Happening Today

Markey on GOP tax cuts, Brazil flights and more …

— Auditor Suzanne Bump is a guest on ‘Morning Meeting’ on Boston Herald Radio, 9:30 a.m.

— Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan hosts a meeting of the Lowell Opioid Task Force, bringing together law enforcement, healthcare professionals and addiction and recovery specialists, Lowell General Hospital, 295 Varnum Ave., Lowell, 9:30 a.m.

Department of Public Utilities holds an evidentiary hearing on the controversial Eversource Energy proposal to build new transmission line in Sudbury, Hudson, Stow and Marlborough, One South Station – 5th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.

— U.S. Sen. Edward Markey holds a media availability on the impact of the Trump-Republican tax plan on the Massachusetts economy and the Medicare and Medicaid programs, JFK Federal Building, 9th floor, 15 New Sudbury Street, Boston, 11 a.m.

— Auditor Suzanne Bump attends the Massachusetts Building Trades holiday gathering, Venezia Waterfront Restaurant, 20 Ericsson St., Boston, 12 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Robert Kraft of the Kraft Group, Pablo Chiozza of LATAM Airlines, Consul General of Brazil in Boston Glivânia Maria de Oliveira and Massport CEO Thomas Glynn gather to celebrate LATAM’s new non-stop flights from Logan Airport to São Paulo, Brazil, Boston Logan International Airport, Terminal E, Arrivals Level, 1 p.m.

— Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito joins Sen. Bruce Tarr and Rep. Leonard Mirra to sign a community compact with the town of West Newbury, Town Office Building, 381 Main Street, West Newbury, 3:45 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Blistering DCF audit throws Baker administration on the defensive

More proof that DCF is the bane of all governors, no matter who sits in the corner office. From Matt Stout at the Herald: “A bombshell state audit of the Department of Children and Families has thrust the child welfare system back into Beacon Hill’s political fray, putting the Baker administration on the defensive as riled lawmakers demand answers. The scathing report, released yesterday by state Auditor Suzanne Bump, honed in on DCF’s handling of sexual assault cases and its ability to monitor children who are badly hurt in their care — two sensitive areas that drew quick rebukes from Gov. Charlie Baker’s top aides.”

The Globe’s Andrea Estes, meanwhile, has an excellent piece detailing DCF’s failure to report “rapes, abuse, and other alleged crimes.” WGBH’s Mike Deehan and SHNS’s Katie Lannan at the Eagle Tribune also have more on the audit. The Baker administration makes a good case that the audit, which covers the years 2014 and 2015, is mostly outdated and that many of the problems cited in the report have since been addressed by reforms implemented by the administration, which came into office in early 2015. But Bump, while acknowledging reforms have been implemented, says more still needs to be done to correct problems at DCF.

Boston Herald

‘Damning double standard’

Now that two Democrats, U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. and U.S. Sen. Al Franken, have announced that they’re resigning over sexual-misconduct allegations, Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, are “turning their fire on President Trump and raising questions about whether he should resign over his own sexual misconduct scandal,” reports the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld.

Of course, it’s not just the Republican Trump facing his own sexual-harassment allegations. Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, a Republican, has been accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls over the years – and many Republicans are still backing Moore. So it seems pretty obvious a “damning double standard” indeed exists between how Democrats and Republicans treat allegations of sexual misconduct, as a blistering Globe editorial puts it this morning, even though U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, a Republican, did announce yesterday that he’s resigning over his own alleged sexual/pregnancy offers to his female staffers.

So do Democrats now have a winning moral-high-ground issue here? The Herald’s Kimberly Atkins isn’t so sure, as she explains how Republicans are cleverly maneuvering around who they defend and don’t defend in all these cases – and they appear to be getting away with it.

Baker’s RNC fundraising indirectly flowing to Roy Moore

From the Globe’s Frank Phillips: “Governor Charlie Baker’s political crew is quick to distance him from Alabama GOP senate candidate Roy Moore — but it’s clear he is not distancing himself from the money that is helping the accused sexual predator in the Alabama special election on Tuesday. Baker’s aides say he is ‘disappointed’ the Republican National Committee decided this week to provide financial support to Moore. But that disappointment doesn’t translate to the Baker-controlled state party’s unique joint fund-raising operation with the RNC.”

Boston Globe

Rosenberg: ‘I hope my name will be cleared’

It took a little prodding, but SHNS’s Stephanie Murray did manage to get former Senate President Stan Rosenberg yesterday to pronounce, when asked whether he hoped his name would be cleared by an investigation into sexual-assault allegations against his husband and whether he could return to the Senate presidency: “I hope my name will be cleared and I don’t want to say anything more beyond that.” 

Greenville Recorder

Have some of Hefner’s alleged victims already stepped forward?

