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Boston.com jumps into ticket scalping

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The Boston Globe’s Boston.com website is now reselling tickets to sporting events under its own name through a partnership with Ace Ticket, reports the Nieman Journalism Lab.

The lab’s story focuses most of its attention on the evolution of Boston.com into an e-commerce portal now that BostonGlobe.com has been spun off as a separate newspaper website. (Boston.com still carries the Globe’s sports coverage and a limited number of Globe stories.)

“What’s interesting about Boston.com’s approach is that it’s enabled in part by the separation of the newspaper brand,” the lab reports. “Making BostonGlobe.com the primary home for newspaper-style journalism and reporting has left Boston.com to further explore its role as a pageview-hungry website – one that can try out revenue ideas that some newspaper brands might not be okay with, just as it presents a mix of content that wouldn’t be a perfect fit for the more serious BostonGlobe.com.”

Jeff Moriarty, vice president of digital products for the Globe, is quoted as saying Boston.com didn’t want to blur the line between commerce and journalism, but it did want to make it possible for people reading about this weekend’s Patriots-Ravens showdown on the website to click and buy tickets to the game.

What the Nieman Journalism Lab story neglects to mention is that the tickets are often being resold at steep markups, markups that are technically illegal under Massachusetts law. The state’s antiscalping law bars the resale of tickets for more than $2 above face value, but the law’s wording is so vague and contains so many loopholes that it has become unenforceable and widely ignored.

Boston.com’s push into the ticket resale business with Ace is full of irony because the Globe broke the story about Ace hiring a close friend of former Speaker Sal DiMasi to help push a bill doing away with the state’s cap on ticket resale markups through the Legislature.

The ticket legislation, which passed the House and later stalled in the Senate, became the initial focus of a series of Globe stories about influence peddling on Beacon Hill involving DiMasi. DiMasi was later convicted and sentenced to eight years in federal prison for taking part in a conspiracy to help a software company win state contracts in exchange for kickbacks.

                                                                                                                                                                --BRUCE MOHL          

BEACON HILL

The Patrick administration backs social innovation financing, CommonWealth reports.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Kelly Ann Foley, who topped the race for the Braintree School Committee last November, sent an oblique email to town officials saying she would not be taking her seat but did not submit an official resignation and now no one, including some of her law clients, can contact her and her cellphone has been disconnected.

Lawrence and State Police are investigating how the Social Security number and birth date of the person leading an effort to recall Mayor William Lantigua ended up on a pro-Lantigua Facebook page, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Marshfield, Norwell and Scituate have applied for a state grant to pay for a regional human resources director that all three towns would share.

Fall River city and union officials have until April 1 to iron out differences in implementing the new health plan that could save taxpayers $1 milllion. Meanwhile, in Scituate, union members say the proposed health plan reform there saves the town money through the workers paychecks.

The Boston Globe talks to Foxborough selectmen on the sudden upheaval of dealing with large gambling companies, the media and many vocal citizens. Meanwhile the Globe editorial page calls on the Boston City Council to defy Mayor Thomas Menino and put the casino issue up for a citywide vote.

Ludlow considers raising the meals tax to bring in extra revenue.

Snow savings. The Gloucester Times reports that its hometown has spent just $80,000 of its $500,000 snow removal budget.

Death and taxes, the Springfield edition: The city wants tax scofflaws to pay up.

The Cambridge Chronicle reports on a discrimination case that cost Cambridge nearly $12 million, five months after initially requesting case-related documents from the city.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

WBUR’s On Point asks if it’s time for a wealth tax.
Hollywood loses its bid to rein in the Internet.

Alan Blinder talks deficits.

The latest chapter in Stephen Colbert’s meta-protest against Citizens United shows how thin the legal line between candidates and their super PAC’s really is.

ELECTION 2012

Rick Perry, we hardly knew ye. Iowa officials say it’s unlikely they’ll be able to certify the official results from the caucuses but it looks more and more like Rick Santorum actually won. Does that make him inevitable?

Personal income is fair game in presidential elections, according to Newt Gingrich, but bitter divorces are off-limits. Especially his bitter divorce. The Atlantic checks in from the scene of Gingrich’s latest comeback.

The National Review says Mitt Romney should release his tax returns sooner rather than later. Here’s what we do know about Romney’s money: He has a lot of it. Also, a big chunk is tied up in his IRA, which is unusual. Romney acknowledges he has some of his millions stashed in the Cayman Islands, but denies he’s using the islands as a tax haven. It’s just that his cash likes to stay tan, is all. Karl Rove says Romney should use Florida’s primary to vanquish attacks on Bain Capital. The New York Times raises objections to Romney’s plans for the nation’s tax bills, saying Romney would widen deficits. Romney’s lead in South Carolina slips, and his campaign acts like they know they’re slipping. Margery Eagan grudgingly admires Sarah Palin’s impressive knack for making herself a prospective kingmaker.

Also slipping: The president’s standing with independent voters.

US Sen. Scott Brown touts his bipartisan approach at an event in Peabody, the Lynn Item reports. The New York Times declares him an intentional Massachusetts moderate.

Elizabeth Warren takes on Countrywide’s “discrimination with a smile” in mortgage lending to African Americans and Latinos in a Bay State Banner commentary.

Sean Bielat is back but then, did he ever really go away? Except for that move to Pennsylvania, that is.  The Newton Tab profiles the candidate. Bielat joins Jim Braude on Broadside to talk about his plan to run again for Congress.

BlueMassGroup is unimpressed with the current field of Democratic candidates for Barney Frank’s seat.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Governing reports that the porn industry could leave Los Angeles if authorities there enforce an ordinance requiring the use of condoms on sets. Could the Massachusetts film tax credit be tweaked to draw the $8 billion industry here?

Target takes the “buy local” concept one step further by introducing “pop-up” shops featuring independent vendors in its own stores.

Federal officials round up money managers in what they’re describing as a wide-ranging insider trading ring. The Herald reports from the Moakley Courthouse.

EDUCATION

The Boston Globe talks to incoming Suffolk University president James McCarthy about the challenges the school is facing.

Joan Vennochi asks why Mayor Menino hasn’t been able to deliver on his promise to fix the Boston public school system’s assignment policy.

The Dorchester Reporter talks to newly appointed Boston School Committee member Meg Campbell.

HEALTH CARE

Despite a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association that says the rate of obesity has plateaued nationally, the New Bedford Standard Times has a pretty good look at the problem in the South Coast region, which has a higher rate of overweight and obese residents than the state.

Partners HealthCare has reached a new contract with Tufts Health Plan that will limit reimbursement increases to the rate of inflation.

TRANSPORTATION

In a Somerville Journal op-ed, state Rep. Carl Sciortino calls the MBTA’s finances “a disaster,” but says the agency’s books shouldn’t just be balanced on the backs of riders.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

President Obama says no to the Keystone XL pipeline, blaming Republicans for not providing enough time to review the $7 billion project, Governing reports (via AP). Environmentalist Bill McKibben, writing in The Daily Beast, likes the decision.

WBUR reports on a solar power trade war between China and the United States.

The Berkshire Eagle isn’t surprised that wind opponents weren’t happy with the state’s study of the health effects of wind turbines.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The Weekly Standard says the successful prosecution of homegrown terrorist Tarek Mehanna of Sudbury is an example of the right way to limit dangerous speech.

MEDIA

The benefits of living in a two-newspaper town.

The Cape Cod Times hopes that the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre decision to provide “twitter seats” for patrons who must tweet to their followers during a performance actually works.

 

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