Moderate Marty suddenly dials it up

Trying to protect his left flank, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh jumped into the debate over the MBTA by calling for a local seat on the transit authority’s next oversight board and demanding that the July 1 fare increase be put off until the T is fully operational.

Neither of his requests went very far. Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack and Joseph Aiello, the chair of the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board, rejected out of hand the idea of putting off the long-planned fare hike. And the T governance issue hasn’t even come up for debate yet on Beacon Hill.

What’s more interesting is why Walsh took to Twitter to make the requests in the first place. Walsh’s administration until recently has remained largely on the sidelines as the debate about the T has accelerated. But after the derailment of a Red Line train a week ago, and with City Councilor and mayoral wannabe Michelle Wu (whose Twitter handle is @wutrain) taking issue with T policies on a regular basis, Walsh apparently decided he could be silent no longer.

Wu has forged a strong coalition with transit advocates and disgruntled T riders by diving into the nitty gritty of T operations and drawing on her own personal experience as a transit rider. Sometimes she veers toward the extreme (her call for eliminating T fares entirely was out there) but mostly she makes sound arguments that well-run public transit will reduce congestion, improve the business climate, and help the environment.

Last week, in the wake of the Red Line derailment, Wu stepped up her attacks on business as usual at the T. She never mentioned Walsh in her tweets and comments, but others took note.

“If [Gov. Charlie] Baker and Wu stand on either side of the divide over how to manage rehabilitation of the MBTA, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is somewhere in the middle,” reported CommonWealth, noting that Walsh continued to support the fare increase while Wu wanted it eliminated entirely. Indeed, Walsh was reluctant to even criticize how the T handled the derailment. “It’s easy to Monday-morning quarterback after the derailment,” he said.

Then the Boston Globe weighed in with a broader story about how Walsh was hewing to the political middle as the City Council is increasingly moving to the left. The story highlighted how Wu wants to charge a fee for residential parking stickers to help address congestion – an idea Walsh dismissed as “an ineffective additional tax.” The story said Walsh believes the city has limited control over traffic.

“How could a mayor have a plan, where would you find that? Seriously, tell me where?” he told the Globe editorial board in April. “People will have cars. What am I supposed to do, stop them? This is a tough issue, I know it is. We’re in the midst of one of the best economic booms in the history of our city, and unfortunately one of the downfalls to that is traffic, and I don’t know what the plan can be.”

While Walsh is correct that traffic is a tough issue, his constituents don’t want to hear that nothing can be done about it. Which may explain why Walsh is now starting to pay closer attention to transportation issues, and becoming more vocal about what to do about them.

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

An abortion access bill draws big crowds to the State House. (State House News)

Legislation filed on Beacon Hill would mandate minimum levels of female representation on the board of public companies based in Massachusetts and on state commissions. (Boston Globe)

Peter Lucas writes that Secretary of State William Galvin spared everyone on Beacon Hill a lot of awkwardness by blocking Sal DiMasi from becoming a professional lobbyist. (Lowell Sun)

State shark researcher Gregory Skomal and other organizations are working on a study that will look at how great white sharks make decisions. (Cape Cod Times)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Developers continue to show interest in Morrissey Boulevard in Boston’s Dorchester section, as Accordia Partners and Ares Capital pay $110 million for the property at 2 Morrissey Boulevard, which is currently leased by Santander Bank. (Dorchester Reporter)

Thomas Whall, a lifelong resident of Dorchester who lives in Meeting House Hill, thinks the idea of a 60-unit condo complex in his neighborhood is “disgraceful,” calling the small units “transient” housing. (WGBH)

The ranks of nonbinary youth appear to be growing in metro west. (MetroWest Daily News)

The City of Salem wants to get the word out that fire pits that burn wood and charcoal are illegal. (Salem News)

The Standard Times writes about a city app in New Bedford that residents can use to complain about potholes, and other issues.

