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The Revolving Door Also Swings Close to Home

There’s been some hand-wringing recently over the increasingly oligarchical nature of our federal government. The revolving door between D.C. and Wall Street is and should be of concern. (See Blue Mass Group, Salon.com and The Atlantic.) In all of this, however, it should not be missed that the same door is held open between Beacon Hill and the corporate sector here in Massachusetts. The Governor’s new Transportation Secretary (about which enough has probably already been written) and his Stimulus Czar both came back to state government after very lucrative stints in the private sector, which were set up by previous stints in state government, from which they both cashed out, the former by remaining a legal consultant to the Pike […]

Truth Telling

An eye-opening quote from the CBO’s analysis of the proposed Truth in Writing act (my emphasis added): S. 574 would amend federal law to require all federal agencies within one year to use plain writing (clear, concise, well-organized, and readily identifiable to the intended reader) in all documents except for regulations. Thus, we are lead to believe that regulations will continue to be written in opaque, lengthy, disjointed, and obscure bureaucratese.

Is quasi-governmental power a 21st century skill

Robert Pondiscio of Core Knowledge passed on this nugget: Common Core’s Lynne Munson has an eyebrow-raising post today on a piece of federal legislation that would give extraordinary quasi-governmental power to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Munson reports that Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) will put forth a “21st Century Skills Incentive Fund Act.” The bill would create “an incentive fund for states to sign on to P21 and give tax breaks to corporations who support P21 at the state level.” As Munson notes the bill would make P21 the gatekeeper of hundreds of millions in federal taxdollars. That’s because the legislation would require any state that applies for these incentive funds first to be ‘approved as a 21st Century […]

Metrics Matter

Noah Bierman of the Globe had an interesting piece in Sunday’s Globe on commuter rail’s on-time performance. He found that peak service trains fared significantly worse than non-peak service trains for on-time service. The interesting part is that that the commuter rail operator, MBCR, is evaluated and reports on the basis of trains delayed, not passengers. What this means is that the bulk of commuter rail riders (i.e. rush hour passengers) experience a far higher level of late trains than the publicly reported data would suggest. I would suggest that a more customer-oriented metric would be based on the total delay per passenger but that would take a level of detail and information the MBTA cannot currently collect.

Going After the Cabbies

City Councillor John Tobin has proposed a sliding taxi fare scale tied to gas prices. Given that fares were just increased (in response to $4/gallon gas prices), this seems logical but hard to implement. Careful readers of this space will recall that we pointed out this issue in January — that taxi fares were raised in response to high gas prices but no cuts were implemented after gas prices moderated. Very careful readers will note that Councillor Tobin has a (laudable) history when it comes to vehicular issues. He led the effort to put GPS monitors on all Boston Public School buses as well.