Health cost roundtable, Obamacare rally
Gov. Charlie Baker joins Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Public Safety and Security Secretary Daniel Bennett, and state lawmakers to announce a legislative reform package updating drug scheduling and witness intimidation statutes and strengthening penalties for the distribution of dangerous drugs, intimidation, and solicitation to commit murder. 1:30 p.m., Devine Recovery Center, 70 Devine Way, Boston … Defenders of the Affordable Care Act will rally as a national bus tour arrives in Boston following a 23-city, 18-state trip journey. Congressman Joseph Kennedy III, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and health care activists will be on hand on 10 a.m. at Boston City Hall … the Senate roundtable focusing on cost containment in health care meets for the third time. This discussion will focus on cost drivers in chronic and acute care management. State House Room 428, 11 a.m. … Western Mass. lawmakers will join with Norman Rockwell Museum executive director Laurie Norton Moffatt for a Massachusetts Cultural Council announcement of “an innovative new program to expand access to the arts, humanities, and sciences for low-income families in Massachusetts” … 3 p.m. Norman Rockwell Museum, 9 Glendale Rd., Stockbridge … The Massachusetts Department of Transportation holds a meeting to update the status of the Sumner Tunnel Entrance Reconstruction and Toll Plaza Demolition Project, 6:30 p.m., East Boston High School Auditorium, 86 White St., East Boston …. Bristol and Norfolk Senate candidate Joe Shortsleeve, formerly a WBZ-TV reporter, holds a campaign fundraiser featuring comedian Lenny Clarke, 7 p.m. West on Centre Restaurant, 1732 Centre St., West Roxbury.
BU, Wheelock eye merger
Here’s a reminder that higher education is not immune to the vagaries of economics. Wheelock College is in merger talks with Boston University, talks made necessary by the smaller college’s deteriorating financial conditions. Wheelock’s president tells Laura Krantz of the Globe that talks about merging some parts of the schools are already underway, though both schools emphasized nothing is final yet. Krantz notes that such mergers are rare but not unheard of: just last year, Berklee College of Music combined with the Boston Conservatory.
David L. Harris and Jessica Bartlett of the Boston Business Journal have details on the financials that may be driving the deal. Wheelock has lost more than $5 million in the last two fiscal years, is $39 million in debt and has even seen its endowment shrink slightly to $50 million.
Otis pipeline will feature Putin-linked steel
It all comes back to Russia! The Kinder Morgan pipeline being installed in Otis State Forest—where scores of protestors have been arrested since work began in May—is being built with steel from a company owned by a Russian oligarch and friend of … wait for it … Vladimir Putin, Heather Bellow of the Berkshire Eagle reports. The pipeline company tells Bellow it ordered steel from Canada-based EVRAZ, which is owned by Putin confidante Roman Abramovich.
Goldberg says NH moves add urgency to lottery update
Treasurer Deborah Goldberg continues to build her case for lawmakers to actually do something about clearing the way for the Mass. Lottery to begin offering online games, saying recent moves by New Hampshire could clean the state’s clock and kill off the golden goose that feeds cities and towns.
Goldberg joined other lottery officials in sounding the alarm Tuesday at a Lottery Commission meeting, saying the Granite State’s embrace of Keno—which will help fund schools there—and electronic games is almost certain to put a dent in the state lottery’s bottom line, Colin A. Young of State House News Service reports. “I don’t know how much clearer a message we need to send the Legislature relative to this issue. It’s become one of those things that we’ve said it ad nauseum at this point and now we’re starting to see, literally, the troops on the borders of Massachusetts,” said Comptroller Thomas Shack. “This has a potential devastating effect on the Lottery and it’s going to be profound and cities and towns are going to be the ultimate recipients of that downturn. I hope the Legislature is listening.”
Hodgson volunteers inmates for Harvey cleanup
Right on cue, Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson injected himself into another national news story. Hodgson is proposing sending inmates from his prisons to help with the post-Harvey recovery in Texas, Brian Fraga reports in the Standard-Times. Hodgson said he already has 10 volunteers but there are hurdles to cross: For one thing, the sheriffs in Texas he wants to coordinate help with are a bit, uh, busy right now. And lawmakers have moved to block Hodgson or any other sheriff from sending inmates out of state to work, though a bill overwhelmingly approved by the state House of Representatives has since been sent to committee.
In other Harvey-related news, Cristela Guerra of the Globe reports that donations to help the relief effort are flooding into Boston City Hall and Dan Kennedy writes in WGBH about how journalists tried to warn about the explosive and unregulated growth in the Houston area was going to collide with a changing climate at some point.
Hill considers leap from morning show to Congress
The Hill man on Capitol Hill? Why not, right? WAAF morning personality Greg Hill is considering running for the congressional seat Niki Tsongas will vacate next year, Matt Stout of the Herald reports. The Republican, who has parlayed his public profile into a powerful philanthropic platform, has been having the proverbial “serious discussions” about a run at the seat, a spokesman tells Stout. Hill has never held elected office but since when is that a deal breaker?
