McKenna’s marketing deal with the Globe

As the Suffolk University soap opera heads toward some resolution today, one storyline hasn’t received much attention — the decision by President Margaret McKenna to enter into a $670,000 advertising and marketing agreement with the Boston Globe.

The advertising deal came up last weekend when Suffolk board chairman Andrew Meyer and three other trustees told the Globe they were unhappy with McKenna because her financial decisions were likely to cause the school to run a deficit. The trustees said the school was already drawing $6.8 million from its endowment and had implemented a hiring freeze.

The trustees said they had concerns about a six-month lease extension for a Beacon Hill building that would cost the school $2.3 million, the unauthorized hiring of eight employees, lackluster fundraising by McKenna, and a $670,000 marketing deal with the Globe negotiated without the board’s authorization.

McKenna responded in writing the next day to each of those allegations and others. She said the school was facing a $5 million deficit when she arrived last July, and that the number had been pared to $2.3 million and would be eliminated entirely by the end of the fiscal year. She said she planned to bring in donations totaling $2.8 million, just $200,000 less than the board expected.

She said the building lease extension was necessary because renovated space in other buildings on campus was not going to be ready in time to absorb the classrooms in the building being vacated.

As for the marketing deal with the Globe, McKenna said no contract had been signed. She said the university and the newspaper “worked together on a number of events, we have placed some ads, and we continue to be in discussions about the extent and cost of an ongoing partnership,” according to the Globe story on her letter.

McKenna’s claim that no contract had been signed with the Globe is odd, suggesting the trustees simply made up the $670,000 figure. Officials at the Globe and Suffolk wouldn’t discuss financial details, but they both suggested in statements that the arrangement between the newspaper and the university was more than a work in progress.

Jane Bowman, the Globe’s vice president of marketing and sales, said in a statement that the university “has a long-term marketing partnership with the Globe which includes presenting sponsorship of the Capital section; the hosting of Political Happy Hour events on campus; the creation, production, and placement of sponsored content; and the creation, production, and placement of print and digital advertising across Boston Globe Media Partners platforms.”

Greg Gatlin, Suffolk’s spokesman, issued a similar statement, referring to a “branding and integrated marketing campaign with the Boston Globe.”

The Suffolk trustees obviously had concerns about spending so much money on marketing at a time when the university’s budget was precariously balanced. Yet those concerns are now largely irrelevant, lost amid the public relations battle that McKenna appears to have won.

–BRUCE MOHL

 

BEACON HILL

A bond rating agency that recently warned against the state depleting its rainy day fund said Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed budget suggests “mildly positive credit trends.” (Boston Globe)

The Senate unanimously supports a Public Records Law update. (State House News)

Senate President Stan Rosenberg appears to have unwittingly stepped into the middle of the charter school battle during a recent appearance in his Western Mass. district just as he’s trying to broker a compromise on the contentious issue. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A Herald editorial calls for an end to the policing turf war in the Seaport district that has State Police in charge of patrolling Massport-owned property. Boston police commissioner William Evans wants his officers to handle the entire area. (Boston Globe)

CASINOS

The war between Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Wynn Resorts is officially over, as the Massachusetts Gaming Commission approves a “treaty” between the two parties. (CommonWealth)

A group of Taunton residents, financed in part by the developer of a proposed Brockton casino, has filed suit against the federal Department of Interior challenging its decision to declare land in that city tribal reservation and allow the Mashpee Wampanoag to move forward with its planned casino. (The Enterprise)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

In his upcoming budget proposal, President Obama seeks to impose a $10 fee on every barrel of oil to help fund transit and transportation improvements. Republicans called the fee dead on arrival. (Associated Press)

The State Department now says classified information was found in emails on the private accounts of former secretary of state Colin Powell and aides to his successor, Condoleezza Rice. (New York Times)

ELECTIONS

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton go at it in New Hampshire in their first one-on-one debate, with testy exchanges over the role of money in politics and other issues. (Boston Globe) Time reports the gloves come off. Clinton finally said “enough” to Sanders’ attacks on her progressive credentials. (U.S. News & World Report)

Count on Clinton declaring a big victory after her second-place showing next week, writes Tom Keane, who reminds us that we’ve seen this Clinton movie before. (WBUR)

