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2013 elections

BU biolab to hold emergency drill during president's visit

And no doubt completely unrelated. If you happen to pass by the biolab on Albany Street Wednesday morning, don't worry about all the emergency vehicles you'll see parked out front - there'll be no Andromeda Strain release that day (besides, the lab hasn't yet gotten final approval to stock killer death viruses, let alone hexagonal killer death viruses from outer space).

This drill will simulate a security incident at the NEIDL. The participants in this exercise include: NEIDL operations staff and researchers, BU Public Safety, Boston Emergency Medical Services, Fire and Police Departments and the Boston Public Health Commission.

While the drill will have no affect or impact on neighborhood traffic, there will be a number of local emergency response vehicles parked at the NEIDL.

The drill starts at 9. The president is expected to pump up the crowds for Markey a couple hours later at the Reggie Lewis Center all the way on the other side of Roxbury.

H/t Discover Roxbury.

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Better know a mayoral candidate, Dot edition

The Dorchester Reporter interviews John Barros and Bill Walczak (don't worry, they talked to Marty Walsh last month).

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Clear split among mayoral candidates on charter schools

At an education debate at the Brooke charter school in Roslindale tonight, most candidates supported lifting or increasing the current cap on charter-school seats in Boston.

Watch the entire forum.

John Barros, Charlotte Golar Richie, Mike Ross, John Connolly, Bill Walczak and Dan Conley all said they favor increasing the number of charter seats in Boston.

Felix Arroyo, Charles Yancey and Rob Consalvo all opposed it.

Arroyo said as mayor he would double down on BPS and invest more money to ensure every student has a chance at an excellent education. "We must at long last say to every family in the city of Boston you're a taxpayer, you deserve best school system in the United States of America," Yancey said, adding BPS needs more investment, not disinvestment.

Marty Walsh said he recognizes the good work charter schools have done but did not explicitly say whether he supports expanding them in Boston.

Among the pro-charter candidates, the level of enthusiasm varied.

Conley said the question for him is why the city hasn't already fought to increase the number of seats in charter schools, because they've proven their worth. He said limiting charter seats is like limiting the number of iPhones Apple can sell.

But Ross, while saying that "charter schools have made Boston public schools better," also said, "That doesn't mean you turn every school into a charter school." Public education is "a delicate ecosystem" and major changes need serious study first, he said, adding BPS also has to be careful not to disrupt education for kids with autism and other special needs.

Golar Riche agreed and noted that charter schools can take years to develop. "We have students who need attention now," who can't wait for new charter schools to ramp up. "They need a champion."

Both Ross and Barros called for a single lottery system for student assignment that would combine both BPS and charter schools. "We need to reclaim charter schools as public schools," Barros said.

Walsh said parents and students need more choices. He asked why Boston has just one trade school.

Connolly, a charter advocate with two children at a BPS school, said "we're trapped in a big false choice of a political debate right now:" BPS schools vs. charter schools. What kind of school it is shouldn't matter, he said. "The question should just be: Is it a great school?" Orchard Gardens and Hernandez are examples of how BPS can innovate, he said, adding we need a mayor bold enough to bring them together.

Walczak said equally important is increasing the length of the school day.

Other questions and answers:

What ddo you want in a new superintendent?

Barros. Committment to our children and a track record in management and executing policies. Decentralized system that gives more power and resources to individual schools. Because that's where students learn.

Golar Richie. Track record in an urban school district who will be prepared to hit the ground running. Somebody who can raise standards so that all our children can succeed in Boston public schools. Increase parental involvement by at least 10% in the first year.

Ross. Collaborative, ability to work with everybody. Someone who can engage at grass roots level. We need the best urban superintendent in the country. Have to expand the school day. Called on school committee to hold off on new supt. until new mayor is elected.

Connolly. Top-heavy centralized bureaucracy has to be decentralized. Has to remove the dysfunction. We have to reform our teacher contract. I'm a former teacher. It's a sacred job. But it's not OK give our kids one of the shortest school days in the country.

Walczak. We need a visionary and an entrepreneur. Partnerships with downtown businesses and colleges. Has to inspire, recruit and retain the absolute best principals.

Arroyo. Someone who has shown committment and dedication to urban PUBLIC education. Who believes Boston can be the best urban school system in the country.

Walsh. Most important decision I will make as superintendent. We need real change in the school system. A good negotiator. I'm going to pick somebody to run the schools.

Conley. Person of integrity, experience and with respect. Innovation. Someone who believes they don't have all the answers. Goal-driven, results-oriented teacher evaluation system. Building a complete education pipeline. STEP. Parental engagement.

Consalvo. Strong educator, with proven record in innovation. Latest, most innovative practices from across the country. Somebody willing to fight on Beacon Hill and even Washington for funding.

Yancey. Supt. who has high expectations of students and teachers. Proven record of success in closing the achievement gap.

Ideas for recruiting and retaining high quality teachers and holding principals accountable?

Yancey. Obviously we have to replace teachers who are not performing, so we need an effective evaluation system.

Consalvo. We have to recruit the best of the best. Boston Public Schools have a great story to tell. We have to sell BPS, but reality is people want to come here. All time high in enrollment, waiting lists at some schools.

