Cancellations and postponements …
Many legislative and State House-related events scheduled for today were either cancelled or postponed because of recent weather conditions. The following events were not officially cancelled or postponed, though people should check to make sure they’re indeed moving ahead as planned.
‘Massachusetts Maple Month’
Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux and Assistant Commissioner Jason Wentworth visit Hardwick Sugar House as part of a tour of maple sugar houses to celebrate ‘Massachusetts Maple Month,’ with later events in Orange, Hancock, Deerfield, Worthington, Hadley and Granville, Hardwick Sugar House, 572 Jackson Rd., Hardwick, 9 a.m.
Bump on Herald radio
Auditor Suzanne Bump is a guest on Boston Herald Radio, 70 Fargo St., Boston, 9:30 a.m.
College financial aid
Attorney General Maura Healey and Treasurer Deb Goldberg announce an education campaign to help students and families in Massachusetts better understand financial aid packages offered by colleges, Attorney General’s Office, One Ashburton Place, 20th Floor, 11 a.m.
Time zone meeting
The special commission to study the state’s time zone holds its second meeting as it considers permanently moving Bay State clocks onto eastern daylight time, Room 222, 11 a.m.
Health performance improvements
Health Policy Commission’s Cost Trends and Market Performance Committee holds a public hearing on a proposed regulation governing provider performance improvement plans, 50 Milk St., Boston, 11:30 a.m.
Governor’s Council holds its weekly meeting with votes possible on the nominations of Claudine Wyner as an associate justice of the Hampden County Division of the Probate and Family Court and Marguerite O’Neill as an administrative judge on the Industrial Accident Board, Council Chamber, Room 360, 12 p.m.
Department of Fire Services holds a graduation ceremony for Career Recruit Firefighter Class 252, One State Rd., Stow, 1 p.m.
‘Ideas of March’
MBTA hosts an ‘Ideas of March’ open house to showcase the more than 3,000 ideas the Focus 40 Team has received on how the MBTA can better serve the region over the next 25 years, MIT Media Lab, 6th Floor, Building E14, 75 Amherst St., Cambridge, 5 p.m.
Gonzalez on the air
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez is scheduled to appear on ‘NightSide,’ WBZ NewsRadio 1030, 9 a.m.
The National Weather Service knew its dire forecasts were wrong?
They may not know it, but weather forecasters are setting themselves up to become the weather boy who cries wolf, if this report from the Herald’s Jules Crittendon is true (and there’s no reason to believe it’s not true): “The National Weather Service knew ahead of yesterday’s snowfall that the storm wasn’t likely to live up to its hype, but meteorologists stayed the course ‘out of extreme caution,’ saying they didn’t want to confuse the public.” The chief of forecast operations said a last-minute change downgrading snowfall totals might have given people the wrong message that the storm was no longer a threat, Jules writes.
Meanwhile, Kim Ring at the Telegram takes a good shot at forecasters: “If the meteorologists at the National Weather Service didn’t know before Tuesday about the ‘Moonlight’/’La La Land’ mix-up last month at the Oscars, they do now.”
Closings and cleaning up …
Though yesterday’s snowfall didn’t live up to the pre-storm hype, it was still a brutal day of white-outs, high winds, floods and lots of car accidents across the region. Rhode Island was hit particularly hard, the Globe reports, while traffic accidents were the norm from New Hampshire to Boston’s Zakim Bridge, the Herald reports. At one point 60,000 people lost power across the region, reports MassLive. Methuen residents took to shelter yesterday due to power outages, reports the Eagle-Tribune. Btw: Lawrence, not Worcester, can claim blizzard bragging rights, reports Boston.com.
Today, many schools will be closed as snow clearing and cleaning up continues. The Globe has a statewide list of area school closures and delays. Many government and business events have also been postponed or cancelled, according to media reports.
Storm forecast casualty: AG’s fundraiser
From the Herald: “School wasn’t the only casualty of yesterday’s blustery nor’easter: Politics were put on hold, too. Attorney General Maura Healey, who’s publicly batted down questions of a potential gubernatorial run, postponed until next week a $50-a-head fundraiser scheduled for tonight, according to her campaign committee.”
UMass-Boston trustees reduce day-to-day powers of chancellor Motley
So now we know why the former president of Bowdoin College was recently brought into the administration. From Laura Krantz at the Globe: “Concerned about persistent financial problems at UMass Boston, the university board of trustees has significantly diluted chancellor J. Keith Motley’s authority in the day-to-day running of the institution. Trustees have allowed Motley’s contract to expire and have hired former Bowdoin College president Barry Mills to oversee the nuts-and-bolts operation of the urban campus. On Monday, officials also named a new campus budget chief, replacing the longtime chief financial officer, who was fired in January.”
Marijuana industry may throw money at its legislative problem
Frustrated with legislative moves to change the Yes on 4 marijuana-legalization initiative approved by voters last fall, a leading marijuana advocate said his industry group is prepared to spend more money to make the case that legislative changes violate the voter-approved law, reports SHNS’s Colin Young at the BBJ.
Probe into New York FBI agents may imperil Western Mass. mob case
From Stephanie Barry at MassLive: “FBI agents in New York may have imperiled a sweeping RICO case that triggered the arrests of 46 reputed mobsters from (Springfield) to South Florida in August, according to reports. The New York Post published a story based on a leaked report from prosecutors to defense lawyers regarding an internal investigation of three agents and potential missteps with a key government witness.” Five alleged mob figures in the Springfield area were busted as part of a larger crackdown on organized crime families in New York, Barry writes.
