Millionaire’s tax brief, Net neutrality impact, Cannabis Commission, I-90 Interchange
— Business groups that sued to block a ballot question that would add a surtax on incomes over $1 million plan to file a legal brief with the Supreme Judicial Court ahead of Feb. 5 oral arguments, John Adams Courthouse, Boston, Monday.
— U.S. Sen. Ed Markey joins officials from Rapid7, Carbonite and the New England Venture Capital Association for a press conference to discuss the FCC’s upcoming net neutrality decision and the potential impact on the state’s digital economy, Rapid7, 100 Summer St #13, Boston, 10:30 a.m.
— State marijuana regulators meet to begin policy discussions and debate on draft regulations the Cannabis Control Commission plans to file with the secretary of state’s office by the end of the month, Gaming Commission meeting room, 101 Federal St., 12th Floor, Boston, 10:30 a.m.
— House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change holds an oversight hearing on alternative energy portfolio standards, Room B-1, 11 a.m.
— Treasurer Deb Goldberg will attend the Massachusetts School Building Authority Administration, Operations, and Finance Subcommittee Meeting, MSBA Headquarters, 40 Broad Street, 5th Floor Board Room, Boston, 11 a.m.
— The Seaport Economic Council meets with an agenda that includes a water transportation study update from president and CEO Boston Harbor Now Kathy Abbott and director of Water Transportation Alice Brown of Boston Harbor Now, Room 157, Boston, 11 a.m.
— The MassDOT Board and MBTA Board will meet separately and then jointly to discuss winter preparedness, grant programs, the Allston I-90 Interchange Improvement Project, water transportation, and other topics, Transportation Board Room, Second floor, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, 11:30 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker participates in the 50th anniversary celebration of the Colonial Navy of Massachusetts, Grand Staircase, 12 p.m.
— Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal receive the Phoenix Award from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 1 Acting Administrator Deb Szar, Union Station Grand Concourse, 55 Frank B. Murray Street, Springfield, 12 p.m.
— The Public Health Committee will hold a hearing on environmental bills, including legislation adjusting state oversight of nuclear power, Room A-2, 1 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Assistant Secretary of Housing and Community Development Chrystal Kornegay, Littleton Mayor Keith Berman and Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone announce a comprehensive Housing Choice Initiative, Roxbury Tenants of Harvard Community Center, 20A Vining Street, Boston, 2:30 p.m.
Brian Joyce’s ‘criminal enterprise’
It wasn’t a good week for the Massachusetts Senate, starting off last Monday with the resignation of Stan Rosenberg as Senate president and ending with former state Sen. Brian Joyce being arrested on a sweeping 113-count indictment that charged him with collecting about $1 million in bribes and kickbacks laundered through his law firm. By far, the Boston Globe — which the feds openly credited with effectively launching their own Joyce probe due to the paper’s prior investigations of the Milton Democrat’s shenanigans – provides the best coverage of Joyce’s arrest and charges. The piece by Andrea Estes, Milton Valancia and John Ellement is packed with detail after detail – the allegations of free Dunkin’ Donut coffee, a Jeep, sun glasses and dry cleaning; the undisclosed lobbying on behalf of energy firms; laundering money through his law firm and a shell company, etc., etc. Bottom line: “Joyce ran his Senate office as a criminal enterprise,” said acting U.S. Attorney William Weinreb on Friday.
The Herald’s Matt Stout and O’Ryan Johnson, MassLive’s Shira Schoenberg and SHNS’s Colin Young at Wicked Local have more.
‘The most Massachusetts political scandal ever’
As Adam Gaffin at Universal Hub writes about the Brian Joyce scandal: “In what other state would Dunkin’ Donuts coffee figure so prominently in a federal corruption indictment?” Adam has all the Dunkin’ details of the Joyce indictment. Five hundred pounds of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee? Five hundred pounds?
We come not to bury the Boston Herald but to …
Even though it was years in the making, the late Friday announcement that the Boston Herald had declared bankruptcy and that it had reached an agreement to be sold to GateHouse Media LLC, as part of its bankruptcy plan, still came as a sad shock to anyone who cares about preserving an old-fashioned two-newspaper town in Boston. Here’s the Herald’s staff coverage of the bankruptcy and proposed sale, and here’s the Globe’s coverage by Beth Healy and Jon Chesto.
So why now – and not years ago? Because owner Pat Purcell has run out of rabbits to pull out of the hat – and because of debt and other obligations of just over $31 million, primarily in pension and severance obligations to employees, as reported by the BBJ’s Greg Ryan. Purcell is portraying the two-pronged bankruptcy-sale move as the only way to keep the Herald running. “All I ever wanted to do was keep the Boston Herald alive,” Purcell said. “And it is with this pending sale that I am able to do that in these difficult newspapering times.”
