Happening Today

Pot business opportunities, cabinet meeting and more …

Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and Smith, Costello & Crawford Public Policy Law Group were scheduled to hold a panel discussion this morning about the new marijuana industry, with Chris Beals, president and general counsel of Weedmaps, Todd Finard, chief executive of Finard Properties, and Cannabis Control commissioner Shaleen Title participating, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, 265 Franklin St., 17th Floor, Boston, 8 a.m.

— Boston Mayor Marty Walsh attends the Bridge Over Troubled Waters opening of a newly renovated and expanded living space for 50 homeless youth, mothers and children, 5 Abby Road, Brighton, 9:30 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker meets with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and members of his Cabinet, Room 360, 10 a.m.

Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery meets in Springfield for a public hearing on a bill filed by Rep. Carlos Gonzalez related to substance use and alcohol addiction centers and clinics in low income municipalities, Springfield City Hall, 36 Court St., Springfield, 11 a.m.

— Boston Mayor Martin Walsh is a guest on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 12 p.m.

— Auditor Suzanne Bump is the featured speaker at the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority Leadership Meeting, 19 Tafts Ave., Winthrop, 1 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Is the state going to blow it on Amazon bid?

Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday reiterated, in stronger language, that the state is not going to get involved in individual local bids to land Amazon’s ‘second’ headquarters, saying the administration will instead pitch the economic benefits of all of Massachusetts, reports SHNS’s Andy Metzger (pay wall). “Locals are going to propose on their own. We’re not going to partner with any particular local. Because there’s a lot of different folks who are interested in submitting proposals and God bless ’em. Go for it,” Baker told WGBH’s Boston Public Radio on Thursday.

Maybe he’s right. Maybe it’s best to simply wait until the field is narrowed by Amazon and then go for a more forceful, specific bid in a presumed second round of bidding. But to state the obvious: Baker’s strategy is basically calling for NOT putting one’s best foot forward at the outset – and that best foot forward is focusing on sites in Boston and Cambridge (i.e. Suffolk Downs, Seaport, NorthPoint, the Flower Exchange etc.), not the Merrimack Valley and elsewhere, sorry to say. Baker’s approach, perhaps also driven by election-year politics, is exactly what the BBJ warned about last week, i.e. letting different local agendas muddy the bid waters. The administration is taking a gamble with its current approach. How big of a gamble will be known soon enough.

Fyi: The Globe’s Nestor Ramos visited Seattle to see what it’s like to host an Amazon headquarters and discovered how “completely the company has consumed this city.”

Battle over ‘physician-assisted dying’ bills heating up on Beacon Hill

The public got a foretaste yesterday of the coming battles at the State House over the highly charged issue of “physician-assisted dying,” as advocates for people with disabilities warned that assisted-dying legislation, if passed, could lead to some concluding that it’s “cheaper to kill us than to have us live,” as one activist put it at a briefing, reports SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall). Meanwhile, the Herald’s Meghan Ottolini reports the legislation is gaining ground on Beacon Hill, as the Massachusetts Medical Society polls its members about the issue. A hearing is set next week on the legislation.

In Boston, Sessions vows to go after MS-13 ‘clique by clique and member by member’

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, appearing in Boston yesterday, targeted the nasty MS-13 gang for legal elimination, saying law enforcement authorities will go after the transnational group “clique by clique and member by member,” according to reports at the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald and the Eagle Tribune, which provides the more edgy coverage of the three by saying Sessions “blamed loose immigration policies for a proliferation of drug cartels” that prey on immigrant communities. 

Rosenberg: Lawmakers will act to strengthen immigrant protections

Speaking of immigration matters: Senate President Stan Rosenberg said yesterday said he’s hoping a bill will emerge early next year that would further strengthen protections for immigrants, beyond a recent Supreme Judicial Court ruling that said local police don’t have the authority to detain people based solely on requests from fed immigration authorities, reports SHNS’s Katie Lannan at New Boston Post.  

Meanwhile, Rosenberg has also outlined a preliminary Senate agenda for this fall, also via SHNS (pay wall): east-west and South Coast rail issues, health care and criminal justice reform, and issues of concern to millennials.

