Baker heads to Washington
Gov. Charlie Baker has a busy day in the nation’s capital, meeting with Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman about recent Amtrak problems at South Station (11:30 a.m.), the state’s Congressional delegation to discuss the opioid crisis and other health care issues (12:30 p.m.) and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell (2:45 p.m.).
The House and Senate meet jointly in a Constitutional Convention to take the first legislative step in a years-long process to possibly amend the state’s constitution to allow a graduated income tax in Massachusetts, House Chamber, 1 p.m.
Public records conference committee
The group of six lawmakers tasked with reconciling bills that would reform the state’s public records law will meet, Room 222, 3 p.m.
Boston Community Radio meeting
The Boston Neighborhood Network holds a public meeting to gather input from residents on potential programming for a new low-power FM radio station that will hit the Boston airwaves in June, Roxbury Innovation Center, 2300 Washington St., 6:30 p.m.
Energy policy chess
What will be the next move after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court yesterday all but ordered the state to come up with concrete measures to reduce carbon emissions, as required by the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008? It’s become a fascinating energy policy chess match between all the players:
— The Conservation Law Foundation is clearly going to use the SJC ruling to push for much tougher emission regulations as they apply to the transportation (i.e. cars and trucks) and other sectors, as the State House New Service’s Michael Norton reports at CommonWealth magazine.
— Among other things, the Baker administration will probably step up its calls for massively increasing the use of hydroelectricity in Massachusetts, thus cutting down on the state’s reliance on carbon-producing fossil fuels used to generate electricity.
— Power-plant owners are just happy that the SJC is pushing the state to go after other sectors when cutting carbon emissions, rather than always picking on power plants. But as the Globe’s David Abel makes clear this morning, power-plant owners are acutely aware the Baker administration may use the SJC ruling to push for hydropower – something they most certainly don’t want.
So many options. So many strategies. So much scheming.
Socialists for Trump?
The split decision in yesterday’s Democratic presidential primaries – with Bernie Sanders winning in Oregon and Hillary Clinton apparently eking out a victory in Kentucky – accomplished one thing: It allows Sanders and his supporters to continue deluding themselves that he still has a shot at winning the Dem nomination.
Even before yesterday’s primaries, NYT liberal columnist Paul Krugman was bemoaning the probability that Sanders won’t call it quits soon: “Sanders could end all of this at any point. He doesn’t even have to drop out, all he needs to do is talk honestly about the realities — and clearly condemn the kind of behavior we saw in Las Vegas over the weekend. But I’m losing hope that he will ever do the right thing.”
That Las Vegas incident is vividly described this morning in a story by the Globe’s Victoria McGrane, who reports that some Sanders supporters are actually vowing to support Donald Trump over Hillary: “‘I definitely will vote for Trump,’ said George Massey, a Sanders supporter from New Brunswick, N.J. ‘I get that Trump is a blowhard, I understand that he just says whatever comes to mind that day, and you can’t believe everything that he says. But Hillary has proven that she can’t be trusted. Trump is a roll of the dice. I would prefer to roll the dice.’”
Ah, we can see it now: “Socialists for Trump” bumper stickers. This is indeed a crazy election year.
But Bernie supporters’ misgivings about Hillary are not entirely misplaced. The most-read story in the Washington Post this morning was headlined: “Hillary Clinton’s viral nightmare: A video of her ‘lying for 13 minutes.’”
After he’s sentenced to prison, ex-Lee police chief proclaims: ‘Vote for Donald Trump’
Now here’s a key presidential endorsement that other candidates obviously missed, as reported by MassLIve’s Stephanie Barry: “After a lengthy and contentious sentencing that resulted in a 27-month federal prison sentence, former Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis offered a cheery response to a throng of reporters waiting outside the courthouse. ‘Have a great afternoon! Thank you! God bless America and vote for Donald Trump!’ said Buffis, wearing a wide grin, before hurrying away and leaving his lawyer to answer questions.”
Well, at least he was cheery. As for his legal troubles, Buffis was convicted of extorting $4,000 from two former innkeepers from Lee who were caught up in a prostitution sting, Barry reports.
Weld’s latest zigzag
Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld – and the once aspiring ambassador to Mexico, U.S. senator and New York governor – has yet another job in his political sights: Vice President of the United States of America. Weld is “seriously considering” running on the Libertarian Party ticket as its vice presidential candidate, teaming up with Gary Johnson, the former GOP governor of New Mexico who was the 2012 Libertarian presidential candidate and is once again the party’s nominee this year, reports the Globe’s Frank Phillips.
