Senate takes up economic development
The Senate meets in a formal session to debate an economic development bill aimed at boosting jobs and workforce development across the state, 11 a.m., State House.
House tackles budget vetoes, pay equity
House meets in a full formal session in which lawmakers have been instructed to be ready to consider budget vetoes and amendments to the fiscal 2017 budget, as well as the Senate-approved gender pay equity bill, 11 a.m., State House.
UMass tuition hikes vote
The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees meet to approve mandatory student tuition and other charges, which are expected to increase from 5 to 8 percent, for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, as well as the university system’s fiscal 2017 operating budget, UMass Medical School, 55 Lake Ave. North, Worcester, 12:30 p.m.
Governor helps kick off charter school campaign
Gov. Charlie Baker joins others for the pro-charter school coalition’s formal “Yes on 2” ballot campaign kickoff to allow expansion of the charter school system in Massachusetts, State House front steps, 1 p.m.
New health and science building
Gov. Baker attends a ribbon cutting ceremony for the John J. Sbrega Health and Science Building at Bristol Community College, 777 Elsbree St., Fall River, 3 p.m.
As more than 1,000 people rally in Boston against police shootings …
About 1,000 people peacefully marched through the streets of Boston last night to protest recent lethal police shootings of black citizens across the nation, both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald report this morning. The event was apparently billed as “A Unity March Against Police Terror” and reportedly staged by a group called “Mass Action Against Police Brutality.”
Meanwhile, on another racially charged front, the Globe’s Meghan Irons reports that recent racial strife at Boston Latin School, which recently led to the resignation of two top school administrators, has actually been brewing for some time now – and isn’t just based on events of this past spring. In fact, school department officials were alerted more than a year ago by two city councilors who demanded a meeting and immediate action to address allegations of racism at the school, Irons reports. What happened? Basically nothing. Until protests finally erupted earlier this year, forcing school department officials to act.
… a new Harvard study finds no racial bias in fatal police shootings of blacks
As Boston officials and resident grapple with local tensions over racial issues, the academic world, particularly those in the field of criminology, is buzzing over a startling new Harvard study by economist Roland Fryer Jr. that says, contrary to the debate now raging across the nation, that there is no racial bias when it comes to fatal police shootings, reports Story Hinckley at the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor. To be clear: Fryer’s data does show that police indeed treat black and white suspects differently in terms of pushing them to the ground, handcuffing them without arrest, and pointing loaded guns at them. Basically, police are more brutal towards minorities. But the evidence, Fryer reports, does not show racial bias when it comes to lethal force used by police.
“Criminologists have qualms with the study, saying it has not yet been fully vetted by other experts and has flaws in its execution,” writes Hinckley. “But they suggest the findings could be a valuable attempt to debunk what they see as the current, simplistic narrative about police violence and race. The statistics that exist indicate the story is far more nuanced than most media accounts suggest, they say.”
The media following a simplistic narrative and not handling sensitive issues in a nuanced way? Banish the thought!
WCVB’s news shows and evening ‘town hall’ to probe racial issues
In the wake of the racial tragedies in Texas, Louisiana and Minnesota, WCVB Channel 5 today is dedicating large chunks of its broadcast time to examining racial issues in Boston, as part of its ongoing “5 On: Race in Boston” series. In the evening, the national ABC network will hold a “town hall,” featuring President Obama, at 8 p.m., after which WCVB will hold a local special town hall at 9 p.m. The local show will feature, among others, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans and the president of the Boston branch of the NAACP, Michael Curry.
Day II: The Herald’s ‘Vetting Warren’ bombardment
Does the Herald know something the rest of the MSM doesn’t? Most media reports say that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is now sinking fast on Hillary Clinton’s short list of candidates to be Clinton’s vice presidential running mate, as the Globe’s Victoria McGrane reports today. But the Herald has launched a two-day “Vetting Warren” series that’s blasting away at Warren, just prior to the upcoming Democratic Party convention in Philadelphia. The main piece in today’s “special report” is headlined: “Heritage flap may sow distrust for Liz Warren.”