Lynch predicts photo finish on health care bill
U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch said any vote in the House on a Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will likely be decided by a razor-thin margin, adding that members of the GOP who have been openly critical of the legislation may be forced into line by threats from the White House to campaign against them in 2018. Lynch also told Tori Bedford of WGBH that he sees Massachusetts and other states playing a larger role in providing a health care safety net.
Gruber: GOP health plan is rigged to lose like a carnival game
Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economist and one of the main architects of ObamaCare, is comparing the alternative House Republican health plan to a rigged carnival game, writes Jessica Bartlett at the BBJ. “Finding the winners here reminds me of this scene from my favorite movie as a child (The Jerk Carnival),” Gruber said. “Republicans are pointing to a large shelf of gifts but they only apply to a very small slice of the population.”
Teachers union mulls protest amid stalled talks
The Boston Teachers Union is calling on its members to make a show of force at an upcoming school committee meeting in the hopes of moving forward contract talks stalled since last August, Kathleen McKiernan of the Herald reports. A major sticking point appears to be how the district should handle—and pay—teachers who are in limbo between permanent classroom assignments.
Is it time for a new state oversight board for police?
In the wake of discrimination allegations against the Massachusetts State Police, Rep. Russell Holmes, a Mattapan Democrat, is hoping lawmakers are more receptive this year to the idea of creating a new state licensing commission that can revoke police licenses in cases of proven misconduct, writes the Globe’s Nestor Ramos. Gov. Charlie Baker is largely mum on the controversy now swirling around the State Police, saying it’s difficult to speak on the issue due to the tangle of discrimination lawsuits facing the agency.
State in talks with Greenway abutters to replace public funds with their funds
We’re going to blame the storm for missing this one the other day. From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said on Monday that the Greenway Conservancy’s $2 million-a-year state subsidy will end on July 1 and she is working with abutters to help fill the gap. ‘We are in active talks with the Conservancy and abutters,’ Pollack said at a meeting of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation board. ‘Those conversations are going well.’”
Trump’s next U.S. attorney in Boston unlikely to let Mayor Walsh off the legal hook
Daniel Medwed writes at WGBH that a new U.S. attorney in Boston is unlikely to take the pressure off Mayor Marty Walsh and two of his aides caught up in the pending federal extortion case at City Hall. “While there is always a chance that a new U.S. attorney will abandon existing investigations and cases, it seems doubtful that a Trump appointee would relinquish the case, which (a) is quite far down the litigation road and (b) casts aspersions on a liberal, Democratic mayor who has been an outspoken opponent of the president.” Fyi: Medwed thinks the leading contenders for U.S. attorney here are Brian Kelly, a private attorney with experience as an assistant federal prosecutor, and Michael Loucks, former first assistant U.S. attorney.
Arroyo: Court administrator has ‘orchestrated’ independent investigation
Suspended Suffolk County Register of Probate Felix D. Arroyo is accusing court administrator Harry Spence of playing an “apparently orchestrated” role in the probe of Arroyo’s office, feeding questions behind-the-scenes to a retired judge leading the investigation and manipulating the process, writes the Herald’s Jack Encarnacao.
UMass-Medical scores a bragging-rights point against Harvard Medical
The UMass Medical School in Worcester ranked higher than Harvard Medical in programs for primary-care physicians, according to the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings of graduate schools, reports the BBJ’s Greg Ryan. UMass Medical chancellor is crowing a bit. Hey, why not? But Harvard did rank No. 1 in the nation in medical research and Harvard Business School ranked tops in its field, as Boston Magazine reports.
Hotels pressed by police and Tito to do more in fight against sex trafficking
Boston Police are working with city hotels to keep watch on those who use rented rooms for “opioid-driven sex trafficking,” reports Chris Villani at the Herald. City councilor and mayoral candidate Tito Jackson says too many patrons are allowed by hotels to simply rent rooms at the last minute via smartphones, bypassing front-desk registration and making it easier to use hotels for sex trafficking.
Report: State vague on details about ‘MCAS 2.0’
Doug Page at Bay State Parent writes that state education officials are still not providing many details about the new grades 3 through 8 standardized test dubbed ‘MCAS 2.0,’ described as a sort of hybrid between “the aging MCAS and the controversial Common Core-aligned PARCC exam.” Page notes that students are scheduled to take the new standardized test this month “but it’s unclear how new the test really is.”
Time zone change: Good for health and economy?
A legislative commission meets today to further explore the idea of scrapping the twice-a-year change of clocks for daylight saving time – and Christian Wade at the Newburyport Daily News looks at the pros and cons of such a move. The key remains: Will the rest of New England ever go along with this move? If not, it’s going to be a hard sell on Beacon Hill.
Tribe has a good friend in Washington
The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, whose First Light casino project in Taunton was put on lockdown by the courts, may have a strong ally in the form of new Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Chris Lindahl of the Cape Cod Times reports. The feds have yet to say if they’ll challenge a court ruling that the Department of the Interior erred when it allowed the tribe to take the Taunton land into trust, but Zinke is known to favor tribal land rights.
‘Resident aliens’ may get another vote in Wayland
Voters in Wayland this spring will once again decide whether to ask the state to extend the right to vote in local elections to non-citizen permanent legal residents, Brian Benson of the MetroWest Daily News reports. The town has twice before voted to extend rights to so-called resident aliens, only to have the resulting legislation stall before lawmakers.
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