ICYMI: Hillary's excellent climate video

Well how about this:

This is a very good, simple, canny and aggressive framing of the issue. I remain shocked that more climate people and even the President seem reluctant to take the polemical offensive, rather than simply the science from bad-faith attack. That’s a waste of time. The best defense is a good offense.

As for the substance … your’re not going to save the world with solar panels, although you’re also not going to save it without solar panels. if you’re not putting a price on carbon — and there are a lot of ways to skin that cat — we’re facing an unmanageable catastrophe. She’s been supportive of Obama’s efforts on energy, and I’m not as exercised about her remarks on Keystone XL as some might be. She probably knows a lot more about the administration’s plans than she lets on — or can let on.

James Hansen is particularly dismissive of her strategy, and he’s been right about a lot of things for a long time.

“It’s just plain silly,” said James Hansen, a climate change researcher who headed Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies for over 30 years. “No, you cannot solve the problem without a fundamental change, and that means you have to make the price of fossil fuels honest. Subsidizing solar panels is not going to solve the problem.”

Last Thursday, Hansen, along with 16 prominent climate change scientists, published a discussion paper in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, where it will be publicly peer-reviewed. The paper suggests that previous models for climate change are too conservative and that a sea level rise of several meters might swallow up our coasts in this century, if governments fail to rapidly and substantially diminish fossil fuel emissions. “The economic and social cost of losing functionality of all coastal cities is practically incalculable,” the authors wrote.

Hm … subsidies are politically easier than tax increases. Is subsidizing renewables substantially comparable to pricing carbon? Doubtless there’s academic work on that question. (More homework for me.)

Anyway, so far we’ve still only got one candidate with a chance of winning, and she gets points for style on this one.

The Clinton Campaign Illustrates the Media's Crisis

Is this "The Media's" problem? Or just the NYT with a bad habit of churning out overcooked innuendo against the Clintons for 23 years now? If you're paying for the NYT -- or for any premium/paywall media outlet these days, including the Globe -- you are paying precisely for editorial judgment. That's their brand. Their reputation is worth money. It should be guarded closely. And if they don't recognize there's a problem, well ... - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

There is no arguing with the pretenders to a divine knowledge and to a divine mission. They are possessed with the sin of pride, they have yielded to the perennial temptation.

–Walter Lippman

Mainstream journalism is in crisis. The old revenue model of selling advertising in printed papers doesn’t work well in the digital age. Television and internet news sources have sped up the news cycle to the point that the morning paper is 24 hours too late. The demand for scoops is greater. With this increased competition is a loss of a near monopoly on information.

Once upon a time, a lot of information just didn’t exist. If it wasn’t in the newspapers, it wasn’t known by the broader public. Journalist Walter Lippmann made this argument in the first chapter of Public Opinion (1922). Until the advent of cable news and the 24-hour news cycle, newspapers decided what qualified as news. Since the advent of the internet as a news medium, newspapers are often playing catch up. And catching up isn’t easy.

Just ask the New York Times. Trying really, really hard to find a scandal in Hillary Clinton’s emails from when she was Secretary of State, the Times ended up screwing the pooch. Media Matters has the best run down of events, but Poynter has also picked it up. Yesterday, the Clinton Campaign released its formal complaint to the Times executive editor. Here’s Media Matters:

The New York Times uncorked perhaps the biggest newsroom blunder of the 2016 campaign season, when Michael Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo erroneously reported that two inspectors general were seeking a criminal probe of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account while serving as secretary of state. The Times’ would-be blockbuster landed online on July 23 and on the front page of the print edition July 24.

But even before many readers picked up the paper on Friday morning, the story had begun to unravel. By Friday afternoon, the Times’ exclusive had suddenly morphed into a humiliation for the Times itself. The paper was widely ridiculed for getting the referral story wrong, and then for awkwardly trying to limit the damage via stealthy online edits.

Almost four days after its initial publication, Times public editor Margaret Sullivan weighed in on the “mess” this morning, suggesting that the paper should have waited to publish until it had developed the story more extensively: “Losing the story to another news outlet would have been a far, far better outcome than publishing an unfair story and damaging The Times’s reputation for accuracy.”

