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Why the Banner didn't endorse for mayor

Back in July, when Boston Mayor Tom Menino arranged a $200,000 loan that allowed the endangered Bay State Banner to resume publication, Globe columnist Adrian Walker argued that the arrangment would dangerously diminish the Banner's editorial autonomy. "[I]ts independence is the only thing that makes the Banner worth saving, journalistically speaking," Walker wrote. "There is simply no getting around the fact that it will return to the stands as a less independent voice."

If you're looking for evidence that fits Walker's theory, the Banner's decision not to make a mayoral endorsement before the September 22 Boston preliminary election would seem to fit the bill. After all, this past spring, the Banner had absolutely hammered the mayor in an editorial, accusing him of "demeaning the black perspective" and urging him to "step down." And in July, discussing the Banner's shut-down with Walker, editor and publisher Melvin B. Miller had said of the mayor's race: "I think that either Flaherty or Yoon would be preferable to the mayor at this point."

So why the reticence earlier this month?

"I decided [not to endorse] a long time ago," Miller tells the Phoenix. "I decided I couldn't [endorse for mayor] without endorsing in the city-council races, and there were a lot of candidates who were pretty good. I said, 'Hey, let's let that play out and watch what happens.' I'm not big on the impact of endorsements anyway." *

When I mentioned that I'd talked to people who thought the non-endorsement seemed odd, given Miller's and the Banner's previous commentary on the race, his response was brusque. "People are fools," Miller said. "I've said everything that I have to say. What else is there to say? I said it early, so it'd be out there, and people could do with that information that I provided as they saw fit.

"I never had a personal vendetta against the mayor," Miller added. "I had certain issues, and I stated them."

In closing, I asked Miller if the Banner would endorse in the mayoral final. His reply:  "Do you know what you're going to have for dinner tomorrow? That's a question--I don't make those decisions like that."

*NOTE: The Banner has, however, endorsed in the past. In 2006, for example, it endorsed Deval Patrick [see correction below] in the Democratic primary for governor. And in the 1998 Democratic primary, it endorsed Patricia McGovern for governor, Chris Gabrieli for Congress, and Reilly for attorney general.

CORRECTION: I originally wrote that the Banner endorsed Tom Reilly, Patrick's opponent. The Banner's endorsement of Patrick can be found here.

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