Mayoral debate more talking points than testy
SOME WERE EXPECTING fireworks, but what we saw was more often a display of sparklers.
The five major candidates for mayor of Boston squared off Wednesday night in a televised debate less than a week before voters will narrow the field to two finalists. The hour-long session on NBC10 Boston gave voters a chance to see and hear the candidates in action. But there were no break-out moments or sustained attacks or exchanges that seem destined to reshape the race in a big way.
Instead, the candidates seemed to reinforce their main arguments, while looking for opportunities to send signals to voters who may still be wavering on who to support.
City Councilor Michelle Wu, who has been riding high atop every poll and looking like a good bet for a slot in the November final election, stayed on message with her talk of bringing a broad, long-term vision for a more equitable – and environmentally sustainable – future for the city. Wu was less pointed than others in critiquing Acting Mayor Kim Janey. As she has throughout the race, she looked to lock up some lefty support by reminding viewers she is the only candidate willing to look to every “tool” to deal with housing costs — including rent stabilization.
Janey, who has held the mayoral reins since Marty Walsh’s departure in March, was the obvious target for any attacks, and she was hit by both rivals.
Campbell decried the ongoing problems in the Mass Ave. and Melnea Cass Boulevard area, and said the city should not have gone into today’s opening of schools with fears of a chaotic start due to a bus driver shortage. “We should have been proactive in planning for this,” said Campbell, who repeatedly claimed to have the most detailed plans for addressing a range of issues facing the city.
Essaibi George zinged Janey for having scuttled a committee focused on homelessness, mental health, and recovery when she reworked things as City Council president. She also continued her strategy of broadly embracing progressive reforms, while still making clear that she’s the candidate for more moderate or conservative voters. Essaibi George said all the candidates support greater transparency and accountability in the police department, but she slammed any talk of reallocating or reinvesting police spending as “just another word for defunding public safety in this city.”
Janey sought to project an air of mayoral leadership and capitalize on the biggest asset she has going into next week’s election — her standing and visibility as acting mayor. She ticked off city initiatives on vaccines, affordable housing, and public safety. She made clear how personally she is affected by gun violence. “I’ve lost count how many times someone has been shot in front of my house,” Janey said of her Roxbury residence. “This issue is real. I live with the trauma as do many residents across our city.”
But when John Barros, who served as economic development chief under Walsh, was asked by moderator Shannon Mulaire if he thought Janey’s public safety plan was working, he came back with perhaps the sharpest retort of the night.
“I’m not sure what Mayor Janey’s plan is,” he said. He went to say she was claiming credit for positive crime statistics that are a result of “work that the Walsh administration did.” It was a moment that underscored Janey’s position as the quasi-incumbent, but one that has been criticized for lacking comprehensive plans on many issues. She clearly benefits from the role, but has a hard time claiming credit for things that were in motion before she took over six months ago. At the same time, she is vulnerable to problems now occurring on her watch, with all eyes on Thursday’s school reopening and potential problems with school bus staffing.
Barros, who has lagged far behind in polls, more than held his own — and probably wishes the preliminary election was a few weeks off with several more televised debates in between.
Fusion breakthrough: A Cambridge startup working in conjunction with officials from MIT says it achieved a major fusion technology breakthrough on Sunday that could revolutionize the way energy is produced starting as early as 2030.
— The breakthrough came with the development of magnet technology capable of harnessing fusion reactions using a lot less energy and equipment. Officials said the breakthrough means fusion energy can finally be produced in a way that yields more energy than it takes to trigger the merging of atoms.
— Maria Zuber, MIT’s vice president for research, called the new magnet technology a game changer. “This test provides reason for hope that in the not too distant future we could have an entirely new technology to deploy in the race to transform the global energy system and slow climate change,” she said. Read more.
Curtatone to Clean Energy Council: Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone said he intends to become the president of the Northeast Clean Energy Council when his term ends in January. Curtatone, however, did not rule out running for political office at some point down the road. There had been speculation that he might run for governor. Read more.
