New voices, proposals emerging in Boston’s biz community

Winds of change are starting to blow through Boston’s business community.

One clear signal came earlier this month, when close to 20 business organizations said they would heed an appeal from House Speaker Robert DeLeo to help develop a transportation policy that likely will call for additional revenues. “It’s time for a united voice from the business community that can be a powerful driver of progress,” said Jim Rooney, the CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

On the issue of climate change – and what to do about it – the folks at the Environmental League of Massachusetts say business community attitudes are also changing on climate change. League officials offered up for the CommonWealth Codcast three business leaders who reflect that change — Cynthia Curtis, senior vice president of sustainability at the commercial real estate firm JLL; Kyle Cahill, director of corporate responsibility at John Hancock; and Tedd Saunders, chief sustainability officer at the Saunders Hotel Group.

“For a long time, legislators were only hearing from industry representatives and businesses that said this legislation or that policy is going to be bad for business – we’re going to have to lay off people and costs will go up,” said Saunders.

But Saunders said that more and more members of the business community are coming to realize that addressing climate change is not just what customers and employees want, but what their businesses need. “We know it’s good for business in the long run,” he said.

The three business officials were in favor of a number of policies favored by environmental groups. Curtis said she favors putting a price on carbon, a view that was backed by Cahill and Saunders. Cahill said the primary focus of policymakers should be on reducing emissions in the building and transportation sectors and improving resiliency in the face of encroaching seas. He mentioned congestion pricing as one solution in the transportation sector.

While many other business groups (the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership and the Massachusetts Coalition for Sustainable Energy are two examples) favor more natural gas pipeline capacity into the region, Curtis, speaking for herself and not her company, said she thinks another pipeline isn’t needed. She said transmission companies and local utilities should first fix the leaks in existing pipelines. ”Fix them, as opposed to bringing in another,” she said.

Saunders agrees. He said Massachusetts needs to invest in local renewables that will keep energy dollars in the Bay State instead of flowing out of state.

All three business officials said much work remains to be done on climate change in Massachusetts, and state government must play a big role in that effort.

“We need bold leadership,” Saunders said.  “We’re not where we need to be in order to meet the challenges that the scientists say we are facing. There’s broad consensus. There’s more consensus about climate change than cigarette smoking. It’s been studied more. It’s understood in every country, even some countries that are far behind us in terms of development, that this is something that needs to be dealt with. It’s only going to get more expensive to deal with these issues.”

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

Barry Steinberg of Direct Tire says the state’s right to repair law needs a tune-up. (CommonWealth)

A legislative proposal nudges the state’s sheriffs into the controversial civil forfeiture game. (CommonWealth)

Jim Shaer urges the House to not approve a budget amendment lifting the price cap on offshore wind contracts. He says the issue should go through the regular hearing process. (CommonWealth)

The state for years has failed to contribute the $30 million it was supposed to put into a health safety net fund, leaving hospitals and health insurers to cover the cost of the program that helps the state’s low-income residents who lack adequate insurance. (Gloucester Daily Times)

Claiming the new law banning so-called conversion therapy violates freedom of speech, Massachusetts Family Institute President Andrew Beckwith said he is talking with legal experts about mounting some type of challenge to the statute. (Salem News)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Officials in Lawrence suspect teenagers deliberately set a fire that nearly completely burned to the ground a home that had been boarded up since the natural gas explosions last September. The fire Friday damaged three other houses. (Eagle-Tribune)

Abington Town Manager Richard LaFond made additions to the severance benefits in his own contract. He told the Brockton Enterprise the “joke” contracts were never supposed to leave his office, and that he did not think he could bamboozle the town into giving him extra severance pay.

A Connecticut contractor sues Framingham, alleging the city is improperly withholding money due on a contract to repair Loring Arena. (MetroWest Daily News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Sri Lanka’s government instituted a curfew and tried to staunch the spread of misinformation after a series of coordinated bombings at churches and hotels on Easter Sunday killed more than 200 people. (WGBH)

More city residents across the country are renting, which has an impact on the living environment. Census data indicate Boston may be bucking the trend, with both renters and homeowners on the rise. (Governing)

ELECTIONS

Congressman Seth Moulton has launched a presidential bid, and later this week he will visit New York, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Iowa, Nevada, and California where he will attend tapings of The Adam Carolla Show and the KickAss News podcast. (Salem News)

Elizabeth Warren calls for a huge student debt relief program and free tuition at public colleges and universities. (Boston Globe)

Congresswoman Lori Trahan claims that personal financial disclosures due next month will answer questions raised about personal loans she took while running for office. (Lowell Sun)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Union workers and management reached a tentative deal to end the 10-day strike at Stop & Shop supermarkets. (Boston Globe)

David Moresi has found success leasing an empty building he purchased in North Adams, bringing in a total of 41 tenants. “They all want to be in North Adams,” he said. (Berkshire Eagle)

US billionaires are talking about the need to reform capitalism to save it. (Washington Post) That theme is the focus of this recent CommonWealth In Depth book essay by Carter Wilkie.

Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch wants city councilors to consider an amendment to the city’s urban revitalization plan for Quincy Center that would identify 14 new properties to be acquired and add 7.1 acres to the special zoning district. (Patriot Ledger)

EDUCATION

The Globe runs down the issues that Boston’s new superintendent will face as the three finalists for the job prepare for a set of public interviews today, tomorrow, and Wednesday.

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

With an $89 million federal grant for preventing opioid overdose deaths, Dr. Jeffrey Samet of Boston Medical Center will look at 16 of the state’s hardest hit communities. (WBUR)

More than a dozen smaller Massachusetts hospitals are teaming up on joint purchasing of supplies in an effort to obtain some of the volume pricing discounts that the state’s big hospital networks are able to leverage. (Boston Globe)

One of the Cape’s few Portuguese-speaking licensed clinical social workers, Raffaella Almeida, is on a mission to serve the mental health needs of the area’s Brazilian community using funding with the National Alliance on Mental Illness. (Cape Cod Times)

ARTS/CULTURE

The Herald reports that a Dutch art detective says some of the missing paintings from the 1990 heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum are in Ireland and held by remnants of the Irish Republican Army.

TRANSPORTATION

Lyft sics its Boston customers on Massport in an effort to block an agency anti-congestion plan that targets ride-hailing apps. (CommonWealth)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A Globe editorial urges the state to embrace fuel-cell vehicles by setting up a network of the hydrogen fueling stations necessary to keep them powered.

More than ever, Nathan Rothstein of Project Repat says Earth Day needs to be about the next generation. (CommonWealth)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

In the policy fight between Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins and Gov. Charlie Baker, Donovan Birch Jr. asks, where were all the white male Democrats? (CommonWealth)

Federal Judge Nathaniel Gorton sentenced Daniel Frisiello, an autistic man from Beverly, to five years of probation with the first year spent in home confinement for his crimes of sending more than a dozen threatening letters to public officials, including Donald Trump, Jr. (Gloucester Daily Times)

The Worcester Police Department is preparing to launch a pilot program where officers wear body cameras. (Telegram & Gazette)