Happening Today

DPH regulations

Public comments are due by 5 p.m. today on Department of Public Health regulations dealing with patient and resident abuse prevention and affecting the training of nurses’ aides in long-term care facilities.

Massport ‘milestone’

Massport makes a ‘milestone’ announcement at Logan Airport with Massport CEO Thomas McGlynn, Massport director of aviation Ed Freni, and Norbert Strissel, JetBlue director of operations at Logan, participating along with a special guest, Terminal C, post-security, 10 a.m.

Bill filing training

House Clerk Steven James’ office and Legislative Information Services hold a training session on how to file bills for the 2017-2018 session using the Legislative Automated Workflow System (LAWS), Room A-1, 1 p.m.

Anti-foreclosure clinic

The Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending holds another clinic to provide information to people whose homes have been foreclosed or who are facing foreclosure, 105 Williams St., New Bedford, 5 p.m.

Grand Chanukah Hummer Parade

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh attends the Grand Chanukah Hummer Parade, Shaloh House Jewish Day School, 29 Chestnut Hill Ave., Brighton, 5:15 p.m.

Today’s Stories

As it braces for war with Trump, the SEIU unilaterally disarms?

The Services Employees International Union, known as a tough and aggressive fighter on behalf of low-wage workers in Massachusetts and elsewhere, is planning to slash its operating budget by more than 30 percent, blaming anticipated union organizing woes after Republicans take full control of the White House and Congress next month, reports the Globe’s Katie Johnston. OK, we get it. It’s belt-tightening time. But it still feels like a political spin on potential/probable pre-existing budget problems. Either way, this isn’t good news for Democrats who hope to fight the Trump administration tooth and nail over a variety of issues.

Boston Globe

The next House sit-in will not be live streamed

U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, who earlier this year led a high-profile House sit-in over lack of gun-control legislation, is not happy with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s parliamentary edict that would fine and punish lawmakers for recording videos and taking photos from the chamber’s floor, reports Shannon Young at MassLive. “Rather than take a single vote to prevent gun violence, as their first order of business in the new Congress, House Republican leaders will instead seek to punish those of us who speak up about the need to act,” said Clark. “They should know this: there is no punishment that will deter me from standing with American families devastated by gun violence.”


‘French Toast Alert’

We interrupt this morning political newsletter to bring you this important special announcement: Universal Hub has just activated its French Toast Alert System with a Nor’easter storm on its way here tomorrow. Take all suggested precautions. Do not panic. Do not hoard. Now back to our previously scheduled newsletter. …

Universal Hub

Women’s March resonates in Massachusetts

The folks out in Berkshire County earlier this week expressed hope that 10,000 women from Massachusetts would take part in next month’s planned Women’s March on Washington, a day after Donald Trump is inaugurated as president. It sure looks like organizers are going to hit that ambitious number, according to a report by the Globe’s Cristela Guerra, who writes that more than 8,000 people from the Bay State have already committed to attend the rally.

Boston Globe

Business groups mobilize against health care mandate

A late-session push on Beacon Hill to force insurance coverage of congenital craniofacial defects affecting the skull and face bones of children is being opposed by business groups who argue it’s just another insurance mandate that will drive up premium prices, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy. The business groups expressed their concerns in a letter sent to House Speaker Robert DeLeo just prior to Christmas.

SHNS (pay wall)

Pull over: SJC to hear pot ‘sobriety’ case

Only weeks after marijuana possession officially became legal in Massachusetts, the state’s Supreme Judicial Court is taking up a case with potentially major public safety ramifications. From the Herald’s Bob McGovern: “The Supreme Judicial Court will hear arguments next week as to whether police officers should be allowed to testify about the results of putting alleged pot smokers through a battery of tests or give an opinion whether someone was stoned.”

Boston Herald

‘Meet the Boston startup with ties to a Trump aide and the KGB’

Got your attention? Thought so. From Bloomberg News, via BostInno’s Dylan Martin: “Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, partnered this year with a controversial technology company co-run by a man once convicted of trying to sell stolen biotech material to the Russian KGB espionage agency. Subu Kota, who pleaded guilty in 1996 to selling the material to an FBI agent posing as a Russian spy, is one of two board directors at the company, Boston-based Brainwave Science.” As Dylan notes: “(It’s) something most Boston-area startups probably can’t claim.” Quite true.

Bloomberg News

Is Baker ‘stingy’ with pardons?

Is Gov. Charlie Baker a stingy Scrooge when it comes to pardoning prisoners? From the Herald’s Matt Stout: “Roughly 70 of the pending applications before the state’s Advisory Board of Pardons were submitted this year after Baker released new guidelines for those seeking clemency, the second most in any year since 2011. … But the board has yet to make any recommendations to Baker since he took office.” For some reason, we get the impression Baker isn’t too concerned about how he polls on this issue.

Boston Herald

Kerry’s mixed legacy as secretary of state

Tracy Wilkinson writes at the Los Angeles Times how Secretary of State John Kerry, the former Massachusetts U.S. senator, has put his heart and soul into the State job, but he’s still come up short: “Kerry, 73, is nothing if not indefatigable, traveling to all corners of the world as America’s top diplomat over the last four years. But as he prepares to leave office, he confronts a mixed legacy, with a handful of successes coupled with searing defeats, especially in the Middle East.” Wilkinson piece via the Herald.

