Top stories GBH News will follow this week

Each week, GBH News Editor-in-Chief Matt Baskin hops onto our airwaves to check it out some of the stories the newsroom is focusing on over the coming week. After the Midterms – including a “blue wave” in New England – Baskin considered some of the most important political stories in the works.

What follows is a lightly edited transcript.

Arun Rath: So we’re a week away from the election now. Is there anything new to say about local politics?

Matt Baskin: Well, there’s always something new to say about local politics. But rather than give you a recap of last week’s results or what we might expect in the transition from the Charlie Baker administration to the Maura Healey administration, I actually want to talk about Mayor Michelle Wu — because this week marks a year since she took office Office as mayor of Boston. Actually, tomorrow is a year. And our reporter at City Hall, Saraya Wintersmith, is speaking to the Mayor to mark the occasion. And we’re working on a kind of retrospective.

Mayor Wu’s victory last November was a big, important milestone for Boston. She is the first woman, the first woman of color, to be elected to office. I say elected because she succeeded interim mayor Kim Janey, also a woman of color, who inherited the office from Marty Walsh when he resigned to become Joe Biden’s Secretary of Labor.

There’s a lot to unpack when looking back on a year as mayor. There is, of course, the pandemic. She faced fierce, sustained, sometimes racial, opposition to the vaccination mandates she instituted for city workers early in her tenure. There’s the emphasis she’s put on a local version of the Green New Deal. She’s trying to get Boston to sign up for a statewide pilot program that would allow 10 cities to ban new construction connected to fossil fuels. I should also say here, there is a push for Governor-elect Healey to expand on this — just make it a standard part of the state’s building code.

And then there’s Mayor Wu’s relationship with the police, which we’re going to look at. She’s trying to transform a department that, like many police departments, has come under heavy scrutiny in recent years. That summer, she hired Michael Cox as the city’s new police commissioner. He is a black man who was himself a victim of police brutality. When he was a cop in Boston in the 1990s, he was mistaken for a suspect by his own peers and was beaten. It’s hard not to see his attitude as quite symbolic.

And then of course there is the school system. Boston Public Schools narrowly averted a state receivership earlier this year. They deal with all sorts of problems – getting kids to class; late, sometimes no-show buses. And today, parents are holding a rally outside City Hall, urging the mayor to do more for the district.

advice: It’s interesting, reminded me a bit that last year was actually a more interesting choice, at least in terms of local things. But back to the national scene, this year’s midterms: talk about how it’s playing out here in Massachusetts. The big picture.

Baskin: I think a lot of people in Massachusetts are still surprised, pleasantly surprised, given how the midterms went, given how blue the state’s political makeup is. Democrats retain the Senate and are doing much better than expected in the House of Representatives – it looks like the Republicans will have a fairly narrow majority.

But now we await a speech scheduled for tonight by Donald Trump, in which he is likely to announce another run for president. And of course we are curious to see how that will be received by the local Republicans. Many people in the GOP establishment are laying last week’s losses at Trump’s feet and trying to get away from him, at least for now – we’ll see what happens in the coming months. But what we don’t know yet is whether his followers will be willing to walk away from him and maybe switch to the camp of someone like Ron DeSantis.

I should say that this also speaks to some post-election splits in the Massachusetts Republican Party after local Republicans failed to win a single statewide office last week.

There’s a crease here that, believe it or not, we’ve really struggled with in the news business for the past seven years: figuring out how to adequately cover for Trump and those who support him. She and I have spoken many times on the air about how disappointed we were that some outlets were giving him more oxygen than was warranted or prudent.

And then, of course, there’s the phenomenon that has come to be called the “Trump Safari play”: Stories like, “We sat down with six Republican voters at a diner in Peoria, etc., etc., etc.”

I think it’s important that we’re really careful with this kind of reporting. Donald Trump is a right-wing extremist who has tried to undermine American democracy. We need to be clear about this, we need to be honest when reporting on people who might want to see a second Trump term – and not just treat it as usual as politics.

advice: And I want to mention that we won’t be bringing you Donald Trump’s announcement live tonight. We will treat it as news when warranted.

Finally, let’s talk about the situation in Massachusetts hospitals. We used to look at the COVID numbers there every week and now I feel like we look at what’s going on with RSV every week. Tell us what’s going on there.

Baskin: That’s correct. This is the respiratory virus RSV that hits kids really hard. I should say that most children who get the disease make a good recovery, but it often requires hospitalization.

Doctors are raising some alarms here based solely on volume. We still hear about overcrowded emergency rooms, lack of beds, some kids being taken out of state for treatment just because the hospitals — Massachusetts’ world-class hospitals — are so full.

Our morning edition Reporter Mark Herz is there. We can expect to hear more from him about it tomorrow, including how the parents are handling things.

advice: Matt, as always, that’s a lot. Thanks again.

Baskin: You got it, Arun.

advice: And this is GBH News’ assignment editor, Matt Baskin. This is GBHs Everything considered.


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