In #MeToo era, steps forward and back
When it comes to reckoning with the role of women in society, it can sometimes be difficult to know whether we’re in a period of enlightened new awareness or blithe ignorance.
So it is that today’s news features stories on a major Boston hospital rethinking the prominent posting of portraits of the all-male cast of its past medical luminaries alongside a report that those attending a global biotech conference last week in Boston were regaled by a woman dancer who bore nothing above her waist other than a crown of flowers in her hair — while the names of an investment firm and biotech company were painted on her abdomen and thigh.
That was the description of one of at least two women apparently hired to perform at an event known as the Party At BIO Not Associated With BIO, or PABNAB, an unsanctioned add-on to the annual biotech convention known for bringing “over-the-top themes” to the global networking event.
The chairman of the firm Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, who serves as chairman of the trade group that puts on BIO, told STAT reporter Rebecca Robbins he was “horrified” to learn that this year’s over-the-top antics included women dancers with no tops. He said any companies sponsoring “PABNAB” in the future will be kicked out of the trade group.
But officials from two companies whose logos were seen featured on a dancer saw it differently. “We just can’t have our name associated with such disgusting objectification of women,” said Pierre Vannineuse, CEO of investment firm Alpha Blue Ocean.
At the same time that the biotech world is confronting the highly visible role of women who served as topless advertising marquees at a big networking bash, others are considering the many ways women are all but invisible in society. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, officials plan to disperse throughout the facility the 31 portraits — all of them men — that currently hang in a prominent auditorium. The men are all retired chairs of hospital departments. Almost half of all residents and training fellows today at the hospital are women. Brigham president Betsy Nabel said it’s time to consider “respecting our past in a different way.”
Meanwhile, Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham wonders what messages are sent when 75 Boston public schools are named after men and just 10 honor women. “Can’t Boston do better than this?” she asks. (There is now some movement in the school department to do just that.)
The backdrop for the dissonant stories on the role of women, of course, is the #MeToo movement and new reckoning with issues of sexual harassment.
Which may — or may not — connect to another story in the news, the sudden departure of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care CEO Eric Schultz. The company announced this week that he was resigning because of behavior “inconsistent” with the giant health insurer’s values, but offered no further details.
That explanation is hardly adequate, says the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld. “Citing unspecified ‘behavior’ is not enough. Not even close,” writes Battenfeld. As a huge nonprofit regulated by the state Division of Insurance and attorney general’s office, Harvard Pilgrim must publicly disclose financial information. It owes the public a similar degree of transparency on the circumstances surrounding its chief executive’s departure, says Battenfeld.
A somewhat similar question may arise at the Boston Globe, which has dropped a lawsuit against one-time employee Hilary Sargent, who has charged that sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct has been a persistent problem at the paper. Sargent has said for months that she is eager to share what she knows with Globe executives, an offer they did not respond to. If they now take her up on that offer, how much of what they learn and do in response will be shared publicly?
State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg warns that growing competition could make the Lottery irrelevant unless it moves online. (State House News)
The House health care bill plays Robin Hood, shifting money from the well-off hospitals to those not doing so well. (CommonWealth)
A Gloucester Times editorial urges lawmakers to stay away from schemes to help residents get around limits on federal tax deductions.