Meanwhile, executive editor Dean Baquet pinned much of the blame for the debacle on the Times’ sources — rather than the reporters and editors involved — suggesting that this might not be the last mistake of this nature we see from the paper: ”You had the government confirming that it was a criminal referral … I’m not sure what they could have done differently on that.”

As journalistic screwup’s go, this is major. The most respected newspaper in the world falsely reports the beginnings of a criminal investigation into a presidential candidate. Why?

The dynamics of the media crisis are playing out in the Clinton Campaign. The New York Times hasn’t kept up with the times. It’s no longer the 90s. No on cares what Cokie Roberts thinks. Conservative propaganda is a limited source for news stories. The people running the Times and Post–as intelligent as they may be–came of age during the years of Bill Clinton’s presidency, and they’re are trying to turn the past into the present. I don’t think it’s going to fly. Remember earlier this year when the press was all upset because Clinton would answer their questions? The Washington Post does. Ol’ Tiger Beat on the Potomac created a clock to count the minutes Clinton hasn’t responded to questions from the media. The count is now up to 61,367 minutes. That’s 42 days for you non-cardstackers. Their nose may be out of joint, but besides the mainstream press, who cares? They can’t even get their stories straight.

Governor's MBTA panel provided virtually no support for its recommendation to restrict the Pacheco Law

More thought-provoking work from Dave. - promoted by david

(Cross-posted from The COFAR Blog)

The Governor’s Special Panel to Review the MBTA earlier this year made some reasonable proposals to better manage the MBTA.  But the Panel report’s recommendation to remove the MBTA from the Pacheco Law’s jurisdiction appears to us to have been a misstep; and the report spent less than a sentence in explaining the rationale for its recommendation.

Based in part on the Panel’s recommendation, the Legislature suspended the Pacheco Law’s provisions for three years with regard to the MBTA, thereby removing an important means of ensuring long-term cost-effectiveness in privatizing services at the T.

The Pacheco Law’s stated intent is “to ensure that citizens of the commonwealth receive high quality services at low cost.” The Special Panel’s report asserted, however, that “the MBTA is inhibited by the Pacheco Law from procuring private, cost-effective services…”

That latter statement, which appears to constitute the sum total of the Panel’s discussion of the Pacheco Law, appears to be at odds with the stated purpose of the statute. There is no additional comment in the report about the impact of the law — not even an explanation of what the law does.

Moreover, as discussed below, the Special Panel did not appear to have consulted with state agencies that oversee procurement of supplies and services in Massachusetts, in preparing its report.  Possibly as a result, the Special Panel’s report also appears to be incorrect in stating (in that same sentence) that the MBTA is “strictly limited by state law in its use of many procurement processes (e.g., CM at-Risk and Design/Build).”  More about that below as well.

The Special Panel has previously run into criticism from CommonWealth magazine for flawed methodology on which it based a separate finding concerning employee absenteeism at the MBTA.

What the Pacheco Law actually requires

The Failed Olympics Bid: The Boston Business Journal Polls the PR Pros

Well, to be honest, there are those outside Boston who would prefer that we *don't* mind the p's and q's, and ask pertinent questions, and ask for full and consistent accounting and transparency. But maybe we don't want to do business with them. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

All you Olympics fans can stop the self-pity now.  The BBJ asked the PR experts. Below are a sample of their responses:

And what they had to say about it all should help ease the fear of those here who might feel that the city’s overall brand was irreparably damaged after the USOC abruptly pulled the city’s bid to host the 2024 Olympics.

“The impact will be minimal, I believe,” said Jim Farrell, president of PR First. “Although the Olympics might have brought excitement and revenue to the region, we should not fault our officials for insisting on due diligence before signing on the dotted line.”

“We are Boston Strong. Agree or not with the outcome, that is the Boston the world knows,” Solomon McCown & Co. CEO Helene Solomon said.

An ancillary point made, with which I agree, is that Mayor Walsh came out of this smelling like a rose. The IOC and USOC, by pulling the bid made excellent scapegoats.