But selling to GateHouse Media, owner of a slew of daily and weekly papers in the region, is viewed as the rough newspaper equivalent of a patient being moved from a hospital to a hospice – and, according to a report by Lisa Creamer at WBUR, a Herald union rep is saying the paper is expecting more than 50 layoffs after GateHouse takes over. GateHouse Media chief executive Kirk Davis, according to the Globe, seems pumped about the Herald’s future prospects under GateHouse – and he may be right to think that reports of the paper’s demise are being greatly exaggerated. Still, it’s not going to be the same Herald, and everyone knows it, and that’s what many are mourning today after Friday’s moves.
Btw: Boston.com’s Nik DeCosta-Klipa has a good round-up of the reactions of Herald staffers and others to Friday’s news.
The Globe’s own #MeToo moment gets panned on social media
The Globe had its own #MeToo reckoning moment, as reported late Friday by the Globe’s Mark Arsenault. But Boston Magazine’s Lisa Weidenfeld reports that a lot of people on social media are not impressed with the Globe’s handling of the reckoning, noting that the Globe’s pre-Harvey Weinstein harassment incident is buried in the story and that the offending journalist wasn’t named in the piece etc. The Globe piece was posted after intense speculation most of Friday about an alleged sexual-harassment incident at the paper. Dan Kennedy at Media Nation notes how Kirk Minihane and Gerry Callahan spent a large chunk of their Friday show on WEEI talking about the reports, prior to the Globe releasing its story late Friday.
The latest media-reckoning domino to fall: Tom Ashbrook
Martha Bebinger reports that Boston University and WBUR decided on Friday to suspend Tom Ashbrook, host of On Point, after the two institutions “received some allegations against” Ashbrook, who will remain on leave until the investigation is over. Ashbrook said he’s “stunned at the situation.”
Meanwhile, a health-care reckoning at Fenway Community Health
Score another one for the #MeToo movement (and another one for the Globe’s own reporting). From the Globe’s Beth Healy and Sacha Pfeiffer: “The chief executive of Fenway Community Health Center resigned Sunday, under pressure from the board of directors, employees, and donors over his handling of complaints that a prominent doctor had allegedly sexually harassed and bullied staff members there for years.”
The Democrats’ losing moral-high-ground strategy
Wendy Kaminer, a lawyer, author and a former member of the state and national boards of the ACLU, is not impressed with the pressure put on U.S. Sen. Al Franken by Democrats to resign — while Republicans simply press ahead with their ruthless campaign to win Congressional seats. “They will not be deterred by moral qualms or an effort to appease the MeToo movement,” Kaminer writes at WGBH. “Does this make them morally inferior? Perhaps. But in politics, moral superiority is complicated; shamelessness is a lesser vice when it results in victory. In politics, when the stakes are high for millions of Americans, politicians have a moral obligation to win.”
In Alabama, Patrick calls for ‘more integrity, more grace’
Speaking of elections, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, as expected, joined Alabama Senate candidate Doug Jones on the campaign trail down south over the weekend, with Patrick in Selma, outside the historic Brown Chapel AME Church, urging voters to back Jones against GOP candidate Roy Moore, according a report at AL.com. “We need more integrity, more grace, more patience, more understanding and better listening in all of our leaders in every level of government and most especially in Washington today,” Patrick said.
But Jones’ candidacy probably got its biggest boost of the weekend when Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama reiterated on national TV that he can’t support Moore, accused of molesting teen girls, according to the Washington Post. “I think Alabama deserves better,” Shelby said.
Baker aides shift posts as re-election campaign gears up
From SHNS’s Katie Lannan: “As Gov. Charlie Baker moves into re-election mode, two administration staffers are shifting into political roles. Billy Pitman, who had been Baker’s press secretary in the governor’s office, served his last day in that post Friday. His new role is deputy campaign manager for communications and digital. Brian Wynne stepped down as executive director of the state Republican Party to become Baker’s campaign manager.”
Pacheco suggests spurned communities file South Coast rail lawsuit
State Sen. Marc Pacheco says communities in line to be bypassed by the proposed South Coast rail extension through Middleboro—including his home city of Taunton—are considering his idea to file a lawsuit to stop the state from moving forward on the project, Jeannette Barnes of the Standard-Times reports. Pacheco thinks actions on civil rights and economic-justice grounds would have merits, but most of the impacted communities seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach so far.
Globe Spotlight team’s powerful but weird look at racism in Boston
After noting that many across the nation view Boston as the “most racist city” in America, the Globe’s Spotlight team boldly pronounced on Sunday that it planned to “answer just that question” regarding how Boston is perceived – and then proceeds not to answer it, or at least not directly. The article, the first of a multi-day series on racism in Boston, does indeed present powerful evidence about the broad and very deep extent of racism in the city (or actually the region) and how little has changed over the years. There are devastating facts and anecdotes throughout the first-day piece that paint an ugly picture of Boston and that may well lead to necessary and very welcome changes.
But the information is presented in a sort of scattershot way – part essay (with the annoying use of “we” and “our” and “us”), part impassioned rant (“But make no mistake”) and part just-the-facts approach one usually associates with Globe Spotlight reporting. While it does provide intriguing factual comparisons to other cities (usually to Boston’s embarrassing detriment), the sprawling story doesn’t stay on one subject for very long and it ultimately doesn’t answer, directly, the “most racist city” question posed at the very outset. The Sunday piece was very powerful but also, organizationally and in tone, very weird and disjointed. The series continues today with a look at the new Seaport District.
