Teaching English, 40B hearing, police-involved deaths
— Group Insurance Commission meets with plans to review a recommendation regarding its pharmacy benefit manager, a move public unions are closely monitoring, 19 Staniford Street, 4th Floor, Boston, 8:30 a.m.
— Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meets to discuss the new state law allowing more flexibility in how schools teach students who are learning English, vote on the tuition rate for virtual schools and hear an update from chairman Paul Sagan on the ongoing search for a new elementary and secondary education commissioner, 75 Pleasant St., Malden, 8:30 a.m.
— Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse and Undersecretary for Housing and Community Development Chrystal Kornegay announce $35 million for affordable rental housing in Massachusetts, with Sen. Donald Humason and Rep. Aaron Vega expected to attend, Holyoke City Hall, 536 Dwight St., Holyoke, 9:30 a.m.
— The Housing Committee review issues dealing with the 40B law, which allows developers to build more affordable housing in towns, Room B-2, 10 a.m.
— Fisheries and Wildlife Board meets with an agenda that includes a vote on wildlife management zone regulations, discussion of Canadian wildfire deployment, and species management on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuges, One Rabbit Hill Rd., Westborough, 10 a.m.
— Massachusetts Lottery Commission meets with Treasurer Deborah Goldberg chairing, One Ashburton Place, 12th floor, Boston, 10:30 a.m.
— The Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security will take up bills dealing with police-involved deaths and body cameras, among other subjects, Room B-1, 11 a.m.
— The Chinese Progressive Association and victims of wage theft will rally in support for bills that are sitting in the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, 48-50 Winter St., Boston, 12 p.m.
— The Joint Committee on Public Health Health meets to review legislation tied to health care facilities, including a bill that would require health care facilities to adopt and implement a safe patient handling program, Hearing Room A-1, 1 p.m.
— Chrystal Kornegay, undersecretary for the Department of Housing and Community Development, will attend the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Housing Partnership board of directors, 160 Federal Street, 2nd floor, Boston, 1:30 p.m.
— Boston Herald Publisher Pat Purcell is a guest on ‘Radio Boston,’ followed by an interview with Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans, WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m.
— Three Democratic candidates for governor — Jay Gonzalez, Bob Massie and Setti Warren — attend the Boston Ward 4 Holiday Party to meet fellow Democrats and discuss their campaigns for governor, South End Branch of the Boston Public Library, 685 Tremont St., Boston, 6 p.m.
Collins’ support ensures passage of GOP tax plan today
Before getting into all things sexual-harassment on Beacon Hill, a reminder: It’s tax day in Congress, not to be confused with the traditional April 15 tax day. From Kimberly Atkins at the Herald: “Republicans are poised to pass the first revamp of the tax code in decades — and hand President Trump his first major legislative win — as soon as tonight as the measure gained enough GOP support in the Senate to pass by Christmas break. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) yesterday put the GOP Senate whip count at 50, enough to pass the measure with the tiebreaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence.”
Report: Globe State House reporter ousted after allegedly hitting on Beacon Hill women
The tangled lives we lead. From Jack Sullivan at CommonWealth magazine: “A prominent Boston Globe State House reporter, who was the subject of an internal sexual harassment complaint, was forced out last month after reporters and editors at the paper learned he allegedly initiated inappropriate communications with women who work on Beacon Hill, who were fearful of rebuffing his advances outright because of his position, say sources.”
The irony of ironies: The now ex-Globe reporter — who Sullivan, citing sources, identifies as Jim O’Sullivan – was “forced to resign after Globe reporters were alerted during the course of reporting on sexual harassment in the Legislature.” As Universal Hub put it in its own headline: “Globe inquiries into sexual harassment at the State House led reporters to one of their own.”
Senate Ethics Committee selects outside investigators from … Boston
Speaking of sexual-harassment allegations on Beacon Hill, the Senate Ethics Committee probing whether former Senate President Stan Rosenberg violated chamber rules in connection to sexual-misconduct charges against his husband has hired three Boston-based attorneys at Hogan Lovells LLP to lead its investigation, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy at WGBH and Joshua Miller at the Globe.
While two of the three lawyers are former federal prosecutors, it remains to be seen whether their Boston ties will discourage alleged victims from stepping forward.
Chandler: Senators jockeying for top post agree to ‘cut back’ on campaigning
As the outside Senate investigation into the Rosenberg-Hefner affair finally gets under way, acting Senate President Harriette Chandler said yesterday on WBUR that the four senators jockeying for the full-time Senate presidency have agreed to “cut back” for now on their behind-the-scenes campaigning for the post, reports SHNS’s Katie Lannan at the Telegram. The truce, we suspect, will last only through the holidays, if that.
