Happening Today

Presidential debate

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump square off in their much-anticipated first debate tonight at Hofstra University, 9 p.m.

Drought-stricken orchards

Rep. Kate Hogan, Sen. Jamie Eldridge, and Sen. Jennifer Flanagan are scheduled to tour several drought-affected orchards in Stow and Bolton accompanied by Agriculture Commissioner John Lebeaux, 106 West Acton Rd., Stow, 9 a.m.

BRA ‘rebranding’

The Boston Redevelopment Authority hosts a press roundtable to “unveil the agency’s new identity, vision, and roadmap,” Continuum Offices, 21 Drydock Avenue, Suite 410W, Boston, 10 a.m.

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Education press conference

House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Education Secretary Jim Peyser and others are expected to appear at a Mass Insight Education press conference to welcome the 10 schools joining its Advanced Placement STEM and English program this year, Room 428, State House, 10:55 a.m.

MBTA Fiscal Control Board

The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board meets to address accepting unsolicited proposals from vendors, receive an update on the Wachusett commuter rail project and the state’s procurement regulations, and discuss overnight service, engineering services for Green Line car overhauls and proposed changes to commuter rail schedules, Transportation Board Room, 10 Park Plaza, 12 p.m.

Janitors to ‘storm’ T meeting

Janitors plan to “storm” the MBTA meeting to demand answers about a new contract between the MBTA and outside vendors that has led to job cuts, 10 Park Plaza, 12 p.m.

‘Ask the AG’

Attorney General Maura Healey appears on Boston Public Radio’s regular ‘Ask the AG’ segment, WGBH-FM 89.7, 12:30 p.m.

Board of education special meeting

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education holds a special meeting to discuss the 2016 MCAS and PARCC exam results and school and district accountability determinations, 75 Pleasant St., Malden, 5 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Poll: Hillary and Donald head into tonight’s debate running neck and neck

Think tonight’s first presidential debate doesn’t matter much with more than a month still left in the campaign? Think again. A new Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll shows Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in a virtual dead-heat, with the already slim gap between the Democrat and Republican candidates growing ever slimmer, reports the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld. Clinton now leads Trump by a 45-43 percent margin, a slight bump for Trump since the last poll showed a 44-41 percent margin. The Franklin Pierce/Herald survey is in line with other national polls.

Btw: The Franklin Pierce/Herald polls shows our local heroes aren’t doing so well. Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, whose running mate is former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, is drawing just 6 percent of the vote and Green Party hopeful and Lexington resident Jill Stein is pulling in a mere 2 percent — a drop for both of them since the last poll, Battenfeld writes.

Boston Herald

Head spinning expectations: The highs and lows

The Globe’s Matt Viser notes that the real battle, before and after tonight’s big presidential debate, may be over managing expectations, as the two sides try to spin how well they may or may not do at Hofstra University in New York. In particular, Hillary seems to be getting a lot of local advice, with the words “high” and “low” being bandied all about. The Herald’s Kimberly Atkins says Hillary needs to “go high,” as Michelle Obama puts it. The Globe’s Yvonne Abraham knows Trump will go “low,” but that Hillary can’t stoop to his levels because she’s a woman and will be judged differently. In a Herald piece by Jordan Graham, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren describes Trump as a “selfish lowlife” and urges Clinton to find her inner, higher self.

Braintree police chief: ‘I’m paying for it with my own retirement’

Braintree police chief Russell W. Jenkins admits he missed plenty of signals that the person running the department’s evidence room was apparently troubled and needed help, but he didn’t relieve her of her duties because he was “trying to understand her situation at home and show some compassion to her in hopes she could work this out,” reports the Globe’s Evan Allen and Shelley Murphy. The result: Yet another police evidence-room scandal in Massachusetts that could impact hundreds or more legal cases, not to mention prompting Jenkins’s sudden announcement last week that he was retiring. Coincidently, the American Civil Liberities Union asked the state’s high court to throw out more than 24,000 cases tied to disgraced state crime lab technician Annie Dookhan, the Herald’s Bob McGovern reports.

Boston Globe

Janitors of the world, rise

As janitors vow to “storm” an MBTA meeting today over job cutbacks tied to T contractors, hundreds of janitors separately voted over the weekend to authorize a strike if a new contract isn’t reached with office-building contractors by the end of this month, NECN reports. More than 13,000 janitors and others who clean and maintain nearly 2,000 buildings across the Boston area are covered by the contract.

NECN

In Boston, Chang mulls 6-year high schools

Facing volatile enrollment numbers, Boston school officials are weighing whether to create six-year high schools, effectively eliminating the middle-school distinction, in a move that has raised concerns from some advocates, James Vaznis of the Globe reports. The move is meant to address declining enrollment in the middle school grades, a drop at least in part attributable to the growth of charter schools in the city. 

Boston Globe

Baker campaign ordered to ‘purge’ $56K for fishy donations

Gov. Charlie Baker was forced to pay $56,000 out of his campaign account after a state audit revealed a number of “unlawful or poorly explained donations tucked into his 2014 gubernatorial campaign finance reports,” reports the Herald’s Matt Stout, who adds the “purge” appears to be the most a state candidate has ever paid to the commonwealth for questionable donations.

Boston Herald

Hands off approach to Baker’s environmental and DCR embarrassments

It seems is a lot of people are backing off investigations of the patronage/party-hearty/political-retribution controversies swirling around Gov. Charlie Baker’s embattled Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and its agency offshoot, the Department of Conservation and Recreation. Democratic lawmakers are taking a wait-and-see approach on the political-retribution controversy, saying they want to first see how the administration handles the matter, reports the Herald’s Matt Stout. Meanwhile, the State Ethics Commission sees no need for further action in connection with two DCR chiefs who were suspended for using taxpayer resources on a private GOP-stacked party, reports SHNS’s Andy Metzger and Michael Norton at Wicked Local.

