There are five TV stations in the metropolitan area. I believe all of them have indicated an interest in holding a debate, I have talked to four of them directly.
A natural division would be to have 3 debates prior to the primary and two between the primary and the final. It would be nice for the citizens if all the candidates could get together with the TV stations and pick five dates that work for everyone. We then put all 5 TV stations into a hat and randomly pick them out. It could even be a "made for TV event" like the NBA draft lottery, will Bill Simmons as MC!
I'm sure that Flaherty and Yoon would agree to such a format but how about Menino? Menino could even stick with his 'only 3 debates' promise and not attend two of the other debates, if he so decides.
What this would do is get rid of all the back room dealing that Menino is now doing with the different TV stations, excluding his three challengers from the discussion, and it would be an equitable solution for letting the public get good use of the "public" airwaves.
All we have now is the Mayor playing out the clock, playing the different TV stations off of one another, while nothing gets finalized. According to WGBH and others it is not easy to schedule these debates and they were already running out of time a month ago to put on the type of production that they believe this race deserves. Boston is the loser in all of this, and only Menino and his cronies gain.