Labor pain for Democrats

Chris Christie stormed into the New Jersey governor’s office by tossing verbal bombs at the state’s teachers’ union. Scott Walker caused a national sensation when he went after the collective bargaining rights of Wisconsin teachers and other public sector unions. Now  Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has brought union antagonism to a bipartisan place.

Chicago’s 26,000 teachers walked off the job yesterday, throwing one of the nation’s largest school districts into chaos. The standoff isn’t primarily about money, which makes it a more difficult thing to wrestle with. Emanuel wants to tie teacher evaluations more closely to student performance, and he wants broad powers to close and re-staff struggling schools. Here is Governing magazine’s download on the teacher’s strike. WBUR’s Tom Ashbrook hosts a reporter’s roundtable on the Chicago strike.

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal both note the Chicago strike is the most high profile blowup between Democratic leaders and the unions they once marched in lockstep with. Chicago follows teacher performance clashes in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. The Journal notes that tension lay beneath the teachers’ unions relationship with the Obama administration, even before Chicago went on strike against President Obama’s former chief of staff; labor groups dialed back their spending at the DNC, the paper says, after Democrats chose to host their convention in a right-to-work state; Obama’s Race to the Top initiative didn’t make many union friends, either. The Times argues that the strike shows teachers across the country standing on shrinking ground. A Journal editorial argues that Emanuel is now standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Walker; if the two men haven’t met yet, the paper writes, “We’d be glad to mediate a call.”

The Chicago strike comes as Boston Mayor Tom Menino is locked in tense negotiations with the city’s teachers’ union. A Herald editorial says the issues in Boston — teacher evaluations and school assignments — echo those that drove teachers in Chicago to wave vicious signs at Emanuel. Boston has already dropped its demands for a longer school day, and the Herald insists that the continued standoff over evaluations is “all about the financial needs and desires of the adults — not the educational needs of the 350,000 kids in the Chicago schools, nor the 58,000 in Boston.”

The Globe’s Adrian Walker took up the Boston negotiations yesterday. Walker argued that most of the heavy lifting has been done already, and that the teachers and the school department are staring each other down over minor issues. That’s a problem, Walker argued, since Boston has put itself in no position to hold the sort of high ground Emanuel has staked out: “The other party that should desperately want a deal, frankly, is [Superintendent Carol] Johnson herself. Since the school opening fiasco last year — when the School Department suddenly couldn’t get kids to school on time — she has faced a steady drumbeat of criticism. She has protected, and defended, an administrator who was a domestic abuser. She has issued school closing plans that made parents want to rip their hair out. She has received a lackluster evaluation from the School Committee. Johnson should take the opportunity for a victory.”



Embattled state Rep. Daniel Webster of Pembroke, who’s been hit with charges of misusing clients’ funds in his law practice, withdrew his name from the general election ballot. The state Republican party tapped Karen Barry of Duxbury, Webster’s former campaign manager who ran a formidable write-in campaign against him in the primary last week, to replace him on the ballot.

Religious leaders and organizations are divided over the November ballot question that would legalize assisted suicide in Massachusetts, reports the Globe. Stateline reports that assisted suicide may be a tough sell in heavily Catholic Massachusetts. Meanwhile, the retired CEO of Progressive Insurance, who lives in Ohio, is bankrolling the ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Massachusetts, the State House News Service reports (via Lowell Sun).

The former head of the Medford Housing Authority has been fined $5,000 and barred from public employment for six years in a settlement agreement with the attorney general’s office over alleged violations of bidding laws.

The Herald notes that, although most 9/11 family members’ lawsuits have been settled, there’s one major piece of litigation still looming over Massport: a multi-billion dollar action from Silverstein Properties, the office developer that controls the World Trade Center site. Silverstein’s lawyers asked a federal judge for an expedited trial yesterday.


There’s no talk of burying the Tobin Bridge Big Dig-style, but CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow writes in his weekly Globe column that there are lower-cost creative ways to help knit together the halves of Chelsea now divided by the hulking span.

Margery Eagan checks in on a Brookline bid to ban plastic foam containers.


KG Urban Enterprises, the developer that is challenging the tribal set aside in the new casino law, wants an expedited hearing on its suit in federal court while the state is asking for delays while federal officials decide whether to approve the pact with the Mashpee Wampanoags.

Springfield City Council postpones a vote on whether to hold a citywide or ward-only referendum on casinos. State gaming officials will meet with the city, which had been laying plans for its own developer-selection process.


