Statewide Jobs Not Jails
Statewide Jobs NOT Jails coalition announces major criminal justice reforms that it wants Beacon Hill leaders to include in a bill they are expected to file in January, Church on the Hill, 40 Bowdoin St., Boston, 10 a.m.
Gaming Commission committee
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s Access and Opportunity Committee meets to hear reports on design and construction activity from Wynn Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield, New England Regional Council of Carpenters, 750 Dorchester Ave., Boston, 10:30 a.m.
Price Variation Commission
The 23-member commission charged with examining differences in prices charged by health care providers holds its fifth meeting, with plans to discuss market forces and plan design, Room 428, 11 a.m.
The search committee for a new University of Massachusetts Dartmouth chancellor will meet in an executive session in the Presidential Parlor of the UMass Club, One Beacon St., 32nd floor, Boston, 12 p.m.
The House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets will hear from officials in and out of state government about their views on whether the state invests enough in infrastructure, Room A-1, 1 p.m.
Black and Latino listening tour
The Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus holds a listening tour to hear from residents to shape its Communities of Color Agenda, Rebecca Johnson Elementary School, 55 Catharine St., Springfield, 6 p.m.
Healey to stay in Massachusetts
U.S. District Court Judge Ed Kinkeade has cancelled his order that Attorney General Maura Healey appear in a Dallas courtroom today to give testimony in a case involving ExxonMobil. See item below.
Fed interest rate meeting
The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee is scheduled to meet today and tomorrow to take possible action on interest rates.
Baker in Israel
Baker in Israel Gov. Charlie Baker continues his trade mission in Israel, meeting with Israeli chief scientist Avi Hasson to discuss government’s role in fostering innovation economies, addressing a General Electric Israel breakfast, participating in a memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem and attending a social entrepreneurship dinner.
Romney says it was an ‘honor’ to be considered for State
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney last night conceded on his Facebook page that he wasn’t going to get the Secretary of State job under President-elect Donald Trump, who instead is going with one of the more unlikely cabinet picks in recent memory: Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil. Tillerson is likely to face tough confirmation hearings due to his close corporate ties to Russia, the Washington Post is reporting. In his Facebook post, Romney writes: “It was an honor to have been considered for Secretary of State of our great country. My discussions with President-elect Trump have been both enjoyable and enlightening. I have very high hopes that the new administration will lead the nation to greater strength, prosperity and peace.”
Again: Romney never stood a chance. He should have known that and stayed clear of the Trump three-ring circus. But he just couldn’t resist.
Keating: ‘We were under attack’
Over the weekend it was U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton warning that Russia is an ‘enemy’ of the United States. Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, was saying that the U.S. was ‘under attack’ by apparent Russian hackers determined to influence the recent presidential election and that he supports an investigation, the Herald is reporting. Meanwhile, some presidential electors are demanding that they be briefed on the investigation into Russia’s cyber antics, in a move supported by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, reports Politico.
What timing: Healey isn’t going to Texas
Though there’s no way to prove it, we can’t help but think that a federal judge’s decision yesterday to rescind his own order that Attorney General Maura Healey testify in Texas has something to do with, somehow, somewhere, the selection of ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson as Donald Trump’s secretary of state. The timing is too coincidental, in our somewhat cynical view. No matter, Healey won’t be testifying today in a Dallas courtroom over her climate-change investigation of ExxonMobil and Trump will likely be trumpeting Rex’s appointment later today. Shira Schoenberg has more on the Healey-ExxonMobil feud at MassLive.
‘More dumb and impulsive than hate-based’
Babson College’s case against two pro-Trump students – accused of everything short of starting World War III after Donald Trump’s election last month – is falling apart at the seams, both the Globe and Herald are reporting this morning. The Globe’s Joan Vennochi rightly notes that the students’ actions were actually “more dumb and impulsive than hate-based.” Meanwhile, in a Globe op-ed piece, Firmin DeBrabander, a professor of philosophy at the Maryland Institute College of Art, says college “liberals and their young apprentices must lose their sensitivity” and start dealing with harsh realities if they’re going to defeat policy changes pushed by the incoming Trump administration.
Report: Higher-education funding cut by 14 percent since 2001
From State House News Service’s Katie Lannan: “Massachusetts has cut its higher education funding by an inflation-adjusted 14 percent since 2001, as both tuition and fees and student debt have increased, a new report found. The declining support for the University of Massachusetts system, four-year state universities and two-year community colleges comes amidst ‘growing importance’ of public higher education to the state’s long-term health, according to the report, released Tuesday by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.”
What does NAIOP know that we don’t know?
David Begelfer, head of NAIOP of Massachusetts, the commercial real estate and development association, beats everyone to the punch with his early 2017 predictions. He has some interesting ones, some of them a little disconcerting. But here’s the one that caught our attention: “A new Fortune 500 corporate HQ will relocate to Boston.” Hmmm. It was only 11 months ago the GE announced it was moving to Boston. So who’s next?
T going for broke with brand new Red Line cars
Anyone who’s ever owned a Plymouth Volare station wagon or other aging lemon knows that at some point it makes no sense to keep sinking money into the heap. Going new becomes the better financial option. That’s roughly the conclusion reached by the MBTA, which has decided to forgo the rehabbing of some older Red Line cars and instead it’s going with an entirely new fleet at a price tag of $280 million. MassLive’s Gintautas Dumcius reports what this means for Springfield, where a Chinese company is already building new rail cars for the T.
