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White-Timilty Mayoral Debate

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Summary
Portion of 1975 Boston mayoral debate in WEEI studio between incumbent Mayor Kevin White and State Senator Joseph Timilty. Mike Ludlum (WEEI) and Les Woodruff (WEEI reporter) are the moderators. Timilty accuses the White administration of fiscal irresponsibility. White defends his administration's accomplishments, citing building projects to provide new facilities for the city's neighborhoods. Both candidates comment on "white flight" from the city and the state of the Boston school system. Tape ends during White's closing statement.
Topics
Political campaigns, Municipal government, Urban policy, Civil rights, Segregation, WEEI (Radio station : Boston, Mass.)
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Log

10:13:52: Recording begins in mid-speech. Visual: Joseph Timilty, Kevin White and 2 moderators sit at a table in the WEEI studios. Moderators are Les Woodruff and Mike Ludlum from WEEI.) Timilty questions the White administration's ability to deliver the economic reform necessary to attract new industry to the city.

10:14:28: V: Woodruff asks Timilty how he would handle economic reform. Timilty responds that he would push for a broadening of the city's tax base; that he would look to reform city programs, citing a need for reform in the Little City Hall Program; that he would make budget cuts; that he would target urban renewal through neighborhood-based community development corporations and push for growth in the city's neighborhoods .

10:17:00: V: Ludlum asks White to address the issues raised by Timilty. White asks Timilty to explain an earlier accusation regarding high percentage rates paid by the city on its bonds. White defends his administration's record on reducing unemployment and attracting industry to the city. He cites his accomplishments in the areas of welfare and the city budget. White again asks Timilty about percentage rates on bonds.

10:19:00: V: Timilty responds that the city's debt has increased 176% during White's tenure as mayor. He mentions high interest payments paid by the city. Timilty contests White's claim of responsibility for the transfer of welfare costs from the city to the state, and claims that real estate taxes have increased 67% under White. Timilty says that credit for stabilizing the tax rate should go to the state legislature, which increased funds for the city. White taps his pen against the table, looking frustrated.

10:20:11: V: Ludlum says that White deserves a chance to respond. White returns to the question of the bond percentage rate. Timilty responds that Boston probably pays 4%. A heated exchange ensues concerning the bond market and the percentage rates paid by the city of Boston. Timilty again claims that Boston pays rates that are too high, and that the city has amassed a dangerous amount of debt. White contends that he has saved taxpayer money by raising the bond rate; White says that he has spent bonded monies on increased services and growth for the neighborhoods. White asks if Timilty supports these neighborhood projects.

10:23:08: V: Timilty says that fiscal responsibility is important. He accuses White of overspending on projects that have made little difference to the neighborhoods. Timilty says that White's spending has decreased the city's rating on the bond market, and that the city is in fiscal jeopardy.

10:24:03: V: Ludlum interrupts Timilty to let White respond. White asks Timilty if he agrees that bonded monies are needed for new construction projects. Timilty responds that bonded monies are needed, but too much debt puts the city in jeopardy. White says the building projects were sorely needed by the neighborhoods, and bonding was necessary to get the money. Timilty counters that the neighborhoods need a reduction in the crime rate more than they need new buildings.

10:26:05: V: Woodruff invites the candidates to address the issues of decreasing white enrollment in schools, decreasing white population in the city, the viablility of the public schools and contract negotiations with teachers. White says that ethnic diversity is important for the city, but he recognizes that some citizens fear the growing minority population, and adds that a low tax-rate might help to keep these people from moving out of the city. Timilty interrupts and asks what the tax-rate has to do with the school system. White defends himself by saying that a low tax-rate and good city amenities prevent "white flight" and keep white children in the school system. White adds that further improvements to the schools will attract more white students. He cites Charlestown as an example of a neighborhood with a stable white population and B.C. High as an example of a good school attracting white students to the city. White concludes by saying that the school system needs to improve.

10:30:03: V: Woodruff sums up White's position and invites Timilty to respond. Timilty says there has been little effort to improve the public schools. He says that families are eager to move out of the city because of bad schools, the high cost of living, and high property taxes. He proposes a plan for magnet schools in the city which is more fully developed than the one in place.

10:32:16: V: Ludlum poses a series of questions and demands brief answers from the candidates. Moderator asks about the issues that strike a chord with the voters. White's answer is the stabilization of the tax rate. Timilty's answer is a responsive city government. Ludlum asks each candidate the difference between him and his opponent. White's answer is experience and performance. Timilty answers that he has a plan for the city.

10:34:25: V: Mayor White gives his closing statement. He cites his performance as mayor, his efforts to stabilize the tax rate, his fight against valuation, his efforts to build facilities for the neighborhoods, and to appoint competent people. He mentions three critical issues: tax reform, healing racial wounds, and improving education.