Happening Today

Science association conference

More than a thousand scientists, engineers, educators and policymakers will convene in Boston for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting, Hynes Convention Center, Boston, 8:30 a.m.

MassDevelopment meeting

Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash attends a meeting of the MassDevelopment board of directors, 99 High St., 11th floor, Boston, 9:30 a.m.

Minnesota video conference

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and other senators speak via video conference with representatives of Hennepin Health in Minnesota to discuss health care cost containment practices, Room 428, 10 a.m.

Gaming Commission

Massachusetts Gaming Commission meets with an agenda that includes Wynn Boston quarterly report, Plainridge Park Casino quarterly report, table games rules and regulations, qualifiers suitability determinations, 101 Federal Street, 12th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.

Ethics Commission

State Ethics Commission meets, One Ashburton Pl. – Room 619, Boston, 10 a.m.

Homelessness briefing

Service providers from the Coalition for Homeless Individuals speak with lawmakers about increasing funding for services for homeless individuals, Nurses Hall, 10 a.m.

Minimum wage rally

Tipped workers, employers, consumers, the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Boston and the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition rally to call for an end to the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers and to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, State House steps, 10:15 a.m.

Film Set Day

Massachusetts Production Coalition, which represents the film, television and media production industry, hosts ‘Film Set Day’ to guide lawmakers through the film production experience, Great Hall, 11 a.m.

‘Ask the guv’

Gov. Charlie Baker appear on ‘Boston Public Radio’ for the show’s monthly ‘Ask the Guv’ segment, WGBH-FM 89.7, 12 p.m.

House Dems caucus

House Democrats meet privately in a caucus, where they’re expected to discuss committee and leadership assignments, Hearing Rooms A-1 and A-2, 1 p.m.

Washington state video conference

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and other senators speak via video conference with officials from the state of Washington to discuss health care cost containment practices, Room 428, 1 p.m.

MLSC grants

Gov. Baker joins Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Sen. Bruce Tarr, Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center president Travis McCready and local education officials to announce capital grants from two MLSC programs, Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute, 55 Blackburn Center, Gloucester, 2 p.m.

Breaking Grounds Cafe

Gov. Baker visits Breaking Grounds Cafe, a cafe that offers paid employment training and education to people with disabilities, 67 Main Street, Peabody, 4 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Jehlen, Lewis to head the Senate’s new marijuana committee

The Democratic-controlled Senate yesterday unveiled its new committee and leadership structure, with the top news being that Sen. Patricia Jehlen, who favored legalization of pot in Massachusetts, will chair the new Committee on Marijuana Policy, while Sen. Jason Lewis, a legal marijuana opponent, will vice chair the committee, in addition to his taking over as chairman of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall), who has plenty more on various Senate committee and leadership assignments, including the appointment of Sen. Michael Barrett, a major proponent of carbon pricing, taking over as chair of the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. Meanwhile, Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports that State Sen. Eric Lesser was tapped to head the economic development committee while Sen. Adam Hinds will serve as vice chair.

FYI: SHNS also has an informative link (pay wall) to Senate committee and leadership assignments. 

 FYI II: Senate President Stan Rosenberg seemed quite relieved that the whole appointment process was finally over. “I’ve done redistricting twice and I’ve done appointments twice and this is more difficult than redistricting. It really is,” Rosenberg said. Next up: House committee and leadership assignments.

SHNS (pay wall)

Sign of the times: Foley Hoag launches marijuana practice

We have a hunch Sens. Patricia Jehlen and Jason Lewis, as the new odd-couple leaders of the Senate marijuana committee, will be bumping into these folks quite a lot in coming weeks, months and years. A handful of Foley Hoag attorneys have launched a cannabis practice in Boston, with the goal of attracting “big-money pot players sniffing around the state’s forthcoming recreational pot market,” reports the Globe’s Dan Adams. “It’s highly technical regulatory work that requires attorneys who know both politics and the law,” says Kevin Conroy, a former deputy attorney general who’s leading the new practice.

Boston Globe

Harvard speech by ‘most hated man in America’ disrupted by protesters and fire alarm

The most “Most Hated Man in America” wasn’t warmly received at a Harvard event last night, when student protesters bearing banners and chanting “pharma greed kills” disrupted a speech by ex-pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli, reports the Crimson’s Graham Bishai. A false fire alarm then helped clear out the gathering at Harvard’s Science Center. The Globe and Herald have more on the event and Shkreli, who has been indicted for securities fraud and accused of jacking up drug prices to obscene levels.

