Friday, August 02, 2013

Mayor Planks to Stand On

Yesterday, I put out a mega-table comparing websites of the 12 candidates for Boston Mayor. It probably comprises too many data points and subjective assessments. I went wild as well as there being a full dozen.

Today, I get down to a subset with expanded commentary of what many of us wonks consider the real stuff — platform and planks. If you go to a candidate's site, do you get a real sense of that person as mayor would try to accomplish?

If you looked at the table here or on BlueMassGroup, you already know that only two of the candidates in my assessment really put out a platform. One of those has a web design that stymies finding the good stuff.

Here again are the candidates, but with platform info and my opinion only. Click on a candidate's last name to check the site yourself.
  • Felix Arroyo — Fairly easy to find under the VISION OF BOSTON tab. Then choose 1 of 15 categories. Each has detailed list of goals, but no specifics on achieving them. 
  • John Barros — Easy to find under John's Policy Vision. Then click 1 of 5 categories. These are broad and vague, as in "Providing the resources that Boston schools need according to their students' the level of need."
  • Charles Clemons — Easy to find under the Issues tab. A plus includes several concrete proposals to help the elderly poor. All else is very vague, as in "School committee reform" and "Firm believer in community policing — the public and police working together."
  • Dan Conley — Easy to find under Issues tab. Then choose 1 of 7 categories. His are by are the most complete, detailed, specific, well-thought-through proposals, goals and methods.
  • John Connolly — Easy to find under IDEAS. They go far beyond the stereotype of him as an education-only candidate. All 12 categories are on one page. They are mixed, some overly general "recruiting anchor companies across all industries," but others more specific, "Extending learning time at every school to provide a full academic program that includes science, social studies, physical education, music, and art;"
  • Rob Consalvo — Oddly hidden platform. Under the About tab, which has no indication that is more than meet-the-candidate, you just might page down past two big pix and several paragraphs to find two lists, One is of major accomplishments as Councilor and the second has 7 planks or proposals. Most are general, as in providing first responders with sufficient resources, but others are more specific, such as "Create a cabinet level Office of Innovation, Ideas, and Technology to tap into the next wave of ideas from Bostonians and seek out and implement the best practices from all over the country, even all over the world." 
  • Charlotte Golar Richie — Her Vision For Boston tab is what passes, weakly, for a platform. For someone who boasts of city, state and federal experience, she seems unready for this race. Her vision is all fluff. There are a few touchstones from her résumé but little else. The gist is in the last paragraph, including "I know what it will take to run this city. But more than this, I know what it will take to unite the city." In other words, "Trust me." Uh huh.
  • Michael Ross — His is the most maddening platform and site. He is likely the brainiest person in the race. At first and second look, you wouldn't know that or even if he had a platform. His site makes the number one mistake found in software manuals and help systems, requiring the user to know the exact term the developers use to locate something. Hidden under a big splash screen top, page down and find two buttons. If you can figure out what Boston Smarter is and feel inclined to click it, bang!, a pretty impressive platform pops us. (Actually, you can pull it up in an easy-to-read form from its hidden URL.) The content is detailed, specific and singularly technology-driven, a vision for major changes in how Boston government would work. Who knew?
  • Bill Walczak — No platform-specific area for him. He may be the thinking-person's candidate, always a dangerous category to choose. However, if you click the Media and Blog tab, the two choices (In the News and Bill's Blog) are full of positions. 
  • Marty Walsh — Nothing to add from yesterday's table. The About Marty area has bio with implied general goals. Press/Latest News lets motivated voter tunnel down to statements.
  • David James Wyatt — He can't really be running. His one pager has no tabs or platform. The closest he makes to promise is, "He marched with Chuck Turner and expects to march in Boston for more job opportunity; better schools; safer streets, and an end to the machine politics of politically connected families."
  • Charles Yancey — This befuddled double campaign (Mayor and Councilor) has no platform. The only three tabs are Home, Meet Charles and Get Involved. The bio under the middle one has a hard-to read block of text with his personal, Council and education résumé, but no promises, no planks, no platform and no stump speech. 
Overall, this is a lackluster set of websites, particularly from the content view. Conley stands high and Ross will impress those who get through the hazing of the site design. The others lean toward generalities and seem afraid of putting out positions for others to snipe at in public events.

A few like Wyatt are amateurish, because the candidate is an amateur. Others such as Golar Richie and Yancey should have a lot more content, exhibit a lot greater thought, and give the voter something to appreciate. They've been around so long and involved in so much, they need to show they learned something.

Just maybe the candidates will take an evening or two to look at the competition online. It's not too late to update sites.

For the preliminary, it's unlikely that even a brilliant website will win it for the two. With a dozen, it's unlikely that many voters will be as politically needy as I, and go clicking around a dozen sites. Yet, in the weeks remaining, having yet another reason for undecideds to smear your oval can't hurt.

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