The Herald does mention that Warren has emerged as the Democrats’ lead “attack dog” against GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump – which makes her a legitimate target in the current back-and-forth Twitter and other campaign battles, for sure. But this is clearly aimed at Warren’s prospects of being tapped as the VP nominee, just as her VP star appears to be fading. Maybe the MSM has it all wrong. Maybe the Herald has it right. Or maybe the Herald was committed to this pre-convention bombardment and just couldn’t resist firing away. We’ll soon see who’s right.
Healey subpoenaed by House GOP
Maura Healey is one of two Democratic attorneys general being subpoenaed along with environmental groups by a Republican-led congressional committee investigating claims that climate-change skeptics have been the target of an intimidation campaign, Timothy Cama of The Hill reports. Healey and New York AG Eric Schneiderman both have active investigations into whether energy giant Exxon lied to investors or the public by denying climate change despite internal research dating to the 1970s showing it was, indeed, real. Texas Congressman Lamar Smith, who issued the subpoenas and is a climate change denier himself, said “the actions by the attorneys general amount to a form of extortion.”
Warren urges government to scrutinize Airbnb
As lawmakers on Beacon Hill debate whether to tax operators of short-term home and apartment rentals, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and two other Democrats wrote to the Federal Trade Commission yesterday to request a study of how Airbnb and similar rental companies are easing the conversion of residential dwellings into unregulated hotel rooms, reports Slate’s Henry Grabar. The letter, signed by Warren and Sens. Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Dianne Feinstein of California, expressed reservations about the short-term rental industry’s issues with discrimination, consumer safety and battles with local governments. “We are concerned that short-term rentals may be exacerbating housing shortages and driving up the cost of housing in our communities,” the letter reads.
Audit: State was overcharging itself for disabled programs
State and federal officials have long decried and cracked down on Medicaid providers who overcharge for their services. But Auditor Suzanne Bump has discovered just the opposite has happened: The state overcharging itself, in this case improperly paying over $15 million in taxpayer dollars for programs that aid disabled adults, reports Mike Deehan at WGBH. “So essentially, the state was paying twice,” Bump told WGBH News.
Massachusetts courts are blocking online access to the most basic info
Massachusetts courts earlier this month suddenly halted online access to basic data in most superior court criminal cases, making it much harder for attorneys, journalists and prosecutors to track court cases or even verify the outcome of old cases, the Globe’s Todd Wallack reports. A spokeswoman for the court system says that the courts recently halted access after discovering that “multiple Internet-based entities have been systematically” downloading data on cases, though she didn’t give specifics about who was doing the downloading. But Wallack reports this month’s action is only the latest move by the courts to limit access, particularly to journalists, to court records.
One down, two to go: Gaziano wins confirmation to SJC
Maybe some of Charlie Baker’s new Supreme Judicial Court nominees will help clean up the records-access mess in the state’s court system. The first of Baker’s three SJC nominees, Superior Court Judge Frank Gaziano, was confirmed yesterday by unanimous vote of the Governor’s Council, reports SHNS’s Andy Metzger at Wicked Local. Councilor Marilyn Devaney said she was “proud” to vote to confirm Gaziano. “He’s so qualified, so experienced,” Devaney said “He’s not political. He’s not out there.”
Police assault bills draw opposition
The Baker administration and others yesterday urged a State House committee to advance legislation that would increase the penalties for some assaults against police officers, but civil liberties organizations warned that the legislation could do more harm than good in today’s tense racial environment in which people are concerned about police actions in minority communities, reports Colin Young of SHNS in the Newbury Port News. “There are adequate protections already,” said Rahsaan Hall, director of the ACLU of Massachusetts’ racial justice program, “We need to be mindful and cautious, given the national dialogue and conversation, that we do not have a knee-jerk reaction to some of the horrific things we have seen.” But supporters of the bills said the increased penalties are necessary to serve as a deterrent to criminals and to protect police officers, Young write. The bills come in the wake of a recent killing of an Auburn police officer and the deaths of five police officers in Dallas.