The Crimson

Baker says he won’t engage in ‘character assassination’ and ‘name calling’ to prove his anti-Trump mojo

Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican who refused to endorse Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, is refusing to join today’s chorus of harsh Trump critics, saying he won’t engage in “name calling” and “character assassination” and will be instead focusing on doing his job, reports Rick Sobey at the Lowell Sun. “I get the fact that I’m not living in a measured-tone environment, but I’m going to model the behavior I believe other folks should exemplify,” Baker said. “It’s to be hard on the issues, and soft on the people.” We’d be interested in knowing who he thinks may have engaged in ‘character assassination.’ We have an idea, though.

Lowell Sun

DeLeo: Read my lips, no new broad-based taxes

From the Herald’s Matt Stout: “Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo yesterday said he would not push any ‘broad-based’ tax hikes, just days after his refusal to rule them out drew heavy flak in the wake of the controversial multimillion-dollar pay raise package lawmakers awarded themselves.” The story’s lead is more than a little unfair. DeLeo has always made clear his distaste for any broad-based tax hikes and consistently downplayed the possibility/probability of such a hike. He made that distaste official yesterday. 

Boston Herald

DeLeo cool on sanctuary state, somewhat hot on blocking inmate work on Donald’s wall

Democrats emerged yesterday from a private State House caucus, called in part to figure out how to respond to the policies and pronouncements of Republican President Trump, with House Speaker Robert DeLeo being cool to the idea of proclaiming Massachusetts a “sanctuary state.” But the idea of blocking Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson’s plan to lend inmates to build Trump’s Mexico-border wall was apparently much more warmly received. SHNS’s Andy Metzger explains at the Taunton Daily Gazette.

Daily Gazette

Healey: NH voter fraud charges ‘beyond pathetic’

Attorney General Maura Healey yesterday dismissed President Trump’s assertion that there was massive voter fraud in New Hampshire in November, the Globe’s Laura Krantz reports. “There were no buses. There was no fraud. He lost New Hampshire. He lost the popular vote, and it’s frankly pathetic and beyond pathetic that they keep bringing this up,” Healey said. Even former New Hampshire GOP chairwoman Jennifer Horn is categorially rejecting the notion that there’s widespread voter fraud in the Granite State, though she said the state can always do more to tighten and enforce its same-day-registration rules, the Herald reports.

Warren bids adieu to Puzder

Democrats finally scored a victory when President Trump’s Labor nominee, Andrew Puzder, withdrew his name from consideration – and yesterday U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren couldn’t have been happier, issuing a statement in which she called Puzder one of Trump’s “billionaire buddies” and said his retreat was “good news for hardworking Americans across the country,” the Globe reports.

Boston Globe

Russian ship ‘loitering’ off coast of Connecticut submarine base

As if on cue with all the Russian news coming out of Washington these days, a Russian intelligence gathering ship traveled up the East Coast of the United States and was “loitering” yesterday morning just 30 miles south of the U.S. Navy submarine base in New London, Connecticut, U.S. officials said Wednesday, as reported by Shannon Young at MassLive

Fyi: The Globe’s Roy Greene has a cool history buff’s story on how German U-boats used to regularly prowl New England’s coasts during World War I and World War II.

Fyi II: The Russian spy ship visit reminds us of a recent Anne Applebaum column in the Washington Post about how some in Sweden, of all places, are freaking out over aggressive Russian navy and air force acts in their region – and they fear “Trump will bring Pax Americana crashing down” and leave Europe vulnerable.


Capuano: Don’t let Trump distract from other issues at hand

We admit: We’ve been paying too much attention to the shiny object, i.e. all things Donald Trump. So we appreciate U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano’s effort, via a new web page feature called “A Look Behind the Curtain,” to focus on other issues that matter to people. “I fear the old game of deception — pay attention to the shiny object before you, ignore what’s going on behind the curtain,” Capuano wrote on the page. “I also fear the ‘mobbing’ approach — do so many thing [sic] at one time that most will go unnoticed. It has already started.” Via WGBH’s Tori Bedford.

House.gov (Capuana)

Stoughton School Committee hears an earful on swastika incidents

Superintendent of Schools Marguerite Rizzi and school committee members faced a rough night earlier this week when residents, students and teachers confronted them over the handling of a series of recent swastika incidents at Stoughton High school that led to suspensions, reprimands and a lot of hard feelings, as the Patriot Ledger’s Cody Shepard reports.

Patriot Ledger

Not bad: He makes a salary of $101,800 at DOT – and an additional $141,700 in overtime

Shira Schoenberg at MassLive dug into the state’s salary data base and found that state workers in law enforcement, public health and transportation were among those who earned the highest overtime pay in 2016. A DOT civil engineer topped the list in overtime pay, taking home $141,700 in overtime – significantly more than his base salary of $101,800, Schoenberg writes. She has a lot more factoids and pay stats.


