Happening Today

North-South rail, T reliability, Criminal-justice debate and more …

MASSPIRG releases a report titled ‘How Reliable Is the T? Needed Improvements to the MBTA’s Method for Measuring Subway Reliability on the Back on Track Performance Dashboard,’ Entrance to the Park Street T Stop, 10 a.m.

— The North South Rail Link working group holds a meeting to discuss progress and ways to continue building support, Room 428, 11 a.m.

— House Speaker Rep. Robert DeLeo and Sen. Anne Gobi speak at Farm to School Awareness Day, Grand Staircase, 11 a.m.

— The Senate plans to debate criminal justice reform legislation on Thursday during a formal session that begins at 11 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker and Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Chrystal Kornegay participate in the ceremonial Ribbon Cutting for the Residences at Mill 10, 68 State Street, Ludlow, 11 a.m.

— Rep. Marjorie Decker and Sen. Sal DiDomenico will make their case for getting rid of the the welfare “cap on kids” as they encourage donations of actual winter caps and mittens for children in need, House Members Lounge, 11:30 a.m.

Korean-American Citizens League of New England hosts a Korea Day celebration at the State House, with House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Congressional candidate Dan Koh, Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and Reps. Tackey Chan, Donald Wong, Keiko Orrall, Rady Mom, and Paul Schmid expected to speak, Great Hall, 12 p.m.

— Attorney General Maura Healey is a guest on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 1 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera and local officials gather for a MassWorks Infrastructure Program announcement in Lawrence, Street Level Café (located within New Balance Facility), 200 Merrimack Street, Lawrence, 3:30 p.m.

— Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants delivers his annual State of the Judiciary Address, John Adams Courthouse – Great Hall, One Pemberton Square, Boston, 4 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll visit Root, a nonprofit providing at-risk young adults with job skills training in culinary arts and food services, Root NS Inc., 35 Congress St. – Suite 2350, Salem, 5 p.m.

— The Women’s Suffrage Celebration Coalition of Massachusetts hosts a leadership panel, featuring Auditor Suzanne Bump, Sen. Harriette Chandler and others, Worcester Historical Museum, 30 Elm St., Worcester, 5:30 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker gives remarks at the South Boston Community Health Center’s Harvest of Hope Reception honoring Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders and Rep. Nick Collins; Boston Mayor Martin Walsh also plans to attend, Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel, 606 Congress St, Boston, 7:15 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Activists to state: For crying out loud, drink tap water

First, this public service announcement from State House activists, via SHNS’s Katie Lannan at WWLP: “The state’s tab for bottled water has his hit nearly $200,000 since July, and advocates are asking lawmakers to turn on the taps instead for savings. ‘It makes no sense to purchase and throw away water bottles,’ Janet Rothrock told the State Administration and Regulatory Oversight Committee. ‘First of all, they are expensive. A one-liter bottle costing $1.50 is 1,850 times as expensive as a liter of tap water. This is a wasteful use of taxpayer money, and secondly it can be unhealthy. Bottled water is tested only by the manufacturer.’” She has a point.


The GOP’s local and national Trump problem – and no snickering, Dems

The Globe’s Jim O’Sullivan has a good piece this morning on the Massachusetts Republican primary race for U.S. Senate and how the four candidates are not only positioning themselves against U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, but how they’re positioning themselves for or against President Donald Trump. It’s an important story locally, but it’s also an important story now playing out across the country, most dramatically with Republican Sen. Jeff Flake’s stinging attack on Trump as Flake, suffering in the polls, announced he’s not seeking re-election.

The NYT is reporting that the Trump forces are effectively winning the fight to take over the Republican Party, as people like Flake either leave or cave to prevailing political winds. In the Herald, conservative pundit George Will, a harsh Trump critic, writes about how the Virginia gubernatorial race could radicalize both the Republican and Democratic party, no matter who wins. In the NYT, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons warns fellow Democrats that they have their own soul-searching to do amid the Republican Party chaos: “As Democrats call for independence and pragmatism from Republicans, we should be asking ourselves how tolerant we are of dissent within our own party and how much we are really willing to reach across the aisle.”

Translation: He’s warning about Dems’ own radicalization trends.  

Budget battle escalates on Beacon Hill as Baker puts brake on all earmarks

The House and Senate had their recent say on the budget via their budget-veto override votes. Now Gov. Charlie Baker appears to be responding: He’s putting the brakes on what he considers non-essential spending until state finances stabilize. “Until we are much more confident about the state of the commonwealth’s fiscal affairs this year, we’re not planning to release any earmarks,” Baker said yesterday, as reported by SHNS’s Matt Murphy and MassLive’s Shira Schoenberg.

