Marty’s Games

Think of it as the Pottery Barn rule turned on its head. While he was tending to mayor-type things such as snow piles and the search for a new school superintendent, a bunch of high-paid unelected big-shot consultants and business honchos broke the Boston 2024 vase — and now Marty Walsh has to pay for it.

The effort to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to Boston hit a new nadir last week with release of a WBUR poll showing support in Greater Boston has fallen to 36 percent, with a majority (52 percent) now opposed to the idea for the first time.

The Olympics effort has been tripped up by one misstep after another, with vague information about venue locations and unconvincing statements about how taxpayers would be shielded from any financial exposure giving way to questions about who’s earning what on behalf of the Olympics effort.

It was quickly becoming too much for Walsh to sit back and watch as the wheels seemed to be coming off the Olympics bus.

Wielding the sharp shiv that comes with his office — and its central role in the Olympics bid — he proceeded in methodical fashion to demand that Boston 2024 release information on salaries, and then “suggested” strongly that the guy set up to earn more in a day than most of Walsh’s  constituents earn in two months not take his salary. (That, of course, would be Deval Patrick, who was slated to pull in a cool $7,500 a day for his efforts and quickly became the poster child for the Boston 2024 payroll, which is fat with high-paid political fixers.)

That bit of hardball handiwork made clear that, from here on, Boston’s mayor, not John Fish or Doug Rubin — and certainly not a former governor looking for a nice score — will be the guy driving the Olympics effort.

In Saturday’s Herald, an unnamed Walsh insider succinctly laid out the situation: “Mayor Walsh has hit the reset button on the Olympic effort given that this is his city and he has the most to lose politically.”

When Boston 2024 submitted its preliminary bid to the US Olympic Committee, it needed the signature of the host city’s mayor. That was the time for Walsh to fish or cut bait. For him to say then that he was intrigued by the possibility of hosting the Games but, like many people, had lots of questions would have been as good as shutting the door. The bid would have been dead. There really was no middle ground for Walsh to stake out and keep the bid alive. So he went all-in.

While Gov. Charlie Baker and legislative leaders continue to kick the tires and raise questions about a Boston Olympics, Walsh alone at this point is the political leader with his neck on the line.

That reset button that Walsh hit will now include a more focused campaign-style effort to raise support for the Games. Today’s Globe reports that Boston 2024 CEO Rich Daveyvows the bid won’t go forward without clear majority support — though there are lots of questions about how that would be measured and whose opinions would count. Davey’s pledge comes on the same day Boston 2024 took out full-page ads in the Globe andHerald laying out a 10-point commitment to residents.

In yesterday’s Globe, Joan Vennochi likened a study released last week on the potential impact of the Games to the promise of Viagra: We could have the time of our lives, or might end up needing to seek medical attention. Smith College economist Andrew Zimbalist, in an op-ed in today’s Globe, pours a good bit of cold water on the study’s assumptions and projections.

It might all be enough to make Walsh wish he were dealing instead with something as relatively straightforward as, say, another snowstorm.

Walsh told WBZ’s Jon Keller over the weekend that the Olympics discussion has been sidetracked by talk of high-paid consultants and things not helpful to boosting public support. And his language made it clear who he thinks should be telling the Olympics story. “We have to bring the narrative back to why I support the Olympic movement in the city of Boston,” Walsh told Keller. “I support the Olympic movement not for the consultants on the payroll; I support the Olympic movement because of the benefits it can bring to the city of Boston.”

“Mistakes were made, lessons were learned,” Walsh said.

The biggest lesson he may have learned is that since, more than any other public figure, he will own the outcome of this enormous regional gamble, he better make sure it’s his hand on the wheel steering the process.

–MICHAEL JONAS

 

BEACON HILL

Though passage is by no means certain, a push is on to enact legislation legalizing recreational use of marijuana to head off a potential 2016 ballot question on the issue that would take details of any legalization statute out of lawmakers’ hands.

Just as Lake Wobegon’s children are all above average, Beacon Hill’s six Republican state senators are all part of leadership — with the extra pay that comes with it —  even if that leaves no one to lead.

Gov. Charlie Baker has built a bipartisan team on Beacon Hill, the Lowell Sun reports.

