Happening Today

Senate special election, Healey-Exxon hearing, Senate Hefner investigation

— The Senate special election to replace Jennifer Flanagan, who left office to join the Cannabis Control Commission, takes place in central Massachusetts with candidates Susan Chalifoux Zephir, a Democrat, Dean Tran, a Republican, Charlene DiCalogero, a Green-Rainbow candidate, and Claire Freda, an unenrolled candidate, vying for the seat.

— U.S. Rep. Richard Neal speaks to business leaders about tax reform and issues before Congress at a New England Council Congressional Roundtable, Boston Harbor Hotel, Wharf Room, 70 Rowes Wharf, Boston, 8:30 a.m.

Supreme Judicial Court is expected to hear ExxonMobil’s appeal of a judge’s ruling in favor of Attorney General Maura Healey’s request for documents related to climate change, John Adams Courthouse, One Pemberton Square, Boston, 9 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker gives opening remarks at the first National Law Enforcement Summit hosted by the Police-Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative, BU School of Medicine, 72 East Concord St., 14th floor, 10 a.m.

— The Cannabis Control Commission meets to receive recommendations from Cannabis Advisory Board subcommittees, Minihan Meeting Room, Hurley Building, 19 Staniford St., Boston, 10:30 a.m.

— The Financial Services Committee will consider life and disability insurance along with other matters, Room A-2, 10:30 a.m. — Gov. Charlie Baker joins Secretary of Education Jim Peyser and legislators for the ceremonial signing of the LOOK bill, Room 360, 11 a.m.

— The Revenue Committee will hold a hearing on a bill filed by Sen. Richard Ross that would create a new income tax deduction for tuition payments to private occupational schools, Room B-2, 11 a.m.

— The Senate Ethics Committee plans to meet  and is expected to officially start an investigation into sexual-misconduct allegations against former Senate President Stan Rosenberg’s husband, Room 428, 11:30 a.m.

— Attorney General Maura Healey will speak on a panel regarding the office’s efforts to address human trafficking, The Four Seasons, 2800 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C., 11:30 a.m.

Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities meets to accept testimony on bills dealing with the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Developmental Services, Hearing Room B-1, 12 p.m.

— Supporters of raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 discuss a planned ballot initiative at a press conference and rally, One Ashburton Place, 12 p.m.

Joint Committee on Public Health hears 21 pharmacy-related bills, including proposals dealing with drug price transparency and the state’s prescription monitoring program, Room A-2, 1 p.m.

— Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and the 14 cities and towns of the Metropolitan Mayors Coalition of Greater Boston announce a regional housing working plan, Eagle Room, City Hall, Boston, 2 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, First Lady Lauren Baker, Treasurer Deb Goldberg and families who have lost loved ones in military service will place photos on the Massachusetts Gold Star Families Tree, Memorial Hall, 2 p.m.

— The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education holds a public hearing on the proposed Phoenix Academy Public Charter High School in Lawrence, 51 Lawrence St., Lawrence, 4 p.m.

— Treasurer Deb Goldberg and Gov. Charlie Baker hold their regular monthly meeting, Governor’s Office, Room 360, State House, 4:30 p.m.

Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Polito host the State House tree lighting, 5 p.m. ceremony in Doric Hall, 6 p.m. holiday open house on the Grand Staircase.

— The Consul General of Japan, Rokuichiro Michii, hosts a reception to celebrate the Japanese emperor’s birthday, a national holiday in Japan, celebrated Dec. 23, Great Hall, 6 p.m.

— Treasurer Deb Goldberg will attend the Big in Boston 2017 – Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, 6:30 p.m.

MassDOT will host the first of a series of public meetings on the I-90 Allston Interchange Improvement Project, Jackson-Mann Community Center, 500 Cambridge Street, Allston, 6:30 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Senate turmoil: Stan steps down, Chandler steps up, sexual-assault investigation starts

The full State House News Service team is all over this one: “The Senate initiated an Ethics Committee investigation on Monday night into its now former president Sen. Stanley Rosenberg in a dramatic day of upheaval that saw Worcester Democrat Harriette Chandler installed as the new acting Senate president pending the outcome of an investigation into sexual harassment and Senate interference by Rosenberg’s husband.” They have much more at the Berkshire Eagle.

Here’s Rosenberg’s “leave of absence” letter, via MassLive. But the Globe’s Scott Lehigh says it’s effectively a permanent resignation letter that ends Rosenberg’s Senate presidency: “Make no mistake, he is done. When you step aside, you don’t step back, and Rosenberg knows as much.” The Globe’s Kevin Cullen said Rosenberg should have permanently resigned, period, no “leave of absence” involved, if he’s serious about encouraging alleged victims to step forward. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld is taking roughly the same line, arguing that senators “copped out” by holding out the remote prospect of Rosenberg’s return as president after a Senate investigation. 

