The Codcast: Boston’s chief of the streets

Boston’s streets and sidewalks comprise 9 square miles in a city that is only 48 square miles in total. Chris Osgood, with the odd but apt title of Boston’s chief of the streets, is the person in charge of not only maintaining that infrastructure but making sure that residents have access to it whether they drive, bike, or walk.

Osgood, joined by Vineet Gupta, the director of policy and planning for the Boston Transportation Department, and Josh Fairchild and James Aloisi of Transit Matters, said on The Codcast that his charge from Mayor Marty Walsh is to find ways of incentivizing commuters and residents to rely less on their cars and to take advantage of other modes of transportation that help reduce greenhouse gases.

“It’s a recognition that we’re at a moment in this city and in this region of significant growth,” Osgood says of the administration’s big picture plan called Go Boston 2030. “We’re not going to be able to actually manage that growth if we’re moving in the same way we’re moving today.”

Osgood said he is focused on improving bike networks as well as creating better transit options for the city’s most car-dependent neighborhoods and those ill-served by public transit options. He points to Mattapan as a priority for rapid bus service, saying more than 24 percent of the residents in that neighborhood spend more than an hour commuting one-way to work.

Fairchild cited several transportation goals from the Go Boston 2030 plan, the most ambitious being the target that 100 percent of homes in the city will be within a 10-minute walk of either a public transit stop, a bike-share stand, or a car-share spot. (Currently the city is at 46 percent.) Osgood said the goal is to give everyone – walkers, drivers, bikers, and transit riders – access to the city’s streets in ways that reduce their impact on the environment.

One challenge for Boston is that it owns the streets but the MBTA runs the buses that operate on them. Osgood said close collaboration between the city and the T (think dedicated bus lanes and coordinated street lights) is key to improving service, which will, hopefully, convince more people to take public transit. For the chief of the streets, the work is is crucial to the city’s future.

“What makes great cities is great streets,” he said.

JACK SULLIVAN


BEACON HILL

Wealthy philanthropist Amos Hostetter donated more than $2 million to the pro-charter school ballot question campaign that Gov. Charlie Baker strongly backed — and got a favorable ruling from the Baker administration in blocking permits for a hotel next to his waterfront office which Hostetter strongly opposed. Hostetter calls the two things “entirely coincidental.” Interestingly, the Boston Globe ran the story on page B5 of the print edition.

A Lowell Sun editorial takes lawmakers to task for overriding Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget vetoes of $275 million in spending. “Democratic lawmakers appear well on their way to whiffing on sound fiscal management,” the editorial said. A Boston Herald editorial sounds the same lament.

The state is committing $200,000 to the effort to lure Amazon to site its second headquarters in Massachusetts. (Boston Globe) Pols and business leaders are jumping on the let’s-get-Amazon bandwagon. (Boston Herald)

A Republican editorial urges lawmakers to give innovation zones a chance despite opposition from the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Peeved that North Andover, Haverhill, and Lawrence were talking about making a bid for the second Amazon headquarters without consulting Methuen, Mayor Stephen Zanni said the city is thinking about submitting its own proposal. (Eagle-Tribune)

Nancy Dutton, the 56-year-old deputy tax collector in Tyngsboro, is indicted for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the town. (Lowell Sun)

You know all about how Dorchester is known colloquially as “The Chest,” right? Neither does anyone who grew up in Boston’s largest neighborhood. (Dorchester Reporter)

Hudson officials have opted against a moratorium on retail marijuana facilities in the town, saying there is plenty of time to adjust to the July 1, 2018 start, and instead will seek zoning changes in next May’s elections. (MetroWest Daily News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

President Trump and Democrats are suddenly doing bipartisan deals, and no one can figure it out. (Boston Globe) “Can you really teach and old demagogue new tricks?” wonders Scot Lehigh. (Boston Globe)

At a White House meeting focused on a bipartisan deal, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi asked: “Do the women get to talk around here?” (Washington Post)

A New York Times report says in the aftermath of the appointment of a special prosecutor in the Russia investigation, Trump humiliated and insulted Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself, demanding the former senator resign before aides talked the president out of it.

A crude homemade bomb exploded in a London subway this morning, injuring dozens but early reports say no deaths. The explosion is being treated as an act of terrorism. (New York Times)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

New Census data indicates income is sharply up in Massachusetts while poverty and income inequality are down. (State House News) In the Berkshires, however, inequality is cleaving the state’s rural west, where wealthy second-home owners are descending on communities whose long-time residents are struggling to keep up. (Boston Globe)

The Boston Foundation is in line to receive a gift of $50 million, the largest in its history, from the sale of shares in Billerica-based Curriculum Associates, an education materials company founded by Frank Ferguson. (Boston Globe) CommonWealth wrote in 2014 about the unusual structuring of the company by Ferguson, a man of remarkable accomplishment — and modesty —  to set up its eventual charitable giving.

