Tracking state expenditures
Comptroller Thomas Shack will give members of the media an advance walk-through of the new “CTHRU” website, which launches Sept. 14, that will host public information on state payroll and spending back to fiscal 2010, Comptroller’s Office, One Ashburton Pl. – 9th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.
MassDevelopment directors discuss final approval of over $2.5 billion in project bonding and in executive session will discuss approval of financing for the purchase of future General Electric office space at 5 and 6 Necco Court in Boston, 99 High St. – 11th floor, Boston, 10:30 a.m.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito chairs a meeting of the Governor’s Council, which may vote on Sookyoung Shin’s appointment to the Appeals Court, Governor’s Council Chambers, 12 p.m.
Health care system update
At a Health Policy Commission board meeting, Center for Health Information and Analysis executive director Ray Campbell will present major findings from CHIA’s annual report on the performance of the state’s health care system, 50 Milk St., Boston, 12 p.m.
South Coast rail routes
State transportation officials weighing two routes for bringing rail service to the South Coast hold a meeting in New Bedford, which would be a terminus under both plans, Greater New Bedford Vocational High School Auditorium, 1121 Ashley Blvd., New Bedford, 6:30 p.m.
Maybe the Boston Herald just happened to stumble upon some stats showing that Massachusetts last year deported the lowest percentage of illegal aliens of any state in the nation, as the paper’s Jack Encarnacao reports. But you gotta wonder about the timing of the story – actually, stories (see related links at the bottom of Jack’s piece) – with this being the final, post-Labor Day stretch of a presidential election in which immigration issues have been a central focus. No matter what the motivation, the deportation stats are sure to rev up anti-immigrant voters.
Meanwhile, Alexander Rhalimi, a businessman and candidate for Suffolk County sheriff, is taking a different tack on immigration issues, saying he would stop jailing immigrants for deportation unless they have serious criminal records, reports the Globe’s Maria Sacchetti. Rhalimi, a Moroccan-born US citizen who owns a transportation company, is specifically going after the agency’s lucrative contract with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and throwing his opponent, Sheriff Steven Tompkins, off balance, Sacchetti reports. Tompkins has been left sputtering something about how he’s reconsidering his office’s contract with ICE, though he hasn’t made a commitment to change anything.
About those presidential polls … and ‘false balance’
MASSterList yesterday expressed mild skepticism about the accuracy of a new Franklin Pierce/Boston Herald poll showing Hillary Clinton holding only a slight 3 percent lead over Donald Trump. But FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver says that an average of recent national polls indeed shows Clinton ahead by a margin of about 3 percent, as Trump gains ground on Clinton, despite his recent bombastic stumbles and zigzagging. Silver does note that Clinton holds advantages in key swing states where, traditionally, a Democrat shouldn’t be doing so well.
Though Clinton has extremely high negative ratings like Trump, Dan Kennedy at WGBH thinks part of Clinton’s overall problem is simple: “False balance,” i.e. the media is taking a pass on Trump when it comes to his own past shady business and political dealings. He cites five reasons for the media’s behavior, all of which we can’t disagree with, especially his fifth point.
Warren to rev up left for Clinton
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has definitely kept her promise to back Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump, despite Warren’s disagreements with Clinton’s more pro-Wall Street stances. On Friday, Warren, who’s already appeared with Clinton on the campaign trail, plans to further push for Clinton in Philadelphia, alongside U.S. Senate hopeful Katie McGinty and other supporters, reports MassLive’s Shannon Young. Of course, Warren will present a bill to Clinton after the election, assuming Clinton prevails: A major say over future administration appointments. But that’s a story for another time.
Mannal’s Shermanesque moment: If nominated, I will run. If elected, I shall serve
Citing family issues, state Rep. Brian Mannal withdrew from the race for an open state Senate seat less than a week after ballots were printed in June. But now Mannal has reversed course, saying that he would in fact accept the Democratic nomination to run for the Cape & Islands state senate seat should he emerge victorious in Thursday’s primary, Geoff Spillane of the Cape Cod Times reports. Mannal appears on the Democratic side along with two other candidates who have been actively campaigning for the seat, making it unlikely but not impossible that he will get the primary nod.
Galvin predicts lower than low turnout tomorrow
Some political experts have predicted that voter turnout in tomorrow’s primary elections could be less than 20 percent. Yesterday, Secretary of State William Galvin, whose office oversees elections in Massachusetts, suggested turnout could actually be less than 10 percent, or around 8 to 10 percent, reports Gerry Tuoti at Wicked Local. “Clearly the interest here and nationally is on the presidential campaign (in November), and that’s absorbing everyone’s political attention,” Galvin said yesterday. But there’s also only a smattering of contested primary elections tomorrow and an absence of statewide elections, further driving down projected turnout numbers. Still, some of the elections – we particularly like the Hampden County Sheriff’s race, for pure entertainment – are hotly contested, so make sure to vote, if you can.
Stein could face charges in Dakota protest
Green Party presidential candidate and Lexington resident Jill Stein will face charges for her role in a pipeline protest on Tuesday in South Dakota, Blair Emerson reports in the Bismarck Tribune. Stein could face trespassing and/or vandalism charges for joining the throng of 150 to 200 people who tried to block work on the Dakota Access Pipeline and allegedly spray-painted a piece of equipment, the county sheriff tells the newspaper. Stein probably knew this before the protest, but they happen to really like their pipeline jobs in the Dakotas.
