Walsh responds to Long Island Bridge critics

Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi asked and Mayor Marty Walsh answered.

The headline on Vennochi’s column was “Mayor Walsh should tell us more about his big idea for Long Island.” As if on cue, Walsh did just that, penning his own column entitled “A new bridge to recovery on Long Island.” (In the Globe’s print edition Tuesday, the two columns were next to each other on facing pages.)

Walsh laid out his vision for a comprehensive long-term addiction recovery campus on Long Island at a scale not possible in a neighborhood setting. He called for more treatment beds, more transition supports and sober housing, and a more seamless continuum of care across the journey from detox to a life reclaimed. He said the island would be the hub of Greater Boston’s recovery universe.

Walsh also sounded a bit exasperated that people were continually questioning his motives. Vennochi, in a column on January 3, suggested Walsh was proposing to rebuild the Long Island Bridge to curry favor with merchants who have complained about the burdens of coping with a homeless shelter on Southampton Street and two methadone clinics on Melnea Cass Boulevard.

In her column on Tuesday, Vennochi gives voice to Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey, who suggests the real reason Walsh wants to rebuild the Long Island Bridge is to set the stage for commercial development on the island. She said Morrissey is on to something, in part because Walsh doesn’t deny it. She said she asked the mayor if he had any plans for Long Island beyond serving the addicted, and he replied: “Not yet. Potentially.”

In his column, Walsh didn’t mention anything about additional development and seemed miffed that his motives were being questioned. “If I sound exasperated, it’s because I don’t want us to lose sight of the goal here,” he wrote. “It’s not about me. It’s not about the politics. It’s about the suffering daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, moms, and dads at the heart of an opioid crisis that’s devastating our communities. We have a long, long way to go. It’s imperative we don’t get derailed now.”

Globe columnist Kevin Cullen sides with Walsh on this one. He said the reason Walsh is facing opposition from officials in Quincy isn’t because they’re concerned about traffic running through the community (particularly Squantum, where Morrissey lives) to get to the bridge to Long Island.

“The opposition isn’t really about traffic,” Cullen wrote. “It’s about people addicted to opioids. Before the bridge closed, many of them were picked up or dropped off at some of the Quincy MBTA stations by the various recovery programs on the island. No one wants them. They are not a constituency. And so politicians fiddle while those struggling with addiction burn, an average of six of them dying of opioid overdoses in Massachusetts every day.”

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

House Speaker Robert DeLeo said it is too early in the budget process to rule out new tax initiatives, which is something he did at this time two years ago. (State House News)

Lowell Sun columnist Peter Lucas said it is doubtful Sen. Stanley Rosenberg can make his way back from the basement of the State House to the palatial president’s office on the third floor, even if he is cleared of any wrongdoing by investigators looking into the actions of his husband.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Enough with the 48-hour rule, or the mayor’s ad hoc decree that those shoveling out a space should be able to claim it for “a little while,” says a Globe editorial calling for an end once and for all to any parking space saving rituals on Boston’s streets.

A new report finds widespread bullying in public housing. (Salem News)

The former Framingham assistant town manager signed an agreement just before the transition to city government eliminated his job that will allow him to collect his salary until the end of the fiscal year in June while he ponders his future. (MetroWest Daily News)

The Fall River Housing Authority tabled a vote on whether to award 150 Section 8 vouchers to the buyer of a low-income apartment complex where residents are mostly elderly or disabled. (Herald News)

A newly elected Watertown Town Councilor who is a descendant of Betsy Ross took a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance at the inauguration ceremony. (MetroWest Daily News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Local Salvadorans and immigration advocates brace for what’s next after the Trump administration announcement that it is ending federal protections for about 200,000 residents who fled El Salvador. (Boston Globe) A Herald editorial says the temporary status designation is a symptom of the country’s failed immigration policy and failure to come up with a permanent fix for it.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has told lawyers for President Trump he will seek to interview the president for his investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections. (New York Times)

