Breakfast special

“Do not adjust your television set.”

With that, Linda Dorcena Forry dispensed to great laughter with the issue that has made her the lead character of late in Boston’s ongoing story of racial redemption and movement beyond its parochial, sometimes ugly, past.

As the host of yesterday’s storied St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in South Boston, yes, Forry made history as the first woman to lead the annual roast. Yes, she was the first state senator at the helm who was not from Southie, but from Dorchester. But lost on no one was the color of her skin.

The Haitian-American pol with a winning smile is the city’s bridge to the 21st century.

Forry had to get through a small kerfuffle last fall with Southie city councilor Bill LInehan, a leader of the neighborhood’s dwindling dinosaur wing who was not quite ready for the march of time. With that behind her (Linehan got his due in her clever opening video), Forry took to the stage yesterday with a confidence and sense of comfort around a crew of pols still heavily Irish-American and male.

A black woman hosting the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast sounds like a dagger to the heart of the old order of Hibernian rule in Boston. Forry made it feel like a friendly hand-off.

There may be no better figure on the local political scene to help bridge the race and ethnic divide that has so bedeviled Boston. A daughter of Haitian immigrants, Forry not only has a Catholic schoolgirl background familiar to many whose families landed here on earlier immigrant waves, she married into a Irish-American family that is a pillar of her Dorchester neighborhood. What’s more, her husband Bill Forry and his family have built a network of community papers that capture the diversity of the city — and their family. Along with their flagship weekly Dorchester Reporter, the Forrys publish the Boston Irish Reporter and Boston Haitian Reporter newspapers.

In the end, as the Globe‘s Adrian Walker wrote this morning, what made yesterday’s breakfast most remarkable was the feeling of how familiar and unremarkable it all was following Forry’s TV tuning disclaimer. “The tunes, the banter, even some of the jokes resembled any breakfast of the past 15 years,” wrote Walker. “Somehow the breakfast was both a radical departure and not all that different.”

Which is probably the biggest sign of how far things have come.

–MICHAEL JONAS  

BEACON HILL

Clergy members say the move to allow liquor sales on Sunday morning is further eroding the “faith and family” intent of the centuries-old Massachusetts Blue Laws.

Bill Oates , the state’s new technology chief, has a long punch list to attend to.

Kimberly Atkins tries to get Deval Patrick back into gear: “The closer he gets to the end of his term, the harder it is for him to concentrate on what’s on his desk — and during spring break season, warmer southern climates beckon.”

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Support pours in for Tom Menino after Boston’s former mayor reveals over the weekend that he is being treated for advanced cancer that has spread to his liver and lymph nodes

The Patriot Ledger looks at more than 500 complaints filed with the attorney general for violations of the Open Meeting Law and finds that just three have resulted in fines, even in cases deemed serious violations.

ST PATRICK’S DAY

If you’re feeling your Irish today, there’s good reason: Massachusetts has the highest concentration of Irish population in the country, with more than one in five residents reporting ancestry from the Auld Sod, according to the US Census Bureau.

Guinness pulled a Sam Adams, and withdrew its sponsorship of New York‘s St. Patrick’s parade after the Stonewall Inn threatened to stop pouring its beer. New York, like Boston, bars gay marchers from its parade.

Marty Walsh celebrates St. Patrick’s Day by punching a Wahlberg in the face, The Onion reports.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Paul Krugman argues that questions about Rep. Paul Ryan‘s alleged racial dog-whistling are beyond the point; Ryan’s comments, he argues, are meaningful for what they say about conservative thought. Charlie Pierce has a simpler take: “That Paul Ryan is getting teed up now because he’s parroting arguments made by the British government during the Famine strikes me as simple justice.”

ELECTIONS

US Sen. Jeanne Shaheen proposes limiting the role of outside funds as Scott Brown enters the race, the Associated Press reports. The Atlantic asks whether Brown is the face of the coming wave, while Slate’s David Weigel ascribes Brown’s candidacy to Obamacare hubris: “The Republican bet is that the backlash to the law will be so intense — ‘a wave is coming,’ said Brown — that anyone with a pulse can win on the ‘repeal’ platform.”

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

With marijuana legalization growing for both recreational and medicinal use, U.S. News & World Report takes a look at the economy of pot and finds the future is promising for investors.

High heating costs during the Northeast’s winter of discontent are being blamed for a slowdown in consumer spending in other areas.

Adjustable-rate mortgages , which helped blew up the economy a few years ago, make a comeback.

EDUCATION

Common Core gets mixed reviews in Metrowest.

HEALTH CARE/PUBLIC HEALTH

The Standard Times takes an in-depth look at the exploding heroin crisis, including interviews with a number of families in the New Bedford area who lost loved ones to overdoses.

Do key components of dark chocolate really help stave off heart disease? Boston researchers are launching a study that may actually answer the question. The large-scale trial will also test the effects of long-term multivitamin use.

TRANSPORTATION

If Mohegan Sun is selected for a casino license, the Suffolk Downs project would make money available for improvements to Routes 1 and 16, Revere Beach Parkway, and public transit, the Item reports.

Republican Sen. Bruce Tarr brings home a bit of bacon, securing a $3 million appropriation within the $13 billion transportation bond bill for a project to revitalize Washington Street in Gloucester, the Gloucester Times reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Meet the Author

Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

A Tennessee company proposes building a 1.1 megawatt solar farm on 10 acres overlooking I-495 in Methuen, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Cape Wind wins the bulk of legal challenges to its approval process, but a federal judge orders two agencies to redo reviews dealing with whales and birds, CommonWealth reports.