Happening Today

Jobs data

An updated unemployment rate and December jobs numbers are scheduled for release this morning by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.  

‘State of the State of Education’

Education Secretary James Peyser speaks at the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy’s ‘State of the State of Education’ along with Board of Higher Education chair Chris Gabrieli, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education chair Paul Sagan and Board of Early Education and Care member Mary Walachy, Omni Parker House Hotel – rooftop ballroom, 60 School St., 8:30 a.m.

Ethics Commission

State Ethics Commission meets to possibly discuss potential recommendations for ethics rules reform to assist the Legislature’s new Task Force on Integrity in State and Local Government, One Ashburton Pl. – Room 619, Boston, 9 a.m.

Gaming Commission

Massachusetts Gaming Commission meets to hear a 12-month lottery analysis from Dr. Rachel Volberg, of UMass Amherst, and Dr. Mark Nichols, of the University of Nevada at Reno, 101 Federal St. – 12th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.

Pay recommendations

The Joint Committee on Ways and Means holds a hearing to discuss the public report regarding the compensation of public officials, Room A-1, 12 p.m.

Baker at New Zealand reception

In Washington for Friday’s inauguration of Donald Trump, Gov. Charlie Baker and First Lady Lauren Baker attend the Preti Flaherty New Zealand Embassy Reception, Embassy of New Zealand, 37 Observatory Circle NW, Washington, DC, 2:15 p.m.

‘Running for state office’

Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus and Women’s Bar Association’s Government Lawyers Committee host a panel titled ‘Running for State Office: The Inside Story,’ with panelists Reps. Lori Ehrlich and Joan Meschino and past candidates Brianna Sullivan and Lydia Edwards, NonProfit Center, West Conference Room, 89 South St., Boston, 5:30 p.m.

Baker at Indiana ball

Gov. Baker joins First Lady Baker to attend the 2017 Indiana Inaugural Ball, Grand Hyatt Washington, 1000 H Street NW, Washington, DC, 6 p.m.

Kennedy Library forum

Tom Ashbrook of WBUR and Brian McGrory of the Boston Globe will talk about opportunities and challenges for the Trump administration, with Heather Cox Richardson, a historian at Boston College, and journalist Ron Suskind of Harvard Law School also part of the panel, JFK Library, Dorchester, 6 p.m.

Pre-inauguration discussion

In a talk titled ‘Donald Trump and the Republic,’ UMass Boston political science professor Erin O’Brien will discuss the transition in the White House on the eve of Trump’s inauguration, Watertown Free Public Library, 123 Main St., Watertown, 7:30 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Blue state blues

Tomorrow is a big day for many across the country: Donald Trump will be officially sworn in as the next president of the United States of America. But it’s practically a day or mourning for many in Massachusetts, among the blues of blue states in America, as the Globe’s Michael Levenson reports. A new poll by WBUR verifies the deep funk that Massachusetts voters have sunk into as the Trump inauguration approaches, reports Shannon Dooling at ‘BUR.  

But fear not: It will be a day of action for potentially thousands of young socialists who plan to hold an anti-Trump rally on Boston Common tomorrow night, reports Antonio Planas at the Herald.

‘Empty gesture’?

U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano is joining his Democratic colleague, U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, in boycotting the Trump inauguration, saying he just can’t bring himself to attend the event, reports Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive. But state Auditor Suzanne Bump is openly wondering how effective the whole inauguration-boycott effort will be in the end, reports SHNS’s Katie Lannan at Wicked Local. “Maybe it will make a few people think that you’re highly principled, but what will it achieve? It won’t achieve anything, so I would regard it as a rather empty gesture,” Bump, a Democrat, said on Herald radio.

Dear Donald: Shine a light on immigration proceedings. Yours truly …

This is unusual, as reported by the Globe itself: “The Boston Globe called on President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday to make immigration arrests and court records public, a historic step that would shine light on a system long shrouded in secrecy. ‘President Obama should not have allowed this vast system to jail and deport people in secret, and you should not, either,’ Globe editor Brian McGrory said in the letter to Trump. ‘We urge you to end this secrecy once and for all.’”

It may be an unusual letter from an editor to a president elect, but McGrory also happens to be right on the issue.

Boston Globe

‘Commonwealth’s confounding clutter of commissions’

All of those state boards and commissions that don’t have enough members serving on them? The answer isn’t trying to find people to fill the vacancies. The answer, as the Globe editorial rightly notes, is to eliminate some of the boards: “There are just too many of them. At nearly 700, the number of state commissions and boards in Massachusetts far exceeds the number in states of similar size. Four states — Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, and Indiana — have only one-third as many.”

