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Mitt Romney's faulty gaydar

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Mitt Romney has gotten himself into another fine mess, this time with his inability to stand up to the anti-gay wing of the Republican Party.

Romney got props for his April decision to hire Richard Grenell as the campaign’s first openly gay spokesperson on foreign policy and national security. Grenell had the requisite GOP credentials, working in the Bush II administration as the communications director for the American delegation to the United Nations.

Minority member. Conservative. Appeal to young and independent voters. Check, check, check.

Not so fast. Rather than stand by his man when social conservatives unleashed their predictable fusillade -- not on Grenell’s tenure at the UN but on his outspokenness on gay marriage -- the Romney campaign promptly shot down any gains they’d made with the appointment by sidelining him and having little to say about his Tuesday exit under pressure.

Grenell survived his own catty Twittergate (Did the GOP learn nothing from the Sarah Palin failure-to-vet fiasco?) only to be undone by the Republican family values  wing and those conservative commentators who considered him to have a gay activist agenda.

That led Andrew Sullivan to note, “If you're gay, or your friend, son, daughter, brother, sister, aunt or uncle is gay, you just learned something about what the GOP now is. Do not forget it.”          

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, whose outrage helped bring down Grenell, had a different view: “If my public comments about Romney's gay activist hire had anything to do with today’s decision, I did the guv a big favor.”

As far as the GOP nomination is concerned, the Romney campaign has turned the inevitability corner. But the Grenell episode adds another chapter to the candidate’s which-way-is-the-wind-blowing narrative, further compromising his ability to articulate who he is and where he stands for general election voters.

Log Cabin Republicans complained that Grenell was “hounded by the far right and the far left.” It’s more likely not the far left, but the likes of Rick Santorum that keep Mitt and his consigliere Eric Fehrnstrom awake at night.

For the national media, the hoopla over Grenell dovetailed nicely with reports on Romney’s record on gay marriage in the Bay State. The Los Angeles Times strolls down memory lane with its recap of the governor’s failed effort to use a 1913 statute prohibiting out-of-state interracial couples from marrying in Massachusetts against same-sex out-of-state couples seeking marriage licenses.

                                                                                                                                --GABRIELLE GURLEY


BEACON HILL

The state gambling commission is moving to staff up.  

The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy is looking to ramp up its fundraising efforts in the face of a possible shut-off of state funding to the nonprofit that runs that Boston parkland.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Brown University agrees to make voluntary payments of $31.5 million to Providence over 11 years, on top of the $4 million it already pays annually, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Haverhill city workers agree to new health plan terms that will save the municipality $1.1 million next year, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Somebody is conducting the first poll of a Foxborough selectmen’s race in recent memory, but the pollster’s identity is a mystery. The race is being fought as a proxy war over casino gambling.

ELECTION 2012

Mitt Romney has called for the repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act but has offered few specifics on what he would to do to regulate financial institutions to prevent a repeat of the 2008 crisis, the Globe reports.

Romney and President Obama trip over each other in the race for Michael Bloomberg’s endorsement.

Michelle Malkin labels Elizabeth Warren “Pinnochio-hontas.”

The American Spectator profiles the difficulty of being Brown in a blue state.  Meanwhile, the Globe reports that a joint fundraising committee Brown has formed with the National Republican Senatorial Committee has raised $2.9 million, almost half of which came from donors in the financial sector.

Aaaaarrrgggh. The first Pirate Party candidate filed papers to run for state representative in the district representing Lowell.

The Eagle-Tribune reports on who is running for various offices in its circulation area, including the news that Barbara L’Italien is leaving her $100,000-a-year job in the state treasurer’s office to run for her old seat against Republican James Lyons Jr.

Sean Bielat touts an internal poll that shows him down 12 points to Joe Kennedy III, not 32 points, although he won’t share the entire poll with the Herald.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Union pension plans are in crisis mode, according to numbers crunched by Credit Suisse. Via the Weekly Standard.

Senate President Therese Murray told business leaders at the South Shore Chamber of Commerce breakfast that cutbacks in weekend rail service will have a negative impact on tourism for the region.

Yes, Brian McGrory does have more to say about Liberty Mutual and its generously paid executive, Ted Kelly, including sharing his incredulity at how astonishingly little our man-of-the-people governor, Deval Patrick, has to say about the matter.  

Got $59 million? We have a Nantucket property for you. If anyone buys the 68-acre property at the list price or thereabouts, the sale would probably rank as the most expensive real estate transaction in state history.

EDUCATION

Title IX, the federal law that mandated equal opportunities for women but is mostly associated with athletics, turns 40 and Greater Boston asks if it has really leveled the playing field. In our Fall 2010 issue, CommonWealth looked at the state’s public colleges and universities in dealing with Title IX.

The Lowell Sun reports on the Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center under construction at UMass Lowell, which just received $10 million from the state’s Life Sciences Center.

An advocacy group report is criticizing school officials in Boston, Worcester, and Springfield for relying too heavily on arrests to handle discipline issues involving public school students. The Republican report is here.

Radio Boston talks to the author of a report on the lack of transparency at area colleges about board member conflicts of interest.

HEALTH CARE

The American Lung Association gave Bristol County an “F” -- down from a “D”-- for ozone pollution in its recent report, the only county in the state to go from bad to worse.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Environmental and public health officials are worried that the mechanical dredging of New Bedford Harbor could pose health risks because of the PCB-contaminated soil that is churned and resettled in the process.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A delay in posting a sex offender ordinance in Ayer is allowing a sex offender to move into a home near a park, the Lowell Sun reports. CommonWealth examines the state’s system of regulating sex offenders in its latest issue.

Federal investigators are probing law enforcement’s response to more than 80 alleged rapes at the University of Montana over the last three years, NBC Montana reports.

TECHNOLOGY

Paul Levy, never to be mistaken for a luddite, says too much time and energy is wasted in electronic communication and suggests making this Monday email-free and having face-to-face or telephone conversations to prove his point.

MEDIA

The Boston Globe reports that its paid circulation increased for the first time since September 2004, Average Sunday circulation was up 2.5 percent, daily up 2.9 percent. The numbers include 18,000 digital subscribers, Meanwhile, the Nieman Journalism Lab reports on a Twin Cities turnaround by the Star Tribune.

Lowell Mayor Patrick Murphy proposed posting legal notices on the town’s website instead of the Lowell Sun, but the City Council rejected the plan, the Lowell Sun reports. The notices cost about $100,000 a year.

The Scream, Edvard Munch’s famous painting, is coming up for auction with the sale price expected to approach $80 million. NPR examines the painting’s pull. CommonWealth used the image the cover of its American Dream issue.

Banned in Boston may be the funniest political fundraiser of the year, NECN reports. MassINC might beg to differ with its Serious Fun event, distracting YouTube videos of which can be seen here.

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