Happening Today

Greenhouse gas regulations

The Department of Environmental Protection is set to issue draft regulations aimed to bring Massachusetts into compliance with a Supreme Judicial Court ruling on economy-wide greenhouse gas emission reductions.

Minnesota health-costs trip, Day II

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and other senators wrap up their two-day fact-finding trip to Minnesota as part of their effort to learn how other states are responding to health-care cost drivers.

Healey to address CEASE Boston

Attorney General Maura Healey will deliver opening remarks at an event hosted by CEASE Boston, the local chapter of a national network fighting the illegal sex industry, Florian Hall, 55 Hallet St., Dorchester, 8:30 a.m .

Bay State Business Link Forum

House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce President Jim Rooney host the second Bay State Business Link Forum, House Members’ Lounge, 10:30 a.m.

Walsh on the air

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh is a scheduled guest on Boston Public Radio for his monthly ‘Ask the Mayor’ segment, WGBH-FM, 89.7, 11 a.m.

Hudson pilot shuttle

Rep. Kate Hogan and Sen. James Eldridge participate in a ribbon-cutting for the new Hudson Pilot Shuttle Program with representatives of the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority and other local officials, Hudson Senior Center, 29 Church St., Hudson, 11 a.m.

Sexual Assault-Domestic Violence Council

The Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence meets with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito chairing, Room 157, 12:30 p.m.

Walsh at CEASE Boston

Mayor Walsh offers remarks at CEASE Boston event, Florian Hall, 55 Hallet St., Dorchester, 12:30 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Hang in there, Boston

A number of schools districts across the state have cancelled classes this morning due to the biting artic-like cold sweeping through the region, CBS Boston is reporting. Meanwhile, the city of Boston is reaching out to the homeless amid the near-zero degree temperatures, the Herald reports.

The National Weather Service has a Wind Chill Advisory through the rest of this morning, after which the weather should moderate (relatively) later today. Then we get hit with snow tomorrow. But hang in there, Boston. Temperatures are expected reach the 50s – yes, the 50s! – as soon as this Sunday, NECN is reporting.

Well-timed: State hit with lawsuit over homeless shelter policy

Whether it was deliberately timed or not to coincide with today’s frigid weather, it’s still well-timed. From the Globe’s Joshua Miller: “Governor Charlie Baker’s longstanding push to end the practice of putting homeless families in motels at state expense has resulted in Massachusetts illegally denying shelter to the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable, a lawsuit from five mothers struggling with homelessness alleges.” The administration is standing by its policy of cutting use of hotels and finding other shelters for the homeless.

Boston Globe

Report: Trump demanded an apology from Romney and enjoyed seeing him ‘grovel’

The Washington Post has a fascinating, and disturbing, story about the behind-the-scenes process that led to Donald Trump’s surprise pick of Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state — and Trump’s stiffing of Mitt Romney.

At one point in the job discussions, Trump, according to anonymous Romney ally cited by the Post, asked for an apology from Romney for his previous nasty remarks about Trump. Romney refused. The story has other intriguing tidbits, such as how: Stephen Pagliuca, co-owner of the Boston Celtics and a former colleague of Mitt’s at Bain Capital, urged Romney to pursue the job; Mitt was the one who indicated to Trump’s camp that he was interested in the State post; Romney was referred to as candidate “1A” at one point in the selection process (behind Rudy Giuliani); a Trump friend said the prez-elect liked seeing Romney “grovel for the post”; a top Trump associate said the president-elect liked stringing Romney along to “torture him.”

There’s disagreements about who said what and when, if ever. But the Post story paints an ugly picture of an ugly process, if even half of it is true.

Washington Post

So how did Rex Tillerson get the State post?

The same Post story reports that Tillerson’s appointment was almost by “happenstance,” though we’re not buying that. Both Robert Gates, the former secretary of defense, and Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, in separate meetings with Trump and VP-elect Pence, coincidently recommended Tillerson out the blue? Perhaps Tillerson is a better behind-the-scenes maneuverer and diplomat than given credit.

‘No offense, man — but you just seem like a narc’

Yesterday was the first day of legalized marijuana in Massachusetts – and what story was the Globe’s Dugan Arnett, a self-described devotee of McGruff the Crime Dog, assigned to do? Find out how easy – or hard – it is to purchase pot in Massachusetts, where buying marijuana is now OK but selling pot is still illegal. We won’t tell you if Arnett succeed or not in his quest. But we can say he wrote a fun story.

Still on the subject of Pot Liberation Day: Mayor Marty Walsh isn’t wild about raising the legal age for pot smokers to 25, an idea being floated by Senate President Stan Rosenberg, reports SHNS at MassLive. “I think that would be complicated to do especially when the drinking age is 21,” said Walsh. But U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, who supported the Question 4 initiative that legalized marijuana in Massachusetts, says officials can and should “dramatically” raise the stipulated 3.75 percent tax on pot when legal retail sales are allowed in 2018, the Herald reports.

