Happening Today

Winter resiliency, behavioral health, and more …

Grayken Center for Addiction cxecutive director Michael Botticelli, the former White House director of National Drug Control Policy, is the featured speaker at a meeting of the Legislative Commission on Behavioral Health Promotion and Upstream Prevention in Massachusetts, with U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration regional administrator A. Kathryn Power also speaking, Education Development Center, 43 Foundry Avenue, Waltham, 10 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver, MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez, Keolis CEO David Scorey and Massport CEO Thomas P. Glynn to highlight winter resiliency and preparedness efforts, MBTA Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility, 98 3rd Avenue, Somerville, 12:30 p.m.

Department of Public Utilities holds a public hearing on the petition of National Grid for approval of a “365 Day Firm Transportation Service Agreement” with One Dalton Owner LLC, One South Station – 5th floor, Boston, 2 p.m.

— Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito joins Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy to participate in bell ringing for the Salvation Army, Pizzi Farm, 549 Lincoln Street, Waltham, 2:30 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker visits Profitect to celebrate its new headquarters in Burlington, 200 Wheeler Road, Burlington, 4 p.m.

Today’s Stories

FBI investigating Hefner: Overdue or overreach?

The Globe’s Yvonne Abraham reports that the FBI has “begun looking into allegations that Bryon Hefner, the husband of state Senator Stanley C. Rosenberg, assaulted several men to whom he also boasted of his influence on Beacon Hill, according to two people familiar with the inquiry.” Hefner’s attorney says he knows of no such inquiry by the FBI.

The Herald’s Chris Cassidy reports that some legal experts believe that the “FBI might be overreaching” if it’s indeed investigating the case: “‘At first blush it strikes me as a bit of a stretch, reach to be pursuing this federally, and one wonders whether or not it could become another situation where the FBI may be looking towards federal statutes that simply do not apply,’ said criminal defense lawyer Brad Bailey, who represented both former state Treasurer Tim Cahill and a defendant in the patronage scandal within the state probation department.” The Herald’s Howie Carr, however, is all in favor of an FBI probe.

Greenfield drops first opioid lawsuit aimed at big pharma

Greenfield goes first, but probably won’t be the last. The western Massachusetts city became the first in the state to file a lawsuit seeking damages from pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid crisis, Joshua Solomon of the Hampshire Gazette reports. Filed Thursday in federal court, the suit names Teva Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson and Purdue Pharma among the defendants and seeks unspecified damages that local officials say would be used to address a shortage of treatment opportunities for the community. Several other communities have taken steps towards similar legal action, but haven’t filed suits yet.


Patrick’s brother-in-law woes get uglier

The bane of men and women alike: Brothers-in-law. From the Herald’s Matt Stout: “An irate Bernard Sigh, again facing charges of sexually assaulting his estranged wife, lashed out at his brother-in-law Deval Patrick during last weekend’s harrowing hourslong ordeal, calling the former governor a ‘driving force’ in the breakup of his marriage, according to new court documents.”

Boston Herald

Globe’s John Henry lauds Herald’s Pat Purcell

This is a classy gesture from one classy guy to another classy guy, i.e., a “From the Publisher” editorial/note by Boston Globe publisher John Henry, who praises longtime Boston Herald owner and publisher Pat Purcell, as Purcell moves to sell and hopefully save the bankrupt Herald and finally retire from running the paper. “I hope that the people of Boston will recognize and celebrate what Pat Purcell brought to our great city over his years in charge of a feisty, driven, provocative newspaper. He made us sit up and take notice seven days a week. Good luck, Herald. Good luck, Pat – and thank you for all these years of service, dedication, and passion for our city.”

Boston Globe

Healey joins suit over FCC’s net neutrality ruling

They have a very good shot at winning this case, if some legal experts are to be believed. From David Harris at the BBJ: “Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said Thursday that she’s joined New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman in announcing a multistate lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission over its vote to rollback net neutrality protections. ‘With (Thursday’s) FCC vote, Americans will pay more for the internet and will have fewer options,’ said Healey in a statement. ‘The agency has completely failed to justify this decision and we will be suing to stand up for the free exchange of ideas and to keep the American people in control of internet access.’”

As Healey takes the legal route, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts said he and other lawmakers will try to reverse the FCC ruling through legislation in Washington, reports Shannon Young at MassLive. That effort is unlikely to succeed in a Republican-controlled Congress, so Healey’s legal challenge is probably the best bet for net-neutrality backers


Meanwhile, Healey is suing DeVos – again

It’s nothing personal, Betsy. From the Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes: “Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Education, contending that the agency has violated federal law with its delays in providing student loan relief to tens of thousands of consumers who attended fraudulent for-profit schools. This marks Healey’s third lawsuit against the education department under the Trump administration and Secretary Betsy DeVos.”

