Happening Today

SJC hearing on marijuana and driving

The Supreme Judicial Court will take up issues around driving while stoned on marijuana, a matter weighing on state policymakers following the legalization of pot in Massachusetts, John Adams Courthouse, Courtroom One, Second Floor, Pemberton Square, Boston, 9 a.m.

Blood drive

Sen. Sal DiDomenico’s office hosts a blood drive, State House, Great Hall, 10 a.m.

Drug court grant

Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey joins Rep. Claire Cronin, Commissioner Edward Dolan of the Massachusetts Probation Service and others to talk about a $1.2 million grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to help the court better address the opioid substance use problem, Brockton Trial Court, 215 Main Street, Brockton, 2 p.m.

Mayor’s schedule

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s busy schedule includes attending the Three Kings Day celebration, Boston City Hall, 10 a.m.; offering remarks at Comcast’s City Year Career Day, Boston University, 775 Commonwealth Ave, 11:30 a.m.; attending the launch of the “Dunkin’ Donors Make a Difference” campaign in honor of National Volunteer Blood Donor Month, Nurses Hall, 2:30 p.m.; and appearing at a Belpot/Friendship Four announcement, Wheels Up Clubhouse, 72 Brookline Ave., 3:45 p.m.

DCF comments deadline

Today is the deadline for public comments on the Department of Children and Families’ proposed amendments to regulations governing the case investigation unit, medical authorizations and a proposed new regulation on young adult services.

Testimony deadline for addictive disorder programs

Today is the deadline to submit written testimony to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services on proposed amendments to regulations on substance-related and addictive disorder programs.

Today’s Stories

Adieu, Keolis

They’re not quite giving the boot to Keolis Commuter Services, the French company managing the MBTA’s commuter rail system. But state transportation officials are all but showing Keolis the door once its contract expires. Not that Keolis — which has struggled in its oversight of the system — minds too much. The MBTA contract has been a big, fat money loser for the French parent company, according to previous published reports. Here’s the Globe’s coverage and SHNS’s coverage, via CommonWealth, of the Keolis contract maneuvering.

Latest revenue numbers don’t exactly back up Baker’s budget claims

The latest tax revenue numbers from the Department of Revenue don’t exactly paint a picture of a booming economy, but they also don’t paint a dire picture of state revenues in a downward spiral, as previously feared by the Baker administration. Here’s the first graf of DOR’s press release: “Michael J. Heffernan, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR), announced today that preliminary revenue collections for December 2016 totaled $2.491 billion, $49 million (2.0%) above the monthly benchmark. Fiscal year-to-date collections total $11.952 billion, $38 million (-0.3%) below the benchmark.”

OK, tax collections are indeed important. But so is revenue growth. SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) notes that Dems, who have opposed Baker’s recent budget cuts, can’t exactly claim vindication either.

Mass DOR

Judge calls lobbyist a liar, vows tougher restrictions on his release

US District Judge Mark L. Wolf slammed former lobbyist Richard McDonough in court Thursday, openly calling him a liar and saying he would soon lay out strict new probation rules for him,  Milton Valencia of the Globe reports. Some of the new restrictions could include McDonough—who was convicted in 2011 in the same case that brought down former Speaker Sal DiMasi—being prohibited from drinking or possessing alcohol, subjected to more than 200 Breathalyzer tests annually and forced to wear a GPS tracking device, Marie Szaniszlo of the Herald reports.

Most Wanted, no more: State trooper catches fugitive

Take a bow, Trooper Joseph Merrick. The Massachusetts state trooper yesterday caught fugitive James W. Morales as he tried to jump a fence in the Ten Hills neighborhood of Somerville, after a nearly five-day manhunt following Morales’ daring escape from a Rhode Island prison. Here’s coverage from CBS Boston and Reuters and WBUR.

Clark refuses to attend Trump’s inauguration

Perhaps angry Trump supporters who can’t find tickets to Donald Trump’s inauguration can bum one off of Katherine Clark. From the Globe’s Astead W. Herndon: “In a break from tradition and from the rest of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, Representative Katherine Clark plans to boycott the upcoming inauguration of Republican President-elect Donald Trump as a form of ceremonial protest.” Clark, a Democrat, said her attendance at the swearing-in ceremony could legitimize Trump’s “bigoted, misogynist, anti-Semitic, and racist claims.”

