Business & Tech

Talking Points: Boston’s approach to a safer harbor, pot shops delayed, and more

BOSTON, MA - 6/03/2016: A sign posted floating in Boston Harbor saying NO WAKE ZONE makes a good perch for this bird. (David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo) SECTION: METRO TOPIC stand alone photo
David L Ryan/Globe Staff
A sign floating in Boston Harbor reads “no wake zone.”

Good afternoon, Talking Points readers. Here’s your recap of the most important business news for Wednesday, Dec. 28.

Chesto Means Business

Seeking a safer harbor: A massive barrier across Boston Harbor might seem like a crazy idea. But it also might be crucial to Boston’s future.

With city officials preparing for a day when major chunks of the city are threatened by a rising ocean, they’re not ready to rule out a measure as extreme as a giant wall, one that could stretch from Deer Island to Hull.

The Barr Foundation just approved a $360,000 grant for the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Sustainable Solutions Lab to study a range of “harborwide” flood projects. The goal: assessing the pros and cons of various barrier configurations and other possible defenses to guard against sea level rise or storm surges. The UMass Boston researchers will also analyze the potential environmental effects and conflicts with shipping and other harbor uses.


The Barr Foundation helped fund the city’s recent “Climate Ready Boston” report, which showed the portions of the city that may be underwater decades from now. Now, the foundation and others will advocate for much smaller, near-term measures to make buildings and neighborhoods more climate-resilient.

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A supersized harbor infrastructure project, though, would take immense amounts of money and political will. Think of another Big Dig, only bigger. The UMass Boston research should help local officials determine whether a giant wall would be worth that kind of sacrifice.

Jon Chesto is a Globe reporter. Reach him at and follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.

Market wrap

Executive Summary

Up in smoke: The state Legislature is delaying the opening of recreational marijuana shops until the middle of 2018, the Globe’s Joshua Miller and Jim O’Sullivan report.

But before you go calling your state rep or senator to complain, he or she probably wasn’t on Beacon Hill for the session. Only two senators and five representatives were on hand for the vote to delay that portion of the legislation. Voters legalized recreational marijuana through a referendum in November.

There is one problem with today’s vote. It’s legal to possess pot in Massachusetts as of Dec. 15, but it’s not legal to buy it. Look for the Legislature to get into the weeds of how to implement the shops when it returns to formal session.


Healthy discussion?: One of Donald Trump’s campaign promises was vowing to overturn the Affordable Care Act, so it comes as little surprise that health care officials are interested in meeting with the president-elect to find out his plans.

Dr. David Torchiana, chief executive of Partners HealthCare, was among several leaders meeting with Trump in Palm Beach, Fla., Globe reporter Priyanka Dayal McCluskey writes. Partners is the parent company for 10 Massachusetts hospitals, including Mass. General and Brigham Women’s.

While it’s unclear what was discussed behind closed doors, Torchiana has been on record as saying a full repeal of the law would be disruptive to millions of families.

Back on the flip side: Apparently, it’s hip to flip again.

Banks are opening up their lending to folks who are flipping houses, according to the Wall Street Journal. In the first few months of 2016, the number of investors flipping houses reached a peak not seen since 2007.


Investors are making a profit of $61,000 on each flip, which is up from $19,000 when the market bottomed out in 2009. The report includes mention of a “super-intense, hardcore” house-flipping boot camp in Bourne, Mass., which promises to teach real-estate investing in three days with “really massive profits” to follow.

Trending Pick

Sale may be in the bag: Reports that luxury handbag designer Kate Spade Co. is exploring a sale are receiving soe significant clicks for Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

Line Items

Apple is all ears:

Wireless earbuds are a hit -- Business Insider

Long hours blamed for suicide

Dentsu executive resigns -- New York Times

International IPO battle

Hong Kong, US seek supremacy -- Financial Times

The risk of mobile money:

Too much of a good thing? -- Quartz


Closing ranks: Count the Service Employees International Union among those making preparations for a Donald Trump presidency.

The SEIU, which represents 2 million health care, janitorial, and other service workers, is cutting its $300 million budget by 30 percent, the Globe’s Katie Johnston reports. The union had been spearheading the national movement for a $15 minimum wage, something that’s likely to face an uphill battle with Trump at the helm.

Having all three branches of government controlled by Republicans is seen as a threat to labor unions. Instead of focusing on growing the union ranks, SEIU leaders will likely focus more on politics during Trump’s presidency.

Thanks for reading the Talking Points newsletter compiled by George Brennan @gpb227. If you liked what you read, tell your friends to sign up.