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Maine Democrats, who are rebuilding their policies after eight years of Paul LePage in the governor’s office, could offer a window into what might lie ahead for the country at large after Donald Trump, writes Gabrielle Gurley. (The American Prospect)

The Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank does a good job reviewing Trump’s feats of contradictory mental gymnastics in a way that sets one’s head spinning.

ELECTIONS

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Virginia House of Representatives could not challenge a lower court’s decision that a redistricting map was an example of racial gerrymandering. The lower court redrew the map in a way that is perceived more favorable to Democrats. The Supreme Court held that only the state attorney general could challenge the map, but the AG, a Democrat, chose not to do so. (Governing)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The races will soon stop at Suffolk Downs in East Boston, and a neighborhood with as many as 10,000 housing units will take its place. (Boston Globe)

Scape Student Housing, which specializes in micro-apartments, is prepared to invest at least $1 billion to build more than 500 units for students in the Fenway. (WGBH)

Whole Foods will close its Gloucester fish processing facility in August, impacting 59 employees. (Gloucester Daily Times)

EDUCATION

Kyle Kashuv, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School shooting, says Harvard University withdrew his acceptance after screenshots of him making sexist and racist comments two years ago surfaced online. (MassLive)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Former Harvard Medical School dean Jeffrey Flier says removing portraits of white male luminaries of medicine from the walls of a Brigham and Women’s Hospital auditorium was the wrong way to promote diversity. (Boston Globe)

A Globe editorial urges state action to curb “surprise billing” in which patients get hit with costs they didn’t know they were incurring for out-of-network services.

ARTS/CULTURE

The Linde Center for Music and Learning at Tanglewood is scheduled to open this month, and a Berkshire Eagle editorial says the biggest benefit of the year-round facility is that the cultural season in the Berkshires will extend beyond the summer.

TRANSPORTATION

The Red Line derailment investigation is now focused on the car itself that came off the tracks and was dragged 1,837 feet. Meanwhile, the Fiscal and Management Control Board plans to lead a public safety review of the T and efforts by the mayors of Boston and Braintree to do away with or delay the July 1 fare increase were shot down by state transportation officials. (CommonWealth)

Joan Vennochi says Charlie Baker should shed a few of those tears he famously had for a New Bedford fisherman in his 2014 campaign for beleaguered Red Line riders. (Boston Globe)

T notes: State prepping for 100,000 visitors to Encore Boston Harbor casino Sunday….State gathering data on shutdown of I-93 HOV lane…State’s 15 regional transit authorities spent an average of $8.43 on each ride provided in FY18. (CommonWealth)

As part of its effort to become a “one-stop shop for transportation” Uber is offering its app users the ability to see transit options for their trips. (WBUR)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Staff from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration held a hearing in Weymouth on Monday night to hear from residents and officials who are concerned about a proposed natural gas compressor station in the Fore River Basin. (Patriot Ledger)

CASINOS

Wynn Resorts is finding it’s not easy to suddenly hire 5,800 people. (Boston Globe)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Anildo Lopes Correira of Brockton has been sentenced to ten to 12 years in prison for the fatal park stabbing death of Ywron Martins in 2015.  (Brockton Enterprise)

MEDIA

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone sues Barstool Sports and Kirk Minihane after Minihane interviewed him by phone pretending to be Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen. Minihane is the former WEEI radio host. (Boston.com) Barstool calls Curtatone the “world’s worst mayor.”

As the Massachusetts Legislature explores creating a commission focused on local news coverage, here’s what’s going on in Congress with efforts to save local news. (Columbia Journalism Review)

A hearing on a bill to create a commission to assess the state of local news will be held  at 11 a.m. today. Sidenote: Due to a technical glitch on the state site that lists hearings, a second panel is scheduled in a few weeks for interested reporters and editors to testify.

Sometimes public records requests devolve into word games. (New England First Amendment Coalition)

PASSINGS

William Lucey, Jr., the longtime chief operating officer of The Eagle-Tribune who guided the newspaper into a more computerized business model, died at the age of 84. (Eagle-Tribune)

James King, a respected veteran behind-the-scenes operative in Democratic Party politics, died at age 84. (Boston Globe)