Throwing the book at the library president

It looked like a good-news story to revel in. The valuable pieces of artwork that were presumed missing from the Boston Public Library weren’t missing after all. They were apparently just misfiled 80 feet from where they should have been, in a cavernous room that holds hundreds of thousands of the library’s millions of holdings.

“The story of the lost-and-found artworks at the library should have been the most delightful of Boston tales: the big art heist that wasn’t,” wrote the Globe‘s Yvonne Abraham in Sunday’s paper.

“If the word ‘vindicated’ had a picture in the dictionary, it might be the face of Amy Ryan,”writes Katharine Seelye in today’s New York Times, referring to the BPL president who had been hung out to dry over the missing pieces — a Rembrandt etching and an Albrecht Dürer engraving, valued together at more than $600,000.

But rather than a feel-good story in which all’s well that ends well, this one turned into a beheading worthy of Lewis Carroll’s vengeful Queen of Hearts, says Abraham. Or think of it as a plot twist straight from O. Henry, writes Seelye, since Ryan fell on her sword and resigned under pressure just one day before the artworks were found and the main rationale for her exit seemed to evaporate.

But Ryan is still on her way out, and that’s where the plot thickens. Abraham says Mayor Marty Walsh has wanted her out for some time. She says the mayor certainly has the right to have his own team in place — Ryan was tapped for the job seven years ago by then-Mayor Tom Menino. But she finds the administration’s zeal to show Ryan the door over the not-actually-missing artwork a poor way to execute such a change.

“You can tell a lot about people, Mr. Mayor, by how they treat others, great or small,” writes Abraham.

Walsh says Ryan wasn’t fired, she quit. And he says there is no sense talking about whether he would now have her back, since he says she’s not asking to stay. “She made her decision. We’re going to move forward,” Walsh told Globe City Hall reporter Andrew Ryan. Left unsaid was the fact that Amy Ryan, who was essentially made by the administration to walk the plank, knew better than to raise the idea of staying on the job after all.

Meanwhile, Seelye checks in with two of city’s leading literary lights, both former trustees of the library board. In emailed comments to the Times, each stays true to form.

The urbane James Carroll, a former priest and author of deep-think meditations on religion and history, calls Ryan’s tenure “a high-water mark for public servants in Boston.” Novelist Dennis Lehane, who, like Walsh, grew up in Dorchester, and has made the city’s grittier side his canvas, doesn’t dress things up. “I think it sucks, frankly, that Marty accepted her resignation and doesn’t seem open to reconsidering,” he wrote.

–MICHAEL JONAS

 

BEACON HILL

The Baker administration says it is determined to fix the state’s food stamp mess. (Telegram & Gazette)

A Lynn Item editorial praises Gov. Charlie Baker for his “folksy honesty.”

A Globe editorial calls for the repeal of mandatory minimum state prison sentences for drug offenses in Massachusetts.

The Globe reports that Baker’s political operation is skirting the intent of a 1998 campaign finance law by using a federal fundraising account to refill its depleted coffers.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter was driving illegally for five months after his license was suspended for non-payment of state taxes in October. The Enterprise reports that the Registry has suspended his license a dozen times in the past as well.

The Berkshire Eagle argues that Pittsfield needs more municipal money for road repairs not less and urges Mayor Daniel Bianchi not to cut funding.

OLYMPICS

Dan Shaughnessy unloads on the Boston 2024 effort, which he says “needs to be put out of its misery.” (Boston Globe)

A Globe editorial says the possibility of the Games coming here should ratchet up efforts against sex trafficking, which may increase in conjunction with major sporting events.

Boston 2024 adds a $409,000, 10-member “community engagement team.”

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Years after the Great Recession has turned around, many states around the country are still struggling with budget deficits and half have yet to pass a budget for the upcoming year, especially in Republican-controlled states, with intraparty fighting halting the process. (New York Times) One prime example is Kansas, where state government is in a meltdown amid fighting within the GOP between lawmakers and the governor over taxes, cuts, and school funding. (U.S. News & World Report)

The Globe‘s Annie Linskey digs into the battle that erupted between Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Securities and Exchange Commission chairwoman Mary Jo White.

The National Review says laws and regulations should come with expiration dates because, like milk and other foods, they can go bad over time.

ELECTIONS

Sen. Bernie Sanders shares a secret: He will win the New Hampshire primary. (Keene Sentinel)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

WBUR asks whether the state’s $1 billion bet on life sciences is really paying off.

AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman said the MBTA’s Carmen’s Union is right to oppose Gov. Charlie Baker‘s proposals for reform, saying Baker is looking for a “trump card” to give the administration an upper hand in arbitration. (Keller@Large)

A tight labor market is good news for employees in Massachusetts. (Boston Globe)

Fan safety and the legal protection sports teams have against liability are in the spotlight after a woman is seriously injured by a piece of broken bat in a Red Sox game at Fenway Park over the weekend. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

The state plans to continue running the Lawrence schools through at least 2018. (Eagle-Tribune)

Haverhill Schools Superintendent James Scully says costs are rising largely because 21 percent of students have some sort of special need. (Eagle-Tribune)

Actor Mark Wahlberg, who got to know a few people in Plymouth from his time as a guest in county jail during his misspent teen years, has donated $20,000 to renovate two basketball courts at a local elementary school. (Patriot Ledger)

Gloucester school officials develop a plan to bring spending in line with a city budget appropriation. (Gloucester Times)

HEALTH CARE

The International Conference on Opioids is meeting in Boston, and Gov. Charlie Baker will speak there today following a year in which more than 1,000 Massachusetts residents died from abuse of the drugs. (Boston Herald) In Congress, Massachusetts lawmakers are working on several bills related to problem. (MassLive)

The number of abortions in all six New England states has been dropping, reflecting a trend around the country where restrictions are being placed in more conservative states. (Associated Press)

TRANSPORTATION

The Pioneer Institute says the T’s bus maintenance costs are out of control, but Ari Ofsevit says the analysis is wrong.

New York insurance rules may kill a Buffalo car-sharing service catering to low-income people. (Governing)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

In the second installment of a three-part series, researchers from the Acadia Center explain what states are doing to address the price of electricity. (CommonWealth)

The MetroWest Daily News suggests that Massachusetts needs to plan for more intense hurricanes that hit populated coasts with greater frequency.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The Globe‘s Evan Allen rides along with Boston police gang unit officers.

A 45-year-old man is under arrest, charged in a Mattapan hit-and-run accident with plowing into two children on bicycles, killing an 8-year-old girl and badly injuring her 12-year-old cousin. (Boston Herald)

A white suburban Dallas-area police officer has been suspended after a video captured him throwing a 14-year-old black girl in a bathing suit to the ground and pointing his gun at other teens after he and other officers responded to a call of kids crashing a neighborhood pool party. (Associated Press)

Can ping-pong deter crime?

PASSINGS

Ronnie Gilbert, whose powerful voice made up one-quarter of “The Weavers,” the seminal folk group led by Pete Seeger, has died at age 88. (New York Times)