Legislative conference finishes up, Massachusetts-Quebec conference, immigrant rally and more
The National Conference of Legislatures annual summit wraps up its multi-day convention in Boston with sessions on how to address opioid misuse, preparing for natural disasters, STEM careers, student loan debt, crime and other issues, Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, 415 Summer St., starting at 7:30 a.m. through the day. … Massachusetts-Quebec Cooperation Conference meets through Friday at the State House. … The Governor’s Council will hold two judicial nomination hearings, Governor’s Council Chambers, 10 a.m. … Acting Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver holds a press conference with Highway Safety Director Jeff Larason and others about the annual ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ campaign, Transportation Board Meeting Room, 10 Park Plaza – 2nd floor, 10 a.m. … Centro Presente and the Brazilian Worker Center hold a rally opposing Gov. Charlie Baker’s immigrant-detention bill, State House steps, 11 a.m. … Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago offers remarks and fields questions on college affordability and changing the landscape of higher education, McCarthy Campus Center, Framingham State University, 100 State St., Framingham, 12 p.m. … Boston Mayor Marty Walsh makes a regular appearance on ‘NightSide with Dan Rea,’ WBZ NewsRadio 1030, 8 p.m.
‘Fire and fury’ — not
U.S. Sen. Ed Markey is renewing his calls for restrictions on President Donald Trump’s ability to unilaterally wage nuclear war, after the president threatened North Korea ‘‘with fire and fury like the world has never seen,’’ amid signs the communist country is now technologically close to being able to strike the U.S. with a nuclear missile, reports the Globe’s Martin Finucane.
In a statement, Markey said no “preemptive nuclear fire or fury” should be unleased on North Korea without Congressional approval. “No human being should have the sole authority to initiate an unprovoked nuclear war. Not any American President, and certainly not President Donald Trump,” Markey said. The Globe has an accompanying editorial denouncing the president’s “reckless” rhetoric.
Meet CTHRU, the new open-records fraud buster
Comptroller Thomas Shack yesterday unveiled new features on the state’s transparency and open records platform, known as CTHRU, that will allow the public to retrieve and track ever more information about state spending and agency hirings. “It provides an ability to get more eyes on the data,” says Shack, as reported by SHNS’s Stephanie Murray. “I have 125 people on my staff and I manage $60 billion a year. I’m not concerned about who finds fraud, I just want to find the fraud.”
The Google firing furor: Do no evil?
After his firing by Google over his controversial rant about whether women can biologically cut it in the tech world, Harvard grad James Damore is standing his ground, saying he has a “legal right to express my concerns about the terms and conditions of my working environment and to bring up potentially illegal behavior,” the NYT reports. The Globe’s Hiawatha Bray doesn’t agree with Danmore’s views and acknowledges Google had the right to fire him. “(But) by doing so, the company sent a message that it cares about the hurt feelings of its workers more than it cares about the free exchange of ideas. Perhaps that’s good news for Googlers, but it’s a bad omen for the rest of us.”
Btw: What’s one of the most viewed stories over at the Globe these days? Niall Ferguson’s op-ed that argues the greatest threat to free-speech today is coming from the campus left. It’s not directly tied to the Google furor, but it’s indirectly tied.
‘Protestors: Don’t forget to smile’
Speaking of civil liberties, via the Globe’s Joshua Miller: “A new security camera nestled on an 18th-century balcony of the Massachusetts State House faces one of the state’s most prominent places to demonstrate — in front of the Capitol’s steps. And it has raised familiar questions about balancing security and liberty in the post-Sept. 11 era.”
DPH employee files for DPH approval of her firm’s pot dispensary license
Here’s a case ripe for a conflict-of-interest review: A company whose president and CEO is an employee at the state Department of Public Health has applied for a marijuana dispensary license from the very same agency where she now works, i.e. the state Department of Public Health, the Herald’s Dan Atkinson reports. There was “no indication on the application” that the president and CEO of Petrichor Medicinal Corp., Nicolette Smith, is a program manager at DPH, an agency spokesman says. Atkinson has more.
Dazed and confused: Communities vexed over state’s new pot-regulation options
The attempt by lawmakers to clarify the issue of local control of recreational marijuana sales has only led to more confusion in some communities, according to a story by a trio of Cape Cod Times reporters. One Cape lawmaker even wrote a blog post containing a misrepresentation of the law’s language.
Filling the public policy void: Cambridge acts to curb Airbnb and other short-term rentals
Lawmakers didn’t pass legislation on short-term rentals this past session on Beacon Hill, so Cambridge took matters into its own hands. From SHNS’s Matt Murphy at WBUR: “In the absence of a state strategy to regulate short-term housing rentals, the Cambridge City Council voted Monday night to require hosts to live in the same or an adjacent building as part of a new set of rules designed to protect the city’s scarce affordable housing market. The new city ordinance would also require hosts who rent units online through sites like Airbnb to register with the city and undergo an inspection once every five years.”
Meanwhile in the People’s Republic ….
