Happening Today

Senate session, Cannabis Commission executive director and more …

Cannabis Control Commission chairman Steven Hoffman has set today as a deadline to select a new executive director for the commission.

Massachusetts Gaming Commission holds a hearing on a proposed change to a gambler disclosure regulation, 101 Federal Street, 12th Floor, Boston, 10 a.m.

— The Massachusetts Senate meets in full formal session and may resume voting on budget veto overrides that have already cleared the House, Gardner Auditorium, 11 a.m.

— Journalist Steven Rosenberg talks about his new book ‘Middle Class Heroes: Voices from Boston’s Suburbs,’ a collection of articles he wrote for the Boston Globe, Room 341, 12 p.m.

— U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano is a guest on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 11:30 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker is a guest on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 12:30 p.m.

— Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson is interviewed on ‘Radio Boston,’ WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m.

— The Anti-Defamation League hosts a conversation with its New England regional director, Robert Trestan, and Christian Picciolini, a former neo-Nazi who joined the Chicago Area SkinHeads gang at age 14. Tickets are $25, CIC Boston, 50 Milk St., Boston, 6:30 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Suffolk Downs or bust!

It looks the city of Boston will be submitting an Amazon bid today that touts Suffolk Downs as a potential site for the giant e-retailer’s new ‘second’ headquarters, according to reports at the Boston Globe and Boston Business Journal. Meanwhile, the Herald is reporting that “Massachusetts is hitting Amazon with a shotgun blast of up to 24 bids” in all today, among them proposals from Worcester, New Bedford, Billerica, Somerville and, of course, Boston.

Gov. Charlie Baker insists that the shotgun approach – or a blunderbuss approach, more like it – is fine with Amazon, even though Amazon initially said it wanted only one bid from each metropolitan area, the Herald reports. We’ll soon see if the multi-bid approach works. We’ll also see if not including specific incentive offers in bids (with the exception of Worcester) works. Our hunch: Massachusetts makes it to the “second round” of the bidding process – when we assume the bidding process will get more serious and less carnival like.

Granite State can’t resist trashing Bay State in its Amazon bid

Speaking of Amazon bids: Remember the New Hampshire lawmakers who proposed a border sign reading ‘Warning: You Are About To Enter Massachusetts’? Well, New Hampshire’s chip-on-the-shoulder types are at it again, this time bashing Massachusetts in its Amazon headquarters bid, even while touting its proximity to Boston, reports the BBJ’s Greg Ryan. Did they also tout their Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in the bid? Just wondering, for it seems many in NH haven’t a clue about the obvious and largely positive symbiotic relationship between the two states.

The Globe’s Nestor Ramos takes a look at NH’s bid and concludes it reads like something out of the 1950s i.e., its glorification of suburban-like settings and uber-highway system (paid for partly by shaking down Massachusetts motorists, it should be noted).

And over there is an overheating 1993 Honda Accord …

To be honest, New Hampshire does have a point about our nightmare traffic in Boston, which the Globe’s Beth Teitell reports is getting worse by the day and starting to hurt sightseeing businesses: “‘It just stinks to tour Boston right now,’ said Steven Grasso, president of North American Traveler, a North Reading-based travel-planning firm. One of his groups recently spent 35 minutes in a coach traveling from Faneuil Hall to the Boston Opera House — a 0.9-mile trip, according to Google Maps. ‘You can’t move,’ he said.

Boston Globe

UMaine takes aim at UMass’s student enrollment base

Don’t look now, but another New England state is taking aim at Massachusetts. Touting its lower tuition rates, the University of Maine is aggressively recruiting students from Massachusetts, promising it will only charge students the same “in-state cost of UMass,” reports Max Larkin at WBUR. UMaine is even advertising on a billboard along I-93. The biggest spike in Maine’s out-of-state enrollments in recent years has come from Massachusetts, but UMass President Marty Meehan is brushing off the UMaine offensive “with a bit of big-brotherly scorn,” writes Larkin.


Amherst church becomes sanctuary for Springfield man at center of immigration storm

Lucio Perez, the Springfield man whose immigration case has become the focus of fierce activism, took up refuge in an Amherst church Wednesday night after his latest legal effort to halt his deportation failed, Dan Glaun of MassLive reports. The church even converted a meeting room into a bedroom for Perez. Amherst is a sanctuary town, meaning local police would likely not help the feds detain Perez if asked. 


