Happening Today

Anti-Trump protests

Anti-Trump protestors are reportedly planning protests outside the State House and elsewhere across the nation as the electoral college meets today, State House, starting at 8 a.m.

Electoral College casts vote

The Massachusetts Electoral College meets with plans to cast the state’s 11 votes for Democrats Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, who lost the national Nov. 8 election to Republicans Donald Trump and Mike Pence, House Chamber, 3 p.m.

Historic electoral college documents

An 1803 letter from President Thomas Jefferson, a list of electors from the 1820 presidential election (including John Adams), the certified votes for Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 election and other historical documents from the Massachusetts Archives will be on display outside the House chamber when state’s electoral college meets, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., outside House Chamber.

Rattlesnake Working Group

The Fisheries and Wildlife Board meets to hear a report of the Rattlesnake Working Group and to hear from State Herpetologist Michael Jones on Massachusetts turtle conservation, MassWildlife Field Headquarters, Richard Cronin Building, One Rabbit Hill Rd., Westborough, 10 a.m.

Wheelchair lemon law

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and the attorney general’s office hold an informational listening session to receive comments on a proposal to create a Wheelchair Lemon Law Arbitration Program, 10 Park Plaza, 2nd floor, Conference Rooms 2 and 3, Boston, 10 a.m.

Senate farewell addresses

Departing state Sens. Benjamin Downing, Brian Joyce and Dan Wolf are set to deliver farewell remarks during a formal session, Senate Chamber, 11 a.m.

MBTA Control Board

The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) meets to discuss “own-source revenue, youth passes, and planned infrastructure improvements at Ruggles Station,” Transportation Board Meeting Room, Second Floor, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, 12 p.m.

Leadership meeting

Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, House Minority Leader Brad Jones and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr hold a closed-door meeting at the State House, House Speaker’s Office, 2 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Today’s electoral college is suddenly relevant, sort of

Normally today’s meeting of the electoral college would go largely unnoticed, a mere formality to rubber-stamp a presidential election outcome established by voters in November. But this is 2016, the weirdest of weird political years, and so one better brace for the unexpected, though the Wall Street Journal (pay wall) and others say Trump has it wrapped up, despite planned protests across the country. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld writes how Trump will still win, even if the “doomsday” scenario plays out against him. In Massachusetts, some anti-Trump protesters may show up at the State House, but otherwise no surprises are expected here with Hillary Clinton slated to get all of the state’s 11 electoral votes. The NYT has a good rundown on how the electoral system works in general.

Warren: ‘Russians invading America through the electoral process’

In an interview with WBZ’s John Keller, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she plans to push for more military high-tech research as a new member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Look at this business of the Russians invading America through the electoral process,” she said. “I’m very concerned about President-elect Trump’s unwillingness to listen to his intelligence briefings. I mean, our intelligence community is the best in the world, and they’re the ones that give us the warnings about the different ways in which our country is threatened.” 

Perhaps not so oddly, our mind hippity-hops to the old 1960s flick “The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!” starring Alan Arkin as Lt. Yuri Rozanov. It was a pretty good comedy that became a Saturday morning TV staple for years.

CBS Boston

Warren II: ‘The House snatched the bill back’

Also speaking to Jon Keller on Keller at Large, Sen. Warren explained why she disliked the 21st Century Cures Act favored by most local lawmakers and companies. “After the election, the House snatched the bill back, it took out almost all the NIH funding, added in a bunch of giveaways to the pharmaceutical industry, to the tobacco industry of all things, to big donors, and it took some opioid money and said the incoming administration will decide to spend it wherever they want to spend it.”

CBS Boston

Lord of the flies, not: Chelsea closes high school to keep out flies

We’ve heard of closing schools for snow, cold, lead pipes, lack of heating and air-conditioning, etc. But closing Chelsea High School for four days to fix cracked pipes that are letting too many flies into the school? Yep. Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin has the details.

Universal Hub

Big city, tiny houses in Lawrence?

Tiny houses are being eyed as a solution to an affordable-housing crisis in the city of Lawrence, where half of all residents spend at least 50 percent of their income on housing, Terry Date of the Eagle-Tribune reports. The city council is expected to take up regulations soon that could pave the way for smaller units on tiny lots, which could help spur housing growth in a city that saw just 500 units added to its inventory between 1980 and 2012. 


Jumping into the weed: Colorado pot czar may find it different here

Andrew Freedman, Colorado’s pot czar who the Globe’s Joshua Miller reports is a contender to become a top weed regulator in Massachusetts, may be in for a rude awakening if he thinks his “fast-acting” methods will play here. The Herald’s Hillary Chabot notes how the battle lines are already being formed on Beacon Hill over pot regulations, with Gov. Baker and legislative leaders meeting today to hash out possible pot-regulation strategies, she notes. 

Freedman’s quoted mantra is: “We see problems. We solve problems. We’re fast-acting.” Change “solve” to “ignore” and “fast-acting” to “always fighting” and you have Massachusetts in a nutshell.

Massachusetts teachers can have legal sex with students?

Count us among the clueless who didn’t know this legal fact, as pointed out in today’s Globe Spotlight story: “In Massachusetts and some other states, it turns out, it’s legal for a teacher to have sex with a high school student, as long as the student is at least 16 and consents.” Huh? It’s just one of many “outdated statues and regulations (that) enable educators in both public and private schools to exploit students with impunity,” the Globe reports.

Boston Globe

EMC sale forces United Way staff cutbacks

The sale of EMC to Dell Inc. will cost the United Way Tri-County $400,000 in lost donations this year alone after the new owners discontinued an employee giving program, Jonathan Phelps reports at the MetroWest Daily News. The charity has trimmed staff and made other tweaks in response to the change.

