Baker’s Cape Wind conversion

Four years ago gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker strongly opposed Cape Wind as a “sweetheart deal” that would drive up the cost of doing business in Massachusetts. Now, according to an editorial in the Standard-Times, he has dropped his opposition to the proposed wind farm in Nantucket Sound, concluding the project is a “done deal.”

Baker’s “conversion” on Cape Wind is creating a lot of buzz in political and environmental circles, but it appears to be more a change of tone than anything else. Four years ago Baker took hard stances on a wide variety of issues and alienated lots of people in the process. This time around he’s being more selective, accepting policy decisions that can’t be changed and narrowing his list of enemies.

In 2010, Cape Wind was a minor but important campaign issue. Gov. Deval Patrick was the project’s biggest political supporter and his three gubernatorial opponents were all against it. The project had sold half of its expected power output to National Grid, but Cape Wind was searching for buyers for the rest. Two years later Patrick would force NStar to buy a quarter of Cape Wind’s power output in return for his administration’s approval for the company’s merger with Northeast Utilities.

Baker met with the editorial board of the Standard-Times last week to discuss a lot of issues. His stance on Cape Wind wasn’t mentioned in the next day’s story or video excerpts from his talk. But on Sunday Standard-Times editor Robert Unger wrote a broader piece about “the new Charlie Baker,” pointing out that the Republican had learned from his past mistakes. “He has dropped his opposition to Cape Wind, which he told our editorial board last week was a ‘done deal,'” Unger wrote.

A recording of the Standard-Times interview indicates Baker restated his opposition to Cape Wind (not competitively bid, not competitively priced) while also saying there was a promising future for competitively bid offshore wind. He said New Bedford could benefit as a staging ground for the growing offshore wind industry. An aide then interrupted to clarify that Baker would not try to undo any existing approvals for Cape Wind. Baker added: “Cape Wind is over.”

In an interview, Baker restated his position on Cape Wind. “I don’t think it’s a good deal for ratepayers, but it’s over,” he said. “There won’t be any projects that are bid like that in my administration.”

–BRUCE MOHL 

BEACON HILL

The Massachusetts Senate approves legislation permitting a local option water surcharge to fund water infrastructure projects, State House News reports.

Roderick Ireland, the chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, will step down in July, giving Gov. Deval Patrick a chance to name the state’s new top judge before he leaves office. Could it be his former chief of staff, Mo Cowan?

A couple that are managers of three marijuana dispensaries given initial approval by the state were forced to close down pot shops in Colorado in 2012 because of numerous violations. The chief operating officer of another would-be medical marijuana licensee in Massachusetts was arrested for driving under the influence in Colorado, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The high-stakes negotiations over South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade continue. A Catholic school in Harvard says it won’t march in the parade because of the inclusion of gays, the Telegram & Gazette reports. Kevin Cullen‘s long deconstruction of parade politics and culture points out, among other things, that the school’s lack of acceptance of others makes some historic sense given that its leader is part of an orthodox Catholic order founded by the virulently anti-Semitic bigot Father Leonard Feeney. T&G columnist Dianne Williamson can’t believe all the intolerance around the parade. Margery Eagan calls the parade “an embarrassment to Boston.”

A Quincy city councilor criticized Mayor Thomas Koch for failing to challenge the controversial federal flood maps for the city and has proposed giving tax abatements to residents in those zones for some relief.

Brockton Mayor William Carpenter and the City Council have called a truce in their festering battle after lawyers for both sides agreed to cancel a court hearing in a suit brought by the mayor to block an appointment to the Water Commission by the council president.

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera nominates the acting public works commissioner to continue in the job, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

A group of Hanson voters opposed to building a new elementary school have filed signatures to recall two selectmen who are trying to resurrect the effort to build the school.

Beverly Mayor Mike Cahill ousts the head of the planning board, who accuses the mayor of firing him to appease opponents of a development project, the Salem News reports.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

President Obama’s 2015 budget would tax the rich more to give tax breaks to others, Time reports.

Republican House budget chief Paul Ryan says the War on Poverty begun 50 years ago is not doing much good, Time reports.

ELECTIONS

It once was that it took a crowbar to get a congressman out of his seat but a new poll shows voters are increasingly willing to vote their representatives out, with 68 percent saying they’re looking at other candidates and only 22 percent saying they’ll vote for the incumbent.

EDUCATION

A New Jersey student is suing her parents in order to force them to pay for college.

A second public presentation on a plan to turn around New Bedford’s failing high school had a much better turnout than the first, when only 15 parents of some 2,000 students showed up.

HEALTH CARE

A North Shore group of 200 doctors that had left Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center two years ago to affiliate with Steward Health is jumping back to BI.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A new report says the state’s 2008 Green Communities Act will yield modest economic benefits to the state, including about 16,000 new jobs over time.

People are bugging snowy owls on the Cape.

Fall River city councilors say Mayor Will Flanagan is attempting to use the closing of the city’s landfill to privatize trash pickup behind their backs and vow to kill the plan before it gets off the ground.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Greater Boston analyzes the telephone interview convicted murderer Michelle Kosilek, who is fighting the state to get a taxpayer-funded sex change operation, gave to Boston Spirit Magazine. Kosilek also pens an open letter to the LGBT community asking for support.

Eric Holder and Rand Paul strike a deal on mandatory minimum drug sentences.

MEDIA

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The New York Times runs a correction of an 161-year-old article that chronicled the real life story of the man whose life 12 Years A Slave was based upon.

Justin Kaplan, a central figure in the Cambridge literary scene for more than five decades, has died at 88.