UMass vs. UMass

The list of those supporting the takeover of Mount Ida College in Newton by the University of Massachusetts as a satellite campus for Amherst students starts with UMass President Martin Meehan, UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, and the system’s board of trustees, all of whom got together and quietly moved on the $50 million acquisition, plus taking over the private school’s debts. And it pretty much ends there.

The roll call for those against? Despite the internet’s unlimited capacity, the list is too long to recite here. But to sum it up, the consensus of the opposition seems to be two-fold: What’s up with that? And it’s yet another reminder to UMass Boston that it is the red-headed stepchild of the system, with some even hinting not so subtly that there may be some racial bias at play.

UMass Boston “students — who make up the most diverse campus in New England — are getting another painful lesson about where they stand in the university pecking order,” writes the Boston Globe’s Joan Vennochi. “As low as it goes. It’s an education, all right — an education in the institutional bias that tilts toward the elite flagship Amherst campus, which, let’s face it, is also whiter. Some might also call that an education in institutional racism.”

The decision was made, according to Meehan and Subbaswamy, as a way to give Amherst students a leg up in getting internships and other relevant experience by being closer to Boston while staying in a “safe” environment on the bucolic 72-acre campus. If that doesn’t raise flags, nothing will.

Meehan’s office announced the acquisition late Friday following a trustee vote that few knew was taking place. In addition, few even knew UMass was in talks to take over the struggling small school. As recently as last month, Mount Ida had been in talks with neighboring Lasell College for a merger, with both school battling declining enrollment. If officials thought a “Friday news dump” would mute the impact, they misjudged.

Many wonder if there are better places UMass could use the money going for the takeover, given the continuing rise in tuition and fees, the crumbling infrastructure needs of several campuses, especially Boston, and the budget holes that prompt school officials to plead with lawmakers and Gov. Charlie Baker for more money.

Attorney General Maura Healey says she will look into the takeover. Mount Ida students have been promised automatic admission to UMass Dartmouth at a low tuition but the 260 Mt. Ida faculty members didn’t fare as well, with all being let go. There may be some competition, though, as Keene State in New Hampshire has jumped in and given expedited acceptance to Mount Ida students to lure them north.

UMass Boston students and faculty are up in arms over the acquisition, saying the Western Mass. campus is growing and expanding into the Boston area while their campus is starved of funds. A Globe editorial says UMass has so far shown “no convincing justification for the controversial transaction.”

A Lowell Sun editorial raises many of the same questions, and sums up the feeling of many.

“If this is a ‘rescue,’ send in the clowns,” it says.

JACK SULLIVAN


BEACON HILL

Second-chance winners of Massachusetts Lottery games are promised merchandise worth $548, but the items are not worth anywhere near that amount. (CommonWealth)

Renée Loth reviews Jim Aloisi’s book, Massport at 60. Independence, she says, has been the authority’s greatest asset and its chief vulnerability. (CommonWealth)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia should be riding high, but these are trying times for the city’s lightning rod. (CommonWealth)

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh adds new police, school nurse, and EMT positions in his proposed budget. (Boston Herald) Man bites dog: Sam Tyler, head of the business-funded watchdog Boston Municipal Research Bureau, and land-use lawyer Matt Kiefer, who is on the group’s board, urge Boston to borrow more money to fund important infrastructure projects, money they call a “down payment” on a better future for the city. (Boston Globe)

The Springfield City Council unanimously approves an order telling Mayor Domenic Sarno to back off South Congregational Church, which is providing sanctuary to a Peruvian immigrant. (MassLive)

Haverhill considers a second luxury development featuring over-55 housing. (Eagle-Tribune)

Fall River officials are looking to increase the number of moorings in the harbor to make the area a destination for boaters this summer. (Herald News) Several years back, CommonWealth took a look at the politics and policies of moorings.

The private owner of a desalination plant in Dighton has offered Brockton a $400,000 annual break on the controversial 20-year contract in exchange for a reduced capacity commitment by the city, which draws little water from the facility anyway. (The Enterprise)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Federal agents raided the office of President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, seizing records related to a variety of interests, including the payment to porn actress Stephanie Clifford, known far and wide as Stormy Daniels. (U.S. News & World Report) Trump denounced it as an “attack on our country.” (New York Times)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg goes to Congress to apologize. “It was my mistake and I’m sorry,” he says in prepared testimony.