Btw: We loved that old Plymouth Volare, a six-cylinder workhorse, but when it’s time to go, it’s time to go.
Gus touts some local pol for prez
In case you really wanted to know: The state Democratic Party’s new chair, Gus Bickford, is touting U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren for president in 2020, even before Donald Trump is sworn in as president, reports SHNS (pay wall), based on Gus’s interview on Sunday on WCVB’s On the Record. Hey, he’s just doing his job.
Oh, what do you know. Lots and lots of earmarks
No doubt, Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget cuts will hurt some worthy causes and services. But does the state really need to fund right away a green crab trapping program and the Basketball Hall of Fame? Those are among the earmarks that Baker also cut last week, before he headed to Israel on a trade mission, reports SHNS’s Andy Metzger at the Lowell Sun. Meanwhile, the Herald’s Julie Mehegan compiled her own list of earmarks chopped by Baker, including $50,000 for a radio station in Haverhill and funds for animal shelters in Dighton, Middleboro and Taunton.
Plymouth selectmen furious at NRC leak
From Frank Mand at the Patriot Ledger: “Town officials are angry and looking for answers after a Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspector mistakenly sent an internal email criticizing the ‘safety culture’ at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station to a member of the organization Cape Downwinders, one of the plant’s harshest critics. Meeting in emergency session Wednesday afternoon, the Plymouth selectmen voted to demand the attendance of an NRC representative at an upcoming board meeting to ‘explain the unauthorized release of information.””
As a MASSterList reader put it: “Interesting that the selectmen here sound as if (they’re) more concerned about the leak of the NRC email than they are about the content of it.” Yep.
Bonus baby: CJP flips long-time director $1.3 million retirement bonus
Yet more evidence that we got into the wrong profession – and we’re not talking about hedge funds. From Joshua Resnek at both the Newton Voice and Brookline Voice: “At a time when the organic Jewish communities in Greater Boston are challenged for money, losing membership because of an aging demographic and closing synagogues because of dwindling congregations, the Combined Jewish Philanthropies gave a retirement bonus of $1.3 million to Barry Shrage, its longtime leader, and paid him a total of $1.9 million for a year’s work.” He also hasn’t retired yet. Fyi: The link below is to a PDF we got hold of for Newton Voice’s front page.
Berkshire communities respond to Hep C surge
The city of Pittsfield is mulling a needle-exchange program, North Adams already has one in place and regional planners are seeking federal grants—all in the name of addressing the growth of Hepatitis C infections in the region, Larry Parkas of the Berkshire Eagle reports. Berkshire County’s Hep C rate is estimated to be twice that of the national average, with more than 1,100 cases of the potentially fatal liver disease diagnosed since 2010.
After Markey and others complain, NBC Boston says it will use extra station to reach more viewers
NBC Boston, the new station that’s going to replace WHDH TV as the local NBC affiliate, say its plans to rebroadcast all its shows from a second station in Needham Heights, in order to boost its reach to as many over-the-air viewers as possible, reports Greg Ryan at the BBJ. Owned by Comcast, NBC Boston made the announcement after lawmakers, including Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, raised concerns that their constituents might not get NBC programming without a stronger signal come next year. Ryan has all the details.
Citing poor market conditions, MassDOT cancels bond refinancing
MassDOT hoped to achieve $60 million in savings by refinancing transportation bonds, but it’s not going to happen, thanks to skyrocketing rates that “ate away completely” any chance of savings, reports Andy Metzger at State House News Service. “The market continued to move against us in a very violent way,” DOT’s chief financial officer David Pottier told officials yesterday.
Group hails move by churches to drop challenge to transgender law
The decision by four Massachusetts churches to drop their lawsuit over the state’s new transgender-rights bill was hailed yesterday by Freedom Massachusetts, which said the move was a victory for those fighting for equality under the law. The Boston Globe has more on why the churches dropped their suit.
If you added up everyone’s pay in Greater Boston, what would it total?
Answer to the headline question above: A lot. As is in $326 billion. That’s the total money earned by all Greater Boston residents last year, reports G. Scott Thomas of the Buffalo Business Journal writing at sister-paper Boston Business Journal. But it only puts the Boston metropolitan area at No. 9 in national rankings, with New York coming out on top with a whopping $1.3 trillion in total earned pay.
What business advocates and lobbyists earn
Needless to say, a decent chunk of the statewide earnings can be traced to what business advocates and lobbyists are paid. Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association CEO Lynn Nicholas is the state’s highest-paid business advocacy and lobbying executive, earning just under $1 million, report Joe Halpern and Sean McFadden of the Boston Business Journal. The BBJ’s roundup of the top 20 highest-paid association and business group executives found an average annual salary of more than $400,000.
Legal weed adds urgency to ‘vaping’ debate
Efforts to raise the state’s legal tobacco age to 21 and to crack down on sales of ‘vaping’ devices (i.e. e-cigarette devices that can be stuffed with pot) are being renewed with the arrival of legalized marijuana this week, Lindsay Kalter reports in the Herald.
Taunton casino eyes the Trump effect
The election of Donald Trump, a past casino developer who has previously complained about tribal gaming facilities, poses a number of potential challenges to the Wampanoag tribe’s First Light casino in Taunton, Rebecca Hyman of the Taunton Gazette reports.
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