It may not seem possible to solve all of Boston’s biggest problems in one day. But Jesse Mermell is going to give it a try.
As president of the left-leaning Alliance for Business Leadership, Mermell is hosting a daylong workshop called the Leader Lab at the Seaport World Trade Center on Monday in which top executives as well as up-and-comers will gather to hash out some of the city’s biggest issues. Education, transportation, workforce housing, and health-care costs — they’re all on the agenda.
The goal will be to brainstorm and come up with meaningful solutions, ideas that can be passed along to key advocacy groups such as the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Health Care For All, and the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association.
Mermell says the lab idea came soon after she started in the job early last year. “I kept hearing from everybody that they wanted something to be engaged [and] roll up their sleeves and help out,” she says.
The list of heavy hitters scheduled to attend includes people from most of Boston’s major sectors: Phil Edmundson of insurance brokerage Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.; the New England Venture Capital Association’s Jody Rose; Vertex Pharmaceuticals founder Joshua Boger; Greg Bialecki of real estate developer Redgate; and Dancing Deer Baking Co. founder Trish Karter.
Each of the roughly 200 participants — a mix of Alliance members and non-members — will pick two issues to focus on. Working groups will be established to continue the dialogue during the next year.
“If you’re the person that yells at the Boston Globe in the morning the way I yell at the Red Sox that they should put me in and let me pitch, this is the event for you,” Mermell says.
— JON CHESTO
‘Pay to Play’ beer on tap
A crackdown by Massachusetts alcohol regulators on the practice of “pay-to-play” — when beer distributors give bars cash or gifts to put certain brews on tap and keep the rest o ut — has quickly become a hot topic in the craft beer industry.
The news certainly didn’t escape the notice of Rushing Duck Brewing Co. , a small New York brewery whose owners say they’re sick of being asked for money and having their brews tossed out of bars that take payments from rivals. Now, they’re fighting back the only way they know how: By releasing a beer named “Pay To Play .”
“We’ve seen bars . . . . just cut us out completely because the purveyors of [out-of-state] beer are promising things if 85 percent of the tap lines are from that distributor,” a frustrated Nikki Cavanaugh , co-owner of Rushing Duck, recently told the Albany Times Union. “They don’t care if they’re hurting the local guys who make good beer; they just want to make money.”
Cavanaugh said a Massachusetts distributor’s practice of paying bars $1,000 to $2,000 for taps “absurd.”
“I can’t compete with that,” she said. “I barely send out tap handles because I don’t think it’s worth it.”
Aficionados describe Rushing Duck’s Pay To Play as an amber, hoppy, American-style IPA with a citrus nose. Unfortunately, it’s an occasional offering that’s only available in New York. (Getting the beer on tap in Boston might require, well, greasing the wheels a little.) Still, it’s fun to imagine the look on a bar manager’s face when Cavanaugh walks in, asking if he’d like put Pay To Play on tap.
— DAN ADAMS
Levy signs off on his blog
There are executives who like to stay out of the spotlight. And then there is Paul Levy.
The former chief executive of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Levy bent the unwritten rules of CEO decorum almost a decade ago when he started a blog about the Boston health care scene. Levy kept it going after leaving the hospital five years ago. Now, he’s ending it.
“It is simply time to move on to other pursuits,” he wrote in his final post Tuesday.
When he first began, the concept was still novel among Boston executives. “What’s a blog?” Thomas Glynn told the Globe in 2007, then chief operating officer at Partners HealthCare. Glynn now runs the Massachusetts Port Authority.
Not only did Levy blog, he delved into topics most executives keep private. He waxed poetic about infection rates and poked competitors — mainly Partners —for using their position in the market to extract high payments.
During his nine-year career at Beth Israel Deaconess, Levy helped rescue the hospital from financial crisis. But he resigned as CEO in 2011, after facing questions and criticism for his relationship with a female employee, whom he later married.
Levy left the corner office, but he kept the blog, aptly changing its name from “Running a Hospital” to “Not Running a Hospital.”
Levy works as a senior advisor at Lax Sebenius LLC, a Concord negotiation strategy firm. He also travels the globe to talk to medical students and hospital executives about patient safety and leadership. And, he added excitedly in an e-mail, he still coaches girls’ soccer after 27 years.
Levy was characteristically blunt about the object of his Internet musings. “The goal was to educate, provoke, and amuse—and sometimes expose those in the medical-industrial complex who have abused positions of public responsibility by focusing on the almighty dollar,” he said. “Others can judge whether it succeeded on any of those fronts.”
— PRIYANKA DAYAL MCCLUSKEY
Lawyers back Baker
Among the companies showering Charlie Baker with donations, none have shown more love so far in 2016 than Nixon Peabody. More than 60 Nixon Peabody attorneys gave a total of at least $15,000 to the Baker campaign last month, mostly in $250 increments, according to records at the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.
Nixon Peabody spokeswoman Allison McClain says Baker has been a guest numerous times, including last month, when he visited its offices at 100 Summer St. to talk about his initiatives. The law firm occasionally hosts events for political figures in cities where it has offices, she says, and its partners are civic-minded and interested in politics.
Nixon Peabody’s contributions are a fraction of the $3.5 million Baker has raised since becoming governor in January 2015. That far exceeds what his predecessors, Deval Patrick and Mitt Romney, raised at the same point in their terms, thanks in part to higher individual contribution limits.
— JON CHESTO
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