Happening Today

Ethics Commission meets

The State Ethics Commission meets to discuss several topics, including a review of information it plans to forward to the Legislature’s ethics task force. One Ashburton Pl. – Room 619, Boston, 9 a.m. 

Opioid task force

Middlesex District Attorney Ryan hosts a meeting of the Eastern Middlesex Opioid Task Force, which brings together law enforcement, health care professionals and addiction and recovery specialists to talk about the opioid crisis. Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Regis Nursing Building, 170 Governors Ave., Medford, 10 a.m. 

Baker unveils energy programs

Gov. Charlie Baker will be joined by Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton, Commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources Judith Judson and Assistant Secretary of Housing and Community Development Susan Terrey in an announcement of new programs aimed at increasing affordable access to clean energy and energy efficiency. 37 Hargrave Circle, Newton Highlands, 10:30 a.m.

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Tong Business Center opening

UMass Lowell celebrates the opening of the Pulichino Tong Business Center. Attendees include alumnus John Pulichino and his wife Joy Tong, for whom the buliding is named, as well as Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and UMass President Marty Meehan. 72 University Ave., Lowell, 11 a.m. 

Committee on Election Laws

The legislature’s Joint Committee on Election Laws will hold hearings on three bills proposing changes to the state constitution, including two that would change how redistricting is handled. State House, Room A-1, 1 p.m. 

Markey/Keating town hall

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey and Congressman William Keating hold a joint town hall meeting with constituents. 70 Route 28, Nauset Regional Middle School, Orleans 6 p.m. 

Today’s Stories

Sanders backer Feeney joins Timilty fray

Former Foxboro Selectman Paul Feeney is the latest Democrat to formally enter the already-crowded field of candidates seeking to fill the state Senate seat soon to be vacated by James Timilty, Jim Hand of the Sun-Chronicle reports. Feeney, a former chief of staff for Timilty, served as Bay State coordinator for the presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and spoke at the Democratic National Convention on Sanders’ behalf. No date has been set for the special election to replace Timilty, who will become Norfolk County Treasurer.

Sun-Chronicle

Tom Who?

Despite the late-breaking news about the death of former team member Aaron Hernandez, most of the New England Patriots visited the White House as planned Wednesday. But the visit happened without Super Bowl MVP and franchise face Tom Brady, who announced at the last second he would not make the trip. (In turn, President Trump didn’t mention Brady once during his remarks.) 

For all those reasons, the visit wasn’t as boisterous and light-hearted as past events, the Globe’s Annie Linksy reports, and that tension spilled over later into the news cycle, with the team defending Trump after side-by-side photos tweeted by the New York Times seemed to show a much smaller crowd than two years ago when the team visited then-president Obama. The team pointed out that one photo included staff members, the other did not. 

Meanwhile, Brady’s wife, Gisele Bündchen, needled Trump from afar, tweeting about a climate march to protest the president’s stances as the event was unfolding in the Rose Garden. 

And of course Gronk was, well, Gronk, both in the Oval Office and the press briefing room

Boston Globe

Kraft a $1 million donor to Trump’s inaugural

As the visit was unfolding in Washington, reports began to filter out that Patriots owner Robert Kraft had backed Trump’s inaugural celebration to the tune of one million cool American dollars. Greg Ryan of the Boston Business Journal reports that was enough to make the Kraft Group the largest Boston-area corporate donor to the shindig. 

Boston Business Journal

Will Hernandez suicide bring changes?

Just hours after the early-morning breaking news that Aaron Hernandez had died in a Shirley jail cell, state Sen. Jamie Eldridge called for oversight hearings into how the state’s prison system is approaching jail-cell suicides, Dan Atkinson of the Herald reports. “I think we’ve reached a crisis. It needs to be addressed.”

The Globe’s Eric Moskowitz, meanwhile, reports the state continues to have a high rate of prison suicides compared to the rest of the country and has spiked several times over the past two decades, despite legislative efforts to address the issue. 

And Brian Fraga of the Taunton Gazette has the details on a legal quirk that could result in Hernandez’ s conviction for the murder of Odin Lloyd being quashed: “Under abatement ab initio — Latin for “from the beginning” — a defendant’s conviction is vacated if they die while their appeal is pending.”

Boston Herald

Bump blasts pot regulation commission idea

State Auditor Suzanne Bump says the legislature is heading in the wrong direction if it intends to create a semi-autonomous commission to oversee the state’s nascent legal marijuana industry, Jordan Graham of the Herald reports. On Herald radio, Bump panned the Mass. Gaming Commission model, managing to throw the gaming board under the bus in the process: “It is not a good model. The Gaming Commission is responsible to no one, to no one. There is no oversight of what they do.” Bump’s position puts her in agreement with legal weed backers, who want the legislature to keep the approach called for in the ballot question, in which the state treasurer would appoint an oversight board. 

Boston Herald

What’s the deal with 4/20 anyway?

In honor of the first 4/20 on the calendar after legalizing recreational marijuana last November, the Associated Press offers an explanation of how this date became an unofficial weed holiday. 

Associated Press

Taking stock of the Dookhan damage

The final tally is in, with prosecutors across the state saying they will seek to dismiss charges in some 21,587 cases impacted by the fraudulent work of state lab chemist Annie Dookhan, MassLive’s Gintautus Dumicius reports. That number is even larger than the 20,000 estimate that many observers had been expecting. MassLive has the county-by-county breakdown of the cases that prosecutors are giving up on: Suffolk County has the most cases, at 7,886, while the Cape and Islands has the highest percentage of cases, with prosecutors there ready to toss in the towel on 99.9 percent, or all but one of the 1,068 cases stained by Dookhan’s imprint.

