Happening Today

Crane funeral, Cannabis Control Commission, mobile health program

— The Supreme Judicial Court will hear four first-degree murder appeals, John Adams Courthouse, Courtroom One, Second Floor, Pemberton Square, Boston, 9 a.m.

— A funeral Mass is held for Robert Crane, the former treasurer, state representative and founding chairman of the Lottery Commission, St. Paul Church, 502 Washington St., Wellesley, 10 a.m.

Cannabis Control Commission meets to discuss guidance to municipalities, define “disproportionately impacted communities,” approve job descriptions for a number of administrative positions, and discuss the appointment of members to commissions, Gaming Commission meeting space, 12th floor, 101 Federal St., Boston, 10:30 a.m.


— Gov. Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, Mayor Marty Walsh and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders attend the ribbon-cutting of the Kraft Family Community Health Center Mobile Health Pilot Program, City Hall Plaza, Boston, 10:30 a.m.

— Sen. Jason Lewis, Rep. Jack Lewis and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition hold a briefing to discuss foreign-trained medical professionals, Room 428, 10 a.m.

Joint Committee on Financial Services holds a hearing on 20 bills dealing with automobile insurance, Hearing Room A-2, 10:30 a.m.

— U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton is a guest on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM, 11 a.m.

— The Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee meets to review two bills, including alcohol licensing for Brookline, Room B-1, 1 p.m.

— The Rennie Center holds a briefing on its case study of teacher culture change in three Everett Public Schools that partnered with the Bay State Reading Institute, Room 428, 1 p.m.

— The MassHousing board of directors meets, One Beacon Street, Boston, 2 p.m.

— Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka hosts a forum with the Rennie Center to discuss the Excellence through Social-Emotional Learning Network, Hayden Lodge, Warren Conference Center, 529 Chestnut St., Ashland, 6 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Cannabis chaos: U.S. Attorney not ruling out prosecuting pot businesses

They asked for a clarification from him – and they got it. U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling yesterday threw the state’s voter-approved marijuana industry into chaos after he refused to rule out cracking down on pot businesses, saying he must uphold federal laws that still view weed as illegal. Sure, he provided some caveats and qualifiers, but how can mainstream businesses move forward under the threat of getting slapped with federal charges? Lots of local coverage this morning on the issue, so take your pick: Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive; Dan Adams and Joshua Miller at the Globe; David Harris at the BBJ; Colin Young at SHNS (pay wall); and Shira Schoenberg at MassLive, where U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren says Lelling’s move is “incredibly destructive.”

A great headline from Universal Hub: “New US Attorney in Boston: Maybe I’ll go after some pot dealers and maybe I won’t.” Though it should be noted: If he goes after one, he’s ultimately sending a message to all.

Mixed MBTA reviews indeed

Mixed signal No. 1, from the Herald’s Matt Stout: “MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez — buffered by praise from his own oversight board — doubled down on his defense of the T’s winter performance, saying the transit agency continues to ‘defy the odds’ — even as the commuter rail service struggled to stay on schedule.”

Mixed signal No. 2, from SHNS’s Andy Metzger at the BBJ: “The MBTA’s commuter rail service was ‘not acceptable’ the day after last week’s snowstorm, the MBTA’s general manager said Monday, while noting that extreme cold can create unpredictable failures. ‘Some of the things that occurred on Friday could have been avoided,’ MBTA General Manager Luis Ramírez told reporters after a control board meeting.” In a separate SHNS story (pay wall), Ramírez said the transit agency appeared to be “in a state of chaos” on Monday morning. Turns out Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez couldn’t agree more, as reported by WGBH’s Mike Deehan.

‘Always – ALWAYS – plug the MBTA excuse generator’

A MassterList reader, reacting to our post yesterday on MBTA general manager Luis Manuel Ramirez and past excuse-making at the T, reminded us of the Excuse Generator at MBTAExcuses.com and added: “Always – ALWAYS – plug the MBTA excuse generator.” Consider this today’s plug. Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine wrote about the MBTA Excuse Generator a short while back.

