Happening Today

Commonwealth Avenue Bridge replacement

Department of Transportation holds a press briefing on the upcoming summer project to replace the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge in Boston, Transportation Board Meeting Room, Second Floor, 10 Park Plaza, 10 a.m.

Everett’s new hotel

Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Sen. Sal DiDomenico, and Rep. Joseph McGonagle are among those participating in the grand opening of enVision Hotel Everett, 1834 Revere Beach Pkwy., Everett, 11 a.m.

Foundation budget press conference

Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz holds a press conference on her Act Modernizing the Foundation Budget for the 21st Century, Room 428, 11 a.m.

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Honoring former Sen. Panagiotakos

UMass Lowell holds a ceremony to name the lobby of its new academic research center for former state Sen. Steven Panagiotakos, with Rep. David Nangle, UMass President Marty Meehan, UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney and Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Julie Chen among those attending, 40 University Ave., Lowell, 11:15 a.m.

Hospital choice presentation

The Health Policy Commission and researchers from Tufts Medical School present findings on research evaluating patients’ choice of community hospitals versus medical centers, and Harvard researchers present how tiered network plans affect hospital choice and overall spending, UMass Club, Amherst conference Room, One Beacon St., Boston, 11:30 a.m.

House budget release

The House Ways and Means Committee plans an executive session to vote on its fiscal 2018 budget proposal, with members later holding a press conference to discuss their proposal, with the session in room A-1, 11:30 a.m., and the press conference in the House members’ lounge, 1 p.m.

Judiciary Committee

Ahead of an April 26 deadline for reports on proposed constitutional amendments, the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on a half dozen bills to amend the state’s constitution, Room A-2, 1 p.m.

Municipalities Committee

Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government holds a hearing on 13 home rule petitions, including one that would authorize Somerville to borrow funds to pay costs of the Green Line extension, room B-2, 1 p.m.

Revenue Committee

Refiled bills that were reported out of the Revenue Committee favorably last session will be the subject of a hearing, including legislation that would allow municipalities to create taxes for regional transportation needs, Room B-2, 1 p.m.

Commonwealth Kitchen

Gov. Charlie Baker visits Commonwealth Kitchen with Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton, Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux, Assistant Secretary for Communities and Programs Juan Vega and local officials, 196 Quincy St, Boston, 2 p.m.

Chang-Diaz on the air

Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz talks about education funding on ‘Radio Boston,’ WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m.

Marijuana Policy Committee

Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy holds a hearing at Shrewsbury High School, 64 Holden St., Shrewsbury, 4 p.m.

Healey on electric rates

Attorney General Maura Healey will testify at a Department of Public Utilities public hearing about concerns she has with Western Massachusetts Electric Company’s request to increase its customers’ rates, Berkshire Athenaeum Public Library, 1 Wendell Ave., Pittsfield, 6 p.m.

Today’s Stories

UMass-Boston roiled by racial concerns and course cuts

Supporters of UMass Boston chancellor J. Keith Motley, who announced he’s stepping down amid severe financial problems at the school, rallied at the State House over the weekend, saying Motley is being used as a convenient scapegoat for lack of board oversight at the college, reports the Herald’s Kathleen McKiernan. “Let’s be real. This is starting to feel like systemic attack on black leadership and we have to take a stand,” said NAACP Boston President Tanisha Sullivan, referring to the pressure on Motley, an African-American, to step aside. Meanwhile, UMass Boston faculty members are upset at the abrupt elimination of 20 courses this summer and more cancellations to come next fall, in a move that came without warning or consultation with faculty, reports the Globe’s Laura Krantz.

Meanwhile at Gordon College …

UMass-Boston isn’t the only area campus being rocked by controversy these days. All seven members of the faculty Senate at Gordon College have resigned over the denial of tenure to a professor who has criticized the Christian school’s opposition to same-sex relationships, writes the Globe’s Michael Levenson.

Boston Globe

Black leaders decry media coverage of Tito Jackson’s mayoral candidacy

From coverage of Tito Jackson’s past job as a pharmaceutical salesman to his racking up more than 100 parking tickets, some of the city’s black leaders are starting to notice a pattern in the media’s coverage of Jackson’s mayoral bid: Largely trivial gotcha stories aimed at Jackson. And they’re right! The Herald’s Jack Encarnacao has more.

Boston Herald

Rallying around Felix Arroyo

While we’re at it, might as well point out that minority lawmakers are also rallying around suspended Suffolk County Register of Probate Felix D. Arroyo, yet another minority that has been ousted/pressured/whatever from office (read down to the second item in the Herald story to see the latest in the Arroyo saga).