‘Boston.com staff told to keep calm, carry on’
As the Boston Business Journal’s Craig Douglas puts it: “It’s easy to sympathize with staffers at the Boston Globe and its affiliated businesses for having what can only be described as memo-induced post-traumatic stress disorder.” The latest trigger for memo-induced PTSD: News that Boston.com will once again be downsizing and changing course, focusing more on travel, entertainment and features and less on producing hard news. Dan Kennedy has much more on the latest changes and cutbacks at Boston.com.
Legislation would allow some candidates to double-down with donors
In a move that could help some candidates raise money this election year, the House and Senate yesterday approved legislation that essentially doubles the donation limits for special-election candidates who run twice in the same year, allowing donors to contribute up to $1,000 to any candidate from Jan. 1 of a given year until the date of a special election, and then an additional $1,000 for the period after a special election until the end of the year, according to a report by State House News Service. Gov. Baker will have 10 days to sign or veto the bill, which would take effect immediately after his signing and would allow several candidates running in November to raise extra cash from donors.
Boston has a really bad case of ‘brain drain’
A new report published by CBRE, a national commercial real estate firm, shows that Boston has the largest brain drain out of 40 cities in the country, with more than 17,200 people with tech-focused degrees having left the city between 2011 and 2015, reports the BBJ’s Sara Castellanos. The report gives more credence – and a little more insight – into past complaints by businesses and others that the area is unnecessarily losing talented workers, Castellanos writes. Some of the reasons previously cited for the brain drain: The area’s high housing costs, the weather, non-compete agreements that are legal in Massachusetts, and other factors.
Senate seeks to limit hiring-related credit checks
The state Senate has passed a bill that would prohibit the use of credit reports in employment decisions, a policy that has drawn criticism from the banking industry and elsewhere, Shira Schoenberg of MassLive reports. The vote was unanimous and senators along the way rejected an amendment to carve out an exception for employees with direct access to financial accounts. Business groups have argued that knowing a person is in credit trouble is essential when hiring people with access to a company’s money.
Report slams state group homes on injuries
Officials overseeing Massachusetts group homes failed to report injuries to residents that could have been caused by abuse or neglect more than half of the time, a harsh federal audit released today finds, Michael Levenson reports in the Globe. The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services’ Inspector General found that 58 percent of emergency room visits that involved reasonable suspicion of abuse and neglect were not reported to investigators over a two-year period beginning in January of 2012. State officials dispute some of the findings but also say they have issued new advisories to group home contractors on how to identify suspected abuse.
Gifted Narcan will have to be re-gifted
An Irish pharmaceutical company donated 10,000 doses of the overdose-reversal drug Narcan to the group supporting Gloucester’s efforts to curb opioid abuse, but the dosage is too large to be used anywhere in Massachusetts, Ray Lamont of the Gloucester Times reports. The gift from Adapt Pharma is valued at up to $200,000, but at 4 milligrams per dose, the gift runs afoul of limits set by the state’s office of Emergency Medical Services.
Lawmakers to take up Baker’s Lyme treatment limits
Advocates who ushered a bill through the legislature to ensure sufferers of Lyme Disease can get insurance company coverage for their treatments say a compromise offered by Gov. Charlie Baker is too restrictive, Lindsay Kalter of the Herald reports. Lawmakers could vote as early as today on Baker’s proposed amendment, which would extend Lyme treatments only if approved by a specialist physician.
Favorite gone-but-not-forgotten bars and nightclubs, Part III
MassterList readers continue to send in their nominations for the area’s favorite gone-but-not-forgotten bars and nightclubs that have closed over the years in eastern Massachusetts. There are some real oldies-but-goodies in today’s batch:
From CB: “A closed icon – the F&T Diner. Back when Kendall Square was just a neighborhood adjacent to the social science branch of MIT. Drafts were 25¢.”
