Romney, Boston 2024, and the White House

Can Boston host an event that’s the equivalent of “20 Super Bowls at once?”

Mitt Romney thought so two years ago. Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston 2024 chairman Dan O’Connell told the Boston Herald this week that they would dearly love to have Romney sign on as the city’s key Olympic advisor.

But how does the city in the state that the former governor loved to hate in 2012 play into his Olympian quest for the Republican nomination?

If Romney is serious about fighting for a spot on the 2016 GOP ticket, (even that’s debatable, since he may just want to be taken more seriously as party powerbroker) nothing will rain more new media attention down on him than his role in helping Boston get the US Olympic Committee’s nod to compete for the 2024 Summer Games.

Lest we forget, Romney famously saved Salt Lake City from itself when the 2002 Winter Games were consumed by bribery and financial scandals. The Salt Lake City Games were hundreds of millions of dollars short of funds. Romney stepped in and shored up the finances and gained valuable talking points for his political résumé.

Romney’s fingerprints have been all over the Boston bid. What has Romney said about metro Boston’s roads, bridges, and the MBTA, that nightmare of transit decrepitude? “The transportation has to be completely redone,” he told the Boston Globe in 2013.

What would happen if Boston 2024 falls short in the dollar department? “Someone has got to be able to write the check,” Romney said.

And he’s looking at you, Massachusetts. That may be in part why Sen. Thomas McGee, the Lynn Democrat trying to re-up for the Transportation Committee chairmanship, has admitted that the state isn’t “where it needs to be” on transportation financing. He’s also commented that the Olympics presents “great opportunity” to deal with the state’s transportation needs.

Yet Baker has said no new taxes or fees, and Massachusetts doesn’t have Olympic-sized bundles of money lying around. So that means a trip to the Washington ATM. In his book on the Salt Lake City Olympics rescue, Romney said, “No matter how well we did cutting costs and raising revenue, we couldn’t have the games without the support of the federal government.”

Withdrawals from the federal bank machine are now managed by very conservative Republicans. Are GOP lawmakers so enthused about a Republican in the Corner Office that they are willing to help out with security and transportation costs as Romney managed to get the feds to do 13 years ago?

“They made their bid. They should pay for it,” quoth US Rep. Darrell Issa, Republican of California, on Boston’s estimated $1 billion in security needs.

Yes, Boston badly needs Romney’s help to figure out how to pay for this event. But Mayor Marty Walsh doesn’t see him helming the effort. “I don’t think that the former governor would be interested in that,” he told the Herald. That’s probably because Mitt Romney’s road to the White House doesn’t go through Boston.

–GABRIELLE GURLEY

BEACON HILL

Gov. Charlie Baker stuns nearly everyone by picking transit advocate Stephanie Pollack as his transportation secretary, CommonWealth reports. Former state transportation czar Jim Aloisi says the selection of Pollack, who favored the gas tax indexing that Baker opposed, says a lot about the new governor.

Meanwhile, in rescinding all last-minute appointments made by former governor Deval Patrick, as he is authorized to do, Baker appears to have thrown into doubt the legal status of Bristol District Attorney Thomas Quinn, who was appointed by Patrick to fill a vacancy and is leading the murder prosecution of former Patriots player Aaron Hernandez.

WBUR explores why Massachusetts has a $500 million budget gap and what can be done about it.

The not so glorious management of the Big Dig is resurfacing at court hearings involving former Big Dig czar James Kerasiotes‘s guilty plea on tax charges.

Scott Sternburg, brother of former Lottery executive director Paul Sternburg, was one lucky guy when it came to keeping his Lottery sales licenses despite constant personal financial and business woes.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Ousted Saugus town manager Scott Crabtree files suit against the city claiming he was fired because he refused to comply with “illegal requests” by the town’s selectmen, the Item reports.

Marty Walsh hits on themes ranging from education to housing in his first State of the City address as Boston mayor. Keller@Large says the likeable mayor failed to mention a few high-ticket items such as the pension liability and how he’s going to pay for these big-picture plans. Though Walsh touted the recent agreement that will bring a longer school day to some Boston students, evidence on the impact of extended school days is mixed.

Worcester pursues a prostitution solution that focuses more on cracking down on johns, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

The Marshfield School Committee postponed debate on a measure requiring seat belts on school buses after the Attorney General’s office ruled the proposal exceeded the town’s authority.