Kurt Eichenwald, in a New York Times op-ed, says he has read excerpts from intelligence briefings prepared for President George Bush that indicate his administration was negligent in dealing with the threat from Osama Bin Laden in the weeks leading up to 9/11.

A $253 million revenue shortfall in New Jersey is raising questions about Gov. Chris Christie’s tax cuts, the Newark Star-Ledger reports.


ProPublica has a look at several suits against Bain Capital when it was run by Mitt Romney that casts some light on how the venture capital firm conducted business, and it ain’t pretty.

The New York Times throws cold water on Romney’s pledge to retain the popular portions of Obamacare, while scrapping the individual mandate that finances them. Paul Levy recalls a meeting he had with then-Gov. Romney in 2005 about health care reform in which the governor said coverage of pre-existing conditions could only happen with an individual mandate. Eric Convey argues in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that a President Romney would be more likely to reshape the health care law than scrap it outright.

Team Romney doesn’t buy the convention bounce for President Obama, calling the numbers a stronger version “horse puckey.” The Atlantic, however, channels Joe Biden and thinks it’s a BFD.

If Romney wins, writes prognosticator Charlie Cook in National Journal, it will be because of the economy “and despite his campaign.” Meanwhile, conservatives aren’t happy that Romney-Ryan doesn’t want to talk turkey about taxes. Which means forget President Obama and Mitt Romney: George Bush will decide the election.

For all the deriding of the national conventions as meaningless fluff, The New Republic’s Alec MacGillis writes that they clarified to a surprising degree the contrasting visions of the two parties.

US Rep. John Tierney convenes a roundtable on veterans issues in Salem, the Salem News reports.

Both Democratic candidates from Middleboro for the 12th Bristol state representative nomination are seeking a recount from last week’s primary, when Roger Brunelle defeated Alan Bond by 12 votes. State Rep. Kevin Aguiar of Fall River has filed for a recount in his race, which he lost by 24 votes. Nicholas Bernier, who lost the Democratic nomination for Governor’s Council to Oliver Cipollini to take on Cipollini’s brother accidental Governor’s Councilor Charles Cipollini, also filed for a recount. Alex Vispoli of Andover says he won’t seek a recount of his 92-vote primary loss to Rep. Paul Adams.


WBUR takes an in-depth look at the legal dispute between a gay couple and a monsignor with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester who wrote an email suggesting he didn’t want to sell a church property to the couple because they might hold gay weddings there. The couple is alleging discrimination, while the attorney for the diocese says the First Amendment protects the church from having to sell property for a use the church doesn’t approve of. NECN also has a report on the dispute. The issue of the Catholic church trying to impose its beliefs on people who buy its surplus property was the focus of a cover story entitled “What would Jesus do?” in CommonWealth this summer.

Clivus New England of North Andover is selling a nearly waterless, flushless toilet that composts waste into soil, NECN reports.

Is it really the end of men? Time asks.

GoDaddy-hosted websites are hacked, the BBC reports.

The Brockton Planning Board rejected a proposed expansion by the owner of Cindy’s Kitchen that would have added 100 jobs. The board and Ed Byers, the owner, have clashed over Byers opposition to the controversial siting of a proposed power plant in Brockton.

Taxation without representation: Visitors who flock to Boston to take in the Freedom Trail and other sights pay the third highest level of travel-related taxes in the country.  

JP Morgan estimates that the new iPhone could add half a point to GDP.


Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust’s 2008 book on the Civil War is the basis for a new two-hour PBS documentary that will air later this month.


Maryland is losing millions in unpaid E-ZPass tolls.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says this summer was the third hottest ever, NPR reports (via WBUR).


Cambridge native Ben Affleck is planning to direct a movie about James “Whitey” Bulger starring his buddy Matt Damon as the accused killer and his brother Casey Affleck as former Senate president William Bulger.

Two teens including one juvenile were charged with the theft of 49 cows from a Dartmouth farm. The bovines’ owner said the juvenile was a family member of the man who owns the land he rented.


Many newspapers chose not to cover the anniversary of 9/11 on their front pages, Poynter reports. The Globe has a front-page article reporting that family members of victims welcome the more subdued observance in the wake of last year’s 10th anniversary.

Mark Leccese, in an opinion piece on, criticizes the Boston Globe and local pundits like Margery Eagan, Dan  Kennedy, and Emily Rooney for going soft on plagiarism.

The New Yorker is temporarily banned from Facebook for violating the website’s community standards on nudity and sex by showcasing a cartoon with a topless woman.

A top Knight Foundation executive says journalism schools aren’t changing fast enough, the Nieman Journalism Lab reports.