From NB: “1369 Bar in Inman Square; Turtle Cafe in Inman Square; the old Grendel’s Den with working fireplace in Harvard Square; Also – I forget the name – Paul’s (maybe) in Central Square (where the Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts or something is now) – used to be the only bar where you would find black and white people hanging out together.”
From AW: “Waltham Tap in the south end, shut down over a drug bust. Cambridgeport saloon in East Cambridge. Man, that place was grimy.” From ET: “Pools pub and Dummy’s.”
From MM: “The Tar Bar – a brief but spectacular attempt to take Back Bay away from the suits. Fathers Too/PJ.Kilroy’s – first a college meat market, then a hipster dive with a dynamite jukebox. Cambridgeport Saloon – the first dive bar you hit crossing over into Cambridge (or the last dive bar you hit before crossing over into Boston). T.T. the Bears – if you never saw a show there while packed in like a sardine, you failed Boston 101. The Linwood – the epicenter of the Fenway’s near impossible 1990’s coolness.”
From MD: “It seems to me that every club I ever saw a good punk rock show in is now gone. First and foremost among them, a dive bar that defined the genre for me: The Rat. Granted, Eastern Standard is not a poorer use of a Kenmore Square storefront, but alas. Also on this list: Mama Kin, Axis, and Avalon (now, as you no doubt know, the Boston HOB) on Lansdowne Street, the Underground (was near Packard’s Corner), and the Penalty Box (was hard against the elevated Green Line on Causeway Street). The Channel and TT the Bear’s you already have. Only the Paradise and the Middle East survive.”
From RO: “Years ago when the old WEEI was an all-news CBS radio station, the old JC Hillary’s on Boylston Street across from the Pru, where WEEI sat on the 44th floor, kept the news crew well-watered.”
From PS: “How about Lucifers, KKK Katys, Rathsculler, Brothers Three and Brothers Four?”
We’ll take gone-but-not-forgotten nominations for one more day, so feel free to send in names to email@example.com. We’ll then try to pull all the nominations together next week and put them on a special MassterList web page, a sort of online memorial where people can view and grieve in private for their gone-but-not-forgotten favorite watering holes of yesteryear.
More than 1,000 rally against police brutality – Boston Globe
UMass tuition hike looms large on Boston campus – Boston Globe
‘True Islam’ campaign comes to State House – Boston Globe
Jewish group condemns play of Pokemon Go at Holocaust Memorial – Boston Herald
Cruz plans Dudley Square development – Boston Herald
Lyme bill backers slam gov’s treatment curbs – Boston Herald
Mass. bear population expected to soar – Boston Globe
Gaziano confirmed for seat on Supreme Judicial Court – WBUR
Pipeline foes plan ‘colorful flotilla’ at Otis State Forest pond – MassLive
Charlie Baker slashes Mass. Cultural Council budget, lawmakers urge override – MassLive
Maura Healey among those subpoenaed by House GOP panel – Boston Globe
Churches use Pokemon Go to get millennials in pews – Boston Globe
Brewers propose major change to Mass. beer industry – Boston Globe
Senate passes bill limiting the use of credit checks in hiring – MassLive
Audit finds $15 million wasted on double services for disabled adults – WGBH
Report: New Bedford’s median income stagnant for decades – Standard-Times
North Shore Medical Center wins approval for $180M consolidation – Boston Business Journal
Worcester chamber says Historical Commission has been ‘rude, discourteous’ – Telegram & Gazette
Mass. Senate passes wage theft bill – MassLive
Markey bill would ban kids under 16 from firing machine guns – Telegram & Gazette
Why Elizabeth Warren seems to be off Clinton’s short list – Boston Globe
Trump meets with running mate hopefuls – Boston Globe
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