The Codcast: The Greenway deal

The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy gained a measure of stability this week as the state, the city of Boston, and park abutters agreed to provide $2 million a year to help cover the organization’s operational expenses.

The Conservancy didn’t gain any new money with the agreement, but it avoided a big loss. The Baker administration had been threatening to pull back its annual $2 million contribution for operational support. Instead, the administration ponied up $750,000, the city tossed in $250,000, and the abutters pledged $1 million if they can win support for a Business Improvement District in the area.

The Codcast provides two interesting views on the deal. James Aloisi, the former secretary of transportation who played a hand in the formation of the Conservancy, said he has a hard time understanding why the state was playing hardball in the first place. He likened the situation to a homeowner who buys a piece of property and builds a house on it — and then goes to his neighbors to ask them to share in the cost of upkeep. (Gov. Charlie Baker should know all about this situation; he used to serve on the board of the Conservancy.)

“I don’t know why it’s so complicated,” Aloisi said, pointing out that the Greenway has always been the state’s responsibility. “No one thinks it’s complicated that the state pays for Spectacle Island. No one thinks it’s complicated that the state pays for the Esplanade.”

Richard Dimino, the president and CEO of the business group A Better City, brought the Greenway’s abutters to the table to work out a funding deal for the park that snakes through downtown Boston. He declined (despite persistent questioning) to shed any light on the Baker administration’s position in the negotiations, but he made an interesting point. The abutters are often criticized for benefiting from the Greenway but doing little to support it. But he said the owners of buildings along the Greenway are already paying taxes to the city based on the higher property values brought about by the park.

Without saying so directly, Dimino seemed to be saying the city of Boston has been benefiting from the Greenway (through higher property tax payments) and doing little to support the park.  Aloisi chimed in, describing the city’s new pledge of $250,000 as a paltry sum.

Aloisi had two other concerns. The Greenway’s new $2 million funding agreement isn’t indexed to inflation, which means it lessens in value each year. And he noted the business community — not the public — will now become the controlling funding force on the Greenway.

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

The Senate passes a marijuana bill that hews much closer than a House bill to the voter-approved law, maintaining the ballot question’s top tax rate of 12 percent and requiring a vote of a community’s residents to ban retail outlets, not just of its governing body. (Boston Globe) Among the amendments attached to both the House and Senate bills is a measure that calls for creating special accommodations for Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket because it is still illegal to transport marijuana by boat over federally regulated waters despite being legal in the state. (Cape Cod Times) Scot Lehigh says House leaders who oversaw a secretive rewrite of the voter-approved law on “legally peddling dope” are a bunch of “regally meddling dopes.” (Boston Globe)  

The Globe’s Frank Phillips says state Treasurer Deb Goldberg, whose oversight of the new marijuana industry is stripped away by pending bills, is getting some payback for not always playing nice with Beacon Hill insiders. CommonWealth reported last week that the House chair of the Legislature’s pot committee, Rep. Mark Cusack, was not happy with talk from Goldberg’s office about relocating the Lottery headquarters out of his Braintree district that has long been its home.  

A state official milks a cow. There are pictures. (Herald News)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Some municipalities are banning retail pot shops within their borders, even some whose voters backed the legalization of recreational marijuana last fall. (CommonWealth)

The Attorney General has cited the Wayland Zoning Board of Appeals for violating the state’s Open Meeting Law when it held a meeting to rectify problems with complying with said law. (MetroWest Daily News)

Can’t get there from here: Two men drive into a pond in West Yarmouth after their GPS told them it was the way to go to Route 28. (Cape Cod Times)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

With the the GOP only able to sustain the loss of two votes if they hope to pass their health care overhaul, four conservative senators said they can’t support the bill “at this time” because it doesn’t go far enough in repealing Obamacare while three centrist senators are wary it goes too far. (New York Times) Former president Barack Obama stepped off the sidelines and, in a lengthy Facebook post, denounced the Republican legislation as a “rushed” effort that is not a health care bill, but “massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people.” (Boston Globe) The bill is Obamacare — with many of its main pillars whittled away, writes Evan Horowitz. (Boston Globe)

US Rep. Seth Moulton is helping to lead a fresh move to oust Democratic House minority leader Nancy Pelosi following this week’s double loss for the party in special elections for House seats. (Politico)

Careful what you wish for: There are now calls for the voter-fraud panel that was formed following President Trump’s charge that millions of votes were illegally cast last November to examine allegations of Russian meddling in the election. (Boston Globe)

After weeks of playing coy, President Trump admits there are no tapes of conversations between him and fired FBI director James Comey. (New York Times)

Ralph Nader (of all people) offers a tour through the thinking of a fictitious composite voter who is sticking with Trump no matter what. (Boston Globe)

ELECTIONS

New Bedford City Councilor Kerry Winterson says he has decided to run for mayor because of the ongoing street violence, including a recent shooting that wounded a friend of his. (Standard-Times)

Tito Jackson’s already longshot bid for mayor of Boston seems to have run out of fundraising gas. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

EnerNOC, a Boston-based energy efficiency software company, agreed to be acquired by an Italian firm for $300 million. (Boston Herald)

A shortage of visas for seasonal workers hits Cape Cod hard. (WBUR)

EDUCATION

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the consumer watchdog agency that is being eyed for the chopping block by Republicans, issued a report showing the number of complaints over student loan collections has risen 325 percent since last year. (U.S. News & World Report)

Parents of students at the Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School in Haverhill are bitter about the teachers union vote to close the school down, and some are saying they are going to move. (Eagle-Tribune)

For some Friday inspiration, check out the 38 Boston public schools valedictorians, nearly two-thirds of whom will be the first in their family to head to college and almost half of whom are immigrants. (Boston Herald)

The University of Massachusetts Amherst, which oversees 4-H programs in the state, revoked the agriculture organization’s designation for the 83-year-old, non-profit Camp Farley on Cape Cod in the wake of upheaval following the arrest of the executive director on charges of soliciting sex for a fee. (Cape Cod Times)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Lynn Hlatky, the cancer researcher whose showdown with Steward Health Care over its dismantling of her lab and destruction of valuable research specimens was the subject of this feature story in the current issue of CommonWealth, was awarded $22 million in damages in her breach of contract lawsuit against the Steward. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A large solar farm in Grafton is helping a real farm survive. (Telegram & Gazette)

A pair of humpback whales were found were found washed up on Monomoy Island near Chatham but investigators have not determined the cause of death. (Cape Cod Times)

CASINOS

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno says the proposed East Windsor, Connecticut, casino would be a glorified slots parlor. (MassLive)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Arthur McCaffrey says the Bella Bond case is proof that not every person is fit to be a parent. He calls for fitness for parenthood evaluations. (CommonWealth).

A bench trial gets underway in the case of former MBTA police officer Jennifer Garvey, charged with assaulting a woman at the Dudley Square bus terminal. (Boston Herald)

Prosecutors don’t want to divulge the names of potential witnesses in the Top Chef extortion case against members of the Teamsters union, arguing that some would-be witnesses are scared and can’t even be located. (Boston Herald)

MEDIA

Breaking news: Boston area viewers are abandoning local TV news in droves. Film at 11. (Boston Herald)