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What Problem Are They Trying To Solve

Bureaucracies have a wonderful, self-sustaining way of letting rules and regulations evolve. They are less skilled at pulling back from their day-to-day existence and asking “why do we do this?” I bring this up to frame a story of one particular family’s experience registering with the Boston Public Schools (which have seen enrollment decline over the past 10 years). And from anecdotal evidence, I can assure you that no one from outside Boston is sneaking their children into Boston’s kindergartens. Yet, upon presentation of proof-of-residency that included a copy of their property deed, multiple utility bills, proof of mortgage payment, and car registration, they were informed that additional documentation would be needed. (And as a sidebar, all this information is […]

Will the Guv hit a homer on charters or more ho-hum

The Governor is making an announcement on charters. He has taken a lot of heat on his opposition subsequent to the Boston Foundation report that clearly demonstrates their success. The question is whether he will come out and target attention on charters to the urban districts, which we believe should be the compromise, or whether he will come up with an unworkable finance scheme? If the latter, if he underfunds charters, then he is essentially making the argument that we should have a separate and unequal funding stream for charters. He doesn’t want to do that now, or does he? Remember: Ed reform in 1993 came out of a court case that insisted on a fairer use of funds for […]

Jeremy Piven?

Today’s Globe has a well-meaning op-ed that uses Jeremy Piven’s alleged mercury poisoning as its lead. This would be the ‘mercury poisoning’ that required him to go to Thailand to recuperate. For those of you with great interest in the topic, the NYPost recaps a variety of Mr. Piven’s exploits during his illness, including boozy late night parties and using mass text messages as a way of…ahem..meeting new friends. And a fisheries trade group took the liberty of posting Mr. Piven’s recent Good Morning America appearance on you-tube, with their own running commentary. In their defense, the op-eds authors do clear their throats two paragraphs into the piece, noting that Piven is widely discredited at this point. So don’t use […]

All We Got Was Paint and Carpet

Pioneer HQ has just undergone a facelift, but it appears we set our sights too low. Among the dirt thrown at departing Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain was that he spent $1.2 million sprucing up his office, including: $87,000 for an area rug in Thain’s conference room and another area rug for $44,000; a “mahogany pedestal table” for $25,000; a “19th Century Credenza” in Thain’s office for $68,000; a sofa for $15,000; four pairs of curtains for $28,000; a pair of guest chairs for $87,000; a “George IV Desk” for $18,000; six wall sconces for $2,700; six chairs in his private dining room for $37,000; a mirror in his private dining room for $5,000; a chandelier in the private dining […]

If you thought of them as customers, existing ones would be important

The Turnpike cranked out one of the more inexplicable pieces of public policy last week — adding a $.50/month charge for FastLane transponders. For potential new users, this is a actually a passable deal — you can get a transponder for free (versus $25.95 one-time charge) with a payback of more than four years. For existing users, this is ridiculous — you paid a flat fee upfront and the Turnpike is changing the terms of the deal. I wonder if EZ-Pass Arbitrage will increase? This space is a huge booster of open road tolling, so its disappointing to see the Turnpike do this, unless its part of some brilliant political strategy whereby the Turnpike alienates as many political constituencies as […]