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Business Manager’s Blog

John P. Dumas

John P. Dumas, the Business Manager of Local 103 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, represents more than 7,000 electrical and telecommunication members in the Greater Boston area.

A 37 year member of Local 103, Dumas is a seasoned and experienced leader. Along with serving as 103’s president for the past 18 years, Dumas served the union in a number of leadership roles, including business agent, member of the union’s executive board and trustee of the health, ANNUITY, pension, LMCT and JATC funds. He also has served as a member of numerous contract negotiation teams, playing a pivotal role in several major contracts governing members’ benefits.

Throughout his career he has shown a keen interest in nurturing younger union officers in preparation for leadership roles in the future, and his leadership style has always been one of inclusion and accessibility to all members.


Cambridge frets over business climate

City eyes balance for labs, green goals

Boston Herald | By Jordan Graham
December 22, 2014

Biogen IdecTwo of Cambridge’s top priorities — supporting biotech companies and being green — are in a tug-of-war as the city mulls tougher emissions standards for new construction.

A city task force has been meeting for nearly a year to come up with a way for new buildings in Cambridge to be “net zero” to significantly reduce emissions. But some of the most energy-intensive buildings in Cambridge are biotech labs, which require a significant amount of specialized infrastructure, including high-powered ventilation systems to deal with any potentially hazardous gases.

“We want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment,” said Susanne Rasmussen, director of environmental and transportation planning for Cambridge and co-chairwoman of the task force. “The actions we take could have much broader impact than in our own community.”

Joe McGuire, vice-president of development for Alexandria Real Estate Equities, one of the largest developers of lab space in Cambridge and also a member of the task force, said, “There are less than a handful of cases where a lab can be made net zero. (Labs) could be five or six times more expensive (to power) than an office building.”

He said his own company makes energy efficiency a priority, but developing a net-zero emissions lab in Cambridge would be nearly impossible.

Because Cambridge is so densely packed, particularly in Kendall Square where most labs sit, there is less room for renewable energy infrastructure, such as solar panels.

McGuire estimates roughly half of Cambridge’s commercial office space is taken up by laboratories, a far greater percentage than anywhere else in the world.

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Nonprofit wins bid to run Roxbury incubator

The Boston Globe | By Dan Adams
December 19, 2014

Bruce C. Bolling Municipal BuildingThe city of Boston has selected a local nonprofit group to operate the Roxbury Innovation Center, a publicly funded business incubator set to open next year in Dudley Square.

The bid by the Venture Café Foundation , the nonprofit sister of the Cambridge Innovation Center, won in part because of the group’s experience and connections in the tech world.

The foundation runs the “Innovation Visitors Bureau,” which organizes tours of local technology institutions, manages District Hall , a shared work and event space in the Innovation District, and organizes a long-running tech community meetup in Cambridge on Thursday nights.

“We’re looking forward to working with the community to create a space for experimentation and conversation that highlights all of the innovation and entrepreneurship happening locally, and connects to resources that make ideas and businesses grow faster,” the group’s executive director, Kevin Wiant, said in a statement.

The 3,000-square-foot Innovation Center will be located on the second floor of the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building. Formerly called the Ferdinand Building, it will also house the Boston School Department.

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Clinton faces headwinds from liberals as Warren rises

The Boston Globe | By Jessica Meyers
December 21, 2014

Clinton and WarrenWASHINGTON — It has been a tough year for the Hillary Rodham Clinton juggernaut.

Her record as secretary of state was undercut by the rise of the Islamic State and a breakdown in relations with Russia. Her much-awaited book didn’t sell many copies. Her face graced the cover of this year’s worst-selling issue of People magazine.

Then, during the last few weeks, a different juggernaut erupted — a liberal campaign to persuade Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to run for president.

One group, MoveOn.org, is spending $1 million on a “Run Warren Run” effort and recently sent troops to the first-caucus state of Iowa. A second team, Democracy for America, has bolted from its pro-Clinton founder and is using $250,000 on a similar pro-Warren effort.

Clinton still appears likely to clinch a nomination, particularly if Warren keeps her pledge not to run. But the difficulties of 2014 are casting her race in a different light, raising questions about liberal dissatisfaction with her record and whether a leftward shift would hurt her in a general election.

“There are a lot of unchecked boxes with Hillary Clinton when it comes to economic populism and corporate accountability,” said Adam Green, cofounder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal group. “There are definitely red flags.”

He cited pricey speaking fees that Clinton received at two events for Goldman Sachs, a Wall Street investment bank, and questions about her position on numerous policies that affect the middle class, such as a long-shot hope to expand Social Security benefits.

The group, while not part of the draft effort, has sent an organizer to New Hampshire in hopes of creating a coalition that ensures that candidates carry Warren’s message.

