Happening Today

SJC cases

The Supreme Judicial Court hears a number of cases, including Robert Ajemian v. Yahoo! Inc., which concerns access to a deceased person’s email account, John Adams Courthouse, Courtroom One, Second Floor, Pemberton Square, Boston, 9 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.

Budget hearing

Hearings on Gov. Charlie Baker’s $40.5 billion fiscal 2018 budget bill get started today before the Joint Ways and Means Committee, co-chaired by Rep. Brian Dempsey and Sen. Karen Spilka, Rooms A-1 and A-2, 10 a.m.

Delta CEO at BC Club

Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta, is the featured guest at the Boston College Chief Executives Club luncheon, Oriental Ballroom, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 776 Boylston St., Boston, 12 p.m.

Behavioral Health Care

Reps. Jack Lewis and Natalie Higgins host a lunch meeting with Association for Behavioral Health Care to learn more about the mental health and addiction treatment system, House Members’ Lounge, third floor, State House, 1 p.m.

Water Resources Commission

Massachusetts Water Resources Commission meets to get an update on drought conditions, hear a presentation on statewide groundwater storage changes and discuss the commission’s fiscal 2016 annual report, 100 Cambridge St. – Conference Room 2B, Boston, 1 p.m.

ObamaCare replacement update

Health care workers, providers, and advocates plan a press conference to talk about ‘major health and economic consequences facing Massachusetts’ if Congressional Republicans’ proposed Obamacare replacement is passed, Old South Church, 645 Boylston St., Boston, 2 p.m.

Lynch on the air

U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch is a scheduled guest on ‘Radio Boston,’ WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m.

Federal transportation talk

Representatives from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Barr Foundation, Transportation for America, Smart Growth America, ML Strategies and others will discuss the possible $1 trillion infrastructure bill being crafted by the Trump administration, the Lighthouse at CIC Boston, 50 Milk St., Boston, 4 p.m.

Headed to Utah

Gov. Charlie Baker is vacationing in Utah.

Today’s Stories

Five inches of snow?

To avoid sowing too much panic around the state, it should be noted that the five inches of snow forecasters are predicting for tomorrow will likely occur in the southeast part of the state, as the Globe reports. The rest of us get off lighter. Still, any snow at this point is depressing.

State EPA slowly gutted over the years

This stretches back all the way through the Patrick administration years, it should be noted. From the Globe’s David Abel: “Over the past decade, the state Department of Environmental Protection’s enforcement of air and water quality rules has fallen off sharply, as the agency’s workforce shrunk by nearly a third, according to a Globe review of state records. Enforcement actions for serious violations have dropped by more than half, statistics show, as inspections also declined. Fines collected from violators plummeted during the same period by nearly 75 percent.”

By coincidence, while the Globe was putting the pre-print finishing touches on its EPA story, Gov. Baker yesterday was touting legislation to “bring Massachusetts in line with 46 other states by allowing the Department of Environmental Protection to administer a federal water quality protection program,” reports SHNS’s Colin Young at the Telegram. The governor also “highlighted support from Democrats as his administration makes a second attempt at assuming state control of the program.”

Boston Globe

‘A Day With Fewer Women in the Office’

Clearly, yesterday’s ‘A Day Without Women’ strike wasn’t nearly as successful as the huge women’s marches earlier this year, as reported by the Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert and Katie Johnston, who throw out the alternative names of ‘A Day With Fewer Women in the Office’ or ‘A Day Spent Conspicuously Wearing Red’ as perhaps better descriptions of yesterday’s rallies and gatherings. But you can’t blame those who participated for not trying. The Globe has photos from rallies in Boston and Cambridge yesterday. Meanwhile, MassLive has multiple stories about protests in Northampton and Holyoke and UMass. The Herald has its own story on the spirited protest in downtown Boston. The Telegram reports on a protest in Sturbridge. SouthCost Today reports on what businesswomen did in New Bedford.

New journal aiming to ‘intellectualize Trumpism’ rolled out at Harvard Club

To be clear, a new journal attempting to give “intellectual heft and coherence” to, for lack of other words, Trumpism was rolled out at the Harvard Club, not by the Harvard Club, as reported by the NYT. The initial press run of the quarterly American Affairs was 300. How it makes sense of Trumpism and its daily tweets and turns should be fascinating. 


R.I. lawmaker: State House boozing in Providence ‘blows my mind’

Freshman Rep. Moira Walsh, a Providence Democrat, said the most surprising thing she’s learned about the Rhode Island State House is that lawmakers sure love their cocktails and cold ones. “The drinking,” she told WPRO. “It is the drinking that blows my mind. You can not operate a motor vehicle when you’ve had two beers but you can make laws that effect people’s lives forever when you’re half in the bag?  That’s outrageous!”


Transgender gubernatorial candidate: ‘Because I’m transgender, I’m not allowed to support Trump?’

In yet another New England state, Jacey Wyatt, a transgender candidate for governor in Connecticut, thinks, among other things, that Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy is spending too much time criticizing North Carolina’s transgender bathroom law and not enough time trying to keep companies like General Electric from moving out of state, according to CTPost. As for President Trump, Wyatt says: “Don’t worry, me and Trump will be fine together. Because I’m transgender, I’m not allowed to support Trump?”


