Boston Herald Has Good Trolley Karma

October 6, 2015

The feisty local tabloid has two MBTA-related stories pretty much to itself today.

First, Kimberly Atkins’ column on an advertising rumpus that’s shadowed the T for two years now.

T ad issue may merit court’s consideration

Free-speech dispute on Supreme’s radar

WASHINGTON — A free-speech dispute over political ads in MBTA buses, trains and stations is likely headed for the U.S. Supreme Court and could have far-reaching effects on Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 2.35.04 PMpaid messages on public property.

The case stems from 2013, when the MBTA agreed to post paid ads from pro-Palestinian group Committee for Peace in Israel and Palestine that read: “4.7 million Palestinians are classified by the U.N. as refugees.” But the T then rejected the American Freedom Defense Initiative’s ad, submitted in response, which read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

 

So far, as Atkins reports, “[t]wo federal courts had backed the MBTA’s decision to reject the AFDI ad, under its policy barring ‘disparaging’ or ‘demeaning’ messages.”

Prior to those two decisions, the MBTA’s batting average in ad dustups was well below the Mendoza Line, as the hardreading staff noted two years ago. And Atkins also writes that “[i]n New York and Philadelphia, by contrast, courts have ordered transit agencies to run paid ads they had rejected, including one that claimed Muslims believe ‘killing Jews is worship.'”

So who knows if it even gets to the Supremes, and who knows how they’ll lean.

But we’re guessing the MBTA loses this one too.

Elsewhere in today’s Herald, there’s this news from the T’s Ghost of Winter Past.

Scott bows out of bid for NTSB post

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President Obama has withdrawn his nomination of former MBTA chief Beverly Scott to the National Transportation Safety Board, abruptly ending her controversial bid to the $155,000-a-year post, the Herald has learned.

Obama officially rescinded her nomination yesterday, according to a White House document viewed by the Herald. A White House spokesman said last night Scott requested that her nomination be withdrawn “due to personal reasons related to her family.”

Efforts to reach Scott were unsuccessful.

 

That’s a surprise, eh?

(To be fair graf goes here)

To be fair, today’s Boston Globe does have a squib (via the State House News Service) about Scott, although it tells a slightly different story.

 

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Huh. Maybe we need Scott herself to come forward as the tiebreaker.

Yeah – that’s coming just like a Riverside train.


Hark! The Herald! (Michael Goldman/MBTA Edition)

June 24, 2015

From our Walt Whitman desk

Today’s Boston Herald features the latest in its series of told-you-so front pages.

 

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Helpful close-up:

 

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The story inside focuses on the $300,000 ad campaign the MBTA’s Boston Carmen’s Union has been running for several months.

ON THE CAMPAIGN RAIL

Carmen spent $300G on ads to battle Baker’s MBTA reform

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The powerful Boston Carmen’s Union, in a bid to derail Gov. Charlie Baker’s MBTA reforms, has spent $300,000 on radio ads, organized campaign-style phone banks and poured thousands into the political coffers of key lawmakers and politicians 
overseeing T policy, a Herald 
review found.

The review shows the 6,000-member-strong labor group’s mounting resistance as a top legislative committee has rebuffed Baker’s key reforms . . .

 

The Herald’s Erin Smith and Matt Stout write, “[t]he carmen have put out three radio spots, at a cost of $300,000, so far, with a fourth expected by the end of the week and the campaign isn’t over yet, according to longtime Democratic campaign operative Michael Goldman, who is coordinating the media strategy for Local 589.” (Listen to one here.)

There’s also a radio blitz on local airwaves from the Amalgamated Transit Union, which Goldman says he’s not associated with. Of the union’s “we’re here to help” ads Goldman says, “[our] thing has been positive commercials.”

Positive, maybe, but not all that reliable, as CommonWealth magazine pointed out last month.

One ad says, “Given the advanced age of current equipment and tracks, it’s a miracle that fully 95 percent of the million-plus trips made each year have been completed on time. But the T transit workers won’t be satisfied until that number reaches 100 percent.”

Yeah. Except the Carmen’s Union definition of “completed on time” is . . . “actually happened.” If you define completed on time as “arrived at destination on schedule,” that 95% drops to around 72% (67% this year so far) according to CommonWealth’s Steve Koczlea and Bruce Mohl.