Fyi: State House News Service (pay wall) reports that Healey has now joined 23 lawsuits against the Trump administration so far this year, when her latest FCC and DeVos actions are counted.

GOP tax compromise appears less onerous to Massachusetts

Thought the fate of the GOP tax plan is still somewhat up in the air (Herald), the Boston Globe’s Evan Horowitz has an excellent summary of the tentative compromise bill that the Republican-controlled Congress hopes to pass before Christmas. Bottom line: It’s less onerous to Massachusetts, though many residents will still lose out if the bill is passed. 

Boston Globe

The miracle of capitalism: Gun-rights activist turns Hampshire College snub into T-shirt and socks venture

From Diane Lederman at MassLive: “A gun rights advocate whose talk was canceled at Hampshire College earlier this month is selling merchandise capitalizing on the controversy. Antonia Okafer this week on her Twitter account unveiled t-shirts, socks and other items for sale carrying a design styled after B-movie posters. The items carry text that reads, ‘Hampshire College Presents The Monster Who Came to Speak!’ Graphics include an image of Okafor carrying a rifle and women seeming to shriek.”


Shut out: Where are the black powerbrokers in Boston?

The Globe Spotlight team’s ongoing look at racism in Boston focuses this morning on the region’s political and business worlds – and the consistent lack of African-American powerbrokers within powerbroker circles. Some might point to the recent election and re-election of Deval Patrick, an African American, as governor, or the recent electoral successes of minority women on the Boston City Council, as signs of progress. And they are. But the story makes the convincing case that such achievement are “more occasional than institutional” – and they’re right. Today’s Spotlight piece is must-read for political junkies.

Boston Globe

State braces for double-whammy hit on fed health-care subsidies

With the clock ticking down on 2017, the Baker administration is carefully monitoring what happens in Congress on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, as reported by SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) and Cost-Sharing Reduction (CRS) payments, as also reported by SHNS’s Katie Lannan at the BBJ. The New York Times has a big piece this morning on the Children’s Health Insurance Program in particular, fyi.

Live Free or Die or People’s Republic of Massachusetts?

Actually, it’s somewhere in between, when it comes to the state’s ranking in the Pioneer Institute’s latest Economic Freedom of North America report, which measures the economic environments of regions across the continent. In fact, Massachusetts ranks 13th out of all 50 states in economic freedom, tilting the state distinctly in the Live Free or Die direction, contradicting the stereotype of Massachusetts being a bastion of loony left anti-capitalists. New Hampshire ranks at the top.

Pioneer Institute

Lawmakers back offshore Deepwater Wind project

Rep. Patricia Haddad of Somerset and Sen. Michael Rodrigues of Westport have sent a letter to Matthew Beaton, secretary of energy and environmental affairs, urging the Baker administration to support Deepwater Wind’s proposed wind farm off the southern coast of Massachusetts, saying their region of the state needs the clean energy and jobs that would come with the massive project. More at CommonWealth magazine.


A hundred-foot joint, anyone?

The inaugural Harvest Cup – described as a part marijuana competition, part marijuana expo and trade show, sponsored by the Massachusetts Grower Advocacy Council – will be held this weekend in Worcester. The event will include an attempt to roll a 100-foot marijuana joint, a feat that may involve the effort of 40 people. As SHNS’s Colin Young notes at the Milford Daily News: “It is unclear exactly what will happen to the joint once it is rolled.”

Milford Daily News

Framingham will inaugurate city government on New Year’s Day

Seems appropriate: New year, new form of government. Framingham has scheduled its first-ever city inauguration ceremony for Mayor-elect Yvonne Spicer and a slew of other first-time city officials for New Year’s Day. Jim Haddadin of the MetroWest Daily News notes that the city council and other newly formed boards have been at work on the transition process for several weeks already. Framingham voters recently voted to change from town government to city government.

MetroWest Daily News

Heroux settles campaign violations dispute

By the looks of it, he’s trying to financially tidy things up before being put in charge of an entire city budget. From Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive: “Paul Heroux, the Attleboro Democrat who came under fire for attempting to stay a state representative while serving as a mayor, has settled campaign finance violations, the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance said Thursday.” Dumcius has the details on the violations and settlement.