Public unions and Baker administration squaring off over new contracts

SHNS’s Matt Murphy reports that tensions are growing over protracted contract talks between unions representing 35,000 state employees and the Baker administration: “Several of the largest public employee unions in the state wrote a letter to (Governor) Baker last Thursday expressing ‘deep disappointment’ in the administration’s bargaining position to date, suggesting that the governor’s office has drawn a line in the sand and won’t accept any collective bargaining agreement that exceeds 5 percent in incremental costs over three years.”

SHNS (pay wall)

What if you held a hearing and nobody showed up?

Maybe no one from the public showed up at yesterday’s legislative hearing on banning bump-stock devices on guns because the House and Senate have already passed anti-bump-stock measures. We’re just throwing out a possible explanation for the no-shows yesterday. Shira Schoenberg at MassLive has more.


Holy Cross considers kicking Crusader mascot to the curb

What would Chaucer say? The president of Holy Cross has set up a commission to get input on whether to change the school’s sports mascot from the Crusaders because of its religious-wars connotation, Grant Welker of the Worcester Business Journal reports. The proposed change, which we assume is almost a foregone conclusion, comes a year after Amherst College started a lengthy process that led to it moving on from the Lord Jeffries to become the Mammoths. 


‘Is 10 years in Massachusetts solitary confinement torture?’

Answer: Yes. The Globe’s Joshua Miller takes a look at the Beacon Hill debate over solitary confinement in state prisons, something the Senate’s criminal-justice reform bill tries to address, not necessarily to the satisfaction of reformers. Btw: SHNS (pay wall) reports that the criminal-justice legislation could hit the Senate floor as soon as next week.

Boston Globe

Painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa?

An artist who painted a controversial mural in Allston is now saying he’ll make revisions to his masterpiece amid complaints the artwork crosses the risqué line into misogynistic territory. The Globe’s Steve Annear is somewhat diplomatic in his description of the mural. The Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin gets closer to what the mural was really (and crudely) trying to convey: “There’s a bit of an uproar in Allston today, the day after two artists painted a mural featuring a black woman petting her pussy at Cambridge and Linden streets.” Yeah, you can say it crossed the risqué line.

Protestors push for statewide ban on elephant rides

We were just thinking the same thing: Banning elephant rides in Massachusetts. From Wendall Waters at Wicked Local: “When a group of 265 local residents sent a letter to the Essex Agricultural Society Executive Board asking its members to discontinue elephant rides at the Topsfield Fair, they received no response. Now, the Topsfield resident who organized that group is changing tactics and urging everyone who opposes the use of elephants in traveling shows to support legislation that would ban the practice in the state of Massachusetts.” An accompanying editorial at Wicked Local says it’s time for the Topsfield vendor to end the elephant rides.

Wicked Local

Elizabeth Warren’s next target: Tax cuts

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is sharpening the political knives and practicing her lines as she gears up to oppose the next big item on the Republican agenda in Washington: Tax cuts, according to a report by the Globe’s Victoria McGrane.

Boston Globe

Court rejects ‘hail mary’ attempt to save Prouty Garden

Maybe this is the last battle in this long-running feud? From Jessica Bartlett at the BBJ: “A Hail Mary attempt to revive a beloved garden has failed, with a state court siding in favor of Boston Children’s Hospital in a lawsuit over the hospital’s expansion. Advocates for the Prouty Garden filed the suit in November 2016 to protest the state’s approval of a billion-dollar project by Boston Children’s Hospital, which is building an 11-story, 575,000-square-foot building on the site of the former garden. The state approved the plans in October 2016 after a 10-month review, despite protests from the group. Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders supported the state’s decision in a ruling issued Wednesday.”


Good-bye, NorthPoint. Hello, Cambridge Crossing

Besides repositioning it as an alternative to Cambridge’s Kendall Square, the owner of the massive NorthPoint development site is rebranding the 45-acre area – which straddles the Cambridge-Boston-Somerville borders – as “Cambridge Crossing.” The Globe’s Tim Logan has the details on the ongoing and future projects at the site.

