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Gov. Deval Patrick threw $60 million at South Coast Rail on Monday, and he told New Bedford and Fall River residents that they're thisclose to finally getting their commuter train into Boston. "You're right on the threshold," Patrick told the New Bedford Standard-Times. "And I want to ride that first train."

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Since 2010, Massachusetts voters statewide have marched to the polling booth eight times for primary, general, and special elections and there have been at least 13 other special elections with accompanying primaries to fill state House and Senate seats as well as a Congressional seat, not to mention the myriad of biennial local elections.

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The state’s teen birth rate hit its lowest recorded level ever and analysts are crediting the use of contraception rather than a change in behavior for the decline.

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The think tank MassINC called on the state of Massachusetts to invest $1.7 billion over 10 years to help revitalize some of the state’s Gateway Cities. The investment amounts to roughly $1,000 for every resident of the 24 municipalities.

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Everyone seems to be going after the women's vote. But nobody, it appears, knows exactly what the “women's vote” is except that they want it and it’s key to being elected.  Women, after all, have consistently turned out in larger numbers than men for the presidential election since 1980.

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The state’s Gateway Cities are plagued by poverty, anemic economic growth, and lagging educational attainment. What gets less attention is crime, which is a symptom of the lack of economic opportunity in these communities and also a contributor to the problem. Crime makes communities less attractive to businesses and their customers and saps community morale.

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The Globe's Yvonne Abraham gives Hampden County Sheriff Mike Ashe some much-deserved attention today in this great column. Ashe's reform-minded approach to corrections landed him -- and his brother and partner in (anti-)crime Jay -- on the cover of CommonWealth 10 years ago this summer.  Click here to read Neil Miller's lengthy look at the unlikely pair of reformers.

                                                                                                                                      -- MICHAEL JONAS

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The just-concluded Conservative Political Action Conference marks the unofficial start of the presidential campaign season, and the months ahead will be full of fundraising, speechifying and quiet outreach. That’s the old model for running for president, anyway: Raise a ton of money, create an aura of inevitability (or at least possibility), and use both to wrap up key staffers and supporters in strategic early primary states. After all, it’s only a year until the New Hampshire primary.

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All sorts of factors contribute to the relative performance of students in different school districts. Household income and parent education levels often stand out as the most obvious: Students in wealthier communities with highly educated parents invariably score higher on achievement tests than those from lower-income communities with low adult educational attainment levels.

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Former Senate president Billy Bulger practiced the trade with such abandon that MBTA was said to stand for “Mr. Bulger’s Transportation Authority,” an only partially tongue-in-cheek reference that seemed to make him beam, not cringe.  One of his Senate president successors, Robert Travaglini, spoke of it as something more akin a solemn duty when he defended landing jobs for East Boston residents at Massport as mitigation for a community saddled with all the negative impacts of having an international airport in its backyard. Continue Reading
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