The Boston Globe published what it called a “newsroom commentary” on Sunday that borrowed the theme of John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address. Instead of asking what Boston can do to convince Amazon to open its second headquarters here, the commentary laid out what Amazon can do for Boston. The headline for the whole package was “Dear Jeff.”
“You could chase bigger tax breaks and cheaper real estate in any number of cities,” said the four-page newsroom commentary, which in the print edition wrapped around the metro section. “But how about a true partnership that reimagines the relationship between a city and the big companies it hosts? If you choose Boston as your second home, help make our city better for those of us who already live here.”
The big asks focused on transportation, housing, and education. There were some “think big” ideas and then some recommendations for what Amazon could do immediately. For transportation, the think big idea was to expand rail service on two existing, unused lines and to build an underground rail link connecting South and North Stations. For housing, the commentary urged creation of an Amazon Town with offices, housing, and stores. On education, Amazon was asked to lead an effort to raise $1 billion over four years for education and training.
The shorter-term requests were more specific, urging Amazon to buy T passes for all of its 50,000 employees; to work with Gov. Charlie Baker on zoning changes that would permit more transit-oriented development and senior housing; and to rally around Madison Park Technical Vocational High School and Northeastern University’s co-op program.
There was also a page devoted to “5 wicked cool sites” for Amazon’s headquarters. The point was to kickstart discussion, but some of the ideas seemed to belong in fantasy land, especially the proposal for the state to give one of the harbor islands to Amazon for its headquarters.
Columnist Shirley Leung, still peeved that Boston didn’t pursue the 2024 Olympics, sees Amazon as the next, best opportunity to overhaul the city on a grand scale. “The dream of the Olympics was about having a deadline to get things done. Bidding for Amazon’s North American headquarters gives us the same sense of urgency,” she wrote.
It’s hard to know what to make of the Globe’s newsroom commentary. Were the ideas the newspaper’s editorial position, or just the positions of the eight employees who worked on it? Is hosting an Olympics or a second Amazon headquarters the only way to get things done in Massachusetts? Or is slow, incremental improvement over time the better approach?
Some of those who commented on the special section embraced its spirit, engaging in a discussion about what it would mean to land Amazon’s second headquarters. But others, like the commenter who went by the name ShankMan, were also appalled at the commentary’s naivete.
“Dumbest piece of writing that I’ve seen in the Globe in a while,” ShankMan wrote. “Tell Amazon about all the problems Greater Boston has and then ask Amazon to pay for solving them. Brilliant.”
The state names three finalists for the post of executive director of the new Cannabis Control Commission. (State House News Service)
Alex Beam finds “abhorrent” and “disgusting” the move by Gov. Charlie Baker to remove the state’s lone tribute to Confederate soldiers, a plaque on Georges Island to 13 Confederate prisoner who died there. (Boston Globe)
Surprisingly, some constitutional officers, state agencies and authorities don’t track their minority hiring. (CommonWealth)
The chairman of the Easton Board of Selectmen is resigning following a story by the Brockton Enterprise that revealed he owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid state and federal taxes and court judgments involving his tax accounting and payroll services business.
The state has deeded a four-acre parcel to the town of Truro that officials say will be used to build affordable housing. (Cape Cod Times)
US Rep. Joseph Kennedy said he’s not optimistic that a bipartisan resolution on health care can be achieved based on conversations he said he had with “influential” Republicans in Congress. (Keller@Large)
A handful of police departments around the country are experimenting with gun cameras that they say gives a better view than body cameras in officer-involved shootings. (Associated Press)
President Trump filed his latest campaign finance report, which suggests he is preparing to seek reelection. (Time)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren endorsed Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for reelection, drawing the ire of some black leaders. (Boston Herald)
The election bias suit in Lowell is headed to federal court. (Lowell Sun)
Is litigious Attorney General Maura Healey, who has a penchant for challenging President Trump in court, potentially eyeing a 2018 run for governor? (Boston Herald)
Amazon turns on the lobbying charm amid criticism from the left and the right. (New York Times)
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose kneeling protest during the national anthem last year ignited the current controversy, has filed a grievance against the NFL charging collusion among the owners has kept him from being signed by a team. (ESPN)
Police are investigating an incident at Framingham State University where a racial slur was found scrawled on a flyer posted on the door of the school’s Black Student Union office. It is the latest hate crime occurrence at the university, which has seen several race-based incidents in recent years (MetroWest Daily News)
Ramon Torrecilha, the president of Westfield State University, said his campus is confronting racial intolerance head-on. (CommonWealth)
There is growing support for recess in schools, including legislation on Beacon Hill that would mandate at least 20 minutes of free play in all elementary schools. (Boston Globe)
Tufts University promotes the African American Freedom Trail project. (WBUR)
Senior managers at the MBTA and state Department of Transportation say favoritism and moves to placate unions are thwarting efforts to keep and promote top employees, according to an internal survey obtained by the Boston Herald.
Citing uncertainty created by a Trump initiative to provide financial support to coal and nuclear power plants, the operator of New England’s power grid puts off releasing a fuel security study for the region. (CommonWealth)
John DeVillars said it’s time to put the pedal to the medal with electric vehicles. (CommonWealth)
Jamie Eldridge and Emily Norton said Massachusetts citizens are pointing the way on climate change. (CommonWealth)
With the use of drones to collect samples, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute believe they have identified microorganisms in humpback whales’ “blows” that can measure their health as well as monitor ocean conditions. (Cape Cod Times)
Attorney and victims’ advocate Wendy Murphy writes that the criminal justice reform bill on Beacon Hill contains a provision — dubbed the “Romeo and Juliet” law — that is revolting because it would allow a girl as young as 10 to consent to sex and “unnatural acts.” (Patriot Ledger)
An internal report commissioned by the Trial Court found that resentful employees, possibly motivated by racism, worked to undermine Felix D. Arroyo when he took over as Suffolk County Register of Probate in 2015, but the report said he was also ineffective at managing the situation. (Boston Globe)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a staunch opponent of statutory gay and transgender rights, has sent one of his office’s experienced hate crimes lawyer to Iowa to assist in the prosecution of a man accused of murdering a transgender teen. (New York Times)
Investigators in Georgia have arrested and charged five white people, including two law enforcement officials, in the “heinous” 1983 murder of a black man in a case that had gone cold for decades. (New York Times)
A power of attorney signed by Lizzie Borden putting her sister in charge of her estate the day after she was arrested for whacking her father and stepmother to pieces is going on the auction block later this week. (Herald News)
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo wishes the Providence Journal, her state’s leading newspaper, had resources to more thoroughly cover state government, an unusual lament, says Globe columnist Tom Farragher, from an elected official.
The New York Times releases social media guidelines for its staff that essentially require reporters not to say anything on social media that they wouldn’t say in the newspaper. (Nieman Journalism Lab)
The Globe has hired a former executive who oversaw printing for the Gannett newspaper chain to take over its troubled printing facility in Taunton. (Media Nation)