“While Weld is apparently tempted to join the presidential race on the longshot Libertarian ticket,” writes Phillips, “his colleagues are skeptical but amused by his notorious penchant for quirky political moves. ‘No one is taking it that seriously, except him,’ quipped one of those colleagues.”
School walkout protest fizzles … except perhaps for Tito Jackson
Though backers will claim a great and glorious victory, yesterday’s Boston student walkout fell far short of the “mass” protest predicted/feared/hyped by some. In other words, the protest over proposed school budget cuts sort of fizzled, though just over 1,000 students did skip classes yesterday.
Yet, the action’s real winner, in the end, may be none other than Councilor Tito Jackson, who supported the protesting students and appears to be positioning himself for a possible mayoral run, reports the Herald’s Chris Villani.
Senate unveils $39.4 billion budget that increases rainy day fund
The Senate Ways and Means Committee’s $39 billion state budget proposal, outlined yesterday at the State House, roughly hews to the proposals by Gov. Charlie Baker and the House that aimed to limit spending growth next year to about 3.5 percent, reports State House News Service’s Andy Metzger and Michael Norton at WGBH. Among other things, the budget would mandate a $211 million deposit into the state’s rainy day fund to raise its balance to $1.47 billion. Even Sen. Vinny DeMacedo, the ranking Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, had nice things to say about the Senate budget blueprint, arguing it “sends a strong message” to bond holders that the state is running a tight fiscal ship.
Critic: Niki Tsongas’ New Balance ploy is pure ‘corporate welfare’
Writing at RealClearPolitics, Michael Needham isn’t happy with a move by U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts to force the Department of Defense to buy only New Balance athletic shoes for new military recruits. “Thankfully, South Carolina Republican Mark Sanford is stepping up,” Needham writes. “This week, the House will likely vote on his amendment to strip the Tsongas-New Balance language from the (National Defense Authorization Act). Every lawmaker — Republican and Democrat alike — should join Sanford in standing up for the men and women of our military. Their comfort and health should come before the parochial politics of corporate welfare. Sadly, many will not as they happily embrace Washington’s corrupt nexus of big business and big government.”
Southfield lands first major commercial tenant
A Hingham software startup has signed a deal to take 30,000 square feet of commercial space at the SouthField, the long-planned, massive redevelopment of the South Weymouth Naval Air Station, Christian Schiavone of the Patriot Ledger reports. Officials hope the deal with Deja View Concepts will help attract additional business tenants to complement the more than 3,800 homes and apartments planned for the project.
In Worcester, opioid battle moves to billboards
The office of Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early will erect billboards around central Massachusetts assuring residents they will not be charged if they try to get help for someone overdosing on opioids, Samantha Allen of the Telegram reports. The billboards carry messages such as “Don’t Run, call 911” in both English and Spanish.
Security cameras in Haverhill parks called urgent
A weekend shooting in a city park has Haverhill City Councilors looking to urgently advance a plan in the works to install security cameras at the city’s public parks, Peter Francis of the Eagle-Tribune reports. “We’re spending lots of money on these parks,” said City Councilor Thomas Sullivan. “We’ll never have enough police officers to patrol our parks all day, but having cameras in specific places could help.”
Senators push for independent Office of the Child Advocate
The Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate would become a more independent office, under a proposal included in the Senate Ways and Means Committee budget, MassLive’s Shira Schoenberg reports. The Senate’s fiscal blueprint would increase the budget of the Office of the Child Advocate by $400,000, to $1 million, and would make it an independent, stand-alone office. Currently, the child advocate’s office is housed under Gov. Charlie Baker’s office, with the child advocate appointed by the governor, auditor and attorney general. Erin Bradley, executive director of the Children’s League of Massachusetts, called the proposal a “fabulous” idea.
Plastic bags are out in Shrewsbury
Add the Worcester suburb of Shrewsbury to the list of communities where non-biodegradable plastic bags will soon be banned. Town Meeting approved the ban over the objections of many town leaders, Elaine Thompson of the Telegram reports, making Shrewsbury the third community in two weeks to approve a ban.
Study underscores costliness of Boston housing
A Boston resident must earn nearly $121,000 annually to be able to comfortably afford to rent the average two-bedroom apartment in the city, Kyle Scott Clauss of Boston Magazine reports, citing data crunched by SmartAsset. The Census data found that only San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles had more expensive housing.
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