We’re turning 20
Two decades of politics, ideas, and civic life in Massachusetts
MASSINC, THE PARENT of CommonWealth magazine, turns 20 this year. We’re planning a birthday party on December 1 that we’re calling Serious Fun II and we’re starting to think about what the next 20 years might look like. I invite you to support our work by attending the birthday party and offering your suggestions on how to build a stronger and better organization.
I wasn’t here at the start, but I’ve heard the stories about how the founders wanted to create a nonpartisan organization that would address policy issues important to the middle class using research, events, and journalism. Over the years, the mission has evolved a bit. Polling has been added to the mix with the creation of the MassINC Polling Group. Research is increasingly concentrated on the state’s Gateway Cities and criminal justice issues. And, as the news business has shrunk, CommonWealth has added a website and broadened its focus to become more of a daily news outlet.
This print issue of the magazine reflects CommonWealth’s statewide focus and its pursuit of stories that the mainstream media rarely cover.
Gateway Cities have long been identified as down-and-out urban areas in need of special help from the state, but lately many of the communities are making what appear to be comebacks. The municipalities aren’t growing anywhere near as fast as Boston, but they are exhibiting promising signs. Springfield, where an MGM casino and a facility manufacturing railcars for the MBTA are under construction, is a good example. As Ted Siefer explains, the city is not only attempting to lure jobs to the community, it is also trying a novel approach to both improving its schools and targeting economic development.
In Conversation, we interview New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and learn that his recipe for change in a Gateway City involves a heavy dose of self-reliance. “What I’m trying to do is convince people that you have your own destiny in your hands,” he says. “As trite as it might sound, if you believe things will get better and are willing to work to make it happen, it will.”
Our story on the Department of Conservation and Rec-reation continues the magazine’s review of how the agency manages the state property it owns. Our story four years ago found tenants on state-owned land with lapsed leases and many of them paying little or no rent. It prompted a review by the state auditor and a lot of changes at the agency in an attempt to bring its lease-monitoring into the 21st Century. Commissioner Leo Roy is now trying to set the cash-strapped agency on a new course, requiring all DCR tenants to pay market or near-market rents.There’s a lot more in this issue, from commentary on education reform and charter schools to pieces on whether Sen. Elizabeth Warren can actually legislate and why Donald Trump’s performance in heavily Democratic Massachusetts matters. We also have a review of a book on the American Dream and an interview with Solomon Goldstein-Rose, a 22-year-old recent college graduate who is about to land a seat in the Massachusetts House.
Enjoy the magazine, stay involved, and please help us chart the next 20 years.