Happening Today

Online learning announcement, T fare system, birth-control bill signing and more …

— Gov. Charlie Baker has ordered flags to half-staff at all state buildings from sunrise till sunset in honor of SPC Donny Nguyen of Quincy, who died Nov. 13 at Fort Campbell, Ky.  

Ruderman Family Foundation hosts its second Inclusion Summit for the disabled, with U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, U.S. Reps. Jim Langevin of Rhode Island and Gregg Harper of Mississippi, Boston City Council President Michelle Wu and former Malawi president Dr. Joyce Banda among the conference’s speakers, Boston Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, 1 Seaport Lane, Boston.

— Gov. Charlie Baker attends the Governor’s Convening for Digital Innovation and Lifelong Learning and makes an announcement regarding online learning opportunities, MIT Samberg Conference Center, Chang Building (E52), 50 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, 8:30 a.m.

— Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry hosts a ceremony to kick off the 17th annual Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month with speakers including Reps. Evandro Carvalho and Harold Naughton, Grand Staircase, 10 a.m.

— U.S. Richard Neal, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and others announce the agreement for a new Union Station tenant, Union Station Grand Concourse, 55 Frank B. Murray Street, Springfield, 11 a.m.

MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board meets to discuss winning design/build bid for the Green Line Extension, discussion and possible action on a contract for the next generation fare collection sysem, a commuter rail update, late night service, and advertising policy, Transportation Board Room, 10 Park Plaza – 2nd floor, Boston, 12 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker discusses political and policy issues on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 12 p.m.

— The Salvation Army Massachusetts Division kicks off its annual holiday Red Kettle campaign to support families in need, Downtown Crossing, Boston, 12 p.m.

Cannabis Advisory Board’s Public Health Subcommittee meets, 250 Washington Street,  2nd Floor, Public Health Council Room, Boston, 2 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker joins House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg for their semi-regular, closed-door leadership meeting, Senate President’s Office, 2 p.m.

— Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center president Travis McCready, and MassDevelopment president Lauren Liss attend a pro-biotech-industry event hosted by AbbVie, AbbVie Bioresearch Center, 100 Research Dr., Worcester, 2 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker plans to sign the contraceptive-coverage bill recently passed by lawmakers, with Senate President Stan Rosenberg, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, Attorney General Maura Healey, Sen. Harriette Chandler, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts president Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, Blue Cross Blue Shields president Andrew Dreyfus, State House Library, 3:15 p.m.

— First Lady Lauren Baker and Marquis Flowers of the New England Patriots will donate 50 Thanksgiving turkeys on behalf of the Wonderfund to foster families involved with the Department of Children and Families, 1 Washington St., Taunton, 4 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker participates in the ceremonial swearing-in of Appeals Court Justice Joseph Ditkoff, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Boston, 4:30 p.m.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the MBTA hold a public meeting on a study of a possible future extension of the Green Line to Mystic Valley Parkway in Medford, Tufts University, Breed Memorial Hall, 51 Winthrop St., Medford, 6 p.m.

South Coast Rail officials meet with the Middleboro and Lakeville Boards of Selectmen to discuss a proposed station in Middleboro, 14 Nickerson Ave., Middleboro, 7:15 p.m.

— U.S. Rep Stephen Lynch is an in-studio guest on ‘NightSide,’ WBZ NewsRadio 1030, 8 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Baker: ‘You should never do a favor for a local big shot’

Reacting to the controversy over the scrubbing of a police arrest report involving the daughter of a district judge, Gov. Charlie Baker said over the weekend that police officials shouldn’t be giving special treatment to anyone. “You should never do a favor for a local big shot. Period. Ever,” Baker said on CBS Boston’s Keller at Large on Sunday, as reported by Scott Croteau at MassLive. “No exceptions.” The governor, whose administration has been rocked by Trooper-gate and the resignations of two top State Police officials, added: “They (State Police) need to put a much more explicit set of protocols in place with respect in how they handle issues associated with editing arrest reports.”

If the “never do a favor for a local big shot” vow were applied to other non-State Police matters, it would turn Beacon Hill upside down. But the governor clearly tied it to police matters.

CBS Boston

Reports: Heroux stepping down from House

The pressure finally got to him. The Sun Chronicle’s Jim Hand is reporting that state Rep. Paul Heroux is indeed stepping down from his House seat, after being elected mayor of Attleboro and then boasting immediately after the election that he would keep both his state and city posts. The Sun Chronicle’s report came after SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) first reported that Heroux had reversed course on Friday and informed Speaker Robert DeLeo that he intended to resign his House seat after coming under heavy criticism for his two-jobs gambit.

Winning Green Line extension bid comes in $237M below estimates

We can’t recall the last time something like this happened on a big-ticket transportation contract. From Jack Sullivan at CommonWealth: “The MBTA chose a joint venture led by a Dallas-area contractor that said it would build the long-delayed seven-stop Green Line extension into Somerville and Medford for hundreds of millions less than officials estimated. The winning bid by GLX Constructors, a group of four construction and engineering firms led by Fluor of Irving, Texas, was $1.08 billion, including $127.5 million in contingency funds for unexpected costs. The bid was about $236.9 million below the T’s hard-ceiling estimate.”