So why didn’t the Globe run its racism series before the election?
As disjointed as the Globe Spotlight story on racism may have been on Sunday, it was clearly powerful enough for some African-American leaders to ask why the piece (or series) wasn’t published before last month’s mayoral election, in which the Globe endorsed incumbent Marty Walsh, according to a report by the Herald’s Dan Atkinson and Antonio Planas. Critics make some legitimate points, but it’s also clearly a case of the Herald going out of its way to try to tweak the Globe’s nose.
Andrea Campbell secures council presidency
While the Globe is tackling the issue of racism in Boston, the city is nevertheless poised for a racial first: Andrea Campbell, the Boston District 4 city councilor, says she has secured enough votes to become the next city council president – and become the city’s first African-American woman to lead the council, reports Jennifer Smith at the Dorchester Reporter.
Berkshire town loses plow trucks in fire
You know that feeling when your snow shovel breaks during the first storm of the season? Imagine how leaders in the town of Sandisfield feel after the small town’s (population, under 1,000) entire fleet of plow trucks was destroyed in a fire over the weekend, just as the first snow storm of the year hit the region. Dick Lindsay of the Berkshire Eagle reports officials plan to meet today to hammer out a contingency plan for getting roads cleared with another storm expected to move in promptly.
Concealed weapons in Massachusetts?
In an editorial, the Herald is ripping into the U.S. House’s passage last week of a bill that would allow individuals with permits to carry concealed weapons in one state to carry them in other states with similar concealed-weapons laws. The Herald is basically accusing the Republican-controlled House of being a lapdog of the NRA. The Globe’s Martin Finucane has more on how law enforcement officials and anti-gun advocates worry the House bill could increase guns in the streets in Massachusetts.
Suffolk Downs’s losses are Plainridge’s gains
Plainridge Park Casino will see more of the money pumped into its slots machines coming back to it to boost harness racing at the state’s first licensed gaming facility, Jim Hand of the Sun-Chronicle reports. The Mass. Gaming Commission voted to boost Plainridge’s take of the horse-racing development fund from 55 percent to 60 percent, mostly because there are fewer thoroughbred races for the fund to support, now that Suffolk Downs is all-but all-in on redevelopment.
Baker steers clear of pardons
Gov. Charlie Baker appears poised to reach the end of his first term without issuing a single pardon or commutation, despite a steady stream of some 200 requests, including at least 40 brought before the Parole Board this year alone, Christian Wade reports in the Salem News. Some members of the Governor’s Council say the governor should be using his pardon powers more readily, though Wade notes that his predecessor only issued four pardons during his eight years in office.
Cannabis Control Commission to weed through slew of proposed weed regulations
The Globe’s Dan Adams has a good summary of all the proposed regulations that the Cannabis Control Commission, starting today, plans to tackle before the end of the year so that the retail sale of marijuana in Massachusetts can start next July 1. The proposed regulations include everything from pot bars to marijuana advertising and packaging to local-control issues.
‘A direct assault on Massachusetts families and their way of life’
The GOP’s tax plans definitely have an anti-blue state tinge to them, that’s for sure. From the Herald’s Jordan Graham: “U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey is slamming the Republican tax plan as a measure that would disproportionately hurt Bay State residents and is sounding off on calls to go after entitlement programs next year. ‘This Republican tax plan is a direct assault on Massachusetts families and their way of life,’ Markey said. ‘They keep trying to call this tax reform, but it is nothing more than a tax cut that will go to the super rich in our country.’”
Experts: Third District field ‘wide open,’ except probably not really
Chris Lisinski of the Lowell Sun chats up a few political observers – and where did he find any of those around here? — willing to handicap the Third District Congressional race next year and a consensus emerged that while anything can happen, former Marty Walsh chief of staff Dan Koh and state Sen. Barbara L’Italien appear to be the best position to clear the field of 12 Democrats already in the race.
Women Who Mean Business
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)
Boston Herald owes $31 million, bankruptcy filing shows – Boston Business Journal
BU president among highest-paid in nation – Boston Globe
Councilors call for redo of criticized school start times – Boston Herald
UMass Lowell adjunct faculty protest over pay, benefits – Lowell Sun
Berkshire DA Capeless expects ‘all but a handful’ of 615 drug cases to be dismissed – Berkshire Eagle
Mass. State Police receive nearly $1 million for months of policing pipeline – Hampshire Gazette
Can you help solve the Lynn library portrait mystery? – Lynn Item
Why are so many Mass. officials connected to the Alabama senate race? – Boston Magazine
Wife of convicted pharmacy executive begs to keep mansion, diamonds and other assets – Boston Herald
Why Democrats win even if they lose in Alabama – Politico
Trump accusers to unite for first time, demand congressional investigation into allegations – The Hill
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