Voters in Roxbury and parts of the South End, Dorchester, and the Fenway will go to the polls on March 15 to elect a new city councilor to replace Chuck Turner. Turner, a grassroots-style rabble-rouser, represented District 7 for more than a decade.
Turner's conviction in federal court of political corruption triggered this special election. In some quarters there is a feeling that Turner got less than a fair deal.
But whatever opinions may linger about the quality of justice in the Turner trial, Chuck (as he is universally known) was well past his prime.
District 7 comprises some of Boston's poorest neighborhoods. And while Turner's heart was always in the right place, his ability to meet the challenges of the 21st century was at best questionable and at worst lacking.
Thirty-five-year-old Tito Jackson, a former economic development official in Governor Deval Patrick's administration, is the candidate most deserving of District 7's votes.
Jackson, who previously ran unsuccessfully for an at-large council seat, has a firm grasp of all the major issues facing Boston.
Most important of all, Jackson understands how those issues impact the neighborhoods he seeks to represent.
Although a councilor's power is proscribed, Jackson has developed an impressive portfolio of ideas to address the problems of crime, unemployment, and foreclosure that dog the district.
As well as anyone in public life, Jackson understands the need to accelerate the rate of reform and improvement in the Boston Public Schools.
Jackson, quite rightly, sees it as the job of the District 7 councilor to act as a facilitator between City Hall, the State House, and the business community.
Jackson understands the role that organized labor can play in creating apprenticeship programs to provide not just jobs but careers.
Jackson is an activist who knows how to set goals and work until he achieves them.
And Jackson understands that small-business development will lead the way to a more stable economic future for the community.
Jackson has heart, brains, and talent. He also has a passion for politics. In a city where politics is a contact sport, that's vital.
Jackson's opponent, Cornell Mills, is a smart political newcomer with an admirable record of community service. At the moment, however, Mills lacks Jackson's broad frame of reference and clear focus.
The Boston Phoenix endorses Tito Jackson for the Boston City Council, District 7. Jackson will be good for Boston and even better for Roxbury and its neighboring communities.
GETTING SEX SMART
Thanks to the efforts of a group of teenagers affiliated with Jamaica Plain's Hyde Square Task Force, the Boston Public Schools may finally get a chance to transcend the head-in-the-sand attitudes that have ruled sex education since the days when George W. Bush was president.
And it is about time.
To the extent to which Boston can even be said to have a sex-ed program, it consists essentially of abstinence-only advice.
You do not need a PhD to know that this sort of thinking is not only hopelessly naive and outmoded; it is also shamelessly short-sighted, irresponsible — even reckless.
That could be changing. The school system has teamed up with the public health department to update sexual education systemwide. The new program will include a range of services, including relationship advice administered by men for boys and women for girls. To be truly effective, however, it must include making condoms available to students who request them.