Fed chair in Boston
Federal Reserve System chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to deliver the luncheon keynote when the Boston Federal Reserve Bank holds its 60th Economic Conference, Boston Federal Reserve, 600 Atlantic Ave., with the conference starting 8:30 a.m. and Yellen scheduled to speak at 12:30 p.m.
‘Fast Forward’ report
Transportation for Massachusetts holds a panel discussion and releases a “Fast Forward” report on “the technology revolution in transportation and what it means for Massachusetts,” with Zipcar co-founder Robin Chase giving the keynote, District Hall, 75 Northern Ave. Boston, 8:30 a.m.
Social worker regulations
The Board of Registration of Social Workers will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to rules and regulations governing the practice of social work, 1000 Washington St., Boston, 12 p.m.
Haiti after Hurricane Matthew
U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry and Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti executive director Brian Concannon Jr. talk about the after-effects of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti during “Eyes on Haiti: A Conversation on Cholera and Relief Efforts,” Room 428, 1 p.m.
Hacked highway signs slam Hillary
A clearly pro-Donald Trump hacker took control of electronic highway signs in the state’s SouthCoast region, Curt Brown of the Standard-Times reports. Sometime Wednesday night, signs that had warned of construction on the road ahead were altered to read “Trump for President” and “Hillary 4 prison.” MassDOT officials said the issue was corrected within a couple hours of its learning of the hack, but Brown reports that early the next morning, another message board was hacked.
Trump still in the hunt in New Hampshire, but Ayotte is slipping
Despite Donald Trump’s now infamous 2005 groping video, two new polls show that Trump in hanging in there in New Hampshire. According to a WBUR poll, Democrat Hillary Clinton leads her Republican opponent by just 3 points — 41 to 38 percent, with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson at 11 percent. According to a new 7News/UMass poll, Clinton is leading by a wider margin, 45 percent to 39 percent. But even that margin is roughly in line with what other pre-video polls were showing in the Granite State, as noted by the Globe’s James Pindell: “Coming less than 48 hours before he is scheduled to campaign in Portsmouth, Trump might take solace in the fact that Clinton’s 45 percent to 39 percent lead over him hasn’t changed much since the release of a video Friday in which Trump made a number of crude comments about women.”
It’s a different story in the New Hampshire U.S. Senate race. In the WBUR poll, Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and her Democratic challenger, Gov. Maggie Hassan, are in a tie, with 47 percent each. In the 7News/UMass poll, Ayotte clings to a “precarious lead” with 45 percent, one point ahead of Maggie Hassan’s 44 percent. That’s a much narrower lead than shown in previous polls, suggesting the Republican Ayotte has been damaged by Trump’s antics, even though she’s desperately tried to distance herself from him.
Michelle Obama: Trump’s comments have ‘shaken me to my core’
Campaigning in New Hampshire yesterday for Hillary Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama said voters would be sending the wrong message to kids if they elect a groping braggadocio like Donald Trump as president, the Herald’s Brian Dowling reports. “We are telling our sons that it is OK to humiliate women. We are telling our daughters that this is how they deserve to be treated,” Obama said, adding Trump’s lewd remarks in a 2005 video have “shaken me to my core.” At Wellesley College yesterday, Chelsea Clinton campaigned on behalf of her mom and accused Trump of “normalizing hate speech,” reports Shira Schoenberg at MassLive.
Prosecutors: It’s time to let ailing Sal DiMasi go
In a surprise move, federal officials are asking that ex-House Speaker Sal DiMasi, who is battling cancer, be released early from prison, something DiMasi’s family has been urging for a while now. The AP’s Denise Lavoie and Bob Salsberg at Boston.com report that both the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and federal prosecutors filed a notice yesterday requesting that DiMasi’s sentence be reduced to time already served so he could be released immediately. The filing states DiMasi, 71, who was convicted five years ago on corruption charges, “is experiencing deteriorating physical health that substantially diminishes his ability to function in a correctional facility.” U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf must approve the request. DiMasi’s family has long insisted that he was gravely ill and has repeatedly called for his early release. Their past pleas mostly fell on deaf ears, until now.
Economists push for taxes, but is anyone listening on Beacon Hill?
The editorial board of the economic journal MassBenchmarks, made up of 16 economists from the state’s colleges and universities along with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, is calling on lawmakers to consider higher taxes to invest in education and infrastructure, reports the Globe’s Deidre Fernandes and David Scharfenberg. But it doesn’t seem to be making much of an impact on Beacon Hill. A spokesman for House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who has openly said he wants to consult with economists about the possible need for new tax revenues, reiterated that the speaker views new taxes as a “last resort,” even though his staff is now compiling info about the issue of taxation. Then there’s Gov. Charlie Baker who, well, is against new taxes, period, as he reiterated to the Globe yesterday. So much for consulting with economists on the issue.
Instead, Baker is already making plans for probable mid-year budget cuts to balance the state budget, reports SHNS’s Andy Metzler (pay wall). No big surprise. Everyone has been expecting the probable need for budget cuts. But what is a little surprising is that they might be coming sooner than expected.
Hey, what’s up with that VMT thing?
