Mitt’s $10,000 pyramid

Poor Mitt Romney.  Probably a poor choice of words. Which is exactly the problem for the once — and perhaps future — front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.  No matter what he does, Romney can’t seem to get away from the characterization of him as a rich guy out of touch with the problems facing most Americans.

Yesterday should have been a good day in the effort to put a bit of a regular-guy sheen on Romney’s multimillionaire mien.  The New York Times ran out a story yesterday that tried its best to put a human face on Mitt’s millions, making almost endearing Romney’s frugal, coach-class flying ways despite a reported net worth of $200 million. But the story was all but lost amidst the fallout from Saturday night’s GOP debate in Iowa where Romney offered a casual $10,000 bet with Rick Perry over a dispute they had on Romney’s health care views.

Perry seemed taken aback by the proposed wager, and the pundit class pounced it on as yet another instance of Romney showing how little he has in common with Joe the Plumber.  

“It’s playing badly everywhere for Mitt Romney.”

“For Mitt Romney, 10,000 bucks is like $10 for the rest of us.”

And those were from commentators on Fox News.

For those who missed the exchange and the flurry of reviews panning Romney’s move, the Democratic National Committee obliged by compiling a video that runs through the reactions.

The BBC story helpfully translates Romney’s wage into British pounds (it is about 6,300).

Iowa front-runner Newt Gingrich stayed above the fray yesterday, not joining in the Romney pile-on, a sign, some think, of growing confidence within his campaign. Perry, however, who grew up in a house with no running water, showed less restraint, remarking yesterday that “$10,000 is pocket change for Mitt.” The Perry campaign quickly put up a web video of the exchange while the words “one bet you can count  on… the truth isn’t for sale” appear on the screen. Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman grabbed the web address and filled it with articles on the bet.

Romney’s wager quip seemed to have such legs because it was neither the $10 bet people might relate to nor the “I’ll bet you a million dollars” sort of line that is clearly hyperbole (for most people).  Instead, it was “an intermediary sum that came off sounding like an easily producable amount for Romney,” wrote the Globe’s Glen Johnson.

                                                                                                                                                            –MICHAEL JONAS


On Keller@Large, state Treasurer Steve Grossman talks about the qualities he’ll be looking for in his appointment to the new gaming commission and touts his new “open checkbook” Web site that had a few hiccups in its launch last week.  Gov. Deval Patrick will name his gambling commission chairman by the end of the month. Steve Wynn tells Foxborough town officials he needs more time to sell them on his casino proposal, saying that a forum currently scheduled for this coming Saturday would be too soon to have “an intelligent discussion of the proposal.”
The Globe pays a visit to Montville, Connecticut, home of the Mohegan Sun, and deems the town’s attitude to be that the casino is “a mixed blessing”

The Patriot Ledger calls for a repeal of the Blue Laws that ban hunting on Sundays.

A Hollywood filmmaker was charged with inflating expenses to win Massachusetts film tax credits, costing the state $4.7 million, CommonWealth reports.


Occupy Boston protesters who were arrested over the weekend when police finally moved to disband the Dewey Square encampment head to court for arraignment today, while the activists think about next steps in their effort. The MetroWest Daily News says the Occupy movement needs to devise new tactics to stay relevant. The Christian Science Monitor looks at some of those new moves including daytime protests and linking up with other social activists.


A state overseer ordered changes in the way seized property is sold after the police department in Lawrence swapped 13 cars, including a Cadillac and a Lexus, for four Chevys, the Eagle-Tribune reports. The newspaper also reports that the dealer who made $36,408 on the swap owed the city $4,617 at the time.

The Republican calls on private sector leaders to step up to the plate to get involved in revitalizing Springfield.

The MetroWest Daily News says the MetroWest Tourism and Visitors Bureau is right to work on developing a regional brand to get locals and tourists to visit area sights.

Leominster looks at rezoning.


The governors in New York and California take different routes to taxing the wealthy, WBUR reports.

USA Today reports that more and more states are expanding the group of employees that can receive special retirement benefits once reserved for police, fire, and other workers with dangerous jobs.

Governing analyzes controversial reforms passed to rescue Rhode Island’s pension system.

Redistricting is a mess in Texas.


Sudden GOP front-runner Newt Gingrich is scrambling to build a campaign organization. “I’ve never run a campaign before. I’ve never been part of a presidential campaign,” the 29-year-old director of his New Hampshire office tells the Globe. The National Review says Gingrich is building a formidable organization in the Granite State on short notice, culling former aides and supporters from once and future presidential dropouts.  Newsweek takes us inside Gingrich’s stunning comeback. The American Spectator says Newt Rising has the same dynamic as Mitt Falling. Bill Keller praises Gingrich’s immigration stance. New York magazine previews the final push before the Iowa caucuses, noting that the momentum swing behind Gingrich is as big as the man’s grin.

In the Weekly Standard, William Kristol has some sobering historic reminders about what happened in the presidential election following big off-year Congressional gains to Republican candidates challenging first-term Democratic presidents.

State Rep. Tom Conroy will drop-out of the Democratic race for US Senate today, the Globe reports.

President Obama would make a good ex-president. Newsweek via Political Wire.

Former Herald reporters Ed Mason and Tom Mashberg throw mud on Mitt Romney’s Beacon Hill years, and the pair get BU professor Thomas Whalen to put his name next to this quote: “To know Mitt Romney is to dislike him.”


NECN interviews the head of the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute and a vice president of a local video game company.

The Wall Street Journal profiles Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s tough new regulator.

US firms want an increase in the number of H-1B visas that let highly skilled foreign workers work in the US.


The Boston Herald holds up the current anti-charter school campaign in Somerville as proof that charters shouldn’t be subjected to local approval.


Cambridge state Rep./City Councilor Tim Toomey calls the shelving of a commuter rail project in Cambridge a “total victory,” while acknowledging that capacity issues at South Station could force MassDOT to reexamine the Worcester-to-North Station line.


Program directors for local heating assistance organizations say if Congress does not increase funding by Friday, the money will be exhausted by year’s end and low-income residents will run out of fuel.

Fall River officials are negotiating a $3.2 million deal to sell land in the planned biotech park and in an old landfill abutting it to a private developer planning a solar and wind farm. The deal will also include a promise to sell power at a reduced rate to the city.

The University of Massachusetts is leading the way in trying to eradicate winter moths that spend warmer days chomping their way through the forests of Cape Cod and other locales.


The Harvard Business Review publisher thinks the split-site web strategy of the Boston Globe is a bad idea, the Nieman Journalism Lab reports.
Several news organizations, including the Associated Press, have issued new rules on how their reporters can use Twitter, triggering debate in newsrooms about whether “retweeting” constitutes an endorsement and other emerging problems with social media.

The Berkshire Eagle doesn’t like social media much, but admits it was instrumental in tracking down a North Adams high school student who posted threats on Facebook. The paper argues that users should now be required to use their real names when they post on social media sites.