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Transit insaniTy

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It’s all over, including the shouting. If some MBTA riders actually thought that negative testimonies at public hearings were going to prevent fare increases and service cuts, now they know better. On the same day as its last public meeting in Allston-Brighton, the authority released an “Open Letter to Our Customers” announcing that hikes and cutbacks, like the next subway train, are arriving.

The irony is that while public hearings, “a scam of sorts” as one Boston Herald commenter called them, gave riders a much needed opportunity to vent at MBTA officials, they did little to change the cold, hard reality.

Transportation Secretary Richard Davey and Acting MBTA General Manager Jonathan Davis have the unenviable task of finalizing a service cut/fare hike plan that lies somewhere north or south or in-between the two proposals floated over the past two months.

At a minimum, transit officials learned that a reasonable fare hike is more palatable than the jaw-dropping cutbacks that shut down an unprecedented number of bus routes and deprive Mission Hill, Mattapan, and some suburban residents of weekend rail service.

Transit advocates are trying to stave off worst of the cuts by drawing attention to issues like the possible health effects of the revenue-raising measures. Others are trying to get riders to understand what the MBTA is up against by asking them to calculate a bundle of cuts equal to the $160 million that the authority needs to trim to balance next year’s budget.

Local officials in communities like Manchester and Rockport have also chimed in with proposals for savings, and the MBTA should listen, says the Gloucester Times.

But the most astonishing thing about the public hearings were the testimonies of state legislators like Senate Transportation Committee chairman Thomas McGee, who pointed the finger at the MBTA. “Cuts are going to be devastating, not benefiting people in districts or people in the Commonwealth,” McGee said at the MBTA hearing in Lynn. “I would urge you to look to any other way to solve this problem. I would tell you, you need to find a solution.” Another group of lawmakers recently wrote to the MBTA asking officials to spare seniors from fare hikes.

As the character in a classic Saturday Night Live skit used to say, “Take a look at yourself.” Many believe the only solution to this year’s problems, and next year’s, lies not with the authority, but with Beacon Hill.

Meanwhile, while everyone is focused on the MBTA, MassDOT quietly announced that officials planned to swipe the department’s credit card to pay down a gap in the department’s operating budget. That move drives the rest of the transportation sector even deeper into the financial muck that no one in state government seems to know how to get out of.

                                                                                                                            --GABRIELLE GURLEY

BEACON HILL

Calling for diversity, The Republican wants to see someone from western Mass. on the gaming commission.

Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral is investigating two senior officers at the South Bay prison for alleged ethics and overtime violations.

The Boston Herald pegs the state’s Evergreen Solar loss at $10 million.

The Plainridge Racecourse, which is vying for a slot machine license, details proposed traffic improvements for Route 1.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

More than 13,000 customers were still without power this morning in Boston following yesterday’s electrical transformer fire in the Back Bay.

About 350 people, including US Rep. Niki Tsongas and Mayor William Lantigua, protest a Boston magazine story calling Lawrence a “city of the damned,” the Eagle-Tribune reports.

The New Bedford police chief says he expects the union to seek raises in the next round of contract talks in the wake of the Supreme Judicial Court decision on the Quinn Bill.

Salem voters reject curbside trash pickup, the Eagle-Tribune reports.            

The Brockton Enterprise asks that age old question: Can you vote for a man who sues you?

A Lynn city councilor apologizes for taxi guidelines that have tagged him as an “out of control, fire-breathing bully and racist,” the Lynn Item reports.

Newbury is considering asking voters for a $440,000 property tax override.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Women lawmakers in several states file Viagra bills, requiring rectal exams, celibacy lectures, and a waiting period before men can get the sex-related drug, The Daily Beast reports.

