This high tech exec thinks Mass. employers should support charter schools

By Mary Moore

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Chris Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Tech Council, is among those behind a petition filed this week for a ballot measure that would pave the way for annual increases in the number of charter schools statewide.

Priority would be given to areas that have the longest waiting lists of students and the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would continue to have oversight of the schools. Existing caps on charter school expansion would remain, but the ballot measure would create exemptions allowing for the creation of more charter schools.

The proposed ballot measure comes after the Massachusetts Senate last year defeated a bill that would have gradually lifted the cap on charter school seats. Charter school supporters likely would have faced similar legislative opposition again, Anderson said.

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Baker warm to charter ballot proposal, but plans to file his own bill

By Matt Murphy

“Massachusetts High Technology Council President Chris Anderson, one of the original 10 signers of the petition filed with the attorney general, said the council hoped to play a “strategic role” in advancing the ballot question or legislation to ensure that students in all districts learn the math and science skills they’ll need for the new workplace.  The enactment of additional and lasting reforms expanding student access to charter schools is an urgent moral and economic imperative,” Anderson said.

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Charter-school proponents petition to put expansion measure on 2016 ballot

By Jeremy C. Fox

Charter school proponents filed a petition Wednesday for a ballot measure that would authorize the creation or expansion of up to a dozen charter schools statewide each year.

The measure would direct state education officials to give priority to applications in the lowest-performing 25 percent of school districts and those with long waiting lists for charter seats. It would restrict the growth of seats to no more than 1 percent of student enrollment statewide.

The question would not technically raise a statewide cap on charter enrollment. The cap limits the Commonwealth to no more than 72 independent charter schools and 48 operated by traditional school districts.

Limits on individual districts, which are based on school spending, would also remain under the measure.

Instead, it would create exemptions that supporters say would address pent-up demand in urban districts that are at or near their caps, such as Boston, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, and Somerville.

“This ballot question actually takes a fairly tempered approach to increasing access in a gradual process, year by year, with retention of the important oversight of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education,” said Christopher Anderson, a former chairman of the state Board of Education and one of the petition’s signers.
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With Olympics bid dead, who’s ahead? And who took a hit?

By Michael Levenson and Mark Arsenault

Some of the winners and losers after the crash of the city’s Olympic bid are clear. Governor Charlie Baker has been widely praised for refusing to endorse or oppose the effort until he had a better handle on the financial risks. Chris Dempsey, the co-chair of No Boston Olympics, has also enjoyed a blast of positive attention for opposing the bid with a level head and a respectful tone. John Fish, the construction magnate who launched Boston 2024, has seen his reputation as the one of the city’s most powerful and influential executives badly bruised. Here’s a look at some others who have come out ahead, and some who have taken a hit.

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Steve Pagliuca

The iceberg was already in the rear-view mirror and the bow underwater when Pagliuca agreed to take the helm of Boston 2024 in May. Under his direction, the organization produced a new venue plan in about seven weeks, which let the organization go out with something tangible to show for all that donor money it spent.

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BBJ’s Top 10 winners from Boston Olympics forfeit

News that the U.S. Olympics Committee has officially dropped Boston as its potential host city for the 2024 Summer Games was unexpected Monday, but not all that surprising when one considers the challenges the city’s bid has faced in recent months.

The Boston Business Journal photo gallery above serves as our list of preliminary winners and losers to emerge from the eight-month saga that will forever be known as Boston 2024.

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Steve Pagliuca, the sports and finance wiz who has attained much higher profile through his work with Boston 2024. Having previously run for elected office in the Bay State, Pagliuca’s name recognition and ‘big thinking’ around the Games will no doubt position him well for another political campaign, should he go that route.

Tech workers turn out on Beacon Hill to decry noncompetes

By Callum Borchers

Dan Shore and the executive team at Cambridge startup Onshape Inc. used to require new hires to sign noncompete agreements. But the makers of three-dimensional design software dropped the restriction last month, according to Shore, after realizing that similar policies at other companies were making it harder to find available talent.

“We felt the effects of wanting to employ people that were subject to noncompetes and couldn’t employ them,” Shore told lawmakers Tuesday during a hearing at the State House. “We thought it was hypocritical because we asked our own employees to sign something that shows a fundamental level of mistrust.”

