Boston Dailies Have Different Answers to Ballot Questions

October 22, 2014

From our One Town, Two Different Worlds desk

With Election Day just around the corner, we’ve officially arrived at Endorsement Season, when the local dailies weigh in with their voting recommendations. (The Boston Herald, for example, endorsed Scott Brown for U.S. Senate today.)

Last week the frisky local tabloid made its recommendations on the four ballot questions facing voters this fall, starting with Yes on Question 1, which would repeal the automatic gas tax hikes Massachusetts lawmakers enacted last year.

What Question 1 seeks to do is merely repeal the automatic nature of that tax hike. It does not roll back the tax. It does not take a penny of existing revenue out of state coffers. It would simply require that in the future if lawmakers want to hike the gasoline tax they would have to vote to do that — just as they did in 2013.

They would have to go on record and be counted. Is that so very difficult? It’s what they are elected to do.

A “yes” vote on Question 1 will do nothing more or less than making our legislators vote in the open the next time they want to hike the gas tax.

 

Crosstown at the Boston Globe, today’s edition featured an emphatic No on Question 1.

Proponents of the ballot question say they aren’t against gas taxes, but instead have what is basically a philosophical objection to indexing the gas tax, or any other tax, to inflation. Each of the automatic increases, they argue, represents a separate tax hike — a form of taxation without representation, because the Legislature won’t vote each time.

But this argument is disingenuous. Characterizing the increases as a hike ignores how inflation affects buying power. Raising the cents-per-gallon tax in sync with inflation ensures that the pinch will feel the same as time goes on, not that it’ll go up.

 

Who’s right? Pick ‘em.

Ditto for expanding the state’s existing bottle deposit law. The Herald says No on Question 2.

The environmental argument has long since gone by the boards as community after community has moved to curbside recycling for homes and businesses and put separate recycling barrels in parks and other public spaces. Those recycling programs provide cities and towns with yet another source of income.

Yes, there is money in those empties, money that communities will miss out on if this ballot measure passes with its myriad rules and regulations about who would be required to accept those millions of new empties.

The Legislature for the past several years has been getting this one right. Expanding the bottle bill is more than just another inconvenience; it’s another tax. And one this state doesn’t need.

 

The Globe counters with Yes on Question 2.

Opponents of the measure, funded largely by the bottling and beverage industries, claim that curbside recycling is already deeply ingrained in the Commonwealth, making the expansion of the current law a nuisance. But Question 2 opponents have been using questionable data to make their case, including claiming in an ad that 90 percent of Massachusetts residents had access to curbside recycling; in fact, the correct number is 67 percent. Regardless, promoting the recycling of beverage containers isn’t the only goal of the bottle bill; the availability of curbside recycling doesn’t particularly discourage litter.

There will be a cost to consumers, but only if they choose not to recycle. (It should be noted, unclaimed nickels would go to a dedicated fund to support environmental programs that would pay for parks cleaning and improve recycling.) And there are municipal savings: A 2009 study commissioned by the state Department of Environmental Protection estimated that savings due to reduced collection and disposal costs to cities and towns would be between $4 million and $7 million per year.

 

Okay then. Two down, two to go. Catch you on the flip-flop.


Boston Globe Red Lines Boston Herald on China Cars

October 22, 2014

Start at the start:

Last Saturday’s Boston Herald featured this front page:

 

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The story inside (as the hardreading staff noted at the time):

Activists want T bid derailed

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Human rights and labor activists are voicing outrage that the Patrick administration could soon award a staggering $1.3 billion subway contract to a rail enterprise owned by the repressive Communist Chinese government, saying the deal would be a “terrible disgrace.”

“If the left-leaning Massachusetts blue staters love to boycott things that break the wrong way on issues of rights, why does China get a pass on all of that?” said Tom Cushman, a human rights activist and professor at Wellesley College.

“If this were an entity that was known to be hostile toward transgendered people or gay people or who violated the rights of minorities, people would be up in arms over a contract like this. But (they) do all those things. They are hostile toward all those people, but China doesn’t register on the screen of the morally outraged.”

