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Frank frenzy

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Barney Frank totally could have won reelection to his new district. It’s just that he didn’t want to. So, he told reporters at Newton City Hall yesterday, he won’t be running anymore. Frank’s decision to retire from Congress “was precipitated by congressional redistricting, not entirely caused by it,” Frank said yesterday. “I’ve been ambivalent about running, not because I don’t continue to think the job is important but because there are other things I’d like to do in my life before my career is over.”

The Globe “floods the zone” with Barney coverage, with this lead story on his retirement announcement, this look at his legacy, reaction from constituents, an editorial on the mark he made, and a look at the scramble that is now on for the open seat his exit will create.

The Herald, a paper Frank scolded as politically irrelevant after his reelection last year, takes the opposite tack. A screaming front page headline calls Frank irrelevant, as Howie Carr, Joe Battenfeld, and the paper’s editorial page throw some parting shots at the voluble liberal pol. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page indulges a similar impulse. Margery Eagan is kinder: She says she’ll miss Frank, even if he did call her “stupid” a hundred times.

A healthy chunk of the Goodbye Barney coverage focuses on Frank’s sharp tongue. “One advantage to me of not running for office is, I don’t even have to pretend to be nice to people I don’t like,” he said yesterday. But a healthy collection of links shows that Frank rarely pretended to be nice, and in fact enjoyed skewering folks. Mother Jones compiles the best and worst Barney Frank moments. The Atlantic rounds up the best Frank exchanges of the YouTube era, including that time he screamed at Bill O’Reilly, and that other time he compared talking to a Tea Party sympathizer to talking to a dining room table, and that one time he made fun of Tom Delay for doing this on television. The New York Times rounds up his most quotable financial services-related one-liners, while the Washington Post digs deep into Frank’s long-running feud with Newt Gingrich. (Recent developments include Frank saying a Gingrich presidential candidacy would be a gift to Dems on par with Barry Goldwater, Frank comparing the GOP presidential field to a “Bum of the Month Club,” and Gingrich calling on Frank to be imprisoned for his alleged role in the mortgage crisis.)

The Atlantic offers up some mortgage origination data that might just spring Frank from Newt Gingrich’s financial criminal prison. The magazine also says that the real reason to miss Frank in Congress is that Maxine Waters is suddenly in line to be the Democratic face of Frank’s old committee. In Time, Joe Klein says he’ll miss Barney. The Daily Beast calls Frank a rare combination of street fighter, serious wonk, and old-school pragmatic institutionalist who is at heart a policy nerd. The Wall Street Journal ponders what Frank’s exit means for the financial regulations that bear his name.

Greater Boston holds a roundtable discussion to ponder why Frank is retiring. The National Review can’t find anything good to say about him except goodbye. The Gloucester Times reports the fishing industry loses a tenacious advocate. NECN reports New Bedford will miss Frank. Frank goes on Radio Boston. The MetroWest Daily News reports that Frank admitted that his reconfigured district with 325,000 new constituents would have made it “tough” to make his case.

The Herald rounds up the crop of potential Republican candidates for the now-open seat, saying that Frank’s exit might be enough to coax Sean Bielat back from Pennsylvania -- where, apparently, he moved after his unsuccessful run for Congress last year. Several prominent South Coast area pols are rumored as potential candidates to replace Frank, including Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan, who, after ticking off all the factors that would make him a favorite in an election, told the Herald News, apparently with a straight face, “That thought [of running for Congress] is not even on my mind.”

                                                                                                                    --PAUL MCMORROW

BEACON HILL

Joseph Lally, the crooked software salesman whose testimony helped convict former House speaker Sal DiMasi on corruption charges, is asking a US District Court Judge Mark Wolf to recommend that he serve his 18-month sentence in a less restrictive facility than the federal prison in Brooklyn to which he has been assigned.

Peter Lucas says that the newly signed casino law will invite the type of widespread corruption that the Ward Commission decried 30 years ago. “We have created a monster,” Lucas writes. “It is only too bad Gerry Angiulo and the boys aren't around anymore. They would have been perfect for the Gaming Commission. At least they were local.”

Newly minted union official Steve Tolman endorses former union official Bob McCarthy in the race for Tolman’s old state Senate seat.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Weymouth has delayed a planned auction for the rights to collect delinquent property taxes until after the holidays. The town’s first auction last year pulled in $600,000.