Conley. Look at what I've done as DA. Boston is a great city, the way to recruit talent is to run a great office or school system. Young teachers are going to want to come here. I run a very diverse office, a welcoming office, an inclusive office. That's all doable in BPS. Training key.

Walsh. Important to listen to teachers.

Arroyo. Training. You have to value diversity. School system is 87% of color, we need more minority teachers. Pay and treat teachers like the professionals they are.

Walczak. 36-year track record of hiring people from the community at Codman Square Health Center. Inspirational leadership needed.

Connolly. Adam Gray, 2012 Mass. Teacher of the Year wasn't allowed to continue teaching at his school because he didn't have enough seniority. We need to treat education as a profession, not an assembly line. Have to change our teachers' contract.

Ross. Quality has to be above seniority. Then we have take highest quality teachers and pair them with students who need their help the most. Need to hire teachers who look like the students they're teaching. And more male teachers. Merit pay. We need to give teachers real training.

Golar Richie. In the Athens of America, it's so frustrating that we have to find fixes for our public-school system. But our local colleges and community-based organizations are places to look for good teachers. In terms of diversity, it's not rocket science, but it's hard work. We want our teachers to be residents, so we need affordable housing and safe communities for them.

Barros. We need to have a strong pipeline, give students good experience so some of them would come back as teachers. Need more male teachers of color. Support for training. Leadership opportunities.

48 of Boston's 127 schools are in lowest 20% of school achievement. How to turn these schools around?

Connolly. I'm a BPS parent at a low-tier school, the Trotter. Longer school day, merit-based hiring, today the school is in a dramatic turnaround. I want that at every Boston public school. Let the principals hire teachers for merit without regard to restrictions in the contract.

Walczak. We have to make sure we have strong leadership in every school. We need to lengthen the school day.

Ross. We have to get expanded learning done. For all schools. We could have done that with the last teacher contract. The reality is it didn't happen, the realiity is, we failed. Music, arts, gym classes, things that keep kids in school, keep them engaged.

Golar Richie. Move best and brightest from central office to schools that need them.

Barros. We have too much disparity in Boston public schools.

Early childhood education - how to ensure all children have access to it?

All the candidates agreed that early childhood education is important and that they'd support funding to ensure seats for all.

Yancey said it needs to be paired with programs to get books into kids' homes, to convince parents to read to their children - as he said he did to his son, even in utero.

28% of BPS students are in English-learning programs. What improvements will you make to ensure they have access to quality education?

Walsh. We can't turn our back on them. We spend $1 billion on our school system every single year. Our graduation rates are low. I will be expecting a 100% graduation rate.

Arroyo. I was an ESL student. Dual-language programs like at the Hernandez work. We can't fix schools until we end cycle of poverty in this city.

Yancey. We must fight to improve level of diversity of all languages and teachers in our system. We need more Latino, African-American and Asian study programs.

Consalvo. Number 1 is quality schools. Need to invest in buildings. Strong quality teachers. And we need to fight on state and federal levels, we've been shortchanged on ELL programs.

Conley. Not sure what the answer is, but all the studies agree that quality education is the key.

Male students of color continue to graduate at below-average rate. What to do?

Ross. As long as a kid is showing up to school scared, or going to sleep hungry, we have problems wider than what schools can fix. Community-based organizations.

Golar Richie. We have to care about our girls as well. But epidemic of them not doing well in school and then ending up on our streets, perhaps dealing drugs, then filling our jails. We need to prevent this from happening in the first place.

Barros. Education is a way to make sure we have productive systems. And right now, the performance of our black and brown males is unacceptable. We need a welcoming and respecting school systems. We need to have good teachers who look more like their students.

Walczak. We need to make sure young males of color feel they have a future. Reconstitute our high schools and build partnerships with businesses and organizations so students have a real shot at getting a job after they graduate.

Connolly. Need early childhood education. Fully staff social/emotional support staff in schools to help students stay on path. Raise the graduation age to 18. Let's collaborate with our charter schools, which have a better graduation rate.

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Connolly proposes tit for tat: If non-profits help renovate Boston schools, he'd fast track their own projects

City Councilor and mayoral candidate John Connolly says Boston could end a $1.6-billion backlog in public-school renovation by working out deals with local non-profit institutions with expansion plans: Faster approval of their plans if they agree to help the city out with school projects.

The City Council today considers Connolly's request for a hearing on his proposal, which would go beyond the payments-in-lieu-of-taxes plan already in place, under which non-profit institutions make annual payments to the city that range from nominal to several million dollars.

Connolly says the city last year approved $3.4 billion in new projects at local colleges and research facilities.

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Out-of-state charter-school proponents could flood Boston mayoral race with money

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Doug Bennett running this year after all - for sheriff

Doug Bennett, who has made two unsuccessful tries for a seat on the City Council, today announced he's setting his sights a bit wider - on Suffolk County Sheriff, a job that involves running the two jails that serve Boston, Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop.

Bennett, a Dorchester resident, is running as a Democrat this year for the six-year term to replace Andrea Cabral, now state secretary of public safety. Steven Tompkins, a former Cabral aide, is current acting sheriff.

