EVEN BEFORE TWITTER changed hands to its current owner, who insists on calling it by another name, the social networking site was in a state of decline. What used to be a real-time news ticker is overrun with anger and misinformation.
But some feeds are still worth following, and that’s the case with @GlobeFPhillips, operated by the Boston’s Globe’s former State House bureau chief, Frank Phillips.
Phillips has had a Twitter account since 2011, but started using it more frequently after retiring from the Globe in 2018.
He started his career at the Lowell Sun, and recalls the days of typewriters, carbon paper, and screaming newsrooms. He joined the Globe in 1987, coming from the Herald, then owned by Rupert Murdoch. The now-defunct Boston Phoenix approvingly referred to him as a “State House scourge” for his dogged reporting and scoops.
In retirement, Phillips is still getting scoops as old sources and friends pick up the phone – “Hey, here’s a good tweet for you” – and he heads to his desktop computer at home.
Republican party politics is one of his fortes. “They’re a disaster, always, and they’re a lot of fun,” Phillips said.
Phillips drew clicks to his Twitter feed in November 2021 when he published a post saying Gov. Charlie Baker was going to decide whether to run for a third term. Citing a GOP official, Phillips added that rumors indicated he would not, and if so, then-Attorney General Maura Healey would jump in, per Democrats.
On his feed, Phillips also occasionally promotes the Worcester Red Sox. (His stepson, Joe Bradlee, is a vice president with the Triple A baseball organization’s front office.)
Asked what he likes about using the site, Phillips pointed to the built-in character limit that forces users to keep posts short. “You write the lead and you don’t have to write the rest of the story,” Phillips quipped.
Business-backed super PAC starts up in Worcester
Worcester business leaders are pouring money into a super PAC ahead of Worcester’s municipal election, which was recently referred to by GBH as “unusually competitive.”
The super PAC, “Progress Worcester,” is backing Joe Petty, the incumbent mayor, as well as a slate of at-large and district candidates. Worcester’s economy and population are trending upward, the super PAC’s supporters say, and they want stability and elected leaders focused on creating jobs and building more housing. (More housing means more foot traffic, which is something that the super PAC’s chairman, a restaurant owner, wants to see.)
Petty is running for mayor against four others: Donna Colorio, the City Council’s vice chair; former educator William Coleman; Guillermo Creamer Jr., a former local human rights commission chair; and City Councilor Khrystian King.
The outside group, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money but cannot coordinate with the candidates it supports, raised $46,975, a spokesman said ahead of a campaign finance filing. The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, led by former lieutenant governor Tim Murray, donated $10,000. Other donors include the Worcester Business Development Corporation, and affordable housing operator Winn Companies. The group, first formed in July, is chaired by restaurant owner Emmanuel Larbi.
The super PAC’s spokesman, Greg Maynard, said the group’s advertising, on social media and on streaming, is expected to stay positive as the November 7 election approaches.
Meet the new pod, same as the old pod
One of the mysteries around the surprise release-then-removal of the MBTA’s “Spilling the T” podcast has something of an answer. Did the inaugural episode with General Manager Phil Eng get yanked to change something about its content? If so, they didn’t end up changing it after all.
The 28-minute episode, released this week, is identical to the version uploaded in early October and cached by StreetsblogMass. Eng says he understands rider frustration and the MBTA is hard at work on bringing the system up to a state of good repair, and communicating with riders is key to maintaining trust with “a lot of issues across the system due to years and years of disinvestment.”
“We have to do better at the messaging, and that’s both for planned work and messaging for unplanned occurrences,” he said on the podcast. “Because in both cases, if people don’t have information, that’s where the frustration comes in. That’s where the lack of trust, lack of confidence in us [comes in]. And the only way to rebuild that is to just continue to work and focus on improved communication transparency in what we do. And that’s a key priority of ours right now.”
But now there’s another ironic twist to Eng’s optimistic pledges of transparency, with news that the brand new Green Line extension’s state of disrepair is serious enough that 50 percent of the rail ties on the 1-mile Somerville branch and 80 percent of the ties on the 3.4-mile Medford-Tufts branch now need to be fixed. Eng and Gov. Maura Healey says these issues were known by officials under the Baker administration, but they neither addressed the problems nor communicated them to the Healey administration.
With that in the background, dozens of replies to the podcast announcement on the social media platform X – formerly Twitter – mostly snarked about T officials spending time on a podcast while the system flounders. The few early reviews on the podcast page sum up classic T rider split-brain. “This is good info about new leadership,” one reviewer wrote in the podcast app. “The only thing worse than the MBTA is listening to this garbage while riding the MBTA,” another reviewer griped.