Quarantined classes: COVID-19 is already forcing the quarantining of classrooms in Melrose, but Gov. Charlie Baker says there is no going back to remote learning. Read more.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Rep. Mike Connolly of Cambridge is pushing legislation that would reinstate happy hours as part of a larger package of initiatives to support the restaurant industry. A referendum question seeking to get on the 2022 ballot would also reinstate happy hours, which were banned in 1984. (GBH)
A new legislative committee is looking into cybersecurity threats. The state is facing regular attempts to hack into its IT systems. (Gloucester Daily Times)
The National Association of Government Employees releases an ad criticizing Gov. Charlie Baker for his response to the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home COVID-19 outbreak. (MassLive)
A Berkshire Eagle editorial condemns the actions of a Zoom bomber who hacked into a Select Board meeting and hurled abuse at a business proprietor who is Vietnamese.
Jack Spillane says there’s a lot of explaining to do all around in the case of New Bedford City Councilor Hugh Dunn and three city police officers hit with suspensions for their handling of an incident where he crashed into cars at 1:30 am in the city’s pub district. (New Bedford Light)
The New Bedford mayor and city council debate the language of a proposal that would give death benefits to city employees who die of COVID-19 obtained while on duty – including how the benefits would be affected by vaccination status. (Standard-Times)
Worcester settles a 27-year-old lawsuit with two Black police officers who alleged discrimination for $1.5 million. (Telegram & Gazette)
Researchers at Harvard and Boston University have been awarded funding to study whether COVID vaccination is causing changes in menstruation patterns. (Boston Globe)
Health care providers are being told to prepare to deliver booster shots for COVID-19. In Massachusetts, boosters will likely be given in traditional settings like doctors’ offices and pharmacies. (Salem News)
Around 40 percent of those infected with COVID-19 in Massachusetts are vaccinated people, but unvaccinated people are still overwhelmingly those being hospitalized. (MassLive)
MassLive looks into the back story of how UMass Medical School obtained a $175 million donation from Dr. Gerald Chan.
Using new technology, two more victims of 9/11 have been identified. (NPR)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will tour a childcare center in Worcester on Thursday with US Rep. Jim McGovern. (Telegram & Gazette) Pelosi was in Massachusetts meeting with Smith College students on Wednesday. (MassLive)
The three mayoral candidates in Lynn — City Council President Darren Cyr and School Committee members Jared Nicholson and Michael Satterwhite — split on affordable housing and public safety issues at a debate. (Daily Item)
Shirley Leung says Massport’s new diversity initiative for contractors is looking like a big success with the opening of the Omni Boston Hotel on land the authority owns in the Seaport. (Boston Globe)
A new report finds employers are still struggling to find workers. (Gloucester Daily Times)
City councilors and the union for school bus drivers voiced concern that today’s first day of classes in Boston Public Schools could be a mess because of a driver shortage and no advance notice to families. (Boston Herald)
Demand for climate change grants far exceeds available state funding. (Salem News)
A plan to bring Canadian hydropower to Massachusetts is in jeopardy after a ruling by a Maine court questions the legality of a transmission corridor. (Eagle-Tribune)
Ethel Kennedy adds her voice to those of other family members who say Sirhan Sirhan, who murdered her husband, Robert Kennedy, in 1968 should not be released on parole. (Boston Globe)
The US attorney’s office filed a motion on Tuesday saying former Fall River mayor Jasiel Correia, who was convicted on 21 corruption counts in May, should pay back $566,740 he swindled from investors and extorted from people looking to open marijuana businesses in the city. (Herald News)
Citing security concerns, the Essex County jail will no longer let inmates receive paper mail. Rather, all letters will be sent to a company in Missouri that will scan them into a computer and print them. (Eagle-Tribune)
New Bedford schools come under criticism for failing to accurately report school-based arrests. (Standard-Times)
The Springfield courthouse reopens Thursday after the Trial Court has taken steps to mitigate the spread of mold, but the District Attorney and Register of Deeds employees will not send their staff back until their concerns about health risks are alleviated. (MassLive)
PASSINGSAdlai Stevenson III, a former US senator from Illinois and son of a famous family of Democratic politics, died at age 90. (New York Times)