After several failed attempts, a Lawrence group tries again to recall Mayor William Lantigua, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

The Fall River Housing Authority approved a two-year-old plan to revamp the dilapidated Watuppa Heights housing project just days ahead of a state-imposed deadline that would turn the property over to the state.

Boston City Councilor Bill Linehan defended his controversial redistricting plan at a City Hall hearing yesterday.

Northhampton gets a bond upgrade from Moody’s.

A newcomer beats out a Worcester School Committee incumbent in a recount that took her from two votes down to 33 votes up, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

Westminster and Leominster approve single rate property tax structures. Newburyport’s single property tax rate is also rising.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Governing magazine examines the Amazon tax battles.

The Supreme Court declines to take up a case involving whether the Second Amendment guarantees the right of a person to carry a gun in public for personal protection.  

ELECTION 2012

In the American Spectator, former Reagan White House political director Jeffrey Lord picks apart an op-ed by a Harvard senior comparing the pedigrees of alums Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

It doesn’t appear Herman Cain has skeletons in his closet; it looks like he has his own private cemetery. An Atlanta businesswoman tells the local Fox affiliate she had a 13-year affair with Cain and offers cellphone proof. After initially calling the allegations false, Cain’s attorney released a statement that says, “(T)his appears to be an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults – a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public.” Got it. The Washington Post explains why Cain’s problems spell trouble for Mitt Romney.

WBUR reports on Romney’s shifting stance on abortion. The Globe, meanwhile, focuses on Romney’s 2006 statements on illegal immigrants, which are pretty much identical to the recent pronouncements of Republican rival Newt Gingrich, for which Romney has been savaging the ex-speaker. If that’s too much reading, just watch this ad the Democratic National Committee is airing in five battleground states.

The New York Times Magazine profiles Elizabeth Warren.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Facebook will go public sometime between April and June of next year. The IPO could raise $10 billion and value the company at $100 billion.

The Berkshire Eagle says people should focus on shopping local.

Massachusetts home sales are on pace for their worst year in two decades, and prices dropped an unexpected 7 percent last month.

A federal judge blocks the SEC’s proposed $285 million settlement with Citigroup, setting off fear on Wall Street that companies might actually have to admit wrongdoing when they pay the SEC to make enforcement actions go away.

EDUCATION

Lawrence residents testify on whether the state should assume control of the city’s schools. Rep. David Torrisi opposes a state takeover, saying it has nothing to do with low test scores and poor graduation rates. “It’s that you don’t have confidence in the mayor or the school committee that’s currently constituted and I don’t blame you,” he said, according to the Eagle-Tribune story.

New Bedford school officials unveiled the turnaround plan they submitted to the state to deal with underperforming schools.

WBUR’s On Point explores the rise of online high schools. The Washington Post explores mounting opposition to the phenomenon.

HEALTH CARE

Paul Levy points out an interesting subplot -- and raises some very troubling questions -- about yesterday’s Globe story on the rise of tiered health plans.

The Cape Cod Times gives a thumbs up to the “village” movement that allows seniors to remain in their homes, but asks why there aren’t more of these networks, which provide basic services to seniors at low rates, on the Cape.

TRANSPORTATION

American Airlines’ parent company files for bankruptcy protection.

The MBTA releases a timeline for completing the Green Line extension to Somerville and Medford. The timeline has bridge work beginning in 2012, and work on new stations at Lechmere and Union Square starting in 2013.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow, in his Globe column, says sprawl is largely a product of bureaucratic inertia.

In a CommonWealth column, an executive with Associated Industries for Massachusetts sides with Attorney General Martha Coakley on the need to review the state’s green policies. He was responding to a Back Story on the website by Bruce Mohl.

The Springfield Republican opposes  US Sen. Scott Brown’s plan to revise  “catch-share” fishing rules, which would eliminate the rules altogether if more than 15 percent of participants lose their jobs in the first year. The paper says the rules need to be revised, not tossed overboard.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A melee broke out in and outside a Quincy courtroom during the arraignment of four teens for the murder of a Randolph man.

Juvenile offenders should not be housed with adults, The MetroWest Daily News argues.

MEDIA

Andrew Rashbass, The Economist’s chief executive, explains why he is relaxed about losing print sales in an interview with The Guardian.

News outlets routinely demand full disclosure from their targets,  but news execs have a habit of glossing their own downsizing moves, the American Journalism Review reports.

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