In other pot news: With marijuana legal in Massachusetts, hydroponic equipment stores are expecting a boom, reports WBUR. On the Cape,  residents celebrated the new law as officials warned of consequences, the Cape Cod Times reports. And experts are warning that teen pot use could raise schizophrenia risk, WGBH reports.

Farewell addresses, recorded for the ages

From Rep. Tom Sannicandro’s story of having to eat chicken foot soup in the speaker’s office to Rep. Ellen Story’s tale of running against five men in her first political campaign, departing members of the House took trips down memory lane yesterday in their farewell addresses to fellow House members. SHNS has the story and audio recordings of the farewell address of those leaving the chamber.

SHNS – Audio (pay wall)

Pollster envisions Hellenism spreading far and wide in Massachusetts

In a state that’s produced famous Greek-American pols like Michael Dukakis and Paul Tsongas, it only makes sense to start a Greek Political Action Committee to further spread Hellenism in Massachusetts. And Suffolk University’s David Paleologos, a Greek American known for his national political polling, is just the guy to do it, reports SHNS’s Andy Metzger at the Sentinel and Enterprise. Andy has all the details on Paleologos the Great’s vision of PAC conquests until there are no more worlds to conquer.

Sentinel & Enterprise

Governor leaves a gaping loophole to his no-new-taxes vow: Loopholes

Gov. Charlie Baker reiterated he’s against broad-based tax increases to plug the state’s budget gap, but loophole-closing tax increases, well, they’re OK. “If the Legislature wants to flatten the tax code or close loopholes or do stuff like that, I’m open to that,” Baker said, as reported by Shira Schoenberg at MassLive. “If you ask if I would support an across-the-board tax increase on working families in the commonwealth, then no, I would veto that.” This leaves room for lawmakers to maneuver. Maybe not as much room as Senate President Stan Rosenberg might want, but probably more than enough for House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who, while more conservative than Rosenberg on the issue of taxes, hasn’t ruled out new taxes.


With state’s jobless rate falling to a mere 2.9 percent last month, why are state revenues lagging?

Speaking of revenues, the latest state jobs report, released yesterday, is interesting on two fronts: 1.) The state’s jobless rate fell to a mere 2.9 percent in November, the lowest level since January 2001, reports the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. 2.) Yet, state revenue numbers are lagging. Why? Gov. Baker had as good a guess as any yesterday when he was talking to reporters about the state budget in general, noting that weak revenue numbers may be tied to “underlying softness to what people are making and earning.” Makes sense to us. There are strong economic recoveries, with low unemployment and large income gains, and there are weaker recoveries, with low unemployment and negligible income gains. We’re stuck in the latter.

Labor and Workforce Development

Maybe the Trump market rally will spur capital-gains revenue growth?

The Globe’s Beth Healy reports how investors are bullish on a Trump presidency, sending stocks to record highs. And that could be mean more capital-gains tax revenues for the state, though the potential tax revenue boost wouldn’t come in time to fill current budget gaps. And it may not come at all if the economy – and the markets – take a nosedive with a recession that will inevitably come, sooner or later, Trump or no Trump.

Boston Globe

Bright spot: Clean energy jobs top 100,000 in Massachusetts

Here’s a solid jobs-growth sector within the state’s economy, reports the BBJ’s Kelly O’Brien: “The clean energy industry in Massachusetts has continued its steady growth, employing more than 100,000 people for the first time and generating $11.8 billion worth of economic activity in 2015, according to the latest report from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. The publicly funded organization reported that there are 105,212 clean energy jobs at 6,714 establishments in the state.”


Warren and other Dems press Trump to divest of businesses

Opening a new line of attack on the incoming Trump administration, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats are pushing legislation that would force President-elect and Vice President-elect Mike Pence to disclose and divest any potential financial conflicts of interest tied to their holdings or businesses, Shannon Young at MassLive reports. “The only way for President-elect Trump to truly eliminate conflicts of interest is to divest his financial interests and place them in a blind trust,” Warren said in a statement.


Catholic bishops join call for criminal justice reform

This should carry some moral weight on Beacon Hill. From CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas: “The state’s four Catholic bishops are adding their voices to those calling for the Legislature to take up a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill when lawmakers reconvene for a new session next month. In a letter sent last week to state leaders, the bishops urged adoption of ‘comprehensive thoughtful reforms’ that can ‘reduce recidivism and incarceration rates for offenders (particularly non-violent offenders).’”


Tito Jackson Mayoral Wannabe Update

Though he has said he’s “strongly considering” running for mayor and though he’s hired a Kentucky fund-raiser to help fill his campaign coffers, Tito Jackson has yet to make a definitive decision on whether to challenge Mayor Marty Walsh next year, though he’s certainly looking and sounding like a candidate, the Globe’s Meghan Irons reports. Interesting and daunting factoid for Tito to consider: “No incumbent mayor has lost reelection in 70 years.”

