Moving toward Election Day

The first image on the screen in the first television ad aired by gubernatorial challenger Jay Gonzalez shows a traffic-clogged chunk of the Massachusetts Turnpike, and that’s no accident.

To a degree that would have been surprising just four years ago, a central issue in the race for governor is the idea that the region is literally grinding to a halt — and that the incumbent has been too, well, slow in dealing with it.

“Our government is moving in slow motion,” says Gonzalez, narrating the 30-second spot. His message is broader than transportation, but that’s the lead card. “We spend too much time waiting. Waiting in traffic and on broken trains,” he says. “Waiting for all of our public schools to be great.”

Charlie Baker is dragging his feet. We need to get moving,” says Gonzalez, as the music suddenly shifts up-tempo and he pledges to be a governor who will lead with “urgency.”

Baker has made fixing the beleaguered MBTA a priority, and he owns the issue in a way no previous governor has after he established a oversight control board to manage the authority in the wake of the historic 2015 snowstorms that crippled the T. At a recent forum on environmental issues, he said improvements are on track, and vowed that the T will have the resources needed for its $8.1 billion capital spending plan over the next five years.

Gonzalez said the T needs more money, and he vowed to get those funds, if elected, without raising fares.

Polling supports the idea that transportation has become a prime concern in the state. In a February WBUR poll, 81 percent of respondents said they favored new state revenue committed to transportation upgrades — though it’s not clear how they think that money should be raised. In the same poll, 38 percent of respondents said getting around had become harder over the last five years, while 48 percent said it was about the same. Just 14 percent said they thought it had become easier.

One critical voice is now joining the chorus calling for a focus on transportation: the business community. The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that it was the number one issue in a recent survey of senior executives at the state’s top companies done by the Massachusetts Business Roundtable. It’s already been a top priority of another business group, A Better City, run by Rick Dimino, a one-time Boston transportation commissioner. Add support for studying high-speed rail between Boston and Springfield from major business voices like Suffolk Construction CEO John Fish and it’s clear that transportation improvements are now seen as a lynchpin of efforts to keep the state’s robust economy humming along.

Chesto rightly points out business leaders’ mixed record in supporting money to back their transportation appetite — some of them were part of the successful court challenge to putting a “millionaire’s tax” on the ballot, while business voices strongly backed indexing the gas tax to inflation, an effort they lost on the 2014 ballot.

Chesto say business leaders generally praise Baker’s turnaround efforts at the T. “But some privately grumble that the administration isn’t ambitious or aggressive enough with its repair plans or new projects,” he writes. Baker has tasked his former chief of staff, Steve Kadish, with helming a task force looking long-term at the state’s transportation picture. “But business leaders don’t want to wait two more decades for solutions,” writes Chesto.

–MICHAEL JONAS


MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Lowell officials are considering hiring someone to oversee efforts to collect used syringes tossed in parks and other public spaces. (Lowell Sun)

The Fall River City Council once again tabled a vote to temporarily remove Mayor Jasiel Correia from office as he awaits trial on his federal fraud indictment. During the hearing, the city administrator told councilors Correia was at a Boston concert the night before his arrest and had been driving a city-owned SUV. (Herald News)

Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, a former Parks Department commissioner who has expressed concern over the conditions of the city’s parks, has proposed reorganizing that department along with the cemetery, recreation, forestry, and conservation departments under a single Department of Natural Resources. (Patriot Ledger)

Framingham city councilors approved the appointment of a 32-year veteran of the city’s police force to become chief despite opposition from two police unions who wanted the search widened to include outside candidates. (MetroWest Daily News)

Milton Town Meeting voted to get rid of the 17th century term Board of Selectmen and adopt the gender-neutral Select Board. (Patriot Ledger)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

A senior official at the Department of Veterans Affairs was forced to take down a portrait of the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan from his office wall, saying he was unaware of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s history until a petition by department employees began circulating. (Washington Post)

President Trump has escalated his unprecedented attacks on Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, saying the independent central bank is threatening economic growth by raising rates. (Wall Street Journal)

ELECTIONS

Question 1 is where the money is going, with those in favor of strict nurse-to-patient staffing ratios spending $10.4 million so far and those opposed spending $17.5 million. (MassLive)

Questions re-emerge about how Secretary of State William Galvin’s office awards historic preservation tax credits, with many of those receiving awards also showing up on his list of campaign contributors. (Eagle-Tribune). CommonWealth reported on the same issue back in 2008.

Democrat Lori Trahan and Republican Rick Green seemed to avoid uncomfortable topics in their Third Congressional District debate. (Lowell Sun)

Paul Caccaviello slams Andrea Harrington for refusing to debate down the stretch of the race for district attorney in Berkshire County, but Harrington says he’s late to the game. (Berkshire Eagle)

The Globe endorses Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s reelection bid, saying she “has been true to herself and stood up for what Massachusetts voters value the most.”

Looking for a gubernatorial race that’s a little more colorful than the Baker-Gonzalez tilt? Rhode Island is there at our border to be of service. (Boston Globe)

As if all the rampant 2020 speculation, much of which won’t hold up, wasn’t enough. Joe Battenfeld looks six years out and declares Charlie Baker the great Republican hope for 2024. (Boston Herald)

The new pro-Deval Patrick super PAC started by former Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman John Walsh has pulled in $350,000, but most of it has come from one donor, local private equity honcho Dan Fireman. (Boston Globe)

There are some new polls and indications that Republican chances of retaining the House majority are looking up. (Washington Post)

With much of the focus on congressional battles around the country, there are a slew of referendums being overlooked on a wide-range of issues including tax cuts, legalized marijuana, school choice, raising the minimum wage, and Medicaid expansion in just about every state that will have as big an impact as representation. (National Review)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Adrian Walker laments the fact that the Los Angeles Dodgers players, members of one of the most successful unions anywhere, crossed the picket line of striking hotel workers to stay at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in downtown Boston. (Boston Globe)

Housing advocates on the Cape released a report that shows the housing market for year-round residents is drying up as short-term rentals led by Airbnb have sucked up much of the available stock and sent rents spiraling, if someone could even find a place. (Cape Cod Times)

Cutting off arms sales to Saudi Arabia would mean a big hit for Raytheon, which employs 12,000 people in Massachusetts. (Boston Globe)

Here’s something to get really hot about: In a sign of things to come, Clorox has paid the maker of a digital thermometer for information on who has fevers, without identifying the users, with the data being hooked up to a smartphone app and then an ad popping up in real time for products such as disinfectant wipes to help clean up the sick households. (New York Times)

EDUCATION

Bob Hildreth explains why he wants to give every newborn $50. (CommonWealth)

A study of education systems in 70 countries finds that no one has solved the socio-economic achievement gap but the United States is doing better than most in leveling the playing field. (U.S. News & World Report)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

Marion voters at a Special Town Meeting approved regulations allowing commercial marijuana operations in the town’s light industry district. (Standard-Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The MacArthur Foundation, known for the so-called “genius grants,” has added $22 million to its criminal justice grants after experiencing success in programs reducing time people spend in jail awaiting trial. (Chronicle of Philanthropy)

MEDIA

The Richmond Times-Dispatch says after this election it will no longer endorse candidates for office because the practice “complicates the job of our objective journalists and makes their jobs unnecessarily more difficult.”

NBC News shows Megyn Kelly no mercy over her comments about blackface Halloween costumes. (CNN)

WORLD SERIES

The Cape Cod Baseball League is reaping benefits from the World Series with 14 alumni on the two teams — six on the Red Sox and eight on the Dodgers — having played in the premier amateur league during college before being drafted. (Cape Cod Times)