Tompkins challenger says he shouldn’t moderate DA debate 

IT’S AN UNUSUAL setting for a candidate forum, but one with an audience that has a vested  interest in the policies of the office being sought. The two candidates vying for Suffolk district attorney in next month’s Democratic primary will square off at a forum on Thursday in front of a group of men and women being held at the Suffolk County House of Correction.

While the setting may be unusual, it’s the moderator who is drawing some attention. Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins, who is himself a candidate in next month’s primary, is scheduled to oversee the forum. That fact has his challenger crying foul.

“I don’t believe he should be the moderator,” said Sandy Zamor Calixte, who is challenging Tompkins in the September 6 Democratic primary. Calixte said Tompkins’s role moderating the DA forum will give him unfair media exposure and visibility less than four weeks before the primary.

What’s more, Calixte said, she was notified on Monday that Tompkins has backed out of a scheduled forum in their race that was to take place later the same day. 

The Greater Mattapan Neighborhood Council had scheduled a forum for Thursday evening with Tompkins and Calixte, but Tompkins told the group over the weekend that he has a conflict with a family event and can’t make it. Fatima Ali-Salaam, the chair of the council, said the long-scheduled forum will proceed without him. 

“To me, this shows his lack of commitment by focusing on other races and not his own,” said Calixte, who served as chief of external affairs and communications under Tompkins before stepping down to run against him. Calixte said Tompkins also backed out of a scheduled forum in June with two Boston Democratic ward committees.

Tompkins’s office did not return a message asking about Calixite’s charge that it’s inappropriate for him to moderate Thursday’s candidate forum for the DA’s race.

Tompkins is a savvy political player who served under former sheriff Andrea Cabral in the same communications role Calixte later held. In 2013, he was appointed to the sheriff’s position by then-Gov. Deval Patrick when Cabral joined his cabinet as public safety secretary. Tompkins went on to win election in 2014 to serve the remainder of Cabral’s six-year term, and was then reelected in 2016. 

Suffolk DA Kevin Hayden, who was appointed to the post in January by Gov. Charlie Baker when Rachael Rollins resigned to become US attorney, and his challenger, City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, are scheduled to answer questions from a group of incarcerated men and women at the House of Correction at 11 a.m. on Thursday.  

Holding a candidate forum for district attorney behind the bars of the facility where prosecutors send people is not unprecedented. Tompkins convened a similar session in 2018 during that year’s contest for Suffolk DA. But he was not on the ballot that year. 

Hayden’s campaign did not return a message Wednesday morning about the forum. 

Arroyo’s campaign manager said they welcome the chance to appear at the House of Correction. “We believe it is important for those who are incarcerated to be given access to our democracy and this forum provides an opportunity for us to speak directly to them,” said Mohammed Missouri, his campaign manager. As for the issue of Tompkins moderating the event, he said, “We don’t organize the forums. We just show up.” 




Agita: Gov. Charlie Baker revealed that the climate change bill, particularly a provision allowing 10 communities to ban natural gas hookups in new construction, is giving him agita. The governor says the provision will discourage the production of low and moderate income housing. 

– Baker said he will have to decide whether to accept the provision and sign the bill into law or seek to change it, which would likely kill it for this session. Two inside players give the bill a 50-50 chance of passage, which is remarkable for a bill that the governor, House, and Senate all wanted to pass. Read more.

Opt-in questions: Lawmakers and advocates say Gov. Charlie Baker’s push for an opt-in public health bill would only perpetuate the existing patchwork quilt of services that the legislation was meant to address. Baker sent the bill back to the Legislature with an opt-in amendment, which likely means it’s dead for this session. Read more.


Environment and equity: Susannah Hatch of the Environmental League of Mass. and Darien Johnson of the Black Economic Council of Mass. say the climate bill would help address both environmental and equity issues. Read more.




Gov. Baker holds a ceremonial bill signing to highlight the effects of the new abortion law in helping women from out of state seek abortion care in Massachusetts. (MassLive)

The climate and energy bill sitting on Baker’s desk awaiting action includes a provision that would let Massachusetts tap into a huge wind farm project planned for northern Maine’s remote Aroostook County. (Boston Globe)


Mayor Michelle Wu names Oliver Sellers-Garcia, an MBTA administrator overseeing climate change and equity issues, to be senior adviser overseeing her plans for a city-based Green New Deal. (Boston Globe)


Vitamin D gets an “F” in a major new randomized trial by Boston researchers that provides perhaps the strongest evidence yet that, despite the years of hype around its benefits, it does not protect generally healthy middle-aged and older adults from bone fractures. (Boston Globe)

New Bedford has its first confirmed case of monkeypox. (New Bedford Light


President Biden signs legislation that will pump $50 billion into semiconductor chip manufacturing facilities in the United States. (NPR)

Rep. Richard Neal wins another court victory in his bid to obtain former president Donald Trump’s tax returns. (Western Mass. Politics & Insight)


The candidates for Suffolk district attorney, Kevin Hayden and Ricardo Arroyo, go at it in a debate at a South End bookstore. (Boston Globe

Former president Barack Obama offers campaign advice to one of his former employees — Sen. Eric Lesser, who is running for lieutenant governor. (MassLive)


The transportation advocacy group A Better City is encouraging the MBTA to modify its plans and only shut down the Orange Line through Labor Day, with weekend closures after then to complete needed work. (Boston Herald

A large overhead sign falls onto I-90 in Worcester. (Telegram & Gazette)


State officials are asking for the public’s help in dealing with an invasive insect called the spotted lanternfly that may have come into Massachusetts on a truck. (State House News Service)

A nonprofit measures water quality at area beaches and finds that water quality warnings are wrong most of the time, particularly at Wollaston Beach in Quincy. (Patriot Ledger)

The Standard-Times looks at how heat islands are affecting the SouthCoast. 


A former Boston Public Schools academic advisor pleads guilty to recruiting students into a gang and attempting to murder a student involved in a drug deal. (MassLive)

Truck driver Volodymyr Zhukovskyy is acquitted of all charges in a crash that killed seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire. (Associated Press)

Police have limited authority to charge white supremacists with any crimes, however repugnant their views may be. (Boston Globe

Massachusetts holds off on enforcing the state’s law, passed by ballot question in 2016, requiring pigs for pork to be raised humanely until the Supreme Court rules on a similar law in California. (Universal Hub)


Former WBZ-TV anchor and reporter Uma Pemmaraju, who also worked at Fox and Bloomberg News, dies at 64. (Boston Globe)