Matt Viser looks at the sometimes substantive, sometimes sophomoric writings of former FBI director James Comey in his days a college newspaper journalist. (Boston Globe)

A town hall meeting at Westfield State University with Sen. Elizabeth Warren that was going to be televised on MSNBC was cancelled because theatre students protested the disruption it would cause to a production of the musical “Urinetown” using the same auditorium. (Boston Herald)

ELECTIONS

Saying his calendar is full, Gov. Charlie Baker won’t be joining Vice President Mike Pence at fundraisers today in Boston. (Politico) Some area Republicans are not taking kindly to the news, ripping Baker for snubbing the veep. (Boston Herald)

Voters in Ware rejected a proposed ban on commercial marijuana sales by a vote of 823-658. (MassLive)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the deficit is expected to hit $1 trillion by 2020 and the national debt will balloon to $33 trillion in the next decade due to the expected drop in revenues from the GOP tax cut. (New York Times)

Lynnway Auto Auction in Billerica was fined $200,000 by the Labor Department and required to make a number of changes in its operations in the wake of a crash at its facility that cost five lives. (Lowell Sun)

EDUCATION

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell says his priorities for the upcoming school budget will be funding for sports, drama and other extracurricular activities as a way to attract and retain families who are leaving the system. (Standard-Times)

Massachusetts students again topped the ranking of states on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which tests 4th and 8th grade students in English and math, but black students in Boston showed a troubling decline in scores on both the 4th and 8th grade tests. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield expects most of the facility to remain open this week despite a three-day strike by nurses seeking mandatory staffing levels. (MassLive)

TRANSPORTATION

The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board is gearing up for a debate about new revenues for the T later this year. The T’s Advisory Board is recommending a land transfer tax. (CommonWealth)

The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority voted to hike bus fares 20 percent and assess the adequacy of fares every three years. Prior to Monday, the authority hadn’t hiked fares in a decade, The authority also approved a number of service cuts that would take effect if the Legislature doesn’t increase funding above the level-funded budget proposed by Gov. Charlie Baker. (MassLive)

The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority is also considering fare hikes and service cuts. (Berkshire Eagle)

American Airlines plans to launch daily flights to Philadelphia from Worcester Regional Airport starting in October. (Telegram & Gazette)

The T’s general manager said Suffolk Construction’s work on a project adjacent to the Silver Tunnel caused a piece of concrete ceiling in the tunnel to break loose and fall, forcing the temporary closure of the tunnel. (Boston Herald)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

State officials have given Framingham a deadline of next February to come up with a plan to clean up the pollution at the popular Mary Dennison Park, which was built over an old burn dump used by the former Dennison Manufacturing Company. (MetroWest Daily News)

State Environmental Police confiscated hundreds of pounds of scallops hidden in the bathroom, galley, and other areas of a New Bedford fishing vessel that exceeded its catch limit. (Standard-Times)

A measure that would allow Cape and Islands towns to levy an excise tax on lodging to help pay for a $4 billion wastewater cleanup survived in the Senate version of the short-term rental bill and now its fate rests with a conference committee. (Cape Cod Times)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

Uxbridge approves two retail marijuana establishments. (Telegram & Gazette)

Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria claims an agreement gives him veto power over any sale by Wynn Resorts of its casino in his city to another operator. (Boston Globe)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A Suffolk Superior Court judge says she’s troubled by the decision of an alleged rape victim not to testify against the former MIT student accused of attacking her and she may insist that he plead guilty to indecent assault and battery rather than accept a plea agreement that put him on probation and avoid a formal conviction. (Boston Globe)

MEDIA

The Denver Post published a series of op-eds and editor’s notes decrying cuts at the newspaper by its owner, Digital First Media, the same company that recently bought the Boston Herald. Greg Moore, the former editor of the Denver Post and a former editor at the Boston Globe, said the region should not resign itself to the paper’s continued decline. Ken Doctor of the Nieman Journalism Lab tries to make sense of the Denver Post’s extraordinary display of defiance. Dan Kennedy says the Post revolt likely won’t mean anything to Digital First until they squeeze every last dime out of the paper. (Media Nation)

Laura Ingraham returned to Fox News and decried “bullies” on the left who are trying to silence conservative voices. Ingraham was returning to the air after taking a week off following a dustup with one of the Parkland shooting survivors that led to the loss of several major advertisers. (Time)