Campaign statement

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No teacher-union endorsement for Connolly

Too strong a backer of charter schools for the taste of the Boston Teachers Union, the Herald reports.

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Dorcena Forry to become our newest state senator

Unofficial city returns show state Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry with roughly 82% of the vote against Republican Joe Ureneck.

So who will host next year's St. Patrick's Day breakfast in South Boston?

Meanwhile, in the Democratic primary in the 8th Suffolk state rep's race, Jay Livingstone beat Josh Dawson roughly 68-32.

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New mayor to get new development head

The Boston Business Journal reports that Peter Meade will leave as head of the BRA the same time as Tom Menino leaves as mayor.

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Defense attorneys really like Dan Conley

The Globe reports how the sitting district attorney and mayor wannabe has done pretty well with donations from local defense attorneys.

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The candidate who sits at home watching the Bruins

The Dorchester Reporter interviews David Portnoy, who doesn't plan on walking in any parades as he runs for mayor this year:

Would you rather vote for the guy running around to all the parades so he could show his face or the guy who's watching the Bruins at home?' Because I'm not trying to appeal to everybody or be very political. I'm the guy, the typical guy next door.

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Back Bay, Beacon Hill and some Cambridge Democrats to pick state-rep candidate next week

Wicked Local Cambridge reports on the race between Jay Livingstone and Josh Dawson to replace current state Rep. Marty Walz.

The primary is next Tuesday.

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There'll be no sticker campaign for Nick Collins, so don't even think it

David Bernstein reports Therese Murray even got involved, with her office calling up the Collins camp to say exactly how displeased she'd be if Collins supporters tried an end run against the primary results with a sticker campaign against primary winner Linda Dorcena Forry. So grumpy Southie residents fuming about how the election was stolen from them somehow will just have to stay grumpy.

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Wu gets endorsements from 11 state legislators in bid for at-large council seat

Michelle Wu's campaign announced the endorsements this morning. She's running for one of the four at-large seats on the council in this fall's elections.

The roll call:

  • Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz (Jamaica Plain)
  • Sen. Anthony Petruccelli (East Boston)
  • Rep. Carlo Basile (East Boston)
  • Rep. Gloria Fox (Roxbury)
  • Rep. Russell Holmes (Mattapan)
  • Rep. Kevin Honan (Brighton)
  • Rep. Elizabeth Malia (Jamaica Plain)
  • Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (North End)
  • Rep. Michael Moran (Brighton)
  • Rep. Byron Rushing (Roxbury)
  • Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez (Jamaica Plain)

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Good God: Althea Garrison won't be on the ballot for mayor, but Charles Yancey and the Barstool guy will

Blackstonian posts the list of the candidates who turned in enough signatures to qualify for the preliminary ballot this fall.

David Portnoy of Barstool Sport, of course, had said all along he's running for El Alcalde, but Yancey, the city's longest serving district city councilor, had played coy all along. Also making the cut: Robert Capucci, along with several other people.

But fret not, Althea fans: She submitted signatures to get on the ballot for one of the four at-large council seats.

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Mike Ross staffer sleeps in City Hall to be first to hand in signatures

David Bernstein explains why, doesn't say if the staffer at least had a sleeping bag.

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The first mayoral race this year

Peter Gelzinis explains why first we'll see a race to sew up geographical areas (West Roxbury/Hyde Park/JP vs. Dorchester) and the "progressive minority vote," then, after the preliminary shrinks a field of 10 or 12 down to 2, we can get down to actual issues. Also, Gareth Saunders needs to consider whether he wants to join Althea Garrison and Roy Owens in the League of Perpetual Candidates.

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Lawmakers and progressives with Menino ties talk up Richie

The Globe reports on support for mayoral candidate Charlotte Golar Richie among people like state Reps. Michael Moran (Allston/Brighton) and Aaron Michlewitz (North End).

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Consalvo getting it done

Mike Ball comes away impressed from Rob Consalvo's kickoff rally in JP, although he says he needs to flesh out his proposed agenda:

So far, no one in the race has advanced either a brilliant slogan or a revolutionary platform. Rob's catchphrase Making Boston Better is more than adequate. He simply has to convince enough voters that he can pull that off, that he can harden up his kind of spongy goals and achieve each one. Last evening was promising.

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Dan Conley and the mother on the side of the road in the pouring rain

Some people try to visit all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth. Others vow to eat at every single burger place in Boston. Googiebaba has decided to try to meet all 24 people running for mayor of Boston. She starts with DA Dan Conley, whom she met one rainy Saturday while she and her two kids were on the side of the West Roxbury Parkway, victims of a flat tire:

A black SUV pulled up, and there was a gentleman talking to the police officer. I actually thought I might be in trouble when I saw him. He had that air of authority about him. For those not in Boston, Dan is our District Attorney. He introduced himself, and then asked me if I wanted him to take the kids home. This continues to amuse me. My children are gorgeous. They are bright, shiny stars. But they are also beastly. I keep imagining what would have happened if I had said yes, and put my two kids in the back of his beautiful SUV. ...

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