Boston Globe

Walsh’s Ethics Committee: The unbearable lightness of being

Speaking of surplus boards, commissions and committees: What does a journalist write when he or she investigates something and finds absolutely nothing there? If you’re WGBH’s Isaiah Thompson looking into Mayor Walsh’s once much-touted Ethics Committee, you tell it like it is: “In the nearly three years since (its creation), the committee has released no public reports, public recommendations, public advisory opinions, or public findings that WGBH News was able to obtain (city officials say it was not asked to issue written reports). It has not met publicly, has no web site, and is not listed among the city’s myriad other boards, commissions, or committees.  And, city officials confirmed to WGBH News last week, the committee has ceased meeting, at least for now.”


Cape wind still on life support

SHNS’s Michael Norton reports how, technically speaking, the controversial Cape Wind project is still alive, after the wind-farm company’s chief made an $88,000 lease payment to the feds to keep the project on the books. That’s a drop in the bucket for Jim Gordon, head of Cape Wind, who has spent millions of dollars over the years pushing the offshore wind farm. But it does indicate he hasn’t given up all hope.

SHNS (pay wall)

It’s officially official: Brianna will really, truly take on Steve

Maybe it wasn’t enough for NBC Boston and other media outlets to announce a few weeks ago that Gamergate heroine Brianna Wu planned to take on U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch of South Boston. In any event, both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald report that Brianna, tomorrow, on inauguration day, will indeed make it officially official: She’s taking on Steve.

‘Pay grab’ hearing

Some lawmakers are not happy about today’s State House hearing on a three-year-old report that recommends big pay hikes for public officials, reports the Herald’s Matt Stout. “The timing of it is clearly suspicious when you have fiscal conservatives going down to the inauguration in D.C.,” said Rep. Geoff Diehl, a Republican and co-chairman of President-elect Trump’s campaign in Massachusetts. A Herald editorial is blasting the proposal as a blatant ‘pay grab’ that comes only weeks after Gov. Charlie Baker approved a separate and more moderate pay bump for lawmakers and constitutional officers.

Boston Herald

Walgreens to pony up $200K for mishandling of opioids

From the Globe’s Felice Freyer: “An investigation by Attorney General Maura Healey found that some Walgreens pharmacies failed to monitor patients’ drug use patterns and didn’t use sound professional judgment when dispensing opioids and other controlled substances — a concern because of soaring overdose deaths in Massachusetts. Walgreens agreed to pay $200,000 and follow certain procedures for dispensing opioids.”

Boston Globe

Laffer Curve alert: Cigarette smuggling way up

The so-called Laffer Curve, a supposed mathematical relationship between economic activity and the rate of taxation, has remained a hotly debated and controversial theory ever since President Reagan used it to justify deep tax cuts during his presidency in the 1980s. Well, it seems as though the theory has been at least partially proven correct in Massachusetts, where cigarette smuggling has dramatically jumped in recent years after repeated tobacco tax increases approved by state lawmakers. As of 2014, nearly a third of all cigarettes in Massachusetts are now smuggled into the state, a sharp uptick from years past, according to a recent study by the Tax Foundation and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, as reported by SHNS at the Telegram. Actually, it’s basic economics, not the Laffer Curve, at work: Raise prices too high – and you create a black market.


RIP, Alan White, Eagle-Tribune editor

This is sad news. From Ken Johnson at the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune: “Alan J. White, who led The Eagle-Tribune to many industry honors and shepherded countless young reporters to productive careers as journalists, died at his home on Plum Island on Wednesday. He was 68. White, known to everyone as ‘Al,’ was a respected and honored member of the New England newspaper community. His work as an editor contributed to one of the paper’s two Pulitzer Prizes and twice more placed the newspaper as a finalist for journalism’s highest honor. The Globe’s Travis Andersen has more on his death and the reactions of past and current colleagues.


Pinpointing the problem: ‘Massachusetts has more CEOs than plumbers’

As they say: Too many chiefs, not enough Indians. Check out the BBJ’s eye-opening slide show on how many people work in various job categories in Massachusetts. To say the least, there’s some interesting surprises.


Needed soon by towns near you: $18 billion

Next time someone talks about how the U.S. has fallen behind on the upkeep of its infrastructure, think about this one subcategory of the infrastructure within just one state, via Christian Wade at the Gloucester Times: “Aging water and sewer pipes will cost Massachusetts communities nearly $18 billion in upgrades, according to an auditor’s report that is prompting calls for state intervention. The report, released Tuesday by state Auditor Suzanne Bump, said cities and towns are struggling to cover the cost of infrastructure.” 