The Lawrence City Council puts off a vote of no confidence in Mayor Daniel Rivera after a secret meeting, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter has requested the City Council approve two new administrative positions so he can hire a pair of aides who worked for him in the same capacities at the Bristol District Attorney’s office.

INTERNATIONAL/NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

An Al Qaeda group in Yemen has taken credit for the terrorist attack in Paris. Meanwhile, the new issue of the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which was the target of the attack, hit the streets Wednesday with many vendors selling out before dawn despite an increase of the usual run from 60,000 to 3 million.Greater Boston has a Harvard terrorism expert who talks about why some attacks garner more attention than others.

A CommonWealth Q&A with Seth Moulton, who is definitely not your typical congressman.

ELECTIONS

Hair of Dog Department: Mitt Romney — who got skewered in his 2012 campaign for impolitic comments disparaging the “47 percent” of the population that are more takers than givers — is sketching out a rationale for a possible third presidential run that, remarkably, includes a focus on the plight of the poor.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Rolling Stone profiles the marijuana industry’s first credit union.

New data suggest workers may be in line for wage increases after more than six years of stagnant earnings.

Workers at a fish processing plant in New Bedford who were fired for demanding higher wages have filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.

A little-noticed rules change in government grants will allow nonprofits to spend more money on administrative and overhead expenses.

EDUCATION

Gov. Charlie Baker announces a $4 million grant to UMass Lowell for a Printed Electronics Research Lab. The lab also receives a $4 million private donation from the CEO of MFS, Robert Manning, the Sun reports.

HEALTH CARE

John McDonough says Charlie Baker is facing a real health care moment in Massachusetts.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics rolls out its list of best paying jobs in each state in the country and, to no one’s surprise, every one is in the medical field, ranging from an average of $192,770 in New Mexico for OB-GYNs, to $252,390 for orthodontists in Wisconsin. Surgeons top the list in Massachusetts with an average salary of $240,700.

TRANSPORTATION

The ride-sharing company Uber plans to share data on its customer riding patterns with Boston officials to aid them in transportation planning.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

CommonWealth examines the state’s trash woes. One interesting stat: In 2013, the state spent $163 million burying or burning trash that could have been sold for $217 million.

The oil bust is following the same pattern that occurred in the 1980s but with one significant difference this time: shale oil, the Wall Street Journal reports.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Surveillance cameras are everywhere, but CommonWealth asks whether they can they be used to both catch criminals and deter crimes? Video surveillance has become indispensable to crime investigation on the South Coast, with a New Bedford police detective telling the Standard-Times that video is key to solving 90 percent of crimes there.

A friend of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is preparing to plead guilty to a reduced charge relating to lying to investigators in the case in exchange for a lighter sentence.

MEDIA/CULTURE

The New York Times is launching a monthly men’s style section.

Woody Allen intends to write and direct a TV series for Amazon, Time reports.

Meet the Author

Gabrielle Gurley

Senior Associate Editor, CommonWealth

About Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle covers several beats, including mass transit, municipal government, child welfare, and energy and the environment. Her recent articles have explored municipal hiring practices in Pittsfield, public defender pay, and medical marijuana, and she has won several national journalism awards for her work. Prior to coming to CommonWealth in 2005, Gabrielle wrote for the State House News Service, The Boston Globe, and other publications. She launched her media career in broadcast journalism with C-SPAN in Washington, DC. The Philadelphia native holds degrees from Boston College and Georgetown University.

About Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle covers several beats, including mass transit, municipal government, child welfare, and energy and the environment. Her recent articles have explored municipal hiring practices in Pittsfield, public defender pay, and medical marijuana, and she has won several national journalism awards for her work. Prior to coming to CommonWealth in 2005, Gabrielle wrote for the State House News Service, The Boston Globe, and other publications. She launched her media career in broadcast journalism with C-SPAN in Washington, DC. The Philadelphia native holds degrees from Boston College and Georgetown University.

Bill Cosby with all his woes in tow — is due to arrive in Boston for a February 8 performance.

Dan Kennedy compares the announcements of the g tabloid rollout by the Globe in 2008 with the rationale for killing the tab this week and putting the content back in the broadsheet and concludes they say the same things. Hmmm.