Patrick’s transportation strategy

The Patrick administration’s transportation strategy seems to be working. First came the tease, then the hammer, and now the talk — by others — of new taxes or tolls is beginning in earnest.

After suffering a humiliating defeat in 2009 when he pushed for a hike in the gasoline tax, Gov. Deval Patrick hunkered down and let his transportation team do the best they could with the revenue they had. Everyone knew the T was literally living on borrowed money, but no one talked much about it.

Then the hints began – the lamentations about the drying up of federal funds, the delays in following through on transportation promises, the likelihood of a fare hike. No one ever said the T was running out of options, but that was the message.

Last week, the administration’s transportation strategy entered a new phase. T officials rolled out a series of proposed service cuts and fare hikes to close a $161 million budget gap. The proposal calls for the elimination of late night and weekend commuter rail, the cancellation of ferry service, and a sharp hike in fares. Reaction was uniformly negative, with riders complaining about the higher fares and Lowell City Manager Bernie Lynch saying the cuts will undercut smart growth and efforts to build sustainable communities.

As if on cue, frigid weather caused breakdowns of subway and commuter rail trains, stranding many riders for hours. Jonathan Davis, the T’s acting general manager, apologized, but went on to note that much of the transit agency’s equipment is well past its prime. “We have a need to replace these, but currently we don’t have the financial resources,” he said.

There was no bold plan from the governor or his transportation team for rescuing the T. No, they were following a script that called for them to make very clear how bad the situation was but not to offer any long-term solutions. This time around the governor doesn’t want to get too far out in front; he wants to be leading from the rear.

The Boston Globe, the state’s largest and most influential newspaper, took the lead over the weekend with an editorial supporting more revenues for the T.  “A long-term solution to the T’s funding gap – whether from the gas tax, sales tax, higher tolls, or some other sources – is long overdue,” the editorial said. “If Massachusetts wants a world-class transit system, it has to get serious about paying for it.”

Patrick didn’t write the editorial, but that’s what he’s thinking.

                                                                                                                                                        –BRUCE MOHL


The Berkshire Eagle says the Supreme Judicial Court’s reversal of the Legislature’s ban on Commonwealth Care coverage for legal immigrants was the right move.


About 20 people walked out of an Occupy Boston general assembly meeting last night after a proposal to ban Level 3 sex offenders from participating in Occupy events was tabled. Via Universal Hub. The National Review says the movement is “wandering in the desert.”


The lack of snow and ice so far this winter, which has given welcome relief to municipal and state budgets, is nailing large and small contractors who count on the storms for seasonal income.

Danvers, which opted out of sharing a regional dispatch center, is now concerned that its antiquated 911 operation is starting to fail, the Salem News reports.

Sandwich residents are getting used to the town’s “pay as you throw” program.


WBUR’s On Point focuses on why upward mobility, a key component of the American Dream, is fading in the United States compared to Canada and Europe.

The federal government mandates catch limits on protected fish species, the first country in the world to do so.

A Boston Globe editorial argues that President Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reflects more poorly on the Senate than the President. Kimberly Atkins says she hopes Sen. Scott Brown knows why he dropped his opposition to a recess appointment for the bureau, because nobody in Washington seems to know what’s behind the switch.


The Boston Globe looks at the warring factions within the Republican Party. And speaking of warring, the knives were out in yesterday’s debate.

Jon Keller and Channel 4’s New Hampshire bureau chief Lauren Leamancyzk discuss the answers to the burning questions over what will happen in tomorrow’s primary after a two-year run-up.

It’s do or die for Jon Huntsman in NH.

Syndicated conservative columnist Deroy Murdock says Mitt Romney’s record of raising taxes as governor undercuts his claim to being a free-marketer. The American Spectator wonders if it’s still Mitt’s turn?

The New Republic highlights the politicians – and potential running mates – Romney has been appearing with in New Hampshire. New York magazine surveys the current state of the anyone-but-Romney movement. The Wall Street Journal profiles Romney’s Bain Capital years — the same period that’s proving to be such ripe fodder for campaign rivals like Newt Gingrich. With $5 million from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, Gingrich is going nuclear on Romney the venture capitalist. The New York Times examines Gingrich’s best friend in New Hampshire — the Manchester Union Leader.

Paul Krugman talks Republicans and income inequality.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page calls Rick Santorum’s economic plan “bolder” than Romney’s.


Jet Blue sets up shop at Bradley International Airport, a boon for budget-minded western Mass travelers who had to go to New York if they wanted an inexpensive flight.

Large banks such as Citizens, Bank of America and Sovereign are increasingly turning to monthly fees to bump up revenue, the Globe reports.


The Boston Globe reports on the resurgence of spelling instruction in elementary schools.


Quincy Medical Center is investing nearly $13 million to reestablish a maternity ward at the hospital, which shut down its baby factory in 1998 as a cost-saving effort.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy explains why community health centers matter.


Somerset officials will consider a proposal to install nearly 1,600 solar panels at the site of the former drive-in theater.


Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger complains about facing too much crime with too few cops, the Item reports.

Two newcomers to the Andover High School basketball team file a lawsuit detailing the three sexually humiliating tasks they were given as part of a hazing, the Eagle-Tribune reports.


The Globe and the Herald offer a few details on their new working relationship.

Dan Kennedy wonders whether Aaron Kushner’s purchase of the Portland Press Herald means he’s given up on buying the Globe or if the deal is part of a bigger vision.