Here's what a real infrastructure vision looks like

"Slow, dated, universally derided" ... there's your Green Line right there. Not an actual mode of transportation, any more than a soap box racer or a saucer-cup ride at the carnival. A joke. Needs a vision, a plan, and the will and money to get it done. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

In the wake of the USOC pulling out of the Boston 2024 Olympic bid, we are already seeing a narrative form that Boston likes things small, is too provincial to think globally, and is scared of wide scale city changing projects. I would argue against this, the Olympics was the wrong project at the wrong place at the wrong time. But there are other places we can look to for inspiration when it comes to fixing our infrastructure.

New York is showing us what real leadership on infrastructure looks like. It has taken what has been an eyesore that has become a national punchline and committed itself to completely transforming that out of date airport into a 21st century transportation hub. Fully linked to mass transit including new rail lines, bus terminals, and a direct ferry service to Manhattan.

Travelers would also have better options to get to La Guardia; Mr. Cuomo said the plan called for a rail link between the airport and a subway station in the Willets Point section of Queens, as well as re-establishing ferry service to the airport.

It would also significantly decrease delays, like the O’Hare expansion has in Chicago, by reconfiguring the flight paths themselves.

The plan went beyond aesthetics: The airport buildings would be moved south, closer to the parkway. The move would allow the creation of roughly two miles of new taxiways that officials said would help alleviate the airport’s chronic delays.

And despite the $4 billion pricetag, there is universal political consensus behind the project

There seemed to be even more unanimity about the need for a better La Guardia, which the governor characterized as “un-New York” because it is “slow, dated” and “almost universally derided.”

‘slow, dated, universally derided’ sounds like something closer to Boston

The project will create 8,000 construction jobs and several hundred permanent ones, and alongside the Tappan Zee bridge, shows a state government willing to commit money to public infrastructure projects. Boston and the surrounding region have many, many, unmet infrastructure needs. Instead of relying on the dying casino industry or the now faded pipedream of a Boston olympics, maybe we can make the smart bet on committing to fix the problems actually in front of our faces.

The death of Boston 2024: Shirley Leung gets it right, and wrong

There’s an enormous amount of commentary regarding the decision to withdraw Boston’s bid to host the 2024 Olympics.  I’ll leave it to you, diligent reader, to dig out your favorite bits and post them here as the day wears on.

I’m going to focus on the column by the Globe’s Shirley Leung, perhaps the media’s most stalwart advocate of bringing the Olympics here.  She gets a couple of things exactly right, but then draws the wrong conclusion.

In a long-ago era, a cabal of businessmen worked with mayors behind the scenes to impose their vision on the city. It was known as the Vault, and it seemed that former Boston 2024 chairman John Fish and the United States Olympic Committee unwittingly followed their playbook.

This is correct, except that I’d question the use of the word “unwittingly.”  Rather, I think that this is precisely how Boston 2024 was planning to operate.  It apparently never occurred to the Pooh-Bahs who appointed themselves the masters of Boston’s future that things don’t work that way anymore, and that the people of Boston might actually have something to say about it.  It also never occurred to them that the drastically changed media landscape since the era of the Vault would make it much more difficult to “impose their vision.”  Back in the day, if you could get the Globe and maybe Chet Curtis and Natalie Jacobson on your side, you were in pretty good shape.  Things don’t work that way nowadays.  As Leung disparagingly puts it, “thanks to Twitter and Facebook, everyone has a platform to blast their opinion to the world.”  Leung seems to think that only she and others employed by the (no longer so) mighty Globe should have such a platform; fortunately, technology has rendered that view obsolete.

I’m with the legendary Globe sports columnist Bob Ryan on this one. He’s been to 11 Olympics. He loves them, and thinks Boston could have pulled one off — but needed stronger leadership from the start.

This, too, is correct.  Boston 2024′s leadership, in part for the reasons outlined above, was a disaster.  They had no idea how to sell their idea to the public; they thought they could get away with obfuscation and half-truths (at best) in an era of public records laws and social media; it never occurred to them that people wouldn’t wholeheartedly buy into every idea they proposed, so when people didn’t (case in point: beach volleyball on the Boston Common), they kept getting caught flat-footed and scrambling for an alternative.  In short, they didn’t know what they were doing.  Not the people you want shepherding an effort that would have consumed much of the city’s energies for the next 10 years.

I regret that Mayor Walsh didn’t get a few more weeks to get comfortable with the insurance. I regret that Governor Charlie Baker didn’t get those weeks to digest his independent report. I regret that the USOC didn’t level with us about its desire to look elsewhere the entire time.