Boston Globe

Teamster will serve probation, house arrest for ‘Top Chef’ extortion

The former Teamsters executive accused of extorting a “Top Chef” television crew will avoid prison after telling a judge that losing his union livelihood itself was a severe punishment, Laurel Sweet of the Herald reports. Mark Harrington will serve six months home confinement and two years probation — and his attorneys say he will likely not testify in upcoming trials of four other Teamsters accused of shaking down a TV cooking-show crew during a visit to Boston. 

Boston Herald

Evans: Body cams will go dark after pilot program

Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans said his department will stop using body cameras after a pilot program ends in February, then decide, after crunching the data and soliciting feedback, whether to make the technology a permanent fixture, Tori Bedford of WGBH reports. 


Plainridge reports steady November

Plainridge Park casino reported November revenue of $12.2 million, roughly the same as the month before but up slightly from the same month in 2015—a hopeful sign that the state’s only operating casino is better positioned to handle the seasonal slowdown this year, Sean Murphy of the Globe reports. Plainridge also reduced the amount it paid out to the lowest levels since June, keeping 7.5 cents for every dollar fed into the 1,250 slot machines. 

Boston Globe

Pioneer to T: Drop Social Security bennies for workers

The Pioneer Institute is urging the MBTA to end Social Security benefits for its employees in order to address enormous unfunded pension liabilities at the agency, Greg Ryan of the Boston Business Journal reports. “The T’s in a crisis, and one of the biggest reasons for the T’s crisis is the pension system,” said Pioneer research director and former state inspector general Greg Sullivan, who acknowledged that federal law may represent a sizable hurdle to such a move. 


Healthcare unions donated heavily to incumbents on Beacon Hill

The state’s healthcare unions went all out in state legislative races this fall, pumping almost $350,000 into campaign efforts, Christian Wade reports in the Salem News, citing recent campaign finance filings. The unions outspent most other third party groups in support of Democratic incumbents. 

Salem News

Dems vow to ‘fight like hell’ over food-stamp cuts

Massachusetts Democrats are vowing a major fight over if Congressional Republicans move to slash food-stamp programs as part of reforms to anti-hunger programs, reports the Herald’s Kathleen McKiernan. “I’m prepared to fight like hell. We can’t let this happen,” said U.S. Rep. James McGovern.

Boston Herald

Sunday public affairs TV

DC Dialogue, NECN, 10 a.m. Mayor Marty Walsh has a year-end conversation with New England Council’s Jim Brett covering topics from legalized recreational marijuana to the election of Donald Trump. Also: Mary Beth McMahon, president and CEO of the Special Olympics of Massachusetts.  

On The Record, WCVB TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren talks with anchor Ed Harding and State House reporter Janet Wu.

This Week in Business, NECN, 11 a.m. The annual countdown of the top ten business stories of 2016 with Shirley Leung of the Boston Globe and Doug Banks of the Boston Business Journal.  

CEO Corner, NECN, 11:30 a.m. Winston Flowers Owner David Winston talks about what it takes to stay innovative in the floral industry (repeat of prior show).  

CityLine, WCVB TV Channel 4, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s focus: Arts & The Greater Boston YMCA.

Today’s Headlines


City will soon be able to revoke permits at unsafe work sites – Boston Globe

Probation, six months at home for Teamster – Boston Herald

Commissioner Evans: Body cams on hold – WGBH

With help from MassDevelopment, GE finalizes $83M Boston HQ site purchase – Boston Business Journal


Baker administration accused of denying shelter to homeless mothers – Boston Globe

Revenue at Plainridge Park casino steady in November – Boston Globe

Babson bars lawyers from Trump duo’s hearing – Boston Herald

Seth Moulton: Bay State’s plan on legal pot lacking – Boston Herald

Mass. joins 19 states in suing generic drug makers – Boston Herald

Springfield’s Ben Swan, Amherst’s Ellen Story among Mass. reps giving farewell speeches – MassLive

Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker will not support broad new taxes in 2018 budget – MassLive

Healthcare unions drive spending for Democrats – Salem News

NRC: No meeting until inspection over – Cape Cod Times

Mass. unemployment rate falls to 2.9 percent – WBUR

Bishops press Beacon Hill for criminal justice reform – CommonWealth Magazine

MBTA urged to end Social Security benefits for employees – Boston Business Journal

District Court chief: Fees add to hurdles facing ex-inmates – Standard-Times

With marijuana legal in Mass., hydroponic equipment stores expecting a boom – WBUR


Republicans could keep parts of Obamacare for up to four years – Politico

$73,000 might get you a cup of coffee with Ivanka Trump – New York Times

Obama pledges to ‘take action’ against Russia – Politico

Facebook details its new plan to combat fake news stories – NPR

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