AMID A GENERALLY sleepy primary election campaign season, the contest for Suffolk County district attorney stands out. The race has been rocked by an explosive report in the Boston Globe that Ricardo Arroyo, who is challenging sitting DA Kevin Hayden, was the subject of two sexual assault allegations years ago. Arroyo vehemently denies ever assaulting anyone, and neither case resulted in charges against him.
On this week’s Codcast, Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi and GBH News politics editor Peter Kadzis grapple with two big questions raised by the story: What is the truth of what took place? Does it actually matter in the political context of the race?
Arroyo is getting pounded from some quarters over the issue, but he and his supporters are also pounding back, trying to put the focus on Hayden by suggesting that he is responsible for leaking confidential police reports on the matter, something the DA denies.
“I’ve been following Boston politics for a long time, and this is maybe the most brutal race I can remember,” said Kadzis. “It’s just bare knuckle boxing.”
Vennochi said Arroyo could have simply denied the allegations. But he went further by saying he was never even made aware of them until now, “which put his credibility on the line in a very different way,” she said.
“To deny that he had any knowledge of this when there were two police reports saying that this was investigated has really left him very little room to maneuver politically,” said Kadzis.
Vennochi and Kadzis said the story is highlighting a pattern seen in several high-profile cases involving allegations of sexual assult or misconduct by politicians: People seem to filter such charges through the political lens in which they view the person at center of the controversy.
The result: “Does the truth matter anymore?” Vennochi asked in a column last week. She wrote that it was “hard to believe” Arroyo’s claim to have known nothing about the allegations until questioned recently by Globe reporters.
Former congressman Joe Kennedy III and Boston City Council President Ed Flynn rescinded endorsements of Arroyo after the story broke, as did Ironworkers Local 7, but so far a long list of progressive pols are sticking with him.
“You have these top women politicians – Elizabeth Warren, Ayanna Pressley, Michelle Wu – who have all stood up in the past during the so-called me-too movement, who found Brett Kavanaugh completely unacceptable to be a Supreme Court justice on the basis of an allegation of sexual assault that went back to his high school years that I think he said he couldn’t remember, he didn’t do,” said Vennochi. “Arroyo has kind of picked up that same narrative. They didn’t have a police report on Brett Kavanaugh. As Peter pointed out, there are two here.”
People who were determined to vote for Donald Trump didn’t seem to care about the raft of sexual assault allegations against him, just as Joe Biden supporters didn’t seem swayed by much less serious allegations of “inappropriate touching,” said Vennochi.
Going back further, said Kadzis, “That is the story of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Women were largely silent because they liked Bill Clinton.”
Speaking during the Codcast recording on Friday, Vennochi said one thing Wu could do is release redacted police reports from the incidents. Later in the day City Councilor Frank Baker – a Hayden supporter – filed an order seeking such documents, and Arroyo said he supports the move.
“The silence from the higher-profile progressive Democrats is just deafening,” Kadzis said of reaction to the Arroyo story. “I mean, isn’t someone even going to say, geez, I’d like a more convincing explanation?”
Diversity data: Secretary of State William Galvin collects diversity data on his staff for the first time, and the numbers are high. Still, the collection process itself is raising questions about his compliance with a federal law requiring the filing of diversity data with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission every two years. Galvin’s rival in the Democratic primary, Boston NAACP head Tanisha Sullivan, declined repeated requests for diversity data on her campaign staff. Read more.
Fewer very satisfied: The percentage of parents “very satisfied” with the Boston public schools keeps dropping over the past year, while the percentage that is “somewhat satisfied” holds steady. Read more.
Better data needed: Nancy Kane, a retired professor at the T.H. Chan School at Harvard, and Paul Hattis of the Lown Institute say better data is needed to determine whether state aid is going to the neediest hospitals. Read more.
Hydrogen gets lift: Will Hazelip of National Grid Ventures says federal aid for hydrogen shows how the potential answer to climate is here to stay. Read more.
Ready to sue: Paul D. Craney of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance says his organization and others are ready to sue if anyone tampers with the tax cap. Read more.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
A confidentiality law intended to protect victims of sexual absue has instead become a gift to abusers and the police who failed to deal with them effectively. (WBUR)
Tenants are pushing for a law that would require notification if their housing is being sold and give them a chance at buying it. (GBH)
Maura Healey is diving into all sorts of contested Democratic primaries with endorsements – though none against an incumbent – as her own nomination for governor seems secure. (Boston Globe)
In her one statewide endorsement, Healey is backing Andrea Campbell for attorney general. But Campbell’s main Democratic rival, Shannon Liss-Riordan, scored big endorsements over the weekend from Elizabeth Warren and Michelle Wu. (Boston Globe)
Though Healey, like many of her predecessors, pushed as attorney general for an update of the state’s wiretapping law, it’s not clear that her successor will be on the same page. (Boston Globe)
A Boston city councilor filed an order for Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration to release police and school safety reports and any other communication that may be relevant to past allegations of sexual assault against City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, who is a candidate for Suffolk district attorney. Arroyo said he supports the move. (Boston Globe) Wu, who initially said she was “troubled” by the allegations and would wait to see “how the story evolves,” told Politico’s Lisa Kashinsky over the weekend that she is sticking with her endorsement of Arroyo.
The Globe endorsed Chris Doughty in the Republican primary for governor, saying he is the only hope for salvaging the party from its hard turn to the right. The Springfield Republican also gives Doughty the nod in the primary match-up against former state rep Geoff Diehl.
Just like past elections, most Democrats on Beacon Hill will cruise to victory unchallenged as Republican challengers are scarce. (Salem News)
A huge parcel along the Mystic River in Everett is being eyed for redevelopment, but most of the uses being touted aren’t allowed under the zoning currently in place, which limits projects to water-dependent industrial uses. (Boston Globe)
The MBTA says the work being done while the Orange Line is shutdown is 37 percent complete, and T general manager Steve Poftak said more shutdown “diversions” of subway lines are possible as part of the agency’s effort to fast-track repairs and upgrades. (Boston Herald)
Use of Bluebikes surged by 44 percent last week as the 30-day Orange Line shutdown began. (Boston Herald)
Like voters in New Bedford, Fall River residents will have to approve bringing South Coast rail to their city via a November ballot question. (Herald News)
Cambridge will switch, at least until December, to the MWRA water supply after its municipal water supply showed elevated levels of PFAS, or forever chemicals. (Boston Globe)
Layoffs at Gannett are eliminating the jobs of reporters who are the last working at their newspapers. (Washington Post)