The Globe’s Joshua Miller and Michael Levenson and the Herald’s Matt Stout have more, including how Acting Senate President Chandler, who soon turns 80, says she’s “resolved” to give up her post once the investigation wraps up. If she means it, the behind-the-scenes jockeying for the permanent presidency will only intensify in coming days, weeks and probably months. As Matt Stout notes, senators have offered no timetable for when they hope to complete the Senate investigation.

Healey and Conley effectively launch second Hefner probe

The Senate Ethics Commission meets today to officially launch an investigation into allegations that former Senate President Stan Rosenberg’s husband, Byron Hefner, sexually harassed and assaulted four men, some of whom have State House ties. But the big question is: Will any of the alleged victims want to talk to a Senate investigator? Probably not. So it makes sense that Attorney General Maura Healey and Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley, in an unusual move, are now jointly and publicly asking alleged victims to step forward with information related to Hefner, so that a criminal (and non-Senate) investigation can get under way, reports the Globe’s Joshua Miller and Michael Levenson and MassLive’s Gintautas Dumcius.

UMass details grad students’ sexual-harassment complaints against faculty

Them too. UMass Amherst officials say they have handled 21 sexual harassment complaints from graduate students lodged against faculty in the past five years, Dusty Christensen of the Hampshire Gazette reports. In at least three of the cases, the person accused of harassment was allowed to retire from the school, effectively ending the campus’ investigation. 


Bet on it: Is sports gambling coming to Massachusetts?

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission and Attorney General Maura Healey’s office are closely monitoring an expected U.S. Supreme Court decision that could clear the way for sports gambling across the country. In fact, the gaming commission plans to discuss the issue at a meeting later this week and Wynn Boston Harbor is practically licking its chops at the prospect of legal sports gambling. The Herald’s Bob McGovern has the details.

Boston Herald

Families warned after state Medical Examiner’s camera goes missing

This is not good. A digital camera belonging to the office of the State Medical Examiner in Holyoke has gone missing and the office is alerting as many as 800 families that photos of their deceased relatives could turn up in public, WBZ TV reports. 

CBS Boston

Latest item on T’s must-do list: Improve bus service

The MBTA is targeting the poor reliability of its bus service, which now has only a 65 percent reliability rating, according to reports by CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl and WGBH’s Isaiah Thompson. “First, we need better, smarter bus service,” says MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramirez. “Second, we need more bus service.”

Another reason for Trump to hate Mitt …

As President Donald Trump was endorsing controversial Senate candidate Roy Moore, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a fellow Republican, said a Moore victory would be a “stain on the GOP and on the nation. Leigh Corfman and other victims are courageous heroes. No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity.” Coming a day after Trump tried to undermine Mitt’s hope to run for U.S. Senate in Utah, you might also say this was a little payback from Mitt.

Boston Herald

‘Seaport gondola is the answer to a problem we don’t have’

MBTAinfo.com thinks the Seaport gondola proposal by Millennium Partners is rather odd: “Why do you need a gondola where it’s flat?” Good question. Then again, there’s a gondola/tramway over the flat East River in NYC, so there is a non-mountain precedent. MBTAinfo.com item via Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin, whose headline we’ve borrowed.


Cities already committed to more housing promise more housing

This is definitely welcome. But the housing shortage in the region isn’t going to change as long as leafy suburban communities aren’t on board. From Tim Logan at the Globe: “Mayors of 14 Boston-area cities and towns are pledging to work together to address the region’s severe housing shortage. The Metropolitan Mayors Coalition — which includes leaders of inner-ring municipalities from Braintree to Brookline to Winthrop — on Tuesday are expected to unveil a new agreement to boost housing development in a bid to blunt rising rents and home prices that make Greater Boston one of the most expensive areas in the country in which to live.”

Here’s an interesting takeaway line: “The push has the support of Governor Charlie Baker, who has freed up funding for affordable housing and reportedly is readying legislation aimed at boosting suburban development.”

Boston Globe

SJC to referee Healey-Exxon donnybrook

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will hear arguments today on whether Attorney General Maura Healey can compel Exxon Mobil to comply with her investigation about what the company has known about climate change over the years, in the latest legal skirmish between the two warring sides. Shira Schoenberg at MassLive has more.


Court to review if DOC called out the dogs too early

Speaking of the SJC (and also from Shira Schoenberg at MassLive): “Massachusetts’ highest court on Thursday will hear a challenge to the state’s policy of using dogs to screen visitors to state prisons. … The plaintiffs argue the Department of Correction circumvented the policies for setting a new rule, which would have required a public hearing.”


What the blazes is Consumers for Sensible Energy?

A group called Consumers for Sensible Energy, which opposes construction of new natural-gas pipelines in the region, is refusing to say who is funding its operation, so CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl started digging. He finds it may be linked to a similar outfit in New Hampshire – and it appears (repeat: appears) it may have links to a firm involved in a rival project to import hydroelectricity and wind power into New England. Bruce explains.


