Brigham nurses strike averted
A planned strike today by 3,300 Brigham & Women’s Hospital nurses has been averted because of an early Sunday morning contract agreement between the nurses union and hospital.
Puppies, kittens and ride-for-hire amendments deadline
Senators who wish to amend the three pet-related bills the Senate plans to debate on Tuesday have until noon today to file their amendments; amendments to the Senate bill regulating ride-for-hire services like Uber and Lyft must be filed with the Senate clerk’s office by 5 p.m.
Top state officials, including House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, are expected to attend an event celebrating the impact of the non-profit sector in Massachusetts, Great Hall, State House, 10:30 a.m.
MBTA control board meeting
The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board will discuss the South Coast Rail project, issuance of debt for the T, the T pension fund, and the bid process on the next generation of automated fare collection, Transportation Board Room, second floor, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, 12 p.m.
Baker and legislative leaders to discuss budget
Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg are expected to review the state’s deteriorating revenue outlook that could require major cuts in the new fiscal year budget, Senate President’s Office, 1:30 p.m.
With the help of Walsh and other pols, Brigham nurses strike averted
It took the intervention of a number of pols, most notably Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, to finally get both sides to hammer out an agreement that averts a planned strike today of 3,300 nurses at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, reports the Globe’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey. Even while attending the national conference of mayors in Indianapolis, Walsh was constantly on the phone, making as many as 35 calls and even resolving a last-minute hitch between the union and hospital about how to implement a new patient-monitoring device, of all things. Gov. Charlie Baker, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Attorney General Maura Healey, and businessman Jack Connors also worked to help prevent the potentially disruptive job action, the Globe reports.
File under: Job well done.
Campaign operative helping Walsh douse the BLS fire
While getting well-deserved credit for helping resolve the thorny labor dispute at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Mayor Walsh still has other political fires to contend with these days. Specifically, Democratic campaign operative Michael Goldman is now working behind the scenes to assist Walsh in dealing with the fallout from the racial tensions at Boston Latin School that last week led to the departure of its headmaster and another leader, Jack Encarnacao of the Herald reports. Goldman told the Herald he has been working with the media and repeated the Mayor’s message that the city is on the right track despite a series of investigations, including a U.S. Department of Justice probe into the handling of racial matters at BLS. The mayor’s office emphasized that Goldman is not directly involved in the city’s handling of any investigations.
Brexit shock waves hit Massachusetts budget, pensions and exports
As Gov. Charlie Baker and legislative leaders sit down today to discuss the state’s deteriorating revenue outlook, they’ll now have to contend with the probability that budget matters will only get worse, thanks to market turmoil caused by Britain’s historic vote last week to leave the European Union. The state’s capital gains revenue is almost sure to take further hits as a result of the worldwide market gyrations, the Globe’s Joshua Miller reports.
Early this morning, the British pound was still in free fall, but, for now, global markets seemed calmer than they were on Friday, the Washington Post reports. We’ll know more in a matter of minutes how the US markets react today.
On another local front, a spokesperson for the state’s $60.4 billion pension system said officials expect the fund to take a hit of 1.5 to 2 percent as a result of market turmoil, though the damage could reach as high as 9 percent, according to the State House New Service, as reported at MassLive. And Massachusetts manufacturers, as well as other major state exporters, are bracing for a potential slowdown in overseas business, as the falling British pound and strong US dollar make it more expensive for Britons to buy American products, the Worcester Business Journal’s Sam Bonacci reports.
Brexit shock waves, Part II: The immigration angle
If you want to better understand the immigration dynamics at play in last week’s stunning Brexit vote in Britain, you can’t go wrong by reading these pieces by The Atlantic’s David Frum and Slate’s Reiham Salam. Those who favor open migration and immigration are usually so quick (and eager) to denounce critics as xenophobic and prejudiced nativists. But Frum and Salam clearly show the huge economic costs of Europe’s open-border policies on housing, health care, schools, welfare and jobs in the U.K. In particular, Salam argues that the immigration controversy in the UK has as much to do with British labor laws as it does with the EU’s open-border and welfare rules.
Note: Before we’re accused ourselves of being xenophobic and prejudiced nativists for merely pointing out these convincing arguments, we’ll note that our views are generally aligned with those of the NYT’s Paul Krugman, who had a great pre-vote column about how the Brexit showdown had come down to a choice between bad (stay) and worse (leave). Last week’s vote was a tragedy, but it could have been averted if Britain and Europe’s elites had paid more attention to the economic concerns of their non-elite citizens.
Note, II: We also agree with Harvard’s Ken Rogoff, writing in the Globe, that the UK’s process for leaving the EU – with a simple up or down vote – was ridiculously simplistic for such an important issue. Put it this way: It’s arguably tougher to get a charter-school question on the ballot – and passed — in Massachusetts than it was for the British to leave the European Union. “Surely, the hurdle should have been a lot higher,” Rogoff writes.
Local Republicans are taking a pass on Trump’s Boston fundraiser
Unless you count Ernie Boch Jr. and former Patriots player Fred Smerlas as big-name Republicans, there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot of GOP bigwigs showing for Donald Trump’s fundraiser later this week in Boston. The pricey gala, which was rescheduled to this week after the Orlando massacre tragedy, won’t be attended by House Minority Leader Bradley Jones, Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr and other Beacon Hill Republicans, for whatever their stated reasons, the Herald’s Hillary Chabot reports. Of course, Gov. Charlie Baker, who has said he won’t be voting for Trump, also won’t be at the event.