Right again, especially the last point.  The USOC repeatedly proclaimed that Boston was their city, and they weren’t looking anywhere else.  But, of course, we now know that that was false.  And how ridiculous of the USOC to insist that Governor Baker countermand his own decision to commission a feasibility study on the financials of hosting the games, and instead go all-in before he had the facts.  It’s so typical of the Olympics establishment to expect elected officials to kowtow to their demands.  Kudos to Governor Baker for not doing so. And kudos too to Mayor Walsh, who, despite his enthusiasm for hosting the Olympics, was reluctant to commit to the onerous host city agreement (placing the city on the hook for cost overruns) until the insurance question was resolved satisfactorily.

Indeed, one of the major lessons seems to me that the USOC (and probably the IOC as well, though we never got to that point) really are just as awful as everyone has always assumed.  I said months ago that we ought to be thinking really, really hard about whether we want to be in bed with these people for the next 10 years.  I’d say the events of the last several days have shown that those who were skeptical about whether dealing with the IOC/USOC crowd was a good idea were right.

We still put up a fierce fight when someone tries something novel. Given the chance to think big about our future, we tied ourselves up in the minutiae of tax breaks and traffic studies. Accusations quickly replaced ambitions.

And this is where Leung is wrong.  Boston 2024 wasn’t a “chance to think big about our future.”  It was a chance to think about hosting a very big three-week sporting event.  Thinking big about our future goes far beyond the Olympics.  It is the job of the Mayor, the Governor, other elected officials, and the people of the city, and it of course will continue.  And to disparage the “minutiae of tax breaks and traffic studies” is exactly backward, and quite unfair.  Boston 2024 of course should have been on top of those kinds of details from the get-go – that they weren’t was one of their major failures.  The devil is always in the details in large projects like this one, and Boston 2024′s inexplicable decision to leave those details to others predictably led to the details not playing out very well for them.  But Boston 2024 has nobody to blame for that but themselves.

More broadly, of course, Boston has always been a glorious mix of tradition and innovation.  Nobody in Boston ever gets to try anything new?  Tell that to the doctors and scientists working in the gleaming new buildings in Boston’s medical areas, or to the tech entrepreneurs who have transformed Kendall Square (in Cambridge, but close enough).

A much more persuasive overall take is over at Boston Magazine from Kyle Clauss, who first hilariously lampoons Leung and other disappointed pro-Olympics folk:

In the coming days, attempts will be made—likely out of Morrissey Boulevard—to further shame Bostonians for their intransigence. While world-class cities like Paris and Rome continue their courtship with the International Olympic Committee, we obstinate bumpkins in Boston will be on the sidelines because we couldn’t pry open our small, blizzard-wracked minds to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

And who then offers some much-needed perspective:

The USOC pulling Boston 2024 isn’t an “L” on our foreheads; it’s a badge of honor. The people of Boston, armed only with shoestring budgets and broken public records laws, stood up to the IOC, an organization as contemptible and endlessly wealthy as FIFA, and said: “Slow your roll. We’re doing things our way.” This David-and-Goliath dynamic lends well to an already trite Revolutionary War narrative, but better to one evoking any failed invasion of Russia. But in addition to the crippling cold, Boston’s best defense was its native skepticism….

The question now is this: will all the titans of industry who banded together, rallied behind the knockoff Chase Bank logo, and promised transformative change in our region stay true to their commitment to the public good without the prospect of beach volleyball on a marsh in Quincy? With the bid dead, how many will care about your morning commute a year from now?

Now that is a great question.  How committed are you, John Fish, Steve Pagliuca, et al., to Boston’s future?

Let's not cloud the issue with facts

A fair point. - promoted by david

From today’s Globe

Supporters were never able to ignite much visible passion for the Games, and the public debate descended into a joyless cost-benefit analysis of financial risks and rewards, which seemed to inspire only dissenters. [emphasis added]

Sorry we did the math.

Breaking: Boston mayor says he ‘cannot commit’ to Olympic bid

This is almost certainly game over. And it's just as well. In some respects, the Olympics was a nice idea. But the people organizing the bid had no idea what they were doing, which meant it was never going to happen the right way. - promoted by david

From the Globe:

Mayor Martin J. Walsh Monday vowed not to mortgage the city’s future in order to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to Boston and said he is willing to let US Olympics organizers choose another city to serve as its host.