The Globe’s Kathleen Conti takes a look at Cambridge’s new prohibition on pet shops selling most types of animals unless they come from an animal shelter or rescue organization, a move described as “the most sweeping such ban in the country.”
Rep. Straus’s whopper of all whopper bad ideas
James Aloisi, the former state secretary of transportation, thinks state Rep. William Straus’s proposal to siphon off a portion of Logan Airport parking revenues to pay for Boston Harbor tunnel maintenance is a “whopper of a bad idea.” No, wait, it’s worse than that. It might be one of the worst ideas “in the history of bad ideas.” He explains why at CommonWealth magazine.
Kaufman confirms sale-tax holiday bill was and is dead
Just about every lawmaker and their brother have said that Gov. Baker’s bill calling for a sales tax holiday this month was dead on arrival, remained dead in the first week of the month and now Revenue Committee Chairman Jay Kaufman says it will remain dead for the remainder of the month, reports SHNS’s Andy Metzger at Wicked Local.
Where oh where did Diehl’s ObamaCare repeal spiel go?
It was there and then – poof! – it was gone. David Bernstein at WGBH takes a look at the amazing disappearance of ObamaCare repeal from Republican Senate candidate Geoff Diehl’s repertoire of things he’ll do if elected. We have a feeling a lot of other GOP candidates nationwide are avoiding mention of ObamaCare repeal.
Meanwhile, Diehl won’t be making any Pocahontas jokes …
Here’s another topic GOP Senate candidate Geoff Diehl won’t be bringing up much on the campaign trail, or so he says: U.S. Sen. Elizabeth’s controversial claim she’s of Cherokee Indian ancestry. “I don’t think I have to bring it up,” Diehl told the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld. “Most people seem to know what happened with that situation.”
Warren to Patrick on presidential run: Go for it!
Speaking of Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator is often mentioned as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, but she’s offering supportive words to former Gov. Deval Patrick as he apparently decides whether to pursue his own White House bid. “Look, Deval Patrick is a man with a good heart and he has terrific ideas. And if this is something he wants to do, he should do it,” Warren recently said on WGBH’s ‘Greater Boston,’ as SHNS’s Colin Young reports at MassLive.
State plays final card in Aquinnah gaming hall dispute
The Martha’s Vineyard town of Aquinnah and the state of Massachusetts have formally asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court ruling that opened the door to a tribal electronic bingo hall at Gay Head, Chris Lindahl of the Cape Cod Times reports. It’s a long shot that the court will take the case and, if it doesn’t, the tribe would be cleared to move forward.
Is it a mountain lion or a bobcat?
The photographer and state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife officials say it’s a bobcat. But others aren’t so sure after viewing Pittsfield resident Bob Fournier’s photo, taken during a kayaking trip on the Housatonic River, of a big, furry feline thing sitting on the river banks. They think it’s a mountain lion, setting off the latest debate over whether there are mountain lions or not in Massachusetts. George Graham at MassLive has the story – and the photo.
Baker’s immigrant-detention bill targeted by protesters in Springfield
From Shannon Young at MassLive: “Activists from a series of Springfield-area advocacy groups came together Tuesday in opposition to a bill that would allow Massachusetts police officers to cooperate with federal immigration officials by holding people who have been deemed ‘dangerous.’”
Can the state adhere to its ambitious pension-funding goals?
So far, so good, when it comes to the state following through on its goals for closing the huge funding liability gap for all its public pensions, writes the Globe’s Evan Horowitz. But the hard part lies ahead, as the annual amount of money the state must set aside for pensions grows and grows and grows, Horowitz adds.
It’s put-up-or-shut-up time for candidates vying for Dempsey seat
Candidates hoping to fill the 3rd Essex District state representative seat vacated by now-lobbyist Brian Dempsey are calculating all the angles as they decide whether to remain on the ballot for city council and school board seats, Peter Francis of the Eagle-Tribune reports. There is no law barring them from appearing on multiple ballots and two lawmakers representing Essex County communities hold local offices as well.
From Bayside Expo Center to … ‘modern-day Harvard Square’?
UMass Boston is soliciting development ideas for the former Bayside Expo Center property, hoping to create a mixed-use neighborhood on property that has vexed redevelopment attempts so far, according to a story by Bill Forry of the Dorchester Reporter. In its request for information, UMass emphasizes the property’s location near downtown and says for the right developer, there may be even more university-owned land to develop in the future.
7th Annual Rock ‘N Real Estate Harbor Cruise
Refugee Crisis in Europe in Boston
New State House camera raises civil liberty concerns – Boston Globe
UMass asks developers for ideas for re-use of Bayside site – Dorchester Reporter
Healey outlines criminal justice vision – CommonWealth Magazine
Cabbies may avoid new rules for Uber, Lyft drivers – Gloucester Times
Confusion remains over local control of recreational marijuana – Cape Cod Times
Bristol Community College receives its largest donation ever: $2 million – Taunton Gazette
Opioid deaths already at near-2016 levels – Sun-Chronicle
UMass Lowell, city sign historic master agreement – Lowell Sun
Trump hits new polling low as base shrinks – Politico
9 takeaways from the National Climate Report – New York Times
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