Longtime chief of UMass Donahue Institute retiring

They’ve done terrific work at the institute over the years. From Doug Banks at the BBJ: “The head of the UMass Donahue Institute, a decades-old economic and educational research consultancy, will be stepping down early next year. Lynn Griesemer, who joined the institute in 1986 as a program administrator, told colleagues in a recent email that she will be retiring on Feb. 3, 2018. She has been executive director since 1998.”


The MBTA Control Board at the halfway point: Not bad

The T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board has hit the halfway point of its five-year term – and Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine reports that the board has made progress on most of the goals it originally set for itself. He’s not the only one impressed. So is James Aloisi, the former transportation secretary and board member of TransitMatter, and Chris Dempsey, director of Transportation for Massachusetts.


Audit slams Holyoke Soldier’s Home on overtime spending

The Holyoke Soldiers’ Home failed to follow state and federal procedures for documenting the need for a nearly 90 percent increase in overtime costs over the course of two years, according to a report by state Auditor Suzanne Bump. Mike Plaisance of MassLive reports that nurses’ overtime costs nearly doubled between 2014 and 2016 and that some of those funds could have been used for other necessary care. The audit comes amid reports that some families are unhappy with the treatment the home is providing to elderly residents. 


So when did liquor licenses morph into retirement nest eggs for owners?

At Wicked Local, Amy Salzman looks at why the value of liquor licenses has plummeted in recent years in Cambridge – and how some owners say the licenses they previously purchased at high prices no longer “provide a cash-out for their retirements.” The recent plunge in values was caused, as Salzman notes, by Cambridge’s elimination of caps on the number of liquor licenses in the city. The supply of licenses has since caught up with demand, driving down license values in the process. It’s classic supply-and-demand economics — and it’s a wise policy aimed at helping little guys obtain affordable licenses, not keeping license values artificially high for a select few who view them as mini-goldmines and personal retirement funds.

Wicked Local

Anti-Fluoride activists have their say

Activists are pressing lawmakers to reverse the decades-old policy of allowing communities to add fluoride to drinking water without the consent of the public, Christian Wade reports in the Salem News. At a recent legislative hearing, representatives of the state’s dental profession were among those saying the practice—in use since at least the 1940s—has had major public health benefits. 

Salem News

Baker touts advanced manufacturing training for adults

The Baker administration yesterday unveiled a new program that allows adults to get training in advanced manufacturing at local vocational high schools – and Gov. Charlie Baker sounded pumped about the new program when interviewed on Morning Edition at WGBH. He should be pumped. There’s strong demand for workers with computerizing manufacturing skills – and there’s also an acute shortage of workers with such skills. The full text of the governor’s interview is available at ‘GBH.


Sunday public affairs TV

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. Attorney General Maura Healey, who talks with host Jon Keller about net neutrality, the millionaires tax, sexual harassment and other issues.

This is New England, NBC Boston Channel 10, 9:30 a.m. This week’s main topic: Plymouth at 400, with Brian Shactman of Plymouth 400 Inc.

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Greater Boston Chamber CEO Jim Rooney on the potential impacts of the tax reform bill compromise; Waterville Valley Resort GM and President Tim Smith and Ski NH Marketing Manager Karolyn Castaldo look ahead to the winter ski season; and BBJ editor Doug Banks on the top business stories of the week.  

CEO Corner, NECN, 10:30 a.m. Robert Reynolds, the president and CEO of both  Putnam Investments and Great-West Financial, talks about his book “From Here to Security,” in which he outlines some basic steps aimed at addressing the lack of savings in America.  

On the Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, who talks with anchor Ed Harding and co-anchor Janet Wu.

DC Dialogue, NECN, 11:30 a.m. Pat Griffin, founding partner and CEO of Merrimack Potomac and Charles is our guest for a wide ranging segment on national politics with New England Council CEO Jim Brett. 

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. This week’s main topics: The Boston Globe Spotlight series on racism in Boston and the holiday shopping season.

A Conversation with Mayor Warren about the Opioid Epidemic

Mayor Setti Warren

Author Talk and Book Signing with Michael Holley

State Library of Massachusetts

Help Us Stop Propaganda Teaching at Newton High

Americans for Peace & Tolerance

Today’s Headlines


Boston tech chief to step down – Boston Globe

With Trump backing out of climate change efforts, Boston billionaire’s nonprofit steps up – Boston Business Journal


Steak may be back on the menu at the old Hilltop site – Lynn Item

State might back full replacement of Pittsfield airport terminal – Berkshire Eagle

Framingham State to launch biotech MBA program – Worcester Business Journal

Survey: 270 Mass. schools need facelift – Standard-Times


White House deflects gun questions on Sandy Hook anniversary – Politico

A sheriff, a mystery check and a blogger who cried foul – New York Times

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