In a debate that at times devolved into an incomprehensible roar as moderators did little to try to keep order, 11 candidates offered their opinions on everything from a casino vote to education. David Wyatt also attended, but spoke only during the two times he was asked a direct question.
John Connolly said East Boston residents will be hit far harder by a potential casino than anybody else, so they should be the ones to vote.
Dan Conley, however, says all Bostonians should vote. "It will affect our character, our culture and it needs a citywide vote." Almost said he opposed the casino when he compared it to the proposal to move the Red Sox to the South Boston waterfront. "Can you imagine if that had happened?"
Bill Walczak opposed the casino, period, called it "a public health disaster."
Charlotte Golar Richie didn't say who she feels about the vote - although she said she would oppose ramming a casino down East Boston's throat if it voted against it and the rest of the city voted for it, but said she would take some casino revenue and use it for crime prevention.
Other candidates defended Conley from questioner Joe Battenfeld's badgering about whether he should be sending his kids to parochial schools. Conley said he and his wife "wanted to get more of a religious and character education" for their children.
Connolly said public education is the key to Boston's future and that he would make significant cuts at Court Street and give more responsibility to local schools. John Barros, who resigned from the School Committee, said the school department knows how to turn around failing schools. "You haven't turned around a school," he told Connolly. "You don't know what it means to turn around a school." Connolly said his daughter goes to a turn-around school - the Trotter.
Consalvo said he would fight to keep pro-charter corporate interests away from Boston schools.
Black elders trying to get minority candidates not named Golar Richie to drop out
Golar Richie said noted the presence of six white candidates. "Hopefully you pose that to the white candidates as well" (ed. note: The panel didn't). She said she had nothing to do with the meeting and if anybody feels bullied by anybody on her campaign, they should talk to her.
Wal-Mart and Chick-fil-A in Boston
Battenfeld couldn't let this go, either. Rob Consalvo said both companies have the legal right to come to Boston but that he would use his bully pulpit to try to convince Wal-Mart change its policies on health care and exploiting workers.
Ross said they have "no place in this city." Yancey said he would fight against chains that exploit workers and have a record of discrimination. Connolly, Conley and Arroyo said the answer is creating better jobs for Bostonians.
Can Marty Walsh say no to unions?
Yes, Walsh said, he's done it before in the legislature on pension and educational reform and pointed to his role on the board of a Dorchester charter school.
Walczak said he didn't think Walsh could stand up to unions. "The next chief executive of the city of Boston, the next mayor, needs to be a manager."
Mike Ross said he was the only councilor to fight a firefighter contract that the city couldn't afford. "After it was done," Walsh said. Ross and Felix Arroyo said their work on that contract saved the city $40 million.
Drugs, including Molly
The candidates who spoke said they were against them.
24-hour public transit
Ross said he worked with the T and students in 1999 to get Night Owl bus service on weekends, and vowed to work to extend late-night service in particular and T service in general. "We're not going to grow" without better public transit, and recent legislative action "was a lost opportunity" because it doesn't provide for much more than the status quo.
Barros said Ross and other city leaders failed to do their job by not doing more to lobby the legislature and drum up support for better transit. "It was a failure of local leadership."
Walczak called for the return of the Urban Ring project and expanding the Silver Line.
Charles Clemons said the city could fund all the public transit it needs if it only taxed colleges and universities at the same rate as everybody else - which he said could raise billions.
Connolly said the city should do more to work with local businesses on transportation issues. He pointed to the new Brighton commuter-rail stop that New Balance is paying for.
Hey, Walczak, were you fired from Carney Hospital?
Walczak said he wasn't, but instead quit over "philosophical differences" with the hospital's owners, specifically, that he felt strongly the hospital needed to develop a family-medicine program with obstetrics beds, and they didn't. He said he couldn't reveal his severance package under the terms of his severance deal. When Battenfeld started to ask the other candidates if they thought Walczak should reveal the amount, Walsh jumped to his defense, saying that as the state rep for Carney's service area, he felt Walczak did a good job and that he wasn't going to ask him to break a confidentiality agreement.
Consalvo called for 200 more police officers, and expansion of the ShotSpotter program, which can detect the sound of gunfire.
Conley, currently Suffolk County DA, and Clemons got into a tiff over shootings and murders. Conley said they were down dramatically from 2006; Clemons said, yeah, well explain the 128 shootings in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan since the Marathon. "We are experiencing a modest increase in shootings," but candidates shouldn't be panicking voters, Conley said. "Modest?" Clemons answered.
Golar Richie said crime stats in Boston are really "a tale of two cities" and that we need to do more for "those neighborhoods that are still wracked by violence."
Connolly said Boston Police "dropped the ball" on the Amy Lord case, by night issuing a public alert after the first or second attacks in the 18-hour period that ended with Lord's murder.
Arroyo said solving poverty is the key to long-term crime prevention.
Hey, Wyatt, who are you, anyway?
In one of the two times he spoke all night, Wyatt said he is the only Republican and is pro-life and that people like him need representation, too.
Mayor's $16-billion housing plan
Walsh said "I would ask Mayor Menino to scale back on some of these plans," to avoid hamstringing the next mayor, who might have his own ideas. He said he is concerned that Menino's plan calls for selling off city land for housing.
Walczak agreed: "Mr. Menino, please stop."
"The amyor cannot stop doing his job," Ross countered, adding he is amazed some candidates want to disassemble the BRA in the middle of a development boom.
Golar Richie, Consalvo and Arroyo praised the mayor for continuing to do his job. Consalvo said the plan is "a blueprint" that the next mayor could still modify.
Barros said he would split the BRA into separate agencies for planning and development and agreed with Walsh it's premature to be selling off city land.
Charles Yancey and Clemons want to replace him. Consalvo and Connolly said they would keep him. Several candidates called for reform of civil service to let the commissioner more easily pick his commanders as a way of increasing diversity within the ranks.
Consalvo said his BRA director will need to have experience with climate-change and green-development issues. Ross said he would treat climate change the same way Menino and Michael Bloomberg treated guns. Walczak said it's vital to protect our infrastructure - if ocean water gets into our subway tunnels and the O'Neill tunnel, we'd be facing billions in repair cost.