Mayoral debate notes
Notes from tonight's debate:
What to judge you by?
Menino. Financial issues, especially with state cuts coming. I've been prudent.
Flaherty. Performance review, literally dept. by dept. Eliminate the BRA.
Health care costs, 200% in six years?
Flaherty. Have to have a frank discussion with employees and retirees, put retirees into Medicare. GIC.
Menino. We've cut insurance costs $5 million past year. Putting retirees into Medicare not fair.
State public-records law. Why should voters believe you're accountable?
Menino. I put more than requested online. We've been responsive as best we can. We have more transparency in my admin. than ever before. I insisted all my individuals made more than $50,000 report income.
Flaherty. Matter of public trust. This is about finding out what happened and why and making sure it will never happen again. We haven't seen the mail FROM Kineavy yet. Wholesale destruction of documents is troubling to say the least.
Can you assure us no e-mails related to federal probe?
I haven't heard of any of my administration at all. Charge made out there the last three or four weeks. Another political move, a few weeks before election.
Flaherty. My comments based on reports in the media that what was given to the feds may not have been complete.
Flaherty, what about your open-meeting violations?
Flaherty. I accepted reponsibility for open-meeting law violations. And will ensure no open-meeting violations under my administration. I've accepted responsibiliity, I'd like the mayor to accept responsibility.
Menino. BRA meetings are evening meetings, on TV. Haven't had any corruption issues over the past several years. Let's talk about issues important people: crime and housing.
Flaherty, nobody cares about the e-mail flap; aren't you just wasting the public's time?
Flaherty: Very important issue: public trust and responsibility.
Menino: Issues that don't exist.
Menino: Councilor, what would you do about foreclosures?
Flaherty. Bank on Boston, give school children tools they need to handle finances. Financial literacy skills. Eliminate predatory lending. Mayor's done some good things around foreclosures. Help immigrants get connected with responsible lenders. Also, need to get people back to work, keep them in their homes, reduce crime and violence at one time.
Surely there are some things Boston schools do things right, right Flaherty?
We're fortunate, we have a good school for our children, but 100 schools are failing. One program that works, which I helped bring here, is SAT prep, the administration failed to help.
Menino. What Councilor Flaherty talking about, yes, schools need improvement, but 50% of all schools in the state need improvement, it's not just a Boston issue. Brookline, Wellesley, Weston/
Flaherty. I'm sick of families leaving Boston for a better education.
Have you failed in making the schools great again?
Our numbers show numbers dropout rate has gone down. We don't discriminate, we have to take all kids. I want in-district charter schools.
Flaherty: 24k kids dropped out over past 16 years. That's an embarassment. Where are those kids today? Most expensive school district in the country.
Mayor, you've had 16 years to work on the school issue, why should we trust you?
Menino. Enough with the negative. 2006, award for best urban school system in the country. We have dropout programs. We take every kids. Carol Johnson doing a great job, we have a difficult job because of all those kids who come from different places into our school system.
Flaherty: Mayor, What's been your biggest mistake?
Menino. Haven't worked hard enough to get more revenue from the state: We pay more to state than we get back.
Flaherty. 1) Moving City Hall to waterfront.
Menino. Trying to create a new economy for Boston, also move city agencies out to Dudley, help that economy.
Flaherty. He's yet to enforce the Boston jobs policy, to put people to work in the neighborhoods.
Menino. Policy might not be legal. We're trying to come up with a plan to make this work.
Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan voters often don't feel safe even during the day.
Menino. Issue out there is how we help young people get back into the system. CORI reform. They need jobs. It's not just what comes out of City Hall, it's what the neighborhoods want.
Flaherty. 1,000 murders under Menino. Crime stats don't tell the whole story. Unreported crime, particularly in immigrant communities. Improvements in trauma care at BMC.
How do you preserve police force when you lose a ton of money?
Flaherty. Continue to use some of our reserves. But you can't continue to run city on one-time revenue. Not a single police officer or firefighter laid off. I would use more reserves if I had to.
Wouldn't eliminating BRA make it even harder to get things built?
Flaherty. End the pay to play system. Right now, no predictability in the system. That delays development. Or personality clashes because of the naughty list. Put community back in development. And neighborhood and citywide plans.
