The Download: Brownie points

Is Sen. Scott Brown the real-life personification of Bedford Fall’s Henry Pottercaring only for his rich ilk and kicking the working class to the curb at Christmastime, or is he someone who is offering a fiscally sane clause to ensure continued assistance to those in need in a manner that doesn’t break the bank?

You probably already know the answer: Depends who you ask. Brown is becoming the focal point for many in the battle between Democrats and Republicans over extending both federal unemployment benefits to millions and tax credits to millionaires.

Brown says he is sponsoring a compromise bill that would let the checks continue for the long-term unemployed by having them paid by existing unspent funds that doesn’t add to the debt or raise taxes.

Gov. Deval Patrick is one of many on the left who say Brown’s approach is hypocritical and disingenuous, since he supports extending $700 billion in tax cuts for the really, really rich, a move they claim adds to the national debt Brown is so unwilling to see rise.

The Patriot Ledger spoke with a couple of the 60,000 Bay State workers without work who say they are scared about the prospect of the checks stopping as the winter cold sets in and the prospects for a Merry Christmas are dimming.

The Boston Herald also spoke with some reluctant laid off workers who blasted Brown’s stance. But Margery Egan reached out to a sampling of unemployed workers and found that few she spoke with blame Brown for his approach. In fact, many she spoke with are more angry at colleagues who “are gaming the system” by refusing lower paying jobs to keep their checks andMassHealth benefits.

Nothing, though, can get done without compromise somewhere, somehow because Senate Republicans are vowing to block all legislation until the Bush tax cuts are extended.

                                                                                                                                                                                    –JACK SULLIVAN

PROBATION

Rep. Thomas Petrolati breaks his silence on probation in an interview with the Springfield Republican, saying there has been no evidence presented indicating that the people hired were unqualified.

The Boston Globe editorial page says the time-honored practice of legislators “recommending” people for state jobs should end.

Roderick Ireland, seeking the post of chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, says probation should remain within the judiciary and not be transferred to the executive branch, WBUR reports. “Greater Boston” also ponders what kind of chief justice Ireland would make, calling in David Frank of Lawyer’s Weekly and former Ireland colleague Larry DiCara to opine.

Probation at work. A former court worker who violated her terms of probation is sentenced to a year in jail, reports the Salem News.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo is coming out of his shell a little bit more, sitting down with WBZ’s Dan Rea on his “Nightside” radio program. Helps that he and Rea were high school teammates, probably.

FELONIOUS POLS

The Boston City Council  made official what everyone knew was coming, kicking convicted felon Chuck Turner off the 13-member body.

Ray Flynn tells the Herald Turner is no James Michael Curley, but Peter Gelzinis appreciates the outgoing felon’s performance nonetheless.

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reports that former state senator Dianne Wilkerson, caught in the same FBI sting operation as Turner, is getting lots of support in advance of her Dec. 22 sentencing.  More than 70 letters have been sent to US District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock urging leniency for the former pol.

IMMIGRATION

Nearly 23,000 legal immigrants are about to lose their health coverage, reports to the Gloucester Times.

ECONOMY

Federal Reserve officials are pushing Congress to pass a new round of fiscal stimulus measures. Even if Republicans were open to passing any legislation, the proposal will come in for fresh scrutiny in the wake of the report that trillions more than previously known were loaned out to prop up teetering banks, investment firms, and megabusinesses.

BANKING

Bank of America honcho Anne Finucane tells the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce that BoA isn’t too worried about revelations that might emerge from WikiLeaks because, well, so much of the bad stuff that bank has done has already been leaked or reported publicly by Congressional investigators.

EDUCATION

Newton public schools have seen their student enrollment jump over the past six years: With no end in sight, school officials may seek tax hikes to cope with the need for new classroom space.

Boston School Superintendent Carol Johnson, who has been criticized for being indecisive about budget cuts and school closings, is expected to be more decisive tonight when she recommends at a meeting of the School Committee the closing or merger of more than dozen city schools.

NATIONAL POLITICS

Read E.J. Dionne’s new offering in The New Republic to understand what he thinks of President Obama’s tax strategy.  If pressed for time, the essay’s title, “Preemptive capitulation: Obama’s idiotic tax-cut strategy,” will probably do.

Mitt Romney is wasting no time getting face time. Less than a month after the midterm election, Romney sat on the couch on the “Tonight” show with another former Massachusetts homeboy, Jay Leno, to talk about himself and other potential candidates. But some on the right think he’s got a big row to hoe on his march to Tampa in 2012. The Weekly Standard sayshis leftish pronouncements when running for Senate and governor here could come back to haunt him. while National Review Online says he’s got a lot of ‘splaining to do regarding Romneycare.

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT

The Sun Chronicle finds municipalities across the state scooping up open space at the rate of 54 acres a day, hoping to shield acreage from future development.

turbine grows in Massachusetts – believe it or not.

Central Massachusetts business scramble to apply for expiring cash grants for solar installation.

GOODBYE

The Fall River Herald News has a farewell interview with departing state Sen. Joan Menard, a one-time major powerbroker onBeacon Hill who has eased out of the spotlight in recent years.

Want to get The Download delivered immediately to your Reader or inbox? Sign up for the RSS Feed.