Millennium marches on

Millennium Partners on Wednesday moved one step closer to building its fourth ultra-luxury project in Boston’s downtown core when the City Council voted 10-3 to seek an exemption from a state law that would have prohibited the new tower from casting shadows on the Boston Common and the Public Garden.

If the Legislature goes along with the changes, Millennium will proceed with construction of a 775-foot tower at Winthrop Square and pay Boston $153 million, which the city expects to use for park improvements and public housing. The City Council vote was 10-3, with Michelle Wu, Josh Zakim, and Tito Jackson voting no. Wu is the City Council president and Jackson is running for mayor against incumbent Marty Walsh.

Boston Globe columnist Shirley Leung said the shadow debate showed just how desperate Boston is for money and jobs, which is odd since the city’s economy appears to be  booming. She quoted an exchange between City Councilor Ayanna Pressley and Walsh’s economics chief John Barros that was telling. Presley wanted to know the city’s contingency plan if the Millennium project fell through, and Barros responded: “I want to be brutally honest with you. There is no contingency plan.”

Adrian Walker, another Globe columnist, saw no problem with trading a few shadows for a big payday. “Building a city isn’t always pretty, and there is always something to dislike about the process,” he wrote. “But if the perfect becomes the enemy of the good, the vitality that fuels progress gets sapped. That is too high a price to pay to avoid a few minutes of shadows.”

Peter O’Connor, a real estate and economic development consultant, said in a piece for CommonWealth that the real problem with development in Boston is that each proposal starts from scratch and becomes a free-form negotiation. He describes an endless series of meetings where citizen groups and developers haggle over public benefits and never ask whether the project is good for the city as a whole.

O’Connor said he doesn’t care that much about the addition of some shadows on the Public Garden, but he said the dollars vs. shadows debate, as framed by the Walsh administration, is the wrong one.

“Whether the shadow is worth that amount of money is the wrong question,” he said. “This is not how a world-class city manages growth and development, and this is not how we should be evaluating a project of this magnitude.”

–BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

Advocates hail the challenge by the state supervisor of public records to Gov. Charlie Baker’s insistence that the Public Records Law doesn’t apply to his office. (CommonWealth)

Rep. Natalie Higgins of Leominster underscores the relevance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month by recounting her own sexual assault. (State House News)

A Herald editorial marvels at the efficiency of the House, which processed a $40 billion state budget in two days, saying the product is mostly sound, though the process was not exactly a testament to open and deliberative democracy.

Plymouth Sheriff Joseph McDonald, seeking to raise his profile in the Republican Party, is looking to replace state Sen. Vinny deMacedo of Plymouth as the state committeeman from the Plymouth and Barnstable District. (Wicked Local)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh signs an executive order to have city inspectors try to determine how many housing units in Boston are being used exclusively for short-term rentals through Airbnb and other online sites. (Boston Herald)

MassHousing approves an 80-unit 40B complex in Peabody over the objections of local officials. (Salem News)

What can neighbors or Boston city officials do about neglected properties that are eyesores and public safety dangers? Not much, it seems, according to this disturbing account from the Dorchester Reporter.

New Bedford police will no longer release details of circumstances surrounding suspected fatal drug overdoses, only confirming if a death is an apparent overdose, out of respect for survivors. (Standard-Times)

Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan is seeking a home rule petition for an exemption that would allow Police Chief Paul Shastany to work more than 960 hours a year, the equivalent of about six months. State pension law prohibits Shastany from working more because he retired as chief of Stoughton and began collecting his pension. (Patriot Ledger)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL/UNIVERSE

President Trump proposes massive tax cuts tilted toward the wealthy and corporations, with “what looks like more modest relief for the middle class,” reports the Globe. Data reporter Evan Horowitz has the rough outlines of who gets what. (Boston Globe)

Trump’s tax package would eliminate the federal tax deduction for state and local tax payments, which could have an impact on the debate over the proposed millionaire’s tax in Massachusetts. The federal deduction essentially allows Massachusetts to offload a third of the millionaire tax to the federal government; with the deduction gone, the full impact would fall on Massachusetts millionaires, who may be more inclined to pick up and leave. (CommonWealth)

Trump tells Mexico and Canada he wants to renegotiate NAFTA, not withdraw from it. (NPR)

Telegram & Gazette columnist Dianne Williamson unleashes a tirade about President Trump, who she describes as the most unpopular president in modern times. Yet Eric Fehrnstrom, writing in the Globe, says the militant anti-Trump policies of the Democrats are unlikely to win them many elections.

NASA has named two craters on Mars after sections of Quincy, labeling one Quincy and the other Squantum. It probably helped that a member of the Curiosity rover team hails from the City of Presidents. (Patriot Ledger)

ELECTIONS

Members of the Jacobs family that owns the TD Garden and Boston Bruins donated $13,000 to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s campaign committee. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A report says workplace fatalities in Massachusetts last year reached a 10-year high. (Boston Globe)

Hiawatha Bray has a nuanced take on the battle playing out over internet regulation at the Federal Communications Commission, where he says Net neutrality advocates are going too far. (Boston Globe)

Wellfleet Town Meeting voters rejected a proposal to regulate and limit the number of food trucks in the town. (Cape Cod Times)

EDUCATION

Sydney Chafee, a ninth-grade teacher at Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester who was named the nation’s teacher of the year, is honored at an Oval Office visit. (MassLive)

The Boston Public Schools will roll out a new curriculum for first and second grade classrooms, building on its success with revamping pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs that has shown long-term benefits on student learning outcomes. (Boston Herald)

TRANSPORTATION

Ridership on the commuter rail Fairmount Line has tripled since 2012, according to a new report. (Boston Globe)

United Airlines says it will pay passengers bumped from flights as much as $10,000 in compensation. (Associated Press)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A carbon fee in Massachusetts would save $2.9 billion in health costs over two decades, according to a study commissioned by environmental groups. (MassLive)

NOAA says it will investigate the “unusually” high number of humpback whale deaths between North Carolina and Maine dating back to last year. (Cape Cod Times)

CASINOS

Opponents of a Martha’s Vineyard casino proposed by the Aquinnah Wampanoag have filed an appeal to a federal court decision that favored the tribe. (Boston Globe)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A Berkshire Eagle editorial says the Probation Department corruption scandal may have ended with no convictions, but it had positive impacts anyway.

Money moves: The fiancee of Aaron Hernandez is hoping to sell his former house in North Attleborough, which had been on the market for $1.3 million, by tomorrow. Meanwhile, the family of Odin Lloyd, whom Hernandez was convicted of killing, is moving to have their wrongful death suit target his estate and not Hernandez individually. (Boston Herald) Prolific crime novelist James Patterson is writing a “true crime” book about Hernandez scheduled for release early next year. (Associated Press)

A Globe editorial says rumors about Hernandez distract from the inquiry into his prison suicide — and it underscores the media awkwardness with the issue by not spelling out what those rumors are.

MEDIA

ESPN laid off more than 100 people, including high-profile figures such as baseball reporter Jayson Stark and football reporter Ed Werder, in the latest round of cuts at the Worldwide Leader in Sports because of a perfect storm of a falling subscriber base combined with soaring broadcast rights fees for games. (New York Times)