MetroWest Daily News

Rep. Whelan: ‘Patriots Day’ producers ignored pleas to include fallen hero

State Rep. Tim Whelan, a Brewster Republican and former state trooper, says the producers of Mark Wahlberg’s ‘Patriots Day’ flick blew it by not including any mention of the death of Boston police officer Dennis “DJ” Simmonds, who died a year after receiving a head injury from a pipe bomb during a shootout with the two Boston Marathon bombers. “This information was brought to the attention of the production crew,” said Whelan. “It appears there was no interest on their part to step up and do the right thing and recognize officer Simmonds.” It’s a pretty glaring oversight for a movie built around recognizing heroes.

Boston Herald

Tito Jackson: The java jolt Boston needs

The Globe’s Adrian Walker knows that City Councilor Tito Jackson faces an uphill battle if and when he decides to run against Mayor Marty Walsh. But it would still be good for the city, Walker writes. “Whatever one makes of his chances — which, on paper, look rather slim — his candidacy would be a jolt for the city.”

Boston Globe

With new emission regulations, Baker goes easy on motorists, gets tougher on power plants

Power plant owners, who already think they’re carrying too much of the burden of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, can’t be too pleased with the Baker administration’s new regulations announced late last week. From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth: “The Baker administration is taking aim at power plants and using a lighter touch with private vehicles as it seeks to comply with a court order requiring the state to set greenhouse gas emission targets by economic sector. The draft regulations issued on Friday call for greenhouse gas emissions to fall another 7.2 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. Of the total reduction, 4 percent is expected to come from power plants and 3.1 percent from transportation, with the remaining 0.06 percent coming from plugging methane leaks in the gas distribution system.”


Electricity purchaser: Eversource-DONG wind deal blows

Cynthia Arcate, head of an energy-buying consortium of nonprofits and government entities, says the recently announced partnership between Eversoure Energy and DONG Energy to build a new offshore wind farm south of Martha’s Vineyard is in “clear conflict” with what lawmakers intended when the electricity market was deregulated in the 1990s. “This massive effort with deep impacts on the marketplace is exactly the kind of transaction the law was designed to prevent,” she writes in a piece at CommonWealth.


Delays costly for MassDOT borrowing

The state’s new all-electronic tolling is supposed to save the state money. It may have cost the state money as well. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation was unable to close on a bond financing deal in time to take advantage of low interest rates, likely costing as much as $70 million over 20 years, Nicole Dungca of the Globe reports. MassDOT said the delays were tied to the introduction of all-electronic tolling. 

Boston Globe

Not so fast: South Station tower still needs final state approvals

Curbed Boston’s Tim Acitelli reports that the Boston Planning & Redevelopment Agency has signed off on developer Hines’ long-planned proposal for a 51-story tower over South Station. But there’s just one hitch, as reported by the Globe’s Tim Logan: The state, which owns South Station, still needs to give its final OK before any ground-breaking ceremony can occur next spring. Despite what they say, this is a big hitch to overcome.

Cab companies sue over Uber regs

Another day, another suit filed by taxi companies. This time it’s a group of 30-plus taxi companies in the Boston metro area that are suing ride-hailing company Uber, saying it is using unfair competition tactics to muscle its way into the ground transportation business, Kelly J. O’Brien of the Boston Business Journal reports. The plaintiffs have also filed suit against Gov. Charlie Baker and the state of Massachusetts, claiming the new regulatory framework here is unconstitutional. The legal action mirrors a separate suit brought by other taxi operators earlier this fall.


Wildlife refuge expansion eyed

Federal officials plan to add 200,000 acres of protected land to the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge over the next 15 years to preserve habitats along the Connecticut River, Mary Serene of MassLive reports. Named after a longtime Republican Congressman, the refuge was formed in 1991 and currently includes about 37,000 acres of protected land. 


Today’s Headlines


Fly infestation forces Chelsea High to remain closed – Boston Globe

Library reveals year-long events for JFK centennial – Boston Globe

Mayor: Moves not about re-election – Boston Herald

Mayor Walsh: It’s too late to fight against a Trump victory – WGBH

Google, MIT back free laptops for low-income neighborhoods near Kendall Square – Boston Business Journal


MassDOT loses chance to save nearly $70 million – Boston Globe

United Way loses $400K in EMC donations – MetroWest Daily News

Officials eye playbook on Gillette rail expansion – Boston Herald

Cut to tourism dollars setback to local growth – Telegram & Gazette

Tiny houses, big city – Eagle-Tribune

Colorado pot czar seen as possible Mass. regulator – Boston Globe

Taxi companies sue Uber for predatory pricing, Gov. Baker for violation of 14th amendment – Boston Business Journal

Massachusetts electors weigh fairness – Telegram & Gazette

Whelan criticizes omission in Patriots Day movie – Cape Cod Times

Pittsfield now lets you pay certain bills by text – Berkshire Eagle

Arts-minded developer buys former Taunton District Court site – Taunton Gazette

Taunton state senator—a member of Electoral College—questions its wisdom – Taunton Gazette

Federal agency seeks to expand wildlife refuge in New England – WBUR


Trump private security force ‘playing with fire’ – Politico

Many claims of voter fraud but few valid reports – New York Times

In two years, police killed 86 people brandishing guns that look real—but aren’t – Washington Post

The rogue electors’ long game – Politico

Who can settle questions about Trump’s conflicts of interest? – NPR

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