The owners of the shuttered Brayton Point power plant in Somerset have put the property on the market and the early pitches for the land range from a golf course to an industrial park. (Herald News)

EDUCATION

Harvard’s Kennedy School withdraws its appointment of Chelsea Manning — a former Army intelligence analyst who was convicted of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks — as a visiting fellow following swift backlash, including the resignation of the former acting CIA director as a senior fellow at the school and the cancellation of a scheduled talk there by current CIA director Mike Pompeo. (Boston Globe) Globe columnist Joan Vennochi wrote yesterday about the odd turn the school’s Institute of Politics has taken in its selection of visiting fellows under acting director and ex-Massachusetts congressman Bill Delahunt. In an early morning tweet, Manning said she was “honored” to be disinvited while her lawyer called it “disgraceful even for Harvard.” (New York Times)

New controversy at Malden’s Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, where leaders have put the kibosh on playing recorded songs to energize the home team at school athletic events, citing “inappropriate language and content” in songs submitted by team captains to the playlists. (Boston Globe)

Some liberals and feminists are finding themselves in the surprising position of applauding Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, as they back her proposed changes in campus sexual assault regulations. (Boston Globe)

The state’s high stakes testing is the center of debate once again at a hearing on a bill by a pair of lawmakers that would place a three-year moratorium on the exams despised by students and teachers. (State House News Service)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Steve Walsh, an ex-state rep and former head of the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals, is named president of the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, replacing Lynn Nicholas.

TRANSPORTATION

Ted Pyne of Transit Matters gives the MBTA credit for five projects that could be transformative for riders. (CommonWealth)

It will be an autumn of weekend bus diversion service on the MBTA’s Red Line, as the Longfellow Bridge reconstruction project nears completion. (Boston Globe)

ofo bike sharing launches in Worcester. The price, at $1 per hour, seems attractive. (Telegram & Gazette)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

As environmental activists push for less use of fossil fuels, the region’s power grid operator says New England’s reliance on natural gas to produce electricity is increasing. (CommonWealth)

Local officials are on board in supporting two bills that would make sure utility companies don’t pass onto consumers the cost of lost gas from hundreds of leaks around the state every year. (MetroWest Daily News)

Eastham officials have quietly settled a suit against the town by paying $90,000 to each of three families who claimed their drinking wells were polluted by contaminants leaching from the town landfill. (Cape Cod Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The Boston Police Department’s one-year pilot study of police-worn body cameras ended this week — but the report on its findings will not be released until November, a delay that a leading advocate for cameras charges seems timed to come after Mayor Marty Walsh faces voters for reelection. (Boston Herald)

MEDIA

The Washington Post is using funny videos to provide more access points to the news. (Nieman  Journalism Lab)

  • Mhmjjj2012

    Here’s a quote from the Republican editorial on innovation zones: “Everyone involved with public education should ask one basic question about the Empowerment Zone model: is it working? If the answer in Springfield is yes, it is irresponsible to block exploration of its use elsewhere.” Well, guess what? The one place where such a zone exists in Massachusetts is Springfield and there is no documented student success…none….with their innovation zone. So why on earth is there a bill pending before the state legislature to allow creation of such zones across the state? Take a look at the bill’s sponsor State Rep. Alice Peisch who served as the co-chair of the Foundation Budget Review Commission that released a report in 2015 finding the state significantly shortchanges public education funding in the Foundation Budget…the mechanism distributing aid to local public schools…in special education, low income and English Language Learners. Peisch…representing Wellesley; Wayland and Weston where the per pupil expenditures are $18,185, $17,652 and $22,768 respectively or…wait for it… $7,252 to $12,368 more per student than the lowest per student spending school district…East Bridgewater. Instead of sponsoring a bill to fix and fully fund the Foundation Budget…Rep. Peisch is sponsoring a bill with a revenue neutral approach for underachieving public schools and no actual successful track record in the one place it’s been running. Rep. Alice Peisch knows the Foundation Budget needs immediate attention with significant funding but Peisch’s constituents’ children are attending fully funded and well-resourced public schools in Wellesley, Wayland and Weston. The Foundation Budget is not working as intended under the 1993 Education Reform Act…to ensure every student in Massachusetts has a high quality education. That’s what needs fixing and fully funding. The innovation zone bill is simply a distraction from that fact.

  • Mhmjjj2012

    The MetroWest Daily News pointed out a report by Boston University found about 50% of the gas lost in leaks is lost through only 7% of those leaks. Not sure if that is from BU Professor Nathan Phillips’ work dating back to 2011. In any event, six years is a long time to be talking about gas leaks and for gas utilities to be charging their customers the cost of losing gas to leaks. There are two bills before the state legislature looking to address those leaks: H.2683 and S.1845. Why it’s taking so long for legislators to deal with the well publicized gas leak problem is beyond me.

  • Mhmjjj2012

    Springfield was just chosen as the worst city to live in Massachusetts:
    Population: 154,336
    Median home value: $146,700
    Poverty rate: 27.3%
    “Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 17.5%
    Springfield is one of the poorest cities in Massachusetts. A typical city household earns just $38,398 a year, about $32,200 less than the typical Massachusetts household. The city’s poverty rate of 27.3% is the highest in the state and nearly double the national poverty rate.
    Springfield also has one of the worst job markets in the country. The city’s two-year job growth is below average, and its unemployment rate of 9.3% is tied for 16th highest out of the 551 U.S. cities reviewed.”
    No wonder the “innovation zone” isn’t showing any success for its students: Springfield’s “unemployment rate of 9.3% is tied for 16th highest out of the 551 U.S. cities reviewed.” WOW!