Oritz steps down
U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, the top Massachusetts federal prosecutor since 2009, officially steps down today, clearing the way for President-elect Donald Trump to appoint a replacement.
Funeral services for ex-senator
Funeral services are scheduled for Edward Paul “Ned” Kirby, a lifelong Whitman resident and former state senator who died Jan. 3 at the age of 88, Holy Ghost Church, Whitman, 8:15 a.m.
Martin Luther King luncheon
The State House Great Hall has been reserved for the 30th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Luncheon, Great Hall, 12 p.m.
Tempting: Region likely to face warmer weather with climate change
If this is supposed to be alarming at a time we’re enjoying unseasonably warm winter weather, it isn’t working. From the Globe’s David Abel: “New England is likely to experience significantly greater warming over the next decade, and beyond, than the rest of the planet, according to new findings by climate scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.”
Tito’s GE strategy?
Tito Jackson, the Boston city councilor who announced yesterday he’s running for mayor, is still sharpening his campaign message, but it’s pretty obvious he’s going to run a haves-versus-haves-not campaign, arguing lower-income, working-class and middle-class residents haven’t benefited from the recent building boom and economic recovery in Boston. It’s not a bad strategy in this populist era. But focusing on the General Electric deal as the symbol of that inequity, as the Globe’s Adrian Walker points out? Luxury apartments for the rich, sure. The relentless gentrification of neighborhoods, we get it. But the GE deal? Doesn’t seem to resonate. Maybe we’re just out of touch with the city zeitgeist. The Herald’s Dan Atkinson has more on Tito’s emerging left-behind strategy.
Staties: Handicap parking for Polito an ‘honest mistake’
The Massachusetts State Police acknowledged one of its troopers erred in parking his cruiser in a handicapped space while shuttling Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito around Cape Cod on Thursday. The agency says the driver made “an honest mistake” by parking in the spot after reporter Geoff Spillane snapped a photo of the offense. The obvious question: Would they be acknowledging the mistake if Spillane hadn’t been around?
Cops behaving badly: Agawam edition
Agawam officials released video footage of a holding-cell baton beat-down that led to the firing of three police officers as well as an independent report that accused the officers of lying and ‘incompetence,’ Stephanie Barry of MassLive reports. The video release—made in response to a public records request—comes a day after the Hampden DA’s office said it would not pursue criminal charges against the three fired officers, who are appealing their dismissal.
Baker will propose Airbnd tax in new budget
Is it a new tax or merely an extension of an existing tax? Gov. Baker, who famously loathes new taxes, will likely argue the latter in coming weeks and months. From SHNS’s Matt Murphy at WBUR: “Gov. Charlie Baker intends to include in his budget due later this month a proposal that would tax short-term rentals offered through online portals like Airbnb and VRBO at the same rate as rooms rented by traditional hotels and motels, the News Service has learned.”
Revenue estimates set
Let the budget wrangling begin on Beacon Hill. From SHNS’s Colin Young at WWLP: “State tax revenues will grow by 3.9 percent next fiscal year, state budget managers predicted Thursday, giving Gov. Charlie Baker and the Legislature about $27 billion to help build the state’s fiscal year 2018 budget. Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget chief and the chairs of the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees announced on Thursday an agreement over how much tax revenue that state expects to collect in the next fiscal year that begins on July 1.” Bottom line: They have about $1 billion more to play with than last year.
The program that ate the state budget
While officials finally arrived at revenue estimates for next fiscal year’s budget, SHNS’s Michael Norton and Matt Murphy at the Telegram were taking a closer look at state’s biggest and most costly program, MassHealth, the Medicaid health insurance program for nearly 2 million low-income and disabled residents. It has grown, since 2007, by 70 percent and, since 2011, the percentage of state residents receiving MassHealth as their primary coverage has grown from 16 percent to 21 percent. And, oh, the Baker administration is expecting its budget to jump by $600 million next fiscal year.
Baker urges Republicans to save parts of ObamaCare
Perhaps future federal funding of Medicaid had something to do with Gov. Baker’s call yesterday that Congressional Republicans preserve parts of the Affordable Care Act. The Herald’s Matt Stout notes the non-financial aspects of ObamaCare that Baker likes. But future federal funding also has to be in the back of his mind. Nonetheless, Politico’s Lauren Dezenski reports that health care advocates appreciate Baker’s letter to the GOP’s Congressional leaders. Meanwhile, Shannon Young at MassLive reports how U.S. Rep. Richard Neal is challenging Republicans to work with Democrats to fix the ACA, not junk it.
Health Connector members shopping for lower prices
One last health-care item for the day: It seems skyrocketing insurance premiums are forcing tens of thousands of Health Connector members to shop around more for health-care coverage – and many are switching plans, reports the Herald’s Bob McGovern.
