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Mitt Romney's higher education record

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Mitt Romney doesn’t want to talk taxes. He doesn’t want to talk much about his tenure as governor either.  Perhaps that’s because, with his signature health care achievement off the table, Romney is left with a fair-to-middling record to exploit and more eyebrow-raising episodes to back away from.

The major defect of that strategy is that there’s a country full of journalists tripping over themselves to peel back the onion on his four years in the Corner Office.

Start with higher education. The Associated Press scrutinized Romney’s record and concluded that his efforts to reform the sector “fell short.”  Romney planned an ambitious overhaul of the University of Massachusetts, state college, and community college systems. The centerpiece of the proposal would have pulled out the flagship campus at Amherst to operate as a distinct entity. The rest of the system would have been regionalized.

Some of the ideas had merit, but Romney made a strategic blunder by failing to clue in Amherst officials or other higher education leaders about these revolutionary ideas. Then the plan proceeded to implode as Romney squared off against William Bulger, the UMass president, over his fugitive gangster brother Whitey. Romney succeeded in forcing Bulger to step down from the UMass post, but not before Bulger slammed the Bain-conceived plan as a “corporate takeover.”

During his recent NAACP address, Romney touted his John and Abigail Adams Scholarship program, which provides free tuition at state schools for top-achieving high school graduates. He neglected to mention that the scholarship offers no relief from the astronomically high fees that bulk up the cost to attend.

“Education is an investment that our generation makes in the future,” Romney has said. Like most other politicians, he hasn’t offered up a plan on how to bring down the prohibitive cost of a college investment, especially after taking fire for proposing that banks be allowed back into the federal student loan sector.


                                                                                                                            --GABRIELLE GURLEY


BEACON HILL

A crime bill passes easily in House, but not everyone is happy with it. The Herald, in an editorial, says it is mostly happy.

Gov. Deval Patrick talks with Emily Rooney about his uneasy relationship with the Legislature and the swirling rumor mill about his heading to Washington. With his second book, he also raises concern about the American Dream, Broadside reports.

In an editorial, the Globe argues that the state Gambling Commission should set a deadline for the Mashpee Wampanoags to get federal approval to turn their casino site into sovereign Indian land, a designation not possible for the tribe under current federal law.

The Berkshire Eagle argues that the probation scandal may be a “potential culture-changer” on Beacon Hill.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Patrick lobbies the EPA to grant Superfund status to a shuttered Attleboro chrome plant.

Boston officials unveil design plans for the Ferdinand redevelopment project in Dudley Square.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Congress barrels toward the edge of a cliff, the Daily Beast reports.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie reportedly will give the keynote address at the Republican National Convention, Governing reports.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia talks about the Bush v. Gore case and denies any feud with Justice John Roberts in an interview with Piers Morgan.

Michele Bachmann goes hunting on the internet for domestic Muslim enemies, earning a sharp rebuke from John McCain.

The Postal Service will default on a $5.5 billion retiree benefit payment in August without Congressional action.

ELECTION 2012

The conservative punditocracy is still debating whether Mitt Romney is Bruce Wayne or the evil villain Bane in the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises.

Karl Rove lectures the Obama campaign about negative campaigning.

Do candidates even know who the middle class is?

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Widespread drought across America threatens crops, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Federal Reserve’s “Beige Book” says New England’s economy is in better shape than most regions but employers are still cautious about hiring as they keep their eyes on their bottom line.

As summer jobs for teenagers are becoming scarce, parents are stepping in and hiring their kids, the Globe reports.

Young workers are driving a trend that is bringing companies back into the city, rather than in suburban office parks, the Globe reports.

Massachusetts foreclosure activity ebbed in June.

EDUCATION

The Lowell School Committee questions spending nearly $369,000 to send a student to the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, the Sun reports.

Faculty and students at Bunker Hill Community College are questioning the high fees paid to celebrity speakers while supplies and other basic needs go wanting.

The Sun, in an editorial, applauds the contract for a new school superintendent in Dracut that requires the superintendent to pay a $15,000 fee if he exits before the the three-year term is completed.

A nonprofit agrees to buy a closed elementary school in Gloucester, the Gloucester Times reports.

Yvonne Abraham argues that the controversy over Boston Superintendent Carol Johnson’s support of a headmaster charged with domestic assault shouldn’t be framed by race.

HEALTH CARE

Health care changes affecting public workers in Billerica are expected to save $1.5 million, the Sun reports.

Community hospital leaders worry about the scope and the speed of legislative health cost containment reforms.

NPR (via WBUR) reports on “the Berlin patient,” who many consider the best hope for a cure to AIDS.

Some small businesses will be able to purchase health care coverage from Blue Cross Blue Shield through a cooperative set up by the Massachusetts Retailers Association, giving the businesses more power and savings than buying insurance on their own.

CHARITIES

The Marine Museum in Fall River took major steps to regain its charter and nonprofit status by filing six years worth of delinquent IRS 990 forms, but city officials and former directors are still concerned about management and operation of the museum.

TRANSPORTATION

A number of impact studies for the South Coast Rail project have been completed but the Army Corp of Engineers continue to work with local Native American tribes on a mandated archaeological and resource review along  the entire stretch of the proposed project.

T officials seek a waiver of an environmental review for a commuter rail parking garage in Salem, the Salem News reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Yesterday’s severe storms triggered several house fires south of Boston as well as disrupted commuter rail service on the Greenbush and Old Colony lines. The North Shore, particularly Lynn, was battered, the Item reports.

Footprint LLC solidifies a deal to buy the closing coal power plant in Salem from Dominion Energy Inc., the Salem News reports.

NStar is clearing trees under some of its power lines in an attempt to prevent power outages caused by vegetation, but many residents are furious about the policy.

MEDIA

ProPublica gets $1.9 million from the Knight Foundation, the Nieman Journalism Lab reports.

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