Boston Globe

Pot advocates’ pick-and-choose campaign

Not content with having literally written the law on legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts (via drafting the wording of Question 4), proponents of legalized pot now apparently think they should have veto power over who heads legislative affairs on marijuana regulations. The Globe’s Joshua Miller has more on the campaign to block Sen. Jason M. Lewis, who opposed legalization, from becoming the Senate’s point person on recreational marijuana in Massachusetts.

Boston Globe

Bristol Sheriff’s Great Wall idea gets praised and panned

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson’s offer of using inmates to build Donald Trump’s cherished wall along the Mexican border is getting, to put it diplomatically, mixed reactions here and across the country, mostly non-mixed here in Massachusetts. Some local samples of can be found at the Telegram (“Worcester County sheriff not ready to send inmates to build wall”), SouthCoast Today (“ACLU: We’ll do whatever it takes to stop Sheriff Hodgson’s plan”), Eagle-Tribune (“Sheriff: Essex County inmates won’t be building wall”).

They’re ba-ack!

Ma Sununu, Pa Sununu, Bro Sununu and now Little Bro Sununu. You just can’t keep the combative Sununu family away from politics in the Granite State, as the Globe’s James James Pindell reports, a day after Chris Sununu was sworn in as New Hampshire’s new governor. And, yes, here’s the ‘they’re-ba-ack’ scene from Poltergeist.

Boston Globe

While Baker has his 2017 goals, Democrats have something else in mind

Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday gave a big hint what issues he’ll focus on this coming legislative session: The economy, marijuana legalization and combating opioid abuse, reports SHNS’s Colin Young at Wicked Local. But Democrats – including State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz and Senate President Stan Rosenberg – have something else in mind: education funding, specifically pushing to increase funding, reports the Herald’s Kathleen McKiernan.

Another rival circles over Tito’s seat

You can now add Roxbury attorney Hassan Williams to the growing list of candidates considering making a run for Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson’s council seat – with some declaring they’ll be candidates whether or not Tito decides to run for mayor, reports the Herald. “The longer Jackson goes without making up his mind, the more people will be encouraged to run,” said former City Councilor Michael McCormack. No kidding. By the rate things are going, we’ll hit 10 council candidates by President’s Day.

Boston Herald

Mayoral cakewalk for Marty?

As Tito Jackson and other potential mayoral candidates dither about taking on incumbent Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, WGBH’s Adam Reilly wonders if Walsh will be holding a coronation after the election rather than a mere inauguration. His prospects of winning re-election look that sure, Reilly reports.


‘Millennials A-Masssing’

With this week’s swearing-in ceremonies of new and incumbent lawamerks, Matt Szafranski at Western Massachusetts Politics & Insights says Millennials are steadily increasing their numbers on Beacon Hill, putting them in the position to start shaping public policy in Massachusetts.


Ex-Rep. Ellen Story reflects on 24 years at the State House

Ellen Story, a Texas native, says it “never occurred” to her that she’d spend the next 24 years at the Massachusetts State House when she first ran for state representative in 1992. But that’s exactly what she did — until she recently decided to finally step down representing the 3rd Hampshire District, reports MassLive’s Diane Lederman, who profiles Story, whose last day on Beacon Hill was on Tuesday. The article is accompanied by a video.


U.S. Postal Service pulls plug on Staples deal after years of union opposition

The U.S. Postal Service has killed a deal with Framingham’s Staples Inc., after a postal union waged a three-year long struggle to nix a partnership that allowed Staples to sell postal services at its stores, reports David Harris at the BBJ. The union claimed the deal was effectively privatizing postal retail operations, while backers of the program said it was a convenient and efficient way to provide services to customers.


UMass ranks 26th as ‘worst campus for Jewish students’

From MassLive.com: “The Algenmeiner, which calls itself the ‘fastest growing Jewish newspaper in America,’ has issued a list of the ‘40 worst colleges for Jewish students, 2016,” ranking the UMass campus as 26th worst. According to the website, the list is intended ‘to draw attention to the problem of rising hostility faced by many Jewish students on campus today.’” UMass objected to the ranking, saying in a statement that “UMass Amherst has long had an active and vibrant Jewish student community that is a valued part of the rich and diverse campus culture.”


‘And yet we’re in high tech Massachusetts’

House Minority Leader Brad Jones, along with a lot of other lawmakers, weren’t exactly thrilled with all the computer problems that apparently cropped up during the waning hours of the 2015-2016 session on Tuesday, reports Andy Metzger at SHNS. “So here we are sitting, as the proverbial students who have left their class project ’til the night before, and all of a sudden you find out basically the printer craps out, and you’re like, ‘Oh great,’” Jones. “And yet we’re in high tech Massachusetts where you think the least of my worries should be getting a printer that works.”

