Baker in Chicago, anti-privatization rally, Red Line performance
— Gov. Charlie Baker is in Chicago today attending the Republican Governors Association policy summit.
— Treasurer Deborah Goldberg is scheduled to give a welcoming speech to the National Association of State Treasurers Annual Conference, Boston Marriott Long Wharf – Salon, 8:15 a.m.
— The Department of Public Utilities holds an evidentiary hearing on a petition by National Grid on an electric vehicle market development program, One South Station – 5th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.
— Auditor Suzanne Bump hosts a meeting of the Chapter 224 Advisory Council, an ad hoc group organized by Bump to help evaluate the effectiveness of the 2012 health care law, One Ashburton Pl. – 21st floor, conference room 3, Boston, 10 a.m.
— The Financial Services Committee will consider several proposals seeking to alter how health insurers do business in Massachusetts, Room A-2, 10:30 a.m.
— MBTA unions are planning an anti-privatization rally, with IAMAW International President Bob Martinez expected to speak, Transportation Building, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, 10:30 a.m.
— Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture hits the road to hold a hearing on a series of bills dealing with hunting and trapping, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, 11 a.m.
— Attorney General Maura Healey moderates a roundtable discussion about the opioid epidemic and substance use prevention programming, North Adams City Hall, 10 Main St., North Adams, 11 a.m.
— The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board will meet to discuss Red Line performance, winter resiliency preparations and a Federal Transit Administration report, MassDOT, 10 Park Plaza, Transportation Board Room, 12 p.m.
— Former Gov. Bill Weld, the 2016 Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate, will speak to the National Association of State Treasurers Annual Conference at a luncheon keynote, Boston Marriott Long Wharf, 12 p.m.
— The Transportation Committee reviews a number of bills, including several calling for an inquiry into the MBTA Retirement Fund, Room A-1, 12 p.m.
— Attorney General Maura Healey marks Constitution Day at Smith College. where Healey will deliver a speech to observe the holiday, Weinstein Auditorium, 10 Elm St., Northampton, 4:30 p.m.
— State treasurers from around the country – who are in Boston for a national conference – spend an evening at Fenway Park, Fenway Park, 5:45 p.m.
Chelsea Manning: I am not a traitor
Only days after Harvard gave her the heave from an academic fellowship program, Chelsea Manning said yesterday on Nantucket, at a “creative thinkers” conference, that she is not a traitor for having leaked hundreds of thousands of pages of government documents to WikiLeaks, reports the AP at the Washington Post. ‘‘I believe I did the best I could in my circumstances to make an ethical decision,’’ she told the crowd when asked by the moderator if she was a traitor.
The skirmishing over Manning’s Harvard appointment, and Harvard’s later withdrawal of it late last week, continued through the weekend. “So what part of ‘traitor’ do you suppose the folks at Harvard didn’t understand?” the Herald asks in an editorial. The Herald’s Howie Carr says the Harvard appointment was all about political correctness (Manning is transgender). A Globe editorial questions why Manning was chosen by Harvard in the first place, but says Harvard was wrong to rescind the fellowship once the appointment was made.
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio demands retraction from Harvard law prof over Globe op-ed
On another Harvard front, via Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin: “Seems Joe Arpaio, convicted of criminal contempt of court (and, yes, later pardoned, but at least so far, the conviction still stands), didn’t cotton to a Globe op-ed column by Andrew Crespo, a professor at Harvard Law School, about the case. Arpaio’s lawyer sent him a letter demanding he retract the column or face a lawsuit. Crespo tells the lawyer what he can do with his demand.”
Failing grades: Dozens of underperforming Boston schools could trigger state action
From James Vaznis at the Globe: “More than two dozen schools in Boston with low standardized test scores are at risk of being declared ‘underperforming’ by the state, an action that can lead to the removal of principals and teachers, according to a School Department analysis. The 26 schools are spread across nearly every neighborhood, from East Boston to West Roxbury.”