One of the big questions regarding the Rosenberg-Hefner scandal on Beacon Hill is whether the alleged victims in the case would actually step forward. The Herald’s Chris Villani reports this morning that Attorney General Maura Healey’s office is confirming that it has been “recently contacted about the matter, but did not say by how many people or whether the contact was initiated by alleged victims or witnesses.”

Boston Herald

Legal tree wars from here to eternity: SJC could fell the ‘Massachusetts rule’

All neighborhood hell could break loose over this one. An upcoming case before the Supreme Judicial Court may topple the so-called ‘Massachusetts rule,’ a long-standing legal principle that says a property owner can’t be sued for damage caused on a neighbor’s property by a healthy tree. An attorney in the case says it comes as courts across the country are starting to question the wisdom of the rule. Bob McGovern of the Herald gets to the root of the issue. 

Boston Herald

Director blasts MBTA’s handling of parking contract

He didn’t go quietly. From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “The MBTA’s director of parking resigned last week after distributing a 30-page statement detailing how the agency’s parking contractor is not living up to the terms of its contract and how T management is refusing to step in to correct the problems. David Friend said in his statement that he submitted his involuntary resignation after being told by Evan Rowe, the T’s director of revenue, that it would be in ‘our mutual interest’ and “’n the best interest of the authority’ if he resigned.”


Is Galvin endorsing nurses’ ballot initiative?

Secretary of State William Galvin yesterday showed up at a State House event hosted by supporters of a ballot question calling for mandatory nurse staffing levels at medical facilities – and he even won applause when he told backers, “It’s always an achievement when a group puts together a ballot initiative that gives citizens the final say. And that’s, particularly in the area of health care, extremely important.” But SHNS’s Michael Norton and Sam Doran at the BBJ report that a Galvin spokesman later declined to say whether the Brighton Democrat, who is seeking re-election, was endorsing the controversial nurse-staffing proposal.


Gaming commission takes ‘proactive’ approach toward sports betting

From Brian Dowling at the Herald: “State gambling regulators will examine sports betting in Massachusetts as part of a ‘proactive’ response to a pending Supreme Court decision that could approve sports wagers nationwide. The state’s Gaming Commission voted yesterday to spend the holidays researching a white paper on sports betting so they could educate legislators on Beacon Hill ahead of the Supreme Court decision, which could come as early as this spring.” 

U.S. Attorney’s office pulls anti-opioid ad after complaints from Healey and docs

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston has yanked one of its anti-opioid ads on the MBTA after medical professionals and Attorney General Maura Healey complained it was simply too over-the-top and medically inaccurate. The Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo has the details.

Boston Herald

AG says art-sale probe will take two more months

Those pesky deadlines. The office of Attorney General Maura Healey is telling the Massachusetts Appeals Court it needs until the end of January—at least—to complete its probe into the on-hold sale of art from the Berkshire Museum’s collection, Larry Parnass of the Berkshire Eagle reports. The new timetable comes as an injunction halting the sale is set to expire. 

Berkshire Eagle

Legislative delegation heads to Israel amid tensions over Jerusalem

Thirteen legislators from Massachusetts have taken off on a 10-day trip to Israel amid heightened security concerns stemming from President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy at the Milford Daily News. The legislative trip, sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, has become a sort of an annual, and sometimes controversial, December tradition.

Meanwhile, divisions within the local Jewish community over President Trump’s decision on Jerusalem were on open display yesterday in Boston. The Globe’s Mark Arsenault has the details.

Milford Daily News

Fenway Center project to finally start – without Mass Pike component

As the Globe’s Tim Logan notes, it’s taken 15 long years for developer John Rosenfeld to get the necessary financing and approvals for the massive Fenway Project along Brookline Avenue. But the development will indeed finally get under way within a matter of weeks, even though the first phase doesn’t include building over the Mass Pike, as originally envisioned, as Logan reports. Rosenfeld must still line up financing for that costly portion of the project.

Boston Globe

State gives energy-storage sector a $20M jolt

It’s always risky forking over public funds to try to kickstart a certain industry or company (see Romney, Mitt, Konarka Technologies or Schilling, Curt, 38 Studios) – and the Baker administration’s handing out $20 million in energy-storage grants yesterday is no different. But energy-storage has huge potential and may hold the key for the massive expansion one day of solar, wind and other clean-energy technologies, so it’s probably worth the risk. CommonWealth Magazine’s Bruce Mohl has the details on the 26 grants announced yesterday.


GE cutting 12,000 jobs in its power division

Speaking of energy, here’s the latest brutal news about Boston’s new marquee employer, via the New York Times: “General Electric, whose new leadership is moving to eliminate bloat and grapple with the fallout from earlier, ill-timed decisions, is taking drastic steps to keep pace with seismic shifts in the global energy industry. The company said on Thursday that it would cut 12,000 jobs in its power division, reducing the size of the unit’s work force by 18 percent.” Most of the job cuts will be overseas and few, if any, are in the Boston area, as far as we can tell.


