Unemployment numbers, Cannabis Control Commission, holiday bell ringing
— The preliminary November unemployment rate and jobs numbers for Massachusetts will be released by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
— Massachusetts Retirement Board meets with Treasurer Deborah Goldberg chairing, One Winter St., 8th Floor, Boston, 10 a.m.
— The Cannabis Control Commission meets to take a vote of acceptance on the draft marijuana industry regulations, Minihan Meeting Room, Hurley Building, 19 Staniford St., Boston, 10:30 a.m.
— U.S. Sen. Edward Markey is a guest on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 11 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker rings the holiday-season bell at the Salvation Army’s red kettle at Downtown Crossing, Macy’s, 450 Washington St., Boston, 11 a.m.
— House Speaker Robert DeLeo mans the same Salvation Army bell at Downtown Crossing, Macy’s, 450 Washington St., Boston, 12 p.m.
— Lt. Gov. Polito, Quincy Mayor Tom Koch, Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey and Undersecretary of Public Safety and Security Jennifer Queally announce 37 grants through the STOP Violence Against Women Grant Program, DOVE, 180 Old Colony Ave., 3rd floor, Quincy, 12 p.m.
— Attorney General Maura Healey is a guest on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 12:30 p.m.
— Treasurer Deborah Goldberg rings a bell outside Macy’s as part of the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle program, Downtown Crossing, Boston, 1 p.m.
— Framingham Mayor-elect Yvonne Spicer is a guest on ‘Radio Boston,’ WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m.
Pope Francis attending Cardinal Law’s funeral?
Pope Francis’s decision to participate in today’s Rome funeral for the late Cardinal Bernard Law, as CBS Boston reports, is not playing well in Boston – not at all. In an editorial, the Globe is blasting the Vatican’s “tone-deaf reaction” to the death of the disgraced Law, reviled by so many in Boston due to his aiding and abetting of pedophile clergy members during his years leading the church here. Meanwhile, church sexual-abuse victims are outraged by the pope’s decision, CNN reports. Elizabeth Williamson at the NYT writes that the pope’s decision reopens wounds and shows disrespect toward sexual-abuse victims. The Boston Herald has more on the reaction to the pope’s attendance at Law’s funeral.
Baker softens criticism of GOP tax plan
As expected, the Republican-controlled Congress approved its controversial $1.5 trillion tax-cut package, a move immediately denounced by Democrats far and wide. But Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who previously expressed alarm about provisions within earlier versions of the bill, yesterday seemed to be softening his criticism of the final compromise package. “Certain provisions that would adversely affect Massachusetts appear to have been mitigated and the Governor appreciates that the bill secures tax breaks for middle and low income earners, but the administration is concerned about the hurried process resulting in lack of bipartisan support,” Baker spokesman Brendan Moss said, as SHNS’s Matt Murphy reports (pay wall). Democratic gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren is now ripping into Baker for his handling of the entire tax-cut affair.
Fyi: The Associated Press at the Globe reports that some Republicans are concerned about a potential political backlash to the tax bill. But if the reaction of Baker and the state’s three GOP Senate candidates is any indication, not all Republicans are overly worried about major repercussions. We’ll see who’s right after the tax provisions take effect. Fyi II: Local companies, such as State Street Corp. and General Electric, are welcoming the tax changes, reports the Globe’s Shirley Leung.
To be clear: The health-care mandate in Massachusetts is going nowhere …
Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization is among those raising concerns about a provision in the just-passed GOP tax plan that eliminates an ObamaCare tax penalty for those who fail to obtain health coverage, reports Shannon Young at MassLive. But John McDonough, writing at CommonWealth magazine, says the move may not be as bad as some advocates think. And the Globe’s Pryanka Dayal McCluskey reports that, federal tax penalty or not, the state’s universal health-care mandates will remain in effect here. So there.
