REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: Young people of color urged to try political consulting

Political activists of color are urging the next generation to get more involved in politics and the looming debate over redrawing Congressional districts. “You need to be in that room,” Mukiya Baker-Gomez advised several dozen members of the Young Professionals Network at a network meeting last week as part of a panel on race and politics.

Legislative leaders on Beacon Hill have started work on redrawing the Bay State’s ten Congressional districts after U.S. Census numbers showed the state’s population was not growing as fast as the rest of the nation.

Baker-Gomez, who at one time managed City Council and state Senate campaigns, was joined at the meeting by Ron Bell, a senior adviser to Gov. Deval Patrick, and Robert Lewis, Jr., a vice president at the Boston Foundation. Bell and Baker-Gomez advised the YPN members to get involved with political consulting, noting the paucity of local winning campaigns run by blacks.

Both Bell and Lewis recalled growing up during the era of desegregation busing, when Boston’s racial tensions were spotlighted nationally.

Lewis, who worked for both Mayor Thomas Menino and former Mayor Ray Flynn, recalled that when he was a child his house was fire-bombed by one of his best white friends, whom he hasn’t spoken to since. Lewis said he would like to meet the former friend and ask him why.

Bell remembered, while working at a Mission Hill community center, black men being forced to strip down as police officers searched for the murderer of a white pregnant woman. Her husband, Charles Stuart, had fingered a black male as the killer, when it turned out that he and his brother had conspired to kill her.

O’Malley asks hearings on planned school closings
City Councillor Matt O’Malley is calling for a public hearing on what the city plans to do with the school buildings after they’re emptied of students and closed down in the Boston Public Schools’ bid to cut costs and eliminate empty seats across the city.

“I am very concerned that the empty school buildings across the city will leave large holes in our neighborhoods,” O’Malley, who represents West Roxbury and Jamaica Plain, said in a statement. “I believe that we need to begin a public conversation about the future of these buildings and assess the impact these closings will have on the surrounding communities.”

Over a dozen schools are slated to be closed or merged. Fifield Elementary School is among the Dorchester schools on the list, as are the East Zone Early Learning Center and Middle School Academy. Lee Academy Pilot School and Lee Elementary would be merged under a plan the Boston School Committee approved in December.

English named mayor’s Dorchester liaison
Chris English has been tapped as the Dorchester liaison for Mayor Menino’s Office of Neighborhood Services. He is son of Maura English, who runs the coffee shop Mud House on Neponset Ave.

Neighborhood services coordinators function as the eyes and ears of the mayor’s office in their respective neighborhoods, including regularly attending community meetings.

English replaces Lauren Smyth, a St. Brendan’s native who left in December to join Boston’s police academy. She had served in the job since March 2006.

Quote of Note: Lynch on the Tea Party
Congressman Stephen Lynch, a South Boston Democrat who represents part of Dorchester, couldn’t resist taking a shot at the conservative leaning activists known as Tea Partiers, who helped sweep in a Republican majority in the U.S. House. “The real Tea Party, they threw tea overboard,” Lynch told the Reporter. “They didn’t throw seniors overboard, they didn’t throw kids overboard.”

Lynch’s comments came as Congress was considering cutting fuel assistance for low-income families while preserving tax cuts for people making over $250,000 a year. He said he was bothered by the White House working with some Republicans on the cuts.

“A lot of this is driven by the Tea Party and I’m hoping that over time common sense will prevail,” said Lynch, who is frequently mentioned as a possible contender to take on U.S. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Wrentham) in 2012.

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