Happening Today

DeLeo keynotes AIM’s annual meeting

House Speaker Robert DeLeo keynotes the 101st annual meeting of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the largest employer association in the state, Westin Boston Waterfront, 425 Summer St., 11:15 a.m.

National NAACP chair at UMass Dartmouth commencement

Roslyn Brock, chair of the national NAACP, will give a commencement address at UMass Dartmouth for graduates of the university’s Colleges of Engineering, Nursing, Visual & Performing Arts and the School for Marine Science & Technology, Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial Amphitheater, Dartmouth, 2:30 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Never heard of ESPs? After Taunton tragedy, get used to it

The investigation into the horrible stabbing-spree killings in Taunton is starting to focus on state government’s own indirect role in the tragedy.

Yesterday Taunton’s Morton Hospital, which has been harshly criticized for releasing a disturbed patient who later went on to kill two people and wound others, pulled out of a state-run system used to screen Medicaid patients who show up in emergency rooms with mental health issues, the Globe’s Michael Levenson and Kay Lazar report. The hospital isn’t saying so explicitly, but it’s basically blaming that state program for its release of the stabbing suspect.

The Herald’s Matt Stout and Bob McGovern have a good primer on this state-run program:  “The Norton-based emergency services provider — banned by Morton Hospital yesterday amid questions of how an apparently suicidal man, who later killed two people, was evaluated — is one of more than 20 used across the state, though hospitals don’t always warmly welcome them, one industry official said. Norton Emergency Services is one of 21 emergency services providers, or ESPs, overseen by the Department of Mental Health, providing psychiatric assessments in hospitals and other settings. At the moment, Norton Emergency is also one of just four operated directly by state officials.” 

Let’s not forget the victims: A moving vigil was held for them last night, reports the Globe’s Laura Crimaldi and Christopher Gavin.

About that State Police pummeling video: Disgust, yes. Tears for pummeled, no

Gov. Charlie Baker was absolutely right to say the video of police pummeling a suspect who had led them on a high-speed chase into New Hampshire was “incredibly disturbing,” as reported at WGBH. And the state troopers involved – both from Massachusetts and New Hampshire – deserved to be put on leave. The public has seen too many videos of these types of violent police actions. To do nothing now would be to condone such actions in general.

But let’s also be clear: Richard Simone, the car-chase suspect, is apparently a first-class jerk. From the Telegram’s Craig Semon and Samantha Allen: “Three days before the two-state chase that ended with the videotaped apprehension of a Worcester man — sparking claims of excessive force by police — the same man was involved in a pursuit in Millbury. According to records in Central District Court, Millbury police say Richard C. Simone Jr., 50, threatened to ram a police cruiser on Sunday, turning away at ‘the last possible moment.’” And, yes, he’s had other run-ins with police and the law.

We won’t go as far as Howie Carr, who says Simone had it coming. But we’re also going to shed no tears for him.

Upper-class blob taking over Massachusetts and elsewhere

Though we sort of disagree with its monetary definitions of “middle class” versus “upper class,” the Pew Center Research has nevertheless released fascinating data and charts showing a major demographic shift occurring in Massachusetts and elsewhere, as middle-class residents are being displaced by upper-class residents (who we actually prefer to call upper-middleclass), as reported by the New York Times.

In fact, three of the top ten displacement areas in the US are right here in Massachusetts, with the areas described as “Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H” and “Barnstable Town, Mass.” and “Worcester, Mass.-Conn.” In other words, we’re talking about huge swaths of eastern and central Massachusetts.

Three other New England areas are in the top ten displacement list: Burlington, Vermont; Norwich-New London, Conn.; and Lewiston-Auburn, Maine. Other New England metro areas seeing similar major changes are Providence, R.I., and Portland, Maine.

New York Times

Good news: Annie Dookhan wrecked only 24,000 cases, not 40,000

The American Civil Liberties Union says more than 24,000 drug cases were likely affected by the drug-evidence scandal centering on Annie Dookhan, the former state chemist who was sentenced to prison a few years ago for falsifying drug tests, reports the Associated Press’s Philip Marcelo at Wicked Local. That’s down from the 40,000 cases that were initially estimated.

Of course, the new estimate doesn’t include the possible tainted evidence by yet another chemist working in a state lab in Amherst. You know, Sonja Farak, who allegedly got high at work almost every day, consumed drugs sent to the lab for testing and made her own crack cocaine in the laboratory. So perhaps we might yet hit that 40,000 mark.

Wicked Local

Transgender advocates score a twofer

As the Massachusetts Senate was overwhelmingly approving the transgender anti-discrimination bill yesterday, the Obama administration was moving on another transgender front yesterday when it issued instructions that public schools permit students to use the bathrooms matching their gender identity.

The Senate action, which was never in doubt, sends the anti-discrimination legislation to the House, where it will receive a bumpier ride and a probable modification or two. But some sort of transgender bill is likely to pass and Gov. Charlie Baker will either sign it or not veto it, as the Globe reports

The Obama action is a big deal nationwide, but not so much in Massachusetts, where discriminating against students based on gender identity was outlawed in 2011, the Globe reports in a separate story.

Baker’s very unpopular fellow New England governors

You may have noticed by reading all the polls: Charlie Baker is a wildly popular governor. In fact, he’s the most popular governor in America, based on his sky-high 72 percent approval rating in Massachusetts, according Morning Consult. 