Tufts columnist takes victory lap over Scaramucci ouster

Camilo Caballero, the Tufts grad student whose anti-Anthony Scaramucci columns ultimately led to the Mooch’s resignation from a Tufts advisory board, takes an op-ed victory lap in the Boston Globe this morning. He’s somewhat modest about it all. Somewhat.

Boston Globe

Lawmakers request BPS audit, told they can’t do that

Maybe they’re asking for a friend? State Reps. Shawn Dooley of Norfolk and Shaun O’Connell of Taunton asked the state auditor’s office to review the books of the Boston Public Schools, but the auditor’s office says such a request can only come from the city itself, Jim Hand reports in the Sun-Chronicle.  

Sun Chronicle

Republican tax bill hits state tech companies in the R&D gut

Yet another provision that seems to hit blue states harder than others. From Greg Ryan at the BBJ: “The tax overhaul passed by the U.S. Senate over the weekend could carry major implications for research and development at local technology companies and other firms, tax experts said. At the last minute on Friday, lawmakers decided to keep the corporate alternative minimum tax — or AMT — in the bill rather than repeal it. The AMT is meant to set a floor for how much companies pay in federal taxes. Companies cannot use the federal R&D credit to fall below the AMT’s minimum.”


Meanwhile, the same bill also hits grad students in the gut

Yet another interesting provision tucked into the Senate Republican tax bill. From Deirdre Fernandes at the Globe: “Thousands of graduate students in Massachusetts and across the country fear that their tax bills will climb dramatically if a proposal to end exemptions for tuition benefits makes it into the tax overhaul legislation that Republicans hope to send to President Trump by Christmas.” This could impact hundreds, if not thousands, of grad students in the area.

Boston Globe

Save the Stripers!

From Christian Wade at Salem News: “Striped bass are New England’s premier sport fish, sought by thousands of anglers who prize them for a fighting spirit and high-quality fillets. Stripers were pushed to the brink of extinction in the late 1970s but made a dramatic comeback. Now recreational anglers say the coveted fish again is struggling, and they’re lobbying Beacon Hill to implement new regulations that include making the fish off-limits to commercial fishermen.”

Salem News

Is the CVS-Aetna deal really about creating a new ‘provider’ network?

Last time we checked, CVS was buying an insurance company, not a hospital chain or medical-clinic network, so excuse us for being a little skeptical about its rationale for buying Aetna. From Alison Kodjak at WBUR: “CVS Health is looking to create a national network of community medical clinics that will serve as ‘America’s front door to quality health care.’ That’s the goal, according to a statement by CEO Larry Merlo on his company’s deal for Aetna. It’s an ambitious one for CVS, a company better known as a quick stop for Tylenol and a Coke.” Sounds more like CVS is buying a piggybank to pay for whatever it wants to sell.


Judge orders prosecutors to explain new extortion charges in City Hall case

The judge overseeing the federal extortion trial of two City Hall aides wants prosecutors to explain why the indictments against them were recently rewritten, Laurel Sweet of the Herald reports. The judge gave prosecutors until Dec. 18 to hand the information over to the defense team. The trial is still scheduled to start though some legal watchers believe a delay could be granted given the new indictments. 

Boston Herald

Five years later, Billerica’s temporary jail still houses pre-trail detainees

Five years after saying it was temporary move, the Middlesex County Sheriff’s office continues to house pre-trial detainees awaiting court appearances in Cambridge at the Billerica House of Corrections, Rick Sobey reports in the Lowell Sun. Sobey’s search for answers on where the process of building a new jail stands yielded a lot of shrugs, but the sheriff’s office admits that transporting detainees to and from the jail adds expense and security risks. 

Lowell Sun

North/South Rail Link Town Hall – Everett

Citizens for the North South Rail Link

Help Us Stop Propaganda Teaching at Newton High

Americans for Peace & Tolerance

19th Annual NEEBC Best Practices Conference

New England Employee Benefits Council

Hospitals & Housing Investments Forum

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, The Boston Foundation, Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association, and Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations

FDA’s Software Monsters: Cybersecurity, Interoperability, Mobile Apps and Home Use (NTZ)

Embassy Suites by Hilton Boston at Logan Airport

NAIOP Annual Holiday Party

NAIOP Massachusetts

Legal Considerations for Blockchain Innovations and ICOs

Hamilton Brook Smith Reynolds & Galebach Law

Today’s Headlines


GE plans minor tweaks to future Boston HQ campus – Boston Business Journal

Two paths revealed for Suffolk Downs – Boston Herald


Mass. AG Maura Healey, Suffolk DA ready to investigate sexual misconduct allegation against Bryon Hefner – MassLive

Danvers bans recreational pot shops – Salem News

Berkshire Museum pushes for speedy appeal, citing ‘precarious condition’ – Berkshire Eagle

T’s director of parking leaves authority – CommonWealth Magazine

Why are Globe reporters shilling for this billionaire? – Dig Boston


Trump White House weighing plans for private spies to counter ‘deep state’ enemies – The Intercept

Supreme Court allows full enforcement of Trump travel ban – NPR

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