Suffolk’s McKenna gaining upper hand

Suffolk University President Margaret McKenna met for four hours on Wednesday with her nemesis on the board of trustees, a sign that some resolution of the ugly public fight over McKenna’s tenure is in the offing.

The board is scheduled to meet to fire McKenna on Friday, but her powwow with board chairman Andrew Meyer suggests another outcome is likely. A statement issued by the university indicated the two officials were working on a joint plan to present to the divided board of trustees.

The clearest signal that the tide has shifted in favor of McKenna was the decision by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to weigh in with support for the embattled Suffolk president. He told the Globe that she has done a “great job” as president and revealed that he has been calling members of the board of trustees urging them to meet with McKenna and work things out.

Walsh has a deft touch for figuring out which way the political winds are blowing and making sure he lands at the last moment with the prevailing side. (See his withdrawal of Boston’s 2024 Olympics bid just before it was about to be snatched away and his settlement with Wynn Resorts after his legal efforts to block the company’s Everett casino failed.)

There were other signs that McKenna may be gaining the upper hand in her fight with Suffolk’s board of trustees. The Suffolk Faculty Senate on Wednesday voiced its support for McKenna and called for Meyer’s resignation, and Colin Loiselle, the head of the Student Government Association, said his group is preparing to take a no-confidence vote on Meyer on Thursday.

As recently as Wednesday, Boston Herald columnist Joe Battenfeld was reporting that McKenna’s predecessor, Norman Smith, was disputing her claim that she faced a deficit upon entering office and blaming any funding shortfall on unbudgeted spending on advertising and new hires. Battenfeld also reported that the trustees were moving ahead with plans to oust McKenna.

If McKenna manages to retain her job on Friday, it would be an amazing comeback and a powerful demonstration of her political skills. It would also be testament to her support at the school (click here for faculty member John Berg’s analysis of the fight over her job and her brief tenure) and in the larger Greater Boston community. Thanks to the clumsy attacks on her by the Suffolk board of trustees, McKenna may now be the best-known university president in the Boston area.

–BRUCE MOHL

 

BEACON HILL

The Baker administration is making progress on its public records pledge. (CommonWealth) A Globe editorial offers strong backing for a Senate bill to revamp the state’s public records law.

Supreme Judicial Court Justice Robert Cordy plans to retire in August. (State House News)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Mayor Marty Walsh is joining the fight against a natural gas pipeline in West Roxbury. (Boston Globe)

A Gloucester Times editorial praises the city administration for using $10,000 in taxpayer funds to set up a booth at the Seafood Expo North America.

The Stoughton town moderator has been charged by the state Ethics Commission with violating the conflict of interest law by directing town business to his printing company over a five-year period. (The Enterprise)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

A Herald editorial applauds Speaker Paul Ryan’s “plea for sanity” within a Republican party that has lately often seemed driven by something other than that.

After Texas defunded Planned Parenthood, use of contraception declined and more babies were born on the government tab. (Time)

ELECTIONS

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton battle over claims to the progressive mantle. (Boston Globe) Joe Battenfeld thinks Elizabeth Warren’s heart is with Sanders, even if she’s staying out of the Democratic race for now. (Boston Herald) Joan Vennochi questions whether Sanders can deliver on his idealist agenda. (Boston Globe)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie denies he hugged President Obama. (Time)

Former state representative Carlos Henriquez, expelled by his colleagues from the House in 2014 following a conviction for assaulting his girlfriend, appears to be gearing up to run for his former seat this fall. (Boston Globe) The Bay State Banner says Henriquez is running.

Hampden County sheriff candidate Mike Albano says, if elected, he would depoliticize the office. (MassLive) Meanwhile, the perceived frontrunner in the race for sheriff, Nick Cocchi, is racking up endorsements. (MassLive)

Gov. Charlie Baker has endorsed Weymouth Town Councilor  Patrick O’Connor, a former aide to Mayor Robert Hedlund when he was in the Senate, in the special election to fill Hedlund’s old seat. (Patriot Ledger)

Civil rights activist and Black Lives Matter member DeRay Mckesson jumps into the already crowded race for mayor in Baltimore. (Baltimore Sun)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Fishing industry officials say more deep cuts in catch quotas are coming this year even as fishermen report stocks are growing. (Gloucester Times)

An Emerson College student who rented his dorm room via Airbnb could face disciplinary action from the school. (Boston Globe)

Necco’s sweethearts tale for Valentine’s Day goes viral. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

The battle over charter expansion on Beacon Hill is exposing rifts in the Massachusetts Teachers Association. (State House News)

The Lowell Sun profiles Colin Loiselle, a Tyngsboro student who heads the Student Government Association at Suffolk and is leading the student charge on behalf of President Margaret McKenna.

Boston school officials are proposing hundreds of new preschool seats despite tight budget times. (Boston Globe)

The Dartmouth High School student newspaper The Spectrum says student representatives on the School Committee are chosen by the administration rather than elected by students as required by law and then told to talk about good news only.

The Marion School Committee has asked the state to test the air at the Sippican School after teachers complained about the air quality and a number of staffers say they have suffered problems breathing. (Standard-Times)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Big Pharma wants to make sure you take your medicine, reports STAT’s Rebecca Robbins.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Hopkinton selectmen voted unanimously to hire a beaver trapper to eliminate (read: kill) the rodents after residents complained about flooding from dams the animals built. (MetroWest Daily News)

Fall River officials are reportedly looking into hiring a private trash hauler, which is news to the City Council, which must approve such a plan. (Herald News)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Standing by her man, Catherine Greig pleads guilty to contempt for refusing to divulge details of her time on the lam with Whitey Bulger and could face a life sentence. (Boston Herald)

A Norwell woman was indicted on charges she taped grand jury proceedings in the murder case of three people charged in the slaying of a Marshfield man. (Patriot Ledger)

A man accused of raping a woman at UMass Amherst testifies he didn’t force the woman to have sex outside on the campus. He said outside sex seemed like a thing that could happen there. “I heard it was a party school,” he said. (MassLive)

MEDIA

The trust set up to run the British newspaper The Guardian, which has pursued an aggressive digital strategy with free access, is running out of money. (Media Nation)

The newly revamped Playboy is out with a promised move away from full frontal nudity — though there is still a centerfold — to more stories for those who only get it for the articles. (New York Times)