So what started out as an relatively minor spat between House Speaker Robert DeLeo and the administration over a UMass manufacturing program has turned into something much bigger. Interesting.

Baker finds temporary fix for loss of fed subsidies but …

On another budget front, Gov. Charlie Baker has found a time-honored temporary fix to offset the loss of federal subsidies for health-care insurance coverage: Raiding another state fund. This time, it’s a trust controlled by the Massachusetts Health Connector. But the raid will only cover expenses through 2017, leaving open the question of how to fund subsidies next year if Congress doesn’t act to restore them. SHNS’s Matt Murphy has the details.

Btw: A Herald editorial is blasting away at the Trump administration’s rejection of a prior plan by Baker to offset the loss of the fed subsidies. “Gee, if we didn’t know better we’d think the president was actually trying to sow chaos in the health insurance market.”

SHNS (pay wall)

Will X mark the gender spot on new state IDs?

Activists are cheering a bill filed by Sen. Karen Spilka that would require the Registry of Motor Vehicles to offer a third, non-binary option for listing a driver’s gender, Christian Wade reports in the Salem News. Spilka says she filed the legislation on behalf of a teen from her district who did not want to be forced to choose between male and female as her gender identity. The registry has already begun preparing for the switch, which would give drivers the option of choosing ‘X’ under the gender field on licenses and IDs. 

Salem News

Re-moo-able energy: Dalton might milk local farms for ‘cow power’

Selectmen in the Berkshire County town of Dalton are pondering a new and novel renewable source of energy to help power the community—electricity made from cow manure and compost, Patricia LeBoeuf of the Berkshire Eagle reports. The board heard a pitch from Hampshire Power about the cow-generated energy, but decided to wait until its next meeting before making a decision on the re-moo-able energy source. 

Berkshire Eagle

Scott Brown admits he needs to be a little more ‘culturally aware’

From a report at WBUR: “U.S. Ambassador Scott Brown told a New Zealand website Wednesday he accepted advice that he should be more culturally aware after a U.S. inquiry into his conduct at a Peace Corps event in Samoa. The Stuff website said Brown acknowledged complaints were made about his comments to a female food server and to arriving guests at the July event in the Pacific country.”

The Globe’s Nestor Ramos is just glad that Brown, the former U.S. senator from Massachusetts, is now regularly telling people he’s from New Hampshire, not Massachusetts.


Mass Pike drivers, rejoice: I-93, I-95, Routes 1 and 2 drivers may soon be suffering in your tollway misery

Please excuse the schadenfreude of Tobin Bridge and Mass Pike drivers on this one, via Dan Atkinson at the Herald: “Every major highway around Boston would have electronic tolls under a Lynn Democrat’s plan to fill the state’s coffers by dunning drivers. State Sen. Thomas McGee’s plan — which cites fairness for those North Shore and Metrowest drivers who already are hit with daily tolls — would direct state officials to ‘implement a comprehensive system of tolling and travel on and within the metropolitan highway system’ by the end of next year.’”

The bill probably won’t pass, but it’s great to hear the howling in other non-toll areas of the state. Which is a hint at where we’re coming from, geographically speaking. Btw: McGee has filed the bill as he also runs for mayor in Lynn, a race he’s expected to win.

Boston Herald

House approves crackdown on handicap-parking scammers

Speaking of motorist moochers and scofflaws, from the AP’s Steve LeBlanc at the Sentinel & Enterprise: “Drivers who abuse access to handicapped parking spots could face steep fines under a bill approved by the Massachusetts House. The bill — which has already been approved by the state Senate — would slap a fine of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for a second offense for anyone who ‘intentionally makes a false statement in an application” for a handicapped license plate or placard.’”

Sentinel & Enterprise

The unreliable numbers about T reliability

The Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group is expected to release a report today that calls into question the reliability of the MBTA’s numbers regarding the on-time reliability of its transit services, reports the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro, who notes: “There is a lot at stake, including Boston’s appeal as a place to live or locate a business, and the credibility of Governor Charlie Baker, who has made improving MBTA service a top priority of his administration.”

