Window Into The State House

You are now entering Boston: That will be $5, please   Mayor Marty Walsh is putting distance between himself and a new Carbon Free Boston Working Group recommendation calling for a $5 “congestion fee” to drive into downtown Boston, reports the Herald’s Jonathan Ng and Brooks Sutherland. One can argue over the five-dollar figure. But our hunch is that some sort of downtown congestion fee will be needed — and not congestion fees on merely a few roadways entering the city, i.e. higher tolls for Pike and Tobin drivers (again) while letting I-93 and Route 2 motorists etc. skate free without paying any tolls (again).   Reports: Related Beal poised to buy prime Gillette parcel along Fort Point Channel   The BBJ’s Catherine Carlock (pay wall) and the Globe’s Tim Logan report that Related Beal is in line to purchase a coveted waterfront Gillette parcel along Boston’s Fort Point Channel, a move that could spur a wave of yet more development in the area. The immediate question is how much Related Beal might end up paying for the 6.5 acres. The BBJ bandies about figures ranging from $216 million to $300 million.     Kenmore Square’s latest ‘renaissance’ …   In other development news: There’s a running joke within business-journalism circles about how certain areas of Greater Boston seem to always be on the cusp of a “renaissance” that never quite arrives, such as Revere Beach, Chelsea, etc. One of them is Kenmore Square, which, by our count, has seen about four “renaissances” on the horizon over the years – and the fifth may be on the way. The Globe’s Tim Logan has the details on a developer’s plan for a major new hotel tower that could transform traffic patterns in the congested area. Quick question: Wasn’t the relatively recent land/streetscaping around the T station in Kenmore Square supposed to address some of these traffic concerns?   Lawmakers push for rail service to shuttle passengers back home from late-night concerts and Sox games   From Mary Whitfill at Wicked Local: “Local lawmakers are pushing for expanded commuter rail hours along the Kingston/Plymouth, Greenbush and Middleboro/Lakeville lines, hoping to see a train run late enough to shuttle residents back from late-night concerts, Red Sox games and other Boston activities. Eleven local state senators and representatives recently signed a letter addressed to Joseph Aiello, chair of the MBTA’s fiscal management and control board, supporting the proposal.”   House progressives and others mobilize to battle DeLeo over rules   It’s not a coup attempt. More like a Magna Carta moment. From Andy Metzger and Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “The Massachusetts House on Wednesday is expected to vote on the rules it will operate under the next two years, but don’t expect the usual ho-hum debate. A group of progressive dissenters are planning to use the rules to challenge the House’s power structure, a Republican is calling for term limits and the right for legislative aides to unionize, and the speaker’s team is making some modifications.” The Globe’s Matt Stout has more on the rules fight.     Pundit: Rep. McMurtry the ‘victim of a progressive hit job’   Speaking of those evil rabble-rousing progressives, political columnist Peter Lucas at the Lowell Sun is blasting away at progressive lawmakers and the Boston Globe, saying it’s “plausible” that Rep. Paul McMurtry was “set up” when he was accused of sexual misbehavior and it’s also “plausible” it was part of an attempt to weaken House Speaker Robert DeLeo.       Baker to visit mosque, the first by a sitting Massachusetts governor   From the Associated Press at WGBH: “Gov. Charlie Baker is planning to visit a Boston mosque. Organizers say the visit Friday to the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center — the largest mosque in New England — is the first by a sitting Republican Massachusetts governor. Organizers say Baker will sit among congregants for the sermon and observe the prayer, then speak briefly to the community.”     Lap dance Rx, Part II: An ex-stripper hired as a ‘sales manager’?   An update on that exotic lap dancer who was reportedly employed by Insys Therapeutics to convince docs to prescribe a potentially deadly fentanyl pain reliever to patients: She’s Sunrise Lee, an ex-stripper who served as a “sales manager” for Insys, as reported by Laurel Sweet at the Herald. One doc apparently couldn’t keep his hands-off Sunrise. And we repeat: Release the names of physicians allegedly partaking in these pathetic opioid-prescription schemes, please.   Billionaires Schultz and Bloomberg take shots at Warren’s ‘uber-millionaire’ tax plan   U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is probably, or ought to be, loving this: Two male billionaires, Howard Schultz and Michael Bloomberg, both mulling runs for president, are taking shots at Warren’s proposed “uber-millionaire tax” on the wealthy – with Shultz calling it ‘ridiculous’ and Bloomberg comparing it to something you might see in Venezuela. The Associated Press at the Herald and Talking Points Memo and the Globe’s James Pindell have all the details, including Warren’s almost gleeful counter-attacks.  
  Polls still aren’t going Warren’s way …   Granted, it’s early in the election cycle. But it’s still surprising to see U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who most observers believe has had a good month since unofficially announcing she’s running for president, barely registering as a blip in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. Then again, other Dems can’t break out of the single-digit category as well, it seems. Btw: The Herald’s Brooks Sutherland has more, well, disappointing poll news for Warren out of Iowa. Washington Post  
  Worn down: Partners HealthCare’s Torchiana to leave amid tensions with hospital chiefs   From the Globe’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey and Liz Kowalczyk: “Dr. David Torchiana, the chief executive of Partners HealthCare, has unexpectedly announced his departure, after his push to integrate the sprawling health system encountered rising tensions from other Partners leaders. Over the past several months, the opinionated former heart surgeon had stirred internal concerns with plans to expand Partners and rethink the direction of the organization and its flagship teaching hospitals.” The BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett (pay wall) has more on Torchiana’s departure, with the chairman of Partners effectively acknowledging that, well, it’s not easy dealing with all the big egos at Partners.  
  Thank you, Sam Tyler   Speaking of departures: After 46 years acting as the city of Boston’s top fiscal watchdog, Sam Tyler has announced he’s retiring as president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, the number-crunching non-profit that’s acted as an independent auditor of the city’s books stretching back to the administration of Kevin White. The Globe’s Milton Valencia has more.