With Sanders, affordable housing feels the burn

What do Bernie Sanders and Boston area development battles have to do with each other? Not much. Or at least they didn’t — until Vermont’s socialist senator parachuted into the middle of very local squabbles by endorsing slates of candidates in the upcoming municipal elections in Somerville and Cambridge.

Sanders’s effort is not only sowing discord among those who say he’s unhelpfully dividing allies in the two cities by picking and choosing among progressive candidates. Some say he is also throwing in with candidates who stand in the way of a stated goal of left-leaning activists in high-cost regions: growing the supply of affordable housing.

Sanders, who is trying to build a grassroots progressive movement off the energy of his 2016 presidential run, delivered a fiery speech to a rally of Sanderistas gathered in Somerville on Monday. But it’s his endorsement in the Cambridge city council race that’s drawing heat.

In keeping with biennial tradition, the ballot there is bursting with liberal candidates. One issue distinguishing them, writes the Globe’s Dante Ramos, is whether they support or oppose more densely-packed housing development in the city. Sanders has lined up behind a group of candidates that oppose more development and in so doing, says Ramos, is also siding with their anti-housing agenda.

While it’s popular among left-leaning activists to bash greedy developers, it turns out they are the ones who build most of the new housing where people live. It’s why a new movement of activists in high-cost regions like the Boston area has taken root that supports more development in order to increase the supply of much-needed housing. The YIMBY movement — with its Yes In My Backyard rejoinder to the Not In My Backyard opponents of development — says progressives who care about increasing the supply of housing, including affordable units, should get behind more development, not reflexively oppose it. (Here’s a recent Codcast conversation with two local YIMBY leaders.)

Ramos says Sanders is siding with those who will stand in the way of new housing in order to send a message to greedy developers. “In certain quarters, thumbing your nose at The Man is more important than actually getting people housed,” he writes.

Suburban land use and zoning regulations in Massachusetts have been doing their best for many years to constrict the housing supply and to kill the American dream of homeownership there for all but the most affluent. A similar anti-development NIMBY mindset is at play in cities as well, but it is advanced under the guise of a certain stripe of progressive political activism.

Ramos’s column appears to be the trigger for a debate that broke out this morning on Twitter, where local activist Jonathan Cohn said there is something “disingenuous” in the YIMBY label. Jesse Kanson-Benanav, a leader of the local YIMBY movement, says there’s nothing disingenuous about it and that YIMBYs want to see more housing built, including subsidized housing for those who need it.

It’s not an issue that gets settled in snippets of 140 characters. But the exchange unfolding there gives a flavor of the debate.

–MICHAEL JONAS

[The post has been updated to more accurately reflect the Twitter exchange on the topic.]

BEACON HILL

A Virginia company is challenging in court a Baker administration initiative to collect sales tax on items sold in Massachusetts by out-of-state online retailers. (Eagle-Tribune)

Health care cost legislation unveiled by the Senate has the state’s community hospitals and large teaching hospitals on a collision course. (Boston Globe)

Sen. Karen Spilka files legislation creating a third gender category on driver’s licenses. Drivers who don’t identify as male or female could be listed as “X.” (Salem News)

House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Gov. Charlie Baker are not on the same page in regard to funding for a UMass manufacturing program, with Baker putting the money for that project and others on hold until finances stabilize. (MassLive)

The ACLU, Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, Committee for Public Counsel Services, and other advocacy groups declare their support for a sweeping criminal justice reform bill that will be taken up today by the Senate. (Boston Globe)

The Senate releases a report on the priorities of millennials. (MassLive)

The state is urged to stop buying bottled water when much cheaper and more environmentally friendly tap water is available. (State House News)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Hingham selectmen dropped references to immigrants from the town’s welcoming statement after some residents became angry over its inclusion. (Patriot Ledger)

The chairwoman of the Cape Cod Economic Development Council, which administers grants from the sales of the popular Cape Cod license plates, resigned after the Barnstable County Commissioners proposed a restructuring of the council that she called “a money grab.” (Cape Cod Times)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