 

Now comes the Boston Globe with this front page piece in yesterday’s edition.

T job’s top bid is from China

Subway car plan draws concerns on human rights

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A railcar and locomotive manufacturer controlled by China’s government has emerged as the top bidder for a $566.6 million contract to supply the MBTA with new cars for the Red and Orange lines.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation board of directors is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the contract for CNR MA Corporation, which is a venture of China CNR Corporation Limited and CNR Changchun Railway Vehicles Co., according to the board’s agenda.

The contract for 284 subway cars will include the construction of an assembly plant in Springfield, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The MBTA said last year it expected to begin delivering Orange Line cars in the winter of 2018, and the Red Line cars in the fall of 2019.

 

The Globe piece has a number of new details, but nowhere does it credit the Herald for catching this train first.

Bad form, Globeniks. Bad form.


Boston Globe Has Come-to-Jesus Moment with Bernard Baran, Louise Woodward

October 20, 2014

Something interesting is happening in the Boston Globe’s editorial pages. The paper is doing a sort of media culpa regarding some high-profile – and highly debated – criminal convictions in the ’80s and ’90s. And it’s been uncharacteristically emphatic in its positions.

Begin with the redoubtable Harvey Silverglate’s Globe op-ed a week ago.

Justice system failed Bernard Baran

There should be consequences

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BERNARD BARAN of Pittsfield died a free man on Sept. 1 at age 49. But for an act of God, he would likely have died in prison, forever deemed guilty of raping children at a day care center where he’d worked.

Convicted amid the national panic over supposed sexual abuse of preschool children, Baran fell victim to homophobia, hysteria, and arguable prosecutorial misconduct. While many now recognize these prosecutions as modern-day witch hunts, those responsible for his incarceration remain unapologetic and unpunished.

 

That was followed by this editorial in yesterday’s Boston Sunday Globe.

When miscarriages of justice occur, prosecutors must answer for actions

TWENTY-NINE YEARS ago, a Berkshire County prosecutor named Daniel A. Ford made at least one awful decision: On the skimpiest baranB-1797249evidence he charged a 19-year-old man with multiple counts of child rape. That may not be the worst of it; there are indications he may have played fast and loose with trial rules in order to get a conviction. Although Ford denies he did anything wrong, trial records suggest the defense attorney was unaware of significant exculpatory evidence held by the prosecution. In an atmosphere of homophobia and hysteria, the defendant, an openly gay teenager named Bernard F. Baran Jr., didn’t stand a chance. Convicted, he spent 21 years in prison for crimes he didn’t commit.

 

In his op-ed, Silverglate “raised the possibility of removing Ford from his current job as a Superior Court judge, a position he has held since 1989.” The Globe editorial calls that “premature,” but says “Silverglate and Baran’s other supporters are right to seek a full, public inquiry into both the prosecution’s conduct and its decision to try the case in the first place.”

Further down Memory Lane, yesterday’s Globe also featured this op-ed by Lee Scheier, an investigative reporter working on a book about shaken-baby syndrome.

Martha Coakley, stop lauding bad science for self-promotion

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AFTER COMING under attack in an political ad for not doing enough to protect children, Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate for governor, defended her record. In a large above-the-fold photograph published in the Globe Oct. 3, Coakley is seen standing next to Deborah Eappen, mother of Matthew Eappen, the baby whom Louise Woodward was charged with shaking to death in 1997.

Coakley, the prosecutor in that infamous trial, set up the photo op ostensibly to remind the public of her commitment to protecting children. If so, Coakley must think Massachusetts voters have short memories.

 

Because, Scheier asserts, “[t]he truth is that Martha Coakley’s deft misuse of science actually came very close to sending an innocent caretaker to prison for life.”

Who’s right here? Roll your own.

But one thing’s clear: Ellen Clegg, the Globe’s interim editorial page editor, has certainly added some juice to those pages.


China Dole in Boston Dailies

October 18, 2014

Money and the People’s Republic get front-page headlines in today’s local dailies. Start with this colorful one in the Boston Herald.