ELECTIONS

And so the Oprah floodgates open. (Boston Globe) Exhibit A: Today’s Herald, which features no less than four columns on the would-be candidate, with offerings from Joe Battenfeld, Jessica Heslam, Joyce Ferriabough Bolling, and Michael Graham. Telegram & Gazette columnist Dianne Williamson warms to the idea. Miles Howard, writing on WBUR’s website, also gives a thumbs up.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Rents are still rising in Greater Boston — but not as fast as they had been. (Boston Globe)

Swansea is continuing to rebound from the recession with the number of building permits for houses issued in 2017 at a 10-year high. (Herald News)

Biopharma firms, which not long ago offered good paying technician jobs to those with two-year college degrees, increasingly want candidates for those positions to have four-year degrees. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

A survey of new enrollees at North Shore Community College finds a third sometimes go without food and 70 percent have trouble gaining access to regular meals and affordable housing. (Salem News)

Teachers at the Brighton offices of EF Education First, which offers English-as-a-second-language courses, will vote tomorrow on their first union contract. (Boston Globe)

The Chronicle of Philanthropy spotlights the Bard Microcollege Holyoke that is a joint venture between one of the city’s nonprofits and nearby Bard College that offers an Associate’s Degree to low-income, at-risk students.

A new school in Mashpee will teach children the lost language of the Wampanoag nation in an immersion education program funded by public and private grants. (Cape Cod Times)

Two New Bedford School Committee members, including a newly elected member, accused Mayor Jon Mitchell of “hijacking” the search for a new superintendent. (Standard-Times)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A Framingham radiology lab says it lost a hard drive containing personal information and medical images taken of more than 9,300 patients over the last eight years. (MetroWest Daily News)

TRANSPORTATION

The MBTA’s oversight board praised the transit agency for its work during the winter storm and frigid temperatures, but T officials say commuter rail didn’t measure up. Indeed, Jay Gonzalez, a Democratic candidate for governor, gave the commuter rail a failing grade for its Friday service. (CommonWealth)

T notes: The Fiscal and Management Control Board begins exploring ways to streamline and shorten its meetings…The Mattapan trolley running between Mattapan and Ashmont is sputtering….State officials indicate they are nearing a decision on whether to privatize bus maintenance operations at three garages….T officials are considering appointing a czar to oversee the $1.7 billion in vehicle procurements and construction projects needed to dramatically improve service on the Red and Orange Lines. (CommonWealth)

Commuter train schedules are modified on the Newburyport and Rockport Lines as Keolis works to repair storm damage. (Salem News)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities approved new fees for people who put up solar panels or wind turbines on their property after December 31 this year. (CommonWealth)

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejects a “multibillion-dollar bailout” of the nation’s coal and nuclear plants. (MassLive)

MARIJUANA/CASINOS

US Attorney Andrew Lelling threatened the state’s pot industry, saying federal law makes it a crime to cultivate, distribute, or possess marijuana and his job is to enforce the law. (CommonWealth) Keller@Large says this just proves marijuana makes people crazy, though not necessarily those who smoke it.

The Supreme Court declined to hear the case involving a gambling center on Martha’s Vineyard, paving the way for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) to open its planned mega-bingo hall. (Cape Cod Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Nine people were indicted on federal charges as part of a crackdown on gang activity at the Mildred Hailey public housing development in Jamaica Plain. (Boston Globe)

MEDIA

John Henry said he has removed many senior managers on the business side of the Boston Globe. (Boston Business Journal)

Washington Post Publisher Fred Ryan said the company is going to be profitable for the second year in a row and is planning to expand its business and technology coverage. (Axios)

The new newspaper movie out this weekend, “The Post,” celebrates the role of the Washington Post in publishing the Pentagon Papers, but Roy Harris reminds us that it was the New York Times that actually led the way and scooped its DC rival with the leaked reports. (Boston Globe)