Criminal justice reform
Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants, along with the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, gather to announce the findings of a review of the Massachusetts criminal justice system, Nurses Hall, 8:30 a.m.
Modern medicine forum
The Atlantic hosts a forum on modern medicine, with participants including Dana-Farber Cancer Institute President and CEO Dr. Laurie Glimcher, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America President and CEO Stephen Ubl, and Stephen Elledge of the Harvard Medical School, District Hall, 75 Northern Ave., Boston, 8:30 a.m.
Rosenberg tours MGH children’s unit
Senate President Stanley Rosenberg will tour the Massachusetts General Hospital Children’s Unit, including the pediatric emergency department, the proton therapy facility, a pediatric general care floor, and the neonatal intensive care unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, 10 a.m.
Black History Month senior celebration
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and the city’s Commission of Affairs of the Elderly host the 4th annual Black History Month Senior Celebration, Prince Hall, 24 Washington St., Dorchester, 11 a.m.
‘Ask the AG’
Attorney General Maura Healey is scheduled to appear on her monthly ‘Ask the AG’ segment on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 12:30 p.m.
Markey, Kennedy rally with workers
U.S. Sen. Edward Markey and U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III rally with workers and advocates to “send a clear message to Washington” that Massachusetts will work to advance issues important to residents, Irish Famine Memorial, Washington and School streets, Boston, 2 p.m
State of Newton address
Newton Mayor Setti Warren, who is not running for re-election and is considering a gubernatorial run in 2018, delivers his State of the City address, City Council Chambers, Newton City Hall, 1000 Commonwealth Ave., 7:45 p.m.
Kennedy on ‘Nightside’
U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III is scheduled to talk in-studio with Dan Rea on ‘NightSide, WBZ NewsRadio 1030, 8 p.m.
In case you missed it over the holiday …
MASSterList indeed published yesterday on Presidents Day, so, if you were busy over the holiday, check out what we covered, including how the Baker administration is in talks to alter its business health assessment plan, how the city is exploring a new Boston Harbor seawall, how state businesses routinely fail to live up to their tax-break job pledges, how New Zealanders are reacting to Scott Brown’s possible appointment as ambassador to their country, and much more.
Commission: Abolish all mandatory minimum sentences except for murder
As Gov. Charlie Baker and other State House leaders gather today to announce the findings of a review of the state’s criminal justice system, one state commission has a clear idea on what it thinks needs to be done, via Michael Jonas at CommonWealth: “In another sign of support for broad criminal justice reform, the Massachusetts Sentencing Commission voted to recommend abolition of mandatory minimum sentences for all crimes except murder. The move comes as state leaders are split on the best way to revamp criminal justice policies.”
Pardons are few and far between in Massachusetts
On another criminal justice front, the Baker administration hasn’t approved any pardons or commutations since the governor took office in January 2015, despite receiving at least 124 requests, and the governor is pointing his finger at the state Parole Board for the inaction, reports Christian Wade at the Newburyport Daily News. “It’s really up to them,” Baker said in a recent interview. “If they were to send me something, I would review it and make a decision based on the facts of the case. But I’m certainly not going to tell them what to do.”
Not a bad gig: Retire, get pension, get rehired with pension
From the Herald’s Matt Stout: “Hundreds of state workers who retired early under Gov. Charlie Baker’s savings program were eventually put back on the state payroll — some in six-figure part-time jobs — costing taxpayers nearly $9 million, a Herald analysis found. In all, 300 of the 2,497 employees — or 1 of every 8 — who bit on Baker’s early retirement incentive program in 2015 returned in part-time roles in the weeks and months afterward.”
Not a bad gig, Part II: Retire, get pension, run pension for $2.2M, retire again
From the Globe’s Beth Healey on the former head of the MBTA pension chief: “Michael Mulhern took home $2.2 million in compensation as chief of the MBTA Retirement Fund in the eight years after the financial crisis, including $216,329 in 2016, when he worked just seven months. The compensation, released in response to a records request by the Globe, included pay for unused vacation time, representatives of the pension fund said. Based on his prior year’s pay rate, that would be nearly $50,000 for accrued vacation. “
High anxiety: Therapists see spike in political-related stress
From the Globe’s Dugan Arnett: “Since the November election, mental health professionals have reported a jump in political-related anxiety among patients, as a slew of Americans grapple with the rapid pace of governmental change — and a stream of controversial news.” One therapist compares these times to the days immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
High-octane liberal moralism: How not to persuade people to your side
The NYT’s Sabrina Tavernise, a national correspondent for the paper, has a terrific piece on how liberals’ highly moralistic approach toward Trump is turning off many moderate conservatives who otherwise have grave misgivings about the president: “If political action is meant to persuade people that Mr. Trump is bad for the country, then people on the fence would seem a logical place to start. Yet many seemingly persuadable conservatives say that liberals are burning bridges rather than building them.”
Best description yet of why some moderate conservatives grudgingly voted for Trump
In the same NYT piece, Sabrina Tavernise relates how Jeffrey Medford, a small-business owner in South Carolina, compares Donald Trump to a jalopy: “’It’s like I need to get from Charleston to Atlanta, and suddenly the most beat-up car on earth shows up and says, ‘Do you need a ride?’ I think, wow, if I had any other way to get there, I’d choose it. But there’s only this terrible car. And it might not even make it.’”
