Baker gets a pass from Dems

If the state’s Republican governor — he of the sky-high poll numbers, the cabinet littered with Democrats, and a bromantic attachment to Boston’s union-bred mayor — was going to get bloodied up even just a bit for his party label, it should have happened on Saturday in Springfield.

That’s where the state Democratic Party held its sleepy off-year annual convention. It’s a place where throwaway lines about evil-doing Republicans should flow as freely as the beer at convention parties that may be the bigger draw for some delegates.

So is Charlie Baker feeling a little woozy and dazed from all the partisan pummeling?

Hardly. The governor must be thinking: If the noises from Springfield be the music of the fearsome opposition, play on!

The Democrats made sure to get their bash-a-Republican ticket punched. But they did so, Josh Miller reported in Sunday’s Globe, by laying into Donald Trump (Elizabeth Warren) or by branding the whole GOP presidential field a collection of “crackpots” (Howard Dean). But Miller says there was “scarcely a peep of public criticism aimed at a Republican closer to home: Governor Charlie Baker.”

At this point, Baker is riding high in terms of popular support and the Democrats have no obvious standard-bearer positioning to take him on three years from now. All of that makes it hard to mount a frontal assault.

An Associated Press story on the morning of the convention referred to it, from the the Dems’ perspective, as “the problem of Charlie Baker.”

Baker was subjected to more of an obligatory jab or two than passion-filled roundhouse punches. It fell to the state party chairman, Tom McGee, to denounce some cuts Baker made to education and economic development. And state AFL-CIO president, Steve Tolman, criticized a Baker move to streamline state regulations.

But the party faithful were otherwise holding back. That seemed particularly true of Newton Mayor Setti Warren, touted by some as a potential future gubernatorial candidate. Warren resisted offering an assessment of Baker’s first year, but then said his gauge is “how our interface is with the administration,” and he rated that as good.

Mayors need to get things done, and they often need help and cooperation from the state to do so. That makes Setti Warren’s job, like that of Marty Walsh, often more one of pragmatism than partisan politics.

On Friday, the Globe‘s David Scharfenberg wrote that Baker has been able to maintain his popularity by focusing on the workings of state government and largely steering clear of hot-button ideological issues. “Can he remain the Fixer-in-Chief for the rest of his time in office,” asked Scharfenberg, or will Baker eventually need to deploy his popularity to advance “a big, daring, proactive agenda?”

At Saturday’s convention, writes Miller, Secretary of State Bill Galvin said he’s seen “no bold vision” so far from Baker. “Cautious doesn’t always succeed in the long term,” he said.

Perhaps. But it’s working well so far.




As the Bella Bond case reveals yet another instance of a child who had some contact with the state Department of Children and Families but was not ultimately shielded from harm, Gov. Charlie Baker vows that the agency will review its handling and case and consider changes in its procedures. (Boston Globe) Sunday’s Globe featured a story from the New England Center for Investigative Reporting indicating that at least 110 minors died in the state from abuse and neglect between 2009 to 2013.

A Herald editorial suggests Attorney General Maura Healey has been too quick to take action on matters that she has strong views on — though it contrasts her style with the sluggish pace of change on Beacon Hill, where it can take years for things to move forward.

A Republican editorial slams the Springfield City Council for delaying a tax break for a Chinese railcar manufacturing company and the state for not paying heed to competitiveness concerns raised by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance.

The MetroWest Daily News supports doing away with a law that prevents people convicted of drug offenses from getting driver’s licenses.

Sen. Marc Pacheco, a Taunton Democrat, visits Denmark and extols the virtues of wind energy. (MassLive)


Middleboro school officials are lambasting selectmen for stepping on workers’ First Amendment rights after the board adopted a new social media policy that says employees could face discipline “up to and including discharge” for postings that could have an adverse effect on the town. (The Enterprise)


The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe says it plans to begin construction on a casino in Taunton next spring. (WBUR)

The town manager of Amherst dies after a medical emergency (Berkshire Eagle) and officials begin the work of finding a successor. (MassLive)


The new North Carolina budget shifts reliance from the income tax to the sales tax. (Charlotte Observer)

The United States says it will increase the number of refugees it will accept to 100,000. (Time)

The New York Times has a troubling story about soldiers ordered to ignore sexual abuse of boys by Afghanistan police and military officials who are US allies.


Some see the Lawrence City Council election on Tuesday as a referendum on the bid to recall Mayor Daniel Rivera. (Eagle-Tribune)

Republican state Rep. Leah Cole of Peabody abruptly decides to resign her seat and return to nursing full-time. (Salem News)


Telegram & Gazette sports columnist Bill Ballou chats with Larry Lucchino and comes away convinced Worcester has a shot to land the Red Sox triple-A affiliate.

Residents in Boston’s North End are organizing to fight plans for a 277-room hotel on Lewis Wharf. (Boston Globe)

Salary and benefits for the New England region average more than $37 an hour, among the highest in the country and well above the national average of $31.39 per hour, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Standard-Times)

The MWRA board has voted to give preliminary approval for the Southfield mixed-use development at the former naval air base in South Weymouth to tie into the authority’s water lines. (Patriot Ledger)

A Boston condominium developer is selected to convert the old Salem District Court building into condos. (Salem News)

Working women tend to give more money to relief organizations such as the American Red Cross and Salvation Army while men favor umbrella groups such as United Way, a new study finds. (Chronicle of Philanthropy)


Boston school bus on-time performance is slightly better than at the start of school last year, but hardly perfect. (Boston Globe)

Seattle teachers approve a contract, ending the union’s first strike since 1985. (Governing)


A Globe editorial cheers the early signs of a financial turnaround at long-struggling Carney Hospital in Dorchester.

The Globe has more on how would-be nurses with phony credentials have gotten by state licensing authorities.

An Eagle-Tribune editorial applauds families for admitting in obituaries that loved ones died from addictions.

Rising health care spending continues to vex Massachusetts. (Boston Business Journal)


The Globe’s Dante Ramos comes down in favor of Gov. Charlie Baker’s Uber bill, saying needless rules won’t make ride-sharing any safer.

The Salem News examines legislation that would presumably replace the state gas tax with a tax based on miles driven.


The Lowell Sun offers a good rundown on the contracts between three natural gas distribution companies and Kinder Morgan.


The heartbroken father of a woman found stabbed and shot to death at a rest stop on Route 6 in Barnstable says she had battled drug addiction and was planning to enter rehab. (Boston Herald)

A 23-year-old man gunned down last Wednesday in a Mission Hill parking lot was trying to turn things around after time in prison but was fearful that gang rivals were after him, his mother told the Globe.

Brockton officials have completed an upgrade and expansion of the ShotSpotter system, which pinpoints where shots are fired, to now cover a five-mile radius after a summer of increased gun violence in the city. (The Enterprise)

Tough talk by Republican candidates could derail ongoing criminal justice reform, experts say. (U.S. News & World Report)


The Beat The Press panel takes a critical look at the chaos at with the departure of the general manager and top editor and layoff of a dozen staffers. By the way, in case no one has noticed, the Globe‘s revamped online landing page no longer has a link to the free

The New York Times celebrates passing the million-subscriber mark for its online products and asks readers to respond to what it sees at the 50 best stories they’ve run in the digital age.

As part of the Globe’s campaign for a revamp of the Public Records Law, reporter Todd Wallack reports that Gov. Baker won’t turn over his text messages because he believes his office is not subject to the law. CommonWealth had a similar story in July.