“Pom-Pom” Leung to the rescue

We’ll never know what the return would have been on the $7,500 a day Boston 2024 was prepared to pay Deval Patrick to shill for the Olympic bid. Let’s just stipulate that the organization is getting a whole lot more positive play — at no cost — from Shirley Leung‘s nonstop efforts on its behalf.

The Boston Globe business columnist has emerged as the undisputed cheerleader-in-chief for the Boston 2024 effort.

Steve Bailey, a former Globe business columnist, had a take-no-prisoners approach that included rebranding local poohbahs with nicknames, often in ways that got under their skin by revealing hard truths. Deval Patrick’s most lasting mark, for example, may be as the guy who brought casino gambling to Massachusetts. But he repeatedly tried to wave off any suggestion that the grubby business of separating low-income seniors from their Social Security checks should be thought of as a significant part of his legacy. Thus did Patrick seal his place in Bailey’s lexicon as “Governor Slots”.

In that spirit, Bailey might dub his business columnist successor “Pom-Pom Leung.” But it’s a characterization she would likely wear proudly, not run from. Today’s installment — blown out on the front-page — certainly suggests as much. It is framed as a pleading letter to the US Olympic Committee to keep the faith with the Boston 2024 bid and not be distracted by all the grumpiness — and abysmal poll numbers — emanating from our harumph-filled hamlet on the Charles.

It’s just our quirky way of coping, says Leung, a crankiness that we bring to most everything — from the repressive ways of those British meanies, who we told off good, to the sour mood we’re still in after our winter from hell.

More than any opinion writer in town, Leung has been carrying the torch (water, her critics would say) for the Olympics effort. She puts a lot of faith in the business bigwigs running the effort, and seems bullish on new Boston 2024 chairman Steve Pagliuca. But critics keep insisting it’s not a matter of who is helming the bid or what the PR message is, but instead comes down to a question of concrete details on venues and financing, including any financial exposure the public purse strings might be subject to.

“Stingy Bostonians also worry that taxpayers will be on the hook if costs go over budget,” Leung writes, as if that is some weird skinflinty Yankee shortcoming.

Leung’s column had WBZ’s Jon Keller choking on his morning coffee. “Yes, we’re stingy about risking billions of precious dollars on a risky scheme of dubious public benefit,” he writes. Of Leung’s claim that we “get a kick out of knocking people down,” he writes, “No specific examples are given, and if the perfectly valid criticisms of the vague, presumptuous Olympic rollout so far amount to ‘knocking people down’ then I’d say we need more of that, not less.”

The old saying has it that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t really out to get you. In that vein, Leung might consider that just because Bostonians are an irascible bunch doesn’t mean the legion of questions about the Olympic bid are the mindless natterings of irredeemable naysayers.

–MICHAEL JONAS

 

BEACON HILL

The Senate caves and unanimously approves a budget that agrees to Gov. Charlie Baker‘s call for a fiscal and management control board to oversee the MBTA. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Watertown showed the biggest population growth from 2013 to 2014 of any Massachusetts community, with its population growing by 3 percent. Boston and other nearby municipalities also registered population growth, according to new Census figures, while communities in Western Massachusetts or Cape Cod showed the biggest population declines. (Boston Globe)

Lynn police are investigating the placement of three pieces of pork at a Jewish cemetery as a hate crime. (Item)

The Herald News, in an editorial, calls on Fall River City Councilor Paul DaSilva to resign in the wake of a report on alleged intimidation tactics used by Mayor Will Flanagan.

Quincy’s $13 million snow removal expenditure on is causing problems for Mayor Tom Koch. (Patriot Ledger)

CASINOS

Connecticut approves a casino expansion setting the stage for a new facility in the state likely near MGM Springfield. (MassLive)

MARATHON BOMBING

The family of Lingzi Lu pens a poignant, open letter to the people of Greater Boston. (Boston Globe)

OLYMPICS

Bain Capital executive Steve Pagliuca takes the reins of Boston 2024, replacing construction executive John Fish. (WBUR)

Boston 2024 hosts a meeting at Salem State University and tells attendees the North Shore won’t see much Olympic activity. (Salem News)

The Dorchester Reporter‘s Lauren Dezenski, in her weekly “Relay” e-newsletter on the Olympics, says this week’s Boston 2024 community meeting in Dorchester was the most divisive of the five she has attended, and says it’s easy to see how “poor behavior” by Olympics boosters in the room may have intimidated others from speaking their minds. (e-subscription) One of the loudest such offenders in the room: local union leader (and cousin of the mayor of the same name) Martin Walsh.

Kevin Peterson half-welcomes back to public life disgraced former state senator Dianne Wilkerson, who apparently was angling for a job with Boston 2024 but was rebuffed by leaders of the effort, who must figure they enough bad PR to deal with as is. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A nonprofit grocery store is slated to open in Dorchester’s Codman Square, selling low-cost food that has been surplused by other grocers because it’s nearing its “sell-by” date. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

Incoming UMass president Marty Meehan will start with a base salary of $525,000, plus a series of other perks. (Lowell Sun)

Sandwich students learn about the dangers of texting while driving using a driving simulator. (Cape Cod Times)

HEALTH CARE

The Massachusetts Medical Society launches an educational campaign to curb opioid abuse. (Telegram & Gazette) Walgreens joins Gloucester effort to offer discounted anti-overdose drug. (WBUR)

Boston Children’s Hospital is acquiring a 276-doctor for-profit practice group with physicians based in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. (Boston Globe)

The California Medical Association becomes the first in the nation to drop its oppositionto physician-assisted suicide. (Governing)

A study finds a possible association between air pollution and autism. (Time)

The Danvers Board of Health raises the minimum age to buy cigarettes and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21. (Salem News)

TRANSPORTATION

The Boston Carmen’s Union, fighting a push for privatization, raises concerns about the MBTA’s use of an outside contractor to repair motors. (CommonWealth)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Haverhill City Council puts the brakes on a solar farm deal negotiated by Mayor James Fiorentini. (Eagle-Tribune)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Edwin Alemany‘s lawyer faces long odds in attempting an insanity defense, say local attorneys. (Boston Herald)

A Baltimore grand jury indicts six police officers involved in the fatal arrest of Freddie Gray.(Buzzfeed)

Aaron Hernandez makes his latest court appearance (you need a scorecard to keep track of his charges) in connection with the shooting of a “friend” who, prosecutors say, Hernandez worried might implicate him in a double murder in Boston’s South End (that he now also faces charges on). (Boston Herald)

MEDIA

Playboy sees a huge increase in pageviews by ditching nudity in favor of content safe for work. (CNBC)