Report raises alarm about a universal health-care system that’s too expensive for many
Speaking of the state’s health-care system, from Jessica Bartlett at the BBJ: “Massachusetts residents may for the most part be insured, but they often still have trouble finding affordable care. Those are the findings of a survey conducted by the state’s Center for Health Information and Analysis. The survey, which was conducted from April and July 2017, is a bi-annual look at how Massachusetts is doing when it comes to health care.”
Baker’s annus horribilis wasn’t so bad after all …
With the bombastic Donald Trump in the White House, the past year could have been Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s very own annus horribils, but he’s managed to get through the year with his poll numbers still sky-high. The Globe’s Joshua Miller has the details on Baker’s non-stop political Houdini act in 2018.
IG accuses ex-Sheriff Cousins of encouraging workers to abuse sick and vacation time
From Keith Eddings at the Eagle Tribune: “Former Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins encouraged 82 of his employees to call in sick on days they were healthy — often using the time off to work other jobs — and to claim holiday and vacation time they were not entitled to between 2009 and 2016, costing state taxpayers nearly $1.1 million, state Inspector General Glenn Cunha said in a report released this week.”
Pretty amazing, but it gets more interesting: The report dropped the same day the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce said it had hired Cousins as its new president. The chamber is standing by its decision, reports the Salem News.
The nightmare continues: Lowell sent back to drawing board on high school site
Poor Lowell. Just when it thought it had all but settled the year-long debate over where to locate a new high school—likely to be the most expensive ever built in the commonwealth—the Massachusetts School Building Authority says not so fast. Todd Feathers of the Lowell Sun reports the authority wants the city to revisit options that had been brought forward by a consultant but set aside way back in February.
Detained MIT janitor to be released from jail for Christmas
He should never have been in jail in the first place. From Danny McDonald at the Globe: “It looks like Francisco Rodriguez will be home for Christmas. Rodriguez, an MIT custodian and father of four-US born children, has fought his detention and deportation to his native El Salvador for months. Now, his attorney said he will be released from jail in coming days.” He’s been in jail for five months now.
Meanwhile, Barnstable County sheriffs get OK to enforce immigration laws
Speaking of ICE and detained immigrants, deputies in the Barnstable County Sheriff’s office have been approved as enforcement agents for the federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Geoff Spillane of the Cape Cod Times reports. Barnstable is the third Massachusetts county to have its sheriff’s department deputized by ICE.
State gets three bids for offshore wind farms
It’s not a surprise, but it’s still important. From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “The three companies vying to build the first major offshore wind farm in the United States filed their proposals on Wednesday with Massachusetts officials. Each of the firms kept their pricing a secret, so they publicly tried to differentiate their projects based on size, transmission approaches, construction timetables, and partnerships.”
Tran sworn in, Republicans ecstatic over one-seat Senate gain
They weren’t quite high-fiving it, but Gov. Charlie Baker and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr were pretty pumped at yesterday’s swearing-in ceremony of Republican Dean Tran, whose special election victory earlier this month brings the number of GOP senators at the State House to seven, the highest number in 18 years, reports SHNS’s Andy Metzger at the Telegram.
Both parties will hold their conventions next year in Worcester
From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “The state conventions for both the Massachusetts Democratic and Republican parties will be held in Worcester in 2018. The Massachusetts Republican Party announced Wednesday that its convention will be held April 28, 2018, at the DCU Center. The Democratic Party announced previously that its convention will take place June 1-2, 2018, also at the DCU Center.”
Neal’s opponent faces ‘incredibly high hurdles,’ but winning may not be the goal
Matt Szafranski at Western Mass Politics & Insight writes that U.S. Rep. Richard Neal’s new Democratic opponent, Springfield attorney Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, may not win, but that’s not necessarily the point of her candidacy: “Amatul-Wadud’s campaign may ultimately become a test of progressives and Neal skeptics’ influence. They do not need to win to prove it. (If) the left wants to have any impact on how Neal votes—and potentially wields a gavel—they will have to at least make him sweat.”