For a comparison, the MBTA’s price tag to update its system has been pegged at a minimum $7.3 billion, a figure that has shocked and outraged many. 

Gloucester Times

State Street pays $64.6 million to settle fraud case

Besides the big payout, State Street has been left with a big black eye on this one. From Wicked Local: “State Street Corp., the Boston-based international financial services company, has agreed to pay a $32.3 million criminal penalty to resolve charges that it engaged in a scheme to defraud a number of the bank’s clients by secretly applying commissions to billions of dollars of securities trades.State Street also agreed to offer an equal amount as a civil penalty to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.”

Wicked Local

SJC to prosecutors: Drop weakest Dookhan cases

The state’s highest court Wednesday ordered prosecutors to drop many of the 24,000 drug-related cases impacted by the Annie Dookhan lab scandal, directing them to toss out cases that couldn’t be prosecuted without potentially tainted lab work, Andy Rosen of the Globe reports. It’s not clear how many cases that may leave standing, especially since thousands of defendants processed through district courts may have already served their sentences. 

Boston Globe

Lawmakers: No lottery aid to towns that ban lottery sales

Some Attleboro-area lawmakers want the state to stop sending local aid payments generated by lottery sales to communities that have bans on lottery sales in place, Jim Hand reports in the Attleboro Sun-Times. Rep. Steven Howitt and Sen. James Timility filed their bill Wednesday. The lottery says 39 of 351 communities don’t sell lottery tickets, but it’s not clear how many of them actually have local bans in place. 

Attleboro Sun-Times

AG’s office says Mosaic case closed

State investigators say they won’t pursue further action against Mosaic Cultural Complex, the Worcester nonprofit that was at the center of a political dustup over the handling of millions of dollars in grant funds, Steven H. Foskett Jr. of the Telegram reports. The AG’s office says Mosaic has made several administrative changes and has pledged to file quarterly profit and loss statements over the next 18 months to boost transparency.


Beer, wine coming to Lawn on D?

The Massassachusetts Convention Center Authority is expected to decide today whether to allow Rebel Restaurants to add beer and wine to its menu of offerings to the public at the Lawn on D this coming summer season, Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub reports. Rebel presented its plan to the authority’s board on Wednesday, saying wristbands and security guards would be used to prevent underage drinking. 

Universal Hub

For Lowell schools, a ‘fork in the road’

Public school officials in Lowell are moving closer to buying a $125,000 food truck, a move that would enable the district to deliver subsidized meals during summer months to students who qualify while complementing existing food services during the school year, Grant Welker of the Lowell Sun reports. The truck—which could qualify for a federal grant—even has a tentative name: ‘Fork in the road’. 

Lowell Sun

Today’s Headlines


Drone wars: Newton man sues over new city drone restrictions – Universal Hub

Massport gets three bids to oversee Logan Airport shops, restaurants – Boston Globe

Frustrated by BYOB delay – Boston Herald

Walsh’s universal pre-K plan faces hurdles – Boston Globe


Pittsfield police chief has serious questions about proposed law designed to protect immigrants – Berkshire Eagle

Lowell school moves forward with food-truck plan – Lowell Sun

Worcester school chief Binienda: School day walkout not OK – Worcester Magazine

Guy Glodis, former Bay State pol, talks about his new bar, Ballot Box – Worcester Magazine

After AG investigation, Walgreens to pay $200K for opioid lapses – Boston Globe

New development transforms a symbol of Woburn’s painful past – Boston Globe

State closes inquiry of Worcester nonprofit Mosaic – Telegram & Gazette

In surprise, Framingham charter group agrees to term limits – MetroWest Daily News

Safety system at Pilgrim compromised – Cape Cod Times

Worcester renewing efforts to find buyer for old courthouse – MassLive

Citizens for Limited Taxation group rips Massachusetts lawmakers for exploring increase in pay – MassLive

Panelists predict potential ‘devastating’ impact to Mass. hospitals if Affordable Care Act is repealed – MassLive


Diarrhea, Drunkenness And Dead Birds: 200 Years Of Inaugural Mishaps – WBUR

Scientists declare last year hottest on record, for third consecutive year – Washington Post

At final press conference, Obama offers both reflections and rebukes – NPR

Mike Capuano isn’t going to the inauguration either – Boston Magazine

Trump lashes out as approval rating dips to record lows – New York Times

Democrats in the wilderness – Politico

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