The Download: No idle threat
Thursday, April 21, 2011
With the price of oil topping $112 a barrel, the highest price in nearly three years, it won’t be long before we see $4 a gallon here in Massachusetts, perhaps by the end of the month at the current rise.
“Do you know what I am telling people? Before this year is out, you will wish you were only paying $4," Robert L. Bolduc, president of Pride Stations and Stores, which has 24 locations in the Pioneer Valley, told the Springfield Republican.
There don’t seem to be a lot of changes in driving habits so far, if you go by consumption, but the steady rise in prices is grabbing the consumer’s attention. The increases are also drawing the attention of local officials, some of whom are asking the attorney general to investigate whether there’s any price gouging going on.
In some south border towns, gas station owners are having déjà vu from the oil embargo days of the mid-1970’s. Lines of cars with Rhode Island plates are idling at Massachusetts stations because prices in the Ocean State went up 11 cents compared to 7 cents here in a week.
No one has mentioned the t-word (taxes, not Green Line) out loud here yet but it’s a move that Gov. Deval Patrick and others have talked about in the past to wean drivers from the pump hose.
US Sen. Scott Brown has introduced a bill to address the country’s dependence on foreign oil and, in a nod to his enviro-conscious constituency, increase the development of so-called green technology, such as tax credits for hybrid retrofitting.
There are, though, some signs that other changes are in the offing. Experts say one of the main reasons behind the giddy IPO offering by Zipcar is more people are abandoning their own vehicles in favor of public transportation and using the car-sharing company for the few times they need a ride. Just ask MBTA General Manager Rich Davey.
And in a timely announcement later today, Boston, once deemed among the most bike un-friendly of cities, will declare that it is joining Paris and Washington in rolling out a bike-sharing program, the Globe reports.
The increase is having an impact on presidential politics as well. As prices go up, President Obama’s approval ratings are tanking while Obama is placing the blame on speculators, claiming there’s plenty of gas to go around.
Most everyone agrees the economy is on the rebound, which is a good thing because it appears consumers will need every bit of that extra money to pour into their gas tanks and just in time for the summer vacation season.
Gov. Deval Patrick, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Therese Murray, former Patrick aide Doug Rubin, and celebrity chef Todd English top the list of potential witnesses in the corruption trial of former House speaker Sal DiMasi.
WBUR’s Radio Boston examines the brewing fight between unions and lawmakers over health care. Some union-supported pushback is underway in the House against Speaker Robert DeLeo's call to strip public workers of some bargaining rights over health coverage, the Globe reports.
Attorney General Martha Coakley says she plans to file legislation that would let her veto compensation of nonprofit board members that she deems excessive, the Gloucester Times reports.
The Berkshire Eagle argues that the decriminalization of marijuana has had predictable effects on the Supreme Judicial Court’s jurisprudence.
Efforts to draw attention to the state’s cultural offerings get a thumbs-up from The Berkshire Eagle.
How frosty is Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua’s relationship with his own police force? The Eagle-Tribune reports he refused to give police the name of a potential witness, tape recorded his questioning by a detective, and used friends elsewhere to run a license plate. The Globe dives into the zany doings in Lawrence with a story suggesting the mayor is a bit, well, zany.
No mas: Newton aldermen crush an attempt to put a debt exclusion override on the ballot to finish paying for Newton North High School.
Swansea officials are seeking state help for what they say is a growing and aggressive coyote population in the area.
The Globe profiles the enigmatic John Olver, the First District congressman who the paper says could be “the odd man out” as the looming redistricting process is forced to reduce by one the number of congressional districts in the state.
Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, who once considered running against US Sen. Scott Brown, yesterday challenged him to a game of one-on-one. “Bring your wallet,” Brown told her, according to a story in the Salem News. NECN catches up with Brown touring XL Hybrids in Somerville.
A Berkshire Eagle editorial hopes that the dip in Glenn Beck’s ratings and in support for tea partiers is the start of trend. The editorial draws heavily on CommonWealth’s interview in the new spring issue with Harvard history professor Jill Lepore, who calls the Tea Party views on American history a form of “fundamentalism.”
Barack Obama glad-hands Mark Zuckerberg, stomps all over the Republicans’ budget.
The Newton Tab agrees with US Rep. Barney Frank about the problems posed by the possibility that Newton Mayor Setti Warren might try to run Newton and a US Senate campaign at the same time.
House budget chief Paul Ryan resists calls to jump into the GOP primary.
Mike Huckabee’s Iowa co-chair from 2008 has jumped ship and joined forces with former Alabama judge Roy Moore. Related: South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, a potential 2012 kingmaker, is thoroughly underwhelmed by the current crop of Republican presidential wannabes. “No one in the field excites me right now,” she tells the AP.
US Rep. Michele Bachmann won’t hop on the birther bandwagon.
US Rep. Edward Markey tells Metro West business leaders that the federal budgets cuts aren’t doing any favors for the region’s or the “brain state’s” key industries.
Massachusetts job training programs are potentially seeing the last of their federal funding dry up with the end of stimulus money and looming budget cuts.
The Cape Cod Times supports Sen. John Kerry’s call for a national infrastructure bank.
Presenting the jobless economy.
CommonWealth’s Jack Sullivan looks at the financial implications of UMass moving up in the college football world. The move, which was made possible by a rent-free deal to use Gillette Stadium in Foxborough for home games, has some upside and potential pitfalls. NECN reports that UMass students have mixed opinions on the shift. Some students like the higher profile, but many say they are going to miss having games on campus. Home games will now be played at cavernous Gillette.
Gov. Patrick tells The Berkshire Eagle that the the state will reach an accord on a global payment system designed to trim health care costs this year despite Speaker Robert DeLeo’s recent pronouncement that he wants to wait until next year.
The MBTA plans repairs along commuter rail lines to Haverhill and Lawrence. Expect delays, reports the Eagle-Tribune. Meanwhile, the Globe’s south zone follows up on a series of CommonWealth stories by reporting that no service at all will be available on weekends on the Old Colony commuter line as the T repairs crumbling concrete railroad ties.
Barnstable County sets new standards for land-based wind turbines but rejects a provision that sets a height threshold of 65 feet.
State officials go to Marlborough to pitch ways municipalities can become more energy efficient.
The MetroWest Daily News provides a regional rundown of some of the Patrick administration-spotlighted clean energy projects that have received federal stimulus funds.
They’re back...in droves: Record numbers of right whales are feeding off the Cape this spring.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed column, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says Congress can’t be trusted with the Clean Air Act.
Boston native Frank McCourt, who leveraged his South Boston waterfront property for a chance to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers, has now lost control of his team and could be forced to sell. Major League Baseball, worried about McCourt’s financial woes and his bitter divorce proceedings, has taken the drastic step of taking over operations of the fabled franchise.
One of the Red Sox’ World Championships may be tainted and, no, it’s not the one where an allegedly juiced-up Manny Ramirez won the MVP.