Waxman, Coburn at conference
Former U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman and former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn share their thoughts on the 2016 election and how it will affect health care, labor and workers’ compensation, as part of a Workers Compensation Research Institute conference, Westin Copley Place Hotel, fourth floor, Boston, 9:15 a.m.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission meets for a Wynn Boston update, Longmeadow mitigation fund reserve request, a review of MGM workforce development plans, and an MGM GameSense announcement and advertising campaign, MassMutual Center, 1227 Main St., Springfield, 10 a.m.
Eversource rate case
Department of Public Utilities holds a procedural hearing on Eversource Energy’s request for general increases in base distribution rates, One South Station – 5th floor, Hearing Room A, Boston, 11 a.m.
Chronic family poverty
Sen. Sal DiDomenico and the Senate’s ‘Kids First’ working group host a legislative briefing on reducing chronic family poverty through ‘two-generational strategies,’ Room 222, 11 a.m.
Gov. Charlie Baker participates in the opening ceremony for the Massachusetts YMCA Youth & Government Program, House Chamber, 1 p.m.
Recognizing legal help for poor
Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants and Appeals Court Chief Justice Kafker speak at a reception honoring attorneys who have volunteered to assist low-income individuals filing appeals in the Appeals Court and in the SJC, John Adams Courthouse, second floor conference suite, One Pemberton Square, Boston, 5:30 p.m.
Healey at hospital meeting
Attorney General Maura Healey will discuss the priorities of her office, including health care costs and coverage, at the Anna Jaques Hospital annual Corporators’ Meeting, Blue Ocean Music Hall, 4 Ocean Front North, Salisbury, 5 p.m.
Jewish Family & Children’s Service benefit
Gov. Baker and First Lady Lauren Baker attend the Jewish Family & Children’s Service Benefit, Park Plaza Castle, 130 Columbus Ave., Boston, 7:15 p.m.
Warren, Pelosi turn up heat on Sessions
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren didn’t go as far as House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who flat-out called Attorney General Jeff Sessions a liar for not disclosing his prior contacts with the Russian government during Congressional confirmation hearings. But Warren, like Pelosi, is demanding that Sessions resign and is calling for a special prosecutor on the Russian matter, the Washington Post reports.
Meanwhile, Warren faces heat over Carson vote
From the Herald’s Chris Cassidy: “U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren went so far as to post a 500-word explanation on Facebook defending her support of Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, but she is having second thoughts on Carson after fielding fury and backlash from progressives. Warren voted against the neurosurgeon yesterday on a measure that advances his nomination in the Senate — even though she voted in favor of him just five weeks ago on the banking committee.”
Lynch: Media unfair to Trump
U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch says the media has not treated President Donald Trump fairly and that journalistic integrity took a beating in the 2016 election, Nik DeCosta-Klipa of Boston.com reports. Lynch, who is facing a primary challenge in 2018 from political newcomer Brianna Wu, first made the comments to WBZ radio and later doubled down, with a wink: “I was asked if the campaign coverage of Trump was fair and unbiased. I said no,” he told Boston.com. “However, I think it’s important to note that, as a Democrat, I never said I didn’t enjoy the unfair coverage.”
An interesting mathematical way to measure Trump’s speech
WGBH’s Adam Reilly and Peter Kadzis provided running commentary during President Trump’s speech Tuesday night and it’s fun to see (or actually, read) their growing astonishment that the president was actually behaving, well, presidential. Kadzis concluded: “As far as his words went, Trump scored a five out of five. That’s a clinical assessment on my part, not an endorsement of his policies. As for substance, he scored a zero out of five. Harsh, yes. But he’s on the job. It’s not day one. Now, when you average that out, the president gets a 50 percent. That’s six points higher than his approval rating. He returned to the White House in better shape than when he left.”