Who needs a north-south rail link when we could have a north-south double-decker bus link?

From Greg Ryan at the BBJ: “A private local bus operator has proposed a double-decker bus service to carry commuters between North Station, South Station and South Boston, touting it as a relatively inexpensive link between the city’s two train hubs.”

BBJ

Western Massachusetts versus Eastern Massachusetts: Not much of a difference

Sure, rural areas of Massachusetts voted for Donald Trump while eastern areas of the state voted for Hillary Clinton. But the Globe’s Evan Horowitz crunches the income and other economic numbers and finds there’s not all that much of a difference between western and eastern Massachusetts. But he does add these qualifiers: “There is a gaping demographic divide. Fully 95 percent of the residents of Massachusetts’ most thinly populated towns are non-Hispanic whites. In the most crowded municipalities, that number is just 60 percent. More generally, rural towns face distinct local challenges: transportation rather than charter schools, accommodating aging populations rather than immigrants.”

Those are rather big qualifiers, some of which John Hockridge addresses below.

Boston Globe

The Berkshires’ aging population and education woes

John Hockridge takes a look at a major pressing problem facing the Berkshires, something you don’t see too much of in eastern Massachusetts: “Berkshire County has seen a decline of more than 20 percent in school district enrollment since 2000, with another 10 percent-plus decline anticipated over the next decade. This has gone hand in hand with a steep reduction in overall population as job opportunities disappeared with the loss of major employers and as the post-graduate youth population left the area in search of more lucrative opportunities.”

CommonWealth

Holyoke’s bruising CPA battle was really about a city adjusting to change

Holyoke’s city council rammed through approval of a Communities Preservation Act over the objections of Mayor Alex Morse. But it wasn’t a classic council-versus-mayor showdown, but rather an old-guard-versus-new-guard battle over a slowly changing city, writes Matt Szafranski at Western Mass Politics and Insight.

WMPI

Brockton braces for school cuts — and maybe court action

Facing a $16 million budget chasm created in part by a drop in state aid, Brockton school officials are preparing a stark spending plan for next year that includes the closing of at least one middle school and the elimination of after-school activities, adult education, and mentoring programs, Anna Burgess of the Enterprise reports. The cuts are sure to fire up the grass roots and come at a sensitive time: Last week, education leaders in Worcester said they would reach out to Brockton to explore the idea of a lawsuit to challenge the way the state distributes education funding to poorer districts. 

Enterprise

NYT weighs in on DuBois warning controversy, way down in the story

Speaking of Brockton, the NYT takes a look at how communities with large immigrant communities are susceptible these days to waves of panic and rumors about alleged ICE raids, with the piece focusing on the recent raid rumors in Brockton. State Rep. Michelle DuBois’s role in the rumor spreading is covered about one-third of the way through the story. Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson also makes a cameo appearance in the tick-tock piece.

NYT

Immigration enforcement push drives undocumented into shadows

Advocates and attorneys in Lawrence say undocumented immigrants are increasingly retreating from public view, withdrawing their children from Head Start and other programs that require them to make their identities public, as the federal government ramps up immigration-law enforcement, Keith Eddings of the Eagle-Tribune reports. 

Eagle-Tribune

Sheffield farmer becomes voice for would-be pot growers

Sheffield farmer Ted Dobson has become a leading voice for allowing the state’s existing agriculture sector to earn a share of the coming billion-dollar legal-marijuana windfall, Heather Bellow of the Berkshire Eagle reports. Dobson’s main arguments — that the Question 4 initiative was written to favor the existing medical marijuana industry and that farms should be allowed to grow outdoor marijuana crops in secure locations — appear to be winning some support among Western Mass. lawmakers. 

Berkshire Eagle

No shortage of people nominating themselves to serve on pot commission

Lawmakers may end up stripping away Treasurer Deb Goldberg’s authority, as called for in Question 4, to regulate the state’s nascent marijuana industry. But that hasn’t stopped people from applying to Goldberg’s office to serve on a marijuana commission that’s supposed to be created under Question 4, reports the Herald’s Matt Stout.

Boston Herald

That’s one big bald eagle to have saved

Take a look at the size of the injured bald eagle that construction workers recently rescued in Suffield, as reported by Jeanette DeForge at MassLive. It’s not only big, it looks really angry.

MassLive

The Healey-for-governor speculation won’t end till she runs or begs for mercy

Is there a secret cabal of reporters and pundits determined to torment and keep Attorney General Maura Healey’s name in the running for governor, whether she likes it or not? Just speculating about the speculating. The latest Healey-for-governor speculation comes this morning via the Herald’s Hillary Chabot.

