Happening Today

Jeb Bush at BC

Former presidential hopeful and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will speak at the 12th annual Carroll School of Management Finance Conference, Room 511, Fulton Hall, Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill, 8:30 a.m.

Comey testimony

In a highly anticipated appearance, fired FBI Director James Comey is scheduled to testify during an open hearing of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, Hart 216, Washington D.C., 10 a.m.

Gaming Commission

Gaming Commission meets to review an upcoming special population study and the fiscal year 2018 budget, 101 Federal St., 12th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.

Prostate Cancer Awareness Day

Top state officials – including Gov. Baker, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate Majority Leader Harriette Chandler and others – are expected to speak at the 9th annual Prostate Cancer Awareness Day, Grand Staircase, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Rosenberg on Herald radio

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg joins Boston Herald Radio in studio for his monthly interview, Boston Herald Radio, 10 a.m.

Walmart Day

Walmart executives, store managers, associates supplier companies and grantees of the Walmart Foundation will gather at the State House ‘to highlight the company’s commitment to economic development and improving the quality of life in the Bay State,’ Great Hall, 10 a.m.

Healey in D.C.

Attorney General Maura Healey will deliver a keynote address at the American Constitution Society national convention, Capital Hilton, 1001 16th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 7 p.m.

Today’s Stories

‘Must see TV’: Bombshell or dud?

Millions of Americans will be glued to the TV this morning for former FBI director James Comey’s much anticipated testimony over whether President Trump tried to interfere in the bureau’s Russian-connections investigation. All the major broadcast networks are covering the hearing live, reports Variety, and many political-types are actually holding party-like gatherings to watch proceedings, the NYT reports.  

But will the hearing be a dud? The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld thinks so, noting that there’s no real smoking gun in Comey’s pre-released testimony. That was our initial reaction as well, considering Comey now admits there was no formal FBI investigation of the president to quash.

Then again, the Globe’s Jaclyn Reiss has an excellent piece on the five main items to emerge from Comey’s testimony. They may not all be “bombshell quotes,” as the Globe headline puts it. But one quote in particular stands out to us: “I want to talk about Mike Flynn.” That’s what the president reportedly told Comey – and there was indeed an investigation of Flynn. That, it seems to us, is where the president is most vulnerable to accusations of interfering in an active investigation — and his asking Comey to lift the “cloud” hanging over the administration. The president’s “loyalty” demands and other quotes are interesting, but not necessarily damning, from a legal standpoint.

House Dems back off ‘sanctuary’ legislation

We sort of suspected this was the real reason why Democrats recently balked at passing state Rep. Antonio Cabral’s immigration bill. From Matt Stout at the Herald: “House lawmakers have tabled for the ‘foreseeable future’ a controversial immigration bill that would bar state money from funding federal immigration programs after some feared it could be viewed as a ‘sanctuary state’ bill.Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo said the bill will stay on the shelf until lawmakers can address its language.”

As Matt notes, Gov. Baker earlier this week blasted the legislation as a “step backwards in public safety.” Though the legislation wasn’t billed as a “sanctuary state” proposal, it sure reads like one, whether you like the bill or not.

Boston Herald

Fake news, fake headlines, non-fake cease-and-desist letter

The Portland Press Herald in Maine isn’t happy that Republican gubernatorial candidate Mary Mayhew is using its logo and a facsimile of the newspaper on campaign posters, with fake headlines, and it’s sent a cease-and-desist letter to the candidate, reports the Press Herald, via an AP report at the Globe.

Press Herald

Is freezing income-tax rate now in play on Beacon Hill?

Faced with a major budget shortfall this fiscal year and probably next, there’s now movement on Beacon Hill to freeze the state income tax at 5.1 percent, rather than allowing it to automatically fall to 5.05 percent on January 1, as currently scheduled, saving the state $83 million, reports SHNS’s Colin Young at the BBJ.

Lawmakers may need every nickel they can get as they try to craft a new state budget. The Globe’s Joshua Miller is reporting that economists now believe officials may have to chop as much as $1 billion out of next year’s budget. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren writes at BlueMassGroup that the state needs more revenues to meet its needs – and he has some budget reform ideas. House Speaker Robert DeLeo, meanwhile, says he doesn’t know how Baker plans to plug the current $400-million-plus hole in the state budget, but he’s taking Baker at his word that the administration can handle the problem, reports Matt Murphy at SHNS (pay wall).

Bentley president Gloria Cordes Larson to step down

Bentley University President Gloria Cordes Larson, a former Weld cabinet member and long-time chair of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, has announced she’s stepping down as head of the university next year, reports Katrina Lewis at the BBJ. To say the least, Larson, the first female president at Bentley, has had an extraordinary career. Her next ambition: To write a book about academia.