Baker administration reluctantly launches study of Big Dig II, aka North-South rail link
Gov. Baker has signaled he’s really not thrilled about embarking on another downtown mega-tunnel project, this one a north-south rail link tunnel. The MBTA’s Paul Regan is adamantly opposed to the idea. But like the gravitational pull of a giant star on a tiny planet, the administration has been sucked and suckered into soliciting bids for a $2 million study of a proposed tunnel connecting North and South stations, as reported by the Globe’s Nicole Dungca. The estimated costs of the tunnel have ranged from $2 billion to $8 billion, not including the inevitable numeral ‘1’ that would land in front of each of those figures. Rep. Seth Moulton has been upping the pressure on the Baker administration to pursue the north-south link, reports the BBJ’s Don Seiffert.
Sununa joins LePage in blaming Bay State – specifically, Lawrence — for illegal drugs
First, it was Maine Gov. Paul LePage blaming punks from Massachusetts for smuggling illegal drugs into his innocent-as-can-be state. Now New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu is blaming the Bay State for the illegal drug traffic in his state, reports the Herald’s Matt Stout. But the Republican Sununu has a different spin on the blame game: Lawrence’s sanctuary city status isn’t helping matters. “For example Lawrence, right?” Sununu said on Boston Herald Radio. “So you have undocumented drug dealers that are dealing these drugs, they are getting arrested, they are being given bail by judges … they’re jumping bail, getting a new ID and they’re back in that same home dealing drugs a week later. It’s an absolutely crazy system.”
Is Maine’s LePage in line for a Trump administration post?
Speaking of Paul LePage, the Maine governor’s frequent absences from Maine – and long stays in the nation’s capital rubbing shoulders with Trump groupies – is leading to speculation in Maine that LePage might be in line for a position in the Trump administration, reports Scott Thistle at the Portland Press-Herald.
Springfield cops close shop giving away ‘free’ pot but charging admission fees
They thought they were being so clever in getting around the state’s no-pot-sales law. But police weren’t the ones smoking the product. From Dan Glaun at MassLive: “The City of Springfield has shut down Mary Jane Makes Your Heart Sing, a store on Page Boulevard that charged an admission fee and then gave out ‘free’ samples of cannabis to customers. Springfield Police Sgt. John Delaney and another officer served a cease and desist order to the shop Wednesday afternoon, drawing groans from a line of about 50 people waiting to enter.”
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarano said the city was merely upholding laws and protecting the public by closing the store that was charging $20 admission fees for the ‘free’ pot samples, reports Peter Goonan at MassLive.
Baker: Massachusetts in ‘no man’s land’ on marijuana
From Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive: “As Springfield police officers shuttered a store handing out marijuana for ‘free’ while charging an admission fee, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker acknowledged the state is in a ‘no man’s land’ four months after voters broadly legalized the controversial substance for adults who are over the age of 21.”
Luxury condo building bans smoking and pot growing
Meanwhile, the folks at the posh InterContinental in Boston have voted to ban vaping, smoking tobacco, clove, marijuana or electronic cigarettes — and harvesting marijuana inside the waterfront high-rise, writes the Herald’s Donna Goodison, who also also reports: “As for prohibiting owners and tenants from harvesting marijuana, Koch replied, ‘We’re a high-rise building. I don’t think we’re a farming community.’”
Public forum on rattlesnakes bans public comments
There’s a disconnect here. From Jim Russell at MassLive: “State wildlife officials say they want feedback about their plan to populate a Quabbin Reservoir island with timber rattlesnakes — but at Tuesday’s forum (in Belchertown), the 18-member panel reviewing the idea said the public was not allowed to speak.” Even some panel members were taken aback by the policy and complained. One resident who wasn’t allowed to speak described the proceedings as “a joke, a waste of time.” Meanwhile, at the request of Sen. Anne M. Gobi and Rep. Susannah Whipps-Lee, the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has decided to make comments, questions and survey responses to the Rattlesnake Conservation Plan available as soon as possible, reports the Telegram.
Oprah Winfrey has an presidential epiphany: ‘Oh … Oh!’
