Happening Today

Pension meeting

Treasurer Deb Goldberg chairs a Pension Reserves Investment Management Board Committee meeting that will review issues related to the state’s $60 billion pension system, PRIM Headquarters, 84 State Street, 2nd Floor, 9:30 a.m.

Municipal reforms bill signing

Gov. Charlie Baker joins Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Secretary of Administration and Finance Kristen Lepore, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus and others to sign a bill modernizing municipal finance in government, Grand Staircase, State House 11 a.m.

‘Drive Sober’ campaign

The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and Massachusetts Department of Transportation announce a partnership to focus enforcement on work zones as part of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, Weston State Police Barracks, 688 South Ave., Weston, 11 a.m.

Ferguson anniversary events

Massachusetts Peace Action will hold a parade and ceremony outside the State House to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing and the second anniversary of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri, State House sidewalk, 4:30 p.m.; Mass. Action Against Police Brutality will hold a “Unity March Against Police Terror” on the second anniversary of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Doherty-Gibson Playground, Fields Corner, Dorchester, 6:30 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Is the T just stringing along South Coast hopes for rail service?

Mike Lawrence reports at SouthCoast Today how the state’s top transportation official and MBTA board are expressing support for “continuing talks” about the emerging Middleboro alternative for a new South Coast rail expansion. Deliberations could include seven public meetings this fall on the Middleboro route, along with the original and more expensive route through Stoughton. “I think we owe (the public) that conversation,” MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack said yesterday at a meeting of the MBTA Fiscal Management and Control Board. “It’s another data point, in terms of how people feel about Stoughton, and how they feel about the Middleboro alternative.”

But a conversation is not the same as a commitment – and the state still faces a similar problem with the Middleboro alterative route, unveiled for the first time only a few months ago, that it did and does with the Stoughton plan: Funding – or lack thereof. Andrew Brennan, the MBTA’s energy and environment director, said the Middleboro route remains “very, very conceptual,” which translates to mean very, very dubious at this time. Sorry, South Coast rail advocates. But don’t get your hopes up too high for either plan.

SouthCoast Today

Cash-strapped state withholding funds from cash-strapped T

In other MBTA news, the Herald is reporting that the cash-strapped state is effectively withholding $31 million from the cash-strapped T. Technically, the Baker administration, facing a rather large potential state budget deficit, says the T doesn’t require the money to meet its “operating needs.” And, technically, the state plans to put the money aside for future T capital projects. But Garrett Quinn, a spokesman for the office of Administration and Finance, acknowledges that, well, the accounting move also helps the state deal with its own budget shortfall. “He also emphasized that the state won’t have to borrow more money to meet its obligation to the T,” the Herald reports. Borrow more money to meet its obligation to an agency notorious for borrowing money? Is it that bad at the state?

Boston Herald

Warren rushes to Healey’s defense again – and with the same rehashed line

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren yesterday defended Attorney General Maura Healey, who is under attack by the gun lobby for her crackdown on ‘copycat’ assault weapons, saying gun activists “picked a fight with the wrong state and the wrong Attorney General,” reports MassLive’s Gintautas Dumcius.

Hmmm. Where have we heard that line before? Ah, yes, when Warren last rode to Healey’s defense, during Healey’s recent subpoena fight with a Congressional committee concerning climate change. “You picked a fight with the wrong state & the wrong AG,” Warren tweeted of the oil industry at the time.


Collins spoils Trump’s change-the-subject show

Seeing his polls numbers plummet in the wake of his own self-inflicted political wounds, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump yesterday tried to change the subject by returning to a normally tried-and-true Republican tactic of vowing to cut taxes and regulations to spur the economy, as reported by the NYT. But his economic speech in Detroit was preceded by a Washington Post op-ed by Maine Senator Susan Collins, a Republican, who announced she can’t and won’t vote for Trump in the general election. “I had hoped that we would see a ‘new’ Donald Trump as a general-election candidate,” she writes in WaPo. “But the unpleasant reality that I have had to accept is that there will be no ‘new’ Donald Trump.”

Collins doesn’t deserve any Profile in Courage award for her decision. Two other prominent New Englanders, Gov. Charlie Baker and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, long ago recognized Trump for who and what he is – and refused to lend their support. So Collins is a latecomer to appreciating the “unpleasant reality” about her party’s presidential nominee. But the timing of her op-ed did divert some of the attention away from Trump’s economic speech yesterday.

Meanwhile, Democratic attack dog Elizabeth Warren was in full attack-dog mode yesterday, blasting out ten anti-Trump tweets yesterday following his speech, reports the Boston Globe’s Jeremy Fox. “Donald Trump’s economics plan is all about helping rich guys like Donald Trump get richer – & leaving everyone else behind.”

Weld: ‘Quirky as ever’

In other local presidential news, former Mass. Gov. Bill Weld merrily marched into Secretary of State William Galvin’s office yesterday to deliver petitions allowing his Libertarian president-vice president ticket to be on the state’s November ballot, reports the Herald’s Matt Stout. “The ice is cracking a little bit,” Weld said. “We’ve seen it start to crack in Congress just this week. I’ve spoken with a few Republican members of Congress who are interested in reassessing their endorsements for the fall and others as well.” Judging by Collins’ action yesterday, the ice may indeed be cracking just a bit. But the Libertarian goal of winning the election – or at the very least influencing the election – is still mostly political fantasy.