Dem gubernatorial candidates agree on one thing: Baker must go
In the first debate of the 2018 gubernatorial contest, the three candidates vying for the Democratic nomination – Jay Gonzalez, Robert Massie and Setti Warren — spent much of the time in East Longmeadow on Saturday criticizing Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, saying that he represents the “status quo” and that Democrats need to be united if they’re going to oust him from the corner office in 2018, reports Shannon Young at MassLive. “Instead of spending the next year talking about each other, we should spend time in common talking about the failures of Gov. Baker,” Massie said at one point. “I also think that we should show what Democratic unity looks like.”
Meanwhile, many Democrats agree on another thing: Baker may be politically vulnerable due to his ties to charter schools — and his education chairman’s big donations to a New York pro-charter group that was later fined for trying to keep its donations secret, the Associated Press reports at the Herald
Meanwhile, Baker bemoans hyper-partisanship and ‘character assassination’ in politics
So where was Gov. Baker this past weekend? At a Baker-Polito “end of summer picnic” in Shrewsbury, where the Republican governor, without naming names, decried hyper-partisanship, according to a report at MassLive. “Too much of what goes on these days and passes for public discourse, isn’t discourse at all,” Baker said. “It’s just character assassination and questioning people’s motives. Stuff that doesn’t actually move the commonwealth forward.”
Emails raise questions about leadership shakeup at Environmental Police
A leadership shakeup at Mass. Environmental Police took place without several jobs being posted internally, an apparent violation of departmental policies, Todd Feathers of the Lowell Sun reports, citing emails received through an information-records request. The emails show concern among some attorneys within the agency about the pace of changes made by Col. James McGinn, a former state police sergeant who famously copped the top job at the agency after serving as Gov. Charlie Baker’s campaign driver.
BC students are doing better after acid attack in France
This was scary and initially conjured up fears of a terrorist attack. But four Boston College students studying abroad in France are apparently doing fine after a “disturbed” woman sprayed acid at their faces while they waited at a French rail station, reports both the Boston Globe and Boston Herald. After being medically treated, the four students were released and apparently plan to stay in Europe to finish their studies, according to reports.
Devastating blow to airline shuttle service: Bay State left out of White House appointments
The Boston-Washington, D.C. shuttle service must be hurting these days. President Donald Trump is largely steering clear of Massachusetts pols from both parties as he continues to assemble his administration, Christian Wade reports in the Gloucester Times. Just four Bay Staters have been picked for administration posts, compared to 27 individuals from Texas.
Motorists surge to parking spaces despite surge pricing
Surge pricing at parking meters on some of Boston’s busiest streets isn’t dissuading drivers from taking to the streets as officials had hoped and the higher prices—as much as $3.75 an hour in some Back Bay locations—could be rolled back before year’s end, Hillary Chabot reports in the Herald. The city may explore boosting parking fines next in its ongoing search for ways to reduce traffic congestion.
‘It’s been one problem after another’
Give the Globe credit: It ran a front-page Sunday piece by Mark Arsenault on all its production and delivery woes tied to its new Taunton printing facility. From Mark: “In building the plant, the Globe opted for an unconventional press design, meant to be economical and highly flexible. But it also guaranteed a steep learning curve for the pressroom staff and managers, experts say, and the software and equipment have been bedeviled with troubles that have cost significant time and money to diagnose and address.”
The BBJ’s Craig Douglas has another explanation: “The Globe’s production problems at root are simple: Its printing operation in Taunton lacks the capacity to produce enough quality papers to meet customer demand,” i.e. the Globe, NYT, Boston Herald, USA Today, all of them printed in Taunton. Media critic Dan Kennedy has more on the Taunton fiasco.
Transforming Chelsea into the ‘Brooklyn of Boston’?
Boston Magazine chats with Erik Rueda, the head of the Chelsea-based Erik Rueda Design Lab, but Universal Hub isn’t impressed with his idea of transforming Chelsea into the “Brooklyn of Boston,” a place fellow hipsters could call home amid a “mix of trendy living and workshop spaces.” It never ceases to amaze us how hipsters generally view blue-collar neighborhoods as places ripe for colonization by superior beings with finer tastes in scones, coffee and craft beer.