New Boston Post

Retailers to pursue sales-tax cut to 5 percent next year

It’s official: The Retailers Association of Massachusetts is not making the same mistake committed by tax-cut advocates in 2010, when they greedily over-reached by going for a sales-tax cut from 6.25 percent to 3 — and which voters rejected. Instead, the group announced yesterday it’s going for a sales-tax cut to 5, the same rate it was in 2009, on next year’s statewide ballot, reports the BBJ’s Greg Ryan. “There certainly was support to go lower,” said RAM vice president Bill Rennie. “But there also was a strong sentiment that a return to the previous rate of 5 percent, where we’d been for decades… would be the right approach to take and would ring true with voters.” 


Meanwhile: Are business groups going to legally target paid-leave to keep it off the ballot?

The BBJ’s Greg Ryan has a piece on how business groups are gearing up to defeat a slate of progressive initiatives expected to be on next year’s statewide ballot. This graf jumped out at us: “It’s possible that, as with the millionaire’s tax, business groups will turn to the courts to fight the paid leave proposal, said AIM’s Chris Geehern. One potential legal claim may be off the table, however: Ballot questions cannot require specific appropriations from the treasury, but by using the language ‘subject to appropriation,’ Raise Up (the initiative’s backer) seems to avoid that pitfall.”


Here we go: Trump regulators could revive local pipeline battles

Anti-pipeline activists are warily watching the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for signs that under President Trump the agency will take a more active approach in resolving state-level disputes over new gas infrastructure, Bruce Mohl reports at CommonWealth Magazine. Recent decisions by FERC have some observers concerned that the agency may seek to strong-arm the state into approving pipelines that activists have successfully halted to date. 


Baker fires warning shot over weakening English-immersion instructions

From SHNS’s Matt Murphy: “English language learning instruction works for a good number of non-native speaking students, according to Gov. Charlie Baker, who said Thursday he does not want to see efforts to improve the system lead to the end of strategies that work for some children.” The governor’s remarks seemed aimed at lawmakers now negotiating compromise legislation that would give school districts more leeway on how to teach immigrant students English.

SHNS (pay wall)

The C.T.E lawsuit: So is the once convicted-murderer Aaron Hernandez now a victim?

Attorneys for Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots star who committed suicide earlier this year while serving time after being convicted of murdering Odin Lloyd, revealed yesterday that BU researchers have concluded Hernandez suffered from a severe case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head trauma found in former NFL players – and the family promptly filed a $20 million against the NFL and Pats, effectively blaming the league and team for his death, according to reports at the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald and the New York Times.

We’re certainly not going to dispute the medical validity of CRE – nor make excuses for the NFL’s pathetic past policies on players’ head injuries. But we do find it more than a little gross at how blatantly Hernandez’s attorney and family are now portraying Hernandez as the victim in this entire tragedy. Are we now supposed to toss out the old narrative that Hernandez was emotionally traumatized by the early death of his father? Do other football players, while under multimillion-dollar team contracts, routinely go around murdering people? Will Odin Lloyd’s family sue Hernandez’s relatives if they prevail in their suit against the NFL and Pats? No, wait. We forgot. Hernandez’s conviction was vacated after his suicide. No financial recourse for Odin’s family, it seems.

Foxboro library officials censor exhibit on … censorship

Irony, thy name is Foxboro: An exhibit of posters on the importance of freedom of expression and the press has been taken down by library officials after complaints about what some saw as graphic and inappropriate content, Rick Foster reports in the Sun-Chronicle. The exhibit, installed by a local collector, was funded in part with grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. 

Sun Chronicle

Boston hit with one-two punch of suits over IndyCar and boy’s drowning

From a legal standpoint, it wasn’t a good day for Boston yesterday. The former CEO of the Boston Grand Prix IndyCar race that ultimately was cancelled filed a suit against the city, demanding $15.5 million, reports Adam Reilly at WGBH. Earlier, the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld first reported that the family of the 7-year-old boy, Kyzr Willis, who drowned off Carson Beach in July 2016 while attending a day drop-in program, has also line up the city and Mayor Marty Walsh in their legal crosshairs. Mayor Walsh expressed sorry and sympathy yesterday towards the family and said the city will “work something out” with them, the Herald reports in a separate story.

Remembering the Hurricane of ’38 – and preparing for the next big one

With Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and now the devastating Maria on everyone’s minds these days, it should be noted that yesterday was the 79th anniversary of the Hurricane of ’38 that left a tragic path of death and destruction in Massachusetts and much of New England. Both the Worcester Telegram and MassLive.com have slideshows of the tragic events of Sept. 21, 1938. 

