SJC to hear challenges to marijuana, animal-welfare ballot questions
The Supreme Judicial Court will hear oral arguments in three cases relating to the marijuana and animal-welfare initiative petitions for November’s ballot, John Adams Courthouse, Courtroom 1, Pemberton Square, 9 a.m.
State pension board meeting
The Pension Reserves Investment Management Board meets, with Treasurer Deborah Goldberg as chair, 84 State St., second floor, 9:30 a.m.
Governor speaks at Massachusetts-Israel economic forum
Gov. Charlie Baker and former U.S. Sen. William “Mo” Cowan will be among the speakers at an event celebrating the business relationship between Massachusetts and Israel, MIT Wong Auditorium, Building E51 – Two Amherst St., Cambridge, 11 a.m.
Wynn at BC Chief Executives Club luncheon
Wynn Resorts chairman and CEO Stephen Wynn is the featured speaker at the Boston College Chief Executives Club luncheon, Wharf Room, 70 Rowes Wharf, 12 p.m.
It is now Hillary’s race to win or lose
Some on the right, including Pat Buchanan at the American Conservative and Joe Fitzgerald at the Herald, are valiantly trying to defend Donald Trump’s recent remarks about a Latino judge, saying liberals are misconstruing what Trump really meant, etc., etc. But the lame defense isn’t going to work, not after Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan openly described Trump’s criticism of Gonzalo P. Curiel as a “textbook definition of a racist comment,” reports the NYT.
The lesson learned? Donald Trump can and probably will continue to self-destruct if left to his own devices.
So where does this leave Hillary Clinton? It’s her race to win or lose. To be clear: She’s perfectly capable of blowing this election. She’s a lousy campaigner. She’s deeply mistrusted. She’s got the State Department email scandal hanging over her. Despite her impressive primary wins yesterday that removed any doubt that she’ll be the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, Bernie Sanders and his groupies are still refusing to acknowledge reality.
But it’s still her race to win or lose. That’s what Donald Trump proved yesterday.
Plenty of blame to go around for the state’s infrastructure woes
Blue Mass Group isn’t happy about the new A Better City report, which warns how Greater Boston’s rickety infrastructure can’t handle the region’s expected population growth and needs in coming years, and tears into Gov. Charlie Baker and House Speaker Robert DeLeo for not doing enough to prepare the state for the future. “To be blunt: There is absolutely no ambition, no intention, no vision, no proposal, no agenda, from either our Governor or Speaker, for providing the necessities of our region going forward. None. They’re just not going to do it.”
But to be equally blunt: Most lawmakers on Beacon Hill, overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats, don’t want to give the MBTA a dime more until its dysfunctional management and operational practices are overhauled (see items below, btw). Meanwhile, former Gov. Deval Patrick not so long ago proposed a large gasoline tax increase to pay for infrastructure improvements. Guess what? The Democratic-controlled legislature balked and passed a more modest plan. Then voters, in a statewide referendum, rejected tying future gas-tax increases to the inflation rate. Blame Baker and DeLeo? Please.
MBTA moves toward privatizing cash-collection operations
Unable to accurately track cash flow at the MBTA, agency officials are putting together a bid process to outsource its money-collection and counting operations, a privatization move that drew immediate criticism from current T workers at a board meeting yesterday, reports Andy Metzger of the State House News Service (pay wall). In making the case to bring in a vendor, MBTA Director of Flexible Contracting Nick Easley noted a 2012 finding by Auditor Suzanne Bump that since the automated fare collection system was established in 2005 it has been unable to accurately record cash intake or transfer information to the T’s central accounting system.
Separately, Adam Vaccaro at Boston.com has a good piece about how the next big battles at the T will indeed be about privatization of many agency functions, not just the money-collection operations.
T police pension fund is stonewalling — again
How many legal cases and new laws will it take? A day after the chief of the main MBTA pension fund announced he’s stepping down (a move that came only days after Gov. Baker signed a new law that all but orders the fund to open up its financial books), the T’s separate police pension fund is digging in its heels, refusing to allow public inspection of its retirement payouts, the Herald’s Matt Stoutreports. They simply don’t want outsiders to see what they’re doing with public money.
Meanwhile, a state lawmaker is urging the MBTA retirement board to make public the process of selecting a new chief, after Monday’s announcement by Michael Mulhern that he will resign in August, reports the Globe’s Beth Healy.
