Warren’s solution for gridlock

During the campaign between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, Brown said the best way to end congressional gridlock was to send more senators like him to Washington, people willing to cross party lines when they vote. But now it’s Senator-elect Warren who’s talking about ending gridlock.

In a blog post for the Huffington Post, Warren writes: “I learned something important in my race against Senator Brown. Voters want political leaders who are willing to break the partisan gridlock.”

But instead of joining forces occasionally with Republicans, Warren is supporting a change in Senate rules that would make it easier for Senate Democrats to bypass Republican filibusters. She essentially wants to end partisan gridlock by being more partisan. (By the way, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn’t think much of Brown’s bipartisanship claims.)

Her approach has considerable support. Filibusters used to be rare events on the Senate floor, but now that they have gone virtual they have become commonplace. Rather than being forced to hold the floor by speaking continuously (think Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington), today’s filibusters simply need 41 votes. Under current rules, the only way to end a filibuster is if a cloture motion receives 60 votes. If Republicans, the minority party in the Senate, stick together, they can block a vote on virtually any bill.

Warren says she will join Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and six other newly elected senators to push for an end to the existing 60-vote rule. Under a draft of Merkley’s proposal, a cloture motion that receives majority support — but less than the supermajority of 60 — would remain open for debate. Senators could continue to argue against the motion, but if they fail to keep debate going, a vote would be called and only a simple majority would be needed to pass the cloture motion and move on to a vote on pending legislation.

Prospects for passage are slim because two-thirds of the Senate would have to support the rules change. Some Democrats, including Sen. John Kerry, have expressed reservations about changing the rule. Back in May, Kerry said rules changes would not be needed if senators worked harder to find common ground on issues.

                                                                                                        –BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

Lt. Gov. Tim Murray makes it clear that he wants to run for governor, WBUR reports.  Here is the Globe account.

The reasons why the New England Compounding Center received lenient disciplinary action for complaints nearly a decade ago continue to mystify lawmakers and Patrick administration officials. Meanwhile, regulators in other states are looking to strengthen their oversight of drug compounding firms in the wake of the meningitis outbreak linked to Framingham firm.

A Watertown woman calls police, alleging that former state senator James Marzilli stood at his front door sans pants. Marzilli was not charged in the incident.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Boston World Partnerships, the social networking site for economic development that was launched with $1 million in Boston Redevelopment Authority money, is calling it quits, CommonWealth reports.

Demand is up — and  donations are down — at area food pantries, the Globe reports.

A subcommittee of the Beverly City Council approves a plan to give property tax breaks of up to 70 percent to developers who build housing near the municipality’s train station, the Salem News reports.

With attendance shrinking at town meetings, Pembroke voters approved a change that would lower the requirement for a quorum to 100 to make decisions for the town of 19,000.

The Brockton building superintendent was placed on paid administrative leave as part of a “personnel matter,” but Mayor Linda Balzotti provided no other details.

The Republican argues that Springfield needs to reconsider its residency requirement for city employees since many of the workers that are subject to to the law have ignored it.

With Boston Mayor Tom Menino in the hospital and an election for city council president looming, the long knives are starting to come out.

East Boston restaurants worry about trying to compete with a Suffolk Downs casino.

North Attleboro switches back to a single residential and commercial property tax rate.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The Salem News, in an editorial, speculates about potential replacements for Sen. John Kerry. If Republican Scott Brown doesn’t run, the paper says Swampscott’s Charlie Baker, Beverly’s Kerry Healey, and Wakefield’s Richard Tisei would likely take a shot. On the Democratic side, the paper says Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll could either run or play a key role in the background after delivering Salem for Democratic candidates during the election. Sen. Benjamin Downing says that he has not decided whether to run for any possible Senate vacancy.

Deficit talks between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are taking place in a much better atmosphere this time around.

ELECTION 2012

The Washington Post blasts Mitt Romney’s comment that President Obama won the election because he made “gifts” to minorities and young people. Republican governors beg Romney: Please stop talking. The Atlantic argues that it would have been better for Romney to have remained silent and let everyone think he was a plutocrat than to speak out and remove all doubt.

The possible lesson being drawn by funders of super PACs that flopped badly last week: rearm and prepare to spend even more in the next election cycle.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Teens in Lynn rally for jobs, which are in short supply, the Item reports.

The Boston Archdiocese formally announces a reorganization plan that would have individual priests, working with lay councils, manage two to four parishes, WBUR reports.

The foreign bribery probe into Walmart expands from Mexico to Brazil, India, and China.

EDUCATION

Fall River teachers rejected a proposed teacher evaluation proposal despite its endorsement by union leaders and a state law requiring a system to be in place.

U.S. News & World Report issues its first-ever rankings for “Most Connected Colleges” to gauge technology access and connectivity. Among Massachusetts schools, only Northeastern breaks the top 10, coming in at 7th. Most eye opening is MIT, birthplace of the Internet and motherland for computer geeks in general, ranks 135th, just ahead of the Colorado School of Mines.

TRANSPORTATION

The MBTA unveils a new app that lets commuters buy and load tickets on to their smartphones, the Gloucester Times reports.

The Southeastern Regional Transportation Authority, which services the New Bedford area, has reached a compromise with passenger advocate groups to keep fares below $3 for “demand response” rides where small buses pick passengers up at their homes.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Many of the nation’s governors are pressing for the extension of a $5 billion wind energy tax subsidy that is due to expire, Governing reports.

State officials told worried Hanover residents that a plan to clean up a former fireworks and munitions site, identified as a potential Superfund site 20 years ago, will not be ready until the end of next year at the earliest.

MEDIA

Ken Doctor, writing for the Nieman Journalism Lab, shows the financial strain on the BBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Financial Times.

Boston Globe editor Marty Baron sent this email to staff after he announced this week he was leaving for the Washington Post.