‘My undergraduate campus troll is now senior adviser to the president’
Actually, Stephen Miller was more of a campus columnist than a campus troll at Duke University. Still, Nicholas Cuneo, a Duke alum and now a resident physician at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital, remembers Miller’s conservative rants all too well from years ago – and now Miller is a senior policy advisor to President Trump. Cuneo’s op-ed is the most read piece at the Crimson.
Ex-Trump campaign manager: No, busloads of Bay Staters didn’t throw the NH election
Yet another experienced hand, this one a former campaign manager for Donald Trump, is stepping forward to say that busloads of Massachusetts resident didn’t flood into the Granite State to commit voter fraud last November, reports Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive. Still, Corey Lewandowski, a Lowell native who has worked on previous N.H. campaigns, says New Hampshire needs to tighten up its voter registration laws.
Agawan’s War on Blight: Never, never, never give in
Agawam has made recent progress in fighting building blight in the city, but a number of city councilors say Agawan can’t drop its guard – and some are adding new eyesores to the list of blighted buildings that need to be cleaned up, reports Conor Berry at MassLive.
MassDOT: Non-stop Heart to Hub service needs more stops
Some in Worcester think it makes no sense to add new stops to the touted non-stop Heart to Hub rail service from Worcester to Boston. But MassDOT counters that it makes no sense not to add a few more stops, in Ashland and Framingham, if there aren’t enough riders on the current non-stop service, reports Savanna Donahue at the Worcester Business Journal.
Proposed gun tax draws political fire
Sen. Cynthia Creem is leading a push to tax the sale of guns and ammunition as a way to pay for violence prevention efforts in Massachusetts, reports Christian Wade at the Salem News. But opponents say the proposed 4.5 percent tax is merely yet another way to “vilify lawful gun owners and retailers.”
Spike in city family leave: Is the cause really a mystery?
The number of city of Boston employees taking family medical leave has soared by 50 percent since Mayor Marty Walsh took office – and officials are trying to figure out why, reports the Herald’s Jack Encarnacao. But is it really a mystery? As other state and municipal reformers have discovered in similar circumstance elsewhere, if you crack down on one cause of high absenteeism (such as people taking disability leave), it simply shifts the problem elsewhere (such as, oh, take a wild guess). It’s called the “balloon effect,” i.e. squeeze a balloon and the air merely bulges elsewhere.
Remembering Ira Stepanian: ‘He practiced an old-fashioned brand of capitalism’
Ira Jackson, the former Massachusetts commissioner of revenue and executive vice president of BankBoston, remembers the late Ira Stepanian, the ex-chief executive of Bank of Boston who died last week. “He practiced an old-fashioned brand of capitalism — capitalism with a conscience,” writes Jackson. “He was a banker with both a hard head and a soft heart. He was quiet but he was strong and his example is worth remembering and emulating at a time when morals and ethics and responsible leadership are in such short supply, not just in business but in government.”
Beyond prayers: Religious congregations mobilize to shelter illegal immigrants
From the Globe’s Lisa Wangsness: “Congregations in Massachusetts are joining dozens of US churches and synagogues that are helping to shelter illegal immigrants as the Trump administration intensifies deportation efforts. At least three Boston-area congregations have committed to offering living space in their buildings to illegal immigrants. A half-dozen more statewide are in serious internal discussions about doing so. And dozens of synagogues and churches have agreed to offer logistical and political support.”
Iraqi refugee arriving in Northampton: ‘It’s fitting it’s on my birthday’
A western Massachusetts religious group is already helping immigrants in another way. The first of perhaps dozens of refugees from Iraq have just arrived in Northampton, thanks to the work of Catholic Charities and hundreds of volunteers, reports Amanda Drain at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Needless to say, the arrivals are grateful to be in America. But whether all of the refugees will make into the country is another matter.
Sen. Ross won’t take pay raise
State Sen. Richard Ross, a Wrenthem Republican who voted against the new legislative pay raises, won’t accept the extra $20,000 in stipend pay he’s in line to receive as assistant majority leader, saying it’s the wrong time to accept raises while the state budget is being cut, reports Jim Hand at the Sun Chronicle.
Bridging the gap: Two lawmakers, two views, same joint marijuana committee
State Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, and State Rep. Hannah Kane, R-Shrewsbury, have both landed on the 16-member Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy, and Bill Shaner at Wicked Local has good descriptions of where each is coming from – Eldridge, pro-legalization last November, from the perspective of criminal justice reform, and Kane, anti-legalization, from the perspective that Question 4 failed to address public health, public safety and town control issues. How the committee bridges that gap is ultimately its main challenge this session.
Protest Bill Belichick?
From the Globe’s Mark Shanahan, via a NYT piece: New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is not only a pal of Donald Trump’s, he’s also a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Hopefully, this won’t spark protest calls, for as far as we’re concerned Patriots players and coaches can do just about anything they want following their spectacular Super Bowl victory earlier this month. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/18/us/mar-a-lago-trump-ethics-winter-white-house.
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