Voter registration deadline
Today is the last day to register to vote and to change party enrollment for the state primaries. Offices are open from 9 a.m until 8 p.m., except in towns with fewer than 1,500 voters where registration sessions must be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
End of summer celebration
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh joins 200 Boston Centers for Youth & Families’ ‘SuperTeens’ for an end of summer celebration, Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building, School Committee Room, 2nd Floor, 2300 Washington St., Roxbury, 10 a.m.
Sumner Redstone, 93, retains his grip on media empire
Sumner Redstone, the 93-year-old Boston native who built a huge media empire via his Dedham-based National Amusements theater chain, has apparently won an epic corporate battle over control over Viacom and CBS, the New York Times is reporting this morning. A settlement has been reached between the warring factions that pitted Redstone and his daughter, Shari, against Viacom directors and former Redstone confidants, amidst accusations that Redstone wasn’t mentally fit to run the company and that his once-estranged daughter was simply manipulating him. The sprawling legal fight had stretched from courtrooms in Massachusetts to California. Fyi: Here’s a Wikipedia profile and a good USA Today piece on Redstone, who once barely survived a Copley Square fire before building National Amusements into the corporate goliath that it is today.
Report: Plymouth DA waited before acting on groping accusation
Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz may soon pay the price for waiting too long. In this case, Cruz waited six months to act on an allegation that his top prosecutor groped a female subordinate and later didn’t even read an outside investigator’s report that found a second case of groping by the same prosecutor, according to court documents filed in a federal lawsuit, reports the Globe’s Michael Rezendes. Assistant District Attorney Frank J. Middleton Jr. resigned in April 2015, nearly a year after Cruz learned of the first sexual misconduct allegation, Rezendes writes.
So what are Baker’s energy options following the SJC ruling?
Reading this morning’s Herald op-ed by Carl Gustin, a consultant to the business-backed New England Coalition for Affordable Energy, makes one thing clear: It’s far from clear what the Baker administration’s next energy policy move might be in the wake of the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision striking down the payment mechanism the administration pushed to expand natural gas pipelines in Massachusetts. Pipeline constraints have been blamed for natural gas shortages and spiking winter electric rates in a region already suffering from high electricity prices.
“While there may be a legislative fix to the 1997 act that could allow utilities to procure gas as a hedge against future price volatility, advocates of new natural gas pipeline capacity and those who advocate for a renewables-only approach are so polarized that it’s hard to imagine an agreement, a compromise, that would recognize that natural gas and renewables are compatible and complementary,” writes Gustin.
The likely outcome: Some sort of energy crisis will have to hit Massachusetts before action is taken. As far as we can see, that’s about the only option left.
Baker to push for increased health care competition
Here’s a radical, shocking notion: Actually encouraging competition within the health care system. CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl reports that the Baker administration is preparing to get more aggressive in promoting competition between health care providers, via Monica Bharel, the commissioner of the Department of Public Health. Her agency may issue new regulations next week dealing with hospital expansions and mergers and the introduction of new services, writes Mohl, adding that the state is moving away from the current “determination-of-need” process that has “tended in the past to protect incumbent players.”
Protecting “incumbent players” generally means protecting monopolies that hate competition and monopolies that have mastered the art of lobbying Beacon Hill to keep the status quo.
State officials preparing for worst-case drought scenario
The U.S. Drought Monitor has extended the areas in Massachusetts now considered to be experiencing “extreme drought,” including all of Suffolk County, reports Rob Haneisen at the MetroWest Daily News. Once confined to a pocket in northeast Massachusetts, the “extreme drought” area now includes two-thirds of Middlesex County, the northern half of Norfolk County, nearly all of Essex County and all of Suffolk County, reports Haneisen.
In response to the drought, Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday said that state officials are now preparing as if a worst-case drought scenario will indeed unfold, with plans to apply for federal aid if the state’s agricultural losses reach 30 percent, reports the Herald’s Jordan Frias and Jordan Graham. “We have to see what happens over the next couple of months,” Baker said at Smolak Farms yesterday in North Andover. “But it’s pretty clear that if you talk to almost anybody in the farming community they are dealing with a very significant constraint with respect to water and that constraint is going to have consequences for them.” The State House News Service’s Colin Young and Katie Lannan, via the Worcester Telegram, have more on how the drought is impacting farmers and others in Massachusetts.
Everett and Springfield casinos race to complete projects
Developers of Wynn Boston Harbor casino told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission yesterday that they will be ready to open the doors of the $2.1 billion Everett resort starting in June of 2019, Sean Murphy of the Globe reports. The company told the commission that construction is under way in earnest at the site, though the city of Somerville still has several days to decide whether to appeal in court the issuance of an environmental permit.
Meanwhile, Dan Glaun of MassLive reports that MGM Springfield has begun to transform that city’s downtown, recently pouring the foundation for what will be a six-story, 250-room casino hotel. MGM has been engaged in utility and demolition work for some time and the foundation is the first of what will be a series of major construction projects culminating with that casino opening in late 2018.