Lawrence stands firm in face of new threat to funding from Sessions

The city of Lawrence is pushing back against the U.S. Dept. of Justice claims that the city is violating federal law with its sanctuary-city ordinance, even as Attorney General Jeff Sessions has threatened to yank crime-fighting grants from Lawrence and other communities nationwide, Keith Eddings of the Eagle-Tribune reports. An attorney for the city wrote that the city’s “trust act” ordinance does not prohibit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement actions. 

Eagle Tribune

Hampshire College cancels speech by gun-rights activist

Hampshire College has apologized for canceling a speech by gun-rights activist Antonia Okafor only a few hours before she was due to speak. The western Massachusetts college says it discovered at the last minute that a speaking “application was not sufficiently complete,” reports the AP at WBUR. Okafor isn’t buying the excuse, though the school swears it will try to reschedule the speech.


State has spent $20M cleaning up after Annie Dookhan and Sonja Farak lab fiascos

This is just the preliminary cost, keep in mind. From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “Massachusetts has spent $20.6 million over the last five years responding to two scandals involving misconduct at state drug labs, according to the Executive Office of Administration and Finance. The money covers the investigations, the prosecution of the two chemists responsible, and the costs of notifying defendants and dealing with thousands of drug cases tainted by the misconduct.”


BU lab gets clearance to work with deadly Ebola, Marburg viruses

Well, let’s hope this lab operates with a little more professionalism. From the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett: “Boston University researchers will now be allowed to work with pathogens as viral as Ebola, following one of its labs being upgraded to a Biosafety Level 4 facility by the Boston Public Health Commission. The upgrade to Level 4 for Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratories is years in the making, the university said, and comes after scrutiny by state, city and federal officials.”


Remembering Pearl Harbor …

Yesterday was Pearl Harbor Day – and it didn’t go unnoticed in many communities. Noah Bombard at MassLive reported on the official burial, finally, of Howard W. Bean, an Everett native who was killed at Pearl Harbor 76 years ago and whose remains were only recently identified. Zane Razzaq at Wicked Local talked with 95-year-old Bill Keith, among the last Pearl Harbor survivors in Massachusetts and who all these years later still thinks of his shipmates. “People shouldn’t forget,” said Keith. And small group of veterans from other wars met in Marshfield to remember all those who lost their lives in World War II, as reported at Wicked Local.

Sunday public affairs TV

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV, Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guests: State House News Service reporters Katie Lannan and Matt Murphy, who talk with host Jon Keller about Stan Rosenberg’s stepping down as Senate president and other State House and political issues.

This is New England, NBC Boston, Channel 10, 9:30 a.m. With host Latoyia Edwards, this weeks’ main topic: Zoo New England.

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Shirley Leung of the Boston Globe and Dog Banks of the Boston Business Journal Editor Doug Banks talk about the local impacts of the Trump tax plan, the CVS purchase of Aetna, and the Time Magazine’s People of the Year award.

CEO Corner, NECN, 10:30 a.m. A conversation with Joe O’Malley, the general manager of Faneuil Hall Marketplace, about the future of this Boston landmark, efforts to make it more appealing to locals as well as tourists, and finding the right balance between local stores versus major chains.  

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, who talks with anchor Ed Harding and co-anchor Janet Wu.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. This week’s focus: Building Strong Communities .

Legal Considerations for Blockchain Innovations and ICOs

Hamilton Brook Smith Reynolds & Galebach Law

Measuring School Climate in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Institute for College and Career Readiness, Boston College, Boston University, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, MassINC, the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy

Women Who Mean Business

Boston Business Journal

2017 MHSA Annual Meeting

Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance (MHSA)

A Conversation on the State of American Diplomacy with Ambassador Nicholas Burns

Foreign Policy for America (fp4america.org)

Today’s Headlines


Civic leaders hear latest designs for Morrissey Boulevard – Dorchester Reporter

What Marty Walsh can do to raise his grades on the NAACP report card – WGBH

Gas main for luxe tower OK’d – Boston Herald


Economic concerns encourage Northampton City Council to refer resolution advocating for $15 per hours minimum wage to committee – MassLive

Worcester business owner admits to nearly $300K in food stamp fraud – Telegram & Gazette

Outgoing Attleboro mayor in line for Mansfield town manager job – Sun Chronicle

Barnstable County meeting devolves over illegal immigration debate – Cape Cod Times


Collins’ Obamacare deal faces moment of truth – Politico

Trump’s New York buddies have some issues with the tax bill – New York Times

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