Today is Halloween. Police routinely warn motorists to be careful on the commute home with so many little trick-or-treaters scurrying about sidewalks and roadways.
Campaign finance deadline
Candidates running in state legislative races have until today to file pre-election campaign reports with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance.
Online Gambling and Fantasy Sports Commission
The Legislature’s Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports is scheduled to hold its first meeting, Room 222, 10:30 a.m.
Rural communities infrastructure program
Gov. Charlie Baker joins Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, and a number of lawmakers for an announcement about the MassWorks Infrastructure Program in rural communities, Grand Staircase, State House, 11 a.m.
Electronic tolling press conference
Highway Administrator Thomas Tinlin will provide an update on the activation of all electronic tolling and discuss the status of toll plaza demolition work in 23 construction zones on Interstate 90, MassDOT District 6 headquarters, 185 Kneeland Street, Boston, First floor, 11 a.m.
MBTA Control Board
The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board will meet to take up a number of items, including Green Line Extension construction contracts and “related close-out items,” human resources issues, a modified late-night service proposal, and commuter rail winterization, Transportation Building, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, second floor, 12 p.m.
Senior Halloween luncheon
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh greets attendees at a Senior Halloween luncheon, Knights of Columbus, 545 Medford St., Charlestown, 1:45 p.m.
T eyes Late-night Lite
The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board will take up a proposal from Boston-based commuter-service provider Bridj to operate late-night bus service in the city, Colin Young of State House News Service reports in a story carried by the Boston Business Journal and other outlets. Riders would use the Bridgj app to call for a shuttle, which would pick up and drop off passengers within a seven-minute walk of their destination. It’s certainly not full late-night service, which the T recently cut. More like Late-night Lite.
An all-time first for any state agency in history: T says ‘not yet’ to new money
Meanwhile, the T is signaling to state lawmakers—some of whom are eager to try to pump more money (i.e. new taxes) into the system after last week’s embarrassing smoke-out incident on the Orange Line—that it can’t handle or deploy a new infusion of resources at this time, Bruce Mohl of CommonWealth Magazine reports. T leadership says the agency needs to build the capacity first to be able to handle new funding already on its way.
Good-bye landslide, hello toss-up
Even before last Friday’s FBI-Clinton email bombshell, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll showed the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump narrowing to just two points, with Clinton ahead 47 to 45 percent, down from her previous double-digit lead of 50 percent to 38 percent. Needless to say, those aren’t landslide numbers. They aren’t even likely-victory numbers at this point.
A New York Times Upshot/Siena poll shows Trump gaining a slight lead in Florida, a key swing state. But the NYT also notes that Clinton appears to have a “slim lead” in early voting in swing states in general, potentially “mitigating the fallout” from the ongoing FBI email controversy.
Ayotte’s down-ticket Weiner boost
Whether the firestorm over the FBI’s reopening of the Clinton email investigation – which is now tied to the wife of sexter extraordinaire Anthony Weiner, of all people in this world — is truly hurting Hillary Clinton may not be known for a few more days, as polling maestro Nate Silver points out. But Republicans are now assuming the controversy will likely help down-ticket GOP Senate candidates, including Republican Kelly Ayotte’s bid to win re-election in New Hampshire, reports Politico’s Seung Min Kim and Burgess Everett.
Re our headline: Why should the NY Post have all the fun?
Fyi: We’re apparently not the only ones who couldn’t resist watching the “Weiner” documentary over the weekend, which just coincidently premiered on Showtime, notes the Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawick. If you want to watch one of the greatest wince-inducing documentaries of all time, “Weiner” is for you.
Medford cops say sorry for Hillary arrest photo
The president of the union representing police officers in Medford apologized over the weekend for a photograph posted on Facebook showing him and a fellow cop handcuffing and arresting someone wearing a Hillary Clinton mask, Adam Sennott of the Globe reports. “These were Halloween costumes. It was meant totally as a joke,” Harold MacGilvray told the Globe. “I apologize if this offended anyone in any way. I never expected this sort of reaction.”
Hassan: Please, take the money back
N.H. Gov. Maggie Hassan, locked in a close U.S. Senate race with Republican Kelly Ayotte, plans to return campaign donations from partners at Boston’s Thornton Law Firm, following a report published in the Globe on Sunday that revealed the firm had given the partners more than $1 million in apparent reimbursements for the contributions, a potential state election-law no no, reports Felicia Gans at the Globe. Meanwhile, Wisconsin Senate candidate Russ Feingold also plans to return money from the firm, the Milwaukee Journal is reporting.
Is U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren next on the give-it-back list? She was among a “parade of politicians,” most of them Democrats, who have received donations from partners at Thornton Law Firm, which the Globe’s Spotlight Team and Center for Responsive Politics reported yesterday has had a curious pattern of dishing out “bonuses” to partners right around the time they make campaign donations.
