A juggling act and news media hypocrisy

THIS ISSUE WAS one of the toughest we’ve ever had to pull together. Two feature stories failed to jell, one of them shortly before we went to press, which required us to do some last-minute juggling. But as I look back at the issue we’ve assembled, I’m very pleased. It’s a provocative combination of stories about policy, politics, and people.

The cover story on trash grew out of the debate over the unsuccessful November ballot question expanding the reach of the bottle deposit law to most noncarbonated beverage containers. It struck me that the state’s environmental and business communities have been locked in mortal combat over the bottle deposit law for so long that they (and the rest of us, too) have lost sight of the bigger issue:  we’re running out of places to dump our trash and we don’t have a solid plan to deal with the problem.

Jack Sullivan investigates how one Lottery agent seemed to lead a charmed life, assembling license after license despite a very checkered financial record. Sullivan’s story suggests the fact that the agent’s brother worked at the Lottery, rising to the post of executive director under Treasurer Steve Grossman, may have had something to do with it.

Michael Jonas examines law enforcement’s rising use of surveillance cameras, a timely topic as chilling images from the Boston Marathon finish line figure in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. As anyone who watches crime dramas — or the nightly news — knows, surveillance cameras have become the go-to resource for catching bad guys. The hope that cameras will deter criminals is proving to be another matter.

Colman M. Herman reports on one woman’s horrific experience with an assisted living facility where her mother was staying. The case illustrates how these complexes, designed to be apartment complexes where the elderly can age in place, are being asked to do much more than serve as landlords. The case also illustrates how regulators of assisted living facilities are falling down on the job.

For political junkies, we have a get-to-know-you conversation with Seth Moulton, the new congressman from the North Shore who took on the Democratic establishment in Massachusetts, including the head of the party, and won. Steve Koczela, president of the MassINC Polling Group, explores why men were so crucial to Charlie Baker’s victory in the race for governor. Shawn Zeller explains why Democrats are likely to win the presidency, despite the Republican gains in 2014. And we have advice for Beacon Hill from John E. McDonough, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health; Chris Martes, the CEO of Strategies for Children, and Carol Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.

On the environmental front, we have a One on One interview with John Bullard, the regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries, who has shut down cod fishing off the coast of Massachusetts for at least six months. We also try to explain how high-priced solar power is saving cities and towns so much money.

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.

Gabrielle Gurley reports on MassLive, a Springfield-based news website that is attempting to branch out across the entire state. It’s an interesting story, but unfortunately it doesn’t contain any insights from the folks at MassLive.  MassLive President Allison Werder asked Gurley for questions to be submitted to her in writing and then chose not to answer them. “We are a private company and are not comfortable discussing strategy or business models in a consumer publication,” she says.

That’s a troubling stance for someone who runs a news organization, yet no-comment responses are becoming a fairly common occurrence as we write more about the press. The same people whose businesses rely on exchanges between reporters and sources often see no need to engage in those exchanges themselves.

–BRUCE MOHL