Game’s up for MassGOP? | New era for Boston development | Billions needed to replace Cape Cod bridges | What would Charles Sumner think? | About Contrarian Boston |
Will natural gas hookup bans make it through the Legislature?
Probably not. While the state Senate has become a dreamhouse for progressive legislation, the House has stepped up as a critical filter.
The Senate’s recently unveiled climate change bill would give a green light to 10 communities to ban new natural gas hookups, a group that includes Brookline, Concord, Lexington and Arlington.
The House has its own climate change bill, but it’s much more narrowly tailored and does not include the hookups ban.
The two sides have kicked off negotiations at the State House to hash out a potential compromise. However, letting a handful of suburbs start banning fossil fuels is likely a bridge too far for the more moderate House.
The bans could have a big and detrimental impact on restaurants and on the burgeoning life sciences sector, which has become Greater Boston’s leading economic driver.
The proposed bans also come atop a landmark climate change bill passed last year by Beacon Hill, which paved the way for cities, towns and suburbs to impose tougher stretch energy codes to ratchet down building emissions.
Developers and commercial and multifamily building owners are already grappling with these new standards, which communities should give time to work, instead moving straight to fossil fuel bans, says Anastasia Nicolaou, vice president of policy and public affairs at NAIOP Massachusetts, which represents the commercial real estate sector.
“These communities that are looking at gas hookup bans want to do it immediately, tomorrow if they could,” Nicolaou said. “That is just not possible – there are so many economic ramifications that haven’t been thought through.”
Through the roof: Cost of public work projects soars
These numbers are absolutely stunning.
It may now cost nearly $4 billion to replace the two, 1930s-era bridges that span the Cape Cod Canal.
That’s up from projections of $1.4 billion to $1.65 billion released back in 2019, according to State House News Service, via CommonWealth Magazine.
Similarly, it could now take $2 billion to replace the aging Massachusetts Turnpike viaduct near Boston University, up from $1.7 billion previously.
Boston’s first ever planning czar to make his debut
Monday will mark the first day on the job for Arthur Jemison. The city’s first chief of planning, Jemison is also taking the reins of the Boston Planning and Development Agency.
Jemison, who has an impressive background in city, state and federal government, has gotten off to a good start with the city’s real estate community, with developers having had a chance to meet – or in a number of cases get reacquainted – with Jemison at a meeting last month at the Parkman House.
The concern right now among the movers and shakers of the city’s real estate world isn’t with Jemison, but ultimately with what his boss, Mayor Michelle Wu, may have in mind for the BPDA.
Mixed signals are the order of the day right now, with Wu having stood by her vow to ‘abolish’ the agency, even, as we reported here, the BPDA is hiring up staff and asking the development community to spread the word about opportunities at the agency.
So, it’s nice to see you, Arthur Jemison. But are you coming or going?
The purpose of political parties is to win elections.
And the MassGOP failed miserably on that count Saturday when it nominated Trumpie Geoff Diehl as its favored standard bearer in this fall’s election for governor in deep blue Massachusetts.
Instead, the state party has become a proxy organization to advance the tyrannical whims and tantrums of Trump, who endorsed Diehl last fall in a jab at one of the many people on his political hit list, Gov. Charlie Baker.
We will never know truly why Baker, a Republican and one of the nation’s most popular governors, decided not to run again, but there’s a good chance he read the tea leaves and saw the potential for a humiliating defeat in the party’s primary.
Still, businessman Chris Doughty, a more moderate alternative to Diehl with a campaign focused on the high cost of living in Massachusetts, managed to get 29 percent of the vote from delegates at yesterday’s state party convention in Springfield.
Doughty’s showing ensured his name will be on the ballot when primary voters go to the polls on Sept. 6. The manufacturing firm owner now hopes to attract enough independents, who are allowed to vote in the Republican primary, to overcome Diehl’s advantage with the party’s hard core.
What would Charles Sumner, Ed Brooke, and Margaret Heckler make of today’s MassGOP?
A fiery abolitionist, Sen. Charles Sumner was one of the founding members of the Republican party in the 1850s. After delivering a fierce anti-slavery speech in the Senate, Sumner barely survived a brutal attack by a cane wielding congressman from South Carolina.
Sumner went on to play a key role during the Civil War and in its aftermath in the passage of the 13th and 14th amendments, which put the final nail in slavery’s coffin and granted citizenship to anyone born in the United States.
Sen. Ed Brooke was the first African American to win election to the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction. He helped write the 1968 Civil Rights Act, which banned housing discrimination.
U.S. Rep. Margaret Heckler in 1966 became the first woman to win election to Congress from Massachusetts without succeeding her husband. She later served under President Ronald Reagan as health and human services secretary.
All three were Massachusetts Republicans, and it’s a safe bet that none would have felt welcome in today’s MassGOP, which, mirroring the national party, has become a cauldron of grievance and irrationality.
We suspect Sumner would be particularly mystified as to how a party that led the Union to victory in the Civil War has today become the vessel for the reincarnation of the malignant spirit of old Dixie.
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What is Contrarian Boston?
I have fielded emails over the past couple weeks asking what Contrarian Boston is about.
Here’s a link to our mission statement – you can find it in the “about” section.
For a more prosaic, nuts-and-bolts description, read on.
An online newsletter, Contrarian Boston publishes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In Contrarian Boston you’ll find analysis of the day’s news, and original reporting as well.
Our focus is:
· Politics and all levels of governance, good and bad, with an emphasis on state and local, with some national mixed in;
· Economic growth and business, especially real estate, housing and new development projects;
· The media and why it does what it does;
· Education, from school board spats to the doings of multibillion-dollar university endowments;
· And whatever else catches our fancy.