A welcome boost for Boston Medical Center

A $25 million donation to Boston Medical Center has, in the words of the hospital’s CEO, Kate Walsh, brought “addiction medicine out of the philanthropic shadows.”

The gift, from billionaire investor John Grayken and his wife, Eileen Grayken, will establish the Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine at BMC. It does indeed send a loud message about philanthropy aimed at a problem too often discussed in hushed tones. But the story also carries several cross-currents that underscore both the donation’s commendable departure from standard philanthropic patterns and the ways in which it conforms to them.

On the departure side, as Walsh suggests, the stigma associated with addiction has left it off the A-list of medical problems that draw lots of philanthropic giving. On top of that is the rich-get-richer phenomenon in which some of the wealthiest institutions seem to be the ones that land the biggest donations. Does anyone really think Harvard needs another $10 million bequest? Or Mass. General Hospital, which received a $100 million donation in 2009?

But people tend to give to institutions that have touched them — the Globe’s Sacha Pfeiffer says in health care it’s called the “grateful patient syndrome.” Donors to wealthy universities such as Harvard often are former students who feel grateful for the start they got on a campus.

Boston Medical Center, which cares for many of region’s low-income patients, has lots of grateful former patients, but few of those who have been healed there can offer huge donations in return.

Not so for the Graykens, who have an estimated net worth of $6.5 billion. It was great to see an institution that cares for many of the most vulnerable members of the community on the receiving end of the kind of gift that often goes to places serving those on top.

Far from the Beacon Hill home of Mass. General, BMC sits alongside a stretch of Massachusetts Avenue known as Methadone Mile because of the addiction treatment clinics located there — as well as the flood dealers working the street corners.

Although the Graykens had no apparent prior connection to BMC, Eileen Grayken said they have been touched by the addiction problem.

“I don’t want to go into details, but it’s something that our immediate family and extended family have had experience of,” she told the Globe. “This is a disease that doesn’t respect gender, class, social status, or money. It can literally be anybody susceptible to this.”

In that way, the donation sprang, like those of grateful patients, from personal experience. And that highlights an ongoing subtext of the opioid addiction epidemic — that it is registering so loudly on the public agenda because it a problem now affecting many whites. The number of people being touched by — and dying from — the epidemic has soared. But that doesn’t mean race hasn’t had a part in the response.

For those of all backgrounds who benefit from the new addiction center at BMC, of course, all that will matter is that there was help when they needed it.

–MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

Attorney General Maura Healey said she will appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate allegations of criminal wrongdoing in connection with political donations made by Thornton Law Firm if a referral is made to her office. Healey is among those pols who received donations from the firm. (Boston Globe)

State senators left a little money on the table (emphasis on “little”) in claiming their shares of the pay increases they voted themselves. (CommonWealth) The Boston Globe looks at the 12-member “vote no, take the dough” Republican House caucus that opposed the pay raise but didn’t decline the salary bump.

Former Democratic state party chief John Walsh criticizes Pioneer Institute official Greg Sullivan for his “personal attacks” on state Auditor Suzanne Bump. (CommonWealth)

The state payroll is top-heavy with officials from the University of Massachusetts. (Eagle-Tribune) In October, 2015, CommonWealth broke down the salary of UMass men’s basketball coach Derek Kellogg, then as now the state’s highest-paid employee.

A Herald editorial says the state is right to tell the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy the gig is up when it comes to annual contributions from Beacon Hill to its coffers, emphasizing that the group has had years to wean itself off the state support.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Newton City Councilor-at-large Jake Auchincloss examines the dissonance between Democrats’ stance on immigration and zoning. (CommonWealth)

A new filing by prosecutors in the federal case against two former aides to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh says they were acting on behalf of Walsh, not the city as a whole, when they allegedly pressured organizers of a City Hall Plaza music festival to hire union workers. (Boston Herald) Joe Battenfeld says the filing makes clear that the feds still consider Walsh a key figure in the probe.