Boston Herald

Political fantasy, continued: Curt Schilling vs Kanye West

Speaking of political fantasy, Boston magazine’s Kyle Scott Clauss had the best line yesterday on Curt Schilling’s latest social-media silliness, i.e. his joke/hint/wink/rant/whatever that he plans to run for statewide office “soon” and then president of the United States of America in eight years. “If all goes according to schedule,” Clauss writes, “Schilling will face a tight race against presumed 2024 Democratic nominee Kanye West, seeking reelection.”

Boston magazine

Republican lawmaker blasts Baker’s SJC nominee as ‘ideological’ and ‘unfit’ for the court

Rep. Shaunna O’Connell, a Taunton Republican, isn’t happy with the Supreme Judicial Court nominee tapped by Gov. Charlie Baker, a fellow Republican. O’Connell is ticked off, apparently, at Kimberly Budd’s remarks at a confirmation hearing last week that she thinks there are too many crimes included in the state’s Sex Offender Registry – and perhaps there’s too many people who “aren’t really sex offenders” on offender listings. Budd also said she didn’t see “any reason” why unauthorized immigrants should not be granted driver’s licenses.

That was enough for O’Connell, who said Budd’s “ideological statements” have “no place on the Supreme Judicial Court and render her unfit to serve as a justice,” reports SHNS’s Andy Metzger at MassLive. Though Budd is still expected to be confirmed later this week by the Governor’s Council, the rift with O’Connell sent the Baker administration into spin overdrive, issuing a statement saying Budd would “enforce the law as written” and that undocumented immigrants won’t be getting driver’s licenses anyway under a new law passed by lawmakers. “The governor does not conduct litmus tests for judicial nominees and was pleased to nominate in Judge Budd a highly qualified jurist who has proven she is ready to apply the law equitably and not legislate from the bench,” the governor’s office said.


State launches elder care wait list

The state’s Office of Elder Affairs will begin a waiting list for some elders seeking basic home care services as demand outstrips the agency’s ability to provide services, Sue Scheible of the Patriot Ledger reports. The agency says it expects hundreds of people to be on the list when it formally launches on Sept. 1 and is urging residents interested to contact their state lawmakers.

Patriot Ledger

Horse racing fund is out of the running

It has to be one of the dumbest public policy ideas so far this young century: Slap a new Race Horse Development Fund tax on casinos and then use the money to bulk up winning horse race purses, as part of a plan to save the racing industry in Massachusetts. The only problem? There are literally not enough thoroughbred contests in Massachusetts to fatten up purses with tax revenues, so more than $8 million is sitting unused in the state fund, reports Beth Daley and Jacob Holzman of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting. The piece was done in collaboration with WBUR. “Why are we supporting a dying industry?” asks Robert Temple, who has written two books on the history of New England horse racing. “In fact, why not use the past tense — it’s a dead industry.”


Port cities have $25M stake in Baker’s next moves

Officials in Gloucester and other cities dependent on the state’s fishing industry are watching to see how Gov. Charlie Baker proceeds after lawmakers sent a him $25 million bond bill that could help with waterfront infrastructure improvements, Sean Horgan of the Gloucester Times reports. The funds are tucked into the economic development package awaiting Baker’s signature or veto and would also need to be included in the governor’s capital spending plan to be released. Cities that rely heavily on fishing are expected to be at the front of the line for the funds aimed at improving waterfront infrastructure.

Gloucester Times

Car-less Newbury Street called smashing success

Many shop and restaurant owners are calling the one-day experiment to turn Newbury Street pedestrian-only a major success, but the city plans a thorough survey of property owners before it decides whether to repeat it, Donna Goodison of the Herald reports. Back Bay Association President Meg Mainzer-Cohen tells Goodison the positive impacts were felt at businesses in the entire neighborhood as well. “Every word that I have gotten has been that it was a great success,” she said.

Boston Herald

Would tax make state a pot enabler?

Taxing legal recreational marijuana at higher rates than other goods, as proposed by Question 4 on the November ballot, could put the state in the awkward position of encouraging use of the drug, Tom Keane argues at WBUR. Keane points to the history of the state lottery as a cautionary tale: “But over time, instead of merely permitting gambling, the state has become its enabler. The Massachusetts Lottery aggressively advertises its games. It invents new ones to keep the jaded coming back.”


Today’s Headlines


Mayor Walsh defends his cargo shorts – Boston Globe

Madison Park headmaster cited for improperly taking sick days – Boston Globe

Newbury Street’s foot-traffic only day seen as success – Boston Herald


Attorney General Maura Healey says weapons law will be enforced to the “fullest extent” – MassLive

How far does SouthCoast rail commitment go? – CommonWealth Magazine

Weld moves to get Libertarians on Mass. ballot – Boston Globe

State holding back $31M in aid payments to MBTA – Boston Herald

Trooper Michael Cutone sues Mass. State Police, saying he was denied chance to market C3 policing while off duty – MassLive

Dudley continues hearing on land purchase to block Muslim cemetery – Telegram & Gazette

$25M port bill awaits Baker’s pen – Gloucester Times

Town officials to maintain pact with tribe – Cape Cod Times

The problem with a pot tax – WBUR

The trans bill battle isn’t over – Boston Magazine

Layoffs appear to be on the way for MBTA janitors – Boston Business Journal

State commissioners sign deal on weekend to give Brockton Power permit extension – Brockton Enterprise

Energy bill puts wind in SouthCoast sails – Standard-Times


Trump embraces fundraising, not transparency – Politico

Trump adopts GOP tax cuts but balks at trade pacts – New York Times

GOP Senator Susan Collins: Why I cannot support Trump – Washington Post

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal could play ‘important’ role opposing Trans Pacific Partnership – MassLive

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