Out-of-state money fuels record spending on ballot questions
Spurred by the hotly contested referendums on charter schools and marijuana legalization, spending on all four ballot questions has already hit nearly $50 million this election cycle, smashing the previous state record of $30.2 million spent in 2014, the Globe’s Frank Phillips reports. Out-of-state donations on Questions 2 (charter schools) and Question 4 (marijuana legalization) account for much of the spending.
Catholic Archdiocese blesses anti-pot campaign with $850,000
Of course, not all of the money is coming from out-of-state donors. From Mark Labbe at The Pilot: “The Archdiocese of Boston has pledged $850,000 to a campaign aimed at opposing Massachusetts ballot Question 4, which would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the state. ‘The contribution is a reflection of how seriously we consider this issue,’” said Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley in his blog.
And in the Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows category: Casino mogul Steve Wynn has also contributed $100,000 to the anti-pot campaign backed by Gov. Charlie Baker. Wynn’s contribution came just one day before the state Gaming Commission approved Wynn’s planned Everett casino development, reports the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld.
Lawmakers likely to have final say on Question 4
Both history and current rhetoric suggest even that even if Question 4 passes by a healthy margin next week, lawmakers are likely to greatly alter the law before it takes effect, Mike Deehan of WGBH reports. Citing past referenda—including clean elections and a rollback of state income tax rates—Deehan notes that lawmakers are accustomed to reworking the decisions of voters. And lawmakers in both chambers on Beacon Hill appear to agree that changes should be made—including higher taxes than the 3.75 percent called for in the ballot question.
‘Jeez, I wish I left earlier’
By most accounts, the first weekend of all-electronic tolling on the Pike went relatively smoothly. But MassDOT officials are warning of rush-hour traffic delays today and over the next few weeks due to toll-booth demolitions and roadway realignment work, WCVB reports. Highway Administrator Thomas Tinlin says motorists should prepare for commutes as they would for snowstorm commutes. “Better to be in your workplace having breakfast and a coffee than sitting on the Pike saying, ‘Jeez, I wish I left earlier,’” he said.
The never ending quest to beat the system
As motorists brace for major traffic tie-ups caused by the Pike switchover to all-electronic tolling, officials are also bracing for widespread scams by drivers trying to avoid paying tolls, via specialized license plate blockers and even sprays now widely sold online in other states, reports MassLive’s Scott Croteau. Check out this PhantomPlate.com site, where you can order your very own plastic “PhotoShield” plate cover and scan all the “must watch police and media reviews” of anti-toll products. MassDOT officials are expressing confidence that their technology can beat their technology, Croteau reports.
Early voting could hit 500,000 while overall voter registration soars
There were long lines of early voters outside the Boston Public Library and other locations on Saturday, completing a “great” week for the state’s first-ever early voting program, according to Secretary of State Bill Galvin, as reported at CBS Boston. As of Friday, about 7 percent of the entire state electorate had already voted and Galvin expressed hope, if not the expectation, that early voting could hit 500,000 people this election cycle. Meanwhile, a record-high 4.5 million state residents are now registered to vote, the Associated Press reports at the Cape Cod Times, citing data from the secretary of state’s office. The majority of voters—54 percent—are unenrolled in any party, while 34 percent are registered Democrats and 11 percent registered with the GOP.
Warren’s ‘turf encroachment’ and ‘overreach’
In a NYT op-ed, Roger Lowenstein, a book author, director of the Sequoia Fund and a former Wall Street Journal reporter, takes a blowtorch to Elizabeth Warren’s recent demand that the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission be fired for failing to force corporations to disclose details of their political spending. That’s simply not the SEC’s job and Warren is engaging in classic “turf encroachment” and politicized “overreach,” writes Lowenstein.
The latest veterans’ agency horror story: Soldiers’ Home Chelsea
What is it about veterans homes and hospitals that seem to always attract neglect, mismanagement and scandal? The latest example: Soldiers’ Home Chelsea, the subject of a scathing report late last week by Auditor Suzanne Bump, whose office found “evidence of rodent and insect activity in the rooms of the veterans and in food preparation areas … scattered trash and debris, overloaded electrical outlets, loose and cracked plaster, and evidence of pest and human waste,” as reported by WGBH’s Mike Deehan.
More William F. Buckley Jr. nostalgia
The NYT’s David Brooks is the latest to chronicle the sad decline of the once proud conservative intellectual movement, represented by the late William F. Buckley Jr. But Brooks is not waiting for WFB Jr. to walk through that door, folks. He’s optimistic a new, younger breed of conservative intellectuals will emerge from the wreckage of today’s pseudo-intellectuals who have blindly embraced hyper-partisanship and ultimately Donald Trump.
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