The Berkshire Eagle argues that the Big Dig is a “cautionary tale” for Boston’s Olympics effort.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Taunton City Council suspended the police chief for five days without pay for “discourteousness toward another police officer.”

Wareham Town Meeting voters are being asked to raise the number of permits for junk dealers and pawn shops from five to 20 after a selectman driving around town said he found at least that many unlicensed places.

CASINOS

A bill that would authorize the construction of two casinos in New Hampshire has passed the Senate and is now headed for the House, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

The slots parlor under construction in Plainville has set an opening date of June 24.

RELIGION

The Boston Archdiocese has asked a Norfolk Superior Court judge to order a group of Scituate parishioners to cease their decade-long occupation of a shuttered church.

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Author Stephen King says Maine Gov. Paul LePage should “man up and apologize” for suggesting that the writer wasn’t paying his state taxes, CBS reports.

U.S. News & World Report says the Republican majority in Congress has signaled the return of abortion politics.

ELECTIONS

“Run, Liz, run.” Those three words capture the essence of no less than four pieces on yesterday’s Globe editorial page urging Sen. Elizabeth Warren to cast off all her disavowals to date and jump into the Democratic primaries for president. The urging is led by a Globe editorial saying it would be a mistake to let Hillary Clinton march unchallenged to the party’s nomination, and that Warren’s vigorous championing of greater economic justice is a viewpoint sorely needed in the race. To that leading voice, add a chorus of cheerleaders: Bloomberg Businessweek correspondent Joshua Green; American Prospect co-editor Robert Kuttner; and Anna Galland, the director of the MoveOn.org Civic Action.

MoveOn.org, whose director wrote one of the Globe op-eds, has been projecting a video of people urging Warren to run on a street corner. A spokesman told the Herald, “the response was great,” which hardly seemed surprising given that that the video was being shown on a street corner in the center of Harvard Square.

Though there is no indication that Warren is reconsidering her vow that she’s not running, the Herald jumps on the idea that she should throw her hat in the ring. Columnist Kimberly Atkins says Warren would make a terrible presidential candidate but a welcome sparring partner for Clinton. The paper offers something less than a welcome wagon rollout, pointing out instead that the controversy over her claims of Native American heritage would quickly be revived by a presidential run. Herald columnist Tom Shattuck also seems eager to for Warren to offer herself up — as a punching bag for conservative critics.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is set to formally announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president Monday.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Starbucks ceased a short-lived initiative to start conversations about race relations after the effort was widely ridiculed in social and legacy media. When it comes to conversations about race, no company will want to touch the issue again any time soon.

EDUCATION

The Lowell Sun examines Marty Meehan’s leftover congressional campaign funds and finds the UMass Lowell chief has given donations to a number of charities tied to the people who will be selecting the next chancellor of the entire UMass system.

The Fall River school system, recently the target of a complaint by the ACLU that minorities and students with disabilities were suspended at a significantly higher rate, reported a dramatic drop in the percentage of students suspended so far this year compared to last year.

HEALTH CARE

Congress is nearing bipartisan agreement on a bill to eliminate a controversial formula that would cut Medicare payments to physicians while at the same time extending coverage for the Children’s Health Insurance Plan.

TRANSPORTATION

Many cities are hitting the brakes on so-called red-light cameras, Governing reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

In an interesting odd bedfellows twist, the Globe reports that opponents of a new natural gas pipeline running across the state have a new ally: Distrigas of Massachusetts LLC, which imports liquified natural gas by sea to its tanker depot in Everett.

The National Review calls on Congress to step in and block President Obama’s new regulations on fracking that he unveiled Friday afternoon.

The battle over wind turbines in Falmouth continues as the fight moves to the Supreme Judicial Court.

Environmental police investigate an illegal timber harvest in the Buckland State Forest.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Former tennis champion Bob Hewitt has been convicted of rape and sexual assault charges, stemming from events in the 1980s and 90s, by a South African judge. Allegations were first reported as part of a lengthy 2011 investigative series by the Globe.

MEDIA

Interesting juxtaposition: Biogen Idec runs a large ad on the Boston Globe’s front page and a full-page ad on page A12 announcing it is dropping Idec from its name, while the Globe runs a story on the name change at the top of its business page.