Happening Today

Sudders at women’s caucus

Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders will speak at the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus triannual “Commonwealth Commentary” breakfast series, Blue Cross Blue Shield MA, 101 Huntington Ave. – Suite 1300, 9 a.m.

SJC cases

The Supreme Judicial Court hears a case between the city of Boston and Boston Patrolman’s union over the police commissioner’s discharge of an officer accused of using excessive force, as well as hearing two cases against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, John Adams Courthouse, Courtroom One, Second Floor, Pemberton Square, 9 a.m.

Revenue hearing

State budget writers will hear from experts on the revenue outlook for fiscal year that begins July 1, 2017, Rooms A-1 and A-2, 10 a.m.

Rosenberg and Quebec’s Jacques Chagnon

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg joins Quebec National Assembly President Jacques Chagnon to announce members of the Massachusetts-Quebec Research Council as part of the fourth gathering of the Massachusetts-Quebec Cooperation Conference, Room 428, State House, 10:30 a.m.

MBTA Control Board

The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board will meet to discuss the fiscal 2016 KPMG audit, The Ride’s taxi and ride-hailing app pilot, and a janitorial contract update, Transportation Board Meeting Room, Second Floor, 10 Park Plaza, 12 p.m.

Consuls general luncheon

Sen. Sal DiDomenico hosts a lunch for the consuls general from over 20 countries, with Gov. Baker and Senate President Stan Rosenberg expected to attend, Senate Reading Room, 12 p.m.

Boston security hearing

Privacy advocates plan to speak out at a hearing that will address plans by Boston police to purchase social media surveillance tools, Iannella Chamber, fifth floor, Boston City Hall, 1:30 p.m.

Leadership meeting

Gov. Baker, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo will meet as part of their semi-regular private meetings, Senate President’s Office, 2 p.m.

Anti-deer hunt petition

Members of the Friends of the Blue Hills Deer, a group opposed to the state’s controlled deer hunt in the Blue Hills Reservation, plan to deliver more than 1,000 petitions to Gov. Charlie Baker’s office calling on the administration to “rethink” the policy, Governor’s Office, Room 360, 2 p.m.

Swearing in

Gov. Baker attends the swearing in ceremony of Appeals Court Justice Kenneth Desmond, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, 4 p.m.

Baker to be honored

The Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts holds its annual dinner and honors Gov. Baker with its “Committed to Access Award,” Seaport Hotel, One Seaport Lane, 5 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Time to sharpen the budget ax again?

Senate President Stan Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo recently urged Gov. Baker to slow down on planned budget cuts until policymakers got a better handle on the revenue outlook. Now some more numbers are in: November tax revenues were down $105 million compared to last year and budget experts are expected to say at a hearing today that revenue growth will be slow, slow, slow moving forward, reports SHNS’s Michael Norton at the Berkshire Eagle. So, for now, it looks like the budget ax is back in play, though you never know what this month’s holiday revenues will look like.

Berkshire Eagle

Rosenberg predicts climate-change and net-metering action

Senate President Stan Rosenberg predicted “a very significant amount of work in the legislature” in 2017 around the issue of climate change, including revisiting the cap on solar net metering credits, Stephanie Murray of the Hampshire Gazette reports. Ah, we can already hear the groans from rank-and-file lawmakers at the prospect of revisiting the net-metering issue.

Rosenberg and other lawmakers also told a forum in the small town of Florence that they plan to move the proposed ‘millionaires tax’ forward towards a 2018 ballot vote and push agricultural issues important to rural constituents. 

Hampshire Gazette

Healey vs ExxonMobil: A competing narrative

The Globe has finally jumped on the Healey-vs-ExxonMobil story, but with a twist in the narrative: How the giant oil company initially welcomed Attorney General Maura Healey’s climate-change investigation, before it began striking back at the AG. No matter what narrative you prefer to follow (the other being that she overreached in this case), Healey is going to be mighty busy in Boston and Texas courtrooms in coming weeks.

Boston Globe

Trump is so excited to appoint Mitt that he’s now looking at others

It’s an appointment process that seems to go on and on and on. The Washington Post is now reporting that Donald Trump is expanding his search for a new secretary of state beyond Mitt Romney and other previously disclosed finalists. This must mean Trump is really excited about appointing Mitt to State. 

