Edge to Warren

The media consensus seems to be that Elizabeth Warren handled herself well in her first debate against US Sen. Scott Brown, although neither candidate scored a decisive victory.

Warren was calm and collected, fending off charges about her Native American ancestry, highlighting Brown’s voting record, and warning that a vote to reelect the senator could be a vote for a Republican Senate. Her weakest moment came in response to Brown’s questions about her legal work on behalf of Travelers Insurance in an absestos case. (Here’s a Globe report on the case and Warren’s role.)

Brown seemed a bit flustered at the start of the debate, perhaps because he nearly didn’t make it. At times he also shed his good-guy image and went on the attack, pressing Warren on her ancestry, her salary at Harvard, and what he described as her obsessiveness for raising taxes. He had one kings and queens moment, when he said he is the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Actually, that title belongs to Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

The Globe’s Scot Lehigh gave the edge to Warren, saying she skillfully explained how Brown is holding the middle class hostage to tax breaks for the wealthy. (A Globe fact check backed Warren up on the issue.) and how a vote for Brown could lead to a Republican-controlled Senate. Warren noted that a Republican Senate would mean Sen. James Inhofe, who has written a book calling climate change a hoax, would be given oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency.

At WBUR, Democratic consultant Dan Payne scored the debate  5-1-1 for Warren, while Republican consultant Todd Domke called it a draw. Tom Keane, in the Globe, said Brown started poorly but came on strong.

The Herald offered three diverse opinions on the debate. Columnist Peter Gelzinis gave the edge to Warren. Howie Carr, to no one’s surprise, said Brown won, noting that Brown’s aw-shucks attitude hides some pretty sharp elbows. Columnist/news reporter/truth squad entertainer Joe Battenfeld wrote the most bizarre column of the day, suggesting Brown would make a great presidential candidate.

The National Journal’s Julie Sobel focused on what seemed like a glaring missed opportunity for Warren: tying Brown to the GOP candidate for president, Mitt Romney, who is poised to get steamrolled in the state where he served as governor. To make up for that oversight, the Warren campaign emailed out a statement this morning highlighting Brown’s close ties to Romney and noting Brown didn’t mention Romney’s name once during the debate.

                                                                                                                                                            –Bruce Mohl

BEACON HILL

Gov. Deval Patrick tapped former Suffolk County prosecutor David Meier to oversee an investigation of the scandal involving tainted testing of drug samples at a state lab. Meanwhile, a state drug lab in Sudbury has seen its caseload double since the closure of the Jamaica Plain facility where a chemist mishandled potentially thousands of samples.

Lawyers for former state treasurer Tim Cahill are seeking to have the corruption charges against him dismissed, arguing that the state-paid advertising campaign he ordered, which prosecutors have called criminal, was standard practice.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The owner of a 100-year-old Amherst barn with links to poet Robert Frost has been given permission by the Historical Commission to raze the structure.

A consultant for the Pittsfield City Charter Review committee says the city’s 80-year-old charter is “woefully inadequate” for governing in the 21st century but the committee is not prepared to throw the entire document out.

A new study looking at a huge federal housing program that helped poor families living in urban public housing developments move to more affluent communities finds that the move did not help lift families out of poverty, but did greatly improve their sense of well-being.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

A Senate panel says Microsoft and H-P reduced their taxes by shifting profits in and out of the country, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The US House voted to block President Obama’s welfare waiver program, but the Senate is not expected to follow suit, The Hill reports.

A strengthening housing market is lifting home values and helping Americans repair their balance sheets, the Wall Street Journal reports.

ELECTION 2012

Polls show Mitt Romney losing ground in the key states of Iowa, Colorado, and Wisconsin, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Time examines the struggle for control of the Senate, including the Brown-Warren race in Massachusetts, and suggests the Republicans may be losing crossover appeal.

The Herald reports that John Tierney has agreed to participate in some debates on the condition that questions stick to policy only. CommonWealth will host a debate between Tierney and Tisei next Thursday, September 27th. The Salem News reviews the negative ads being run by Tierney and a conservative PAC supporting Tisei.

The Weekly Standard admits the seeds for the Great Recession were laid by President Obama’s predecessor: Bill Clinton, not George W. Bush.

The president of the conservative Club for Growth says he’s “uncertain” about a Romney presidency.

The Atlantic reports on the revival of “ballot security” efforts; organizations that dispatch volunteers to polling places to look for signs of voter fraud.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The state’s unemployment rate inched up in August to 6.3 percent.

Apple nerds, er fans, lined up at stores around the world for the first chance to grab an iPhone 5.

The president of the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston said the recent stimulus announced by the fed was needed to trigger the economy and said the inflation that may come from the move was not as important as creating jobs.

The Worcester Business Journal looks at four of the 10 projects in central Massachusetts that have tax incentive finance agreements (TIFs) and finds a mixed bag of results for the companies and taxpayers.

A Herald op-ed knocks the Greenway Conservancy for its policy of requesting that its prospective board members contribute financially or raise money for the organization if selected.

More woes for celebrity chef Todd English, who is now facing a lawsuit seeking $723,000 in back rent for the space his Charlestown restaurant Olives occupies.

CASINOS

The Herald reports that an unidentified developer is interested in building a casino over Boston’s South Station.

RELIGION

One of the men who was turned down from buying a former mansion owned by the Worcester Diocese because the church was concerned about gay marriages being held there gives his side on Greater Boston. CommonWealth examined the issue of the church restricting use of its former properties for purposes that conflict with Catholic teachings.

EDUCATION

KIPP Academy leaves “a holy mess” behind in space it rented from Holy Family Church in Lynn, the Item reports.

Marilse Rodriguez-Garcia, the chief of staff to the Lawrence schools receiver, is hit by a car outside her office and flown to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

The Washington Post says President Obama, during his tenure, has used stimulus money and executive orders to bypass Congress and make landmark changes in education.

A report by the state Department of Education shows one-third of Massachusetts high school graduates are unprepared for college.

HEALTH CARE

Life expectancy is declining for less-educated whites in the United States, the New York Times reports.

TRANSPORTATION

The Patrick administration is taking a pragmatic approach with the salaries being offered to the people taking the top jobs at Massport and the MBTA, CommonWealth reports. The Globe’s Sean Murphy reports that Gov. Deval Patrick has made it clear that he wants Atlanta transit executive Beverly Scott to be named the new general manager of the MBTA even though the state transportation board with authority over the hiring has yet to interview Scott and the other finalist for the post.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A report from the National Climatic Data Center says short of an extreme four-month cold snap, 2012 will be the warmest year on record in the United States.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A suspected thief was beaten and forced to strip to his underwear by an angry mob in New Bedford before the store owner he tried to rob stepped in to protect him.

Former gubernatorial candidate Christy Mihos pleaded not guilty to charges of assaulting his wife and said afterwards that while he paid $500 an hour for escorts, it never involved sex.

MEDIA

The New York Times bans after-the-fact quote approval.

Facebook confirms it has been surveying users to determine if their friends are using fake names for accounts.

Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church’s first gay bishop, talks with The Daily Beast about his new book on gay marriage.