Testimonies like Shore’s dominated a two-hour session devoted to five bills that together would effectively end Massachusetts employers’ ability to impose noncompete restrictions on their workers in most cases. The covenants, common in technology but also found in other fields, require employees leaving their jobs to wait a finite period — sometimes a year or longer — before joining or launching other firms that compete with their previous companies.

A dozen entrepreneurs, technology workers and venture capitalists paraded before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development to support the bills, arguing that noncompetes hurt the state economy by hampering people who want to advance their careers or start new ventures.

Even the lone opposing voice — Mark Gallagher, executive vice president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council — called for new rules limiting the length of noncompete agreements and mandating that employers notify job candidates if they will be expected to sign them.

“We oppose any statutory ban on noncompetes. We think that goes too far,” said Gallagher, whose group represents 160 companies, including iRobot Corp. and IdeaPoint Inc. “But we do believe that additional restrictions do make sense, and we’re committed to working on those issues.”
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Mixed reaction in Mass. to Pacific trade bill

By Megan Woolhouse

“The Massachusetts High Technology Council, which represents some of the state’s biggest technology companies, called TPP “a huge opportunity not to be missed.”

“These are huge markets for many of our local tech companies,” said spokesman Mark Gallagher.”

The fate of a sweeping trade agreement — a deal with significant implications for Massachusetts’ leading industries — is up in the air while an unlikely alliance between President Obama and Republican leaders seeks to push ahead against resistance from an equally unlikely coalition of liberals and Tea Party conservatives.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, known as TPP, would eliminate tariffs and enact rules to open markets betweem the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations, including Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam.  Last week, the House narrowly passed legislation that would allow negotiations to move forward; the measure now heads back to the Senate, where another tight vote is expected.

Supporters of the agreement, including Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and much of big business, say it’s critical to expanding US exports and countering the ambitions of China, which is not a party to the negotiations.

Opponents, including the 11 Democrats in Massachusetts’ congressional delegation, view the deal as another blow to US workers that would send more American jobs overseas and depress wages. Continue reading

Democrats rebuff Obama on trade plans

Resounding loss in House fueled by fears for workers

By Tracy Jan

WASHINGTON — House Democrats, including the entire Massachusetts delegation, sidelined President Obama’s trade agenda Friday, a stark repudiation of the president just hours after he made a rare trip to Capitol Hill to plead for support.

The vote reflected deep fears among Democrats about the economic impact of foreign trade deals on middle-class workers and demonstrated the potency of labor unions who lobbied aggressively against the legislation. The bill would lay the groundwork for a sweeping trade pact among Pacific Rim nations. Continue reading

MBTA reform proposal divides business community

By Dan Adams

An MBTA employee worked on a Blue Line car this winter, when the transit agency experienced a service meltdown.
Governor Charlie Baker’s proposal to overhaul the beleaguered MBTA has proved divisive, and not just among politicians and transportation advocates. Business and industry groups are also lining up on opposite sides of the bill, in some cases pitting past allies against each other.

At a contentious legislative hearing this week, a coalition of about 25 prominent business groups testified in support of Baker’s measure, demanding “aggressive steps” to fix the public transit system. The coalition, spearheaded by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce , says it represents the majority of Massachusetts companies and includes such heavyweights as the Massachusetts High Technology Council .

But another coalition of business groups, led by A Better City, testified against Baker’s bill, saying it slashes needed funding and adds red tape. Some of its members stood side-by-side with the chamber as recently as last fall, when they campaigned against a ballot initiative that ended the link between increases in the gasoline tax and the consumer price index. Continue reading

Trade bill puts Warren at odds with state’s tech sector

By Jessica Meyers

WASHINGTON — The Capitol loomed behind Senator Elizabeth Warren last week as she raised her fist to a crowd of union workers and promised to fight against one of the world’s most expansive trade deals.

The cheers by labor and environmental groups in Washington were met with silence by companies back in Massachusetts, where the state’s thriving life science and tech sectors consider the trade pact critical to the region’s economic prosperity.

This disconnect pits Warren and some in the Democratic delegation against the state’s key business groups as lawmakers consider legislation that would propel the deal forward.

“This [trade pact] is a huge opportunity not to be missed,” said Christopher Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council. Continue reading