The Fall River City Council voted to reject Mayor Jasiel Correia’s plan to eliminate the controversial pay-as-you-throw trash program but it’s unclear whether the program will continue. (Herald News)
Eight new hotels are under construction or in development in Revere. (Daily Item)
A line item in the Brockton budget earmarked for “new officers” in the police department is actually intended to pay for salaries and promotions of current officers. (The Enterprise)
The Brewster Town Administrator has resigned amid questions from selectmen over whether best fiscal and accounting practices have been followed and concern over the hiring of an interim finance director without following state procurement laws. (Cape Cod Times)
Michael Graham takes plenty of pokes at “confirmed Nanny Stater” Elizabeth Warren’s lefty ways, but all of it is on the way to commending her for teaming up with Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner on a bill that would let states craft their own laws on marijuana without federal interference. (Boston Herald)
President Trump declares North Korea “is no longer a nuclear threat,” even though the rogue nation has done nothing to dismantle their arsenal and there is no process in place to move forward with denuclearization. (New York Times)
Former governor Deval Patrick says “It’s killing me” to stay silent on the campaign by his former budget chief, Jay Gonzalez, to win the office he once held, but claims he’s forbidden by “pay-to-play” rules from commenting on candidates for state or local office because of his position at Bain Capital. Legal specialists say he may be overreacting. (Boston Globe)
Three members of the New England Patriots plan to question the candidates for Suffolk County district attorney at an upcoming forum. (CommonWealth)
Tuesday’s Republican primaries around the country solidified one thing: The GOP is now the party of Trump. (Washington Post)
The Boston City Council, over the objections of Airbnb and HomeAway, imposes some restrictions on the short-term rental business. (CommonWealth)
A Globe editorial argues for the breakup of Google. Dissenting editorial columnist Jeff Jacoby calls the idea “utterly misguided.”
With the 2026 World Cup coming to North America, and Boston one of the potential host cities (there will be 16), some say it’s a chance to push for New England Revolution owner Robert Kraft’s long-held goal of moving his team from Gillette Stadium to a new venue in Boston. (Boston Herald)
A Chinese biotech company opening a $60 million manufacturing facility in Worcester may get $18 million in local and state tax incentives. (Telegram & Gazette)
Changes in business practices and health insurance make the independent private physician a vanishing breed. (U.S. News & World Report)
In the second part of his series on ride-hailing apps, Jim Aloisi calls for a regulatory reset. Instead of peacefully coexisting with Uber and Lyft, he says regulators should assess fees on the auto-centric operations and use the money to support public transportation. (CommonWealth)
Will the state ever fix the T? Discuss. (Greater Boston)
The Federal Aviation Administration awarded a $1 million grant for repaving at Worcester Regional Airport. (Telegram & Gazette)
Deepwater Wind, which already has a deal to provide 400 megawatts of offshore wind power to Rhode Island, signs a 200 megawatt deal with Connecticut. (MassLive)
Antarctica is melting three times as fast as it was a decade ago. (New York Times)
Congress is considering a $5 million annual grant to fishermen, shippers, and environmental activists to work to protect right whales from accidents and entanglements. (Cape Cod Times)
A lawsuit claims Wynn Resorts reneged on a nearly $19 million handshake deal with one of the former owners of the property in Everett where the company’s casino is being built. (CommonWealth)
Legal marijuana sales begin in just over two weeks, and there’s still no clear roadmap for sanctioning those driving under the influence of pot. (Boston Globe)
Middleboro selectmen have appointed a seven-member board to come up with recommendations for recreational marijuana sales in the town. (The Enterprise)
Two US marshals are allowed to testify with wigs, fake noses, and other disguise elements at the federal murder trial of former mob boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme and Paul Weadick to protect their anonymity because they deal with people in the federal witness protection program. (Boston Globe)
Prosecutors in the sexual assault case against Bryon Hefner, husband of former Senate president Stan Rosenberg, want to talk to additional potential victims who spoke with investigators who carried out a report for the state Senate — an investigation that promised anonymity to those who cooperated and provided information. (Boston Globe)
The state Appeals Court upheld the civil commitment of a convicted serial child rapist from Duxbury who has been in prison for more than 20 years. (Patriot Ledger)
The Herald spotlights Paul Burns, who is part of College Bound Dorchester’s “Boston Uncornered” program that aims to get one-time gang members through college. CommonWealth looked at the program in this feature story last year and this audio interview with Matt Jackson, who tells his story of going from crack dealer to college student.
MEDIADigital First Media starts cutting jobs at its new acquisition, the Boston Herald. (CommonWealth)
Daily newspaper circulation is down 11 percent, according to the Pew Research Center.