Next up for the T: A new $723M fare system

The MBTA is definitely throwing around big bucks these days. Next up today is a $723 million contract for a new fare collection system, reports the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro and the Herald’s Jordan Graham. As previously reported, the Charlie Card is gone, the victim of smart-phone technology, but the “Charlie” brand will survive.

‘Disruptions and delays have roiled the system this year …’

The MBTA has had its share of service woes of late, brought on by years of mismanagement and system-wide dysfunction, but it pales against what’s happening in New York, as the NYT reports. The NY transit system’s financial hole is staggering.


‘Sewer Socialism’

No, the headline is not some right-wing slam of Somerville’s new board of aldermen dominated by a Bernie-inspired “Our Revolution-Democratic Socialists alliance.” Instead, Benjamin Bradlow writes at CommonWealth magazine that the left-leaning board now finds itself having to grapple with a lot of nitty-gritty issues tied to city development.


Sen. L’Italien is going for it in crowded Third race

State Sen. Barbara L’Italien, an Andover Democrat, has become the latest Dem to run for the Third Congressional seat to be vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Niki Tsgongas. She announced her candidacy in a YouTube message (you have to wait till the 9:00 minute mark for the announcement) and already has a Barbara for Congress web page, asking for financial support. One of her first priorities as a candidate: Secure the coveted backing of Emily’s List, as Christian Wade at the Eagle Tribune reports. She has competition for that backing, as Wade notes.

Congressional race a gold mine for Dem consultants

Oh, what a tangled web they’ve weaved, of alliances and former alliances, as Dem political consultants flood the Third Congressional District’s crowded Democratic primary field. The Globe’s Jim O’Sullivan has a good run-down on all the tangled connections. FYI: O’Sullivan also reports on U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s recent staff changes as she gears up for 2018.

Boston Globe

Flores announces challenge to Sen. Julian Cyr

On the Cape, they’re off and running. Barnstable Town Councilor John Flores says he will run against state Sen. Julian Cyr in next year’s state elections, Geoff Spillane of the Cape Cod Times reports. Flores, a Republican, launched his campaign with a bus tour over the weekend and already began calling out Cyr—a Democrat in his first term— for his votes in favor of the $18 million pay-raise package for lawmakers last year. 

Cape Cod Times

Little-known legislative fund used for hush-hush legal matters

The payouts aren’t anything like the $15 million Congress has quietly dished out to sexual harassment victims. But Beacon Hill has been using taxpayer funds to cover everything from “human resource related matters” to disputes over the records related to former Sen. Brian A. Joyce, reports the Herald’s Hillary Chabot. No money has been used in the past five years for cases involving accusations of sexual harassment, officials stress.

Boston Herald

‘Once more, politics is clouding the issue of sexual harassment’

Speaking of sexual harassment: The NYT’s Maureen Dowd has a great column that absolutely pummels the pious, pompous and preposterous posturing on the right and left when it comes to sexual harassment in general and the Clintons, past and present, in particular. … Oh, look, the NYT’s Ross Douthat has changed his views of the Monica Lewinsky/impeachment scandal – two decades after it happened and when nothing can be done about it now. The piece is merely a mirror image of those on the left now bowing their heads in alleged humility over the same matter — two decades after it happened and when nothing can be done about it now.


AG Healey: Governor not subject to public records law

From Colman Herman at CommonWealth magazine: “Attorney General Maura Healey ruled Friday that the office of the governor is not subject to the Massachusetts public records law, confirming the long-standing position of Gov. Charlie Baker and his predecessors. ‘We conclude that documents in the possession of the governor or the governor’s office are not records that must be disclosed under the Public Records Law,’ assistant attorney general Jonathan Sclarsic wrote.”


Meanwhile, lawmakers have yet to hold a meeting on whether public-records law applies to Beacon Hill

For some reason, we get the impression this isn’t a popular issue on Beacon Hill. From Laura Crimaldi at the Globe: “A legislative report due at the end of the year on whether the state’s new public records law should also be applied to the Legislature, the governor’s office, and the judiciary is unlikely to get done. Why? The group of lawmakers charged with preparing the report has never met.”

Boston Globe

Right-versus-left rallies on Common largely calm, unnoticed and denuded of political meaning by media

Except for three arrests, a right-wing rally that was confronted by left-wing counterprotesters was largely calm and went unnoticed over the weekend in Boston, with the media mostly burying the story, unlike a similar rally and huge counterdemonstration over the summer.

Before moving on, check out this Boston Globe story on the rally, a piece almost completely denuded of standard political descriptions of the “protesters” and “counterprotesters,” unless a description fell within a quote, such as those screaming “Commie scum!” or “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!” etc. Very odd. The Herald coverage wasn’t much better. The Associated Press at WBUR was a little more forthright about the hard-to-miss political battle lines involved. 