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Decision on pension payout will last a lifetime

The Boston Globe | By Steve Maas
December 21, 2014

Take the money or wait?

That’s the $90,402 question The New York Times Co. has put to me as it offers to buy out my right to the lifelong monthly pension I earned when the parent of the Times newspaper also owned the Globe.

An increasing number of workers face the same question as corporations drop traditional pensions and seek to unload past obligations by enticing employees and former employees to trade their pensions for one-time, lump-sum payouts. With people living longer and the investment environment in flux, companies don’t want to worry about whether they’ll have enough money to pay their retirees.

Just 7 percent of the companies in the 2013 Fortune 500 offered traditional pension plans to new employees, down from 51 percent of those companies operating in 1998, according to Towers Watson, a global benefits consulting firm. And in a recent survey of 180 mid- and large-size companies with defined benefit plans, Towers Watson found that two-thirds of them had offered lump-sum pension buyouts or would do so by next year.

“The snowball is gathering speed,” said professor Olivia S. Mitchell, executive director of the Pension Research Council at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. “Partly as a result of the financial crisis and the need to throw a lot of money into underfunded [pension] plans, big corporations have just decided to call it quits.”

Mitchell estimates that about half the people take the lump sums — along with the risks of managing investments and retirement savings. Among the specialists I consulted, the consensus was that those who should seriously consider lump sums are people who are pessimistic about life expectancy, face an immediate financial crisis, or are sufficiently affluent that they don’t have to count on the pension.

I don’t fall into any of those categories. For me, the question became: Could I outperform the pension benefits by investing the lump sum — without losing sleep at night?

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Tech firm Jabra will relocate North American HQ to Lowell

Boston Business Journal | By David Harris
December 19, 2014

Jabra will be relocating its North American headquarters in Lowell.

Denmark-based wireless headphone and speaker maker Jabra will relocate its North American headquarters from Nashua, N.H., to Lowell next year.

The company is relocating more than 90 employees to a 32,000-square-foot office at the redesigned Cross Point office complex in Lowell in April 2015. The company has 875 employees worldwide, according to Jabra’s website.

The building was originally built as the headquarters for technology powerhouse Wang.

Anchor Line Partners and Farallon Capital Management acquired Cross Point for $100 million in June from San Francisco-based DivcoWest and began significant renovations in August.

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Medford to receive $1 million in tax revenue as values jump, condo conversions increase

Wicked Local Medford | By Alex Ruppenthal
December 17, 2014

The city of Medford will receive an additional $1 million in tax revenue in fiscal 2015 compared to the previous year, thanks largely to a spike in home values and conversions of houses into condos.

City Assessor Ed O’Neil said the 29 percent increase in new tax revenue is the biggest since the early 2000s.

“There’s lot of activity in the apartment sector of real estate, not just in Medford but all over [Greater Boston],” O’Neil said during a Medford City Council meeting Dec. 9. “Rents are going up, especially in those higher-end [buildings].”

O’Neil said the current housing market reflects the one in 2004, with big jumps in values of two- and three-family houses.

“The two’s and three’s are going through the roof again, and it’s driven by conversions,” O’Neil said. “I think it’s economy-driven. People are working. The rents are sustaining the development.”

Values of apartments with more than eight units increased 18 percent from last year. Three other housing categories also saw double-digit value increases — three-family houses (14 percent), two-family houses (13 percent) and condos (10 percent).

Business growth, however, was not a major factor in the city’s new tax revenue, as commercial values increased by just 3 percent.

“In commercial, there’s not a lot of activity, very similar to 2004,” O’Neil said. “But there is a re-use going on with apartments [and condos].”

In many cases, homes being converted into apartments or condos are selling well above their values. One example is a three-bedroom house at 252 Boston Ave. valued at $495,000 that in October sold for $850,000, according to property sale records from the Assessor’s Office.

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Big U Turn in Forest Hills: City Signs Off on 124-Unit Project

Curbed Boston | By Tom Acitelli
December 19, 2014

Forest HillsIt’s been called “one of the largest residential developments in the history of Forest Hills”: a 190,000-square-foot development with 124 condos and apartments. And it got the O.K. of the Boston Redevelopment Authority on Thursday evening.

The project will be plunked atop an MBTA site called Parcel U between Hyde Park Avenue and Washington Street near the Forest Hills commuter-rail and T stop.

Construction could start on the 76-unit rental component, spread over two four-story buildings, this coming spring once state funding is lined up. A five-story, 48-unit condo component could be completed in 2017 beginning in the spring of 2015. (The project’s currently slated to be mostly condos.)