Pro-pot advocates learn the hard way: All politics are local
Pot advocates may have scored an impressive statewide victory last year with passage of the Question 4 marijuana legalization initiative – and they may also be good at holding rallies on Boston Common – but they’re lousy at fighting political battles at the local level, losing skirmish after skirmish in towns and cities over retail sale of pot in communities, reports Dan Adams at the Globe. Btw, from a separate Globe piece: “Weedmaps, one of the country’s larger and more established marijuana firms, is going all-in on Massachusetts and its new recreational pot market. The California company, which sells software to licensed cannabis operators and publishes a popular online directory of dispensaries for consumers, is finalizing a lease for a downtown Boston office to accommodate its sales and lobbying team.”
Gov. Baker opens legal ‘can of worms’ with his anti-opioids legislation
Sounds simple: Throw the legal book at anyone who sells illegal opioids to addicts who later die of overdoses. But Margaret Monsell at CommonWealth magazine says it’s really not so simple, particularly if Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed anti-opioids bill is passed and law enforcement officials start going after people who “distribute” illegal opioids, not just “sell” the drugs. She has other concerns about the bill and its wording.
Is the state going to offer Amazon a potpourri of development options?
As some state and city leaders see Suffolk Downs as a leading site candidate to lure Amazon to Boston (as the Globe’s Tim Logan and Jon Chesto report), Gov. Charlie Baker sounds as if the state is going to tout Massachusetts in general as a great place for Amazon to locate its ‘second’ headquarters (as the Herald’s Jordan Graham reports). But in an editorial headlined ‘Don’t let differing agendas muddy the Amazon headquarters pitch,’ the Boston Business Journal warns that offering up numerous alternative sites in the Boston area – and sometimes far outside Boston, as some cities and towns are pushing – may dilute the state’s pitch for Amazon HQ2: “Amazon isn’t looking at Massachusetts because it wants to solve our economic development challenges. It wants to tap into our strengths. And like it or not, those strengths are clustered around the 617 and 781 area codes.”
Two killed in separate commuter rail incidents
This is sad and tragic. From Brian Benson at Wicked Local: “A woman was killed and a man was seriously injured by a commuter rail train early Friday, causing cancellations and delays throughout the morning commute. The victims were struck around 5:30 a.m. near the bridge that carries Speen Street over the Framingham/Worcester commuter rail line, Transit Police said in a statement. In Dedham, another pedestrian was killed just before 6:15 Friday night when he was struck by a Franklin commuter rail line train.”
Enough with the T bashing: Here’s what the transit agency is getting right
Despite all the recent operational woes at the T (including a locomotive refurbishment program that’s not going so well, as Bruce Mohl reports at CommonWealth magazine), Ted Pyne, also writing at CommonWealth, says the public shouldn’t overlook the fact that important reforms and initiatives have been implemented at the MBTA. He outlines five of them.
But not everyone is happy with T changes …
MBTA bus mechanics are upset that new T general manager Luis Ramirez has a financial incentives clause written into his contract that would reward him if current privatization efforts are successfully carried out – like privatizing bus mechanic jobs, reports Adam Vaccaro at the Globe. Bus mechanics are planning a rally outside the T’s offices today.
Thanks to judge’s ruling, sanctuary cities are safe – for now
The state’s self-declared sanctuary cities, or cities that have all but declared themselves sanctuary cities, can breathe a sigh of relief, at least for now, after a U.S. District court judge dealt a major setback to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ threat to withhold federal assistance from Chicago and other sanctuary cities, reports Phil Demers at MassLive.
Charlestown: The ‘Ground Zero’ of city elections
As goes Charlestown, so goes the city of Boston? The Globe’s Milton Valencia reports that Charlestown, which isn’t fielding a candidate in the city’s District One council race, is all of sudden attracting attention from candidates from other parts of the distract with preliminary elections less than two weeks away.
Ipswich fire chief arrested on domestic assault charge
From Wicked Local: “Ipswich Fire Chief Gregory Gagnon, 41, of Dracut was arrested Saturday morning in connection with an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Middlesex District Attorney’s and Dracut Police into allegations of assault on a female victim who is known to him, according to a statement from the D.A.’s office.” Gagnon has been put on leave.
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