For Rollins, it’s full speed ahead

If anyone thought Rachael Rollins might trim her sails while waiting for word on whether she gets the nod as President Biden’s choice for US attorney for Massachusetts, they clearly haven’t followed the trajectory of her rise into public life and her style once there. 

Rollins, elected Suffolk County district attorney in 2018, was blunt during her campaign about the changes she wanted to implement, and that also fairly describes her approach to issues and other public figures with whom she has disagreements. 

When she felt blindsided by the public release of a letter from Baker public safety secretary Thomas Turco criticizing her “do not prosecute” approach to a list of lower-level misdemeanors, she let him have it. (After she went a step further and injected the issue of an episode of alleged groping of a fellow passenger by Baker’s son on a flight to Boston, Rollins conceded that she “could have handled things differently, too.”)

But all of that was all before news that Rollins is one of three names under consideration for US attorney. In April, the Globe reported that Rollins was “undergoing FBIt background checks, the final step before she can be nominated to be the next US attorney for the district of Massachusetts.” 

That might have marked a moment when a would-be nominee dials things back in their public pronouncements, not wanting to introduce anything into the mix that could throw off what looks like a well-oiled path to a prime appointment. 

But Rollins doesn’t seem inclined to ditch the tell-it-like-she-sees-it approach that has at times ruffled feathers among the political class, where unfiltered direct talk is hardly the coin of the realm. 

On Saturday, after Bill Bratton, the former police commissioner in New York City and Los Angeles (and briefly in Boston) called Rollins “well-intended,” but said she “lost sight of the fact very bad, very vicious people deserve to be in jail,” Rollins fired back. She said she has always maintained that serious violent offenders need to be jailed — and she pointed out that under Bratton’s short reign, the Boston Police Department remained under a federal consent decree over diversity hiring and arrested Sean Ellis in the now discredited case that wound up exposing rampant corruption in the department.

On Sunday, Rollins weighed in on a range of issues on the WCVB-TV show “On The Record,” including the botched appointment as Boston police commissioner of Dennis White, who was named to the post with no vetting or even an interview. When asked previously about conflicting accounts of whether then-Mayor Marty Walsh knew about past allegations of domestic violence against White, Rollins suggested she gave more credence to the idea that Walsh did know — Walsh adamantly insists he did not. Yesterday, she played out the possibility that Walsh didn’t know — but in a way that amounted to a full-on broadside against the former mayor. 

“This is a bad situation overall,” she said. “Because either he knew about it and he’s lying or he didn’t know about it and you’re a terrible manager.”

Give Rollins points for chutzpah and for maintaining her trademark approach of direct answers to thorny questions.  

Her summation is pretty close to what a lot of others have quietly whispered about Walsh’s handling of the situation. Not only did she not hold back while awaiting word on the US attorney pick, Rollins took a shot at a guy who was just appointed to a cabinet position by the president who she’s hoping will decide she’s the one to run the US attorney’s office in Massachusetts. 



New political turf: A PAC affiliated with the Environmental League of Massachusetts is starting to target races for seats on municipal light boards, which oversee the procurement and delivery of electricity for 42 municipalities. The races in the past have been political afterthoughts, with no one running for the seats in some communities. Now that is starting to change, as climate change and electricity delivery are becoming higher priorities. Read more.


Why police shootings are lower here: Jim Jordan, the  former director of strategic planning for the Boston Police Department and co-principal of Public Safety Leadership, explains why he thinks Massachusetts has one of the lowest rates of officer-involved shootings in the nation. He says the reason is largely cultural — Massachusetts police officers by and large identify with the people in the communities they serve. “They see themselves for the most part as stakeholders, rather than outsiders,” he says. Read more.

Growing up without a father: Michael Widmer remembers a father who was largely a stranger for most of his life. Read more.

Pushing back against power plant: Sarah Dooling of the Massachusetts Climate Action Network says there is no justification for a proposed gas-fired power plant in Peabody. Read more.

Getting real estate on track: Real estate is a key driver of the Massachusetts economy, says Karen Fish-Will, a principal and CEO at Peabody Properties. Read more.




Black ministers in Boston urge churches to get involved in efforts to stem violence in the city as the summer — and crime — heats up. (Boston Herald)

The Methuen City Council is torn on whether to open an investigation into a $4 million deficit incurred by the School Department in 2017, which resulted in a state takeover of the city’s finances. (Eagle-Tribune) 

Debra Roy, a 19-year veteran of the Beverly Housing Authority, has been promoted to executive director, replacing Susan Carleton who retired in April. (Salem News


Experts are mystified at why the state is only now rolling out the MassNotify system that uses smartphone technology to help residents track possible coronavirus exposure. (Boston Globe

Local public health officials say Gov. Charlie Baker is missing a huge opportunity to beef up the state’s public health infrastructure in the wake of the COVID pandemic. (Boston Globe


It’s primary day tomorrow in New York City in the closely watched race for mayor — but it could be weeks before we know who won. (New York Times


The Andover School Committee voted unanimously to move school start times later starting in September out of concern for the mental health of high schoolers. The decision raised concerns about transportation from parents of elementary-aged students. (Eagle-Tribune

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is set to vote on Tuesday on reforms meant to increase equity in vocational school admission policies, but some groups say the proposal is inadequate. (Salem News) CommonWealth reported on the issue last week

Salem State University will not receive state funding this year for a $60 million redevelopment project announced in 2019. Money from the expected sale of South Campus will be allocated toward beginning the plan. (Salem News


The City of Haverhill is partnering with the Essex County land trust, Greenbelt, to purchase 20.4 acres of land for $400,000 for the purpose of protecting the city’s drinking water. (Eagle-Tribune)


The New York Times checks in on New Bedford LIght, the new nonprofit news site launched in response to the contraction of the Standard-Times. CommonWealth was the first outlet to report on the new venture, in March. 

Media analyst Ken Doctor provides an early glimpse of how his new Lookout Santa Cruz website is faring and what he’s learned competing against a print rival owned by Alden Global Capital. (Nieman Journalism Lab)