Window Into The State House

Baker ‘stunned, shocked, amazed’ by Mount Ida’s sudden collapse
From Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive: “Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is ripping leaders at Mount Ida College, saying they let down the students and staff who now feel left in the lurch as the University of Massachusetts moves to acquire the small private institution in Newton. ‘Like everybody, I was stunned, shocked, amazed, and really disappointed by the current state of play at Mount Ida,’ Baker told reporters on Tuesday. “I mean, the thing that bothered me the most about that was it was pretty clear that for the past several years, this deficit that they are dealing with now has gotten worse and worse.’”

No word on whether he was stunned, shocked and amazed by UMass-Amherst spending tens of millions of dollars to buy Mount Ida at a time when the entire UMass system is under pressure to lower costs and tuition prices.

Timing is everything: UMass-Amherst and UMass-Boston suspend and downsize programs, saying they don’t have enough money
As if on cue, from Don Seiffert at the BBJ: “As the University of Massachusetts’ Amherst campus prepares to assume up to $70 million in debt to buy (Mount Ida College), the system office has quietly suspended the awarding of two annual seed-grant programs intended to fund research that directly benefits the state’s economy, citing ‘stagnant state funding’ for public higher education.”

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Adrian Walker notices a similar belt-tightening trend at UMass-Boston — at the same time UMass-Amherst is proposing to spend tens of millions of dollars to buy nearby Mount Ida College in Newton.


Lottery: Step right up. Win a prize that’s not worth what we say it’s worth!
CommonWealth magazine’s Jack Sullivan looks at how the Lottery’s “second-chance drawing” prizes are not exactly worth what they’re touted to be worth, from the value of a Cuisinart Convection Microwave Oven & Grill to the value of a Dewalt 12V Max Li-lon 4-Tool Combo Kit. The spokeswoman for the private company overseeing the prize fulfillments digs a deeper hole for herself, the company and the Lottery as she explains how the firm’s business expenses are factored into the value of prizes.

Fyi: You’ll be seeing a lot of CommonWealth magazine posts today, with the magazine’s 2018 spring issue now out. Lot of good stories. Check ‘em out.


Tufts Medical CEO slams Beth Israel-Lahey merger, saying it will lead to higher medical prices
Though it can’t stop the already approved Beth Israel Deaconess-Lahey hospitals merger, the Boston City Council yesterday went through with a public hearing on the deal – and it actually produced substantive debate. Among others, Tufts Medical Center chief executive Michael Wagner warned the newly formed hospital network will merely lead to higher prices and siphon patients away from lower-price institutions like Tufts, reports Jessica Bartlett at the BBJ.
Suffolk DA contest: Another race with little policy differences between candidates?
At least it’s a contested election. From Adam Gaffin at Universal Hub: “The five candidates for Suffolk District Attorney took similar positions on issues ranging from reducing the number of people who go through the criminal system to protecting law-abiding immigrants from ICE at a forum sponsored by JP Progressives and the NAACP last night. Instead, they differed on their backgrounds and how that would help them change the DA’s office.”
Markey files bill to protect privacy after Facebook data-breach debacle
As Facebook’s Mark Zuckberg was preparing to get grilled on Capitol Hill yesterday, U.S. Sens. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of New York announced new legislation designed to protect Amercans’ personal information from privacy breaches at Facebook and other companies, reports Shannon Young at MasLive.
As the clock ticks, small businesses scramble for referendum-averting agreement on minimum wage
From Mike Deehan at WGBH: “Time is running out for lawmakers to prevent a prolonged ballot battle over raising the minimum wage and small businesses are looking to the Legislature to stop what could be a costly campaign. Advocates for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour are charging ahead with the signature-gathering process needed to gain a slot on voters’ ballots in November.” As Deehan notes, polls show strong voter support for raising the minimum wage. So where’s the incentive for advocates to compromise much on Beacon Hill? They’re in the driver’s seat on this one.


Dan Kennedy: Hedge fund will crush Denver Post revolt by ignoring it
Media critic Dan Kennedy at WGBH says the Denver Post staff revolt against the newspaper’s ultimate owner, Alden Global Capital, now the owner of the Boston Herald as well, may be noble. But it’s probably doomed to failure, as Alden shows every sign of merely shrugging its shoulders and continuing to squeeze the paper for every nickel it can get.