For Jackson, tight squeeze to Walsh’s left

Marty Walsh is out of touch with issues affecting working-class people and those in the city’s less affluent neighborhoods. He’s more attuned to downtown development than down-on-their-luck constituents, and he hasn’t been willing to confront the city’s long-festering race issues.

If that sounds like a tough case to make against Boston’s workaday mayor, a recovering alcoholic who grew up in a Dorchester triple-decker and was once grazed by a bullet while out too late on a neighborhood corner, you’ll appreciate the challenge facing Tito Jackson.

The Roxbury district city councilor is Walsh’s main opponent in his first reelection race this fall. Jackson held forth for an hour yesterday in an interview with WBUR’s Meghna Chakrabarti and Globe reporter Meghan Irons at the University of Massachusetts Boston. (Walsh will sit down for a similar interview today.)

Reprising some of the same themes from his kick-off announcement and early interviews after entering the race in January, Jackson railed against gentrification and the fact that there is a 30-year average life expectancy difference between residents in the wealthy Back Bay corner of his district and those in Roxbury. He slammed Walsh for giving tax breaks to lure General Electric, and reminded everyone of the key role he played in subpoenaing city documents related to the ill-fated Olympics bid.

Jackson, whose anti-Olympics effort and outspoken opposition to charter school expansion have earned him backing among a base of progressive activists, clearly senses that the only path to victory is to Walsh’s left by appealing to the growing liberal tilt of the Boston electorate. The problem is it’s hard to see enough room to Walsh’s left to pose a legitimate threat to the first-term mayor.

Walsh certainly doesn’t fit the profile of a tree-hugging Cambridge lefty, but his record on everything from gay marriage to immigrant rights puts him well left-of-center. At the same time, he still connects by Irish Catholic background and temperament with more conservative white voters who will likely look past some of his specific stands. What it all means is that Walsh, like Tom Menino before him, and Ray Flynn before him, makes it hard to mount a strong campaign in today’s Boston going hard to his left, while there aren’t nearly enough hard-line conservatives left in the city to go his right.

Walsh has vowed to put the city on track to see 53,000 new units of housing built by 2030. Jackson decried the amount of luxury housing sprouting in Boston, and said even some of the affordable units are not affordable to families in Roxbury earning less than $50,000 a year. The building boom nonetheless spun off $55 million in payments from developers last year to the city’s affordable housing fund, almost twice the amount collected the year before.

On race, Jackson said in yesterday’s interview, “We need to acknowledge that racism does exist in the city of Boston, and that we have to hit it head-on.”

But Walsh has spoken frankly about the continued problem of racism in the city and has appointed the city’s first “chief resilience officer,” a position charged with addressing everything from economic inequality to racism. Jackson said yesterday that the office does not have funding to carry out its work.

Whether on housing or race, these are difference of degree, not of kind. It doesn’t mean there aren’t real differences between Walsh and Jackson. It just means it’s harder to draw the kind of stark distinction that voters often need to see to be motivated to make a change. That makes the challenge for Jackson — already poised to be vastly outspent by Walsh — particularly tough.

–MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

Even the most powerful on Beacon Hill don’t always get their way. Senate President Stan Rosenberg is still grumbling about a provision in the budget that allows casinos to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. “I hate it,” he said. (Associated Press)

Margaret Monsell of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute asks whether fewer guns or more guns are the answer to the problem of domestic violence homicides. (CommonWealth)

Gun advocates are trying to derail a bill that would allow police to temporarily take a gun away from someone who is a suicide risk, a measure proponents say can markedly reduce the rate of suicides. (State House News)

A Salem News editorial trashes the compromise marijuana legislation, saying it thwarts the will of the people. A Boston Herald editorial urges Gov. Charlie Baker to send the measure back  with changes that ensure communities a 6 percent local tax and a fix to the two-track system for municipalities to opt out of marijuana sales, which some think would be ripe for legal challenge. Lawmakers, local officials, and some legal experts defend the law and say they’re confident it would withstand any challenge. (Boston Globe)

Joan Vennochi marvels at Baker’s ability to balance a technocratic approach to governance with some displays of heart here and there to show his human side. (Boston Globe)