Brockton officials have installed four security cameras around the perimeter of a Catholic church in Brockton that was hit by vandals who defaced statues outside the building, part of a larger strategy that includes 180 cameras around the city mostly around public property. (The Enterprise)

A Fall River city councilor has proposed creating a Cemetery Commission and removing oversight from the Parks Department after relatives of those buried in the city’s cemeteries were outraged when workers removed flowers, planters, and memorials from grave sites. (Herald News)

Two people died and two others escaped in an early morning fire in Milton Monday near the Hyde Park line. (Patriot Ledger)

A nonprofit that rescues greyhounds from out-of-state has had its Hopkinton shelter shut down by Massachusetts officials until the group submits written procedures for cleaning, veterinary care, and protocol for accepting the racing dogs from elsewhere. (MetroWest Daily News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

President Trump goes on a blistering tweetstorm with absolutely no evidence accusing former President Barack Obama of tapping his phones and then calls for a congressional investigation to find the evidence. (New York Times) Even the conservative National Review, which has been lukewarm toward the candidate and president, called the president’s behavior “a recipe for exasperation and mistrust among his allies.”

Trump is expected to release his new executive order on a travel ban from countries his administration has identified as terrorist feeder nations but the revised order eliminates Iraq from the list. (New York Times) The Standard-Times looks back on the 10-year anniversary of a federal raid on undocumented workers at a garment factory in New Bedford and the lingering effect of the round-up in light of the changing tone on immigration in Washington.

Russian hackers are reportedly attacking progressive groups in the United States and demanding hush money. (Bloomberg)

A Herald editorial rips Sen. Elizabeth Warren for her about-face on Ben Carson, whose nomination as HUD secretary she supported in an earlier committee vote only to switch and oppose his final confirmation after a flood of criticism from her liberal base.

The US Marine Corps is rocked by a nude photo scandal. (Washington Post)

Wyoming puts some teeth in an effort to collect sales taxes from online sales. (Casper Star Tribune) Massachusetts Gov.  Charlie Baker is also going after sales tax on internet sales, inserting a provision in his budget proposal for fiscal 2018. (CommonWealth)

ELECTIONS

Holly Robichaud urges a Republican challenger to step forward to take on Attorney General Maura Healey, whose activist moves, Robichaud says, keep putting “her liberal agenda above the law.” (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Lowell gives approval to a $25 million, 12-story luxury condo complex on the banks of the Concord River. (Lowell Sun)

A prominent Boston developer, Tom O’Brien, has a preliminary deal to buy Suffolk Downs. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

Boston charter schools see a surge in applications after introducing an online system that allows students to apply to multiple schools via a single form. (Boston Globe)

Declining enrollment at Hoosac Valley High School, which serves Adams, Cheshire, and Savoy, is forcing some tough decisions about what to do. (Berkshire Eagle) Many rural schools in Massachusetts are caught in what is described as a “death spiral.” (CommonWealth)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Kaleo, a Virginia-based pharmaceutical company, comes under fire for raising the price of its overdose reversing drug from $690 to $4,500 in three years. (Eagle-Tribune)

TRANSPORTATION

Two recent fatal pedestrian accidents, including one over the weekend, as well as a spate of non-fatal incidents has Brockton officials and citizens looking for ways to better protect the city’s pedestrians. (The Enterprise)

A group of Oak Bluffs residents opposed to mopeds on Martha’s Vineyard after a gruesome accident last summer has succeeded in placing a warrant before the Town Meeting restricting licenses for the businesses that rent the motorized scooters to tourists. (Cape Cod Times)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Dams come down along the Shawsheen River in Andover, allowing fish (and kayaks) to return to the river. (Eagle-Tribune)

A series of winter storms coupled with erosion along the main channel to and from the Atlantic Ocean side could close the main harbor access for fishermen to the commercial pier in Chatham. (Cape Cod Times)

Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch announced the city will replace all the old streetlights with LED fixtures, which he says will be cheaper and better for the environment. (Patriot Ledger)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley insisted mandatory minimum sentences are necessary and work to reduce crimes. (Keller@Large)

A Hingham man was charged with his fourth OUI charge after his car hit an ambulance that was at the scene of another unrelated drunken driving incident. (Patriot Ledger)

MEDIA

A study of internet trolls finds we all are at some level but a Norwegian news site may have found a way around offensive comments by requiring visitors to answer a multiple choice quiz to prove they read the story before posting their remarks. (Wall Street Journal)