Democratic National Convention
Massachusetts delegates join other Democrats from around the country on the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Democratic Party Chairman Sen. Thomas McGee, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, Attorney General Maura Healey and other state party leaders are scheduled to speak to delegates as part of a morning program. U.S Rep. Joseph Kennedy III will introduce U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who is scheduled to deliver a prime-time speech tonight at the convention.
Probation conviction appeal
Former Probation Commissioner John O’Brien and two of his former deputies, Elizabeth Tavares and William Burke, will make appeals of their convictions in the state probation-department scandal to a three-judge federal panel in the First Circuit on Monday, Moakley Courthouse, Seventh Floor, 9:30 a.m.
Bridges, tunnels and tolls
The second day of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association’s three-day conference will focus on the latest technological advances in tolling in the U.S. and around the world, Boston Marriott Copley Plaza, 110 Huntington Ave., Boston, 8:30 a.m.
No sour grapes from Warren
As she prepares to give a prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts didn’t sound like someone who was terribly disappointed by being passed over for the vice presidential slot in favor of U.S. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia. Mind you, she didn’t sound very enthusiastic about Kaine’s selection, according to a report by the Globe’s Annie Linskey. “I’ve gotten to know Tim Kaine,” Warren said. “He’s an honest guy and a smart guy.” Wow. What an endorsement.
But Warren does appear revved up about revving up the Democratic troops in favor of Dem nominee Hillary Clinton and, perhaps more accurately, against Donald Trump. “I’m committed to getting Hillary Clinton elected president of the United States,” Warren, vowing to put “every ounce” of her energy behind Clinton. She’ll also have to give every ounce of energy in trying to unify warring factions within the Democratic Party, after the embarrassing weekend leak of emails that showed party leaders were less than impartial when it came to backing Clinton over rival Bernie Sanders during their rough primary battle. Reuters reports that the email leaks have thrown Democrats into disarray and left Bernie’s backers bitter. The Herald’s Hillary Chabot on the ripple effects from the WikiLeaks disaster: “So much for ‘Stronger Together.’”
The shocking revelation: Dem establishment favored Clinton over Bernie!
So Debbie Wasserman Schultz, head of the Democratic National Committee, has announced that she’s resigning over the leaked emails showing party leaders favored long-time party member Hillary Clinton over long-time non-party member Bernie Sanders. Granted, the emails – including the references to Sanders’ religious beliefs – were pretty ugly stuff. But are we supposed to be shocked that the party’s leadership showed a “bias” toward Clinton over Sanders, who didn’t deign to join the party for decades until he decided it was useful to do for his late-life presidential ambitions? Wasserman Schultz did the dirty work for the party, now she’s taking the hit in order calm things down.
“In politics, you need to not only know when to draw your sword, but also when to fall on it,” James Carville, a longtime friend and adviser to the Clintons, is quoted as saying in the NYT. True. But replace the first two words of Carville’s quote with “when you serve the Clintons,” and you’ll have a more accurate idea of what he meant.
Media double-standard on calling out political ‘hatred’ at conventions?
After the media spent much of last week chronicling Republicans’ often over-the-top criticism of Hillary Clinton, the Globe’s Jeff Jacoby and the Herald’s Julie Mehegan are wondering if Democrats will be called out for their own inevitable over-the-top criticism of Donald Trump this week in Philadelphia. Jacoby: “Something tells me that at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the cup of Trump hatred will overflow. Something also tells me that Matthews & Co. (at MSNBC) will not grow nearly as perturbed when speaker after speaker gives voice to the party’s hostility toward the GOP nominee, or when delegates liken Donald Trump to Nazis and Klansmen.” Mehegan: “Hillary Clinton is an unusually flawed candidate. As is Trump. We should expect more of what we saw here in Cleveland — or worse — in Philadelphia.”
Something tells us that Jacoby and Mehegan are right.
Being on ISIS’s terrorist hit list: ‘How would you feel?’
To say the least, it must be very weird and unnerving for the 138 state workers who have been informed that they’re on the hit list of one of the world’s most feared terrorist groups. “How would you feel?” asked one state worker whose name was on the Islamic State list that Massachusetts officials revealed last week, reports the Globe’s Jan Ransom. “Should I be telling my family? Am I at risk walking down the street?” All in all, though, we’re impressed with the stoic, even determined, reaction of state employees facing such a surreal development. “It reminded me to be vigilant,” said another state worker on the ISIS cyber list. Gov. Baker has emphasized that there is “no credible threat to anyone,” though law enforcement officials are taking all necessary precautions to protect and reassure the employees.
DeLeo on family leave bill: ‘Very, very, very doubtful’
This week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, where a large chunk of the state’s Dem leadership team will be over the next five days, is creating a very tight schedule for lawmakers to finish up business by the end of this month on Beacon Hill. One of the legislative casualties appears to be the Senate’s delay in voting on a paid family leave bill until after key lawmakers return to Boston from Philadelphia, giving them only a day or two to pass the bill, reports Colin A. Young at State House News Service. But that would then leave little or no time for the House to take up the bill before the close of the session on July 31, prompting House Speaker Robert DeLeo to say it was “very, very, very doubtful” his chamber will tackle the issue this session.
Pay equity bill sails to passage
Gov. Baker will find on his desk this morning one of the more consequential bills to pass the Legislature this session: The gender pay equity legislation that was passed over the weekend by lawmakers, reports the Associated Press at the Lowell Sun. The legislation didn’t just pass. It was passed unanimously, reflecting last-minute compromises that proved acceptable to most business groups and sealed its passage by lawmakers. Baker is expected to sign the bill.
