Healey vs. Coakley

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders now has two attorney general opinions in front of her on the proposed acquisition of South Shore Hospital by Partners HealthCare.

One, from former attorney general Martha Coakley, is cautious. It argues that a lawsuit attempting to block the acquisition may fail, so it’s better to approve the merger with five-to-seven year restrictions on pricing and operations that would apply to the entire Partners system. The US Justice Department backs Coakley’s approach.

The other opinion, from new Attorney General Maura Healey, is more of a gamble. If Sanders rejects Coakley’s agreement, Healey would sue to block the South Shore acquisition, arguing that “a larger, post-expansion Partners may wield market leverage that is greater than its current, already significant market leverage.” Partners’s competitors back Healey’s approach.

Sanders, after months of indecision, now has to choose. Based on her anxious comments in court, many expect her to reject Coakley’s agreement with Partners and let Healey engage in legal battle with the health care giant if Partners decides to continue its pursuit of South Shore Hospital.

Boston Globe columnist Steven Syre, a critic of the Partners-South Shore deal, applauded Healey’s move, while Rich Copp, a spokesman for Partners, said the health care company now awaits the judge’s decision.

–BRUCE MOHL

SNOWMAGEDDON

Massachusetts is getting pounded by snow and hurricane-force winds, with the state coming to a virtual standstill. Gov. Charlie Baker was all business at the state’s emergency bunker, eschewing the sweaters and fleece vests of his predecessors for a standard dark suit, which he called his “work uniform.”

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Brockton city councilors want more oversight of the city’s auction of abandoned property, a move Mayor Bill Carpenter says would hurt the newly revived program that brought in nearly $1 million to the city and returned abandoned lots to the tax rolls.

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera selects a Haverhill fire official as his new chief, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

OLYMPICS

Several Boston legislators are voicing their concerns about a possible Boston Olympics and the large bill they fear the state could be left holding.

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Governing offers some theories on why state House speakers appear prone to ethical problems. Four have been indicted recently.

The Justice Department has built a national database capable of tracking vehicles in real-time across the United States.

Even the conservative National Review says Sarah Palin has fallen into self-parody and says her role in the Republican party should be limited to none whatsoever.

ELECTIONS

The Koch brothers plan on spending close to $900 million to influence the 2016 presidential and congressional elections, about the same amount as each party plans to spend.

“Undecided” is the top GOP “candidate” among of those surveyed in a new USA/Suffolk University poll. Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush are running far behind.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Native American tribes are pondering getting into the legal marijuana business after the Department of Justice last month gave the go-ahead to federally recognized tribes to grow and sell the weed with certain conditions.

The New York Times revisits the subprime auto loan market which is enriching Wall Street while becoming a growing threat to the economy.

EDUCATION

State education officials report more students are graduating from Massachusetts high schools on time — within four years of entering — and fewer are dropping out, a continuation on an eight-year trend.

Victor Woolridge, of Cornerstone Real Estate Advisors, is elevated to chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees, the Lowell Sun reports.

A Herald editorial decries the possibility that a Dorchester teacher won’t be able to donate winnings from a essay contest to her school because of ethics laws, and calls out CommonWealth for first raising the issue, saying the magazine and “some state ethics gurus” have “their knickers in a twist” over nothing.

HEALTH CARE

As all eyes prepare to turn to Sunday’s Super Bowl, Mosi Tatupu, the Patriots star fullback of the 1980s who died five years ago at age 54, is the latest former NFL player for whom there is now evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Pilgrim power plant in Plymouth continues to rank among the worst performers of the country’s nuclear generators after federal regulators determined the owners have failed to follow through on corrective actions needed to avoid unplanned shutdowns.

ISO New England has suspended Cape Wind from the region’s wholesale power markets.

The Lowell Sun, in an editorial, backs expanding the region’s natural gas pipeline infrastructure. The Globe also says more natural gas pipeline capacity is needed, but urges the new Baker administration to balance that against continued to efforts to boost the state’s renewable energy output.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A full jury has been seated in the murder trial of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez with opening arguments expected to begin Thursday.

Police are not happy about a free app that shows drivers officers’ locations in addition to traffic-free routes.

Bryan Leblanc of Salem says he showed up at a supermarket to meet a woman he had met via a dating website only to find the woman was his current girlfriend. He left, she followed him, arguments ensued, and he is now facing assault and battery charges, the Salem News reports.

MEDIA

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is planning to launch a state-run, taxpayer-funded news outlet, the Indianapolis Star reports.

The New York Times has a must-read on former Globe columnist Patricia Smith, who reinvented herself as a professor and nationally acclaimed poet after her fall from journalism for fabricating people and quotes in her column.

With the travel ban affecting delivery around the Northeast, most newspapers are dropping their paywalls during the blizzard. Many print newspapers are not being delivered. Lowell Sun note

Forget Snowmageddon, a real disaster occurred early Tuesday morning when Facebook and Instagram went down for about an hour on what was initially thought to be a cyber attack but turned out to be an internal malfunction.

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.

PASSINGS

Bob Guillemin, better known as “Sidewalk Sam,” the man who turned Boston pavement into canvas, died Monday at age 75.