Memories, like the corners of our mind: Last year was the tenth warmest year in state history

NOAA showed mercy by not releasing this report last week. From Benjamin Swasey at WBUR: “There hasn’t been a lot of talk about warmth in Massachusetts lately. But on Monday, the day the state emerged from a severe cold stretch, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that 2017 was Massachusetts’ 10th-warmest year on record. The state’s average temperature last year was 49.6 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s 2.7 degrees warmer than the 20th-century average for Massachusetts.”


Henry cleans house at Globe, blasts ‘waste and exorbitant costs’

In a candid email interview with the BBJ’s Don Seiffert, Boston Globe owner John Henry confirms that he’s given the heave to far more top executives than previously disclosed and says he regrets not doing it sooner. “The culture of the Globe on the business side … needed to be reset, not because of staff but because of management,” he told the BBJ. He added that paper has long had “waste and exorbitant costs both on the production side, where we spend triple the industry average to print and produce a newspaper.” He makes clear his beef is with “senior leadership,” not with journalists, pressmen and other grunts at the paper.


Oprah for president? But … but what about Liz?

OK, we’re now entering the political Twilight Zone, Democratic edition. James Lindell at the Globe says that a potential presidential bid by Oprah Winfrey, fresh off her triumphant Golden Globes address Sunday night, is a “fundamentally solid idea” and “it’s hard to see how anyone else beats her for the Democratic nomination,” including our very own U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Meanwhile, the Herald’s Jess Heslam and Joyce Ferriabough Bolling say a Winfrey candidacy would be inspiring. But wasn’t Hillary Clinton’s candidacy supposed to be inspiring? And how did that turn out?

Anyway, the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld seems to be the only local pundit this morning with one foot in reality. While he says an Oprah bid would have to be taken seriously, he doubts whether she could ever withstand the pressure and scrutiny of running for a national office. Fyi: The Globe’s Astead Herndon takes a look at the sudden liberal fascination with celebrity political saviors, whether it’s Oprah or George or Kanye or Dwayne, etc.

Norfolk DA: Is Walsh secretly planning other developments on Long Island?

In a Globe op-ed, Mayor Marty Walsh is defending his call to rebuild the Long Island bridge so the island can be used as a substance abuse recovery center and for other social services. But the Globe’s Joan Vennochi continues to pound away at the Mayor’s plans, quoting Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey, who lives in the nearby Squantum section of Quincy, as saying: “I think there is another unspoken, long-range plan to use Long Island for other development purposes and that a bridge would be critical to that future development.”

Reports: Mitt was treated for prostate cancer this summer, but it won’t interfere with a Utah bid

Both the Washington Post and the Salt Lake Tribune are reporting that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who’s now eyeing a run for U.S. Senate in Utah, underwent surgery for prostate cancer this past summer and the treatment was successful. The two papers and the Globe’s Matt Viser report that the medical issue will have no bearing on Mitt’s decision about possibly running for U.S. Senate in Utah.

Good news: Your neighbor can’t use his lawn as a helipad

The Massachusetts Appeals Court has ruled that, yes, cities and towns have the right to ban helicopter landings next to residential homes, in a case involving a Rockport resident who somehow got a Federal Aviation Administration certificate to use his 1.6-acre oceanfront property as “a licensed private use heliport,” reports Adam Gaffin at Universal Hub.

Universal Hub

Six thousand Salvadorans in Massachusetts told to leave by Trump administration

The Trump administration’s announcement that it won’t renew Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans will impact 200,000 immigrants across the country and 6,000 Salvadorans in Massachusetts, reports Shannon Dooling at WBUR. 


High court’s N-O could spell BINGO for Aquinnah Tribe

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the dispute over the Aquinnah Tribe’s efforts to open a small-scale gambling hall on Martha’s Vineyard, clearing the way for the project to move forward, Ethan Genter of the Cape Cod Times reports. Local officials, who were among those who had asked the high court to hear an appeal, plan to huddle this week to discuss what happens next as the tribe bids to transform a 9,000-square-foot community center into a bingo hall. 

Cape Cod Times

Rents easing a bit in Greater Boston, thanks to new housing

They’re still at obscene levels, but this points the way on how to curb high housing costs in Massachusetts, i.e. more housing. From the Globe’s Tim Logan: “Rents are still rising in Greater Boston, but not as quickly as they were a couple of years ago. The opening of new apartment buildings in the region has helped to blunt the surge in rents, according to two new reports, the latest sign that the wave of development is starting to have an effect on housing costs.”

