Capital concerns at the Globe

For those of us in the news business, the Boston Globe’s shrinking Capital section is an alarming sight.

The nation is in the midst of one of the most interesting and important presidential campaigns in decades. We’ve got one US senator who is political catnip, a Republican governor who has the highest popularity ratings in the nation, and intrigue galore on Beacon Hill.

But Capital, a weekly section devoted to national, state, and local politics, is barely holding on.

The section launched with great fanfare in June 2014 with 12 pages, including 3.5 pages of ads. At a kickoff party at the Paramount Theatre, Globe CEO Mike Sheehan said the new section signaled the direction owner John Henry was taking the newspaper. “You cannot cut your way to success. You can only invest your way to success,” he said at the time.

By December 2014, Capital was down to eight pages. For several weeks now it’s been only two pages, and one of those pages is a full-page ad from Steward Health Care, one of the section’s original sponsors. Friday’s section featured a piece on foreign policy in the presidential campaign and the Capital Source column, a series of short, gossipy items that are fun to read.

The Globe earlier this month dropped Crux, its stand-alone website devoted to all matters Catholic.The website was attracting 1 million readers a month, but not enough advertisers. Capital feels like it could be next.

–BRUCE MOHL

 

BEACON HILL

As the solar net metering stalemate continues on Beacon Hill, a new problem is emerging — the cap increase isn’t big enough. (CommonWealth) Tyngsboro approves a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with a solar power generator, but the deal can’t move forward until Beacon Hill lifts the net metering cap. (Lowell Sun)

An Eagle-Tribune editorial praises the House-Senate conference committee dealing with public records for trying to resolve differences between the branches in public.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

North Adams, with the highest smoking rate in the state, considers raising the smoking age to 21. (Berkshire Eagle)

A federal judge quashed a subpoena for the state attorney general’s office to give testimony in a suit by an acting Abington police officer who says police officials instituted a quota system for tickets to raise revenue then retaliated against him when he complained. (The Enterprise)

A visit by Acushnet officials to the LNG facility in the town was canceled after discovering the visit would violate the state’s Open Meeting Law. (Standard-Times)

CASINOS

The developer of a proposed Brockton casino says the planned Mashpee Wampanoag casino in Taunton “defies the laws of gravity” and claims the lawsuit it filed “dooms” the tribal facility. (The Enterprise)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Third Sector Capital Partners offers a twist on the pay-for-success formula — a money-back guarantee. (Governing)

Civil rights groups and major businesses in the state, including American Airlines, Apple, and PayPal, are bashing a new law in North Carolina that was rammed through the legislature stripping anti-discrimination protections from gays and lesbians. (New York Times)

ELECTIONS

The uber conservative Club for Growth PAC throws its support behind Ted Cruz in its first-ever presidential endorsement, although most would be hard-pressed not to see earlier preferences. (National Review)

The National Enquirer has landed in the GOP presidential contest with a salacious story Cruz, and there may be reason to think Donald Trump has something to do with it, says The New Republic’s Alex Shephard.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren continues to pummel Donald Trump. (Boston Herald) She says his Indian attacks won’t deter her; they didn’t work for Scott Brown and they won’t work for Trump. (Masslive)

State Rep. Brian Mannal of Barnstable, who was in a nasty reelection race in 2014, has changed his mind and announced he will run for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Dan Wolf. (Cape Cod Times)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Business officials are balking at a new rule by the Obama administration that requires employers to notify workers when they hire consultants or advisors to guide them in formulating strategies to prevent union organizing. (U.S. News & World Report)

General Electric will site its headquarters on a 2.5-acre parcel along the Fort Point Channel. (Boston Globe)

Shirley Leung says big banks are not so bad. (Boston Globe)

The state’s jobless rate falls to 4.5 percent. (WBUR)

EDUCATION

Growing personnel costs and excess capacity in partially-full school buildings go a long way toward to explaining the chronic budget woes of the Boston public schools. (Boston Globe). A Herald editorial says City Councilor Tito Jackson should be ashamed of himself for trying to shame school leaders over the budget, which actually increases school spending by $13.5 million over last year.

Carol Cowan retired as president of Middlesex Community College in February with a $207,807 payment for accrued vacation and sick time. (Lowell Sun)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford treated 469 opioid overdose cases in its emergency room last year, both fatal and nonfatal. (Standard-Times)

The state’s One Care program, which hoped to be a national model for reducing costs and improve care by better coordinating services for the state’s sickest patient population — those on both Medicaid and Medicare — continues to struggle with low enrollment and costs. (Boston Globe) CommonWealth highlighted the ambitious effort in this 2014 feature story and health care expert John McDonough wrote last year about efforts to get the struggling program on track.

Hallmark Health System may not be merging with Partners HealthCare, but it is looking for another suitor. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

A new national ride-hailing company will be launched in Boston next month that uses only women drivers and will serve only women customers. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Ed White, a vice president at National Grid, says utilities aren’t afraid of solar; they just think it costs too much in Massachusetts. (CommonWealth)

Attorney General Maura Healey plans to defend the state against a suit brought by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan. (Masslive)

Somerset will receive $626,000 from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to offset the town’s losses from the closed Montaup power plant. (Herald News)

The state awards $1.25 million to Springfield, Chicopee, and Holyoke to reduce sewer overflows into the Connecticut River. (Masslive)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A huge law enforcement sweep nets 19 arrests on gun and drug charges in Boston’s troubled Lenox Street Housing Development. Some question whether big sweeps like this yield long-term improvements in public safety. (Boston Globe)

Braintree police shot and killed a 44-year-old man who they said refused to drop a knife when officers responded to a reported domestic disturbance. (Patriot Ledger)

There is a growing debate about the decision by the state’s Trial Court to put digital recorders in courtrooms around the state, with court reporters fearful of losing their jobs and attorneys concerned the mechanized recordings will contain inaccuracies and make it difficult to identify who is speaking. (Cape Cod Times)

An addict who fled a Gloucester Angel officer and overdosed is ordered into treatment. (Gloucester Times)

He should have been arrested for his taste in movies: A North Carolina man was placed in handcuffs and taken into custody on a 14-year-old arrest warrant for failing to return a rented VHS tape of the cult favorite Freddy Got Fingered.

MEDIA

John Allen does a Q&A with the Nieman Journalism Lab, explaining how Crux is rising from the dead.