Menino. BRA reduced wait from 18 months to 8 months. Citywide plan doesn't work, every neighborhood is different. We've done plans for some specific neighborhood. BRA brought in over $200 million this year.
Flaherty, are you saying the mayor would not be involved in development? What would your signature building be?
Flaherty. Clearly as CEO, I would have some say, but I want to keep City Hall where it is and get Sam Yoon involved.
Menino: What's next step for developing housing in Boston?
Flaherty. Preserve the middle class. Boston's becoming a city of the very rich and the very poor. Lotteries for affordable housing is broken - people make too much but can't afford to stay here. Linkage funds. We have vacant units today.
Menino. Where are those vacant units?
What made you decide to take on the mayor?
Flaherty. Probably a combination of things. I have tremendous respect for the mayor. Kitchen meetings, felt it was time for a new mayor. Thwarting efforts to bring SAT prep, thwarting efforts for green stuff, it was just time for a change.
Double digit unemployment in minority communities, they're sicker, don't live as long, what to do?
Menino. We're first city in country to work with hospitals to deal with health-care inequities. Other folks are following us.
Flaherty. Not enough minorities in admin ranks, only two. Challenge private companies to match me 1-1 in hiring CORI people.
Bruce Wall says you're buying off other minority ministers.
Menino. Not true at all.
Why aren't there more blacks in your administration?
Menino. Sandra Henriquez at BHA, just lost her to Obama. 50% of my appointments on boards and commissions are people of color. I'm not satisfied. Don't forget Barbara Ferrer at public health.
Flaherty: Look into camera and grade yourself A-F about Boston schools.
Menino. I already answered that. But again, dropout rate down 33%. Yes, we have schools need improvement. But some of it's special ed.
Flaherty. As parent of kids in public schools, I'll grade you, I'll give you an F.
Menino. I'll give myself a B. I'll be generous.
Flaherty. We have some of the best colleges in the country. Some of our kids will never see those.
Menino. Five colleges in the city put $10 million in to help better public schools.
What's your responsibility for failed developments and the Greenway.
Menino. Greenway works, People are there enjoying life. Also, the national economy is driving this. Cambridge Biomedical staying in Boston thanks to BRA.
Flaherty. We need degree of predictability, so at 11th hour the BRA, the mayor is the BRA, won't drop an anvil on the project.
Filene's Hole: What's going to go in there?
Working with Asian investors. Two theaters opening up in the next year or so. Real progress. Yes, 1 Franklin is an eyesore, but it's not our fault, blame the national economy.
What's Mayor Flaherty's plan for bringing high paying jobs to Boston?
Flaherty. We have a lot of natural strengths, but we could do better. Meet CEOs at the airport. I will actually call people back, even if I don't like them. Young people don't feel climate conducive here to start their careers in Boston.
Menino. We as a city continue to grow every day. Two months ago, we had a bunch of CEOs, take 'em on a tour of Boston. Not big businesses, but they will fill vacant buildings. Liberty Mutual, Gillette, John Hancock are good business partners, help the city. P&G is much better today than they were several years ago. We have a great business community, let's support them.
How many jobs would Mayor Flaherty bring?
Enforce jobs policy, bring back 100s, thousands of jobs. Let's bring rail back to bring back real jobs, use our deep port.
Menino: What would you do differently with public health?
Flaherty. Substance-abuse epidemic destroying families, we need treatment on demand, more recovery programs, enough beds.
Flaherty: Crime as public-health issue. What will you do to reduce youth violent crime?
Menino. Removing the guns from our streets. Co-chair nationally with Bloomberg to get guns off the streets. VIP program, works with some of those kids, community centers, help with jobs. Safe street teams. Get kids into programs. And CORI - I have filed legislation six years now.
Menino: What would you cut from budget?
Flaherty. Not a revenue problem so much as a spending program. Performance review, CitiStat, 311. I will actually bring colleges and universities and make them pay their fair share in taxes. 53% of property is tax-exempt.
Menino. We have CitiStat-like program. We have double-A bond rating.
Flaherty. Bond rating only good if you borrow money. But we should be putting people back to work.
Menino. Next four years in Boston are going to be years of excitement, working with you on a greener, safer city.
Flaherty. Under Flaherty administration, Sam Yoon and I will bring new ideas. This is about your future.