Moulton, Baker to meet on N-S Rail Link

US Rep. Seth Moulton indicated his push for a rail link between North and South stations in Boston is picking up some momentum.

He told a small group of business executives in Salem that he is meeting with Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday to talk about the rail link and he hinted that a “private infrastructure investor” is interested in the project.

Moulton said Baker, whose administration has shown little interest in the rail link, is now neutral on the project but “not wanting to address it before the coming election,” according to an article in the Salem News.

The state is spending close to $2 million on a study examining the rail link, but transportation officials rarely, if ever, talk about it. They are more focused on expanding South Station to handle more trains there.

The push for linking North Station and South Station was driven initially by former governor Michael Dukakis but now it has become a signature issue for Moulton even as he tries to build support for a Democratic takeover of the House and deals with speculation about his presidential ambitions.

Moulton pushed for two studies of the idea — one looking at cost and one examining economic development potential — and secured funding for the latter from the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, which represents the state’s top business leaders and has sway with the governor.

The economic development study brought in experts from around the world who acknowledged they didn’t know if the rail link was economically feasible but liked its potential to connect the north and south halves of the state’s commuter rail system. They said the connection would allow for the creation of a regional rail system capable of moving workers around the region more quickly and promoting economic development outside Boston, particularly in Gateway Cities. “We like the strong vision of the project,” said Rick Krochalis, a member of the Seattle Design Commission who was one of the experts brought in to review the rail link idea.

The North-South Rail Link is still a long way from being a front-burner issue, but Moulton, Dukakis, and a host of transit advocates have succeeded in pulling the project out of the trash bin and putting it on the table for discussion.

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

Nearly all of the benefits of the state’s film tax credit flow to Greater Boston communities. New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell says it’s time to spread the wealth around or get rid of it. (CommonWealth)

Gov. Charlie Baker and state lawmakers got an earful from small business owners upset about ballot questions that would hike the minimum wage to $15 an hour and provide paid medical family leave. (State House News)

State environmental officials approved a major expansion of an ash landfill in Saugus. (MassLive)

Additional measures to restrict access to guns are running into roadblocks on Beacon Hill. (Gloucester Times)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

After Boston Mayor Marty Walsh revealed his budget includes an additional $50 million to build a new bridge to Long Island to build a recovery center, Quincy officials have vowed to take whatever actions needed, including legal, to block the span. (Patriot Ledger)

The Lowell City Council voted 8-1 to grant a four-year, city manager’s contract with a starting salary of $196,000 to former state senator Eileen Donoghue. (Lowell Sun)

After a spirited debate, voters at Falmouth Town Meeting approved a measure to grant the police chief a contract that  allows him to work past the mandatory retirement age of 65, a move that now requires approval by the Legislature. (Cape Cod Times) In Gloucester, meanwhile, two police officers are suing the department and former chief Leonard Campanello for harassment because of their service in the military reserves. (Gloucester Times)

Plymouth County is selling its Registry of Deeds building in Brockton to a regional Seventh Day Adventists group which plans to turn the brutalist structure into a church. (The Enterprise)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced withering questions in a five-hour appearance before Congress over the site’s privacy breaches and its dominance as a social network. (New York Times) Meanwhile, Zuckerberg has a bigger dilemma on his hands as a new poll from Harvard University’s Institute of Politics shows Facebook and Twitter are held in low regard by what should be social media’s base, 18 to 29 year olds. (U.S. News & World Report)

The FBI raid on the office of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal lawyer, approved by top Justice Department officials, was geared toward finding records of payoffs to two women who had claimed they had sexual affairs with Trump. (New York Times)

With Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito otherwise indisposed, it was left to Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, a lapsed Democrat, and Kirsten Hughes, a city councilor in the City of Presidents and chairman of the state GOP, to officially greet Vice President Mike Pence who came to Boston for a fundraiser. (Patriot Ledger) A Herald editorial says Baker was a wuss for not going — but we shouldn’t really blame him because the state is full of wing-nut lefties. Or something like that.