Boston Globe

Lawmakers Provost, Campbell and Pressley share their own ‘me too’ moments

State Reps. Denise Provost and Linda Campbell and City Councilor Ayanna Pressley share their own ‘me too’ moments in a column by the Herald’s Jessica Heslam.

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Joan Vennochi has an excellent column about why women like her (and Elizabeth Warren) initially laugh off sexual-harassment incidents. Joan provides samples of her own “me too” moments in the newspaper world.

Boston Herald

They’re not taking it anymore

With Donald Trump in the White House and all the recent “me too” disclosures, the time is ripe for more females to enter politics – and that’s exactly what they’re doing in Massachusetts. The Globe’s Joanna Weiss has the details.

Boston Globe

Legislative young ones start ‘millennial caucus’

Beacon Hill Baby Boomers, prepare to put down an insurrection. From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “A group of state senators in their 30s are forming a ‘millennial caucus’ to promote a legislative agenda that helps young people in Massachusetts. Sen. Eric Lesser, a Longmeadow Democrat who is 32, said a task force he co-chaired with Sen. Ryan Fattman, R-Webster, 33, found millennials are disconnected from government. ‘The sense of alienation and frustration with the political system is real,’ Lesser said.” They’ve also put together some millennial recommendations for consideration based on a report they presented to Senate President Stan Rosenberg.


Dog versus cats, Yankees versus Sox, large hospitals versus small hospitals …

They’re going at it again on Beacon Hill. No, not craft brewers versus liquor wholesalers, or optometrists versus ophthalmologists. Rather, it’s large hospitals versus small hospitals, with their latest battle being waged over provisions within the big Senate health-care bill. The Globe’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey has the details.

Boston Globe

Did Mayor Walsh really pull the plug on Boston’s Olympics bid?

CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl fact checks Mayor Marty Walsh’s claim during Tuesday’s mayoral debate that he was the one who pulled the plug on Boston’s controversial Summer Olympics bid. Not quite, Mohl finds. The mayor hemmed and hawed when it became apparent public support was tanking, but he never quite killed it outright on his own. Bruce has the details. elf from the bid without actually saying that the bid was finished.”


AIM takes aim at provisions in Senate’s criminal-justice reform bill

As senators prepare today to start debate on the chamber’s sweeping criminal-justice reform bill, the Associated Industries of Massachusetts has expressed concerns about provisions tied to the release of criminal records and raising the threshold on certain felonies. The BBJ’s Greg Ryan has the details. 

While AIM is taking shots at the criminal-justice bill, the Globe’s Joshua Miller reports that several advocacy groups are praising the legislation – and slamming nine district attorneys for criticizing the bill.


It’s true (soft of): Baker is more popular than Warren in Boston

From the Globe’s Frank Phillips: “What? Charlie Baker, the embodiment of establishment Republicanism, is more popular among Boston voters than firebrand populist Elizabeth Warren? That’s what it looks like at first blush in a Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll released earlier this week. But a deeper dive into the numbers with the poll’s director shows the survey is less alarming for Warren and her fellow Democrats.”

Boston Globe

Kayyem predicts Mueller move before holidays

  Mark your calendars: Former Mass. gubernatorial candidate and security expert Juliette Kayyem tells WGBH radio she expects something from the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller on President Trump and Russia before Thanksgiving. Kayyem said the recent pace of leaks and new developments—including the recent onslaught of revelations about the Democrats’ role in funding the infamous Trump dossier—suggests “something big” could be coming and soon, Molly Boigon reports. 


SM& Presents Help Wanted: Education 101 Meets Workforce 2.0

Solomon McCown

Examining the Life of Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum

Real Estate Finance Fundamentals Onsite Cours

NAIOP Massachusetts

Women in Politics: Past, Present, & Future

Mid-Hudson Library System

Harvard Graduate Conference in Political Theory

Harvard University

Beer Mansion

Brooklyn Brewery

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

State House News Forum

Today’s Headlines


Fenway OK’d for dugout seating – Boston Herald

Chance to live in new apartments near North Station draws crowd – Boston Globe


Virginia company sues Mass. over online taxes – Salem News

Rep. Bruce Ayers: Quincy can lead on water transportation – Patriot Ledger

Attleboro mayoral candidates face off at debate – Sun-Chronicle

Senate set to rumble over sentencing and criminal law – WGBH

Amazon to end virtual text book contract with UMass – Hampshire Gazette


Firm tied to Trump asked WikiLeaks for data, Assange says – New York Times

Trump pledges to declare opioid emergency ‘next week’ —again – Politico

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