The Bay State shrugs
The reaction to Gov. Deval Patrick tapping friend and confidant William “Mo” Cowan for the interim post to replace Sen. John Kerry was a muted “meh” in and out of politics.
While the governor showered praise upon his one-time legal protégé, the huzzahs from the cognoscenti were more around the symbolism of picking someone of color rather than the substance of the choice. Many who are supporting the pick say Cowan gets solid marks for his legal mind, but few can cite legislative experience and expertise that would have made him the unequivocal top candidate.
At the Globe, the opiners are split on the quality of Cowan as a member of the august body, all of them noting that his ties to Patrick are the reason he beat out the unnamed (except for Barney Frank) competition. Yvonne Abraham, who cheers the choice, says the Cowan appointment “is such a Deval Patrick thing to do,” noting anyone who sees this as a surprise has not been paying close attention to the lame duck governor over the last few years. Abraham, like others in Cowan’s camp, cite his loyalty, preparation, and grasp of issues as his main virtues.
The Globe’s editorial staff wishes Cowan good luck but says Patrick missed an opportunity to go long, fumbling the chance to pick someone with more heft and experience to deal with the issues on the Senate’s plate in the next few months that include President Obama’s immigration and gun control pushes, his nominees who face divisive fights, and the never-ending debt ceiling debacle. Scot Lehigh pans the pick, noting Massachusetts already made history with a black senator when Edward Brooke held the seat for two terms. He also says that, if the administration’s apparent pique at Frank’s public lobbying for the job was what cost him the post, that it smacks of Meninoism.
The Herald’s editors praise the pick for one simple reason: it ain’t Barney. The tabloid’s Truth Squad points out the post is a potential gold mine for Cowan, a former partner at the politically connected firm of Mintz Levin. The five-month term comes with a lifetime pass to the Senate floor as well as parking and other enviable access that would make even the most connected lobbyist drool with envy. They also call attention to Cowan’s donations to the governor. . .Mitt Romney.
MetroWest Daily News takes the temperature of area lawmakers to the Cowan appointment and finds the response warm. The Berkshire Eagle calls the pick “solid.” Frank is magnanimous but tells Peter Gelzinis his immediate plans are to act on Broadway and collect big bucks for speeches and writing.
CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow says the pick is more muscle-flexing by Patrick as he exits the office without worry of political ramifications, placing his stamp on the seat as he has in other areas. McMorrow notes other recent Patrick appointments, such as Steve Tompkins to replace Andrea Cabral as Suffolk County sheriff, was a snub to the entire Boston political establishment.
Clearly, this pick says much more about Patrick than it does about Cowan.
The pitched battle to head the Massachusetts Republican Party comes to a head tonight when members of the party’s state committee choose between a more moderate loyalist to former senator Scott Brown and a hardline conservative contender. The Herald says the question of whether Brown seeks a return to the Senate hinges, in large part, on the outcome of the contest.
Southie rules no more, says CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas.
Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua pays a $5,000 campaign finance fine just before the deadline, the Eagle-Tribune reports.
Neighbors of Hingham High School will pitch a scaled-back plan to Town Meeting for new athletic fields at the school, saying the proposed $4.7 million plan approved by the School Committee is unnecessarily big.
A former member of the dysfunctional — and now defunct — Swansea Recreation Commission plans to file a $13 million suit against the town — to coincide with the year 2013, he says — after a federal judge dismissed his $12 million suit claiming his civil rights were violated when officials wouldn’t issue him a taxi license.
The incidence of fires continues to drop nationally. Meanwhile, the need for health care services for an aging population is on the rise. One solution being tried in a few places, The New Republic reports: flu shots and other basic health services provided by firefighters — most of whom have basic medical training — at neighborhood firehouses.
Somerville officials begin implementing a $90 million land taking around Union Square.
Washington’s new bridge builder is Angus King from Maine, the Daily Beast reports.
The National Review wonders why Republicans have been AWOL in the debate over women in combat.
A new poll shows President Obama’s favorability is at its highest since his first year in office, though still less than both Presidents Reagan and Clinton at the beginning of their second terms.
Keller@Large is amped up over the special Senate election. US Rep. Stephen Lynch, in a new video, says he’ll go to Washington to stand out, not to fit in. Joe Battenfeld burnishes Lynch’s anti-establishment credentials, and says he’ll be a fine candidate, so long as Democratic primary voters look past his record on health care and abortion.
The Republican push in several states to change the way electoral votes are allocated is going “nowhere fast.”
The Diocese of Worcester rescinds a speaking invitation to an outspoken Catholic activist who says Islam is an inherently violent religion.
Despite irate protests from fishermen in the audience, the New England Fishery Management Council approved drastic cuts in catch limits for cod, potentially reducing some boats to no more than a day at sea for fishing. Here is the Gloucester Times story.
The country’s Gross Domestic Product dipped slightly for the first time since the end of the recession in 2009, mainly due to reduced defense spending.
The state’s technology sector is spurring continued growth in the Massachusetts economy, even as the national economy suffered an unexpected contraction, a new report says.
State economic development secretary Greg Bialecki, looking to garner support for Gov. Deval Patrick’s tax and budget plans, told the South Shore Chamber of Commerce the region is poised for a growth burst if the plans are adopted.
Thirteen Massachusetts workplaces make a national list of the 150 best employers.
Gov. Patrick announced $3.5 million in education grants to the state’s Gateway Cities.
Mayor Thomas Menino takes to the pages of the Bay State Banner to ask parents to look closely at the new school assignment proposals.
Attorney General Martha Coakley takes the pulse of Steward Health Care’s first year in business, CommonWealth reports.
The renewable energy industry pushes for new financing mechanisms, the New York Times reports.
Former state chemist Annie Dookhan continued her tour of courthouses as a defendant rather than a witness yesterday, pleading not guilty to obstruction of justice charges in Plymouth and Bristol counties. CommonWealth’s Winter issue has a look at how Dookhan was able to do what she told investigators she did for so long.
A worker at the Revere Registry of Motor Vehicles office is charged with giving licenses to people he knew were using false identities, the Associated Press reports (via Lowell Sun).
Boston University students are on edge after a rash of street robberies near the campus.
MEDIAThe New York Times reports on what it believes to be Chinese efforts to hack the newspaper’s computer systems as reporters prepared a story on China’s prime minister.