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Scot Lehigh has a good column on how the city of New Bedford learned from the Hurricane of ‘38 and a later storm – and proceeded to build an impressive sea-barrier wall that seems to have worked to tame the effects of hurricane and other storm sea surges. Lehigh notes that only now is Boston and the state contemplating construction of a four-mile long sea barrier from Deer Island to Hull to protect Boston.

Want to know if your Boston condo will stay dry in 2070?

Speaking of storm flooding, Benjamin Swasey at WGBH points out Boston’s new interactive Climate Ready Boston map that you can click on to find out how flooded or hot a neighborhood might get following a storm or heat wave as a result of climate change. South Boston, East Boston and the South Station in 2070? Hopefully, you — or your children and grandchildren — will have sump pumps. Curiously, the Back Bay, once literally part of the bay, looks like it will be maintaining its value in 2070.


Springfield mourns as city prepares for murdered activist’s funeral

The funeral of Jafet Robles, the Springfield activist found shot to death in a Chicopee park earlier this month, will be held this morning at St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield, according to MassLive, which also eports that Chicopee and State Police are still investigating his murder. Matt Szafranskiat Massachusetts Politics and Insight explains why Robles was so respected in the community, saying organizing had become “Robles’s raison d’être” before his death.


Walsh administration’s evolving views on marijuana legalization: No, yes, no

We missed this one yesterday, via CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl, who notes that “some wires appear to be crossed” at City Hall, where an aide says one day that Mayor Walsh, who opposed Question 4, had changed his tune about pot, only for the mayor to say earlier this week that he hasn’t changed his view and that legalization is “awful and a huge mistake” that may burden the city with too many pot shops. “But the voters of Boston spoke,” Walsh said. “They voted the law in.”

Meanwhile, the Herald’s Jack Encarnacao reports on how some cities, like Worcester, are trying to get as much revenue as they can out of future pot shops.


Massachusetts loses $10 billion a year to opioid epidemic

The opioid crisis likely cost the Bay State at least $10 billion in 2016, Martha Bebinger of WBUR reports, citing data from the Centers for Disease Control. And that doesn’t include losses in productivity from would-be workers sidelined or removed from the economy by addiction, which one expert says may be as much as another $10 billion annually. 

In related news, SHNS (pay wall) reports that Gov. Baker is headed to Washington D.C. next week to attend a meeting of a national opioid commission and he expects a final report from the group “out soon.” Baker has also signaled he plans to file more opioid-related legislation on Beacon Hill soon.


Newton drone ban crashes and burns

An attempt by the city of Newton to regulate drone usage has been shot down by a federal judge, Adam Gaffin reports at Universal Hub. Resident Michael Singer, who sued after the ban on flying drones below 400 feet with prior permission of property owners, said the city council exceeded its authority by essentially banning drone flying and U.S. District Court Judge William Young agreed. 

Universal Hub

Sunday public affairs TV

Keller at Large, WBX-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: The Globe’s Jim O’Sullivan, who talks with host Jon Keller about the potential impact of the health-care reform battle in Washington, D.C. on Massachusetts.

This is England, NBC Boston Channel 10, 9:30 a.m. With host Latoyia Edwards, this week’s focus: Rogerson Communities, provider of housing and health care for elders and low-income individuals and families.

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Everbridge CEO Jaime Ellertson and CTO Imad Mouline; CollegeVine CEO Jon Carson and co-founder Johan Zhang; Boston Business Journal editor Doug Banks discussing the top business stories of the week.

On the Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, who talks with anchor Ed Harding and co-anchor Janet Wu.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s topics: The Phantom of the Opera, A Coming of Age, and the Infamous Koh-I-Noor .

Cape Cod Scallop Fest

Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber

Fierce Biotech: 2nd Drug Development Forum (EXL)

Blackman Theater

Today’s Headlines


Brainpower may make Boston first in its class – Boston Herald

Project replacing Braintree bridge to begin Friday – Patriot Ledger


Former Essex County sheriff candidate cleared of larceny charges – Newburyport Daily News

Cape Air battered by uncertainty – Cape Cod Times

Northampton lands big grant to fight opioid deaths in Hampshire County – Hampshire Gazette

SouthCoast station rail proposal gets support – Taunton Gazette

Downtown Lowell high group has enough signatures to get question on ballot – Lowell Sun


White House plan for massive tax cuts gaining momentum – Washington Post

Facebook to turn over Russia-linked ads to Congress – New York Times

Price traveled by private plane at least 24 times – Politico

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