MBTA budget meeting
The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board meets to review its proposed fiscal 2017 budget, MassDOT Board of Director’s Room, 10 Park Plaza, 9:30 a.m.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission holds a hearing on proposed regulation changes and other industry topics, 101 Federal St. – 12th floor, 10 a.m.
Walsh at Roxbury Community College
Mayor Marty Walsh offers remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony for major campus renovations at Roxbury Community College, Media Arts Center Auditorium, 1234 Columbus Rd., Roxbury, 1:30 p.m.
Gov. Charlie Baker is expected to join Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, House Assistant Minority Leader Brad Hill and members of the Ipswich Republican Town Committee at a fundraiser dinner for district candidates, Coolidge Hall at The Topsfield Fairgrounds, Topsfield, 6:30 p.m.
Lawmakers may have to revise pension rules after surprise SJC ruling
The Supreme Judicial Court just opened up a very big can of worms regarding state pensions. The bottom line: The high court yesterday found that a long-standing state law that strips away the pension of state employees convicted of crimes goes way too far in some circumstances, so far that the pension punishment is “not proportional” to the crimes committed, reports the Globe’s Travis Andersen and John R. Ellement.
Some experts are quoted as saying the ruling, which appears to differentiate between misdemeanors and more serious criminal convictions, is narrow enough not to open the flood gates of claims by ex-state workers denied pensions because they were convicted of crimes related to their jobs. But others say it will indeed open the floodgates. Keeping in mind that this is Massachusetts and that landing a lucrative public pension is the holy career grail of many workers, we tend to agree this decision is going to create all sorts of thorny problems. It’s also going to create a lot of public outrage. This is classic talk-show cannon fodder. There’s already talk of creating a “tiered” pension punishment system. Lawmakers better get moving on this one.
The ultimate political insult: Comparing Hillary Clinton to Martha Coakley
The Herald’s Kimberly Atkins goes there: “The Wisconsin primary — Hillary Clinton’s sixth loss in a row — was a warning shot across her bow: She’s at risk of becoming the national version of Martha Coakley. Clinton is veering dangerously close to the fate Coakley famously suffered in the 2010 Massachusetts U.S. Senate race.” Whether the comparison is fair or not (or too cruel, for that matter), there’s little doubt Clinton is running a truly hapless campaign. It’s a by-the-books machine campaign, not an inspiring campaign.
French media describes Keolis’s MBTA contract as a ‘quagmire’ and ‘nightmare’
Trying to show off, we could have headlined this item in its original French: ‘Boston, le bourbier américain de la SNCF.’ But let’s just say the headline contains the word ‘quagmire’ and the lead contains the word ‘nightmare,’ and you get the gist of where the Le Monde article by Stephane Lauer is headed in terms of Keolis’s commuter-rail contract with the MBTA. The story is an interesting peek into how the French view the contract – and it’s not far off our own perspective here in Boston. With Keolis getting whacked by performance-related penalties by the T, Keolis’s French parent company, SNCF, is seeing its corporate earning hurt and it can’t find a way out of the T contract ‘trap,’ the article says.
Elizabeth Warren: Now a comic book hero, not just a senator
OK, this is taking hero worship of Elizabeth Warren to a whole new level, far beyond even Robert Kuttner’s ability to heap praise on the senior senator from Massachusetts: Warren is now a comic book hero. The biographical comic book, “Female Force: Elizabeth Warren,” chronicles the senator’s path to Congress and her confrontations with Wall Street types, reports MassLive’s Shannon Young. The comic book is part of a series that seeks to provide an “informed and illustrated” look at the lives of influential female leaders, Young writes.
Baker: Logan a big reason why GE chose Boston
All those incentives that General Electric got from the state and city to move its headquarters to Boston? True, those had an impact. But so did a lot of other little things, like Logan Airport’s increased flight services, Gov. Charlie Baker said yesterday, according to a report by the BBJ’s Sara Castellanos. “The airport has dramatically expanded its domestic nonstop capacity and international nonstop capacity with all kinds of plans to continue to grow its international nonstop capacity,” Baker said at the Massachusetts High Tech Council meeting. “That’s not necessarily something we think about when we think about why GE put Boston and Massachusetts on the map.”