Young Dems in Mass stuck with no place to go
Democrats may have the lock on the state’s Congressional delegation and the state Legislature. But for young and ambitious Dem, it can be a tough state to move up the ranks, notes the Globe’s Jim O’Sullivan. The reason? Few of the state’s top Democrats are going anywhere anytime soon.
Only one of the state’s 9 US representatives won’t be running again and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has long since announced she will be running for reelection. Four of the state’s six state-wide office holders have also announced they will be staying put as well. And as for the governor’s race, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s popularity has been a turnoff for more senior Dems who otherwise might want to take a run at the job.
SJC overturns conviction of man who brought loaded gun to school
Here’s one court decision that is sure to spark controversy, especially during back-to-school season. A Watertown man who walked into Milton High School with a loaded handgun and ammunition has had his conviction thrown out by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court after the court ruled the Milton cop who frisked him violated his constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure, the Patriot Ledger reports. The ruling, which is sure to have parents wringing their hands, sends the case back to Quincy District Court, potentially for a new trial.
Chicopee Powerball win inspires scammers
You just knew it wouldn’t be long before some jerk scammer tried to take advantage of the biggest good news story to hit Chicopee in years. As now newly retired hospital Chicopee worker Mavis L. Wanczyk basks in her historic, $336.3 million Powerball win, scammers have been busy opening fake social media accounts in her name, MassLive’s Jeanette DeForge reports. Chicopee Police are warning people not to bite when they receive messages from fake Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts in Wanczyk’s name. In a bid to obtain personal information, the scammers say following and answering the messages from the fake accounts will result in a windfall.
Bad excuses for pay hike vote land Brockton delegation in doghouse
Brockton’s State House delegation found itself as the centerpiece of The Enterprise’s coverage Monday, but maybe not quite in the way they have wanted.
In its weekly look at the at the “highlights and lowlights from recent news stories focuses,” The Enterprise took aim state representatives Claire Cronin, Michelle Dubois, Gerry Cassidy and state Sen. Michael Brady for voting for the recent $18 million pay boost for state officials, including state lawmakers.
Brady, the chairman of the Joint Committee on Revenue, is now making $112,748, up from $74,733 in total, in large part due to “leadership pay” thanks to the committee chairmanship. But while the vote was bad enough at a time of so many unmet public needs, the excuses offered up by the four were even worse, The Enterprise piece argues. While Brady and Dubois argued the pay hikes were long overdue, Cronin countered the pay hike was less than what a panel recommended while Cassidy said it didn’t affect him since he is relatively new to the Legislature.
“But as sickening as the vote itself was, the way the legislators tried to explain their rapacious actions, both just after the vote and now, have been worse,” The Enterprise fumes. Ouch!
Sudbury business owner looks to tank water bottle ban
The owner of Sudbury Coffee Works wants to repeal the town’s newly minted ban on single-use plastic water bottles, set to take effect next June, Jonathan Dame of the MetroWest Daily News reports. While he supports environmental regulations in general, Daniel Kenn, the owner, says it is not easy supporting two children, including one in college, running a small business. With profit margins thin already, the town regulation is just “one more giant weight slammed on me,” Kenn tells the paper. Kenn is now trying to collect at least 100 signatures to get a repeal placed on the warrant for a Special Town Meeting scheduled for Oct. 16, Dame reports.
State expands cultural options for EBT recipients
State officials will unveil a program Wednesday that will give low-income residents on the state’s Electronic Benefits Transfer card program free admission to more than 100 arts and cultural institutions across the state, Kathleen Conti of the Globe reports.
Elect me and I’ll cut my pay, maybe
State Rep. and Attleboro mayoral candidate Paul Heroux says that city’s current mayor is overpaid and that if elected, he’ll commission a study to adjust the $122,000 salary, Jim Hand of the Sun-Chronicle reports. Mayor Kevin Dumas said Heroux doesn’t understand the demands of the position because the city does not have a city manager.
Another first for Framingham
It’s so cute to watch them grow up! The newly minted city of Framingham has its first mayoral debate on the calendar for Sept. 6, Jim Haddadin of the MetroWest Daily News reports, and all seven candidates in the running are expected to be on hand.
Separately, Haddadin profiles one of those candidates: Dhruba Sen, a former tech worker who promises to be an “activist mayor” who fights for those traditionally underrepresented in government.
And another of the candidates, meanwhile, apparently violated school department policy against political campaigning on school grounds. Susan Petroni of Framingham Source reports that Yvonne Spicer greeted teachers returning to a city school, something the superintendent says violates a policy enacted last year.
Here come the guns again
President Trump has lifted an Obama-era restriction on the passing along of surplus military gear to local police departments, a move that clears the way for armored vehicles, grenade launchers and weaponized aircraft to be shared and one that has some activists alarmed.
The president of the Worcester chapter of the NAACP is among those who say the decision sends the wrong message about the relationship between police and the people they are supposed to protect and serve, Elaine Thompson of the Telegram reports. But the head of the state’s police chiefs association says departments can make their own decisions about what equipment to accept.
Meanwhile, Jessica Trufant of the Patriot Ledger reports that South Shore police don’t expect to see a huge influx of new war tools.
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