The Fresolo soap opera ends

The on-again, off-again run by John Fresolo to recapture his old state rep seat in Worcester ended on Wednesday when he sent a letter to state officials asking them to take his name off the September ballot. “I just don’t think it’s the right time now,” Fresolo told the Telegram & Gazette.

So ends, for now, one of the strangest soap operas in a long time on Beacon Hill. Fresolo resigned his House seat last May as part of what he called a negotiated agreement with the House Ethics Committee amid fairly vague media reports that he was being investigated for improprieties with his per diem expense claims and improper use of a State House computer. No official report from the committee was ever released.

Fresolo stayed out of the limelight for awhile, but then he began raising money and plotting a return to Beacon Hill. Folks in Worcester were incredulous. State House insiders fretted that his run for office would be an embarrassment for the House, in part because some Worcester media outlets had begun reporting more detailed and lurid accounts of what the Ethics Committee had been investigating.

Walter Bird Jr., who works for Worcester Magazine, reported that Fresolo “was the subject of a complaint that allegedly involved him sharing a photo of Little John over a State House computer.” Bird later reported that Fresolo was telling people the allegations were untrue, that a girl sent the picture from his phone to hers and it ended up on his computer.

When Fresolo submitted all the paperwork to have his name appear on the September ballot, I started calling House officials asking whether they now planned to release the results of the ethics investigation. Rep. David Nangle of Lowell, the vice chairman of the House Ethics Committee, did not return phone calls. Nor did the House’s legal counsel. House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s office had no comment.

I suspect there were hardball discussions going on behind the scenes between House officials and Fresolo, much as there were when he initially resigned his post. In the end, he decided to pull his name from the ballot. His withdrawal leaves two candidates in the race, incumbent Rep. Daniel Donahue, who won the special election to replace Fresolo, and Martin Cariglia Jr.

–BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

Gov. Deval Patrick moves to elevate Supreme Judicial Court Justice Ralph Gants to the chief justice position, the Associated Press reports.

The mother of a mental health patient at Bridgewater State Hospital has settled her lawsuit with the facility after officials at the hospital agreed to make significant changes in how her son was cared for, with the use of restraints to be employed only as a last resort.

LOCAL POLITICS/MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Westport officials say they may have to go to the state to borrow money to pay an estimated $500,000 a year for the medical bills and salary for a firefighter who was injured when he slipped and fell off a roof last month while battling a chimney fire.

Newburyport enacts tough new downtown historic preservation rules.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority signed off on a $4.6 million tax break for John Rosenthal‘s Fenway Center development project straddling the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Rev. Bruce Wall , a Dorchester minister who last week distanced himself from a group of ministers who appeared to be attempting a shakedown of the state’s incoming commuter rail operator, now says he’ll defend the group in a public speech he plans to give next Thursday.

CASINOS

The state Gaming Commission approved a proposal to allow a developer in the South Coast region who wins the license to factor in some on- and off-site infrastructure costs as part of the $500 million investment mandate for building a casino.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh accuses gaming chairman Steve Crosby of harboring an anti-Boston bias. Walsh is demanding that Crosby recuse himself from deliberations on the Eastern Massachusetts casino license.

Springfield’s development director doesn’t see MGM Springfield’s request for a delay in the awarding of the Western Massachusetts license as a “setback.”

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

With enrollment close to 8 million, is the debate over Obamacare finally over? US Rep. Steve Lynch predicts that health care woes will cost Democrats seats in the House, and says they may lead to a Republican-led Senate. As Obamacare enrollments hit the 8 million mark, Vox argues that the law has been a success, mostly because everybody realizes that being uninsured is horrible.

The New Hampshire Senate splits 12-12 on repealing the death penalty, but the bill is tabled so it can be brought up later in the session, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

The very rich got richer coming out of the Great Recession, according to an economist at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Mitt Romney gets back on the national stage.

Daniel J. Flynn , writing in the American Spectator, says Sen. Elizabeth Warren‘s renewed claims and sense of hurt over attacks of her Native American heritage are laughable because, after all, she doesn’t look like an Indian.

ELECTIONS

Scot Lehigh says Democratic attorney general candidate Maura Healey has provided a clear contrast in her primary contest with former state senator Warren Tolman by coming out strongly against casinos and in support of a possible ballot question to throw out of the state’s casino legislation. Tolman supports casinos and says he’s not weighing in on whether the Supreme Judicial Court should allow the repeal question to appear on the November ballot.

Attorney General Martha Coakley agrees to pay $24,000 to charity to settle charges by campaign finance regulators that she used money from her federal campaign account to pay state campaign expenses, the Associated Press reports.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Grossman takes on front-runner Coakley with a bit of debate theater on the steps of the State House, CommonWealth reports.

Democrat Seth Moulton raises more money than US Rep. John Tierney in the first three months of the year and both of them raise more money than Republican Richard Tisei, the Salem News reports.

Republicans reach supporters by hosting online sweepstakes, like gun giveaways.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

In a further sign of the improving state economy, Massachusetts employment figures hit an all-time high last month, with about 3.4 million residents holding jobs.

Prospects for developer Don Chiofaro and the tower he wants to build downtown appear to be brightening with the changing of the permitting guard in City Hall.

EDUCATION

The Boston Public Schools system is now forecasting that 200 of its existing, tenured teachers will not end up in regular teaching positions once its new, open hiring process for the 2014-15 academic year is completed. School officials vow there will be no “rubber rooms,” CommonWealth reports.

Only four of the 20 teachers at a New Bedford elementary school that was declared “chronically underperforming” have reapplied for their jobs.

Is there too much emphasis on STEM education?

HEALTH CARE

The Braintree Board of Health has endorsed a proposal that would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21, ban sales of tobacco in pharmacies, and extend regulations to electronic cigarettes and other “nicotine delivery” products.

TRANSPORTATION

Officials from a number of South Shore towns are pushing the MBTA to restore weekend commuter rail service on the Greenbush and Old Colony lines.

A $12.7 billion transportation bond bill is headed to Gov. Deval Patrick’s desk.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant wants to eliminate the 10-mile emergency planning zone around the facility after it shuts down later this year.

RELIGION

The Atlantic profiles the former Pope Benedict XVI, as he watches his successor dismantle his legacy.

MEDIA

Federal agents swoop in and shut down TOUCH 106.1 FM, an unlicensed radio station that has become a mainstay voice of Boston’s black community. Greater Boston’s Adam Reilly was the only reporter on the scene.

The Orange County Register launches a Los Angeles operation fittingly named the Los Angeles Register.

A Florida appeals court rules that a blogger is a member of the media for the purposes of defamation law.

PASSINGS

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez , conjurer of magical realism and Nobel Prize winner, has died at 87.

Former Globe editor Michael C. Janeway dies at the age of 73 and the paper’s obit resurrects some of the enmity many veteran staffers had for the “outsider” who succeeded the legendary Tom Winship.