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Boston’s Olympic plan distinct among US cities

The Boston Globe | By John Powers
December 22, 2014

Harvard StadiumWith a decision expected next month on whether Boston will be the US nominee to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, local backers of the idea have already begun to address concerns about traffic, exploring ways to use existing, temporary, and reusable venues close to mass transit stops.

Boston 2024 Partnership president Dan O’Connell said that if Boston is chosen by US Olympic officials, organizers would take advantage of the city’s compact layout, mass transit, and interstate highway layout.

“Our guideline is no venue more than a 10-minute walk from a T or commuter rail stop,” O’Connell said in an interview. He spoke following a meeting in California last week where the group pitched Boston as the best venue. The city is competing with Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington.

Traffic, and moving people through the city, will be the Boston organizers’ biggest challenge. O’Connell said Boston has learned from London’s organizers, who worked with businesses to reduce traffic during commuting times by adopting staggered work hours during the Games. Some Londoners also worked at home.

But, he said, the timing of the Games will also help. “It’s July and a lot of people are gone anyway,” said O’Connell. “We’ll have 250,000 students who aren’t in town. That frees up a lot of capacity.”

Shuttling the athletes from the Olympic village to the venues would require maximum use of Interstates 93 and 90. Customarily, there would be a dedicated lane for Olympic vehicles, but Boston is considering a novel format: “Doing lane closures only when we need to move athletes to a venue,” said O’Connell.

“They don’t have to be closed off for 24 hours,’’ he said. “It doesn’t have to be Jersey barriers. It doesn’t have to be zipper lanes. It can be done in a way where that lane can quickly be converted back.”

With fewer cities willing to stage the Games, the International Olympic Committee recently adopted new procedures that will allow future hosts to use unconventional ways to keep costs down. The most expensive item historically has been the mammoth main stadium used for the opening and closing ceremonies and the track and field events, which later becomes an architectural leftover such as Beijing’s Bird’s Nest.

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BELD solar array set to start operating soon

Wicked Local Braintree | By Robert Aicardi
December 17, 2014

Municipal Light BoardGeneral Manager William Bottiggi said he is enthusiastic about how the Braintree Electric Light Department (BELD) teamed up with the town to install a solar array at the closed landfill next to the Covanta Transfer Station on Ivory Street.

This unit is scheduled to begin operation by the end of the year and a dedication ceremony is planned for early 2015.

“We are always looking to increase our renewable energy power supply while keeping the electric rate in Braintree as low as possible for residents and businesses,” Bottiggi said of the project that had been in the works for two years. “This solar array will continue to help us maintain long term control of our energy costs by providing power at a known price.”

James Regan, who serves on the municipal light board, agreed.

“We can create a more sustainable, cleaner and safer world by making wiser energy choices,” he stated. “It’s very important that we expand our use of clean energy and make a commitment to it.”

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Boston offering $20M for affordable housing projects

Boston Business Journal | By Catherine Carlock
December 19, 2014

Mayor Walsh 6Boston Mayor Martin Walsh on Thursday said the city is offering $20 million through a competitive bid process to spur the creation of affordable housing.

The city’s department of neighborhood development has put out two separate requests for proposals valued at $10 million apiece. The RFPs outline criteria for affordable housing projects, including: an efficient and reduced-cost building process; housing development targeting a mix of incomes; housing that serves the disabled, vulnerable and special needs populations; and housing that serves elders, veterans, artists and aging-out youth, among other criteria.

“This is the first round of funding being made available that will help us fulfill the goals outlined in our new housing policy,” Walsh said in a statement. “We are going to use these funds in a strategic, responsible way, supporting the development of housing that’s affordable, attractive, and efficient. This is a major first step toward ensuring that everyone who wants to make Boston better can access housing they can afford.”

Walsh has made affordable housing a major priority of his administration through programs such as Boston 2030, which pledges the creation of 53,000 new housing units dedicated for a variety of incomes in the city by the year 2030.

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Cushing Village design changes approved

Planning Board members approved updated design changes to the Cushing Village development, Tuesday evening.

Wicked Local Belmont | By Lindsey O’Donnell
December 16, 2014

Planning Board MembersPlanning Board members approved updated design changes to the Cushing Village development, Tuesday evening.

The decision marks a stepping stone in rolling out the 186,000-square-foot, three-building development’s design, slated to be on Trapelo Road and Common Street.

The design changes relate to the development’s three main buildings, the Winslow Building, the Hyland Building, and the Pomona Building.

The updates to the Hyland building will move the building’s entrance location and expand the size of the roof’s deck features. A proposed alteration to the Winslow building would also enlarge its roof penthouse to provide more community space for residents.

In addition, developers proposed relocating the municipal parking garage’s pedestrian entrance from the corner of Trapelo and Common streets to the west corner of the Pomona building.

Another proposed change suggested adding venting appliances through the exterior walls of all three buildings.