SHNS (pay wall)

Boston rents fall, a bit

Average residential rents fell in the fourth quarter of 2016, dropping for the first time in six years as a surge in new construction has helped meet at least some of the market demand for housing, especially at the high end, Jordan Graham of the Herald reports. Rents were down 1.7 percent, Reis Inc. reports, the first decline since 2010, but Boston remains the fourth most-expensive rental city in the country. 

Boston Herald

MassPort closing in on Uber green light at Logan

Uber drivers, start your engines. Jack Sullivan of CommonWealth Magazine reports that MassPort is quietly closing in on finalizing regulations that will enable Uber and other ride-hailing services to pick up and drop off drivers at Logan Airport. 


Williams keeps Springfield in suspense

Newly minted Rep. Bud Williams said earlier in the week that he would announce Thursday whether he would keep his seat on the Springfield City Council after being sworn in as a Beacon Hill lawmaker. But his self-imposed deadline came and went with no word, Peter Goonan of MassLive reports. The Democrat has a year left in his current term on the council, where he has served for 21 years. 


Tribe says Otis pipeline threatens sacred grounds

An official from the Narragansett Indian Tribe says the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is downplaying the threat a Tennessee Gas Pipeline poses to more than 70 “sacred ceremonial landscape features” within Otis State Forest, Heather Bellow of the Berkshire Edge reports. The tribe is hoping the Massachusetts State Historic Preservation Office—overseen by Secretary of State William Galvin—will step in to help.  

Berkshire Eagle

Sunday public affairs TV

Keller at Large, WBZ TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. Guest: Boston Globe reporter Jim O’Sullivan talks politics and government with host Jon Keller.

This is New England, NBC Boston, 9:30 a.m. This week’s topic: Marijuana legalization, with guests Heidi Heilman of the Committee for a Safe & Healthy Mass., Shanel Lindsay of Ardent Cannabis, Stephen Mandile, an Iraq veteran, and Michael Maloney, lead counsel for Canna Care Docs .

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. IHS chief economist Nariman Behravesh gives his overview of the 2017 economy, Greater Boston Chamber CEO James Rooney on the new legislative session, and BBJ editor Doug Banks on regulating marijuana, Macy’s closings, data breaches and Boston’s new parking program.  

CEO Corner, NECN, 10:30 a.m. CEO Greg Altman and COO Rebecca Lacouture, co-founders of Silk Therapeutics, talk about the Boston bio-tech that aims at improving your skin using liquid silk. 

On The Record, WCVB TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. Kirsten Hughes, chairwoman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, talks with anchor Ed Harding and State House reporter Janet Wu.

CityLine, WCVB TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s focus: Tricks of the trade, a look at education and training requirements for jobs.

Today’s Headlines


At Suffolk, staff get a surprise paycheck – Boston Globe

Key change as Boston rents head down – Boston Herald

Marty Walsh touts wage gap study as a conversation starter – Boston Herald

Logan inching toward agreement with Uber, Lyft – CommonWealth Magazine

Developer unwraps plans for two-tower residential complex over turnpike – Universal Hub


Search tied to TelexFree case turns up $20 million hidden in mattress – Boston Globe

Weed advocates don’t like this Mass. senator – Boston Globe

Lobbyist convicted in fraud irks judge – Boston Herald

Springfield Rep. Bud Williams yet to announce decision on City Council seat – MassLive

Evangelidis sworn in for six more years as sheriff – Worcester Magazine

Northampton officially designated a refugee resettlement site – Hampshire Gazette

ACLU: We’ll do whatever it takes to stop Sheriff Hodgson’s plan – Standard-Times

Sheriff: Essex County inmates won’t be building wall – Eagle-Tribune

Legislature OKs bill to let Quincy College award bachelor’s degrees – Patriot Ledger

Meservey to retire from Salem State – Salem News

Brockton police overtime fund nearly depleted already – Brockton Enterprise


Katherine Clark to skip Trump’s inauguration in protest – Boston Globe

House GOP, Trump team hatch border wall plan – Politico

House Democrats to challenge Trump’s Electoral College win – Politico

U.S. intercepts said to capture senior Russian officials celebrating Trump win – Washington Post

Mayor Clinton? Probably not, but it makes great talk – New York Times

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