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Baker under fire on climate bill

The Senate’s point person on climate change legislation said he doesn’t know where Gov. Charlie Baker came up with his estimate that the Legislature’s target for emissions reductions in 2030 would cost state residents an extra $6 billion.

In his letter vetoing the Legislature’s climate change bill, Baker said the difference between a 45 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels versus a 50 percent reduction was $6 billion in extra costs incurred by Massachusetts residents. “Unfortunately, this higher cost does not materially increase the Commonwealth’s ability to achieve its long-term climate goals,” the letter said.

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Baker under fire on climate change bill

The Senate’s point person on climate change legislation said he doesn’t know where Gov. Charlie Baker came up with his estimate that the Legislature’s target for emissions reductions in 2030 would cost state residents an extra $6 billion.

 “Boy would I like to know,” said Sen. Michael Barrett of Lexington. “I have never – and I am familiar with all of the written documents the administration has released on this topic – I had never seen that $6 billion figure until [Thursday]. I wonder if the governor had ever seen the $6 billion figure until [Thursday].”

 In his letter vetoing the Legislature’s climate change bill, Baker said the difference between a 45 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels versus a 50 percent reduction was $6 billion in extra costs incurred by Massachusetts residents. “Unfortunately, this higher cost does not materially increase the Commonwealth’s ability to achieve its long-term climate goals,” the letter said.

 A spokesman for the Baker administration wasn’t able to produce the analysis yielding the $6 billion figure on Friday but promised more information this week.

 Barrett, appearing on The Codcast with Bradley Campbell, the president of the Conservation Law Foundation, said he has asked repeatedly for information on the $6 billion figure and never received it. 

 “I can’t wait to see the economic study that buttresses that claim because it will be unlike any economic study I’ve ever read,” he said. “These figures to some extent are arbitrary. Neither figure [45 percent or 50 percent] is supported by modeling. Both are judgment calls.” 

Campbell said the governor’s reputation for addressing climate change will take a hit because of his veto of the Legislature’s bill. He said trying to estimate the future costs of addressing climate change is difficult and estimates are typically way too high. He said Baker’s veto wastes valuable time and suggests the governor still believes addressing climate change comes at the expense of the economy.

 As for the governor’s veto letter, Campbell said he was not convinced. “It really was a cobbled-together collection of politically tinged arguments rather than substantive objections that the Legislature could have addressed,” he said. “In some cases, they were objections the Legislature did address.”

 Barrett felt similarly. “I assume the governor didn’t write it himself, that it was a staff workup,” he said. “I could not extract from it a coherent, well-constructed case against anything currently in the Senate bill.”

Developer O’Brien: We need offices, cities

One of Boston’s top developers, a self-described half-glass-full guy, says he remains bullish on commercial real estate despite the rise of remote work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tom O’Brien, the founding partner and managing director of the HYM Investment Group, has two big projects under development – a massive mixed-use complex at the site of Suffolk Downs in East Boston and a mixed-use project called Bulfinch Crossing at the former Government Center garage. Combined, the two projects call for 6.35 million square feet of office space.

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Developer O’Brien: We need offices, cities

One of Boston’s top developers, a self-described half-glass-full guy, says he remains bullish on commercial real estate despite the rise of remote work during the coronavirus pandemic.

 Tom O’Brien, the founding partner and managing director of the HYM Investment Group, has two big projects under development – a massive mixed-use complex at the site of Suffolk Downs in East Boston and a mixed-use project called Bulfinch Crossing at the former Government Center garage. Combined, the two projects call for 6.35 million square feet of office space.

 O’Brien acknowledges the nature of office work has changed during COVID, but he doesn’t think the change will affect commercial real estate as much as some people think.

 “I’m not part of the hand-wringing crowd that says there’s going to be a drastic reduction in office,” O’Brien said on The Codcast. “I do think that the way people work will change, that’s for sure. It will be more flexible. But we still fundamentally need offices; we need cities because those are the places where people gather. That’s where they collaborate. That’s where they produce good ideas. That’s where we’re able to converse with one another. That’s still the future of cities and office.”

Sens.-elect Gomez, Cronin stress equity

When the next Senate is sworn in Wednesday, it will have two new members: John Cronin, a Democrat from Lunenburg, and Adam Gomez, a Springfield Democrat. Gomez, the body’s first Afro-Latino senator, brings a progressive lens to policy, while Cronin brings a military background. Both senators say they will focus on equity.
The two senators-elect sat down with the Codcast to introduce themselves and discuss their expectations for the session.

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Sens.-elect Gomez, Cronin pledge focus on equity

When the next Senate is sworn in Wednesday, it will have two new members: John Cronin, a Democrat from Lunenburg, and Adam Gomez, a Springfield Democrat.

Gomez, the body’s first Afro-Latino senator, brings a progressive lens to policy, while Cronin brings a military background. Both senators say they will focus on equity.

The two senators-elect sat down with the Codcast to introduce themselves and discuss their expectations for the session.

Gomez is a community organizer and Springfield city councilor who comes from a Puerto Rican family with a tradition of military service. Gomez says with issues like police reform and race relations at the center of the national dialogue, he can bring his lived experience to the Senate as someone with African and Caribbean heritage.

Gomez says he has a “progressive ideology” and often supports left-leaning legislation because “it’s part of my values, my morals, and I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Cronin is a US Army captain who deployed twice to Afghanistan and has done veterans advocacy work at a legal services center in Boston.

Cronin opposed the Senate version of the recent police reform bill because he thought it went too far in subjecting police officers to civil liability, though he supports the compromise that became law. He resists the labels centrist or progressive, saying he will choose to support bills based on “whether I believe it’s the right thing and whether I believe it’s the right thing for my district.”

 

Sudders says she is hopeful for the first time

MARYLOU SUDDERS, the Baker administration’s point person on COVID-19, says she is finally feeling hopeful.

Vaccines are being rolled out, Joe Biden is preparing to move into the White House, and after nine months of fighting COVID-19 she has learned a lot of lessons that make her job easier.

“I have hope, truly, for the first time since the beginning,” said the governor’s secretary of health and human services. “I actually have some hope.”

Restaurants — a COVID catastrophe

It’s a difficult situation — keeping a business open while balancing public health regulations to keep surging coronavirus cases at bay.

Doug Bacon, owner of eight Boston restaurants through the Red Paint Hospitality Group, where he is president, and Greg Reibman, president of the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber of Commerce, joined the Codcast to discuss the perfect storm that has left thousands of restaurants across the state floundering or shuttering.

 

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Soon-to-be Assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark

Last year, The Hill called Rep. Katherine Clark “the most powerful woman in the Capitol you’ve probably never heard of.”

In January, Clark will become the fourth highest ranking member of the US House of Representatives when she assumes the post of assistant speaker, a position she won last month in a vote among her Democratic colleagues. That she prevailed over Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who entered the House three years before Clark, is just another mark of the savvy shown by the Fifth Congressional District congresswoman, who has not let seniority issues get in the way of a fast ascent into the top ranks of House leadership.

 

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Jim Hunt and the Mass. League of Community Health Centers

Jim Hunt says community health centers got their start in Massachusetts because of the old axiom that all politics is local.

Hunt, the president and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, said two Tufts University medical school physicians, Jack Geiger and Count Gibson Jr., had studied how South Africa launched community clinics and came to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in the early 1960s with the idea of replicating the concept here. At a time when Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty was taking shape, Geiger and Gibson believed that people without means deserved access to medical care if the cycle of poverty was ever going to be broken. Kennedy, according to Hunt, liked the idea and had a strategy for making it happen.

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