Los Angeles Times

Ex-New Bedford Mayor Lang: The DNC needs a complete overhaul after election debacle

Scott Lang, the former New Bedford mayor and long-time Democratic National Committee activist, said the DNC needs a top-to-bottom overhaul after it rigged the system to nominate “an unelectable candidate, who ran a terrible campaign, who lost to another unelectable candidate, who also ran a terrible campaign.” He has a slew of reform recommendations aimed at changing a party he says is now controlled by an “isolated elite.”


Bonus Baby, Part II

Earlier this month, we linked to a Newton Voice piece on how Combined Jewish Philanthropies flipped its long-time leader Barry Shrage a $1.3 million retirement bonus, bringing his total annual compensation package to $1.9 million. Turns out that Shrage was also the recipient of personal home loan from CJP, paid off in increments between 2008 and 2012, reports Joshua Resnek at the Brookline Voice, sister paper of the Newton Voice. In addition, Resnek reports on some pretty impressive payouts to some of the organization’s other 199 employees, 32 of whom received salaries of $100,000 or more in 2014-2015. As noted earlier, it’s yet more evidence that we got into the wrong profession.

Brookline Voice

Spectra Energy isn’t throwing in the towel on pipeline project

Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin writes that Spectra Energy is telling federal regulators it’s delaying filings needed to approve its Access Northeast project, in the wake of a recent Supreme Judicial Court ruling that quashed utilities’ partnership involvement in the multibillion-dollar venture. But Gaffin notes that Spectra is now trying to sign up utilities that provide natural gas to homes and businesses that buy the fuel for heating. He has all the details.

Universal Hub

Festivus ‘airing of grievances’ leads to police grievances

What’s the world coming to when you can’t even have a peaceful Festivus airing of grievances? From Diane Lederman at MassLive: “Amherst police report that they were called to the area of Antonio’s Pizza on North Pleasant Street early Saturday to settle a verbal dispute. Several patrons, who earlier had been to area bars, began discussing Christmas and Festivus. When the discussion evolved into the airing of grievances, things became too heated and police had to step in to cool things down, according to the Amherst police log.” The incident probably would have made a great “Seinfeld” episode, we’re sure.


Spotty compliance with state’s head-injury law

From the Globe’s Matt Rocheleau: “A newly released survey has found that half of Massachusetts student athletes who experienced concussion-like symptoms continued playing that day, one of a handful of studies showing spotty compliance with a five-year-old state law designed to increase awareness of head injuries.”

Boston Globe

Donations soar to Berkshire Immigrant Center

The Berkshire Immigrant Center took in more in cash donations in the month after the presidential election than it usually raises in an entire year, Patricia LeBoeuf of the Berkshire Eagle reports. The center, which helps new arrivals settle in the U.S., said it collected $7,100 in donations in the month that ended Dec. 8, about $100 more than it typically tries to drum up with its annual fundraising appeal. 

Berkshire Eagle

Cops say malls need more security to combat marauding teens

Law enforcement officials in central Massachusetts are calling on mall owners and operators to beef up their police presence, saying chaotic scenes at malls nationwide—many involving hordes of teenagers—underscore the need for heightened security, Craig Semon reports in the Telegram. Auburn’s police chief says he has in the past asked the Worcester gang unit for help with policing the mall in that town after fights and other issues.

The Telegram

New year brings twofer problem to Amherst retailers

Some Amherst business owners say they’re being hit with a double-whammy of higher costs, as the town’s strict ban on single-use plastic bags takes effect on Jan. 1, the same day the state’s minimum wage bumps to $11 an hour, Scott Merzbach reports in the Hampshire Gazette. A town meeting approved the bylaw in May after it was brought forward by a resident who estimated Amherst residents burn through 11 million plastic bags per year. 

Hampshire Gazette

Wonder Woman’s Saugus, Harvard and Tufts connections

As the U.S. Postal Service issues four “Forever” stamps to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the iconic Wonder Woman comic book character, did you know that the superhero’s original creator, William Moulton Marston, was a Saugus native? True, according to Wicked Local. Wikipedia has an entry on Marston, who was also a Harvard grad, Tufts teacher, psychologist, lawyer, inventor and advocate for women, in addition to a comic book writer.

Wicked Local

Today’s Headlines


Don’t want to shovel? It could cost you $1,500 – Boston Globe

In Cambridge, showdown looms over affordable housing requirement – Boston Globe


SJC to get rolling on OUI joint issues – Boston Herald

Mass. single-family sales soar – Boston Herald

Charlie Baker, state stingy with prison pardons – Boston Herald

US Rep. Katherine Clark blasts GOP plan to fine lawmakers who live-stream from floor – MassLive

Police say more officers needed at area malls – Telegram & Gazette

Legal dispute kills potential dispensary in Danvers – Salem News

Hingham’s new $7M ferry terminal to open next month – Patriot Ledger

Quincy license board cancels use of two bar liquor licenses – Patriot Ledger

Bill to restore Pittsfield bus drivers’ pension payment now on Gov.’s desk – Berkshire Eagle

Post-election donations soar to Berkshire immigrant center – Berkshire Eagle

Plastic bag ban to begin in Amherst – Hampshire Gazette

Despite long lines, early voting proved to be a hit in Mass. – WGBH


Experts: Ryan’s livestream crackdown may be unconstitutional – Politico

Kerry to outline vision of Israel-Palestine accord – New York Times

White House prepares covert action, sanctions to punish Russia for election hacking – Washington Post

Big newspapers are booming: Washington Post to add 60 newsroom jobs – NPR

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