Rainbow Boston

For all of its inglorious history when it comes to matters of race, Boston is now a national leader in diversity and multiculturalism.  That’s the finding from a new look at racial demographics by Robert Sullivan that appeared yesterday in the Ideas section of the Boston Sunday Globe.

Sullivan, a former managing editor at CommonWealth with a gift for eyeing trends and telling stories through data, decided it was not enough to have a “binary division” between blacks and whites or between any two dominant groups. The true measure of diversity in 21st century America, he says, is whether an area is home to a multiracial stew of people of different backgrounds. So the indicator he devised looks at the number of people per square mile who don’t belong to either of the two dominant race groups in a city. (By adding the geography denominator into the mix he combines diversity with density, a better measure, Sullivan says, of the chances that you actually encounter people from different backgrounds as part of your day-to-day activities.) According to Sullivan’s diversity density index, Boston ranks as the third most diverse city in the country, after New York and San Francisco.

“In general, a high diversity density seems to be correlated with a stable or growing economy, as found in New York, Boston, and Washington,” he writes. Scott Page, a University of Michigan researcher, says a paradox can surface in cities like Boston that are both diverse and dense: “People find it easier to find other people like themselves, and you can lose the benefits that diversity can bring” as people seek out their own, creating “a diverse city that’s really just a collection of silos.”  But Page thinks places like Boston, with very high educational attainment, may be less prone to that silo effect. “If you interact with diverse people in college,” he says, “that tendency carries over to your adult life.” 

                                                                                                                                          –MICHAEL JONAS

BEACON HILL

Following a Brian McGrory column on the topic last Friday, the Globe editorial page on Saturday called for a major overhaul of financial disclosure forms that state officials are required to submit — with another shout-out to CommonWealth for our efforts to spotlight the issue and ease public access to the forms. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld gives a nod to CommonWealth’s reporting on Gov. Deval Patrick’s public records law exemption.

Former attorney general Scott Harshbarger tells Keller@Large that the state is “unprepared” to deal with casino gambling because there are no enforcement tools to deal with the expected economic crime.

Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, writing yesterday, decries the continued embrace of targeted tax credits and other benefits for specific industries and companies, as the video game industry positions itself as the latest sector with a hand out looking for special breaks from the state.

Braintree state Rep. Mark Cusak is not talking — and neither are his colleagues — after being identified as the lawmaker caught in the midst of inappropriate acts with another rep’s aide in an empty House chamber after the budget debate.    

Berkshire County residents continue to speak out against consolidating the two western Massachusetts congressional districts into a single one.

The Berkshire Eagle calls for Gov. Deval Patrick to rescind $9.9 million in pay raises to state managers.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The homeless population in Danvers motels rises from 21 families in January to 113 now, the Salem News reports.

Relying on about $2 million in leftover federal stimulus money, Methuen School Superintendent Judith Scannell is seeking a $900,000 budget increase, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua’s use of airport funds, the Eagle-Tribune reports.  Meanwhile, in an editorial on the mayor, the Eagle-Tribune raises concerns about the way many people who get arrested in Lawrence cry “Help me, Willie!”

A Bourne firefighter files a federal lawsuit over his dismissal because of remarks he made on Facebook.

The Sentinel and Enterprise looks at rising school sports fees.

PRESIDENTIAL VISITS

Cape Verde President Pedro Pires, making his final visit to the United States as president, wrapped up his stay with a visit to New Bedford and a meeting with members of the local Cape Verdean community.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

After taking over the House, the GOP put an end to wasteful earmarks. Spending “add-ons,” which some say look a lot like earmarks, are a different matter.

A group is challenging the neutrality of the California judge who struck down California’s ban on same sex marriage because the judge is gay, WBUR reports.

ELECTION 2012

Freshman US Sen. Kelly Ayotte is being eyed as a potential kingmaker in her native New Hampshire and is waiting for someone to impress her tonight on deficits and entitlements in the first GOP presidential debate.

Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up? The Washington Post takes a long look at Mitt 2012. The Wall Street Journal previews a coming attack from the GOP’s right — that Romney’s success in rescuing the Olympics depended heavily on the federal government’s largesse.

The Obama reelection campaign tries to win over disaffected 2008 donors.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Yvonne Abraham laments the food fight that has continued over the impending arrival of Whole Foods in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood and tells the opponents to get a life. MassINC research director (and JP resident) Ben Forman comes off as a voice of calm.

Mass Mutual and Fidelity Investments hope Barney Frank doesn’t think they’re too important to the economy.

EDUCATION

UMass Amherst Chancellor Robert Holub, in a letter to outgoing UMass President Jack WIlson that was leaked to the Globe, decries and calls for an investigation by the attorney general of the earlier leaking to the Globe of a report critical of his tenure. That report appears to be laying the groundwork for the university not to renew Holub’s contract when it expires next month. Today’s Globe story says any finding that regulations were broken in the leaking of the report could, in turn, help lay the groundwork for legal action by Holub against the university.

UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan tells the Lowell Sun the best way to deal with budget cuts is to increase enrollment. “We need to run this university like a private institution,” he says.

School officials are struggling to find the balance of social networks as a useful tool and the inherent dangers those sites present.

HEALTH CARE

The Legislature creates a new state commission to study Lyme disease.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

WBUR explores President Obama’s bet on green energy.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A 51-year-old Brockton woman became the city’s fifth homicide victim this year after she was shot in the back and killed as she was leaving church over the weekend, an apparent innocent victim, according to police. A 19-year-old Brockton man has been charged with murder.