City, Boston teachers kick the can

City officials and the Boston Teachers Union eagerly shared the news on Thursday that the two sides reached a tentative contract agreement after 18 months of negotiation. But it turns out it’s a lot easier to get to “yes” when you take one of the toughest issues off the table.

The agreement, which still must be approved by the School Committee and BTU membership, calls for a retroactive pay increase of 2 percent for last year and 3 percent bump for the new school year. It would also give the city more leeway in hiring outside candidates for open teaching positions. But the two sides punted on what has been the thorniest issue of the negotiations — what to do about teachers without a classroom assignment who have continued to draw regular salaries while assigned to work in lesser capacities in schools.

The city wants to be able to terminate those who don’t get hired for classroom teaching positions, while the union has fought that and sought to have more opportunities for teachers in the so-called “excess pool” to receive new training to land classroom jobs.

The deal reached last week is really more of a stopgap measure than a standard contract agreement. It is only two-year contract — the last agreement was for six years — and one of those years has already passed. It means the two sides might as well start new negotiations now, with the agreement set to expire in a year and in view of the 18 months just spent at the table to reach what is only partial agreement.

Mayor Marty Walsh acknowledged as much in a press briefing last week alongside union officials. “What we did with this contract was to come to agreement so we could move forward and then start the clock over again,” he said.

Sam Tyler of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, a business-backed watchdog group, called the agreement “disappointing. Referring to the failure to settle the excess pool issue, he told the Globe, “It doesn’t address meaningful education reform that is necessary to improve student achievement.”

Today’s Herald weighs in with an editorial sounding much the same theme, saying the contract gets an “incomplete” grade.

The union and its new president, Jessica Tang, are the clear victors by winning raises and other gains while holding off resolution of the excess teacher issue.

Both last week’s Globe story and today’s Herald editorial point out that the agreement comes just as Walsh cranks up his first reelection bid, and it removes the contract issue from play during the campaign. The city may have kicked the can past election, but presuming Walsh wins reelection on November 7, it will be there waiting for him the following day.

–MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

Tanisha Sullivan, head of the Boston branch of the NAACP, says last week’s counter-protest of the planned free speech rally on Boston Common was the sign of “things to come” from ordinary citizens and said other issues such as income inequality and educational achievement gaps can be addressed through some of that energy. (Keller@Large)

The number of lobbyists on Beacon Hill outnumber lawmakers by a more than 7-to-1 ratio, though many registered to lobby as a result of a tougher law several years ago broadening the definition of who is a lobbyist. (Associated Press)

A Lowell Sun editorial hails Gov. Charlie Baker’s appointment of Sen. Jennifer Flanagan to the Cannabis Control Commission.

Paul DeBole says it’s time for some spring cleaning of the state’s outdated laws. (CommonWealth)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Supreme Judicial Court is slated to hear a case shortly on whether Community Preservation Act funds can go to historic churches for repairs. (Eagle-Tribune)

The Boston Police Department’s body-worn camera pilot study is slated to end in September, putting pressure on Mayor Marty Walsh to announce a policy on police-worn cameras in advance of his fall reelection bid. (Boston Herald)

The new social-media-driven thing? Suburban teens descending on the North End’s summer weekend festivals to wreak some havoc they couldn’t get away with at home. (Boston Globe)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Hurricane Harvey has stalled over Texas, killing at least five people, stranding thousands, and creating life-threatening flood conditions in Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, with the storm’s potential to drop up to 50 inches of rain before the end of the week. (New York Times)

When Donald Trump was running for president, his company was trying to build a Trump Tower  in Moscow. (Washington Post)

Tensions seems to be building between President Trump and his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. (Axios) Tillerson has probably not helped things with his remarkable distancing of himself from Trump when questioned about the Charlottesville disturbances in a Sunday television interview. (Washington Post)

Trump will lift the limits on transferring military equipment to local police. (New York Times)

Some legal scholars say Trump’s pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, issued late Friday with much of the nation’s attention on Hurricane Harvey, is an indication of the president’s one-sided view of law and order. (New York Times) A Globe editorial decries the pardon and declares, “the argument for impeachment is not far-fetched at this point.”

Trump’s move to ban transgender enlistees in the military is facing a court challenge. (Boston Herald)

ELECTIONS

The Sunday Globe offers a biographical portrait of Boston mayoral challenger Tito Jackson.

Ellen Murphy Meehan, the ex-wife of former congressman and now UMass honcho Marty Meehan, is considering a run for Congress herself. (Eagle-Tribune)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of the online travel company Expedia, reportedly has been tapped to take over at Uber, which has been roiling internally since the ouster of founder Travis Kalanick amid a series of sexual harassment allegations throughout the company. (New York Times)

Union members at Plimoth Plantation held a rally and a march to Plymouth Rock to demand better wages and working conditions at the 17th century village recreation, where they say short staffing and low pay make the job stressful for the historical interpreters and unsafe for visitors. (Patriot Ledger)

A survey of nonprofits in southeast Massachusetts and parts of New York finds agencies on Cape Cod and the Islands have lower salaries for all employees, including CEOs, than many of their counterparts elsewhere. (Cape Cod Times)

The movie box office had the worst weekend in two decades. (Time)

EDUCATION

Jack Schneider of Holy Cross says it’s time to move beyond MCAS in measuring student skills. (CommonWealth)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

An anti-inflammatory drug tested for its ability to reduce cardiovascular risks appeared to also yield a pronounced decrease in lung cancer incidence and cancer deaths in a trial directed by a Boston researcher. (STAT)

The union representing Tufts Medical Center nurses and hospital managers will return to the bargaining table later this week. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

Galen Mook, Steven Miller, and Wendy Landman offer up two ways state transportation officials could lessen the impact of Pike-ageddon. (CommonWealth)

A Sunday Herald editorial says the CommonWealth story last week reporting that MBTA managers took prospective contractors for its bus maintenance operations on a “midnight tour” of bus garages made sense, given the risk of union disruption if the sessions were conducted during the day.

The Massachusetts Port Authority has agreed to a study looking at the idea of charging a fee to drivers who drop-off or pick-up passengers at Logan Airport as a strategy to reduce auto congestion and improve air quality around the airport. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

John Flynn of National Grid says Quebec hydropower is a clean energy shell game. (CommonWealth)

MEDIA

Walter Bird Jr., the editor of Worcester Magazine, is suspended with pay after City Councilor Michael Gaffney releases flirtatious email messages between Bird and three women. (MassLive)