So, once again we see that MBTA=Might Be Totally Accurate.

Or might not.


Boston Globe Late to the T Party

April 7, 2015

Well, Charlie Baker’s task force on bringing the MBTA better trolley karma has finally issued its report, and today’s local dailies – wait for it – give it very different play.

The Boston Globe sort of missed the bus in its Page One coverage.

 

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Maybe because the Boston Herald did its own review of MBTA employee absences a week ago, the Little Tabloid That Could featured this on Page One instead:

 

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Story inside:

T left $2.2b on the table

Funds earmarked for repairs were never spent

The MBTA, which has repeatedly cried for more funding, has failed to spend more than $2.2 billion earmarked over the last five years to fix its dated, problem-plagued system, according to the expert panel Gov. Charlie Baker created to examine the Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 2.59.50 PMembattled agency.

The stunning pile of unused cash accounts for roughly half of the 
$4.5 billion the T has set aside since fiscal 2010 for its so-called capital budget. The unspent funding has also helped drive the growing backlog of much-needed maintenance needs, the panel found. State officials had earlier pegged that stockpile of “state-of-good repair” projects at $6.7 billion, but that figure is now seen as “the floor and not the ceiling,” according to one panel member.

 

Very interesting.

Apparently the folks on Morrissey Blvd. felt the same, because late this morning the sleepy local broadsheet played some website catch-up.

 

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In the better-late-than-never Globe piece, there was no acknowledgement of the Herald’s scoop. Same old story, eh?


Joe Fitz Calls Boston Herald Bosses Chuckleheads

March 18, 2015

Well, not exactly that specifically, but still . . .

As you splendid readers might remember (c’mon, it was only yesterday), the hardreading staff couldn’t help but note the fuddy local tabloid’s tut-tutting about Gov. Charlie Baker’s St. Patrick’s Day skit lampooning the MBTA (Maybe Better Tomorrow, Alright?) and its snow woes.

Representative sample from yesterday’s front page:

 

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Today, Herald columnist Joe Fitzgerald essentially told his bosses to put a sock in it.

Listen to Charlie and just lighten up, everybody

 

031515Breakfastfn03

Charlie Baker, this one’s for you.

If you saw yesterday’s Herald, you read of the governor’s give-me-a-break response to knee-jerk critics who charged he should not have made lighthearted references to dysfunction at the T three days ago at the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in Southie.

“If you can’t poke fun at yourself,” he scoffed, “you’re not getting it.”

Too often the jokes on Beacon Hill are on us, which is what made Baker’s slapstick such a breath of fresh air.

 

As opposed, presumably, to all the hot air coming from the umbrage-industrial complex.

Let’s just hope Fitzgerald got the last word on this idiotic riff. We’re pretty sure the Heraldniks can come up with a different idiotic riff without too much trouble.


Boston Herald Gets Its Irish Up

March 17, 2015

The faulty (but still fáilte) local tabloid is giving the umbrage-industrial complex a bad name. For the second day in a row, the Boston Herald is mewling about the so-called jokes at this year’s St. Patrick’s Day breakfast.

Start with yesterday’s Herald:

Baker teams with T chief to yuk it up over rail fail

031515Breakfastfn01

Gov. Charlie Baker’s appearance alongside embattled MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott in a skit goofing on the transit system’s winter woes got a chilly reception from some who say it runs counter to Baker’s image as a reformer of the troubled authority.

“I think it would be prudent to try to avoid making a joke out of it,” said David Tuerck, executive director of the Beacon Hill Institute, who noted that the commuter rail is still operating on a reduced schedule.

“This was a mistake for him. It’s in bad taste. It’s not amusing to people who are still putting up with the inconvenience of a situation that’s gone on for weeks now, well beyond the period when we had a lot of snow.”

 

The piece included a different critique from one local solon: “[A]ll of these highly produced skits seem to be supplanting the genuineness of the event as it had been in years past,” state Sen. Robert Hedlund said. “It’s become more of an over-the-top production.”