Milton officials: Joyce pulled all the proper remodeling permits and yet …
Sen. Brian Joyce, who’s leaving office amidst a federal corruption probe, had all the necessary permits to extensively renovate his Milton home that he’s now trying to sell for $1.7 million, according to the Milton town administrator, reports the Globe’s Travis Anderson and Andrea Estes. Having the proper permits appear to partially undercut a series of previous Globe stories on Joyce’s renovations of his abode. But left unclear is why town property-tax assessment records show a house with 3,854 square feet of living space, eight rooms, five bedrooms, and 4½ bathrooms on two floors, but Joyce’s home-sale brochures say the house has 6,444 square feet of living space, six bedrooms, and 5½ bathrooms on four floors. In other words: Was Joyce getting a break on his property taxes? He’s currently not letting town assessors into the home for an inspection, the Globe reports.
It’s like first day of class
Gov. Charlie Baker’s three recently confirmed nominees to the Supreme Judicial Court sat on the high-court bench for the first time yesterday, asking questions and one even recusing himself from a case related to a murder trial he presided over as a Superior Court judge in 2014, reports SHNS’s Colin Young at Wicked Local. The new justices are Kimberly Budd, Frank Gaziano and David Lowy. “The three justices mark the beginning of what is expected to be a substantial reshaping of the high court and its philosophy by Baker,” Young writes. Yesterday the court heard arguments in an alimony case and two challenges to the validity of privatization contracts by the Department of Mental Health.
Tax revenue growth anemic in August
Ever since the new state budget passed, fiscal watchdogs have been warning that mid-year budget cuts were likely — and now they sure look right. State revenue grew just one-half of one percent in the month of August, continuing an anemic start to the current fiscal year and raising the prospect of unilateral budget cuts from Gov. Charlie Baker, Joshua Miller of the Globe reports. Since the new fiscal year started in July, revenue is up just 1.3 percent, well below the 4 percent growth rates assumed by budget drafters.
The New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal: From promise to boondoggle to promise again
After the controversial Cape Wind project imploded, it appeared the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal – recently built by the state for more than $100 million, primarily to push ahead the Cape Wind project – had become a first-class boondoggle. But yesterday Gov. Charlie Baker and others announced the terminal will be used as the main staging area for three proposed offshore wind projects in federally managed waters south of Martha’s Vineyard, reports Doug Banks of the Boston Business Journal. DONG Energy, Deepwater Wind and OffshoreMW have all signed a letter of intent to lease the terminal, if and when their projects get under way. Most agree that recent passage of comprehensive energy legislation – which requires utilities to purchase up to 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power over the years – played a key role in the deal. So now the state’s terminal project looks promising again, though the two-year, non-binding lease commitment of $5.7 million is still far short of the costs incurred.
State to transfer Grafton land for new State Police Museum
The House and Senate have reached agreement on a bill that clears the way for the state to convey about 5 acres of land in Grafton to the non-profit Massachusetts State Police Museum and Learning Center Inc., which this year opened a museum on the former police barracks site, SHNS’s Michael Norton reports at MetroWest Daily News. The non-profit, which began to convert the State Police barracks after it closed in 2006, “seeks to promote the unique history and identity of New England’s largest law enforcement agency” and contains nearly 150 years of State Police artifacts.
Bump: Medicaid funds improperly used for golf outings, gifts and trips
Centro Las Americas Inc., a non-profit group that assists Latin American communities in Worcester, improperly accepted $300,000 from the state’s Medicaid program and used some of the funds on gifts, golf outings, trips to Puerto Rico and other inappropriate expenses, according to state Auditor Suzanne Bump, reports the Telegram’s Lisa Eckelbecker. The payments were apparently for duplicative foster-care services that Bump said were “concerning.”
IndyCars, jersey barriers: Yours if the price is right
A federal bankruptcy will auction off what remains of the erstwhile Boston Grand Prix, including two IndyCar ‘show cars’ and 1,100 concrete barriers that were built specifically to line the South Boston race course that never was, Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub reports. The auction will be held today in Holbrook, Gaffin reports, and would-be buyers have to be prepared to prove to MassPort, who owns the land where the barriers have sat since earlier this year, that they have a plan to move, quickly, what they purchase.
Lowell council proposes to boost its own pay 67 percent
Saying they hope to attract better candidates, the Lowell City Council is proposing to boost members’ pay by 67 percent – while raising the bar for would-be newcomers to launch campaigns for the council, Grant Welker of the Lowell Sun reports. A proposal that will be the subject of a public hearing later this month would increase councilors’ pay from $15,000 to $25,000, school board stipends from $6,000 to $12,000 and the mayor’s salary from $21,000 to $30,000. But another proposal would require 150 voter signatures to gain ballot access to run for city council—up from the current 50 signatures.
Pittsfield Mayor faces union objections over ex-prisoner appointment
Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer plans to appoint a new firefighter who served prison time for a drug and gun conviction, despite last-minute objections raised by the city’s firefighter union, Jim Therrien of the Berkshire Eagle reports. Tyler held a press conference to announce she would appoint Frederick Conyers Jr., whose test results put him at the top of the civil service list, and to clear up what she said have been inaccurate reports about his past. Conyers served 3 1/2 years in prison after his 2003 arrest.
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