Note: Much of the latest info is coming from none other than Kellyanne Conway, shouting-match extraordinaire and Mitt’s arch nemesis.

Washington Post

Is it safe to cross Sarah Palin off the VA candidate list?

Good news for Scott Brown: Sarah Palin shot herself in the foot the other day. Or maybe she already knew she wasn’t going to get the Veterans Administration post, so she fired away at President-elect Trump for intervening in the Carrier jobs saga in Indiana, calling it a form of “crony capitalism,” as reported at Business Insider. Either way, Brown’s chances of landing the VA post have improved. And he now also has the backing of U.S. Rep. Steve Lynch, for what it’s worth, the Herald reports.

Business Insider

Yet another school walkout

Just to make clear: Mayor Martin Walsh is a Democrat. He was and is a huge supporter of Hillary Clinton. He didn’t want to see Donald Trump elected president. Keep this in mind when thinking of the Boston students who are planning an anti-Trump walkout today in Boston, over the objections of the mayor, as reported by the Herald. It’s yet the latest student walkout – and the most politically blatant yet. The kids should be in school, period, as the pro-Clinton mayor insists.

Boston Herald

Old Glory flies again as Hampshire president tries to portray himself as a victim

Speaking of school protests, the Stars and Stripes are flying again at Hampshire College, after the school’s president buckled to pressure of a different sort following his initial order to have the flag removed, calling it a “disruptive symbol,” reports Alban Murtishi at MassLive. The school’s president, Jonathan Lash, is now trying to make himself out as the victim, noting the flood of nasty messages he’s received since he took the flag down. But this was a controversy entirely of his own making, largely by not standing up to protesters, something an adult Mayor Walsh is trying to do today in Boston.


The Most Interesting Man in the World meets the Blue Line Brothers

CommonWealth magazine has a full list of (and links to) all the fun videos featured at last week’s Serious Fun II event, starring the likes of Gov. Baker as Elwood and Stan Rosenberg at the Most Interesting Man in the World.


Score one for personal care attendants

From State House News Service’s Andy Metzger: “The Baker administration has acceded to demands of disability rights advocates allowing personal care attendants to work more than 40 hours a week without restriction and earn overtime pay. ‘We have listened to the concerns of the stakeholder community and have made changes to the policy as a result,’ Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said in a statement.” One is tempted to call this a form of caving, but is it caving when someone actually listens to others’ legitimate gripes?

SHNS (pay wall)

Department of Strange Bedfellows: Baker drafted by Obama administration to counter Liz on Senate bill

Gov. Charlie Baker has announced he’s backing a sweeping medical innovation bill supported by the state’s life-science industry, the BBJ reports. But the back story is that the Democratic Obama administration urged the Republican Baker to express his support for the measure, if only to counter the opposition of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, reports the Globe’s Michael Levenson and Victoria McGrane. Yes, politics makes strange bedfellows.

Capuano: Dems need to stress jobs and unity, not identity divisions

U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano joins the growing chorus of Democrats who say the party needs to win back working-class voters by stressing jobs, not who’s oppressing whom, reports the Herald’s Hillary Chabot. He tries to explain and we sort of get it. In effect, he’s advocating a re-wording of the identity-politics message to be more inclusive. Or we think that’s what he’s saying.

Boston Herald

Photos of that 10-alarm fire in East Cambridge

Thank goodness there were no serious injuries, for it was truly one heck of a fire that swept through East Cambridge over the weekend, as reported by Wicked Local. There’s also a separate Wicked Local slide show of photos from the scene.

Wicked Local (photos)

Despite law change, pot-smoking cops face firing

Some chiefs of police are reminding their forces that despite the imminent change in state law legalizing recreational marijuana, officers can still be fired for any use of the drug, Debbie LaPlaca of the Telegram reports. Many departments are passing along a memo drafted by the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association reminding cops that marijuana remains illegal under federal law. 


Will someone please tax Airbnb, if only to shut ‘em up?