Medieval Politics, 101: Harvard to offer course on hit ‘Game of Thrones’ series

Now this should be a popular class. Via Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine, Time is reporting that Harvard is launching a course on the hit HBO series ‘Game of Thrones, as well as the book series that inspired it, called “The Real Game of Thrones: From Modern Myths to Medieval Models.” As Spencer writes: “Topics to be discussed will sound familiar to fans of the show: war, rivalry, Middle Ages mythology and religion, and the complicated roles of women in these long-ago royal power struggles.”


Rosenberg’s grand idea: A monorail connecting North and South stations

This is actually a great idea: Senate President Stan Rosenberg, who seems to be agnostic on building a new rail-link tunnel between North and South stations, yesterday blurted out on WGBH what he thinks is a superior concept. “My favorite idea is, why don’t we do a monorail?” Rosenberg said, reports SHNS’s Michael Norton at the Salem News. “Host Jim Braude then asked who was supporting that idea and Rosenberg said ‘me’ before noting monorails exist in Europe and South Africa.”

There’s probably a gazillion engineering and financial reasons why a monorail is not feasible and/or not preferable to a tunnel or a South Station expansion. But we always found it odd that a light rail link, or Rosenberg’s monorail link, wasn’t in the project mix when the Big Dig was under way – and odd that they’re still not in the mix today.

Salem News

Rosenberg opposes state ban on Native-American school mascots

Speaking of the Senate president, Stan Rosenberg is coming out against a proposed statewide ban on use of Native-American school mascots, saying it’s a matter of local concern, not a state issue, reports SHNS’s Katie Lannan at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Rosenberg’s remarks come as lawmakers mull Beacon Hill legislation that would prohibit use of school mascots tied to Native-American names and images.


Will GE be Exhibit A for Trump-era EPA?

The Environmental Protection Agency wants to reopen its review of GE’s plan to clean PCBs from parts of the Housatonic River in western Massachusetts, a surprise move that some say has President Trump’s influence all over it, David Abel of the Globe reports.  “Looks like Massachusetts is about to become Exhibit A in the Trump administration’s efforts to go easy on polluters,” said Matt Pawa, a lawyer who represents towns that support the existing EPA plan, which took years to negotiate. 

Boston Globe

‘The Golden Age of Boston Television’

Jack Thomas, the former television critic for the Boston Globe, reviews Terry Ann Knopf’s new book ‘The Golden Age of Boston Television,’ a look back at local TV news from the 1970s to the 1990s. The book apparently has some rather salacious and harrowing tales to tell (including a sexual assault on one female journalist by an unnamed local TV executive). But it’s unclear how much Thomas really liked the book, at one point writing at WBUR that Knopf “fails to provide enough data about what was happening in other cities to enable a reader to judge” whether the golden era was really that golden, yet at the end saying Knopf has written an “informative and sometimes entertaining” book that ought to be “required reading at schools of communication.” 

One thing is clear: Thomas and Knopf both deplore the state of today’s television news. Also: The book is pricey at Amazon ($85 for a hardcover), but you can be sure many media types will be reading it.


‘It’s straight out of a nightmare’

Lawmakers are alarmed over the emergence of the elephant tranquilizer carfentanil within illegal drug-trade circles in Massachusetts, adding urgency to a Beacon Hill bill that would criminalize the powerful drug, reports the Herald’s Matt Stout. “It’s straight out of a nightmare,” state Rep. Tim Whelan, a former state trooper, said of the synthetic carfentanil.

Boston Herald

You can’t build a bridge – or a hotel – over troubled waters

From Tim Logan at the Globe: “State environmental officials have dealt a final blow to plans for a hotel that would have jutted out from the end of Lewis Wharf. In a ruling published Wednesday, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection said developer JW Capital Partners can’t count crumbling old pilings off Lewis Wharf as land, for the purpose of putting a 277-room hotel there. It’s the final version of a ruling the agency first proposed in September.”

Boston Globe

Harvard to sell off dairy farms, thousands of cows

Who would have thought? From David Harris at the BBJ: “Harvard University is nearing a deal to sell off 8,500 acres of dairy farms and roughly 5,500 cows on the South Island of New Zealand, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.” Harvard, whose dairy assets are part of its massive endowment fund holdings, is reportedly looking to sell to the private equity firm KKR & Co., prompting from us another ‘Who would have thought?’


MIT, Harvard, UMass and Tufts rank high in university patent activity

Another post on academia: A congrats is in order for the University of Massachusetts, whose system-wide research centers secured 58 patents last year, ranking the university 36th among the top 100 worldwide universities when it comes to patents, reports Diane Lederman at MassLive. But congrats are also in order for MIT (ranked No. 2 by the National Academy of Inventors), Harvard (No. 14), Tufts University and Tufts Medical Center (No. 85) and Northeastern University (No. 97), as Katrina Lewis reports at the BBJ. Here’s the full patent list from the academy.