Walsh said at a hastily called City Hall press conference that the US Olympic Committee is pushing him to sign a host city contract soon. But he said he will not sign any such contract until he knows more about the financial picture of the proposed games.

“I cannot commit to putting the taxpayers at risk,’’ said Walsh. He said if signing the contract is required by USOC, then “Boston is no longer pursing to host the 2024 Summer Games.”

USOC members are set to discuss Boston’s status at a board meeting Monday. Walsh thanked bid organizers for the hard work they’ve put in so far, and said, “we’ll see what happens” going forward.

Walsh said he will not yield to pressure from the USOC to put taxpayers on the hook to guarantee the 2024 Olympic Games take place in Boston.

“I refuse to mortgage the future of the city away,’’ he said. “This is a commitment that I can’t make without ensuring the city and its residents will be protected. … I think it’s unfortunate that it’s come to this point.”

How About a Sales Tax Holiday Holiday This Year?

Do people buy things they otherwise wouldn't on a sales tax holiday? Or do they just buy the same stuff on a different day? - promoted by david

Looks like the Legislature will soon be taking up veto overrides and (sigh) a bill providing for another sales tax holiday weekend next month. In honor of Judy Meredith and Kelly Turley, who are advocating for an override of $5 million in funds for our state’s homeless residents (one-quarter of what a sales tax holiday will cost), here’s a post from 2013 on the holiday’s increasingly dubious policy wisdom. In the two years since this post was written, the state has held two more sales tax holidays, with net losses in tax revenue of $22 million (2013) and $21 million (2014). We’re well on our way to giving up $200 million since the first holiday 11 years ago.

Summer is at its peak. The tomatoes are ripening, tassels are appearing on the corn, and our Legislature, once again, is entertaining the idea of a “Sales Tax Holiday.” For eight of the nine past summers, the Legislature has chosen one weekend in August to suspend the state sales tax, declaring the event a once-a-year respite for the hardworking taxpayer. That hardworking taxpayer, whose car needs four new tires because of the deplorable condition of our roads, will get to pocket about $20, and our roads will remain deplorable.

The prize for stupidest idea in public education goes to...

Read Edushyster's post at the link - it's fascinating. - promoted by david

…Lawrence, where they have taken standardization to a whole new level.  Now it appears that some teachers are being directed by coaches talking in their ear about what exactly to say, what tone of voice to use, and even how to stand.  Even the kids aren’t buying it and are begging the teachers to ignore these voices.  Memo to self – don’t apply to teach in Lawrence.

(Technical note:  Yesterday and today BMG has been very slow to load on two different browsers, even timing out in some cases.  It also took me a couple of tries to write this post.) [Hopefully, this problem has been fixed. -ed.]

Technical difficulties [updated]

BMG is loading very slowly, if at all, as you have probably noticed.  We’re trying to get to the bottom of it.  We apologize for the inconvenience, and we appreciate your patience.

UPDATE: I’m now finding that the site is loading more normally.  Please post any continuing problems in the comments, if you’re able, or let us know via email (blue at bluemassgroup dot com) if comments aren’t working for you.

An ultimatum? Really, USOC?


A person familiar with the bid says the U.S. Olympic Committee has given Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker until the end of the day Friday to declare whether he supports the movement to bring the 2024 Olympics to Boston.

If true (and Baker’s office appears to be denying it), this is perhaps the most boneheaded move yet by the folks interested in having an Olympics in Boston – and that’s saying quite something.  Baker, after all, has already commissioned an outside consultant (to the tune of something like $250,000) to do a detailed evaluation of the feasibility of a Boston Olympics.  And the USOC knows this.  Yet, they expect him to preempt his own consultant and jump on the bandwagon by this afternoon?  Absurd.  And if he doesn’t, then what?  How does the USOC hold any cards in this situation?

Baker, if he has any sense, will politely ignore this nonsense from the USOC, and will await his consultant’s report, just like he said he was going to do.  And if the USOC wants to fold their tent, well, that’s their call.  At this point, maybe they’d be doing us all a favor.