An Olympic accounting
- Thank God it’s over.That was the overwhelming sentiment among the area’s columnists and editorial pages. Boston Globe columnists Joan Vennochi, Dan Shaughnessy, Dante Ramos, John Powers, and Kevin Cullen all welcomed the end of Boston’s Olympic dreams. So did the Boston Herald’s editorial page and columnists Howie Carr and Steve Buckley, as well as Boston magazine’s Kyle Clauss and WBUR guest columnist Simon Waxman. A Lynn Item editorial called Boston 2024 a fiasco and a Berkshire Eagle editorial said pulling the plug was the right decision. The chief contrarian was the Globe’s Shirley Leung, who was full of regret. “Given the chance to think big about our future, we tied ourselves up in the minutiae of tax breaks and traffic studies. Accusations quickly replaced ambitions,” Leung wrote.
- What does Boston’s withdrawal say about the city? Leung said the Olympics decision reinforces perceptions of Boston as a small-town backwater. “To the world, Boston is still the same old, same old – a difficult place to get anything done, a place where we’re happy as we are,” she wrote. But others (CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas) saw taking a pass on the Olympics as confirmation of just how smart Bostonians are. Many also praised the naysayers who led the fight against the Games as heroes (Jim Aloisi and Vennochi). Still, it was interesting to read the opening line of the No Boston Olympics victory statement. “Boston is a world-class city,” the group said, as if saying it would make it so.
- Marty Walsh, the biggest political supporter of hosting the Olympic Games, got off pretty easy in the press as the bid collapsed. On Monday, when he saw which way the wind was blowing at the US Olympic Committee, he hastily called a press conference and portrayed himself as a politician who wouldn’t be bullied into signing anything that would require Boston taxpayers to pay one penny toward any deficit associated with the Games. He said he needed more time to study the taxpayer guarantee he was being asked to sign, but one wonders what he and his aides have been doing since January when he formally jumped on the Olympic bandwagon. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was the only one to call Walsh out.
- Gov. Charlie Baker’s Olympic strategy was perhaps the most interesting of all. He remained aloof from the debate over the Games, saying he was waiting for more details and the results of an outside study commissioned by the governor, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Senate President Stan Rosenberg. It seemed to be a wise, pragmatic approach to a complex issue, or was it? It’s unlikely the study would have given a clear thumbs up or down to an Olympic bid. The more likely outcome would be an analysis of the potential risks and rewards, the type of study a politician could use to buttress whatever position he wants to take. As his stance on the Olympics shows, Baker picks and chooses his battles carefully. He was clearly wary of embracing the Olympics, so he sat back and did nothing. Similarly, he’s unsure of what he wants done with the Public Records Law, so he refuses to say where he stands, even on whether his own office should be covered by the statute.
- What’s next, Boston? Opponents of a Boston Olympics said the city doesn’t need a looming 2024 deadline to fix the MBTA, build new housing, and redevelop parts of the city. It’s far too early to say whether the failed Olympic bid will be a catalyst for change, but early signs are not promising. Baker has adopted yet another reform before revenue approach to the region’s transportation system. And any push to redevelop Widett Circle or Columbia Point will run into the same criticisms that surfaced during the Olympic debate — the tax breaks are too generous, the logistics are too complicated, and cost overruns are likely.
Boston Magazine offers a glowing profile of Attorney General Maura Healey.
Several major development projects in downtown Salem are poised to move forward. (Salem News)
Neighbors and city officials in Quincy are frustrated by the slow demolition of the old YMCA that was stopped then restarted after asbestos was found in the 60-year-old building. (Patriot Ledger)
Bostonians are left asking: What now? (Associated Press)
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti jumps into the fray, saying he is ready to talk with the US Olympic Committee. (Los Angeles Times)
Steve Koczela of the MassINC Polling Group summarizes the role of polls in the Olympic debate. (WBUR)
Will various parts of the Boston 2024 proposal get developed even without a Boston Olympics? (Boston Globe)
In somewhat of a twisted stretch, Keller@Large compares the victory of the anti-Olympics crowd to the resolution of the Market Basket dispute.
James McHugh, one of five members of the state Gaming Commission, plans to leave his post at the end of September. The commission’s executive director is also departing. (Boston Herald)
Retired US Army Gen. Russell Honoré, who was instrumental in setting New Orleans back on its feet after Katrina, argues that the US is in a state of denial about gun violence and Second Amendment rights. (USA Today)
The New Republic‘s Brian Beutler asks, “Would Republicans support the Americans with Disabilities Act today?”
Turns out comedian Jon Stewart is a White House advisor. (Politico)
House Republicans have called for the impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for what they say is stonewalling the congressional investigation of the agency’s alleged targeting of Tea Party groups. (National Review)
A group of gay and transgender Catholics are seeking to meet with Pope Francis during his visit to America in September to urge him to take a stand to make the church more welcoming to them. (New York Times)
Many consumers don’t compare prices for home and auto insurance, depriving themselves of possible big savings. (Boston Globe) A state Senate committee plans to look into the spike in homeowners’ insurance costs following last winter’s storms. (Boston Herald)
Steven Syre tells how a small Cambridge biotech company that was worth $10 million wound up a year later with a market value of $2 billion. (Boston Globe)
The search committee for a new UMass Lowell chancellor selects Jacqueline Moloney, the current executive vice chancellor. (Eagle-Tribune)
Spelman College in Atlanta, a historically black women’s school, has discontinued a professorship that had been endowed by a $20 million gift from comedian Bill Cosby. (New York Times)
Harvard School of Public Health professor John McDonough takes stock of Medicare and Medicaid on their 50th anniversary. (CommonWealth)
Jim Stergios and Charles Chieppo say more reform and more money for the MBTA are needed. They favor gradual state assumption of T debt. (Gloucester Times)
The US House will leave for its planned August recess before acting on a bill from the Senate that would rescue the federal Highway Trust Fund, which is set to run out of money by the end of next month. (US News & World Report)
Five South Coast lawmakers are asking the state Department of Environmental Protection to examine prospects for cleaning up a New Bedford brownfield site that had been the planned location of a waterfront casino before developers withdrew their bid. (Standard-Times)
A coalition of lawmakers on the left and right are pushing Congress to revamp federal laws that had radically increased the number of inmates over the last 40 years. (New York Times) CommonWealth‘s Michael Jonas spotlighted the problem in the magazine’s most recent issue.
Jack Loiselle, 7, is in a coma while his father is in custody for overseeing what appears to be a horrific and creepy case of child abuse. (Telegram & Gazette)
Whitey Bulger‘s decision not to testify at his trial may have sunk any (remote) chances for his current appeal. (Boston Herald)
A Medford police detective was put on leave after a dashboard camera in a car whose driver he had an encounter with recorded him threatening the driver by saying he would “put a hole right in your head.” (Boston Globe)
A Berkley woman who won $1 million in the Lottery pleaded guilty Monday to stealing $1.6 million from her cancer-stricken brother’s business. (The Enterprise)
Wicked Tuna fisherman Paul Hebert of Gloucester faces federal fraud charges for allegedly taking money for a claimed disability while out tuna fishing. (Gloucester Times)SPORTS
Jen Welter, a sports psychologist who played rugby at Boston College where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business, has been hired as the first woman coach in the NFL by the Arizona Cardinals. Welter will be an assistant linebackers coach. (ESPN)