Happening Today

Health Connector outreach, Markey presser, T Control Board

— Massachusetts residents who want to enroll in health insurance through the Health Connector have until Dec. 23 to sign up in order to be covered on Jan. 1, and Health Connector officials are traveling today to communities with higher uninsured rates to encourage people to enroll, with plans for stops in Dorchester, Lowell, Framingham, Fall River, Lawrence and Springfield.

— A Division of Insurance public hearing is scheduled on the application of General Electric for approval of its acquisition of Electric Insurance Company, a property and casualty insurance company, Hearing Room 1-E, 1000 Washington St., Boston, 10 a.m.

— U.S. Senator Edward Markey holds a press conference to call for an immediate funding extension for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, with Dr. Kevin Churchwell of Boston Children’s Hospital and Dr. Carole Allen of the Massachusetts Medical Society also attending, Boston Children’s Hospital, Hale Family Center, first floor, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, 10 a.m.

— Reps. Mike Connolly and Adrian Madaro sponsor a panel on the impact of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies on Latin America and Massachusetts, as part of today’s celebration of International Migrants Day, Member’s Lounge, 11 a.m.

— The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board will meet to receive an update on KPMG’s fiscal 2017 consolidated financial statement, the integrated fleet and facilities plan, and a bus productivity initiative, MassDOT, 10 Park Plaza, Transportation Board Room, Boston, 12 p.m.

— Radio host and former sportswriter Michael Holley gives the State Library’s monthly author talk about his book ‘Belichick and Brady: Two Men, the Patriots, and How They Revolutionized Football,’ Room 341, 12 p.m.

— Acting Senate President Harriette Chandler is interviewed on ‘Radio Boston,’ WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m.

— Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito joins Marshfield Town Administrator Michael Maresco, Sen. Patrick O’Connor and Rep. James Cantwell to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Marshfield Maritime Center Project, Marshfield Town Pier, 100 Center Street, Marshfield, 3:30 p.m.

— Boston Mayor Martin Walsh attends Shop With A Cop, a program for Boston students who receive gift cards from the Boston Police Department to buy gifts during the holiday season, Target, 7 Allstate Rd., Dorchester, 6 p.m.

— The preliminary screening committee for the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education‘s search for a new education department commissioner meets to discuss and finalize applicant interview questions, 75 Pleasant St., Malden, 6 p.m.

— Concord Democratic Town Committee holds a meeting with featured speakers Jimmy Tingle, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, and Lori Trahan, a Democratic candidate for Congress in the Third District, Harvey Wheeler Community Center, 1276 Main St., Concord, 6:30 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Sound retreat: City to reconsider early-start school times

Facing a fierce backlash from parents, city councilors and civil rights groups, Boston school officials have announced they’ll reconsider proposed new start and end times for students, reports Adam Gaffin at Universal Hub and James Vaznis at the Globe. Among those jumping into the school-time fray last week were the NAACP and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, both of which objected to how the proposed early-start/home-early schedule for some students would hit working minorities hardest, reports Hayley Glatter at Boston Magazine.

Over the weekend, Mayor Walsh and even Santa Claus were getting an earful from protesters in West Roxbury, reports Universal Hub, which has lots of photos of those extending their version of holiday greetings to the mayor and the big guy.

Like clockwork: Post-election pay raises at City Hall

The city elections are over, so that usually means it’s time for an “advisory board” to roll out recommendations for pay raises for the mayor, city councilors and top brass at City Hall – and that’s exactly what has happened. The Herald’s Dan Atkinsonn and Joe Battenfeld, in separate pieces, have all the proposed pay-hike details that, if implemented, are sure to make State House lawmakers and staffers a little more jealous of those working down the hill.

Globe Spotlight series on racism calls for change in city government’s charter

Speaking of City Hall and changes: Among the recommendations outlined in the Globe Spotlight team’s concluding examination of racism in Boston is a call to rewrite Boston’s city charter to dilute the authority of the mayor’s office, empowering black representatives on the city council in the process. At the least, the city could also add more elected offices, according to recommendations offered up by Andrew Ryan (scroll down). Mayor Walsh, needless to say, isn’t excited about the idea.

