Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez released what he called “a secret state document” just prior to Thursday night’s debate with Gov. Charlie Baker that he said raises questions about the MBTA’s ability to bring its equipment into a state of good repair in 15 years and its long-term spending plans.
The document – a June 2017 report to the Federal Transit Administration on the Green Line extension – has been talked about in hushed tones in transportation circles for some time, but it’s hardly secret. The Federal Transit Administration has copies and the Department of Transportation provided a copy to CommonWealth in September when the magazine asked about it.
What’s most surprising about the document is a chart forecasting capital spending at the T. The spending rises from $783 million in 2017 to $1.8 billion by 2021. In 2022, capital spending declines slightly to $1.7 billion, but then falls off a cliff, dropping to $868 million in 2023, $620 million in 2024, and $517 million in 2025.
The implication is that the big, five-year, capital spending push Baker trumpets at every turn will dry up after 2023. Many transportation advocates have said the document suggests the state will need to find new sources of money to carry out its capital spending plans beyond five years.
But state transportation officials insist the chart is structured the way it is because of federal reporting rules. They say the Federal Transit Administration allows transit agencies to include in their capital spending forecasts only committed funds. Since Massachusetts makes capital spending commitments for only the next five years, the numbers in the report don’t include state and local funding sources that haven’t been committed yet. What’s left are estimates of federal funding (which are forecasted to grow more slowly in the future) and savings from operations.
State officials pointed out that the Legislature has appropriated money for the T every year since 2000, but that money wasn’t included because it isn’t committed years in the future.
At the debate, Gonzalez focused most of his attention on another element of the report that suggests it will take 25 years, not 15 years as Baker has insisted, to bring the T into a state of good repair. “It turns out that’s not even his plan,” Gonzalez said.
Baker stood by his 15-year estimate, saying the T has upped spending so much on state-of-good-repair work over the last two years that the 25-year estimate has been reduced to 15 years.
Suspended Rockland Town Administrator Allan Chiocca, placed on leave after a sensation sex scandal that included two former selectmen, is demanding more than $5 million from the town to avoid a wrongful termination and sexual harassment suit. Chiocca can’t be fired because the charter requires such an action to have four votes but the two vacant seats on the five-member panel will not be filled until Tuesday’s election. (Patriot Ledger)
Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia changed his mind about addressing the City Council after the council president said he could but only if he answered questions from members before they vote whether to remove him from office. (Herald News)
At a special Lenox town meeting, voters resoundingly rejected proposed regulations on short-term rentals and zoning measures for pot shops. (Berkshire Eagle)
Natick Town Meeting members postponed a vote on a proposal that would mandate voters in municipal elections be US citizens and legal residents of the state and town, a measure some argued was discriminatory. (MetroWest Daily News)
Quincy city councilors are prepared to go to court over the National Grid lockout which they say is affecting development in the city because new buildings can’t be occupied without gas connections. (Patriot Ledger) Quincy is in the midst of a development boom, which CommonWealth examined recently.
President Trump is growing increasingly concerned that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who Trump described once as coming straight out of “central casting,” has repeatedly violated federal rules and regulations that has reportedly triggered a Justice Department investigation into a land deal involving the former one-term congressman. (Washington Post)
Still struggling with how to vote on Question 1, which sets mandatory nurse-to-patient staffing ratios? To get the facts, check out CommonWealth’s Reel Deal video.
Gov. Charlie Baker and challenger Jay Gonzalez go at it in their final debate, with lots of talk, as usual, about Trump. (Boston Globe)
As five Democratic lawmakers came out in support of Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo said he would be backing Gonzalez. (MassLive)
The Baker administration has given out $88 million in grants to cities and towns over the last two weeks, a move one Beacon Hill think tank director calls “vote-buying.” (Boston Herald)
Parents of transgender kids speak out in advance of next Tuesday’s ballot question asking voters whether the state should retain the 2016 law regarding transgender rights. (Boston Globe)
Lowell Sun columnist Peter Lucas says Attorney General Maura Healey is likely to emerge as the leader of the state Democratic Party after Tuesday’s election and set the stage for a run for governor in four years. Lucas says the party has abandoned traditional Democrats, embracing radical proposals such as sanctuary cities and open borders.
Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr, who has made a cottage industry out of slamming US Sen. Elizabeth Warren and promoting her Republican challenger, Geoff Diehl, has not only hosted a campaign event for Diehl, he’s raked in $75,000 in campaign spending by the GOP nominee to advertise on the Howie Carr Network. (Dig Boston)
The New Bedford Standard-Times praised US Rep. William Keating and his Republican opponent Peter Tedeschi for running respectful, issues-based campaigns but gave its endorsement to Keating’s reelection.
Forget subtlety: President Trump and the GOP are overtly appealing to white voters with incendiary language and new racially-charged ads that bring back memories of the Willie Horton attack ad against then-Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. (Washington Post) Trump’s “blatantly racist ad” is a “fitting final pitch for a party and a campaign that are now nearly entirely focused on whipping up xenophobia,” writes conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin.
Joe Battenfeld says Elizabeth Warren will surely win reelection next week, but thinks her presidential chances look increasingly doubtful. (Boston Herald)
Former President Bill Clinton, once a must-have on the campaign trail, is being shunned by Democratic candidates leading up to the midterm elections because of his personal history that is getting revisited in the #MeToo era. (New York Times)
Columbia Gas says its costs related to the Merrimack Valley explosions and fires could exceed $800 million and confirms that it is under investigation by the US Attorney’s office in Boston. (Boston Globe)
Thousands of Google employees in offices around the world, including Cambridge, walked out Thursday in protest over reports the company paid millions of dollars in exit deals with male executives accused of misconduct while trying to keep the allegations quiet. (New York Times)
Beacon Hill is buzzing with efforts to address the National Grid lockout of workers, as the standoff’s effects hit everything from state coffers to construction. (Boston Globe)
A new study says the pension fund for thousands of New England Teamsters faces a $5.1 billion shortfall. (Boston Globe)
As residents of states in the Northeast get older and older, they become a drag on the economy and put more pressure on state governments to provide services. (Governing)
Your smartphone is generating valuable location data that is analyzed and sold for millions of dollars to hedge funds. (Wall Street Journal)
Racist graffiti spray painted on a South Boston elementary schools is a troubling echo of the city’s racial strife of the busing era, said Boston NAACP president Tanisha Sullivan. (Boston Herald)
Parents are complaining about the coaching style of Ryan Dugan, the football coach at Shepherd Hill Regional High School in Dudley, accusing him of bullying their children. (Telegram & Gazette)
A new survey by Pennsylvania State University researchers finds vendors at local farmers markets often fail to take proper precautions in handling food which can lead to the spread of illnesses from E. coli and other bacteria. (U.S. News & World Report)
Tom Glynn, the outgoing CEO of Massport, calls for transportation leaders to come together to discuss how to respond to the growing congestion caused by ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft. (CommonWealth)
Simmons University president and lifelong Catholic Helen Drinan pens a devastating critique of the leadership of Cardinal Sean O’Malley in addressing sexual abuse and harassment issues that raises serious questions about whether he should continue in his role. (Boston Globe)
An all-Massachusetts coda: A North Shore gangster has emerged as a second suspect, along with a West Springfield mobster, in the West Virginia prison killing of South Boston murderer Whitey Bulger. (Boston Globe)
The current head of the State Police union totaled his cruiser in 2013 after he said he was run off the road by a minivan, a claim that was accepted at face value. (MassLIve)
Marshfield police said sewing needles were found in at least two packages of the candy licorice Twizzlers that were in the bags of trick-or-treaters Wednesday night. (Patriot Ledger)
The New York Times is on pace to earn more than $600 million in digital revenues this year. (Nieman Journalism Lab)