Defending Matt Damon
The Globe’s Joan Vennochi goes there – and she’s right to go there, i.e. defending actor Matt Damon, who committed the “heresy” of saying that there’s a “spectrum” of sexual harassment charges that require different punishments. Lumping together all sexual harassment charges “is a mistake, as a matter of fairness and feminist strategy,” Vennochi writes.
Pawtucket mayor: Worcester is ‘finalizing a deal’ for PawSox
Hoping to light a fire under Rhode Island lawmakers hemming and hawing at a $23 million incentive package to keep the PawSox in the Ocean State, the mayor of Pawtucket will hold a press conference today saying Worcester is “finalizing a deal” to bring the Red Sox AAA farm team to Massachusetts, Melissa Hanson of MassLive reports. The mayor may be blowing smoke for political reasons. But PawSox President Larry Lucchino has made a number of trips to Worcester, the most recent coming just last Friday.
Worcester rail line service improves ‘dramatically’ after T officials start talking to one another
It’s amazing what can be accomplished when people take the time to actually discuss how to solve problems. From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “T officials say a new approach to dealing with commuter rail delays improved performance dramatically on the Worcester Line, which in November had its best month in terms of on-time performance in almost three years. The high performance on the line continued into the first two weeks of December. Dan Grabauskas, a consultant brought in the by the MBTA to oversee commuter rail, said the key to gaining the improvement was getting teams from the T and Keolis Commuter Services, the company running the trains, to work together.”
Yet another example, as if we need more examples, that many of the problems at the T were/are driven by bad management practices. Btw: MBTA officials are impressed with the test results of dedicated bus lanes, Bruce Mohl reports in a separate story.
As lawmakers pressure T over privatization, evidence mounts that outsourcing isn’t working so well
Speaking of the T: Nearly a quarter of lawmakers on Beacon Hill have signed a letter expressing concerns about a private firm that was the sole bidder to take over some MBTA bus maintenance operations, reports SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall). Meanwhile, Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth reports that the transit agency is now grappling with “negative fallout from two past privatization efforts” and that the T is finding that “internal reforms at some garages appear to be yielding significant savings and improved operations.”
Tufts Medical and nurses settle on a contract, ending contentious standoff
So this is why the nurses’ union recently signaled there would be no holiday-season strike. From Priyanka Dayal McCluseky at the Globe: “Five months after a contentious strike and lockout, the Massachusetts Nurses Association and Tufts Medical Center have reached a tentative deal on a new contract. The agreement was hammered out Monday evening at City Hall, where Mayor Martin J. Walsh had invited both sides to meet. It ended 20 months of long and often bitter talks.”
Report: Senate committee probing Jill Stein’s Russian ties
This sounds pretty flimsy as you read deeper into the story. Via the Washington Post: “The Senate Intelligence Committee is looking at the presidential campaign of the Green Party’s Jill Stein for potential ‘collusion with the Russians,’ a sign that the panel’s probe is far from over, even as allegations swirl that the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation is racing to a close. Stein was present at a 2015 dinner in Moscow that was also attended by Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, whose contacts with Russian officials have been a chief focus of congressional investigators and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe.”
Markey: Mueller firing would spark ‘spontaneous uprising’
Speaking of Russian investigations, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, reacting to mounting right-wing media criticism of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the Trump administration’s ties to Russia, says there would be “hell to pay” and a “spontaneous uprising” if President Trump ever fires Mueller, reports Phillip Martin at WGBH.
Defeated mayor scores higher-paying town manager gig
Lose some, win some. Outgoing Attleboro Mayor Kevin Dumas may have been ousted from office by state Rep. Paul Heroux, but Rick Foster of the Sun Chronicle reports the ex-mayor will land on his feet after being offered the job of town manager in nearby Mansfield. Dumas will likely score a raise in the process and he told selectmen he is done running for office. “That section of my life is over,” he said.
‘Go-to’ elderly care lobbyist calling it quits, citing ‘difficult state environment’
Al Norman is apparently fed up and not taking it anymore. Shira Schoenberg at MassLive has the details on Beacon Hill’s long-time “go-to lobbyist” for elderly-care affairs calling it quits at Mass Home Care. From Schoenberg: “In an interview with The Republican/MassLive.com, Norman said he decided to leave after ‘a difficult period with state relations.’ He declined to explain further what he meant by that.”
