Long ago, Beacon Hill insiders used to call then-Rep. William Galvin the Prince of Darkness because of his penchant for intrigue and political machinations. But now Galvin is coming to be known as the Lord of Light, the guy championing sunshine, not shadows, on Boston Common.
As secretary of state and the overseer of the Massachusetts Historical Commission, Galvin is urging lawmakers to put off action on legislation that would allow a politically connected developer to bypass a state law and build a new tower on the site of the Winthrop Square Garage that would cast shadows on the Boston Common and Public Garden.
Galvin is calling for a complete study of the building’s shadow impact on the two parks as well as the area’s historic buildings, including the State House. The 775-foot tower could do “great damage to historic buildings,” he said. “You can’t propose to do this without a complete study, but that’s what they’re talking about,” he told the Globe’s Tim Logan. “I don’t understand the rush.”
The rush is all about money. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh wants the law changed so Millennium Partners can build its tower and the city can get the $153 million due to come its way once construction begins. Walsh has already pledged the money for a number of initiatives, including $5 million as part of a state-city-business deal to bankroll the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy.
Brian Golden, the head of the Boston Planning and Development Agency, is insisting that the complete study Galvin wants can’t be done until the bill passes and the project can legally move forward to an environmental review.
“We are disappointed that [Galvin’s] office is convoluting the process that will give the City of Boston an opportunity to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into our neighborhoods to improve our parks and public housing,” Golden said in a statement.
Convoluting the process? Some have argued that Walsh convoluted the process by approving construction of a new tower and parceling out the millions of dollars that will come with it without first having the shadow debate. Many observers, including the Boston Globe editorial page and a legion of the paper’s columnists, say take the money and accept the shadows.
But a New York Times story this week suggests there is another side to the story. “The concern is not merely about glimpsing the sky in an increasingly vertical downtown or about the risks of darkness to plants, historic buildings, and even humans. It is also about whether the city is going down a road of no return by trading away, one piece at a time, its intangible assets, like sunlight on its signature parks and public access to its gleaming waterfront.”
As lawmakers begin considering criminal justice legislation, Sen. William Brownsberger of Belmont has organized a full-day informational session for senators on the subject to develop a “common understanding of some of the key facts and issues.” (CommonWealth)
Lawmakers passed, and Gov. Charlie Baker quickly signed, a measure providing retroactive funding of $26.1 million for lawyers who represent indigent clients. The attorneys had gone without pay for their work for at least five weeks. (Boston Globe)
The sponsors of the recreational marijuana legalization initiative say they would be fine if lawmakers fail to reach an accord and the ballot law takes effect. (State House News)
State Auditor Suzanne Bump says a MassHealth provider billed the state $1.8 million for duplicative services over a five-year period. MassHealth officials say the company was paid properly. (MassLive)
Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr tears into Baker (aka Tall Deval) for even thinking about signing the Safe Communities Act dealing with immigration enforcement. Baker reaffirms his opposition to the legislation. (Boston Herald)
Lowell Mayor Edward Kennedy signs a letter seeking state support for building a new high school at Cawley Stadium, putting to rest rumors that he was refusing to sign because of his opposition to the site. (Lowell Sun)
In a melancholy show of no confidence in local leaders, a Herald News editorial laments the dysfunctional squabbling between Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correira and the Fall River Office of Economic Development that makes any thought of trying to lure the Pawtucket Red Sox to the Spindle City a non-starter.
Despite spending cuts and parking fee increases, Holyoke’s budget is still out of whack. (MassLive)
Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan plans to meet tomorrow with representatives of the Motel 6 parent company to discuss the chain’s problem-plagued outlet in town, which has been the site of shootings, sexual assaults, and drug deals. (Patriot Ledger)
“If it’s what you say I love it,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote in an email in response to the offer of incriminating information against Hillary Clinton that was part of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” (New York Times) The Globe’s Matt Viser writes that the emails show that the Trump campaign lied by “repeatedly, publicly, and emphatically denying any Russian involvement or backing of the Trump campaign.” A New York Post editorial says what Trump Jr. did wasn’t criminal, it was criminally stupid. US Rep. Seth Moulton suggests Junior’s action are “treasonous.” (NECN)
An ever-growing wave of unenrolled voters is taking over the Massachusetts primary process, say Steve Koczela and Hannah Chanatry of the MassINC Polling Group. (CommonWealth)
Conservative Republican State Rep. Geoff Diehl says he will challenge US Sen. Elizabeth Warren next year. (WRKO)
Globe columnist Nestor Ramos takes stock of the cyclical nature of the business world, with the Sears store in Dedham poised to close as Amazon gobbles up more and more of the retail sales market.
Nurses at Tufts Medical Center went on strike at 7 a.m. this morning, the first strike by nurses at a major Boston hospital in 31 years. (Boston Globe)
A cancer researcher from Iran who had planned to start work at Boston Children’s Hospital is sent back home after landing at Logan Airport. The researcher, Dr. Sayed Mohsen Dehnavi, had a proper visa for him and his family but authorities say he was returned to Iran because of something that came up during an inspection. (WBUR)
Mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus are found in Fairhaven. (Standard-Times)
Who knew? A 100-foot long pedestrian tunnel was built under Summer Street in Boston more than a decade ago to connect the state convention center with a future hotel that now may actually get built. (Boston Globe)
Mayoral challenger Tito Jackson slammed Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for convening a summit last week to discuss gun violence in the midst of the summer, when gun violence often increases, rather than ahead of it. (Boston Herald)