Boston planning officials to vote on rezoning plan in Allston-Brighton

Harvard University's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is pictured under construction on Western Avenue in the Allston neighborhood of Boston on Feb. 14, 2019. (Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Harvard University's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is pictured under construction on Western Avenue in the Allston neighborhood of Boston on Feb. 14, 2019. (Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

The two major candidates to be Massachusetts' next governor met for a feisty first debate last night. Here's what you missed — and what else is ahead today:

The in-person meeting between Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey and former Republican lawmaker Geoff Diehl offered some fizz but not much new, with both candidates hewing closely to their stump speeches and pledging to drive down the high cost of living in the state. While they were there to pitch themselves to voters, parts of the evening sounded like two cable news panelists going after former President Donald Trump and current President Biden.

Healey repeatedly tied Diehl to Trump, who has endorsed the GOP hopeful but remains deeply unpopular in Massachusetts. In response, Diehl argued he wanted to focus on Massachusetts, but also tried to tie Healey to high inflation, rising energy prices and Biden, who he blames for "economic disaster."

Perhaps the sharpest exchanges of the night came over abortion rights and vaccines. Diehl suggested that he would set his personal pro-life stance aside to support Massachusetts' bolstered abortion rights laws. But the COVID vaccine mandate critic also said the idea of "my body, my choice" should extend to vaccines. Healey made the case that Diehl — who applauded the overturning of Roe v. Wade — could not be trusted on the issue. She said Diehl supported freedom in health care "except when it’s about women."

The two also clashed over the driver's license law that's on the ballot this fall. Diehl has used his campaign to help rally opposition to the new law. Healey shot back that his dubious claim that undocumented immigrants would be automatically enrolled to vote through the state's voter registration system was simply "not true." She stressed that police chiefs in 41 of the largest communities across the state support the law because knowing drivers went through safety education and road tests made for safer streets.

Go deeper: You can read — or listen — to the full debate recap from WBUR's Anthony Brooks right here.

What's next: The two will debate for a second — and likely final — time a week from today, on the night of Oct. 20.

Meanwhile, the current guy in office — Gov. Charlie Baker — issued pardons Wednesday to four men with decades-old criminal convictions. WBUR's Deborah Becker reports that the convictions ranged from larceny, trespassing and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. The men requested pardons saying their criminal records created issues like having a hard time advancing their careers.

Zoom out: These are the first pardons approved by Baker — though he also commuted the first-degree murder sentences of two men serving life in prison earlier this year.

In the city: Boston planning officials will vote today on new zoning rules that could speed up the transformation of the neighborhood along Western Avenue in Allston-Brighton. The area already had begun to see big construction projects, and developers are looking to bring more apartments and (as always) lab space to the stretch.

The new zoning rules being considered by the the Boston Planning and Development Agency would allow for more dense construction and multi-family housing. It would also be the first neighborhood plan approved by Mayor Michelle Wu.

Jean McGuire, a 91-year-old local civil rights icon who was stabbed while walking her dog Tuesday night in Franklin Park, is reportedly recovering and in stable condition. But the alarming incident has advocates calling on the city to do more to improve safety in the park.

Rickie Thompson, the president of the Franklin Park Coalition, says the park needs better lighting and security cameras on major roads. He's hoping to meet with Wu to discuss the attack.

P.S.— Kick off your weekend tomorrow at WBUR CitySpace! Radio Boston host Tiziana Dearing will be there for a talk with Deborah Torres, the entrepreneur who turned down "Shark Tank" to launch her own vegan fried chicken start-up. In-person attendees will also get a complimentary taste of her work at the post-chat reception.

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Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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