Legislators propose state-level ‘net neutrality’ law
We’re not sure how this can get around the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Still, via Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “After the Federal Communications Commission voted last week to rescind ‘net neutrality’ regulations, some Massachusetts lawmakers want to introduce a state-level version of the law. … Sen. Barbara L’Italien, D-Andover, Senate chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure and a candidate for Congress, sponsored a bill to codify net neutrality. The bill was co-sponsored by freshman state Rep. Andy Vargas, D-Haverhill.”
Seattle reporter thinks Boston has a leg up on landing Amazon HQ2
File under: For what it’s worth. A Puget Sound Business Journal reporter who talked with Amazon’s real estate chief came away convinced that Boston is probably the leading contender to land the Amazon HQ2. Though the Amazon executive remained mum on the second-headquarters subject, Casey Coombs writes that he revealed Amazon chief Jess Bezos apparently likes older, dense cities with a ‘soul.’ Coombs has more at the BBJ, a sister publication.
About that ‘Chappaquiddick’ trailer …
The producers of ‘Chappaquiddick’ have released a new trailer that’s creating a small buzz within Hollywood and political circles, here and elsewhere, for its portrayal of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s fateful car accident five decades ago that killed 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne. The Globe’s Mark Shanahan reports the movie is getting mixed reviews after its premier at the Toronto International Film Festival. ‘Chappaquiddick’ arrives in theaters next April.
Have information on the sexual-harassment scandal on Beacon Hill? Call this hotline
From SHNS’s Katie Lannan: “The law firm brought on to investigate Sen. Stanley Rosenberg in the context of sexual misconduct allegations against his husband has set up confidential contact channels to gather information. … Individuals with ‘information relevant to the investigation’ can email MASenateInvestigation@hoganlovells.com or call the toll-free number 855-281-7775, the (Ethics Committee) said in a statement.”
Ex-Herald columnist ‘livid’ over not getting information about pensions
Former ‘Inside Track’ gossip columnist Laura Raposa and other ex-Herald employees can’t get any information about what might happen to their pensions now that the Herald has declared bankruptcy and hopes to get sold to GateHouse Media – and at least Raposa is really upset, reports the BBJ’s Greg Ryan. “I am livid,” Raposa says. “I am just livid.”
Farewell to another family-run newspaper
The Athol Daily News, which has been owned and run by members of the Chase family since 1941, has been sold to Newspapers of New England, Dusty Christensen reports in the Hampshire Gazette, which NNE also owns. The new owners aren’t saying what changes may be made in the longer-term but plan to continue to publish the 3,000-circulation newspaper—which serves a cluster of small towns in the north-central part of the state— for the time being.
Allegations keep piling up against radio host Ashbrook
This isn’t so much a case about workplace sexual-harassment as it is a case about a crude and bullying boss who harangued both male and female employees at WBUR, if the latest allegations against former ‘On Point’ host Tom Ashbrook are true. Martha Bebinger at ‘BUR has the details. Ashbrook is denying the allegations by at least 23 past and current employees. Are they all wrong?
The AG who saved Christmas (for Amazon customers)
From the AP at WBUR: “Law enforcement officials in Massachusetts say they have recovered dozens of stolen Amazon packages and hope to get them to their rightful recipients in time for Christmas. Attorney General Maura Healey’s office said Wednesday the packages were discovered in the Boston home of 33-year-old Dharol Joyner during a separate investigation into a spate of break-ins at restaurants in Taunton and Quincy.”
‘Meet James Matthew Kennedy …’
News sure travels fast around the world. No sooner had U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III announced on Facebook the birth of his second child, the U.K’s Daily Mail was blaring news of the arrival of “JFK’s great grand-nephew.” Anyway, a huge congrats to the Kennedy family. From the Congressman’s Facebook page: “Meet James Matthew Kennedy! Born early this morning and doing great. First gift he received was – appropriately – a Patriots football from Grandpa Joe. Mom, Dad, and Big Sister Eleanor are exhausted, over the moon and deeply grateful for your support.”
Stay tuned in 2018 for more Beacon Hill Town Square events!
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