Axios Boston

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February 16, 2024

You've made it: The second-to-last Friday in February. It's practically Memorial Day.

Today's weather: Maybe a bit of snow this morning, but sunny and windy in the high 30s after that.

Today's newsletter is 849 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Finding Boston's rat terminator

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The City of Boston is looking to add a new weapon in its eternal battle against rats: busting bureaucracy.

What's happening: South Boston City Councilor Ed Flynn is pushing for a dedicated pest control office and appointed "rat czar" to streamline the city's efforts to neutralize the rodent population.

  • Flynn's proposed ordinance would create an Office of Pest Control to prioritize and coordinate the city's rodent response, which is currently handled by several different departments.

Why it matters: Aside from being a general nuisance, rats pose a significant public health problem — and Boston is still considered one the "rattiest cities" in America.

Zoom out: Famously rat-hating New York City Mayor Eric Adams appointed that city's first "director of rodent migration" last year.

What to look for in a rat czar: New York sought applicants who were "bloodthirsty" and dedicated to "wholesale slaughter" of rats, according to the job listing.

What they're saying: "I've talked to most of my colleagues and they understand how critical this issue is throughout all the neighborhoods of Boston. They also understand this is a public health, public safety and quality of life issue," Flynn told Axios.

  • Flynn said he's talked to Mayor Michelle Wu about the idea and she's supportive.

Details: Boston's "rat czar" would have the authority to develop strategies for baiting, trapping and killing rats, while also promoting public education and upgrading sanitation.

  • Bloodthirstiness isn't a job requirement yet, but there's still time to write up a sensational want-ad.

What's next: The City Council will debate Flynn's plan in the government operations committee and hear from Wu's team about how such a department would work and how much it would cost.

  • If the council and Wu approve the plan, Boston's top rat terminator could be recruited soon after.

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2. Newton shelter refutes violence rumors

A Newton fire truck flew the American flag at the funeral service for former State Auditor Joseph DeNucci at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Newton in 2017. Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A Catholic Church in Newton has been housing up to 30 migrant families since November and is now disputing rumors of violence in its facility.

What's happening: A statement from Our Lady Help of Christians Parish confirmed that yes, the Nonantum parish has been providing emergency shelter since Cardinal Sean O'Malley's October letter encouraging Catholics to aid migrant families.

  • But no, the statement said, the site has not been a center of violence as some have suggested.
  • Private security at the shelter is to protect against protesters, not to police the families inside.

What they're saying: "The families here are in need of our help, not condemnation. We consider these families people not problems," the letter said.

  • The church admitted that some of the children taken in by the church have "tested our fire alarms a few times" but said that's the extent of the trouble.

Read more: The Catholic Church's response to the migrant crisis

3. 🔙 Back that Mass. Up: Own a piece of Dunkin'

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🍩 Dunkin' Brands' parent company Inspire Brands is beginning to consider an IPO that would open the coffee chain, and other brands like Arby's and Baskin-Robbins, to public trading. (Bloomberg)

🚂A power problem at North Station brought down the Green, Blue and Orange Lines yesterday morning before 9:30am, stranding thousands of riders. (Boston 25)

  • The T was fare-free from 3pm-7pm yesterday to try to make up for the inconvenience.

🏨 The Boston Harbor Hotel, Encore Boston Harbor, both Boston Four Seasons hotels and the Mandarin Oriental were awarded five stars by Forbes. (Forbes)

4. 🛤️ Tracking the T

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Red Line slow zone delays are creeping back up, according to data analyzed by Transit Matters.

  • The Red Line is spending around 5 minutes more in speed restricted zones per round trip than it was a month ago.
  • The Orange Line has also been spending a few extra minutes in slow zones since the beginning of the year.

Alerts: The Orange Line is shutting down this weekend between Ruggles and Forest Hills for signal work.

  • Free shuttle buses and Commuter Rail alternatives will be available.
  • The Green Line's B, C and D branches will be closed between Copley, Babcock Street, Cleveland Circle and Brookline Hills stations for track work starting Tuesday.

5. 🍻 Winter craft beers to try

Photo: Mike Deehan

👋 Deehan here. This week, I'm looking at winter seasonal beers from some local breweries.

  • Today we have a spicy ginger and smooth stout.

Gigantic Gingerbread by Greater Good Imperial Brewing Company, Worcester, Mass.

  • American brown ale

Deehan's quickie review: Everything Greater Good makes is big on flavor and big on booze, like this one that's so gingery it's almost spicy.

Grade: B-

Beantown Stout Series: Vietnamese Coffee by Dorchester Brewing Company, Boston, Mass.

  • Coffee stout

Deehan's quickie review: It's about as rich and bold as its namesake, a creamy Vietnamese coffee served at one of Fields Corner's best pho restaurants.

Grade: B+

Drink up: More of our seasonal brew reviews

6. Weekender

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios


ğŸ›ž The Monster Jam Arena Championship kicks off at the DCU Center in Worcester, 7pm.

ğŸŽ¶ Catch "Defying Dragity: A Drag Retelling of Wicked" at Jacques Cabaret, 7pm.


🌲 Tap, collect and boil sap from maple trees at the Boston Nature Center, 10am-4pm.

  • Price: $15. Dot Rx members get in free.

🛍 The FOUND market returns to the Artists For Humanity Epicenter, selling vintage and upcycled clothing from more than 100 vendors, 11am-5pm.

Deehan really, really wants to win the iconic Lombardo's chandelier at auction.

Steph is going to New Jersey this weekend.

This newsletter was edited by Jeff Weiner and copy edited by James Farrell.