Senate resumes budget debate
The state Senate is expected to resume budget deliberations today, Senate Chamber, State House, 10 a.m.
State Police awards ceremony
Gov. Charlie Baker attends the Massachusetts State Police 2016 Spring State House Awards Ceremony, Grand Staircase, State House, 11 a.m.
MBTA fiscal control board to review budget
The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board plans to discuss the draft five-year $14.3 billion transportation capital plan, which prioritizes repairs over service expansion, 10 Park Plaza, 12 p.m.
Rescheduled ‘Ask the Mayor’
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh will appear on WGBH airwaves for a rescheduled “Ask the Mayor” interview, WGBH-FM 89.7, 12 p.m.
Life sciences loans
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center board of directors will consider a round of loans for early-stage companies through the Accelerator Loan Program, 21st Floor, Conference Rooms, One Ashburton Place, 2 p.m.
‘How many times is it going to take here?’
Actually, the answer to that question about accused cop killer Jorge Zambrano is: Three. That’s the number of judges who ultimately missed opportunities to put ex-con Zambrano behind bars before he went on to murder Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarentino Jr. on Sunday, reports the Herald’s Chris Villani.
Indeed, in one case, Villani reports: “Clinton District Court Judge Andrew L. Mandell shot down a prosecutor’s plea to revoke Zambrano’s bail just one month after the 35-year-old ex-con was accused of assaulting a Worcester cop — and three months before police say he gunned down (Tarentino).” Mandell sensed the situation was “troubling” and said that “authority means nothing” to Zambrano, according to recordings cited by the Herald. “‘How many times is it going to take here?’ Mandell asked Zambrano, citing his three pending criminal cases in Worcester District Court and his long history of attacking cops.” And yet …
In an interview yesterday, Gov. Charlie Baker wasn’t happy and wondered “why this guy was free in the first place,” reports State House News Service’s Andy Metzger in The Recorder. “We should make adjustments if we need to, especially with respect to how this guy despite his rap sheet and everything else managed to be sort of slapped on the wrist,” Baker said.
Baker added he supports the death penalty for those who kill police officers. We’re not going there. The issue isn’t about the death penalty. But it is about, in hindsight, how usually well-meaning, competent and thoughtful people made such obvious and tragic misjudgments that led to the death of Tarentino.
Baker plans crackdown on state sick-time buybacks
Saying that sick-time buybacks are “not a retirement bonus,” Gov. Charlie Baker is planning to push legislation that cracks down on huge payouts for unused sick-time claimed by state workers as they retire and start collecting pensions, the Herald’s Jaclyn Cashman reports. The administration’s legislation, called “An Act to Reform Sick Time,” would cap the amassing of sick time for state employees in the executive branch at 1,000 hours. About 5,800 employees will be grandfathered.
“Sick leave is a benefit designed to offer employees a way to deal with health and family issues, not a retirement bonus,” Baker said in a statement. “Bringing the commonwealth’s sick leave accrual policy in line with other private and public sector employers just makes sense and is the fiscally responsible thing to do.”
Rep. Swan is indeed stepping down to make way for his son
Earlier this year, state Rep. Ben Swan infuriated at least one potential rival by taking out nomination papers to run for office – and then his son, with the same name, also took out papers just prior to the deadline to file voter signatures to get on the ballot. Springfield City Councilor Bud L. Williams smelled a ballot switcheroo plot – and in the end he was right. Yesterday, Swan Sr., 82, who has held the 11th Hampden district seat for 22 years, announced he’s retiring and endorsed his 56-year-old son, Ben Swan Jr., reports MassLive’s Stephanie Barry. Fortunately for Williams, he scrambled fast enough to collect enough signatures to run.
For all state properties, how about vending machines with healthy yogurt, fruit and nuts?
Backers of healthier eating habits say they’re increasingly confident that legislation can pass this year that would require all vending machines on state properties to sell foods like yogurt, fruit and nuts, reports State House News Services’ Katie Lannan.
Advocates almost sound like they’re trying to calm fears among chips and candy addicts. “Really, the reason behind it is we just want to make sure there’s healthy choices offered,” said Allyson Perron, the American Heart Association’s senior government relations director. “It doesn’t mean the whole vending machine has to be 100 percent healthy.”
Speaking of addictions, some senators sure like to spend
Massachusetts senators are exhibiting a strong appetite for spending, having filed budget amendments totaling more than $4.1 billion, according to an analysis by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, reports State House News Service’s Michael Norton in the Lowell Sun. Before the current Senate budget debate started yesterday (and resumes today), the foundation said 792 amendments to budget line items added $1 billion in spending, while another 375 amendments to outside sections in the Senate budget added up to $3.1 billion.
