Window Into The State House



MBTA bus mechanics agree to concessions to avoid privatization
After reaching a tentative deal last month, it’s now official: The MBTA and the union representing bus mechanics have indeed settled their privatization feud, with existing workers agreeing to wage and work rule concessions in exchange for the T dropping efforts to privatize bus repair work, reports Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine and SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall).
Report: Uber, Lyft merely contributing to Boston’s traffic congestion
Speaking of transportation issues: No, it’s not your imagination. Uber and Lyft are actually making traffic worse. That’s the upshot of a report from the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, which found that more than half of the 1,000 ride-hail passengers it surveyed would have taken public transit, walked or just stayed home if they couldn’t summon a ride with their iPhones, Zeninjor Enwemeka reports at WBUR.
Rep. Carvalho pulls paper to run for Forry’s Senate seat
From Meghan Irons at the Globe: “State Representative Evandro Carvalho has pulled papers to compete in the special election for First Suffolk Senate district, which became vacant when former state senator Linda Dorcena Forry abruptly quit her job last month. Carvalho joins state Representative Nick Collins, who announced Friday that will seek the post.”


The question: When – not if – will Stan be replaced?

When the governor, two of three gubernatorial candidates, the mayor of Boston and an increasing number of senators themselves openly say – with varying caveats – that it’s probably time to find a permanent replacement for Stan Rosenberg as president of the Massachusetts Senate, guess what? Stan’s days are numbered – and the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld says a vote on a new permanent president could come as early as this week. We’ll see.

Gintautas Dumcius and Shira Schoenberg at MassLive, the AP’s Steve LeBlanc and Bob Salsberg at WBUR, Matt Stout and Chris Cassidy at the Herald and Matt Murphy at SHNS (pay wall) have more on the governor’s “no way” comment on a Rosenberg return, the reactions of the mayor and gubernatorial candidates, the criticism of Rosenberg by fellow Dems, the behind-the-scene jockeying for power in the Senate and more.

About that Dow drop …
Nothing like a single-day 4 percent drop in the Dow and S&P 500 to grab the attention of investors, economists and pols everywhere. And the fact much of the plunge is attributable to machines, as Bloomberg News reports, isn’t exactly reassuring. Still, the Globe’s Evan Horowitz and the NYT’s Neil Irwin, while not downplaying the potential significance of yesterday’s stock-market plunge, say that a little perspective is needed and that the headlines look worse than reality. Let’s hope they’re right.
DOR: Enjoy the state budget surplus while it lasts
As investors try to determine the economic implications of the stock market’s roller-coaster ride of late, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue is trying to make sense of the flood of cash now flowing into state coffers. Specifically, the $158 million in January tax collections above budget projections, bringing the state’s total “cash cushion” to $810 million over the first seven months of the fiscal year, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy. But DOR Commissioner Christopher Harding is signaling, as have others, that the revenue increase may be tied to tax code changes and “collections are likely to regress closer to benchmark through the end of the fiscal year.”

In other words: We may be looking at a fleeting budget surplus.

Hatch says he hatched plot for Mitt’s Senate run
This is interesting. U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah is taking credit for Mitt Romney’s probable run for the U.S. Senate in Utah, saying he first floated the idea of a Romney political comeback last March, reports the Globe’s Matt Viser. “As I was thinking about retiring I was thinking, ‘I don’t want some dud to replace me,” Hatch said. “I want somebody who’s capable and could carry on some of the things I’ve worked so hard to do. And Romney fits that bill 100 percent in my opinion.” Keep in mind: Hatch also has a legacy interest in not appearing to have been shoved out the retirement door. Either way, Romney is expected to make an announcement next week.


Report: Steve Wynn set up separate LLP to conceal payment to accuser
More factoids for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to mull in coming days and weeks: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Steve Wynn, whose company is currently building a massive casino in Everett, and his attorneys set up a separate limited liability company, dubbed Entity Y, in order to conceal his $7.5 million payment to settle a sexual assault claim by a woman. The Boston Herald has more.
Opioid lawsuits gain steam as more communities sign on
Selectmen in Sturbridge and Dudley have voted to add their communities to the growing list of cities and towns signing on to lawsuits against major drug makers for their role in the opioid crisis, Craig Semon and Debbie LaPlaca report in the Telegram. That’s four Worcester-area towns already on board, with Charlton and Southbridge officials earlier signaling they want a piece of the action.
With loaded gun in backpack, T driver was using cell phone when he crashed his trolley
For the record: It was .40-caliber Smith and Wesson firearm and he was deleting a Reddit post when all of a sudden – bam! – he crashed his Mattapan Line trolley into another train, according to police records. The driver has since been fired. The Globe’s Travis Andersen has the details.
MBTA to communities: No pay, no expansion play
Attention all those who want expanded rail service in western and southeastern Massachusetts: Be prepared to pay up. Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine reports that state transportation officials will increasingly look to third parties to financially support expansion initiatives, similar to how Somerville and Medford had to pony up millions for the Green Line extension.