Boston Globe

Tito wants to eliminate the agency formerly known as the BRA

Speaking of development and name changes: Mayoral candidate Tito Jackson says renaming the former Boston Redevelopment Agency to the Boston Planning & Development Agency isn’t enough. He wants to eliminate the agency and require developers to build more affordable housing. He also wants an elected school board. The Herald’s O’Ryan Johnson has the details.

Boston Herald

Everett man found guilty of plotting to behead conservative blogger

From Alanna Durkin Richer at WBUR: “A Massachusetts man was convicted Wednesday of plotting to behead conservative blogger Pamela Geller and kill other Americans on behalf of the Islamic State group. Jurors found David Wright guilty of all charges, including conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries. Prosecutors said Wright, his uncle, and a third man conspired to kill Geller because they were upset she organized Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas in 2015.”


Reform Lite

Count the Herald editorial board among those not impressed with the Senate’s health-care cost containment legislation that was unveiled earlier this week: “Five years ago Beacon Hill enacted a new law that, we were assured, would bend the health care cost curve and save consumers and taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars while improving health care outcomes. Now the Senate is back with the same goals and yet another everything-but-the-kitchen-sink bill — heavy on regulation and light on real reform.”

Boston Herald

Keating backs repealing opioid law seen as shielding drug-industry from safety regulations

From Marilyn Schairer at WGBH: “Massachusetts Congressman Bill Keating (D-MA 9th District) says he is prepared to introduce legislation to repeal a 2016 opioid distribution law that came to light earlier this week following a joint investigation by The Washington Post and ‘60 Minutes.’ The probe uncovered a 2016 law that was sponsored by Pennsylvania Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA 10th District)— who has ties to the pharmaceutical industry — that makes it harder for the Drug Enforcement Agency to crack down on unsafe practices in the pharmaceutical industry.” Keating says he thinks he has the backing in Congress to repeal the law.


Number of opioids prescribed by doctors down sharply

Speaking of opioids: Massachusetts doctors prescribed 28 percent fewer opioids to their patients in the first half of 2017 than they did in 2015, state officials say, a decline they attribute in part to a new database that helps closely track painkiller distribution, Christian Wade reports in the Salem News. Meanwhile, former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy II talked with K.C. Meyers of the Cape Cod Times about the President’s Commission on Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which Kennedy serves on alongside Gov. Charlie Baker. Kennedy said the crisis may offer Trump his best chance to redefine his presidency, calling it a “make or break moment.” 

Memorial for murder victims running out of money and, sadly, room

The long-time overseers of Beacon Hill’s Garden of Peace, which commemorates murder victims, is asking the state to take over the site, saying its upkeep is too costly and time consuming. Sadly, it’s also running out of room, as the number of homicide victims listed at the site keeps rising. SHNS’s Katie Lannan has more.

SHNS (pay wall)

Women in Business – An evening with Pulitzer Prize-winning Globe Columnist, Joan Vennochi

Arlington Chamber of Commerce

Local Emerging Market Series: Transitioning to a Zero Waste Economy

Climate Action Business Association and Save That Stuff

Leaving Hate Behind Featuring Christian Picciolini

ADL New England

City of Worcester – Candidate Debates: District Council Candidates

City of Worcester

Me(dia) Response: self-awareness and activism through art-making | Part 3: Creative Action in Cambridge

MIT List Visual Arts Center

40 & Under: What Do You Want To See In Boston- Black Millennial Mixer

Friends of H.R.I.

Cloud Connection


Boston College Women’s Summit

Processing Community Day

MIT Media Lab

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

State House News Forum

Today’s Headlines


Suffolk looks to add more dorms, but maybe in East Boston, South Boston or Charlestown – Universal Hub

Tito Jackson would abolish development agency – Boston Herald

Bill Linehan to leave City Council two months early – Boston Globe


MBTA GM mum on bus privatization – WGBH

State building $23 million unemployment assistance center in Brockton – Brockton Enterprise

UMass eyes major mixed-use development – Hampshire Gazette

Sen. Eric Lesser busing constituents from Springfield to Boston for rail hearing – MassLive


This is what really happens when Amazon comes to your town – Politico

White House wavers on sending Trump to demilitarized zone along Nl. Korea border – Washington Post

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