Planning Board Chairman Michael Battista said he recently met with the architect of the development, Peter Quinn, to look over the design changes.

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Boston OK’s move of state transit offices to Roxbury

The Boston Globe | By Jack Newsham
December 19, 2014

Tremont CrossingThe board of the Boston Redevelopment Authority moved a plan forward Thursday to build a new headquarters for

Massachusetts Department of Transportation in Roxbury.

The city-owned parcel south of Ruggles Station was tentatively designated to the transportation agency, which wants to build approximately 800,000 square feet of office space and 21,000 space for an African-American art museum. The redevelopment agency’s board also voted to approve an expansion of the Bayside DoubleTree Hotel in Dorchester and three other projects totalling 178 residential units.

Nick Martin, a spokesperson for the BRA, said the deal was given only preliminary approval because the city still had to arrange a land-swap with the state.

Prior to Thursday’s meeting, the vacant land in Roxbury had been the planned site of a massive mixed-use development called Tremont Crossing that would include condos, retail spaces, and arts space. With that project stalled by a lack of financing, however, the private development company P-3 Partners plans to lease 126,000 square feet from the Department of Transportation ”for retail and other uses,” the BRA said in a statement.

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Salem Power Plant: Developer granted one-year deferment

Wicked Local Salem | By William J. Dowd
December 10, 2014

Despite protests from local residents and energy-producing competitors, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Friday, Dec. 5, granted Footprint Power a one-year deferment on its five-year obligation to generate electricity from its proposed 674-megawatt power plant in Salem Harbor.

The deferment addresses the fact that Footprint now acknowledges it will not be able to begin supplying power to the regional grid on June 1, 2016, as it had to do by participating in ISO New England’s forward-capacity auction for that time period.

Now, less than 18 months from that June 1, 2016, start date, Footprint has yet to obtain the $1 billion to finance the plant’s construction, which the company has estimated will take 30 months. Under the commission’s order, Footprint now has until June 1, 2017, to finance and build the plant and begin producing electricity.

In July, FERC revised its rules to make the deferment application possible. Based on Footprint’s predicament, a facility sponsor can now request a deferment, so long as a grid operator is relying on the proposed plant, existing delays are preventing a facility from going online and the facility becoming operational is deemed critical, criteria Footprint was able to meet.

In Footprint’ deferral application, filed with the commission in October, the company argues that four residents’ challenge to the Environmental Appeals Board in March to the permit that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection had issued for the project had stalled the plant’s construction.

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East Middle School’s $7 million improvement project moves forward

Wicked Local Braintree | By Tom Gorman
December 17, 2014

The East Middle School improvement project has taken another important step forward as officials are preparing to hire an owner’s project manager.

The Braintree School Committee authorized the school building committee to send its owner’s project manager selection to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) for approval.

According to school business manager Edward Cronin, the school building committee had sent out requests for quotes from companies that would serve as the district’s owner’s project manager that would oversee the $7 million project at East Middle. The owner’s project manager is required by the MSBA.

“We received quite a few (requests) already,” he said.

Cronin said that the candidates did a walk-through at the school and a “short list” of finalists is to be sent to the MSBA by Jan. 1. The agency would then select the project manager by mid January.

“The process is moving very quickly,” school business manager Cronin said.

The project involves replacing the school’s 50-year-old heating and ventilation system, installing new windows, doors, ceilings, lights and a sprinkler system.

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Allen Street rezoning discussion on former BELD site pushed to Jan. 6

Wicked Local Braintree | By Robert Aicardi
December 18, 2014

During their first meeting of the new year, members of the town council’s committee on ordinances and rules will continue to talk about a proposal to rezone the former Braintree Electric Light Department (BELD) site at 44 Allen St. to allow for residential development.

Committee members unanimously agreed Dec. 16 to resume their discussion at their next meeting, scheduled for Jan. 6 at 5:30 p.m. in the Cahill Auditorium at town hall, but District 4 Councilor Stephen O’Brien is making it clear that he opposes the idea.

“When I ran for this seat, I ran on a platform of controlled development,” he said. “This zoning would allow a large development to go forward.”

District 5 Councilor Michael Owens said he supports the proposal.

“Transit-oriented development is very important,” he said. “It has to be done right. What I would hate to see happen would be for us to go down the wrong path.”

Even though, at the suggestion of Director of Planning and Community Development Christine Stickney, the planning board agreed 4-0 Nov. 10 (member James Eng was absent) to endorse the request Stickney submitted to rezone this property, the town council, in its role as Braintree’s legislative body, will have the final say after the ordinances and rules committee decides whether to recommend favorable action. The next meeting of the council is set for Tuesday, Jan. 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Cahill Auditorium of town hall.

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