Baker, who has made pension reform a priority, signs a measure allowing Braintree’s police chief to collect a $116,000 a year pension while being paid $600 a day. (Boston Herald)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A draft report from the state auditor’s office following a year-long audit of Barnstable County finances found multiple irregularities by the Cape Cod regional government in accounting and administration including improper leasing of county properties and failure to document expenditures. (Cape Cod Times)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Sen. John McCain has an aggressive form of brain cancer, discovered during surgery to remove a clot from behind his eye. (New York Times) A bipartisan army of well-wishers send the 80-year-old war hero their best, including his 2008 presidential opponent, Barack Obama, who tweeted, “Cancer doesn’t know what it’s up against. Give it hell, John.”

Ezra Klein contrasts the roles played by Obama in securing passage of the Affordable Care Act with that of President Trump in the floundering Republican health care effort and says the GOP failure is partly due to Trump’s lack of understanding of health care policy and inability to play a role pushing an agenda. (Vox)

In a dizzying turnaround during a White House lunch with GOP senators, Trump is now back to calling on lawmakers to repeal and replace Obamacare before leaving town for their August recess. (U.S. News & World Report)

In a stunning interview with the “failing New York Times” at the six-month mark of his presidency, Trump says he never would have appointed Jeff Sessions as attorney general if he knew he would recuse himself in the Russia investigation. Trump also declined to say if he’s looking to fire either Sessions or the special counsel but kept his options open.

Sessions signs an order reversing the Obama administration’s limits on civil asset forfeiture. (Governing) His move is drawing condemnation from both the left and right. (The New Republic)

ELECTIONS

Governing analyzes Donald Trump’s election victory at the state and county level and finds some interesting trends, even in New England.

Attorney General Maura Healey endorses Michael Kelley in the race for an open Boston district city council seat covering South Boston, the South End, and Chinatown. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Lawyers for Motel 6 asked a judge to issue a temporary restraining order against Braintree’s order to close the motel off Route 3 that town officials say is a haven for drug dealing, shootings, and other criminal activity. (Patriot Ledger)

Are you willing to pay $1,200 for a new iPhone? Many people no doubt are, says Hiawatha Bray. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

Boston Public Schools teacher Alycia Steelman says in an oped for CommonWealth that those like her with boots on the ground know that the school funding formula is out of whack and needs repair to help students in the state’s most needy districts.

Despite generally active alumni who give at rates on par with most other schools, historically black colleges and universities struggle to build their endowments, with none of them listed among the 90 schools with billion-dollar endowments. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A new study indicates people who overdose are often unwittingly taking fentanyl. (Telegram & Gazette)

Medical marijuana remains difficult to access for patients on the Cape with the closest dispensary located in Bridgewater. (Cape Cod Times)

TRANSPORTATION

A new study indicates Worcester is the most dangerous city in the state for pedestrians. (Telegram & Gazette)

US Rep. Stephen Lynch, whose district includes Milton where residents have complained about planes flying overhead, is aiming to force the FAA to respond to jet noise complaints by filing amendments to the agency’s reauthorization requiring it to create a noise ombudsman position. (Patriot Ledger)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Eversource’s request for $96 million in rate increases includes a request to roll back its payments for solar power from municipal sources by 40 percent, a move officials and advocates say could imperil ongoing and future projects and hamper the state’s ability to reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gases. (State House News Service)

The planet is getting buried in plastic waste. (Time)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Three suspects are arraigned and held without bail in the daytime killing of Andres Cruz, a popular Mission HIll hardware store owner. (Boston Globe)

A former Bristol County sheriff’s deputy is convicted of federal cash smuggling charges as part of a scheme connected to New Bedford’s notorious “Codfather.” (Boston Herald) The judge in the case ordered Bristol Sheriff Thomas Hodges to appear for a contempt hearing after Hodges showed up two hours late to testify, claiming he was stuck in traffic. (State House News)

MEDIA
Greg Bedard, a former Boston Globe reporter recently laid off at Sports Illustrated, is launching Boston Sports Journal. (Boston Globe)