 But check out the numbers for other New England governors: Dan Malloy, Democrat of Connecticut, the second least popular governor in the nation, with a 64 percent disapproval rating; Paul LePage, Republican of Maine, the fifth least popular governor, with a disapproval rating of 58 percent; and Gina Raimondo, Democrat of Rhode Island, with a disapproval rating of 53 percent. 

The other New England governors are doing fine: New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan has an approval rating of 56 percent while Vermont’s Peter Shumlin has an approval rating of 55 percent. 

BTW: The most unpopular governor in the nation? Kansas’s Sam Brownback, a Republican who’s receiving major blowback for his huge tax cuts that haven’t exactly led to the Laffer Curve nirvana he promised.

Morning Consult

Quincy residents say rattlesnakes make good neighbors

As controversy continues to simmer over a plan to create a rattlesnake colony in central Massachusetts, Quincy residents who live adjacent to one of the creature’s few natural habitats say the rattlers keep to themselves, Chris Burrell of the Patriot Ledger reports. “They don’t bother you,” said Karen Baronie.

Patriot Ledger

Gateway Cities face housing conundrum

The state’s 27 Gateway Cities are facing a one-two economic punch, with high and rising rents and relatively low home values, a combination that discourages new investment, Bruce Mohl of CommonWealth magazine reports, citing data crunched by Clark University.

CommonWealth

Supremes eye Scituate church case

The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing whether to take up a trespassing case involving a Scituate church that parishioners have occupied for the past 11 years with an around-the-clock vigil, Craig Lemoult of WGBH reports. The Archdiocese of Boston has won a series of court orders to evict the occupiers, who say they will leave the church if the Supreme Court turns down its case. A decision could come as soon as Monday, Lemoult reports.

WGBH

Successful seaplane tests have Southie testy

Two companies hoping to offer seaplane service from Boston to NYC staged successful test flights this week but the service is now facing some questions from South Boston’s political leaders, Jon Chesto of the Globe reports. City Councilor Michael Flaherty, Rep. Nick Collins, and Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry say they have concerns about security and safety, want other locations considered, and could lobby the FAA on its potential approval of the service or pressure Mayor Marty Walsh, who will have oversight of the seaplane’s landing areas.

Boston Globe

Commission gives thumbs up to redesigned Springfield casino

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has approved MGM Springfield’s long-debated casino redesign that includes the removal of a 26-story hotel tower in favor a low-rise six-story building and a reduction in the project’s overall footprint, reports Dan Glaun at MassLive. “Seeing this again, it reminds me why we’re really excited about it,” said commission chairman Stephen Crosby of the casino progress in Springfield. “It’s a really exciting attempt to lift a city and integrate a casino into a whole lot of other stuff.” The Springfield City Council approved the redesign in February by a 12-1 vote.

MassLive

Framingham latest to can plastic bags

The town of Framingham became the second Massachusetts community this week to adopt a ban on plastic bags, with Town Meeting members approving a new bylaw that will take effect in January of 2018, Jim Hallidan of the MetroWest Daily News reports. Some supporters said they hope the ban’s approval will send a message to lawmakers that a statewide ban is needed.

MetroWest Daily News

Sunday public affairs TV

Keller at Large, WBZ Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. Guest: Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack on MBTA Green Line extension and privatization at the MBTA.

This Week in Business, NECN, 12:30 p.m. The Globe’s Shirley Leung and the Boston Business Journal’s Craig Douglas on some of the top business stories of the week, including the Green Line extension, Boston named #1 for startups, business community concerns over a Trump presidency, the iRobot proxy fight, and the doomed Staples/Office Depot deal.

On The Record, WCVB Channel 5, 1 p.m. Guest: Kirsten Hughes, chair of Massachusetts Republican Party.

CEO Corner, NECN, 8:30 p.m. Greater Boston Food Bank CEO Catherine D’Amato and the Open Door executive director Julie LaFontaine talk about fresh approaches to battling hunger.

Today’s Headlines

Metro

State’s opioid epidemic is vividly seen on Boston’s ‘Methadone Mile’ – WBUR

MBTA picks development team for Mattapan Square parking lot – Dorchester Reporter

Promising seaplane tests spark political discussions in South Boston – Boston Globe

Massachusetts

With churches facing demolition, Worcester preservation efforts under review – Telegram & Gazette

Northampton’s first housing project for homeless young adults could open in 2017 – MassLive

Several local companies appear in Panama Papers – Boston Magazine

State stays mum on Taunton’s attacker discharge – Boston Herald

Framingham Town Meeting approves ban on plastic bags – MetroWest Daily News

Charlie Baker is nation’s most popular governor, poll says – Boston Globe

Quincy residents near Blue Hills Reservation not rattled by snakes – Patriot Ledger

Sen. Anne Gobi says Rattlesnake Island plan at Quabbin should take back seat to efforts at existing snake sites – MassLive

Double whammy for Gateway Cities – CommonWealth Magazine

Affordable housing initiatives spark community controversy throughout Massachusetts – WGBH

City to establish arts and culture fund to promote New Bedford arts scene – Standard-Times

Nation

US Supreme Court considering whether to accept case of Scituate church occupiers – WGBH

Keatings’s opioid abuse proposals get support in House – Brockton Enterprise

Paul Ryan encouraged by Trump meeting, sees unity on horizon – Boston Herald

Obama to schools: Give transgender students access to bathroom matching gender identity – MassLive

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