There’s enough out there today about the Democrats’ ongoing circular firing squad, the Globe’s flip-flop on Elizabeth Warren, and the coronavirus that might be coming for us all. Let’s turn instead to a very tangible, easy to digest question: Will we or won’t we be able to grab a taco in downtown Boston at 1 a.m.?
That’s the issue Shirley Leung tees up in today’s Globe, writing about the effort by El Jefe’s Taqueria restaurant owner John Schall to stay open until 2 a.m. at the new location he’s opening at the corner of Boylston and Tremont streets.
On the surface, it looks like a small-bore story of licensing boards and food sales permits. The outcome, however, will say a lot about the city Oliver Wendell Holmes immodestly dubbed the “Hub of the Universe,” but which more often acts like a cow town that turns out the lights when the sun goes down.
Schall figured his 2 a.m. license application would be seen as a great addition to the neighborhood. The taco shop is set to open on the ground floor of a dormitory building owned by Emerson College with some 1,000 students living on the floors above. It would almost be “a kitchen in their house,” Schall tells Leung.
To the local neighborhood association, however, late-night tacos are evidently something closer to the end of the world.
The Midtown Park Plaza Neighborhood Association is opposing the 2 a.m. license. They want the shop to close by midnight. The association successfully beat back an earlier effort by Tasty Burger to stay open until 2 a.m. at its nearby Winter Street locations.
Both Tasty Burger and El Jefe’s Taqueria have Harvard Square outlets that stay open to 4 a.m. without calamity having descended on that corner of Cambridge. But in Boston, whose leaders always seem to be trying a little too hard when they talk about their rivalry with New York City or the city’s emergence as a global player in the knowledge economy, the modern-day Puritan movement may win out at today’s Boston licensing hearing.
Emerson College allowed for a 2 a.m. closing in its lease with Schall, but the school is now siding with the neighborhood association. “We want to do what the neighborhood wants to do,” an Emerson VP tells Leung. But isn’t the college also part of the neighborhood? The school probably figured it has much bigger fish to fry as it builds out its downtown campus and so it won’t alienate abutters over a taco or two.
No late-night taco license decision on its own determines a city’s future. But all these decisions added together say a lot about what kind of city Boston wants to be.
Mayor Marty Walsh has talked up the idea of making the city a more vibrant place for young people. “It can’t be this hard to serve burgers and tacos past midnight in downtown Boston,” writes Leung. “If we want a late-night city, we need to invest in it. Saying no so often kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”
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Gov. Charlie Baker’s $18 billion transportation bond bill is on the move. (State House News Service) Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack pushed for the bill at a hearing this week. (Eagle-Tribune)
A bill up for a vote before the state Senate this week would make it easier for homeless people to get state-issued identification. (MassLive) The Senate is also taking up a bill that would let cities and towns install cameras to catch traffic violations. (Eagle-Tribune)
Springfield officials agree to ban the use of facial recognition technology. (MassLive)
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh could be called to testify in a suit filed by a former city worker who charges that his administration retaliated against her after she said she was sexually harassed by Walsh’s one-time human services chief Felix G. Arroyo. (Boston Globe)
Salem gets $1 million in state grants for harbor projects. (The Salem News)
Gov. Charlie Baker visits Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute to announce a $940,000 biomanufacturing grant. (Gloucester Daily Times)
It was another messy slugfest as the Democratic presidential candidates talked over each other and yelled for attention at their final debate before Saturday’s South Carolina primary and next week’s Super Tuesday voting in 14 states, including Massachusetts. (Boston Globe) MassLive’s Ben Kail has four major takeaways from last night’s presidential debate.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, in an interview with CommonWealth, makes the case for Michael Bloomberg, calling the New York billionaire the best bet to defeat another rich guy from New York. (CommonWealth) A number of state lawmakers went to hear Raimondo also held court over lunch in Boston with a group of state lawmakers who came to hear her pitch, but a number of them don’t plan to vote for the former New York City mayor. (State House News Service) The Globe looks at back at Mike Bloomberg from Medford.
Two political scientists dig deep into polling and voting data to try to flesh out the question of electability among the Democratic contenders, and they conclude that it would take a “youth turnout miracle” — something they deem very unlikely — for Bernie Sanders make up enough of the votes he’ll lose among moderates to win. (Vox)
The Boston Globe, which a little over a year ago called Elizabeth Warren too divisive a figure and urged her not to enter the presidential race, says she has won over its editorial board, which is now endorsing her in next week’s Massachusetts primary. The paper goes full Bay State and also endorses former governor Bill Weld who is running what amounts to a protest campaign of principle in the Republican primary.
Howie Carr digs into the very down-ballot contests for Republican State Committee and urges fellow Trumpists voting in next week’s Republican presidential primary to steer clear of anyone on a slate backed by Gov. Charlie Baker. (Boston Herald)
After being rebuffed by the Board of Selectmen, proponents advocating for some school grounds in Chatham to be converted to a new senior center are still moving ahead. (Cape Cod Times)
The Lynn City Council got its first look Tuesday night at a five-year plan that’s being developed to increase the city’s affordable housing stock. (Daily Item)
Roxbury’s Nubian Square needs better coordination of efforts to improve its business district, according to new study. (Boston Globe)
Bunker Hill Community College president Pam Eddinger says early college programs that give high school students a head start in higher education can be game-changers, especially for those who are the first in their family to pursue post-secondary degrees. (CommonWealth)
The state education board put City on a Hill charter school on probation, citing problems at the Boston school with high attrition and absenteeism and shaky finances. (WBUR)
Endicott College lets students studying abroad return early due to coronavirus. (The Salem News)
The coronavirus is spreading globally. (New York Times)
Massachusetts Bay Community College is home to the state’s best registered nursing program, according to RegisteredNursing.org, which weighed the program against Simmons University, Boston College, Fitchburg State University, and others. (MetroWest Daily News)
The Gloucester Daily Times editorial board comes out in favor of reduced train and bus fares for low-income individuals.
Massachusetts gaming regulators are looking for public input as they decide whether to re-open the application process to license a casino in southeastern Massachusetts. (Standard-Times)
Boston police responding to calls earlier this month of a man with a gun at Brigham and Women’s Hospital inadvertently shot and wounded a hospital parking valet as they confronted the man, who was later determined to have been holding a fake gun. (Boston Globe)
Public Safety Secretary Thomas Turco confirmed that the state will close aging MCI-Framingham and rehab the Bay State Correctional Center in Norfolk to become the state prison for female inmates. (CommonWealth)
The Springfield Republican editorial board urges state lawmakers to prioritize needed repairs at the Hampden County courthouse.
Poynter takes a deep dive into the fight by six women reporters at the Boston Globe to improve the company’s family leave policy.