Boston Globe

About that Globe series on racism …

We stand by our assessment last Monday that the Globe Spotlight series on racism was flawed (‘Globe Spotlight team’s powerful but weird look at racism’), raising the prospect that it would finally resolve whether Boston is the “most racist” city in America and then not directly answering its own central question, presenting findings in an almost essay-like fashion with the use of the familiar “we” and “our” and “you,” and, ultimately, ending the series with outright advocacy, etc. It was, well, very un-Spotlightish.

With all that said, the series dug deeper into the city’s racism than anything seen before in the local media, unearthing at times jaw-dropping facts, such as how the median net worth for non-immigrant African-American households is only $8 in the Greater Boston area (and, no, that’s not a typo, as the Globe had to later reiterate), and raising issues that hadn’t been fully aired before (such as how Seaport has been developed with little or no input from the minority community or how blacks routinely receive inferior health care in a city that boasts of its world-class medical prowess). In the end, the series is no doubt a strong contender for a Pulitzer Prize, a border-line landmark effort, despite its many faults. It said and covered things that long needed to be said and covered.

Walsh grudgingly, very grudgingly, signs ban on plastic bags

In the end, Mayor Walsh said the environmental benefits of banning plastic shopping bags outweigh the negatives to poor people, so he quietly signed the council-approved ordinance on Friday, only acknowledging he did so on Sunday after being asked by pesky reporters, as reported at Fox25. He really didn’t like this one, you can tell.


State health officials raise alarm on opioid-related HIV spike

The percentage of new cases of HIV infection tied to injected drug use is on the rise and state health officials are taking steps to get the word out, Christian Wade reports in the Eagle-Tribune. Some AIDS activists say the trend shows the state needs to boost the number of needle-exchange programs. 

Also at the Eagle Tribune, Wade reports on how the Baker administration is pushing for the increased use of addiction recovery coaches to help those battling opioids

Eagle Tribune

T gives boot to Ride contractor

The MBTA, not to mention riders, could no longer take the poor Ride transportation service provided by North Carolina’s Global Contact Services. So the T has effectively terminated its $38.5 million contract with the firm and hopes to find a new contractor early next year to provide transportation for disabled passengers, the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro reports.

Boston Globe

About 80 percent of Massachusetts residents would see tax cut under GOP bill

The Globe’s Evan Horowitz has another excellent piece on the compromise tax-cut legislation that Republicans plan to jam through Congress this week before the Christmas break. Here’s the real interesting news: “Roughly 80 percent of residents will see their tax bills shrink next year, enough to raise their post-tax income by an average of about 1.5 percent, according to an analysis from the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.” Many state residents will still take a major hit and the tax bill is expected to cause one big deficit headache for the federal government, but it’s clear the legislation isn’t nearly as bad for Massachusetts as feared only a few weeks ago 

Here’s one of many groups still alarmed about the compromise bill: Charitable groups, as reported at the NYT.

Boston Globe

Warren and Sanders make last-ditch appeal to stop GOP tax plan

The Republicans are going to ram their tax bill through Congress this week no matter what two New England progressives say. Still, U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have a joint op-ed in the Times this morning calling on Congress to re-work the legislation in order to better help working people. Warren was making the same case this weekend in Gloucester, telling more than 800 people she was “really worried about this tax bill for what it means individually for people in Massachusetts and across the country,” reports Mary Markos at the Gloucester Times.


Three new suitors express interest in buying Herald

This is interesting: Three additional parties are expressing interest in buying the Boston Herald, a week after Herald owner Pat Purcell declared bankruptcy and announced an agreement to sell the newspaper to GateHouse Media, reports Brian Dowling at the Herald. The bargain-basement $4.5 million offered by GateHouse must have piqued the interest of other potential buyers, it seems. The Globe’s Danny McDonald has more.

Boston Herald

Tom Hanks sends signed typewriter to Wellesley family – with a cautionary note on communists

This is pretty funny: The de Peyster family of Wellesley watched a documentary on those who still regularly use typewriters, among them actor Tom Hanks and local historian David McCullough, so Nick de Peyster sent a letter to Hanks – and got back a signed Olympia De Luxe typewriter and a typed “Eleven Reasons To Use A Typewriter” letter from the actor. Our favorites: “3. Your religion forbids the use of machinery invented after 1867. 4. The Communists are back in power.” Then, of course, there’s No. 11.


