Happening Today

Baker in Las Vegas, Bloomberg at HubWeek, Clinton Global Initiative

— Gov. Charlie Baker travels today to Las Vegas for a talk with other governors about clean energy initiatives and to pay respects to the victims of the Oct. 1 mass shooting in the city. The tribute to victims is at 11 a.m. (PST) and the meeting and panel discussion with other governors is at 4:05 p.m. (PST)

Massachusetts Association of Health Plans holds its annual all-day conference, with Senate President Stan Rosenberg giving opening remarks at 8:30 a.m. and with events and speeches held throughout the day, Seaport Hotel, One Seaport Ln., Boston.

UMass-Lowell hosts a memorial reception to honor the life of William Hogan, the university’s first chancellor, with UMass President Marty Meehan, former Sen. Stephen Panagiotakos, UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney, and UMass Lowell political science professor John Wooding expected to speak, UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center, 50 Warren St., Lowell, 10 a.m.

— Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is interviewed by Fidelity Investment’s Abby Johnson at HubWeek, 1 City Hall Square, Boston, 11:30 a.m.

32BJ SEIU joins activists and community groups for a rally marking the third month that Francisco Rodriguez, a member of the union, has been detained by federal immigration officials, State House steps, 12 p.m.

Massachusetts Tech Collaborative chief of staff Maeghan Welford, a senior advisor to the Mass. eHealth Institute, moderates a panel on the women behind digital health, The HUB, City Hall Plaza, Boston, 12 p.m.

— Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, and FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn are interviewed by Boston Neighborhood Network Radio about the importance of community broadcasting, net neutrality, and digital equity, WBCA-FM 102.9, 12:30 p.m.

— As part of its statewide series of hearings on new marijuana regulations, the Cannabis Control Commission convenes a listening session in Pittsfield today, Berkshire Community College, K111 Lecture Hall, 1350 West St., Pittsfield, 1 p.m.

— Senate President Stanley Rosenberg attends the Franklin Regional Council of Governments 20th anniversary party, John Olver Transit Center, 12 Olive St., Greenfield, 3 p.m.

— Former President Bill Clinton and his Clinton Foundation bring the 10th annual Clinton Global Initiative University to Northeastern University today and through the weekend, Northeastern University, Boston, 6:30 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Trump delivers one-two punch to ObamaCare – and Massachusetts

President Trump plans to scrap a key federal subsidies program for health insurance companies, an action that Gov. Charlie Baker and others in Massachusetts have long feared and warned could throw the state’s insurance market into turmoil. The NYT has the details on Trump’s subsidies move late Thursday.

The action came only hours after Trump ordered changes in the nation’s insurance system, including sales of cheaper policies with fewer benefits and fewer protections for consumers, as the Times notes. 

Both moves are going to force Bay State officials to scramble in coming days, weeks and months. Only yesterday, the state’s Health Connector approved the lower of two insurance rates for 2018, based partly on the hope that Trump wouldn’t cut subsidies for health coverage for lower-income people, as reported by the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett. Those rates will now likely have to be adjusted higher, perhaps much higher. Meanwhile, Attorney General Martha Healey is already signaling she plans to legally challenge Trump’s executive order that would let Americans buy health insurance across state lines, as SHNS’s Katie Lannan reports (pay wall). U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, along with other Democrats, is condemning Trump’s actions to gut ObamaCare via executive order, reports Shannon Young at MassLive. There was one happy camper yesterday: The Retailers Association of Massachusetts, which welcomed Trump’s move to make cheaper health-care plans available, as SHNS also reports.

Bottom line: What a public-policy mess.

Senate and House to negotiate differences over ‘bump stock’ ban

As the AP’s Steve LeBlanc reports at South Coast Today, Massachusetts is indeed on its way to becoming the first state since the Las Vegas shooting to ban ‘bump stock’ devices that allow semi-automatic guns to be fired like virtual automatic weapons. But first the Senate and House have to work out differences in their bills, after the Senate unanimously voted yesterday to ban the sale of bump stocks as well as trigger cranks. “The two versions must be reconciled before a final bill is sent to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who has said he would sign a ban if it reaches his desk,” LeBlance writes. 

South Coast Today

New England’s north-south divide on gun-control laws

Speaking of gun control: Emily Judem at WGBH has a terrific info-chart package on varying gun laws within the six-state New England region. Basically, the three northern, more rural states – New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont – have far fewer gun restrictions than the three southern, more densely populated states – Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She looks at laws on background checks, licensures, restrictions on buying, conceal-carry and other provisions. Check it out. It may be an eye-opener for many living in our blue-state Massachusetts bubble.