Thanks, Donald: Non-profit sees a surge in Dem women interested in running for office

Emerge Massachusetts, a Boston-based non-profit that recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office, saw a surge in females applying for its programs after the November election, forcing the organization to double the size of its 2017 class from 24 to 48 women, reports Jeanette Hinkle at Wicked Local. “I want to emphasize how huge a leap forward that is for a small but mighty non-profit where I am the only full-time staff person,” said Ryanne Olsen, executive director of Emerge Massachusetts. 

Wicked Local

Counciler Linehan stepping down

City Councilor Bill Linehan has announced that’s he’s stepping down from his District 2 seat in Southie, opening the floodgates for council candidates seeking to replace Linehan, who represented the district for a decade, the Herald’s Antonio Planas reports.

Boston Herald

Rep. Velis: Privacy toll bill poses a ‘grave danger’

From Dan Glaun at MassLive: “Rep. John Velis said Wednesday he is strongly opposed to the current language of a bill that would increase privacy protections on data collected by the state’s all electronic tolling system, due to a lack of emergency exemptions for law enforcement.” He added that the bill, filed by State Sen. Eric Lesser with a companion bill filed by Rep. Marjorie Decker, “poses a grave danger to public safety.” Lesser has said he’s willing to work with members to make the bill acceptable.


MIT prof and Uber team up to address racial bias in ride sharing

The MIT professor who found that Boston Uber passengers with black-sounding names were discriminated against is teaming up with Uber to try to address the problem, reports the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro. A study co-authored by MIT’s Christopher Knittel also found racial biases at other ride-sharing companies here and elsewhere.

Boston Globe

In Boston, snow fines fly

Boston officials are making good on their threat to crack down on shovel scofflaws, hitting 500 property owners with fines for failing to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice even as the city weighs boosting fines from $200 to as much as $1,500, Dan Atkinson and Antonio Planas of the Herald report. Among those fined was a 76-year-old Southie woman who said the fine is the first she’s received in 75 years of living in the neighborhood. 

Boston Herald

Plainridge revenue takes a dip …

Revenue at the state’s only slots parlor slipped slightly in January, with Plainridge Park Casino taking in $12.1 million, compared to $12.6 million in December, Sean Murphy of the Globe reports. The overall amount wagered also fell to its lowest level in nearly a year, at $152 million, during what is normally a quieter winter season for casinos. 

Boston Globe

… as Wynn construction picks up steam

Meanwhile, WBUR’s Jack Lepiarz reports that industrial land in Everett is quickly being transformed into the future home of Wynn Boston Harbor, with crews excavating and trucking out thousands of tons of contaminated soil to prepare the site for actual construction. 


State’s lead-in-school-water efforts rated a ‘D’

Massachusetts needs to move faster to address the problem of lead in school water supplies, according to a report that rated the state’s efforts to address the issue a “D” compared to other states, Mike Deehan of WGBH reports. 


Battle over cannon heads to court

The opening shots in a fight over who is the rightful owner of a replica 6-pound cannon were fired Wednesday in an East Brookfield courtroom where a judge fought to keep the jury trial on target. The Telegram’s Kim Ring has a blow-by-blow account. 


Today’s Headlines


Beginning with soil cleanup, Wynn casino construction is in full swing – WBUR

Eataly Boston will soon be getting a new rooftop restaurant – Boston Business Journal

Fidelity’s real estate arm studying Seaport World Trade Center redevelopment – Boston Business Journal

Southie woman, 76, among 500 hit with snow fines in Boston – Boston Herald

BYOB interest goes flat – Boston Herald


Movie biz wins fight with gov – Boston Herald

Jay Gonzalez, former Deval Patrick aide, speaks in Longmeadow about run for governor – MassLive

Start of Massachusetts union chief Michael Monahan’s trial pushed off after key witness checks into hospital – MassLive

In central Mass. courtroom, battle raging over replica cannon – Telegram & Gazette

Councilor asks for downtown Marlborough parking review – MetroWest Daily News

Ashland officials may extend temporary ban on marijuana shops – MetroWest Daily News

Peabody offers tax breaks in exchange for housing – Salem News

Report questions whether safety is top priority at Pilgrim – Patriot Ledger

Vineyard Power vying for offshore wind farm – Cape Cod Times

WMass senators to lead economic development committee – MassLive

Senators to see average pay rise 39 percent – CommonWealth Magazine


FBI releases files on Trump discrimination case in the 70s – Politico

Labor nonimee Puzder’s withdrawal magnifies turmoil in White House – Washington Post

Trump plans to have ally review the U.S. spy agencies – New York Times

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