Lawmakers add back $100M to budget in rare weekend session
Meeting on Saturday so Dem lawmakers could attend this week’s national party convention in Philadelphia, legislators voted to restore nearly $100 million in budget cuts made by Gov. Charlie Baker, according to a SHNS report at MassLive. House members tackled the overrides first on Saturday, following by the senators well into Saturday evening. Legislators voted to reinstate funds for early education and preschool teachers, voting programs, and cuts to various state offices, the Globe reports. But lawmakers left in place the majority of other budget cuts recommended by the governor, whose budget office is grappling with declining tax revenues, particularly falling capital-gains tax receipts. http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/07/saturday_session_of_mass_legis.html
Baker retreats on au-pair suites flap, pursued by take-no-prisoners Galvin
Secretary of State Bill Galvin, acting like a Cossack chasing down Napoleon’s retreating troops, is turning a Baker administration blunder into a full-scale rout, after the administration over the weekend backed off its plan to hand over a sliver of the State House lawn so that a nearby developer could build au pair suites for a luxury condo development. The administration blamed the Massachusetts Historical Commission for allegedly reversing itself on granting an easement for the condo project, but Galvin was having none of it. “He has repeatedly misstated the facts on this issue,” Galvin said of Baker, reports the Globe’s Frank Phillips. “At some point, a misstatement becomes a misrepresentation. The governor should be capable of understanding the difference.” Galvin’s parting shot: “Even James Michael Curley didn’t try to sell the State [House] Lawn.” Baker’s office was last heard sputtering something about not responding to name-calling and hoping to work well with Galvin in the future.
First Amendment lawyers fret over hiding of suspects in open courts
It has become a common sight in courtrooms across the state: Suspects in crimes are hidden from view as they are brought before a judge in open court. And according to a report by Julie Manganis of the Gloucester Times, attorneys for newspapers and other First Amendment advocates are expressing concern that the practice—often done in the interest of protecting people who may be wrongfully accused—runs afoul of the state’s 1981 decision to allow cameras in courtrooms.
Bill would strip Healey of authority over guns
Sen. Don Humason says he has filed legislation that would strip Attorney General Maura Healey of her authority to issue rules and regulations governing gun sales in the state, in reaction to her recent decision to crack down on what she says are illegal sales of “copycat” assault weapons, Gintautas Dumcius of MassLive reports. The Westfield Republican says his bill already has the support of several other lawmakers but the legislation is unlikely to go anywhere as the current session winds down in coming days. It should be noted: The legislation is unlikely to pass the Democratic-controlled Legislature in any session, but we could be wrong.
The legislation came a day after scores of gun-rights supporters rallied outside the State House to protest Healey’s enforcement action. According to a report from the Herald’s Kathleen McKiernan, some protestors expressed fear they were being “turned into felons” overnight by Healey’s move.
Cities and towns cash in on medical pot license rush
Massachusetts cities and towns are receiving increasingly lucrative deals from entities that want to open medical marijuana dispensaries within their borders, a fact that worries some advocacy groups who say the escalating costs will have to be borne by patients in the end, Kay Lazar of the Globereports. The city of Worcester is poised to receive $650,000 over the next four years from one would-be dispensary, while Springfield struck a deal that includes payments to the local police department and ongoing royalties going into city coffers.
Meanwhile, Gerry Tuoti of GateHouse News Service reports in the Standard-Timesthat “shared interest abound” between those seeking medical marijuana licenses and the proponents of the Question 4 ballot initiative, which would legalize recreational use of the drug. Ballot proponents said they intentionally gave medical pot shops a leg up in crafting the question, saying it makes sense to use the existing infrastructure to get the potential new industry off the ground. But critics are skeptical.
Report: Airbnb tax would reap $32 million
The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center says $32 million annually is being lost by not taxing vacation rentals arranged through Airbnb and similar home-rental sites, Isaiah Thompson of WGBH reports. The group estimates $16 million each would go to state coffers and to cities and towns if the rentals were taxed at the same rate as hotel rooms. The report comes as Senate President Stan Rosenberg and Gov. Charlie Baker have both expressed support for expanding the hotel tax to include Airbnb, with Baker noting that the company itself welcomes additional regulation.
Phasing out court reporters raises questions
New voice recording systems are being installed in Superior Court rooms across the state, likely leading to the phasing out of 40 court reporter jobs, a move that some say raises questions about the accuracy of future court transcripts, Ross Cristantiello reports in the Telegram. The new system, known as “For The Record,” will require transcription of voice recordings but some worry that errors will be introduced in the process. “People’s freedom and lives are on the line,” said Martin W. Healy, chief operating officer and chief legal counsel of the Massachusetts Bar Association. “The only way to accomplish the administration of justice is with the gold standard, which is live court reporters.”
Easton board to take up official’s Facebook rants
The social media musings of a member of the Easton Conservation Commission will be up for discussion before the town’s board of selectmen tonight, Cody Shepard of the Brockton Enterprise reports. The board will apparently discuss whether to reprimand or discipline Michael Goodman after he posted images on Facebook suggesting the U.S. handle Islamic terrorists with nuclear weapons and will also take up the larger issue of the towns’ social media use policy. Hopefully, someone will also bring up the issue of this thing called the “First Amendment.”
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