Healey to probe accusations that utilities schemed to drive up winter power prices

From Brian Dowling at the Herald: “Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is reviewing a ‘concerning’ new study that claims two New England utilities throttled $3.6 billion out of ratepayers — an apparent case of market manipulation that industry experts say echoed the Enron scandal.”

At the heart of this controversy, ultimately, is the issue of whether the region needs more natural-gas pipelines. Utilities have said skyrocketing winter prices point to the need for more pipeline capacity. Environmentalists reject that argument. Someone is exaggerating their claims here – and that, ultimately, is what Healey’s office will be investigating too.

Boston Herald

MBTA convenes task force after surge of deaths on rail tracks

Following a sharp increase in the number of people killed by MBTA trains in recent months, state officials are planning to convene a new task force to investigate rail deaths, many of them apparently tied to suicides, and they’re seeking federal help on how to counter such incidents, reports the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro. 

Boston Globe

Springfield’s dubious embrace of Dr. Seuss

Matt Szafranski at Western Massachusetts Politics and Insight has a good post on Springfield’s dubious embrace of all things Dr. Seuss. He’s not defending a Cambridge librarian’s recent criticism of Dr. Seuss books as being racist. Instead, he focuses on the recently opened Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum and how it’s really more of a tourism trap than a museum seeking to tell the nuanced truths about Theodor Seuss Geisel’s work over the years. And he thinks Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is making a jackass of himself, btw.

Fyi: Matt also points out this NYT piece, published before all the recent Seuss controversies, that rips into the museum for not presenting and explaining some of the racist art of Theodor Seuss Geisel, who later regretted such works.


Criminal-justice bill draws praise, scrutiny and criticism

As eighteen senators gathered yesterday to praise and push a comprehensive Senate criminal-justice reform bill (as reported by SHNS’s Katie Lannan – pay wall), details of the legislation were coming under close scrutiny yesterday from a number of quarters. The Globe’s Joshua Miller reports on the varying reactions to a provision that would forbid parents from testifying against their children in almost all criminal and juvenile delinquency matters. Meanwhile, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, in a blog post by Ryan Kearney, blasted another provision that would raise the felony threshold for the crimes of larceny and credit card fraud from the current level of $250 and up to $1,500.

On a sunny day in Northampton, it literally rained money

Paul Vidich has anxiety about money, so of course he took the $389 he made from his roofing job and dropped it on a busy Northampton intersection in a deluge of $1 and $2 bills that somehow didn’t lead to complete chaos. Steve Musal of the Hampshire Gazette captured the scene. 


Trahan becomes the second female Dem to declare for Tsongas’s seat

Touting the $241,953 she raised during the last two weeks of September, Lori Trahan, the former chief of staff to former U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan (now head of UMass), made it official yesterday: She’s indeed running for the Third Congressional District seat to be vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, becoming the second female Democrat to announce her candidacy. SHNS’s Katie Lannan at Salem New and Jim O’Sullivan at the Globe have more. With state Rep. Juana Matias the other declared female Dem in the now five-way Democratic race, the big question now is: What does state Sen. Barbara L’Italien do? Give up her safe legislative seat – or go for it?

UMass-Boston’s latest jolt: Interim chancellor to step down next year

The financially struggling UMass-Boston received another jolt yesterday when Barry Mills, who was appointed interim chancellor of the school earlier this year, said he’ll be stepping down from the post at the end of this academic year, reports SHNS’s Michael Norton at WBUR. Mills, the former president of Bowdoin College, said he made the decision now so that UMass officials can find a “world-class leader” in time for the 2018-2019 school year. “Were I at a different stage in my career and able to make a long-term commitment to this heroic institution, I would eagerly seek the permanent position, such is my admiration and affection for this university,” Mills wrote.


Commuter rail chief defends T performance after devastating fed report on breakdowns

More on the T: A day after the federal government reported that the MBTA has the worst record in the nation when it comes to trains breaking down, the GM of the T’s commuter rail system, David Scorey, blamed old “legacy” locomotives and new engines that needed time to work out the kinks, reports Gintautas Dumcius at MassLIve. He suggested that some, though not all, of last year’s problems won’t repeat themselves in 2017.

The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld is not impressed with all the excuses: “What an embarrassment. Massachusetts displaces the Garden State as having the worst commuter transit system in the nation, and all under Gov. Charlie Baker’s watch.”


MuckRock lands new funding to dig into public records

MuckRock, the non-profit public records journalism site spun out of the Boston Globe’s R&D lab seven years ago, has landed $440,000 in new funding from the Knight Foundation and The Democracy Fund, Richard Bilton reports at the Nieman Lab. The cash will enable the co-founders of the site—which helps reporters secure public records—to work on the project full-time, the Somerville-based group says.

