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Menino no Wal-Mart greeter

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Boston Mayor Tom Menino has made official what he’s been saying for months: There’s no way Wal-Mart is opening a store in his city. What he really means is, there’s no way he’s helping Wal-Mart open a store in his city. The retailer has to do that on its own. According to a report in today’s Globe, Wal-Mart had hoped to open a store in Dudley Square, on the site of an abandoned MBTA bus yard. The store would have been a small grocery format, similar to the one Wal-Mart is hoping to open near Assembly Square in Somerville. But Hizzoner said no dice.

Tensions between the retailer and Boston’s mayor-for-life are nothing new. Menino has previously criticized Wal-Mart’s wages and its brisk business selling guns, and he has said he’s “very concerned about how they treat their employees.”

There are bigger issues at play than salaries and union cards and gun sales, though.

Officials inside City Hall see Dudley Square’s revitalization as a legacy project for Menino. They would probably greet a Wal-Mart grocery store in Charlestown or Hyde Park with grudging acceptance.

In City Hall’s eyes, Dudley is different. City resources are flowing into the neighborhood. Menino is sinking real money into a new police station and a new school department headquarters. The Boston Redevelopment Authority is putting two strategic parcels in the neighborhood up for bid, and the redevelopment of the old neighborhood police station will follow. All of these projects involve public resources and publicly-owned land.

For Menino, it’s one thing to have Wal-Mart sign a lease on VFW Parkway, but it’s another to let a company he dislikes benefit from significant public investments.

The problem for Wal-Mart is that in Roxbury, the company’s preferred landing spot, all the big development parcels involve public land, giving Menino far greater leverage over what gets built on them. A long-vacant parcel across from Boston police headquarters is the only spot in the neighborhood that could handle a full-scale Wal-Mart store, but it is owned by the BRA. The BRA also controls the bidding for development parcels along Melnea Cass Boulevard. The Dudley spot where Wal-Mart had hoped to build its grocery store was formerly a state-owned bus yard, and the development will likely require public subsidies. 

                                                                                                                                           --PAUL MCMORROW     

BEACON HILL

Richard Fields, the owner of Suffolk Downs, who is angling to build a casino at the racetrack grounds, has donated thousands of dollars to charities connected to two influential politicians who support his plan, Boston Mayor Tom Menino and East Boston state Sen. Anthony Petruccelli. A new report says business at Connecticut’s state lottery only dropped four percent, in inflation-adjusted dollars, after casinos opened in that state.

The Eagle-Tribune, in an editorial, says disgraced public officials shouldn’t be rewarded with pensions even if the source of the disgrace had nothing to do with their official duties.

The Bristol County DA plans to file reckless endangerment charges against two state employees who worked at the swimming poll where a woman drowned and her body went unnoticed for days. WBUR has the AP story and the DA’s findings and conclusions.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Following the lead of Lowell, the Revere City Council moves to restrict the hours when sex offenders can use the municipal library, the Lynn Item reports.

Shirley backs out of a regional dispatch organization with Harvard, Devens, Lancaster and Lunenburg.

The Rose Fitzgerald Greenway Conservancy in Boston is lowering its price of entry for a proposed Business Improvement District, CommonWealth reports.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor declares President Obama’s jobs bill dead.

Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, talks about the lost generation of young people on WBUR’s On Point. WBUR also has a report on Occupy Boston, which continued into a fourth day, with about 100 people camped out in a small park across from South Station. The demonstrators are still struggling to come up with a coherent plan of action to combat the concentration of wealth among the country’s richest 1 percent. The Daily Beast reports that unions are joining with Occupy Wall Street, a potentially significant development. Time, meanwhile, asks whether Occupy Wall Street is a Tea Party for the left. The National Review’s Rich Lowry is a friend of the Tea Party and he says Occupy Wall Street is no Tea Party.  

Hispanics flee Alabama, after the US Supreme Court upheld the state’s strict immigration statute.

ELECTION 2012

On WBUR, Democratic political consultant Dan Payne and Republican Todd Domke analyze the US Senate race heading into tonight’s debate.

