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.

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Michael Jonas has a very interesting feature on 18-year-old Timothy McManus from Dorchester, who is serving 18 months in prison for possession of a handgun. The story examines McManus’s situation from all angles, but doesn’t take sides. Through interviews with McManus and others with ties to the case, the story acknowledges the need to remove guns from the streets while raising questions about whether a mandatory minimum sentence for a kid showing promise like Timothy makes sense.

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.

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.

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.