‘Psychiatric hospitals replaced by a failed patchwork of resources’
Seeing that she works at the Globe, we were reluctant to quote Yvonne Abraham about the Globe Spotlight team’s in-depth and disturbing look at how society deals with the mentally ill – or, more precisely, how it doesn’t deal with the mentally ill in any rational, systemic and humane way. But Abraham took the words right out of our mouths, so here goes:
“Was ever a bait-and-switch more cruel than this? There is so much to anger and appall us in the new Spotlight Team into the grim consequences of state psychiatric hospital closings in Massachusetts. Decades ago, we were promised a humane, community-based system to replace the awful institutions where mentally ill people were warehoused and forgotten. What we got is tragically far from humane. It’s not even a really a system. Instead, it’s a tangled mess of impossible choices.”
At least many of those who paid for and built the now much-maligned psychiatric hospitals thought they were doing the right thing at the time. Can the same be said of society today? Nope.
While we’re at it, here’s the Globe’s Adrian Walker on state Sen. Ken Donnelly’s long and futile attempt to do more for the mentally ill, including forcing some mentally ill people to get help. “I think we can do a much better job with people who are sick and spend less money than we spend now. And we can help people who are suffering in some cases unnecessarily.”
MBTA officer under investigation for posting photo of man defecating
An MBTA police officer is under investigation after she allegedly posted a photo to Facebook of a guy who defecated on the floor of a T station, the Globe’s Jan Ransom reports. “You think your job is [expletive]!!!” the officer wrote on her Facebook page. “This is what we responded to this morning. This guy is well known to police and has a lengthy record. I don’t get paid enough to deal with this [expletive]… literally and figuratively!!!”
Before you jump to any conclusions, here’s a few more facts: The guy was found in a fetal position, lying beside a wheelchair with his pants down just above his knees. Without knowing much more, doesn’t it sound like a guy who just might need, well, help — as in the type of long-term medical and/or mental health assistance that the Globe’s Spotlight team just identified as being woefully inadequate across the state? Just a thought.
Senate’s energy bill would boost hydro and wind power – and Cape Wind
The state Senate this week is expected to debate an energy bill unveiled late last week that’s more aggressive than House legislation when it comes to procuring offshore wind and hydroelectricity from Canada, reports Commonwealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl. And the Senate legislation also allows Cape Wind to compete for contracts, something the House bill barred, largely because Cape Wind is viewed as such a political lightening rod on the Cape.
Liz Warren’s chance of landing on Hillary’s ticket just took a hit
Though US. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is scheduled to campaign this morning with Hillary Clinton at a Democratic Party event in Cincinnati, this can’t be good news for those pining for Warren to be Hillary’s running mate: Bernie Sanders’ supporters are starting to rally to Clinton in opposition to Donald Trump, reports the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake: “Sanders supporters aren’t just rallying around Clinton; they’re doing it rather quickly. And it’s a big reason Clinton just extended her lead over Trump into the double digits, 51 percent to 39 percent,” according to a new Washington Post-ABC poll.
The main, and perhaps only, political rationale for putting Warren on the ticket is that she’d shore up left-wing support for Hillary. But if the left is already flocking to Hillary, why would Clinton need Warren?
The Blob: MBTA’s unfunded pension liabilities keep growing
Don’t look now, but the MBTA has yet another problem: Its pension system’s unfunded obligations keeps growing, with officials expected today to unveil that the gap between future retiree benefits and funds available to pay them has grown to $944 million, just four months after the last upward adjustment, reports the Globe’s Beth Healy. Without a new actuarial approach, which eases the impact of bad financial years, the unfunded liability would actually be near $1.1 billion, Healy notes.
Will commuters ditch T over fare hikes?
Environmental groups, and some commuters, are expressing worries that the MBTA fare hikes that take effect on July 1 could drive some riders to ditch T trains and commute by car, Christian Wade reports in the Salem News. Fares will rise an average of 9.3 percent—the third increase in four years—and past increases have caused drops in ridership, groups warn.
Tiny homes, big worries for inspectors
The national movement toward tiny homes, floated as a potential housing crisis solution in many communities, is putting building inspectors in a bind in some communities, Brian Lee of the Telegram reports. Property owners are facing a mix of local regulations and they’re bumping up against a state law that lays out minimum square footage for homes to be habitable based on the number of occupants.
Massachusetts pols dominate ‘Dems to watch’ list
Four Bay State politicians appear on New York Times columnist Frank Bruni’s list of 14 top young Democrats to watch nationwide. In addition to Congressmen Seth Moulton and Joseph P. Kennedy III, Bruni cites Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley and City Council President Michelle Wu among those who debunk the notion that the party has a weak bench of young prospects.
Where will SouthField gets its water?
Tensions are rising over long-term solutions to supply water to the massive redevelopment of the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station, Christian Schiavone of the Patriot Ledger reports. City councilors in Weymouth have asked whether supplying water to the parts of the development located in Abington and Rockland would impact Weymouth’s long-term water future and they’ve asked both the master developer and the mayor to appear before them this week to discuss the issue.
Better late than never: Chicopee council fixes error—after 16 years
The Chicopee City Council voted 11-0 to ask the city’s Department of Public Works to move a ‘No turn on red’ sign that has apparently been in the wrong place and causing unnecessary traffic tie-ups for 16 years. Jeanette DeForge of MassLive reports the city found a traffic study from 2000 that spelled out where the sign should have been and that councilors finally got around to voting to fix the mistake last week.
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