The Download: Clear as mud

The Department of Public Utilities ruling yesterday on the proposed NStar-Northeast Utilities merger is about as clear as mud.

For 60 years, the DPU has approved mergers if they cause “no net harm.” Yesterday’s ruling requires merging companies to prove their combination will provide “benefits that outweigh the costs.”

A Globe story suggests those benefits might be increased use of non-polluting energy sources such as wind and solar power, yet the companies have been saying all along they intend to comply with all of the state’s environmental and energy mandates. And Attorney General Martha Coakley, who represents consumers before the DPU, opposed a change in the merger standards, saying it was unnecessary and warranted. So what does the DPU ruling mean?

No one knows for sure, which is why few news outlets bothered writing stories about the ruling. But many insiders are convinced the Patrick administration wants to use the decision as leverage to pressure NStar to buy the other half of the power output of Cape Wind, which would allow the offshore wind project to move forward as planned. A Cape Wind deal would clearly benefit the environment, but NStar demonstrated with recent contract signings that it can buy wind power at a much cheaper cost.

                                                                                                                                                                                                –BRUCE MOHL    

BEACON HILL

A former aide to ex-state treasurer Tim Cahill had more involvement with Cahill’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign while working for Goldman Sachs than previously disclosed, according to this Globe story. Federal regulations limit donations or in-kind contributions by those at firms handling public finance to elected officials whose office issues bonds.

Hundreds of pages of documents in Dianne Wilkerson’s federal case were unsealed yesterday. They show the government’s cooperating witness, Ron Wilburn, telling federal investigators that the Boston licensing board is “kickback heaven,” and that high-profile construction projects in Roxbury were greased with bribes.

William Delahunt announced, just two months after leaving Congress, that he will begin lobbying for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in its bid to site a casino in Southeastern Massachusetts. The Herald has a similar story.

A sting operation by state officials nets 20 unlicensed electricians advertising on Craigslist.

MUNICIPAL

Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua blames a sharp spike in car thefts on police officers not doing their job, reports the Eagle-Tribune.

Springfield faces a crippling $87.8 million deficit by 2015 if nothing is done to shore up revenue shortfalls and curb employee pension and health care costs.

WISCONSIN

Democrats see a political gift in Gov. Scott Walker‘s union crackdown.

HEALTH CARE

On ”Radio Boston,” Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin talks about his efforts to introduce a single-payer health system in the state.

Steven Syre, in his Globe column, says the problem with health care boards is not compensation but composition of the board itself.

The Boston Herald dials up the outrage machine and pays a visit to the New York mansion of one Cleve Killingsworth, he of the $11 million golden parachute. Peter Gelzinis piles on

With 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker moderating, two health care experts debate the tax on Cadillac health plans. The Lowell Sun has the story.

Amesbury‘s mayor is among those seeking to take health care plan design away from municipal unions.

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT

The Cape Cod Times suggests that towns experiencing complaints from residents about wind turbines provide incentives to abutters.

Federal environmental officials want Attleboro and North Attleboro to upgrade their wastewater treatment plants. The feds say phosphorus from the two towns is draining into the Narragansett Bay

EDUCATION

The Weymouth School Committee is upset that the Patriot Ledger ran a story last week about survey results that showed teachers and parents were concerned about bullies, weapons, and drugs in the schools. They didn’t say they were upset about the survey results, mind you, just the story.

HEALTH

Paul Levy pans the Massachusetts Health Quality Partners annual review of primary care practices in the state because the data is from 2009, which he says is too out-of-date to be useful.

PUBLIC BROADCASTING

Right-wing activist James O’Keefe released yet another video from his orchestrated sting that shows another NPR Foundation executive seemingly willing to help a “Muslim” donor avoid government inquiry into his donation. Overlooked in all the clatter about the incidents is the fact NPR repeatedly refused to take the donation from the sham group.

LIBYA FALLOUT

Harvard professor Joseph Nye, one of the academics recently reported to have done consulting work for the Libyan government, responds in The New Republic to criticism of his Libyan dealings from TNR publisher Martin Peretz and Mother Jones magazine and also to criticism of a piece he subsequently wrote about his Libyan dealings for The New Republic.

WASHINGTON

The mother of an 11-year-old Springfield boy who hung himself in 2009 after incessant bullying met with President Obama and the First Lady yesterday as part of a bullying prevention workshop held at the White House.

House Republicans will propose another short-term federal budget – this one running for three weeks.

FHA commissioner David Stevens is leaving the Obama administration for a private-sector job. 

At US Rep. Peter King‘s terror hearing, lawmakers turn on one another. Slate’s David Weigel labels the hearings a total dud. With apologies to Lloyd Bentsen: We know Paul Revere. We’ve read about Paul Revere. We’ve been to Paul Revere’s house. Congressman Peter King, you’re no Paul Revere. But Deroy Murdock says he is in the National Review.

ELECTION 2012

Mitt Romney is pushing for big tax breaks for American companies that move overseas profits back the US, saying it would create “hundreds of thousands – if not millions” of new jobs, but not all economists share his rosy job forecast, reports the Globe.

US Rep. Ron Paul was right about our terrible economy, Joshua Green argues. But, he asks, does anybody care?

Former New York mayor Ed Koch says “everyone” knows Donald Trump is not going to run for president.

STATE OF THE STATES

Nevada is the latest state with a legislature considering legalized online gambling. Lawmakers in Iowa, California, and Florida are pushing similar bills.

Amazon.com is partially pulling out of Illinois, retaliating against efforts to force the online retailer to collect sales tax from vendors based in that state. 

Federal prosecutors charge two New York state lawmakers, a lobbyist, and the head of a hospital network with an influence peddling scheme. 

CLERGY SEX ABUSE

A church watchdog group is using a little known Catholic church report to ask Attorney General Martha Coakley to force the Archdiocese of Boston to release all its information on priests accused of sexual abuse.

BUSINESS

Genzyme CEO Henri Termeer sits down with Emily Rooney to talk about what the impending $20 billion acquisition by the French drug company Sanofi-Aventis means for the Cambridge biotech firm.

Acushnet-based Titleist won another round in its patent fight against Callaway Golf.

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