, writing for the Nieman Journalism Lab, analyzes the business strategy of the New York Times.