Mayoral candidate and District 5 Boston City Councilor Rob Consalvo talked about his plan to decrease violence in Boston, his thoughts on charter schools - and his basketball skills.
Patch: As mayor what can you do to decrease violence in Boston?
Consalvo: Well, I’ve put out a comprehensive public safety plan with a four-pronged approach: prevention, intervention, enforcement, and technology. In my plan I've called for 200 new police officers in my first term because I believe we need more police on streets to do patrolling, community policing by bike and walk beats. Right now (the Boston Police Department is) only hiring people due to the attrition rate. Boston's population is exploding and we need more police in the streets keeping our streets safe. Two offices would be created – a city-run probation unit, and a citywide task force - Violence Against Women and Girls. These two offices would focus solely on and addressing these two issues pulling in resources, pulling outside groups in and experts in to deal with these issues. I'm also calling for a 15% increase in summer jobs. The easiest way to keep young people from crime is to give them a job. The federal and state government have walked away from their commitment to summer jobs.
Patch: Where would we get that money from?
Consalvo: I’d get it from my budget. The mayor's budget is a blue print (for the city) and I’d make it a priority in my budget.
Patch: How will you utilize innovative technological advancements to keep Boston being one of the most modern cities in the world?
Consalvo: I’ve been a huge proponent of new technology and that's why I've called for an expansion of Shotspotter citywide. We need to expand it to every neighborhood. Right now it's in 6.2-square miles, but no neighborhood is excluded from gun violence. I think we need way more technology in the city, like a transponder in emergyency vehicles to turn all lights green and intersection crosswalk signs red on Centre street to get to an accident. We need illuminated crosswalks, actual crosswalks that get lit up are being used in other cities. And we need rubber sidewlks to keep our sidewalks passible from roots pushing up our sidewalks. These and hundreds of other technology ideas, like the special needs registry being incorporated into our emergency services.
Patch: Boston Mayor Menino will leave the city in very good financial standing, especially considering the recent recession. What is your budgetary experience, and how will you foster financial growth for Boston?
Consalvo: One thing I’m saying in this campaign is I’m ready to lead as the CEO of the city. Boston has a 2.6-billion dollar budget and 17,000 employees. I would be hitting the ground running... I chaired the Ways and Means Committee and know how to give a budget and get it back. It starts with a strong budget for a strong economy, and maintaining Boston's strong bond rating; That’s what encourages companies to move here, grow here and expand here. When they do those things they have jobs that people in our neighborhoods get and we bring in more commercial property tax revenues that (helps with) our property tax rates. Our strong bond rating allows us to invenst in infrastructure for community centers, schools, and libraries.
Patch: What color are your candidate signs? Why did you go with that design?
Consalvo: My colors are red, white and blue. I've used blue and white the whole time since I ran at-large... Blue is my favorite color and blue is Hyde Park’s color.
Patch: You've said public safety is your #1 priority. You’ve introduced ShotSpotter to Boston, created a homerule petition to allow municipal police to go into bordering communities to chase suspects, and created a law which forces DUI arrestees to not get their car back within 12 hours of being arrested. What other public safety initiatives would you like to see brought to Boston?
Consalvo: [Consalvo pointed to what he had discussed] One other area with the police is bringing more technology to the city,
not just ShotSpotter. Portable fingerprint scanners in our police cars, and dash-mounted cameras in every police car. These are somethings we don’t do, but
other police do across the country. Police need to embrace new technology better
and that will aloow police to do their jobs better.
A real focus is on the re-entry of those on probation, which is right now run by the state, but I'm calling for a city level re-entry program. We want to be able to monitor those folks coming back to Boston, and provide job training, literacy skills, and to prepare people to a pathway for a job, and not returning to a life of crime. I'm calling for the creation of a probation department inside the police department to help us manage those on probation.
Patch: Your children attend Boston Public Schools, how do you feel about lifting the charter cap?
When I’m running for mayor I’m not running to be the head of the Boston School Department. All we talk about is charter schools, like we're running for the commission of education for Massachusetts. The mayor’s focus should be on improving schools, and bringing more quality schools in every neighborhood, by investing in special needs and ELL (English Language Learners), and invest in school buildings. This is the debate we should be having, not lifting the charter cap. I don’t think lifting the charter cap is the right move for Boston… charters don’t take every child, we have to take every child… I support charters that are here. I’ll work with them, and we’ll learn from them. But they’re not Boston Public Schools. My focus is on BPS, not running charter schools.
Patch: And the school assignment plan?
Consalvo: I think the debate over the assignment policy is not over. This is an ongoing debate in engaging parents, teachers, and I do support the concept of getting kids to go to closer to their home schools. But that only works if we have neighborhood quality schools in every neighborhood. The process isn’t over, we can still make changes to it.
Patch: Clarify one of the greatest false rumors in Boston – you are, or, are not related to Mayor Thomas Menino, be it blood or godfather/godson status?
Consalvo: I am not related to the mayor. I’m not his godson. My godfather is my Uncle Joe.
Patch: Much has been made about your basketball skills. Do they help or hurt your mayoral campaign? While it’s a team game, can you take Felix Arroyo, Mike Ross or John Barros in basketball?
Consalvo: My basketball commercial and skills have definitely helped me on the campaign trail. I can’t count how many times people have complimented me on my commercial and my shooting… I have played basketball with those guys, and I was impressed with their basketball abilities. Mike Ross is a rebounding machine, John Barros I couldn’t stop him down low - he had more moves than a blender. Much to my surprise Felix Arroyo was hitting NBA three-pointers. I was pleasantly surprised by the basketball talent those guys showed.
Patch: One of your slogans is “All in for Boston” – let’s say you don’t make the final two in the preliminary – what do you do?
Consalvo: You know what, I don’t have any plans. If I lose the election in September or November I’m out of a job. I sat with my wife and three children at the kitchen table for what this run for mayor means. I’m a full-time city councilor, I don’t have a law firm, which is why I don’t have another job. We did this run for mayor knowing the risk. We feel the future of the city is worth this risk and that’s why I’m putting everything on the line to be the next mayor.