Bruce Mohl of CommonWealth ponders the question of why state officials appear to be giving conflicting messages on which direction the state will head on using the vehicles-miles-traveled (VMT) approach to raise revenue from drivers. Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed what would have been a federally funded test of the controversial idea of taxing motorists based on how much they drive, but a MassDOT contract leaves the door open to the approach. A MassDOT spokesperson tells Mohl there’s really no confusion and that the VMT language was a leftover in the Mass Pike contract from an earlier version signed by Gov. Deval Patrick.
Tough days ahead for Health Connector
The state’s Health Connector is facing a “brutal” enrollment period in coming months, amidst insurance premium hikes and changes in eligibility requirements, the Herald’s Lindsay Kalter reporters. “The eligibility changes have been a long time coming, and it’s the result of the complete meltdown of the Connector,” Josh Archambault, senior fellow at the Pioneer Institute, a conservative think tank, is quoted as saying. “This is just getting back to square one, and it’s taken them three years, but they’re getting back to it.”
Higher than thought: More than $18M spent on TV ads for Question 2 alone
The Herald recently reported that television ad spending for all of the state ballot questions had hit $11 million and counting. But the Associated Press’s Steve LeBlanc reports at CBS Boston, citing data from the Center for Public Integrity, that TV ad spending on Question 2 alone has hit $18.4 million, with supporters of charter school expansion shelling out about $12 million and opponents spending around $6.5 million on broadcast advertising.
No drinks for you: Ex-Rep. Fresolo’s bar ordered closed for seven days for repeated violations
Liquor license commissioners are ripping into former state Rep. John P. Fresolo, who resigned his House seat a while back amidst an ethics probe and who is now trying to win it back, for repeated liquor license violations at his Kelley Square bar in Worcester, reports Cyrus Moulton at the Telegram. “It’s the same story with the same violations, and this can’t happen,” said License Commission Chairman Karon Shea. “Please don’t come back here,” said Commissioner Anthony Salvidio. “Get your business straightened out.” Fresolo acknowledged the most recent violations and said there are “no excuses,” but that’s what he always says when caught, frustrated commissioners complained.
The cost of Suffolk’s dysfunctional leadership: S&P lowers university’s credit outlook
Citing enrollment declines and near constant leadership turmoil at Suffolk University, S&P Global Ratings yesterday revised its credit outlook to “negative” from “stable” on the debt issued on behalf of Boston-based Suffolk University, reports the BBJ’s Don Seiffert. Suffolk was very, very quick to point out that the actual credit rating hasn’t been changed (yet) and that leaders are really, truly trying to address problems facing the school (after years of prodding and pleading by numerous people inside and outside the university).
Is Democracy dying in Massachusetts?
A robust turnout at next month’s presidential election will likely mask what are troubling signs about the state of democratic competition in Massachusetts, MassInc pollster Steve Koczela writes on WBUR. The Bay State ranks last among all state legislatures in terms of competitiveness for legislative seats and over the last 45 years, 30 percent of congressional and Senate general elections have been completely unopposed. Less competition within the dominant Democratic party and a lack of transparency at the State House are also seen as damaging to democracy. “Our democracy could use a refresh,” Koczela writes.
Tribe sees hope in judge’s clarification
The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe said the federal judge that dealt a blow to its hopes to open a Taunton casino may have opened the door for a new way forward with a clarification this week, Haven Orecchio-Egresitz of the Cape Cod Times reports. Judge William Young denied a motion from federal officials for reconsideration of his earlier ruling but suggested the government could seek to use a different definition of “indian” to arrive at its decision on the tribe’s control of the Taunton land. “We expect any setback caused by the court’s initial decision will be temporary,” said Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell.
Rosenberg: Transgender law will survive
Senate President Stan Rosenberg expressed confidence that the state’s transgender protection law will survive both court challenges and a potential ballot repeal in 2018, Jordan Graham of the Herald reports. “It’s going to be a repeat of what happened with same-sex marriage, which is two years after it started they were trying to repeal it on the ballot, but there were no problems, the Commonwealth did not fall into the ocean, there was widespread acceptance that it was the right thing to do.” Rosenberg’s comments came as supporters of the law, including Freedom Massachusetts, held a press event to say they were prepared to defend the law against the repeal efforts.
Drought finally eases up – just a bit
This past weekend’s rain storms seemed to have helped lessen drought conditions across many parts of Massachusetts, with the portions of the state in “extreme” drought condition declining to 38 percent from 52 percent, reports WBUR, citing the U.S. Drought Monitor. The biggest change occurred in Southeastern Massachusetts.
Sunday public affairs TV
Keller at Large, WBZ-TV, Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. With host Jon Keller, this week’s guest is body language expert Don Khoury, who will analyze presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s debate performance and the potential impact on undecided voters.
This Week in Business, NECN, 11 a.m. Boston Business Journal editor Doug Banks and Boston Globe business columnist Shirley Leung discuss the business angles in the presidential election, the Wells Fargo CEO stepping down, ongoing Samsung 7 problems, the credit outlook downgrade at Suffolk University new opposition to Boston Children’s Hospital expansion; and the Harvard and MIT professors who won the Nobel Prize for Economics.
On The Record, WCVB-TV, Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s topic is a debate on Question 3, which would put limits on the caging of farm animals, with the show hosted by anchor Ed Harding and featuring State House reporter Janet Wu.
CEO Corner, NECN, 11:30 a.m. David Gibbons, the new executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, talks about his priorities for the BCEC and Hynes Auditorium.
CityLine, WCVB-TV, Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s focus: Film & Theater with a Purpose.
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