The Herald’s Kimberly Atkins writes how Oprah Winfrey never gave running for president a thought until another TV celebrity, Donald Trump, actually ran and won. “Now I’m thinking, Oh … Oh!” Oprah said. And now she’s thinking of running for president. Matt Drudge is drooling over the possibility: “Trump vs. Oprah would be the most epic race in American history. MAKE THIS HAPPEN,” he tweeted yesterday, as Kimberly notes.
The gloves are off: Amherst Town Meeting to debate petition to impeach Trump
From Diane Lederman at MassLive, on an Amherst Town Meeting petition that seeks President Trump’s impeachment: “Submitted by lawyer John Bonifaz, the petition takes aim at Trump for allegedly violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bars members of government from receiving gifts or money from foreign states. According to the citizen petition, these violations undermine ‘the integrity of the presidency, corruptly advance the personal wealth of the president and violate the public trust.”
Did she really think no one would notice?
Attorney General Maura Healey, an outspoken critic of Donald Trump, wasn’t exactly touting the fact that she did indeed meet with the president the other day. From SHNS’s Michael Norton at MetroWest Daily News: “It wasn’t on her public schedule but Attorney General Maura Healey on Tuesday met up with her recent nemesis, President Donald Trump. The White House late Tuesday afternoon released a list of 47 attorneys general who had met with the president and Healey’s name was on it. A Healey aide confirmed she was in attendance as part of scheduled quarterly meetings Tuesday and Wednesday of the National Association of Attorneys General.”
Three health insurers post big losses, Harvard Pilgrim blames Obamacare
Three of the state’s four largest non-profit health insurers saw major operating losses in 2016, saying prescription drugs and medical prices in general are hurting their bottom lines, reports the Globe’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey. At the BBJ, Jessica Bartlett reports that Harvard Piligrim is also blaming several ObamaCare programs for its losses.
‘This is pure, unadulterated profiteering … it’s obscene’
Speaking of drug costs, Sander Schultz, Gloucester’s emergency medical services coordinator, is furious that the price of an injectable overdose-reversing drug designed for use by laypeople has skyrocketed, from $690 for a two-dose naloxone auto-injector to $4,500, in just three years, reports Christian Wade at the Gloucester Times. “This is pure, unadulterated profiteering,” said Sander. whose EMTs regularly use naloxone. “The pharmaceutical companies are gouging people who are dependent on these drugs to save lives. It’s obscene.”
Baker: State will pay early voting costs in ’18
Town clerks are going to cheer this. Gov. Charlie Baker says his administration will pay for early voting costs encumbered by cities and towns in the next statewide election in 2018 if necessary, Shira Schoenberg of MassLive reports. Baker also said his team is still reviewing a report from Auditor Suzanne Bump that found early voting amounted to an unfunded mandate for municipalities.
His excellency, Union Oyster House owner, honorary Thailand consul general
Did you know the owner of the Union Oyster House, Joe Milano, is the honorary consul general for Thailand, running the consulate out of his restaurant’s back office, just past the shucking station? “The position is no joke,” writes Caroline Lester at WGBH. “If you want to go to Thailand for business or to visit for more than 30 days, you’ve got to go through Milano. He says his office hands out 12 to 13 hundred visas a year.” She relates a fun tale on how Milano landed the gig. And, yes, Milano loves the pageantry part of the job.
With request to NRC, Pilgrim shutdown clock starts ticking
Entergy Corp. has taken the first formal step toward the shutdown of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in 2019, asking the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to approve its training program for the fuel handlers who will be brought in to decommission the plant when it stops generating power in 2019, Christine Legere of the Cape Cod Times reports.
In Berkshires, ‘Indivisible’ grassroots seen growing
Pittsfield and eight other communities in the Berkshires have seen local chapter of the Trump-opposition group Indivisible form in recent weeks, Carrie Saldo reports in the Berkshire Eagle. The local groups are part of a national network of 4,500 aiming to influence members of Congress.