Luck of the Irish: Chance meeting leads to potential ambassadorship
Brian Burns, a Cambridge native and son of the closest adviser to the late Joseph P. Kennedy, the patriarch of the Kennedy clan, was as surprised as anyone when President-elect Donald Trump casually offered him the job as the U.S. ambassador to Ireland. Former Gov. Michael Dukakis is impressed with the apparent selection of Burns, reports Tyler Pager at the Globe. “That gives me a little more confidence in Trump because Brian is a very good guy,” said Dukakis, who attended Harvard Law School with Burns long ago. “Needless to say, I’m not a great fan of Trump, but at least he has some people around him that we can have some confidence in.”
Business nightmare: Trump tweet keeps L.L. Bean controversy alive
As Boston magazine’s Spencer Buell put it: “The executives at L.L. Bean could be forgiven for thinking this whole thing—a proposed boycott of their products over a family member’s donations to Donald Trump—would eventually blow over. But no! The imbroglio escalated Thursday with a the two-cents of the president-elect himself.” Here’s what Trump wrote, a virtual challenge to liberals NOT to buy at L.L. Bean: “Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage. People will support you even more now. Buy L.L.Bean.”
The final insult: No chowder ordered for Trump’s inauguration
If this doesn’t make your New England blood boil, nothing will. From the Globe’s Annie Linskey: “So far the Boston company that has traditionally supplied chowder, Legal Sea Foods, has been frozen out (inauguration festivities). Donald Trump’s campaign is built on challenging the status quo in Washington, and that evidently includes menus at inaugural lunches and balls.’I haven’t heard from anybody yet,’ said Roger Berkowitz, the CEO of Legal.”
Drought conditions slowly (very slowly) recede
The U.S. Drought Monitor reports that recent rain and snow may have lessened the severity of drought conditions in Massachusetts and across the Northeast, but nearly 10 percent of the state, along the Connecticut border, is still experiencing “extreme drought” while large swaths of the state still need more precipitation.
In Springfield, spite can be a very powerful motivator
Matt Szafranski at Western Massachusetts Politics and Insight says there’s a very logical reason why Rep. Bud Williams opted to keep his Springfield council seat while also serving on Beacon Hill: “Resigning mid-way through his eleventh term would have deeded it to 2015 rival, Jesse Lederman. City political sources have said Williams did not want Lederman to take the seat. As the runner-up with the most votes in 2015’s Council election, Lederman has the right to fill at-large vacancy. … The two sparred over campaign contributions and the proposed Page Boulevard biomass plant. Lederman managed the campaign of Williams’s chief primary rival, Benjamin Swan Jr as well. Williams flatly denied any antipathy.”
Dudley board accepts Muslim cemetery deal
The Zoning Board of Appeals in Dudley signed an agreement Thursday that finally paves the way for the Islamic Society of Greater Worcester to start the process of permitting a Muslim cemetery in the town, an agreement that makes it almost certain a scaled-down version of the project will be approved, Kim Ring of the Telegram reports. http://bit.ly/2j7xCvc The move comes as at least one selectman and other officials in the town have accepted an invitation from the society to visit a mosque this weekend, Debbie LaPlaca of the Telegram reports.
Massport objects to height of Winthrop Square tower
Those opposing the height of the planned tower at Winthrop Square now have a powerful new ally: The Massachusetts Port Authority, which says the 775-foot skyscraper would interfere with operations at Logan International Airport, the Globe’s Tim Logan reports.
Corrections department aiding in disability benefits signup
The Mass. Department of Corrections has launched a program to help inmates soon to be released from prison determine if they are eligible for disability payments to help them transition back to public life, Matt Stout of the Herald reports. But news of the program has riled up some welfare watchdogs, including Republican Rep. Shauna O’Connell. “We should not be encouraging people to find ways to qualify for Social Security disability,” O’Connell said.
SJC: Genentech’s cell work is manufacturing, not mining
The Department of Revenue has scored a $3 million win before the Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled that a biotech company that genetically modifies bacteria and animal cells as part of its drug-making process is engaged in manufacturing, Adam Gaffin at Universal Hub reports. In its ruling, the SJC rejected the arguments from Genentech that its work was more akin to mining than manufacturing.
Sunday public affairs TV
Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 p.m. Guest: Rep. Geoff Diehl, who served as chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in Massachusetts, will discuss the president-elect’s transition and what a Trump White House means for Massachusetts.
This is New England, NBC Boston, 9:30 a.m. In honor of the MLK holiday, guests Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, Darnell Williams, president of the Urban League of Eastern Mass., Erin Borthwick, principal of Mozart Elementary, and Hayden Frederick-Clarke, director of cultural proficiency at Boston Public Schools, discuss civil rights and racial progress in society.
On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. Guest: Boston City Counselor and mayoral candidate Tito Jackson, who talks with anchor Ed Harding and State House reporter Janet Wu.
This Week in Business, NECN 11 a.m., Doug Banks of the Boston Business Journal Editor and Shirley Leung of the Boston Globe explore the many business angles of the upcoming Trump presidency, the rescue of Boston’s Colonial Theatre and why retail sales were down over the holidays.
CEO Corner, NECN, 11:30 a.m. A look at the family owned Scrubadub, the auto car wash company that’s been in business for more than 50 years.
CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. This week’s focus: Hidden History and MLK Day .
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