Warren, Kennedy and hospital groups step up criticism of GOP ObamaCare plan

Assuming House Republican leaders can beat back a conservative insurrection in their own party over plans to wipe out large components of the Affordable Care Act, the GOP will still have to surmount growing opposition from Democrats and, interestingly, industry groups. Talking Points Memo reports how major hospital and other health-care groups are voicing their opposition to the GOP proposal.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is warning that the Republican alternative to ObamaCare will “tear apart” Massachusetts’ health-care system, reports Tori Bedford at WGBH. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III denounced the House blueprint for showing “no mercy” toward the most vulnerable in society, as he tweetedyesterday and according to a report at the Globe. Is there anyone around here who actually likes what House Republicans are doing? Answer: Yes, Scott Brown, who says the plan is a “good first start,” reports the Herald.

Amid outcry, St. Pats parade organizers plan another vote on excluding gay vets group

It was déjà vu all over again yesterday with pols and other denouncing the organizers of the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade for voting to exclude a gay veterans group from the event, a highly controversial move that seemed to come from the way-back-machine politics of yesteryear. Gov. Baker emotionally criticized the ban and suggested he’d find something else to do on Sunday, reports CommonWealth magazine. Mayor Marty Walsh unloaded on the organizers, saying their anti-gay sentiments are “so old,” reports MassLive (with video). A veteran who was to lead the parade quit in protest of the ban, reports Universal Hub.

But the Herald’s Matt Stout and Chris Villani say that some are pushing for another vote today or tomorrow to overturn the controversial ban, though both sides seem to be digging in their heels on the issue.

Anti-abortion protestors hound Gov. Baker

Next time someone urges the Republican Gov. Charlie Baker to act more like a liberal Democrat, remember that he does have real and potential critics to contend with in his own party. SHNS’s Matt Murphy notes at the Lowell Sun how more than 100 anti-abortion activists protested outside the first-floor press room in the State House while Baker was holding a press conference on water quality legislation.

Lowell Sun

Despite conservative grumbling, Baker unlikely to face primary challenger

Anti-abortion activists and other conservatives may be upset with Baker, but they concede the moderate (and very popular) Republican is unlikely to face a GOP primary challenge, the Globe’s Jim O’Sullivan reports. 

In other 2018 gubernatorial news, Jim O’Sullivan is also reporting that Newton mayor Setti Warren, still a non-official Democratic candidate, has picked up an interesting corporate backer.

Marijuana committee shoots for June bill

The Legislature’s new marijuana committee is aiming to have a bill ready for action by June, reports Colin Young at SHNS. Committee members certainly have a full plate. Check out all the different factions members plan to consult. “Some of the people we had in mind were the proponents, the treasurer, the attorney general, (the Department of Public Health), Gaming Commission, the governor, agriculture, Department of Revenue,” said Senate Co-chair Sen. Patricia Jehlen. And that’s the short list.

SHNS (pay wall)

The case of the disappearing tax refunds

The Department of Revenue says a computer glitch led to thousands of state income tax refund payments being withdrawn from taxpayers’ bank accounts shortly after they arrived by electronic deposit, Jessica Reyes of Fox25 Boston reports. New payments are expected this week but still unclear is whether DOR will pay any overdraft fees incurred by confused taxpayers. 


Herald going all out to promote Howie’s Kennedy-bashing book

In case you didn’t notice, the Herald is providing big excerpt spreads this week from Howie Carr’s new book “Kennedy Babylon Vol. 1,” basically a tired rehashing of old anti-Kennedy tales. Today’s installment: The Marilyn Monroe connection.

Boston Herald

FBI Director: ‘You’re stuck with me’

He said it as a sort of joke, but, with all the controversy surrounding the FBI these days, FBI Director James Comey’s “you’re stuck with me for about 6 1/2 years” line at Boston College yesterday seemed to have a little extra meaning, as reported by NPR. The Herald has more on Comey’s BC appearance, including his warnings about cyber threats to the nation.


Baker condemns ‘horribly destructive and disturbing behavior’ toward Jewish groups

From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “Gov. Charlie Baker said state government is working with the FBI and law enforcement to investigate recent bomb threats made to Jewish institutions in Massachusetts and to protect residents. ‘This is horribly destructive and disturbing behavior and activity,’ Baker said Wednesday. ‘I thank God that so far it’s just been threats and not anything more than that,’ although he noted that there have been isolated incidents of religious-based violence.”


Those alimony reforms passed five years ago? The acrimony remains

It’s been five years since Stephen Hitner and others successfully pushed for alimony reforms on Beacon Hill. But Adam Reilly at WGBH writes that alimony-payment disputes haven’t gone away: “The state court system doesn’t track alimony awards, so quantifying the law’s effect thus far is difficult. But one thing is certain: It hasn’t been as effective as Hitner and others hoped it would be, thanks to a controversial set of rulings by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court.”