‘Quite a bit of grumbling from the Brits about Brexit’

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson blew into Boston late last week on a low-key visit, meeting with Gov. Charlie Baker (as the governor noted on Twitter) and attending various events in the city, including a cocktail reception hosted by Standard Life Investments at One Beacon Street. Our spy says Johnson, who backed the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, was a hit at the reception. “He was very witty, the crowd was with him even if, after he spoke, there was quite a bit of grumbling from the Brits about Brexit.”

MassGovernor

Taxi industry targets state in lawsuit over new Uber law

In case you missed it, a Boston taxi-driver group late last week filed a federal lawsuit suit against Gov. Charlie Baker and other state officials over the new law governing the operations of Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing companies, reports Greg Ryan at the Boston Business Journal. In particular, the group is peeved that cabs can still be regulated by local towns and cities, but Uber et gang answer exclusively to the state.

BBJ

Marijuana money madness

About $115,000 of the $2.5 million raised in support of Question 4, which would legalize recreational pot in Massachusetts, has come from sources already engaged in selling medical marijuana, Jordan Graham of the Herald reports, citing campaign finance records. A Boston-based medical marijuana consultancy and companies that operate dispensaries in Colorado and elsewhere are among those who have contributed to Yes on 4. http://bit.ly/2dt4QlP Meanwhile, Isaiah Thompson of WGBH reports that opponents of the pot question are upset that 90 percent of the funds raised by those pushing the initiative have come from outside of the state.

Boston Herald

Sudbury group appeals to Markey and Clark in battle with Eversource

A Sudbury group fighting Eversource’s plans for an 8.9-mile transmission line cutting through the heart of the town is trying to enlist the help of U.S. Sen. Edward Markey and U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, reports Brad Avery at Wicked Local. Leaders of Protect Sudbury have also been meeting with state lawmakers to discuss the project, including Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton; Sen. Michael Barrett, D-Lexington; state Rep. Carmine Gentile, D-Sudbury and Gov. Councillor Marilyn Devaney. The pitched battle is over a plan to run transmission lines, sometimes requiring 82-foot wide clearings, down an old MBTA-owned rail bed in Sudbury. The project is part of an overall system reliability push by ISO New England, overseer of the region’s electric grid.

Wicked Local

On the Cape, early voting vexes

Town clerks on Cape Cod are readying for the state’s first pass at allowing early voting but don’t know what to expect, Geoff Spillane of the Cape Cod Times reports. Falmouth Town Clerk Michael Palmer has laid out plans to staff early voting stations but admits he’s not sure whether the election workers will be serving long lines of voters or “reading books.” Other clerks say the early voting will create additional work for officials as they must reconcile voter lists over the weekend before the Nov. 8 election.

Cape Cod Times

Tourism drives Cape Ann job growth

State workforce numbers show tourism drove a surge in seasonal employment in Gloucester and surrounding Cape Ann communities, where unemployment fell to a nine-year low, Ray Lamont of the Gloucester Times reports. The opening of the Beauport Hotel Gloucester alone added 200 jobs.

Gloucester Times

Cambridge to flex its eminent domain muscles

The Cambridge City Council is expected to vote Monday night to set in motion the taking by eminent domain of an apartment building near Central Square that has sat vacant for nearly a decade, Marc Levy of Cambridge Day reports. The city has an appraisal of $3.7 million in hand for Vail Court and if the taking goes through, plans to convert the building to affordable or transitional housing.

Cambridge Day

Bill Walton statue: Trying to find a home

Even though Bill Walton played only a short time with the Boston Celtics, he’s still deeply admired in these parts for his loyalty to the Green. But Walton is absolutely beloved in his hometown San Diego, where he’s turned into a sort of one-man charitable machine. So the fact that the San Diego International Airport’s Art Advisory Committee doesn’t want a $200,000, 1,200-pound bronze statue of Walton is upsetting many people in the city, writes Bryce Miller at the San Diego Union Tribune. Sort of reminds us of the flap over the Rocky Balboa statue in Philadelphia and, for a while there, the delay in getting a statue built in Boston for Celtics uber-star Bill Russell.

San Diego Union Tribune

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Could Boston go to six-year high schools? – Boston Globe

Calling Vail Court ‘blight on neighborhood,’ city officials seek a $3.7 million land seizure – Cambridge Day

Union representing 13,000 janitors authorizes strike – Boston Globe

Massachusetts

Weed question support attracts industry money – Boston Herald

Fugitive Quincy con artist has a history of betrayal – Patriot Ledger

Advent of early voting poses challenges for town clerks – Cape Cod Times

Advocates, Baker clash on nursing home pay hikes – Boston Globe

UMass biotech park gets renovations, new tenants – Telegram & Gazette

Hotel, shops boost job rate – Gloucester Times

How Mass. ‘Gateway Cities’ Are Crafting New Identities – WBUR

Ex-chief to Dracut: Pay up or I’ll sue – Lowell Sun

Nation

Opposition bubbles in Congress to 9/11 suit bill – Politico

Donald Trump’s week of misrepresentations, exaggerations and half-truths – Politico

Millions in U.S. are climbing out of poverty, data show – New York Times

Elizabeth Warren tells Hillary Clinton: Aim higher – Boston Herald

New York Times endorses Clinton notable early in fall campaign – Boston Globe

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