Montigny retreats on price cap bill amidst opposition from biopharma industry
State Sen. Mark C. Montigny, the lead sponsor of a controversial bill that would impose price caps on some prescription drugs, is now modifying, back-peddling, retreating, or whatever you want to call it, amidst mounting opposition to his bill, according to a Globe story by Robert Weisman and Priyanka Dayal McCluskey. “While the current version of the bill would let a state agency limit the price of especially costly drugs — something not done anywhere in the country — proponents also are weighing other ways ‘to prevent price gouging,’” according to the Globe piece.
Supporters confident statewide plastic-bag ban will pass
Across the state, local governments are moving to ban the use of plastic shopping bags. On Beacon Hill, there’s increasing confidence that a similar statewide ban can and will pass as well, reports Gerry Tuoti at Wicked Local. “There’s such a groundswell of support at the municipal level, I’m happy we can see this through,” said Rep. Lori Ehrlich, D-Marblehead, sponsor of the bill that would impose a statewide plastic-bag ban.
DeLeo: Enough with solar!
Some environmentalists are apparently unhappy about the compromise solar energy bill that’s now working its way through the legislature, but House Speaker Robert DeLeo says enough is enough. “We have some other means of energy we have to talk about, okay? I think solar has gotten more than the fair share of the debate, you know, so far. But quite frankly people want us to talk about, and they want to hear more about, offshore wind. They want to hear about hydro. They want to hear about a combination of the two,” DeLeo told reporters, according to a report by WGBH’s Mike Deehan.
‘Resignation ends a Holyoke drama’
Let’s go right to Western Mass Politics & Insight’s lead on this one: “Following an episodic stretch of controversy and public feuding, Holyoke at-large city councilor Jennifer Chateauneuf has resigned her Council seat effective today. Announced on Facebook, her departure caps months of drama that played out in court and in the press during which she salaciously claimed to be harassed online and photographed nude in her bathroom.”
Cape Wind extension rejected
Speaking of wind power, the state’s Energy Facilities Siting Board has rejected a request from Cape Wind developers to extend the life of numerous state and local permits needed to build its proposed offshore wind farm, Christine Legere of the Cape Cod Times reports. Company officials vowed to press on, saying that acquiring the permits a second time should be less time-consuming and expensive because of the legwork already completed.
Team Trump works to secure Mass. delegates
The campaign of Donald Trump is working to prevent its Bay State delegates from being hijacked in upcoming party events, Chris Cassidy of the Herald reports. Trump Massachusetts co-chair Charlie Malo also brushed off suggestions the campaign is in disarray. “All I can speak of is the Massachusetts staff and the New England staff and we are very, very organized,” he said.
T parking fees discrepancy
The MBTA has asked a vendor to address an apparent discrepancy in what it collected in parking fees at the North Quincy Red Line station, though the problem may be larger than the T is letting on, Bruce Mohl of CommonWealth Magazine reports. Mohl cites unnamed sources who claim that discrepancies of up to $2,000 a day were discovered at several parking lots.
Council backs longer terms
Boston City Council members approved a measure Wednesday that seeks to extend councilors’ terms from two years to four years, Isaiah Thompson of WGBH reports. Council President Michelle Wu cast the lone dissenting vote against the move, which supporters say will save funds by eliminating what are often low-turnout council-only elections.
Where did Pittsfield’s public records go?
Kyle Scott Clauss of Boston Magazine relays the story of the city of Pittsfield’s ongoing public records debacle, in which the city’s police department says it suffered a hard-drive loss shortly after reporters from the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism began asking questions. The records sought focused on the arrest of an 88-year-old woman last June.
Kinder Morgan plan hammered on North Shore
Lawmakers, mayors and other elected officials were among those who called on the state Department of Public Utilities to reject a request by pipeline developer Kinder Morgan to force private property owners to allow survey work on their land, Alan Burke reports in the Salem News.
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