Environmentalists and developers charged up over electric-vehicle hookups

Like cats and dogs fighting, environmentalists and developers are going at it again on Beacon Hill, with environmentalists pushing for mandatory electrical-line hookups for electric vehicles in new homes and commercial buildings, as reported by Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine. Developers counter that customers don’t want: A.) electric vehicles and B.) the extra costs associated with them.


Brewers guild and distributors in compromise talks over franchise laws

Speaking of cats-and-dog fighting on Beacon Hill, the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett reports that the Massachusetts Brewers Guild and the Beer Distributors of Massachusetts are in talks over a potential compromise on franchise laws that govern brewer-distributor relationships. Why the state regulates such relationships in such minute detail is beyond us, but any compromise that potentially weakens monopolistic practices is welcome.


With Cypher’s confirmation, Baker appointees now control the SJC

The Governor’s Council yesterday unanimously confirmed Judge Elspeth “Ellie” Cypher, an appeals court judge, to the Supreme Judicial Court, making her the fourth justice on the seven-member court to be appointed by Gov. Charlie Baker, the Associated Press reports at WBUR. The other Baker appointees on the SJC are Frank Gaziano, David Lowy and Kimberly Budd. http://www.wbur.org/news/2017/03/08/cypher-supreme-judicial-court .

Herald News

Taxpayer Foundation: Baker’s insurance assessment based on ‘flawed premise’

When the Baker administration decided to slap an expensive assessment (and many call it an outright tax) on businesses that don’t meet proposed health insurance requirements, it said it was doing so partly because escalating MassHealth costs were tied to people shifting from private corporate coverage to public coverage. The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation’s reaction: Wrong, wrong, wrong. SHNS’s Matt Murphy at Banker & Tradesman has the details.

Banker & Tradesman

Here’s an idea: Instead of cutting Metco, how about expanding it?

In a Globe op-ed, Cheryl Brown Henderson, whose father was a lead plaintiff in the famous Brown v. Board of Education case, and Jim Stergios, head of the Pioneer Institute, think that Metco’s voluntary school desegregation success has earned it the right for more support from the state: “Despite its success, per-pupil state funding for Metco declined by 18 percent between 2007 and 2014, even as funding for the school districts Metco students attend rose by a third. It’s a good thing districts saw an increase, since state money covers only a fraction of the costs they incur to educate the program’s students.”

Boston Globe

Should Boston return to elected school board?

The Boston chapter of the NAACP says it will form a group to study whether the city should return to electing its school committee, Kathleen McKiernan of the Herald reports. The board has been appointed by the city’s mayor since 1991 and Mayor Marty Walsh says through a spokesperson he supports keeping it that way so “politics stay out of the city’s education system.” 

Boston Herald

Brockton mayor sees downside to homeless milestone

The Baker administration’s push to end the state’s practice of housing homeless families in motels has been touted as a major success story, but Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter says it is creating a new fiscal burden on his city as it pays to transport scores of people back into the city from shelters around the area, Marc Larocque of the Enterprise reports. 


Amid probe, feds ask Gloucester to delay police chief search

The U.S. Attorney’s office is asking the Gloucester to delay its search for a new police chief while it investigates the department and its former chief, Leonard Campanello, Ray Lamont of the Gloucester Times reports. Campanello was allowed to retire in January and the city has set aside funds for an audit of the department that is also in a holding pattern while the feds investigate. 

Gloucester Times

Et tu, France?

There’s no local angle here per se, except the fact that France is poised to go through what we’ve gone through here with a new populist conservative president, assuming right-wing Marine Le Pen wins the presidential race later this year in France. “We are now bracing ourselves for the possible impossible,” Sylvie Kauffmann, the editorial director and a former editor in chief of France’s Le Monde, writes in an op-ed at the NYT.


Today’s Headlines


City Council affirms ‘sanctuary status’ for Boston Public Schools – Boston Magazine

Outvet’s parade ban brings pols backlash, a new vote – Boston Herald

Council OKs new deal with patrolmen union – Boston Herald


Mass. tax refunds unexpectedly withdrawn from thousands of accounts – Fox25

GE CEO Jeff Immelt’s pay package dropped, again – Boston Business Journal

Worcester among most overlooked travel destinations – Worcester Business Journal

Lowell Board of Parks rejects lifting restriction on Cawley Stadium site for new high school – Lowell Sun

Emotional Baker nixes walking in St. Pat’s parade – CommonWealth Magazine

Along the political red line in Central Mass., voters wanted change – WBUR

Rivera wants to hire more drug and gang workers – Eagle-Tribune

Police probe delaying chief search – Gloucester Times

Judge hears arguments in Cape right-to-die case – Cape Cod Times

Joe Kennedy III rips GOP health care plan – Boston Globe

James Comey warns of ‘evil cyberthreats’ – Boston Herald

State considers taking over federal water quality program – MassLive

Massport in no rush to take over Worcester’s Union Station – Telegram & Gazette

Sudbury: Selectmen endorse nearly $1.1 million override – MetroWest Daily News


The CIA document dump isn’t exactly Snowden 2.0. Here’s why – NPR

How Trump could soon be at war with Yellen – Politico

White House says Trump isn’t being investigated – New York Times

Trump administration considers $6 billion cut to HUD budget – Washington Post

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