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Episode 23: Smoke and mirrors

Both sides of the debate over the ballot question to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana are running television ads in the final weeks of the campaign and it’s safe to say neither will be awarded points for honesty.

John Carroll, a Boston University professor of communications and former journalist and commentator, and Dave Wedge, a former political reporter and currently a vice president at the political consulting firm Northwind Strategies, bring their expertise to help us break down what’s real and what’s just smoke and mirrors in these ads and the marketing campaigns for both sides.

Episode 22: Does DCR need fiscal control board?

What should be done? The Codcast talks with Whitney Hatch, chairman of the DCR Stewardship Council, and Stephen Pritchard, who spent four years in the administration of former governor Mitt Romney, including six months as DCR commissioner and a little over a year as secretary of energy and environmental affairs.

Episode 21: The charter funding debate

The impact of charter schools on district school budgets has become a central point of contention in the debate over Question 2, the November ballot question that would allow an expansion in the number of charter schools in Massachusetts.

Stephanie Hirsch, a municipal and state finance consultant, and Sam Tyler, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, dig into those issues in this week’s Codcast. Hirsch has developed a web tool to examine the impact of charter growth on district budgets with her husband, Joe Calzaretta, a mathematician and software engineer. They describe it here.

Episode 19: State economy hot, but not tax revenues

The Massachusetts economy is humming along. The unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent in August, its lowest level since 2001. But state tax revenues are not keeping pace. They fell so far behind the level that had been forecasted that the Baker administration is now trying to clean up a $575 million budget shortfall from the previous fiscal year.

What’s going on? We explore that issue with Eileen McAnneny, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, and Alan Clayton-Matthews, an associate professor at Northeastern University. Both of them conduct state revenue forecasts and work with state officials to develop a consensus forecast.

Episode 18: The Globe v. Joyce

CommonWealth’s Jack Sullivan and Bruce Mohl discuss the Boston Globe’s extensive coverage of Sen. Brian Joyce, and particularly the story last month suggesting the Milton lawmaker expanded his house without the necessary permits and was shortchanging the town on property taxes. Is this a media war between the Globe and CommonWealth, as media critic Dan Kennedy has suggested, or is this about something else?

Episode 17: Eldridge stirs things up

State Sen. Jamie Eldridge has managed to liven up a quiet August on Beacon Hill.

The Acton Democrat shared some thoughts on Democratic Party politics with an email to fellow Bernie Sanders supporters that made its way into the hands of the Globe’s Jim O’Sullivan. That led to a front-page story in the Globe headlined, “Democrat tries to nudge state party left; Senator wants some lawmakers voted out.”

Eldridge says in this week’s Codcast that the email was in response to the frustration many progressive activists felt with the national party as well as with “the Democratic party and Democratic legislators in Massachusetts.” He says his main message to them was, don’t break off and join a third party but redouble their efforts to push a progressive agenda joining their local town or city Democratic committee or consider actually running for elected office. There are “plenty of conservative Democrats who have been elected, unchallenged, for years if not decades, including at the local and legislative level,” he wrote.

Episode 16: Healey declares success on gun ban

It’s been more than a month since Attorney General Maura Healey announced her crackdown on sales of assault weapons she said are in violation of the 1998 state law barring such rifles, and the only thing that’s slowed down are sales.

Because of what some say was confusion over when her enhanced action took effect, Healey said no one who bought one of the guns would be held responsible but she refused to exempt dealers, threatening them with sanctions for violating her order. After declining to reveal her decision one way or the other for weeks, Healey, in a conversation on The Codcast, said she’s decided to move on and not bring action against any dealers – for that day.

Episode 15: Baker’s curious VMT decision

Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision last week to veto a legislative provision directing the state to seek federal funds for an all-volunteer study of vehicle-miles-traveled, or VMT, turned some heads. The tax-averse governor said the proposal, which would test out the imposition of a fee on drivers for the miles they drive on state roads, raised all sorts of fairness questions. But two VMT supporters said such questions are exactly what the study was meant to answer.

The Codcast this week talks to Michael Widmer, the former head of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, and James Aloisi, the former secretary of transportation. They believe the state needs to transition away from the gasoline tax to a VMT fee and explain why they think the governor was wrong to veto the study.

Episode 14: Open Court?

The Massachusetts Trial Court this week issued its new rules and regulations regarding public access to court records and it’s fair to say officials erred on the side of less rather than more.

Esme Caramello, faculty director of Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and a tenants’ rights advocate, and Todd Wallack of the Boston Globe, a member of the vaunted Spotlight team who has been at the forefront of reporters’ attempts to bring more transparency to public records, joined us to talk about the new rules.