Man set free in Annie Dookhan lab scandal now on trial for murder
Sadly, the Annie Dookhan lab scandal is leaving behind a trail of tragedy. From the Enterprise’s Benjamin Paulin at Wicked Local: “A Brockton man, who was released from prison in the wake of the Annie Dookhan state drug lab scandal in 2012, is on trial for a murder police said he committed six months after being freed. Donta Hood, 22, of Brockton is charged with the fatal shooting of 45-year-old Charles Evans in May 2013.”
The piece adds: “A Brockton Superior Court jury convicted Hood on Aug. 14, 2009 based on evidence tested by Dookhan. … In the wake of the scandal surrounding Dookhan, lawyers for Hood petitioned Brockton Superior Court for a new trial on Sept. 27, 2012. A day later, his criminal sentence was vacated.”
Watch out Uber and Lyft: MIT start-up aims at self-driving taxis
Taxi industry disrupters Uber and Lyft could soon be the ones disrupted by new technologies and business models, if an MIT-born startup has its way: Cambridge’s nuTonomy Inc. wants to replace ride-sharing as we know it with driverless taxis, reports the Boston Business Journal’s Sara Castellanos. The firm has raised $16 million in venture funding to test self-driving passenger vehicles in Asia. The goal is to have a dozen self-driving taxis on the road in Singapore, in a beta test, by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, taxi medallion holders, many of whom are immigrants who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for the right to drive traditional taxis, are under pressure from banks to pay off their medallion loans, in full, even if medallions are no longer worth as much, reports the Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes. Radius Bank in the Seaport and Worcester’s Commerce Bank & Trust are among the institutions getting more aggressive in making sure they get paid back.
Medical marijuana dispensaries could be big winners if pot is legalized
Operators of medical marijuana dispensaries would have first shot at licenses to sell recreational pot under a ballot question voters will decide in November, Jack Sullivan of CommonWealth Magazine reports. Even dispensary operators who have filed for but not yet received permits to sell medical marijuana would be given preference in the issuance of 75 retail licenses the referendum specifies would be issued in the first year of the law.
Framingham says no to taller downtown buildings
Framingham Town Meeting rejected a proposal to allow buildings of up to 10 stories in height in some parts of town as part of a plan to preserve open space in other areas, Jim Halladin of the MetroWest Daily News reports. Officials had wanted to sweeten an existing transfer-of-development-rights bylaw that has yet to attract any developer interest, but Town Meeting members rejected the idea by a vote of 87-36.
Worcester authorizes seizure of dirt bikes
The Worcester City Council has adopted an emergency ordinance that will allow police to seize unregistered and improperly stored dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles in an effort to curb what authorities say has become a public safety crisis, Nick Kotsopolous of the Telegram reports. The new bylaw includes civil fines and also prohibits ATV riders from wearing face masks except during the winter months.
Was Baker’s fish-advisory change political payback?
Gov. Charlie Baker has made a wholesale change in membership of the state’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission, declining to reappoint seven of the nine members and prompting claims of political payback in the process, Sean Horgan of the Gloucester Times reports. Many of the members not reappointed voted against a Baker appointee last year. “It just seems like the purpose of the commission has been wiped out for political purposes,” said Chuck Casella, a former member of the commission.
Pentagon eyes tech talent with new Cambridge office
The U.S. Department of Defense has opened an office in Cambridge, hoping to join private companies in tapping into the region’s deep pool of tech talent, according to an Associated Press report carried by Boston.com. The opening of a Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, or DIUx, will complement the work of a similar group formed last year in Silicon Valley.
Lowell eyes bigger share from nonprofits
City Councilors in Lowell are looking to boost the city’s revenues from tax-exempt nonprofit institutions after learning the city lags behind even smaller communities in collection of payments-in-lieu of taxes, Grant Welker of the Lowell Sun reports. The city saw a decline in such payments this year and hopes that small and major nonprofits alike—including UMass Lowell and Lowell General Hospital—will kick in more going forward.
‘Hello, McFly: Get that damn hoverboard off the T’
Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin does it again with a great headline on a story about the MBTA banning hoverboards on T property, including buses, trains and stations, due to safety concerns. Adds Gaffin: “Expect to have the no-hoverboard message drilled into your brain in the coming weeks via MBTA signboards, placards and, of course, social media.”
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