MassLive

Surge of interest in Boston offices

City election season got off to a rousing start Wednesday, with 40 people pulling nomination papers on the first day they became available, Megan Irons of the Globe reports. Whether the numbers will hold up as the May 16 filing deadline arrives remains to be seen, and it also may be too early to tell if the surge ties back to national political upheaval and unrest, but election officials say it is a refreshing change from past years. Three more potential challengers to Mayor Marty Walsh emerged as well: Mary A. Franklin, a vocal public safety advocate from Roslindale; Donald M. Osgood Sr. of Dorchester; and Christopher G. Womack have all signaled interest in joining City Councilor Tito Jackson and the incumbent in the mayoral scrum.

Boston Globe

Rattlesnake plan gets the boot

State wildlife officials have put on hold a controversial plan to establish a colony of timber rattlesnakes on an island in the Quabbin Reservoir, which quickly earned the name “Rattlesnake Island” in the press. The decision came after recommendations by the “Rattlesnake Working Group,” which in turn got an earful from residents about the notion almost from the moment it hatched, Jordan Grice of MassLive reports. 

MassLive

Homelessness at five-year low on Cape

The number of people who are homeless on the Cape and Islands has fallen to a five year low, according to a recent count, Chris Lindahl of the Cape Cod Times reports. A late January count found 324 homeless people living in the region, including 100 children—that’s 70 fewer overall than were counted last year. 

Cape Cod Times

Senators want do-over on Otis Forest pipeline OK

The state’s two U.S. senators are urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to revoke an April 12 decision that cleared the way for trees to be cleared from Otis State Forest to make way for a Tennessee Gas Company pipeline project, Heather Bellow reports in the Berkshire Eagle. The senators say FERC needs to revisit the decision in part because it lacked a quorum of its members when it gave the green light to the clearing.

Berkshire Eagle

Not so fast on West Mass

The Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau has hit the pause button on a plan to rebrand the area as “West Mass” pending the results of a survey, Jim Kinney of MassLive reports. The $80,000 effort to move away from ‘Pioneer Valley’ as a designation for the region is will await additional public input after some early feedback was less than flattering.

MassLive

Emirates cuts flights, blames Trump

Emirates airline says it will reduce the number of flights between Dubai and the United States, including dropping one of its two daily trips to Boston’s Logan Airport, and is citing a chilled climate for international travel under President Donald Trump, David L. Harris of the Boston Business Journal reports. The airline said it was making a “commercial decision in response to weakened travel demand to US.”

Boston Business Journal

Hypocrisy the true downfall of O’Reilly?

Bill O’Reilly is officially out at Fox News, and the Globe’s Ty Burr say the onetime high-flying TV personality’s precipitous plunge – or more accurately push – from the top of the media heap owes as much to hypocrisy as anything else. Burr explores the gap between O’Reilly’s straight-talking public persona and the allegations about his sordid off-camera behavior that have forced Fox to dole out millions to settle sexual harassment lawsuits.“There are words for this dissonance between public and private personae. O’Reilly’s bosses might call it ‘unprofitability’ or ‘brand erosion.’ The correct word is hypocrisy,” Burr writes. 

Boston Globe

O’Reilly’s Boston beginnings

And in case you forgot, Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin has a reminder, complete with video of him alongside Natalie Jacobson, that O’Reilly got his start right here on Boston television.

Universal Hub

Baker’s record on opioids called “mixed”

Gov. Charlie Baker has mostly gotten good press for his very public efforts to battle the wave of opioid addiction that has been such a scourge to Massachusetts and states across the country, notoriety that led to him being tapped by President Trump to join a task force on the issue. But Richard Parr and Hannah Chanatry write in Commonwealth Magazine that Baker’s record of success on the issue is probably mixed at best: While the sheer volume of opioids being handed out through prescriptions has slowed, the number of overdose deaths just keeps on rising.

CommonWealth Magazine

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Winthrop Square: It’s time to change the discussion – WGBH

Southie project riles neighbors – Boston Herald

City reveals capital spending plan – Bay State Banner

Almost 40 candidates sign up to seek office in Boston – Boston Globe

Massachusetts

Jill Stein focuses on public health in talk at Smith College – Hampshire Gazette

Mayor vetoes ban on street collections – Eagle-Tribune

Rate of inmate suicides remains high in Mass. – Boston Globe

House budget more generous to local schools, but old issues persist – Telegram & Gazette

Southborough: Banning pot shops on tap for town meeting – MetroWest Daily News

Overall homeless count on Cape, Islands at five-year low – Cape Cod Times

Warren, Markey take on FERC over Otis Forest pipeline permit – Berkshire Eagle

Leader of Dropkick Murphys to bring boxing to Plainridge – Sun-Chronicle

Baker deserves a ‘C,” environmental groups say – Boston Globe

Nation

Bill O’Reilly is out at Fox News – NPR

Exxon seeks U.S. waiver to resume Russian oil venture – Wall Street Journal

The country’s first drive-through weed shop is opening in Colorado – Washington Post

Trump’s missing 90-day cyber plan – Politico

New York mayor backs plans to lift cigarette prices to $13 – New York Times

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