ELECTION 2012

It’s a Santorum sweep in the Mississippi and Alabama primaries. Christopher Rowland’s analysis piece in the Globe is headlined, “Worst of outcomes for Mitt Romney.” The National Review’s post-election symposium is trying to reconcile exit polls that show half the GOP voters think Mitt Romney will be the nominee then go pull the lever for Rick Santorum. The Weekly Standard lays out how Santorum’s victories came at Newt Gingrich’s expense. The New York Times notes that the deep South let Gingrich down, but the Wall Street Journal doesn’t see the former House speaker retreating any time soon. Slate casts the nominating contest as a fight between mathematics and movement: With each state contest, Romney adds delegates and appears weaker and weaker. David Wade, the former spokesman for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, rejects the Romney-Kerry comparisons in a Boston Herald op-ed column, noting that Kerry quickly consolidated his party’s base and went 46-4 in state primaries and caucuses.

Bain Capital partners released a letter to their investors countering all the anti-Romney criticism the firm has weathered.

The Obama campaign is really sweating this super PAC thing. Meanwhile, the president takes British Prime Minister David Cameron to a NCAA basketball game in the very important state of Ohio.

US Rep. John Tierney calls Republican challenger Richard Tisei “a desperate candidate” and dismisses a GOP website highlighting the legal troubles of his wife and brother-in-law. “Most voters don’t want to talk about what my brother-in-law did,” he tells the Lynn Item.

The Berkshire Eagle wants to hear more from Elizabeth Warren on the Secure Communities immigration policy.

Three Democrats are running for the Governor’s Council seat currently held by Accidental Councilor Charles Cipollini, including his brother, Oliver, who was the one who was supposed to win last time out.

Christopher Sheldon, a financial market analyst from Plymouth, plans to become the first Republican in the race for the new 9th Congressional District.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Greg Smith, in a New York Times op-ed, resigns as an executive director of Goldman Sachs, calling the environment at the firm “as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.” He goes on to say that “if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence.”

Sal Lupoli, a Chelmsford resident who owns the Sal’s Pizza chain and is involved in several real estate ventures in Lawrence, is on the verge of buying a 75 percent stake in the Hampton Beach Casino in New Hampshire, the Lowell Sun reports.

Four of the country’s 19 major banks, including Citigroup, failed the feds’ latest stress test, designed to see if they could survive another recession. AP via U.S. News & World Report.

Boston Foundation report challenges Boston to reinvent its innovation economy, WBUR reports.

The Atlantic wonders why the left and the right both hate Ben Bernanke.

California’s pension system lowers its target rate of return.

HEALTH CARE

Time ranks the top five states for women, and puts Massachusetts, because of its health care law, at No. 4.

TRANSPORTATION

The woman who was caught on video pummeling a man on an MBTA Red Line train apologizes for her actions, but T officials say she will be charged with assault and battery, the Salem News reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A Bristol Superior Court judge declined to dismiss a suit by Fairhaven residents challenging the selectmen’s authority to lease town land for the construction of two wind turbines.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Whitey Bulger may have penned two memoirs, which could now be used against him, prosecutors say in documents filed in federal court on Tuesday.

Jurors will begin deliberating today in the trial of two Boston men.charged with killing four people, including a two-year-old toddler, in Mattapan.

The school facilities director in Lawrence testifies he used to plow the driveway, pick up trash, and oversee construction work at former school superintendent Wilfredo Laboy’s private home in Methuen, the Eagle-Tribune reports. Laboy is on trial for using school resources for personal gain.

The City of Boston will pay a former Middlesex County corrections officer $1.4 million to settle a lawsuit he filed alleging a Boston police officer put him in a choke hold that caused brain damage during a 2009 scuffle in the North End, the Globe reports.

A Level 3 sex offender in Gloucester exposes himself in front of a young girl visiting his home, his third offense for open and gross lewdness, the Gloucester Times reports.

You dirty rats. Police across the South Coast region report an increase of thieves stealing the large containers of Tide laundry detergent from stores and selling it on the black market.

MEDIA

The two authors of The Lifespan of a Fact sit down with WBUR’s Radio Boston to discuss the distinction between fact and fiction.

British authorities arrested News Corp.’s Rebekah Brooks again for her involvement in the UK phone-hacking scandal.

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