Feds to investigate Dudley cemetery dustup
U.S. Attorney General Carmen Ortiz’s Civil Rights Division will investigate whether the town of Dudley violated the rights of the Islamic Society of Greater Worcester with moves to block a proposed Muslim cemetery in the town, George Barnes of the Telegram reports. The town says it welcomes the probe. The society has appealed the decision by the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals to deny it a permit on the basis that the society didn’t own the land in question. The town is still mulling a possible purchase of the property as well.
SJC sprinkles wisdom on when sprinkler systems are required
Did you know that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, until yesterday, had never ruled on a state sprinkler system law first passed in 1990? It’s true. And it’s actually a pretty big deal for those in the fire safety and real estate world. Basically, the question before the court was what constitutes a “substantially rehabilitated” structure that may require automatic sprinkler systems, reports MassLive’s Shira Schoenberg. From her piece: “The SJC defined the term for the first time, finding that to trigger the sprinkler system requirement, the rehabilitation must be substantial enough that the physical structure is ‘as good as new.’ The court also said the cost of installing the sprinklers must be approximately the cost of installing sprinklers in a comparable newly constructed building.”
So there you go: Judicial history in the making.
New Bedford councilors lose bid on Hillary apology
Some members of the New Bedford City Council sought to have the board vote to demand an apology from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton—saying comments she made during her nomination acceptance speech about her past advocacy work in New Bedford painted the city in a bad light. But Mike Lawrence of the Standard-Times reports that the motion to call for the apology received only four votes from the nine-member council.
Neighbors blame ‘Tent city’ razing for vermin outbreak
Neighbors of a once-wooded property in Brockton, which the city recently cleared to roust homeless squatters, say the work there forced mice and other rodents to flee the area and into their yards and homes, Marc Larocque of the Brockton Enterprise reports. Neighbors turned out at a Brockton Conservation Commission meeting that was held to discuss the clearing, which some residents also worry will reactivate contamination long believed to be on the site.
Keolis: More improvements coming to troubled Worcester line
Executives from Keolis say they have already invested $18 million to improve the Framingham-Worcester commuter rail line they run for the MBTA and say they will continue to invest to upgrade the delay-plagued line, Bill Haner of the MetroWest Daily News reports. The company told the paper’s editorial board it will invest additional funds to enable trains to travel at higher speeds and will seek to add an additional passenger car to morning trains before commuting season resumes in earnest after Labor Day.
MWPC endorses candidates, appoints new executive director
Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus has announced the endorsement of legislative candidates across the state, including three incumbents and eight new candidates. The new candidates include: Andrea Harrington of Richmond and Nora Harrington of Milton, both seeking seats in the state Senate, and Juana Matias of Lawrence, Kim Maxwell of Fitchburg, Joan Meschino of Hull, Brianna Sullivan of Amesbury, Denise Swenson of Milton and Natalie Higgins of Leominster, seeking seats in the House.
Meanwhile, just in time for the fall elections, MWPC has named political and government affairs veteran Sarah McCarthy Welsh as the advocacy organization’s new executive director. She previously worked at Emmanuel College, where she helped launch its largest capital expansion, and served under former Boston mayors Raymond Flynn and Thomas Menino in various roles.
Just clap if you want a million dollars
Jay Ash likes to joke that state grants are distributed on the basis of who best feeds his ego. The governor’s secretary of housing and economic development riffed on that theme at a Springfield event earlier this week, noting with approval Mayor Domenic Sarno’s level of enthusiasm for a recent state accomplishment. “To my staff, let it be known Mayor Sarno started the applause, and that’s worth another million in MassWorks money,” Ash deadpanned.
– Andy Metzger/State House News Service
Sunday public affairs TV
Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. Suffolk County DA Dan Conley joins host Jon Keller to talk about police and community relations, body cameras and mediation controversies, as well as the Aaron Hernandez trial.
This Week in Business, NECN, 11 a.m. Guests: Jim Rooney, CEO of Greater Boston Chamber; Todd Piett, Chief Produce Officer, RAVE Mobile Safety; and Doug Banks, editor of the Boston Business Journal Editor. Topics to be discussed include the Massachusetts employment picture; business agenda for the fall; mobile safety software being developed in Massachusetts; economic impact of the drought.
On The Record, WCVB TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: Jim Borghesani, communications director for the “Yes on 4 Campaign.”
CEO Corner, NECN, 11:30 a.m., Cheryl Cronin, CEO of the Boston Public Market, talks about the popular food market a year after its opening, along with two of the market’s vendors.
CityLine, WCVB TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s focus: “An Encore Presentation of a Conversation with Darlene Love,” a Grammy winning artist and one of the subjects of Academy Award winning documentary “20 Feet from Stardom.”
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