Baker is mighty quiet on mental-health reforms

The Globe is reporting that Gov. Charlie Baker has “said little publicly and repeatedly rejected interview requests” from the newspaper about its Spotlight series on police shootings involving people with untreated mental illness – and the newspaper quotes activists as saying the governor has been slow to act on other mental-health issues as well. In other words, the paper is putting pressure on the governor to do something.

Boston Globe

Rep. DuBois issues raid-warning donation refunds

Rep. Michelle DuBois has refunded just over $100 in campaign donations she received in the wake of her warning to Brockton immigrants that an ICE raid was in the offing, Mack Larocque of the Enterprise reports. DuBois returned $107.51 in donations made after the Office of Campaign and Political Finance agreed with an assertion from the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance that the online fundraiser did not include a certification of the donated funds’ source. 


Report: Latinos now powering Boston’s economic and population growth

The Boston Foundation has just issued a fascinating report showing how critical Latinos have become in fueling Boston’s economic and population growth. As the BBJ’s Don Seiffert summarizes it: “Latinos are the fastest-growing population in Boston, accounting for 92 percent of the city’s population growth since 1980. Today, one in five city residents are from Hispanic, Latino or Brazilian background. The community contributes $9 billion, or 7 percent, of the city’s gross domestic product, up from less than 3 percent three decades ago.”

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Malcom Gay has a story on how the so-called ‘creative sector’ plays a larger role in New England’s economy than in other parts to the country, according to a separate report by the New England Foundation for the Arts.

House votes to scrap ‘one size fits all’ approach to teaching English

From SHNS’s Colin Young: “The Massachusetts House on Wednesday passed a bill that would give school districts more flexibility when it comes to teaching students who are not proficient in English. Supporters said current state law requires schools to use a ‘one size fits all’ approach to teaching English language learners called ‘sheltered immersion,’ with classes taught primarily in English.”

SHNS (pay wall)

Remembering SHNS’s Helen Woodman Harrington

Elissa Ely at WBUR has a nice piece on the late Helen Woodman Harrington, the former State House News Service editor, mentor and leader who trained more than a generation of reporters on the ins and outs of quality journalism. The piece is part of WBUR’s “The Remembrance Project.” Here is Helen’s January obit at SHNS, where her presence is still felt to this day.


Trash company spends serious cash on dump campaign

Casella Waste Systems says it will spend more than $100,000 to support a non-binding question being placed before voters in Southbridge seeking to encourage the town to negotiate with the company to expand its landfill operations, Brian Lee reports in the Telegram. A group opposing the referendum, to be voted on Tuesday, says it will spend around $8,000. 


MIT mum on $140 million donor

The latest big-money whodunit in Boston is the source of a strings-free $140 million donation to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Max Stendahl of the Boston Business Journal reports. A statement from the anonymous donor offers a few clues: He or she is an alum and benefitted in the past from “MIT’s generous financial aid.” 


NAIOP / SIOR Mid-Year Market Roundup

Please join NAIOP and SIOR for one of the industry’s premier market forecasts. This program is eligible for two CEUs for licensed real estate brokers and salespeople. RE92C14: National Economic Commercial Trends and the Commercial Real Estate Professional


2017 Massachusetts Conference on Service and Volunteering

The conference will explore innovative ways to harness the power of service and volunteerism and turn the energy of volunteers into efforts that directly impact our most pressing community needs. Attendees will leave the conference with new skills, insights into best practices, connections to potential partners, and increased enthusiasm for tackling issues that concern us in the Commonwealth.

Massachusetts Service Alliance

BBJ & Constant Contact Smart Reader Seminar

Join us for a 1-hour power breakfast to learn how to find more leads and minimize cold calling using the Boston Business Journal. And then, put lead generation and prospecting to good use with marketing techniques from Constant Contact.

Boston Business Journal

Gearing Up Conference

This one day intensive conference for emerging women leaders is presented by the Center for Women and Business at Bentley University.

Center for Women and Business at Bentley University

Today’s Headlines


MIT praises anonymous $140M gift – Boston Herald

E. Boston shopping district proposed for Maverick Square – Boston Herald

Who’s donating $140 million to MIT? The university won’t say – Boston Business Journal


Lawrence group files complaint against canal operators – Eagle-Tribune

How to regulate rooms for rent in Mass.? – Berkshire Eagle

To be his most authentic self, Brookline principal announces he’s transgender – WBUR

Mass. just one of two states without ignition locks for first-time drunk drivers – WGBH

Townsend employee, boyfriend sue town, former police officers over background check allegations – Lowell Sun

UMass won 58 patents in 2016, ranking 36th worldwide – MassLive

Framingham school committee: Teacher evaluations are unfunded mandate – MetroWest Daily News

Race for mayor underway in Salem – Salem News

Gloria Larson, Bentley president, to step down – Boston Globe


Comey could turn lawmakers’ Russia probe to obstruction of justice question – Washington Post

Trump’s FBI pick is seen as anchor for agency in tumult – New York Times

Gianforte to give $50,000 to press freedom group after assaulting reporter – Politico

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