House Speaker Paul Ryan tells members a legislative fix to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals will be part of a spending bill at the end of the year. (Huffington Post) Meanwhile, GOP senators say they have an outline of a bill that would pass muster with Democrats and President Trump, whose decision to eliminate the Obama-era program forced Congress to act. (Politico)

New polling shows Trump’s ability to quickly sway the opinions of his followers, whether it’s boosting their views of Russian president Vladimir Putin or driving down their opinion of the NFL. (Boston Globe)

The remaining sealed records of the assassination of John F. Kennedy will be released today. (New York Times)

Former president George H. W. Bush apologized for groping women and telling an off-color joke. (NPR)

ELECTIONS

Four shootings and the imposition of a curfew in public spaces in Lawrence have thrust the issue of crime to the forefront in the race for mayor between incumbent Daniel Rivera and William Lantigua, who said “the community is afraid.” (Eagle-Tribune)

Fact-checking Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s claim that he pulled the plug on the city’s Olympics bid. (CommonWealth)

The Republicans looking to unseat Sen. Elizabeth Warren are all staking out different ground when it comes to their attitudes toward Trump. (Boston Globe)

The Globe endorses for reelection all four Boston at-large city councilors but tiers its support, offering full-throated backing to Michelle Wu and Ayanna Pressley and more muted nods to Annissa Essaibi-George and Michael Flaherty.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange confirmed he was approached by Cambridge Analytica, a data company with ties to the Trump campaign, seeking copies of deleted emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server. (New York Times)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Amazon vs. marijuana: Communities prepare to throw millions at tech giant while snubbing pot. (CommonWealth)

Nearly 200 employees of Southcoast Health System, which operates four hospitals in the New Bedford-Fall River region, accepted a buyout offer but officials say they will consider other steps to reduce labor costs because it was only a little more than half of the eligible employees. (Standard-Times)

EDUCATION

Angry parents ousted the chairman of the South Shore Charter Public School Parents Association after learning his wife is a convicted sex offender. When she was a teacher in Abington, the wife was  convicted of child rape for having sex with a student more than 300 times when he was between 13 and 15. (Patriot Ledger)

Emily Nash shot the lowest score at the Central Massachusetts Division 3 boys’ golf championship, but she wasn’t declared the winner. (Telegram & Gazette)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Massachusetts recorded the second-most cases involving fentanyl of any state last year. (Boston Herald)

A Herald editorial excoriates the Trump administration’s continued efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act by trying to scuttle subsidies for those buying health care via state exchanges.

TRANSPORTATION

The Worcester Regional Transit Authority is facing a tough situation. Ridership is off 10 percent in the first quarter of fiscal 2018 and revenues are down 1 percent, despite a fare hike. (Telegram & Gazette)

A bill under consideration in the Legislature would sharply increase penalties for anyone abusing access to handicapped parking by either falsifying an application for a placard or using someone else’s. (Associated Press)

A report to be released today by the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group faults the MBTA’s system for measuring on-time performance that finds reliability of the system approaching 90 percent over the last 30 days. (Boston Globe)

The North Shore Chamber of Commerce endorses a new south Salem commuter rail stop. (Salem News)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A heart-wrenching police dispatcher transcript reveals the fear of Orion Krause’s mother that he would harm himself, a call placed only hours before he allegedly killed her and three others in Groton. (Boston Globe)

A pharmacist at the now-shuttered New England Compounding Center in Framingham, which sold contaminated steroids that triggered a national meningitis outbreak that killed 76 people, was acquitted of murder but found guilty of mail fraud and racketeering. (Associated Press)

A 42-year-old homeless man with more than 30 convictions was sentenced to jail for the 16th time after pleading guilty in Framingham District Court to breaking into a vehicle and stealing money for his heroin habit. (MetroWest Daily News)

MEDIA

Five women accuse TV news analyst and author Mark Halperin of sexual harassment. (MassLive)