As has the Herald’s rail fail crusade. Today’s front page, lower left:

 

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Story inside:

Baker defends jokes

‘If you can’t poke fun at yourself, you’re not getting it’

Gov. Charlie Baker is standing by his MBTA skit at South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast — and doubled down last night at another holiday dinner in Lowell, where he mocked the transit agency’s dysfunctional commuter rail line.

“It was an opportunity for all of us to sort of poke fun at ourselves, and let’s face it, we all know it’s been a long winter. The MBTA had some issues we worked pretty hard with them to fix,” Baker told the Herald last night. “If you can’t poke fun at yourself, you’re 031615bakerjb01not getting it.”

Baker drew some chuckles at the St. Patrick’s Day fete in Lowell, when he joked that during the height of the storms he would be told a number of commuter rail engines were ready to go the next day — only to see that number shrink the following morning.

“I was like, what are these things, teenagers? ‘I got up this morning, Dad looked at me kind of funny. I was out drinking last night. I’m sorry.’ … I wish I was kidding, but the simple truth is the main reason we had so much trouble with the commuter rail is because inside those big, brawny locomotives beats the heart of a 16-year-old,” Baker said.

 

Now that’s not funny.

The frosty local tabloid also got chilly about some gag props.

Newly minted Attorney General Maura Healey also drew some heat for holding up several fake subpoenas at the Sunday breakfast, and jokingly telling lawmakers in the crowd, “Some of you might be familiar with these. So laugh.”

Santa Clara University Law School professor Margalynne Armstrong found the joke inappropriate for the state’s top lawwoman.

“She needs to make sure she gives the office the respect it deserves. It’s important to not treat her power lightly,” Armstrong said. “The decent thing to do would be to apologize. And it should be a real apology.”

 

Really, where are they finding these folks?

Regardless, new motto for the Herald: Erin Go Blah!


Boston 2024: The Grift That Keeps on Giving

March 13, 2015

From our Five-Ring Monte desk

Nice his ‘n’ her columns in today’s local dailies about the latest hijinks from the high-rolling Boston 2024 machers.

Ladies first. The Boston Globe’s Shirley Leung gives the 2024niks a front-page dopeslap for “acting like a private club.”

The secrets boomerang on Games organizers

The Boston Olympic movement hit a new low this week, and even ringleader John Fish would have a hard time arguing with that.

That would explain all the mea culpas.

“There were some mistakes in communication,” acknowledged Fish, the chief executive of Suffolk Construction, in a lengthy phone interview.

 

The mistake, of course, was not communicating, but why get technical about it.

Crosstown at the Boston Herald, Howie Carrtoon’s column gives the Boston 2024 boyos a much harder time.

Let hack Games begin at St. Pat’s feed

Will Boston 2024 set up a booth at Halitosis Hall on Sunday morning so that all the hacks can fill out their applications for gainful unemployment at the next Big Dig?

The St. Patrick’s Day breakfast — what better place to recruit yet more indolent dolts and layabouts who need no-heavy-lifting jobs Nancy Kerrigan Devin Logan, who won the silver medal in slopestyle in Sochi this pat February(as opposed to work)?

Come Sunday, John Fish, the unelected pooh-bah of this fiasco, can personally greet the payroll charlies as they stumble into the BCEC.

If you “work” at the MBTA, boys, no need to fill out any of these intrusive forms. Your bona fides are in order. Have you lads been to visit your Uncle Whitey lately?

 

You can probably fill in the rest of the hacky local tabloid rant. Of course if you want some facts about the Boston 2024 payroll patriots, you’ll have to look elsewhere. The hardreading staff recommends Adam Vaccaro’s piece at Boston.com that compares local Olympic spending to previous bids by Chicago and New York. The numbers are very instructive. Not to get technical about it.


Why Does the BPD Hate the Boston Globe?

March 2, 2015

We have a split decision in our Local Dailies Advertising Sweepstakes today. This half-page ad appears in the Boston Herald but not the Globe.

 

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On the other hand, these two full-page ads appear in the Boston Globe but not the Herald.

 

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(The latter is about Anthem being hacked a month ago and forking over such data as Social Security numbers, dates of birth, income information, etc. The usual drill.)

On yet another hand, this quarter-page ad pops up on the Globe’s op-ed page.

 

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Readable version:

 

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So, not an even split decision. But at least the thirsty local tabloid got something this time around.