Six thousand housing units have come on line in the past 12 months, Logan notes. More are on the way – and perhaps over the Dock Square Garage next to Faneuil Hall Marketplace, reports Donna Goodison at the Herald.

Boston Globe

Report: Bullying of elders in public housing is widespread

Attention Baby Boomers: This could be you soon in similar circumstances. From Christian Wade at the Salem News: “Bullying and intimidation of elderly and disabled residents by landlords or their neighbors is widespread in public housing in Massachusetts, according to a new report that is driving calls for more oversight and protections. The report is the work of a 19-member commission, billed as the first of its kind in the nation, which studied the prevalence of bullying in state-subsidized and multifamily housing.”

Salem News

Markey: Drilling plan will spark ‘huge fight’

From SHNS’s Katie Lannan at the Gloucester Times: “The state’s environment, tourism and fishing industry could be threatened by President Donald Trump’s plan to open up more coastal areas to offshore drilling, according to Sen. Ed Markey, who said the proposal puts ‘nearly every single mile of coastline in the United States in the crosshairs of an oil spill. … This is going to be a huge fight across our country.’”

Gloucester Times

House sets April 3 as special election date to replace Heroux

From SHNS’s Michael Norton: “Voters in Attleboro will head to the polls on April 3 to choose a successor to former Rep. Paul Heroux. Heroux resigned Jan. 2, midway through his two-year term, to serve as Attleboro mayor, a post he campaigned for in 2017 and won in November by defeating former Mayor Kevin Dumas. The primary will be held March 6, according to Secretary of State William Galvin’s office. Candidates will have just 15 days to come up with at least 150 nomination signatures, which are due locally on Jan. 23.”

SHNS (pay wall)

Second candidate tosses hat in ring for Smizik’s House seat

Former Brookline School Committee member Rebecca Stone has become the second candidate to enter the race to replace retiring state Rep. Frank Smizik, joining Tommy Vitolo, a Brookline Town Meeting member and a senior associate at Synapse Energy Economics, who is also planning a run. Jenna Fisher at the Brookline Patch has more on Stone’s bid.

Brookline Patch

Warren stops short of calling for full repeal of GOP tax plan

This is interesting. From Chris Cassidy at the Herald: “Bay State U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren vowed to ‘change’ the GOP tax cuts she claims hands ‘giveaways to billionaires and giant corporations,’ but stopped short of calling for a full repeal if Democrats win back Congress in 2018 — responding to jabs from GOP rival Beth Lindstrom.”

To be fair, Lindstrom should, in turn, be asked whether she would change anything in the bill – such as the tax on local medical-device companies that are so critical to the Massachusetts economy.

Boston Herald

As Pilgrim sits idle, critics press for permanent shutdown

The Pilgrim Station nuclear plant in Plymouth has been off-line since last week’s snowstorm, stressing the region’s power grid even as critics pressed Gov. Charlie Baker to join their calls for the plant to be permanently shuttered sooner than planned, Sean Driscoll reports in the Cape Cod Times. Pilgrim is slated to shut down for good in May of 2019, but critics say a recent spate of security and safety issues show the need to mothball the facility sooner rather than later. 

Cape Cod Times

Free speech suit targets UMass Amherst rally policy

A student activist group known as Young Americans for Liberty filed a lawsuit Monday against UMass Amherst, saying a policy that limits when and where students can rally is unconstitutional, Scott Merzbach reports in the Hampshire Gazette. The 1990s-era policy in question limits student rallies during the school day to the noon hour and to a single location on campus.


Rennie Center Case Study of Teacher Culture Change: Bay State Reading Institute’s Partnership with Everett Public Schools

Bay State Reading Institute

Today’s Headlines


Tall order for Dock Square garage – Boston Herald

Boston-area rents are rising, but not as fast – Boston Globe


Berkshire Medical Center RNs weighing second strike – Berkshire Eagle

Worcester County becoming home-owning destination – Worcester Business Journal

Springfield City Council approves age 21 requirement for buying tobacco – MassLive

These North Shore towns may get a refund from the state – Lynn Item


White House struggles to silence talk of Trump’s mental fitness – Washington Post

Regulators reject Perry’s plan to help coal and nuclear plants – Bloomberg

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