Yes, Donald Trump backer Ernie Boch Jr. did, indeed, compare choosing a political candidate to deciding who to bring home from a bar at 2 a.m. And the video is worse than what’s been written. (CNN)

Gov. Charlie Baker will step off the sidelines and endorse Chris Christie in the GOP race for president. (Boston Globe)

Attorney General Maura Healey’s campaign operation blasted out an email recruiting volunteers to campaign for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire that inadvertently included state workers’ email accounts, a campaign law no-no. The campaign quickly followed-up with an email retracting the solicitation and said it will be purging its list of any state email addresses. (Boston Globe)

Conservative Republican Mark Alliegro, a former scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole who says building a wall at the southern border is his number one priority, announced his second run in a Republican primary to challenge US Rep. William Keating. (Standard-Times)

Aaron Kanzer, a 21-year-old college student from Cotuit who is already immersed in local politics, announced he will challenge state Rep. Brian Mannal in the Democratic primary in September. (Cape Cod Times)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A Fall River school official has started a drive to force Comcast to change its waiting policy for low-income families who qualify for reduced-payment service. Currently, those who qualify but have service must cancel their full-priced service and wait 90 days, a delay that information officer Brian Mikolazyk says deters 90 percent of qualified families from switching. (Herald News)

General Electric may be eyeing a string of older buildings along Summer Street that were once home to the Necco candy company for its new Boston headquarters. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

Two Suffolk University groups called for the ouster of trustees board chairman Andrew Meyer and backed embattled president Margaret McKenna. (CommonWealth) Meyer and McKenna will offer a joint proposal to the trustees today in which the president would remain in office, the Globe reports. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld writes that Meyer will step down as board chairman and that Regan Communications’ lucrative PR contract with the university could be in jeopardy.

In the clearest sign of its bid to compete for traditional college-aged students and shift away from its historic role as a commuter school, the University of Massachusetts Boston announced plans for dorms to hold 1,000 students. (Boston Globe)

The Zika virus is causing school groups to cancel trips to affected areas in Latin America. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine is urging the federal government to approve three-parent fertilization for one baby in order to reduce genetic diseases. (U.S. News & World Report)

TRANSPORTATION

Uber has pulled out of some markets where regulators have required that drivers be fingerprinted, but stayed in others. Fingerprinting is emerging as a contentious issue in the Massachusetts debate over ride-sharing companies. (CommonWealth)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Environmental League of Massachusetts runs ads suggesting the state’s utilities are steering the energy debate on Beacon Hill. Rep. Frank Smizik calls for continuing existing solar incentives, while Associated Industries of Massachusetts runs an ad suggesting solar industry lobbyists are gouging electric ratepayers with a hidden $83-a-year solar tax.

Sen. Edward Markey and US Rep. Joseph Kennedy filed separate bills to ensure ratepayers could appeal electricity rates reviewed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. (Herald News)

Plum Island erosion and man’s often futile attempts to outsmart Mother Nature are the focus of an editorial in the Eagle-Tribune. CommonWealth examined Plum Island’s shifting sands in a recent print issue.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A Quincy District Court judge handed down sentences of six months probation and 60 hours of community service to 10 protesters involved in the blockade of the Southeast Expressway last year. Before the sentencing, the judge listened to a victim impact statement from a woman whose elderly father was being rushed to a Boston hospital in an ambulance that was trapped in the traffic jam. (Patriot Ledger)

A Honduras native indicted last week for murder as part of the federal sweep of alleged MS-13 gang members could have previously been held by immigration officials, the Globe reports.

MEDIA

Ken Doctor reports that Sheldon Adelson is tightening his hold on the Las Vegas Review-Journal and stories about the new owner are being changed or scrapped on a daily basis. (Politico)

At the Philadelphia digital startup Billy Penn, events account for 80 percent of revenue. (Columbia Journalism Review)

Sumner Redstone, the 92-year-old Newton native who built Viacom into a $39 billion entertainment empire that owns CBS, MTV, and Paramount Pictures, stepped down as executive chairman as challenges to his mental capacity were readied for court. (New York Times)