Boston Herald

Dems don’t need another camel-by-committee platform

Jake Auchincloss, a Newton city councilor-at-large, thinks his fellow Democrats need to craft a party platform focusing on issues and solutions that increase opportunities for everyone, rather than a laundry list of issues, gripes and platitudes that resemble a camel designed by a committee.

CommonWealth

Hepatitis C drug costs balloon – and with them the state’s Medicaid budget

Before any taxes are raised to balance the state’s budget, can someone please explain how new revenues are going to help if health-care prices keep rising at ridiculous rates, like hepatitis C medicines that have quadrupled in price in the past two years alone, costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars? Christian Wade at the Gloucester Times  has the details.

Gloucester Times

Report: Healey should press medical providers to reveal procedure costs to patients

Speaking of health-care costs, a new Pioneer Institute report plans to call on Attorney General Maura Healey to press health-care providers to regularly reveal to patients the actual cost of planned medical procedures, saying Healey needs to “assert leadership” on price-transparency matters, reports Laurel Sweet at the Herald.  

Boston Herald

Growing alarm over rise in sexually transmitted diseases in Massachusetts

Also from Christian Wade, this time at the Newburyport Daily News: “Health officials are alarmed by a steady rise in sexually transmitted disease, with cases reaching record levels in recent years. Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis – three of the most common STDs – are becoming more prevalent in the state and nationally, especially among young people and minority groups more at risk, health officials say.”

Newburyport Daily News

Mayor to offer compromise on Winthrop Square shadows

Mayor Marty Walsh plans to offer a compromise plan that would allow the proposed Winthrop Square tower to be built while at the same time limiting future development near open spaces, reports the Globe’s Tim Logan. It’s all about shadows. Meanwhile, City Councilor Bill Linehan apparently has his own shadow plans, reports the Herald’s Donna Goodison. The BBJ’s Catherine Carlock has more on the Winthrop Square project.

State Republicans push for Internet privacy just eliminated by national Republicans

This is interesting: State GOP lawmakers have filed legislation that would bar Internet providers from using or selling data about Internet users’ browsing histories without the consent of individual users, less than a week after President Trump signed GOP-backed legislation that does just the opposite — effectively allowing Internet providers to use and sell such data, reports the Globe’s Hiawatha Bray. The Herald’s Jordan Graham has more on the Beacon Hill privacy push.

Is the craft beer revolution about to be snuffed out?

Boston Beer Co. founder Jim Koch argues in the New York Times that while we may well be living in the golden age of craft-brewed beer, darker days may lie ahead. By allowing global brewers and distributors alike to consolidate, regulators may end up squeezing out the small-batch brewers who have transformed and revived the suds industry in recent years, Koch writes. “Get some craft brewers together, and they’ll tell you that if we continue down this path, we may be witnessing the beginning of the end of the American craft beer revolution.”

NYT

It’s started: The best holiday in Massachusetts

We had never heard of Bedford’s pre-Patriots Day Liberty Pole Capping festival, as reported and photographed over the weekend at Wicked Local. But if it marks the beginning of the area’s Patriots Day celebrations, we’re all for it, for Patriots Day is ours and ours alone, a non-commercialized day of historic re-enactments, baseball, the Marathon and the unofficial start of spring. Quick questions: Why are those evil Red Coats trying to prevent people from climbing the Liberty Pole? Are there no liberties they won’t try to quash?

Wicked Local

‘Time for our annual copter-based pre-Marathon background-radiation checkup’

Finally, one last pre-Patriots Day item, via Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin, who reports the National Nuclear Security Administration was busy at work this past weekend.

Universal Hub

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Leaders rip Tito Jackson’s media coverage – Boston Herald

UMass Boston rallies around departing chancellor – Boston Globe

Mayor proposes deal on Winthrop Square tower, shadows – Boston Globe

Massachusetts

Futuristic travel could be coming to the SouthCoast – WBSM

New projects transforming Marlborough into well-rounded city – Worcester Business Journal

Brockton braces for middle school closure, program cuts – Brockton Enteprise

$25 million cleanup avoided as Worcester buys land for open space – Telegram & Gazette

Town facing possible lawsuit over moped enforcement – Cape Cod Times

Taunton officials fly to DC to fight $25M EPA wastewater upgrade – Taunton Gazette

Deportation push is driving some immigrants into hiding – Eagle-Tribune

In the Berkshires a school crisis—and an opportunity – CommonWealth Magazine

Nation

How Merrick Garland could torment Trump – Politico

GOP begins to fret about holding onto Tom Price’s Georgia seat – Washington Post

Democrats warn of conflicts in Trump taking on tax code – New York Times

Google accused of underpaying female employees – NPR

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