 

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Nice. The story inside:

Activists want T bid derailed

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Human rights and labor activists are voicing outrage that the Patrick administration could soon award a staggering $1.3 billion subway contract to a rail enterprise owned by the repressive Communist Chinese government, saying the deal would be a “terrible disgrace.”

“If the left-leaning Massachusetts blue staters love to boycott things that break the wrong way on issues of rights, why does China get a pass on all of that?” said Tom Cushman, a human rights activist and professor at Wellesley College.

“If this were an entity that was known to be hostile toward transgendered people or gay people or who violated the rights of minorities, people would be up in arms over a contract like this. But (they) do all those things. They are hostile toward all those people, but China doesn’t register on the screen of the morally outraged.”

 

Well, it does at the railsy local tabloid.

Crosstown at the Boston Globe, it’s an entirely different business on Page One.

MGH in talks for hospital in China

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Massachusetts General Hospital is in early discussions with two partners to build a full-service hospital with 500 to 1,000 beds in China, a country that is struggling to meet growing demand from its 1.4 billion citizens for top-quality medical care.

Mass. General signed a “framework agreement’’ last week with a Chinese hospital that specializes in traditional medicine and a Chinese investment firm, allowing the three parties to exchange financial information and work on developing a definitive agreement to open a facility in an island city close to Hong Kong.

Mass. General executives called the talks preliminary and said they have not made a final decision about whether to participate in the project, but that they hope to do so by next summer.

 

So both these deals are still up in the air. Plenty of opportunity for the Chinese checkers to do their damnedest.


Herald Front Page Hits the Trifecta

October 17, 2014

The Boston Herald is at its most Heraldish today, with a trio of Page One stories that feature drugs, crime, greed, and, well, TV.

 

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For our money, the best of the bunch is this one:

No love lost between sibs

Con who killed parents sues bro for granny’s $$

A killer con — behind bars for cold-bloodedly murdering his parents for their insurance money more than 25 years ago — is back in court suing his brother over an inheritance from their grandmother, saying he has the dough coming to him.

“That money was supposed to be for me if I got out on parole,” William Duclos, 45, told the Herald in a jailhouse interview yesterday. “My brother was supposed to hold that money for me.”

 

Not surprisingly, the situation is a little more complicated than that. Check the feisty local tabloid for details.

Also not surprisingly – you won’t find them in the Boston Globe.


Wynn Everett: No Globe Readers Need Apply

October 16, 2014

Wynn Resorts – which won the casino bake-off with Mohegan Sun last month – looks to be quickly embedding itself in the local economy. The proposed Everett gambling hell – sorry, hall (tip o’ the pixel to Raymond Chandler) – ran this ad in today’s Boston Herald to promote the upcoming Wynn Resorts Vendor & Career Information Sessions.

 

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Money quote:

 

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Average salaries over $50,000? (Is Steve Wynn’s factored in?) $120 million per annum on goods and services? I’d take all of that with a shaker of salt, yeah.

Meanwhile, no such golden opportunities are available crosstown at the Boston Globe. But maybe the Globe set could find gainful employment at the new UniQlo opening tomorrow at the Northshore Mall. Glenn Howerton, Actor/Producer certainly did.

 

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Hey, Globe readers: Write if you get work.


The Yin and Yang of the Globe and Herald (EBOLA/ebola Edition II)

October 13, 2014

Once again the Boston Herald has a case of the high-sterics in dealing with the Ebola we-don’t-know-what. Page One of today’s fraidy local tabloid:

 

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Inside the Herald devotes three full pages to its Chicken Little act. Here’s a Whit(e)man’s Sampler of the alarums on the Herald homepage at post time.

 

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Especially risible is the column by Adriana Cohen, who seems to be suggesting that America construct a Dome of Solitude to make the world go away.

Crosstown at the Boston Globe, there is – as usual – a more measured approach. Page One of today’s edition:

 

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Close-up:

 

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One town, two different worlds, eh?


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