No respect: Rep. Scaccia, dean of the House, faces two Dem primary opponents
It’s a progressive Young Turks coup attempt: State Rep. Angelo Scaccia, who must decide whether to seek a 23rd term on Beacon Hill next year, is now facing two challengers from within his own party — Gretchen Van Ness, a lawyer and former head of the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts, and Segun Idowu, 29, one of the founders of the Boston Police Camera Action Team, according to reports by SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) and Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin. Scaccia faced opposition the last time he ran for re-election – and fended off the young ones.
State Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez and Secretary of State William Galvin are other sitting Dems who face opposition from within their own party next year.
Why American politics are so broken …
Speaking of local Dems going after local Dems, a regular MassterList reader sent in this Washington Post column, written two years ago by Jonathan Haidt and Sam Abrams, on the top ten reasons American politics are broken. At the top of their list: “The two parties purified themselves ideologically.” Their piece holds up well two years later. Read it. It’s a great analysis of contemporary politics.
Audit: State’s foster kids live in filth in some group homes
From the Herald’s Matt Stout: “Foster kids living in state-contracted group homes are sometimes housed in filthy and potentially dangerous conditions, according to federal investigators — who say they found rotting food, fly infestations and scores of workers who didn’t undergo legally required background checks after being hired.” More from Michael Levenson at the Globe.
Globe editorial backs BPS’s early-start school plan
As angry parents last night continued to give Boston school officials an earful about the proposed changes to school start times for some students (O’Ryan Johnson – Herald), the Boston Globe, in an editorial, is defending the new plan, saying that studies show later start times for high school kids have a lot of benefits – and that “tweaks” to the current plan might make it more workable and palatable for all.
L’Italien counter-attacks against residency critics
From the Lowell Sun: “State Sen. Barbara L’Italien shed the gloves and pushed back last week against criticism that she is running for the 3rd Congressional District seat despite not residing in it by pointing to the numerous carpetbaggers in the race. The state senator’s Andover home had in fact been in what is today the 3rd District until 2011, when redistricting shifted that section of Andover to the 6th District.” She’s not the only candidate with residency problems in the Third race.
CDC’s forbidden words is ‘dispiriting in the extreme’
In an editorial, the Springfield Republican is blasting the push at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ban seven words in documents: “diversity,” “entitlement,” “fetus,” “transgender,” “vulnerable,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” You gotta to love those last two ones at a scientific medical-research institution, of all places. From the Republican: “It’s long been said that he who controls the message controls the masses. What’s also true is this: He who controls the language controls the message. The news of the Trump administration’s list of banned words is dispiriting in the extreme.”
Meanwhile, Easthampton High School’s ‘freshmen’ to be called ‘first years’
Speaking of forbidden words and controlling the message, this time from the PC left: “Ninth-grade students at Easthampton High School will no longer be called ‘freshmen.’ Instead, they will be called ‘first years.’ … There was consensus among School Committee members ‘that the change to gender neutral language was a simple, sensible way to foster a more inclusive and equitable environment, and was in concert with the many transformations underway at our district,’ School Committee Policy Subcommittee chairwoman Marissa Carrere told The Republican in an email.” Mary Serreze at MassLive has more.
Dunkin’ and Wormtown team up for limited-edition coffee stout
Just in time for the holidays. From Jessica Bartlett at the BBJ: “Dunkin’ Donuts will be on tap in a Worcester brewery, with a beer collaboration announced between the major coffee brand and Wormtown Brewery. Wormtown will launch DDark Roasted Brew in the taproom on Dec. 21 — the winter solstice and the darkest day of the year. The beer uses Dunkin’ Donuts Dark Roast Coffee, the darkest the coffee shop has ever used, in a stout-style beer.”
Stay tuned in 2018 for more Beacon Hill Town Square events!
Long-time Hyde Park rep could face two opponents next year – Universal Hub
‘Grass-roots’ group fighting Beth Israel-Leahy merger has ties to rival hospitals – Boston Globe
Plainridge owner buys competitor casino firm for $2.8 billion – Sun Chronicle
In Marblehead, a privileged town talks about privilege and race – Lynn Item
Political notes: Cyr targeted for immigration stance – Cape Cod Times
Framingham: Board nixes housing near Staples headquarters – MetroWest Daily News
Report: Some foster kids live in filth; workers not vetted – Boston Herald
The real reason Trump allies are attacking Mueller – Politico
Trump talked about rescinding Gorsuch’s nomination after personal criticism – Washington Post
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