As expected, US Rep. James McGovern was moved into the top spot for Democrats on the House Rules Committee. If Democrats can reclaim the House in November, he’ll have some real power. If they don’t, he won’t. (Telegram & Gazette)

ELECTIONS

In a Suffolk County district attorney race crowded with progressives, Greg Henning clarified where he stood on recently passed criminal justice reform legislation. After WGBH reported last week that Henning was opposed to the legislation, Henning told a forum in Jamaica Plain that he supported the bill, which is on Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk. (CommonWealth)

Jeff Jacoby says there are plenty of grounds for the Supreme Judicial Court to kill off the proposed “millionaires’ tax” ballot question, and if it doesn’t, voters should do so at the ballot box. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Berkshire Museum plans to auction 13 paintings, including two by Norman Rockwell, but hold off on selling nearly 40 others that had been targeted for sale. (Berkshire Eagle)

Shirley Leung slams the search for a new COO of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau for including no minority candidates on its list of finalists, and calls for the search process to be restarted. (Boston Globe)

Bank of America said it will no longer make loans to makers of military-style assault weapons manufactured for civilian use. (Boston Globe)

A company has filed parallel state and federal lawsuits against the Boston Police Department alleging that it has blocked its licensing efforts to launch a fleet of amphibious tour vehicles that would compete with the popular Boston Duck Tours. (Boston Herald)

Cheerleaders for professional sports teams say they are routinely subjected to sexual harassment and groping when team officials send them to mingle with fans at outside events. (New York Times)

EDUCATION

About 30 people have applied to the state-appointed committee overseeing the Lawrence schools for the position of superintendent. The previous superintendent, Jeff Riley, is now the state education commissioner. (Eagle-Tribune)

Boston is falling well short of a goal put forward by then-Mayor Tom Menino a decade ago of having, within 10 years, 70 percent of its high school graduates who enroll in college obtaining a degree within six years. The figure stands today just above 50 percent. (Boston Globe)

Gov. Charlie Baker said leaders of Mt. Ida College let down students with their abrupt announcement that the college was folding. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Tufts Medical Center CEO Michael Wagner slams the proposed Beth Israel Deaconess-Lahey Health merger as a disruptive duopoly in the making. (CommonWealth)

Massachusetts firefighters commit suicide at twice the rate of the general population, according to a new report. (Boston Herald)

TRANSPORTATION

Video captured a near-miss of a commuter rail train almost hitting a school van in Whitman that had stopped inside the crossing gates. (The Enterprise)

The MBTA has a novel way of showing short-term modifications on maps of its route system — stickers. (CommonWealth)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The private operator of Plymouth’s wastewater treatment plant settled a suit by the Attorney General’s office for $1.6 million over allegations the company was responsible for a 10 million gallon raw sewage spill from corroded pipes that flooded wooded areas of the town and state-owned land. (Patriot Ledger)

Milbury officials are considering increasing the price of recycling stickers from $35 a year to $75 or $85 a year to cover the growing cost of hauling away recycling materials. (Telegram & Gazette)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

The state’s Cannabis Control Commission gave initial certification to the first set of applications from 20 medical marijuana dispensaries to move forward in the process of becoming a licensed retailer for recreational pot. (State House News)

A task force in Framingham, where voters approved the statewide referendum on legal pot as a town, will recommend that the City Council and mayor impose a moratorium on retail marijuana until December 1. (MetroWest Daily News) Scituate Town Meeting voted to impose a ban on retail recreational marijuana. (Patriot Ledger) Pittsfield capped the number of retail marijuana establishments at 35. (Berkshire Eagle) South Hadley voters banned commercial marijuana establishments. (MassLive)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Mayor Marty Walsh is pushing legislation on Beacon Hill that would give Boston police “concurrent” patrol authority with State Police over state-owned areas of the Seaport district. (Boston Globe)

MEDIA

Tom Ashbrook, fired because of bullying behavior from his high-profile perch at WBUR where he was host of NPR’s “On Point,” asks whether there is “room for redemption and rebirth” (for him). It’s not clear whether he wants his old job back or something else, but he concluded his op-ed with this: “Can we talk some more, Boston? I promise this time to listen as respectfully off the air as on. I want to make Boston proud again.” (Boston Globe)

Charlie Austin, one of the first black TV news reporters in Boston, died at age 73.

Kevin Cullen has a poignant remembrance of a man universally known as a gentle and kind soul in a competitive field. (Boston Globe)