RIP: Drug pricing bill sent to the further-study graveyard
The House-controlled Joint Committee on Health Care Financing has quietly buried Sen. Mark Montigny’s controversial and much-touted drug pricing bill by slapping a study order on it, usually a dead end for legislation on Beacon Hill, reports State House News Service’s Katie Lannan. The bill sought to rein in rising prescription drug costs through pricing disclosure mandates, but many in the state’s life-sciences sector vehemently opposed the idea. “In a nutshell, sending this bill to study seems to be the best result,” Massachusetts High Technology Council executive vice president Mark Gallagher told the News Service. “We have deep concerns about it, and we will continue to have deep concerns about any bill that would be structured in that type of way.”
Cape Wind officials slam House energy bill
As the House prepares to debate its version of an energy bill, Cape Wind officials slammed the current legislation, saying it is the result of a “legislative bid rigging” and specifically excludes the company from participating in the state’s offshore wind market, Bruce Mohl of CommonWealth Magazine reports. Cape Wind says provisions were written into the bill outside the public eye and noted that former House speaker Thomas Finneran has been hired to work as a lobbyist by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a leading opponent of the Cape Wind project.
No local opposition reported yet to planned U.S.-China climate-change summit in Boston
OK, we’re being a little cynical there, considering how the IndyCar, Olympics and other proposed mega-events tend to generate immediate and vehement opposition in the Hub the minute they’re proposed. We doubt that will be the case with the planned U.S.-China climate-change summit next year in Boston, as announced yesterday by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Beijing during Mayor Marty Walsh’s trip to that city. The summit could attract thousands of people from around the world to Boston, reports David Harris at the Boston Business Journal.
Somehow, somewhere, someone will find a reason to criticize the summit, we’re sure. But this event looks like a definite ‘go’ for Boston.
State’s largest biotech loses $7 billion in value in one day
When the state’s largest biotech company gets hammered by Wall Street — and we’re talking hammered, as in losing $7 billion in market value in one day — that’s huge news. The reason: Biogen Inc. of Cambridge announced yesterday that its first drug intended to repair nerve damage in multiple sclerosis patients failed to hit its primary goal in a mid-stage clinical trial, reports the Globe’s Robert Weisman. A share-price slaughter ensued.
But there’s an upside to the carnage, sort of: Barron’s is reporting that the massive Biogen selloff makes for a great buying opportunity for bargain hunters.
UMass will pay Lowell for lost taxes
Just days after Lowell’s city manager said UMass Lowell had created a $321,000 hole in the community’s budget by buying an apartment complex, the university said it would make a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes to the city in the same amount, Christopher Scott of the Lowell Sun reports. The university said the payment will be a one-time thing meant to ease the site’s transition from a tax-paying property to a tax-exempt dormitory.
Ed board recommends leave policy changes
A committee of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education recommended changes to the time-off policies for retiring employees of the state’s colleges and universities, but stopped short of the changes Gov. Charlie Baker is seeking, Craig Douglas reports in the Boston Business Journal. The full board will vote on the changes next week.
Police on stand by as Townsend meeting roils
A police officer guarded the door and kept one man from entering a four-hour selectmen’s meeting in Townsend Tuesday night, as leaders discussed allegations of trespassing against members of the town’s Conservation Commission, Chris Lisinski of the Lowell Sun reports. In the end, selectmen took no action against the board members, who residents say illegally trespassed on private property, but said they would continue to investigate.
Weld backs legal pot
Former Gov. William Weld, now the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential nominee, says he would support the move to legalize recreational marijuana in the Bay State, Shira Schoenberg of MassLive reports. But Weld said he isn’t sure about whether legalizing pot nationally is the right move, though that is the position of his running mate.
New England governors unite to fight opioid abuse
New England’s six governors yesterday agreed on one thing yesterday: Fighting the social stigma associated with addiction is key to battling the opioid crisis that’s taken the lives of thousands of people across the region, reports the Associated Press’s Steve LeBlanc in the Telegram. Gov. Charlie Baker participated at the Harvard Medical School forum with Conn. Gov. Dannel Malloy, Maine Gov. Paul LePage, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, R.I. Gov. Gina Raimondo and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin. While a number of anti-opioid approaches were discussed, the key moving forward is to make sure addicts know it’s OK to seek treatment, the governors agreed.
Arrivederci, Christopher Columbus Day
What can you say? It’s Cambridge. From CBS Boston on the latest from the city across the Charles: “The city council unanimously voted Monday night to change the October holiday to ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day.’ City Councilor Nadeem Mazen, who spearheaded the effort, said Christopher Columbus didn’t discover anything and was a war criminal. ‘Columbus was not a laudable figure. He was a genocidal figure,’ Mazen told WBZ NewsRadio 1030.”
Like in a classroom, one is tempted to raise an arm to ask a question and make a point but … never mind. It’s not worth it.
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