Banks have paid out $321B in fines since financial crisis
A study by the Boston Consulting Group says that regulators have slapped $321 billion in financial penalties on banks globally since the 2007-2008 financial crisis, reports the Globe’s Beth Healey. North American banks accounted for 63 percent of the fines paid, or $204 billion, through 2016. And many critics say banks actually got off lightly for all the damage they did to the national and world economies last decade.
Healey to Texas lawmaker: Butt out of Exxon Mobil feud
From the Herald: “Bay State Attorney General Maura Healey is urging Republican U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith to withdraw his committee’s subpoena for documents related to her Exxon Mobil investigation. Healey sent a 10-page letter to Smith yesterday arguing the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology has no authority over her probe into whether Exxon Mobil misled Massachusetts consumers and investors about the impact of burning fossil fuels on the environment and the impact of climate change on the company’s business.”
UMass Boston campus plastered with white supremacy flyers
From NECN (with video): “Flyers advocating white supremacy were distributed on the University of Massachusetts Boston campus. According to a statement from Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Winston E. Langley, the group responsible for the flyers has reportedly been distributing the flyers at other universities throughout the country. The university pulled the flyers from all its halls, citing a policy that requires school approval before posting.”
‘Ashes to Go’ at T commuter stops
It was “Ashes to Go” day at T rail stops in Billerica, Melrose, Stoughton and elsewhere yesterday, as pastors fanned out to provide commuters with ashes to mark Ash Wednesday, heralding the start of Lent. Wicked Local has a photo slide-show of Ashes to Go in Billerica. What a wonderful idea, which has spread in popularity in recent years.
Jackson aims to block BU biolab, again
City councilor and mayoral candidate Tito Jackson is proposing an ordinance that would block Boston University from ramping up work on the world’s deadliest pathogens at the biolab it built near Boston City Hospital, Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub reports. The lab is awaiting final city approvals.
Former Patriot player sentenced to prison for Ponzi scheme
We could make SpyGate and DeflateGate jokes here but we won’t. From USA Today: “Former New York Giants, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots cornerback Will Allen was sentenced to six years in prison and three years of supervised release as well as ordered to pay $16.8 million in restitution by a federal judge on Wednesday for his role in a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. Co-defendant Susan Daub received the same sanctions when U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young announced the sentence in Boston.” The duo ran their scheme through a Massachusetts-based company, Capital Financial Partners.
Many Boston public schools are said to have bad air – Boston Globe
Condo owners weed out smoke – Boston Herald
Affordable housing advocates hold ground at mayor’s office – Boston Herald
Jackson tries again to keep BU Biolab from ramping up – Universal Hub
State asks for bids for $2M North-South rail link study – Boston Globe
Ballot error haunts Lynn override vote – Boston Globe
Baker administration will pay Mass. municipalities’ 2018 early voting costs, if needed – MassLive
Mass. is in ‘no-man’s land’ on legal marijuana, Gov. Charlie Baker says – MassLive
Crowds expected at Southborough Town Meeting – MetroWest Daily News
“Trade is like oxygen’ to the Bay State, head of AIM says – Salem News
Graduation rate drops at Gloucester High School – Gloucester Times
Braintree mayor enters social media world – Patriot Ledger
Entergy takes step toward Pilgrim shutdown – Cape Cod Times
‘Indivisible’ chapters taking root in the Berkshires – Berkshire Eagle
Worcester grapples with graffiti – Worcester Magazine
Worcester seeks to limit traffic around CSX rail yard – Worcester Business Journal
UMD chancellor finalist Robert E. Johnson: ‘Whatever you’re thinking I want to hear it’ – Standard-Times
Massachusetts Rep. Stephen Lynch, a Democrat, says media has been unfair to Trump – Boston.com
Federal judge rules lawsuit over Pittsfield police hiring practices can move forward – Berkshire Eagle
Sessions under fire over Russia meetings – Politico
White House plan would cut EPA staff by one-fifth, eliminating key programs – Washington Post
Obama aides left a trail of intelligence on Russia efforts – New York Times
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