Fyi: The Globe’s Matt Viser didn’t pull any punches in describing good old “Nazi Bob,” who participated in this past summer’s right-wing rally in Charlotte and how his role later played in York, PA.

Stage is set for a busy 2018 on Beacon Hill

WGBH’s Mike Deehan sums up last week’s State House action and writes that lawmakers ultimately “set the stage for an even busier 2018, when lawmakers will have to resolve the MassHealth budget crunch, consider Baker’s request for more authority to combat opiate addiction and hammer out a final compromise on criminal justice – all amid the trappings of a gubernatorial and legislative re-election year.”


Baker sounds like he has problems with lawmakers’ bilingual education bill

Gov. Charlie Baker isn’t saying whether he’ll sign or veto the bilingual education bill passed last week by the Democratic-controlled Legislature, but he doesn’t sound thrilled about the legislation, as reported by the Associated Press at both WHDH and the Herald. “The most important element in this for us is for many — for tens of thousands of kids — the current program we have in place in Massachusetts is working extraordinarily well. For a bunch of other kids, clearly we have work to do,” Baker said, adding he wants students to learn English “as quickly as is reasonably possible.”

Amid chorus of ‘no’s,’ some towns are starting to embrace legal weed

A small but growing number of communities—including some in which voters rejected Question 4 last November—are pushing back against proposed bans on recreational marijuana shops, Bob Salsberg of the Associated Press reports, via the Cape Cod Times.

Cape Cod Times

Two words: No plastic

A growing number of MetroWest communities – and cities and towns across the entire state – are banning plastic supermarket bags. Brian Benson at the MetroWest Daily News has a local update on the no-plastic-bags movement. Fyi: The statewide count of non-plastic communities is now approaching 60.

MetroWest Daily News

Scott Brown on N.Z. gig: ‘Best job I ever had’

Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is having the time of his life as the new U.S. ambassador in New Zealand, despite some early bumps in the diplomatic road and occasional tensions with local non-Trump fans, reports the Globe’s Joshua Miller, who we’re sure was forced – forced! – by his newsroom overlords to make the trip to Wellington, N.Z. to cover the ambassador.

Boston Globe

Report: Wellesley, Amherst, Tufts among elite schools stashing funds in offshore accounts

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has published a list, via the leaked ‘Paradise Papers,’ of universities and colleges that have funds stashed in offshore accounts, including many Massachusetts institutions, such as Wellesley, Amherst, Williams, Tufts, BU, Northeastern, Babson, Bentley, Smith College etc. See link below for full list. Lucas Robek at MassLive zeroes in on mostly central and western Massachusetts colleges. He also notes that many of the local accounts are tied to a reinsurance company in Bermuda, which may or may not diminish the significance of the offshore accounts. We’re not sure.


Lawmakers’ Israel trip called conflict of interest by pro-Palestinian groups

From Christian Wade at the Eagle-Tribune: “A group of lawmakers are visiting Israel next month on a trip financed by groups trying to block a growing movement to boycott that country, raising questions about a potential conflict of interest. The eight-day trip, paid for by the Jewish Community Relations Council, will include visits to Israeli communities and Palestinian territories, as well as an itinerary filled with meetings with government officials, academics, journalists, security officials and others. But pro-Palestinian groups and others say the visit will offer a one-sided view of the Middle East conflict.”

Eagle Tribune

GE sued for role in Fukushima nuclear disaster

As if tumbling stock prices, layoffs and a corporate overhaul aren’t enough, GE is now facing a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of businesses and individuals impacted by the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan, Jon Chesto of the Globe reports. GE says the cause of the disaster has already been determined to be the massive tsunami that struck the site of the plant a number of years back.

Meanwhile, GE CEO John Flannery is feeling optimistic—or at least trying to project optimism, choosing the recent dramatic fall in GE’s shares to buy more than $1 million worth of company stock, Greg Ryan reports in the Boston Business Journal. 

14th Annual Team Massachusetts Economic Impact Awards Luncheon


Presinar: Everblue Presents: Sparks Fly! Onsite Renewable Energy Production in Boston

CIC Boston

Tech-Based Training for Health Care Workers on the Move

Commonwealth Corporation

Criminalizing Poverty in America

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Today’s Headlines


In Boston, one campaign remains undecided – Boston Globe

After series of setbacks, Boston’s first cat cafe opens – Boston Herald


Group wants state to share poaching records – MetroWest Daily News

Bill seeks $15M for UMass Lowell building renovations – Lowell Sun

How Brockton beat the state to the bilingual punch – Brockton Enterprise

Attleboro woman to make history in city with swearing-in on Tuesday – Sun Chronicle


How politics and bad decisions starved NYC’s subways – New York Times

Business is booming and corporate owners are pushing the GOP for tax reductions – Washington Post

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