Airbnb, which has actually been running ads saying it’s open to being taxed in Massachusetts, is now saying state and local governments have blown the chance of netting at least $15 million in taxes due to the failure by policymakers to act, reports the Globe’s Curt Woodward. Of course, what Airbnb is trying to do is avoid a patchwork of local regulations and taxes, preferring a more consistent statewide policy towards the nascent industry. Not that individual people who routinely rent their vacation homes are clamoring to be taxed. 

Boston Globe

Massachusetts and Quebec hoping to strengthen ties

From the Associated Press at the Cape Cod Times: “Democratic Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg and Quebec National Assembly President Jacques Chagnon are meeting at the Massachusetts Statehouse on Monday to announce members of the Massachusetts-Quebec Research Council. The new council stems from a meeting of the Massachusetts-Quebec Cooperation Conference in Montreal in August where participants discussed a range of topics, from public transit and energy issues to higher education and the possibility of direct flights between Quebec City and Boston.”

Cape Cod Times

US Attorney Name Game, Part II

First it was the Globe dropping names of potential candidates to become the next US Attorney for Boston under Donald Trump. Now it’s the Herald’s Holly Robichaud who’s the one dropping names. She’s also clearly hoping the next fed prosecutor will “drain the swamp” on Beacon Hill, though, when you think about it: A swamp on a hill?

Boston Herald

Prouty Garden demolition begins

The Globe has confirmed that they’ve started clearing trees and plants from the beloved Prouty Garden at Boston Children’s Hospital to make room for an expansion, despite a long and emotional battle by opponents to save the urban sanctuary. Supporters haven’t given up hope of saving what’s left, but the Prouty saga is now effectively over. The garden will be gone in a matter of days, if it isn’t completely gone already. The hospital is moving quite fast on this one.

Boston Globe

Salem takes a pass on sanctuary ordinance for now

Officials in Salem have shelved a plan to adopt sanctuary city status, in part because of concerns about how such an action would impact the city under President-elect Donald Trump, Ethan Forman of the Salem News reports. The city, where about 18 percent of residents are of Latino descent, plans to revisit the issue in the new year. 

Salem News

Four sue state police over discrimination

Four current and former troopers—three of them female—are suing the Massachusetts State Police, alleging that women and minorities were regularly bypassed for promotions and often shunted to out-of-the-way locales when they did manage to make their way up the ranks, Nestor Ramos of the Globe reports. The suit was initially filed in August with just one plaintiff but now has four, including one black trooper. A state police spokesman said the department plans “a vigorous response.” 

Boston Globe

‘Straw donor’ cases on the rise in Mass.

The Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance says it has seen a surge in so-called “straw donor” cases in which campaign donations are funneled through third parties, settling 11 cases of the practice since 2013 and nine in the last two years, Steve LeBlanc of the Associated Press reports at the Telegram. All told, some $566,000 in donations have been forfeited or returned since 2013. OCPF Director Michael Sullivan said efforts to highlight the practice reflect the agency’s hope that it can squelch the practice “through education, not by opening more cases.”


Rattlesnake Bar & Grill files for bankruptcy

Here’s a surprise, as reported by the BBJ’s Catherine Carlock: The Back Bay’s popular Rattlesnake Bar & Grill, first opened in 1990, has filed for bankruptcy liquidation. “With much sadness The Rattlesnake Bar has closed its doors after a great 26 years,” according to a note posted on the front door of the bar. “We would like to thank all our loyal customers, purveyors and friends who shared so many good times at this well-known establishment throughout the years.”


Today’s Headlines


Warm weather melts opening of winter plaza – Boston Herald

More than $250,000 raised for Cambridge fire victims – Boston Globe

Demolition begins at Prouty Garden – Boston Globe

Mayor Marty Walsh to protestors: Stay in school – Boston Herald


Pot-smoking police officers could lose job – Telegram & Gazette

Worcester’s cost for later high school start times could reach millions – Telegram & Gazette

Ashland spends $1.85M amid scrutiny of OML costs – MetroWest Daily News

Salem defers action on sanctuary city ordinance – Salem News

Climate, government trust on legislators’ minds at WMass forum – Hampshire Gazette

UMass medical school opening Springfield location – Worcester Business Journal


Ryan won’t repudiate Trump’s false illegal voter claims – Politico

Rumors are false, but gunshot is real at pizza place – New York Times

Army will deny easement, halting work on Dakota Access Pipeline – Washington Post

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