Getting testy: Galvin accuses rival Zakim of ‘sneaky’ candidacy

As they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity (most of the time) – and so Josh Zakim must be smiling this morning after Secretary of State William Galvin acknowledged his existence by ripping into his fellow Dem for being “sneaky” with voters by announcing he was running against Galvin only days after winning re-election to the Boston City Council. Galvin, a heavy favorite to win re-election, also zinged the pay of city councilors. Zakim is hitting back – and is former Treasurer Steve Grossman. The Herald’s Hillary Chabot has more.

Boston Herald

Former Chang-Diaz aide challenging Sanchez, citing his ties to DeLeo

Yet another example of Democrats doing what they do best: Fighting amongst themselves. From SHNS’s Andy Metzger: “An attorney who has worked in non-profits and a state senator’s office wants to give Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez, a Jamaica Plain Democrat and chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, his first competitive primary since 2010. Nika Elugardo, a former aide to Jamaica Plain Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, said she was dissatisfied by Sánchez’s alliance with House leadership and she thinks others in the district are too.”

SHNS (pay wall)

Galvin now vows ‘aggressive policing’ of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies

Back to Bill Galvin: The secretary of state is no longer just warning about the dangers of investing in Bitcoin, the digital cryptocurrency whose price has skyrocketed to true bubble heights of late. He’s now vowing “aggressive policing” of Bitcoin and other digital currencies, reports Kelly O’Brien at the BBJ.


CLF blasts state’s approval of waterfront Seaport tower

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has given preliminary approval to a 22-story luxury condo tower on the site of the Whiskey Priest and Atlantic Beer Garden bars, prompting the Conservation Law Foundation to announce it will appeal the state ruling, arguing the tower would effectively wall off the waterfront to the public, according to reports by the Herald’s Brian Dowling and the Globe’s Tim Logan.

They did it: 100-foot joint rolled in Worcester

It took 1,000 grams of pot (or about 35 ounces) and a lot of people and a little practice, but, yes, they managed to roll a 100-foot joint over the weekend at the first annual Harvest Cup conference in Worcester, reports Cyrus Moulton at the Telegram.


Alcohol vs. pot regulations: emerging double standards?

As marijuana advocates were gleefully rolling a 100-foot joint in Worcester over the weekend, the Boston Herald, in an editorial, notes how they’re still arguing about liquor ads on MBTA buses and subways – while the Cannabis Control Commission is tentatively approving regulations allowing home delivery of weed and the sale of pot at spas, massage parlors and restaurants. “So all you folks still losing sleep over a Bud Light ad on the T, you just keep fighting the last war, while the pot industry moves into a cafe near you or delivers weed to the kid next door.”

Boston Herald

No ID, no petitioning the government in this building

The Globe’s Sean Murphy rightly bemoans the move by state officials to require a driver’s license, passport or a state/college identification card to get into the state’s McCormick Building, noting how it hurts the poor and violates the spirit of the constitutional right to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.” He concludes: “It’s a shame to see bedrock rights being chipped away, even for the worthy goal of security.”

Boston Globe

No Christmas strike at Tufts Medical

The BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett reports that union nurses at Tufts Medical Center have no plans for a Christmas strike, contrary to prior reports that they might be targeting the hospital for holiday action as a way to put pressure on administrators in ongoing contract talks. Bartlett has the details.


Blowing in the wind: Resident wants idled wind turbine brought down

A Falmouth resident says the town should take down a wind-power turbine that has been idled for more than a year after it failed to win local approval, Christine Legere of the Cape Cod Times reports. The town is already on the hook for $10 million in costs because neither of its two wind turbines are currently allowed to operate. 

Cape Cod Times

Time ticking on $10M Gardner Museum artwork reward

Speak now or forever miss out on an extra $5 million. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum said in May it would double a longstanding reward for information leading to the recovery of its heisted artwork to $10 million, but that double-down offer runs out on Dec. 31, Shelley Murphy of the Globe reports. 

Boston Globe

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


Retailers irked over bag ban – Boston Herald

Complaint-ridden contractor for T’s ride service axed – Boston Globe


Dominican Republic presidential candidate visits Lynn – Lynn Item

PawSox chairman, Woo officiais powwow at City Hall – Telegram & Gazette

Amazon bid shows new perspective on New Bedford – Standard-Times


How the oldest Senate ever is taking a toll on business in Washington – Washington Post

File taxes on a postcard? A GOP promise that fell short – New York Times

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