Nieman Lab

Berkshire art sale opponents look to fund legal challenges

Opponents of the Berkshire Museum’s plan to auction off some of its prized art holdings have begun raising funds for what they hope will be multiple legal challenges to the sale, the first of which includes two Norman Rockwell paintings and is now just over a month away, Larry Parnass of the Berkshire Eagle reports. Attorney General Maura Healey’s office is also investigating the planned art sale.

Berkshire Eagle

State trooper found not guilty of beating driver after wild NH car chase

From the Herald’s Owen Boss: “A Massachusetts state trooper was found not guilty yesterday of simple assault charges stemming from the violent arrest of a man who led officers on a wild car chase across the New Hampshire border last year, a court official said.” He may have been found not guilty, but the video footage of the incident (YouTube) is still damning. 

Boston Herald

Boston cop charged with laundering stolen money at Plainridge Park Casino

From State House New Service: “A Boston police officer was indicted Thursday for allegedly stealing money from an evidence room and attempting to launder it at Plainridge Park Casino. Joseph Nee, 44, was indicted by a Suffolk County grand jury on charges of larceny over $250 and money laundering, Attorney General Maura Healey announced. Authorities allege that Nee stole roughly $2,000, which carried the traces of red dye from an anti-theft pack, from the file of a closed bank robbery case.”

SHNS (pay wall)

Sorry, Connecticut, we’re keeping the casino dough here

Speaking of Plainridge: A cool $100 million of the $172.5 million dropped at the Plainridge Park Casino in its first year of operation was ‘recaptured revenue’ — i.e. money that otherwise would have gone to out-of-state casinos, UMass researchers found in a study commissioned by the Mass. Gaming Commission. Natasha Isak at CommonWealth magazine reports that 20 percent of the revenue at Plainridge came from out-of-state gamblers and about the same amount was from Bay State residents who previously had not gambled at all.  


WWII airman, missing since 1945, will be buried on Sunday in Brookline

Army Air Forces Second Lieutenant Richard M. Horwitz, a Brookline native who was only 22 when his plane was shot down during a bombing mission over Italy in World War II, will be buried this Sunday in Brookline. His body was recently recovered off the coast of Italy. All these years later, his surviving relatives still grieve, but at least now he’s coming home and they will have some closure.

Boston Globe

Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day

The governor’s office has issued a proclamation declaring today as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day in Massachusetts, similar to a proclamation signed by Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Secretary of State William Galvin last year at this time. Metastatic Breast Cancer is incurable and more research funding is desperately needed to find a cure for MBC, say health-care advocates.

Sunday public affairs TV

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, who talks with host Jon Keller about health care, the Trump administration and the economy.

This is New England, NBC Boston Channel 10, 9:30 a.m. With host Latoyia Edwards, this week’s topics: The Doug Floutie Foundation, Instadgram Chopper and Windrush Farm.

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Doug Banks, editor of the Boston Business Journal Editor, and Shirley Leung, business columnist at the Boston Globe, talk about  Amazon bids, changes at General Electric, sexual harassment in the workplace, and more.

CEO Corner, NECN, 10:30 a.m. Camelle Kent, WellPet CEO, talks about this Tewksbury-based company that makes natural foods for pets .

DC Dialogue, NECN, 11:30 a.m. Dan Dolan, president of the New England Power Generators Association, discusses efforts to roll back the clean power plan and what that will mean to New England; Suffolk University pollster David Paleologos on his latest poll that finds growing dissatisfaction with the Republican Party and President Trump.   

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m.. This week’s guest: Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce president Jim Rooney, who talks with anchor Ed Harding and co-anchor Janet Wu.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. This week’s topic: 2017: Education in and out of the Classroom.

Big Data Bootcamp

Boston Convention & Exhibition Center

Children’s Vision Advocacy Day

Children’s Vision Massachusetts

Massachusetts Councils on Aging Annual Fall Conference

Massachusetts Councils on Aging

Mass. Marijuana Summit: Understanding the challenges and opportunities in the new age of legalization

State House News Forum

Today’s Headlines


Bose may expand near New Balance headquarters, sources say – Boston Business Journal

Cambridge Boy Scout troop allowed girls long before national decision – WBUR


Court dismisses town’s lawsuit against Sudbury Station – MetroWest Daily News

Worcester EMTs may picket – Worcester Business Journal

Outside group continues attack on Feeney – Sun-Chronicle

Central Mass. officials preparing for arrival of evacuees from Puerto Rico – Telegram & Gazette

Civil penalties from NOAA could be next for Carlos Rafael – Standard-Times


Collins to announce decision on governor’s race Friday – Portland Press-Herald

Chief of Statf Kelly: I’m not quitting or being fired – The HIll

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