Fall 2014 Editor’s note

Names and faces

a former editor of mine often used to remind me that names sell newspapers. What he meant was that people like to read about interesting people. At CommonWealth, we sometimes forget that adage, focused as we are on issues of policy. But we didn’t forget with this issue; it’s full of stories about some of the state’s most interesting people.

Our cover story is about Stan Rosenberg, a long-time Senate insider who is poised to take over as Senate president in January when Therese Murray leaves office. Rosenberg will instantly become one of the three most powerful people on Beacon Hill, and Michael Jonas’s story sheds some light on who he is and how he might wield power. I say some light because Rosenberg’s politics are not easy to categorize. He may live in the liberal bastion of Amherst, but it’s hard to say whether he really is a hard-core liberal. For example, he favors a graduated income tax, but he also brokered the passage of the state’s gaming legislation.

Ralph Whitehead, a University of Massachusetts Amherst journalism professor and longtime Rosenberg confidant, says the senator is not your typical Beacon Hill power broker. “An openly gay, Jewish guy from a college town in the western part of the state. Gee, sounds like a standard Massa-chusetts Senate president,” he says.

Gov. Deval Patrick sits down with Jack Sullivan and talks about what he’s learned the last eight years in office. It’s an interesting discussion with one of the more skillful politicians in the country. He’s still as cagey as ever (he would only say that he voted for the Democrat in the three-way Democratic primary for governor), but his thoughts on race, impatience with government bureaucracy, and the relationships he developed with his predecessors in the Corner Office, most of whom are Republicans, are fascinating.

John Henry, the owner of the Boston Red Sox, the Boston Globe, and, until May, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, wouldn’t talk to me about his decision to sell the newspaper in New England’s second-largest city. Henry had promised T&G employees and residents of Worcester that he would find a local buyer for the paper and, if one couldn’t be found, keep it himself. But he went back on that pledge, cutting a quarter of the newspaper’s staff and selling to the Halifax Media Group of Daytona Beach, Florida, which may be the antithesis of a local buyer. Tim Murray, the former lieutenant governor and now head of the Worcester Chamber of Commerce, summed up local reaction well: “The way it was handled was bush league.”

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.

John Fish, the emerging leader of the state’s business community, argues passionately that we should explore bringing the Summer Olympics to Boston. The construction executive’s argument is heavy on inspiration and short on facts and figures, but it makes the case that it’s time for Bostonians (and, presumably, the rest of Massachusetts) to start thinking big. A quartet of young turks (Chris Dempsey, Liam Kerr, Kelley Gossett Phillips, and Conor Yunits) make the opposite argument just as strongly. They say it’s time to think smart and leave the Olympics boondoggle to others.

Finally, there is Gabrielle Gurley’s One on One conversation with Mike Firestone. Who’s that, you say? He is an emerging superstar political operative, the mastermind behind Maura Healey’s upset win in the Democratic primary for attorney general, and someone who has played similar roles in the upstart campaigns of US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu, and Gov. Patrick. Indeed, he has such a good track record of turning political unknowns and outsiders into elected officials that his world is coming full circle. During the primary race for attorney general, Patrick endorsed Healey’s opponent, former state senator Warren Tolman. Firestone didn’t miss a beat; the campaign issued a statement calling the endorsement by the governor (Firestone’s old boss) a backroom deal designed to protect the “Beacon Hill club.”