US Rep. Niki Tsongas endorses Elizabeth Warren for US Senate, calling her “the scourge of Wall Street,” the Lowell Sun reports. Sen. Scott Brown, meanwhile, approaches the newspaper to talk jobs. “I’ll leave all the polls and BS to others,” he said. Count Brown’s supporters in the State among the doubters in statistics. “There is something very odd about that poll," state Rep. Betty Poirier tells the Sun Chronicle. “From intuition, through experience and anecdotally, I know Scott Brown is very popular.” The Herald’s Margery Eagan says the stakes are high for Warren tonight.

Peter Lucas, in his Lowell Sun column, wanders a bit, lamenting how Democrats shouldered Setti Warren out of the US Senate race and noting how former Senate president (and current lobbyist) Robert Travaglini hosted Scott Brown during a tour of East Boston.

Herman Cain rises, Rick Perry slips in recent poll. Not Helping Dept.: West Texas residents defend their embattled governor, telling the New York Times that everybody uses a racial slur to describe the area around Perry’s former hunting grounds.

South Carolina reschedules its primary date, putting even more pressure on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The Christie phenomenon reflects a recent realization that Barack Obama is beatable in 2012, the Wall Street Journal argues. A report this morning, however, says Christie will announce later today that he’s not running.The accelerated primary calendar may wind up shrouding donors to outside PACs in secrecy.

Eugenie Beal, writing in CommonWealth, speculates about President Obama’s legacy.

FISHING

At a congressional field hearing at the State House yesterday, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco was the target of nearly everyone’s ire for the federal regulations many say are choking the fishing industry. US Sen. John Kerry mediated the dispute. Lubchenco says she’s working on rebuilding trust with the fishing community, the Gloucester Times reports.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

About 14,000 motorcycle owners in Massachusetts will receive refunds averaging about $400 after Attorney General Martha Coakley reached an agreement with some insurance companies that overcharged the bikers.

Fannie Mae knew about robo-signing back in 2003. The Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are preparing to launch a review of 4.5 million robo-signed foreclosures, although it’s unclear whether any foreclosures will be overturned. The Atlantic wonders whether Freddie Mac’s former leaders were corrupt, or just dumb.

The Koch brothers did business in Iran.

EDUCATION

Suffolk University is undergoing a major administrative makeover, the Globe reports, with lots of turnover on its board of trustees, a new president soon to be named, and an overall pledge by leaders to a leaner, more business-like operation.

Incoming freshmen at Harvard University are being asked to sign a “kindness pledge” in an effort to foster a kinder, gentler campus. Apparently, upperclassmen are either already kind or exempt.

TRANSPORTATION

A federal judge has sent the T’s dispute with the maker of faulty railroad ties to a jury, saying a “less than complete record” makes it impossible for him to decide the status of a product warranty, CommonWealth reports.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation board members are rumbling that they may reject the proposed $75 million sale of the North Station Garage, CommonWealth reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Cape Wind Associates asks the state Department of Public Utilities to force NStar and Northeast Utilities, as a condition of their merger, to buy the rest of the proposed offshore wind farm’s power output, the Globe reports.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett outlines a three-part proposal for regulating natural gas drilling, the Pittsburg Post-Gazette reports.

USA Today explores whether the solar industry can survive without government support.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Ashland terrorism plot suspect Rezwan Ferdaus pleads not guilty.

Bristol District Attorney Sam Sutter filed misdemeanor charges against two state employees related to the death of a Fall River women in a murky pool last summer. The men are being charged with reckless endangerment of a child but not the death of Marie Joseph, which was ruled an accidental drowning.

MEDIA

Notice something missing last night on Monday Night Football besides Peyton Manning? ESPN pulled the iconic Hank Williams Jr. opening “Are you ready for some football?” after the country singer appeared on a Fox News show earlier in the day and compared President Obama to Hitler.

GateHouse Media, which owns more than 500 daily and weekly newspapers around the country, including 90 in Massachusetts such as the Patriot Ledger, Brockton Enterprise, and the Tab newspapers, is printing all its papers on pink newsprint this week and donating portions of sales to the Susan G. Komen Fund for the Cure to support breast cancer awareness and research.

The Nieman Journalism Lab examines the ABC News/Yahoo partnership.

The American Spectator celebrates Fox News’s 15th anniversary.

 

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