Martin Luther King Day festivities and more …
— Today is Martin Luther King Day and state, county, and municipal offices are closed.
— The MBTA expects to resume service on its popular commuter ferry, which runs between Hingham and Rowes Wharf in Boston.
— Acting Senate President Harriette Chandler was scheduled to attend the 33rd annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. community breakfast this morning at Quinsigamond Community College, Quinsigamond Community College Athletic Center, 670 West Boylston St., Worcester, 7 a.m.
— Some 1,000 people planned to gather this morning to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr at the ‘The annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Breakfast,’ with CNN political analyst and lawyer Bakari Sellers giving the keynote address; Gov. Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and State Auditor Suzanne Bump were expected to attend, 415 Summer St., Boston, 7:30 a.m.
— Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan attends the Belmont annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast hosted by the Human Rights Commission of Belmont, Belmont High School, 221 Concord Ave., Belmont, 9 a.m.
— Mayor Marty Walsh offers welcoming remarks at the Day of Celebration in Honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Metcalf Ballroom, George Sherman Union, Boston University, 775 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 10:30 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker and U. S. Rep. Richard Neal are among attending the 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration in Springfield, MassMutual Center, 1277 Main St, Springfield, 11:30 a.m.
— Mayor Marty Walsh greets attendees at the Boston Cares MLK Day Celebration, Boston Latin School, 78 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, 12 p.m.
— Boston Mayor Marty Walsh will attend the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Open House at the Museum of Fine Arts, which, courtesy of Citizens Bank, providing free all-day admission to the museum to make it more accessible on the holiday; Walsh speaks at 12:45 p.m.
— U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren gives a welcome address at Cambridge’s 8th annual MLK Day of Service, Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, 2 p.m.
— Boston Children’s Chorus performs their 15th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tribute concert, Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, 7 p.m.
— Former Treasurer Tim Cahill guest-hosts ‘NightSide,’ WBZ NewsRadio 1030, 8 p.m.
‘I’m not a racist’
Just in time for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday: President Trump, in an eerie echo of President Nixon’s long-ago ‘I am not a crook’ pronouncement, pronounced yesterday: ‘I’m not a racist.’ It was in response, of course, to his widely reported ‘shithole’ comment on immigration, though some Republican senators now say they never heard the president say what he is said to have muttered, reports the NYT. And, oh, the president said a compromise on the DACA immigration program is now “probably dead.”
Here’s some local reactions, all negative, to the ‘shithole’ affair and other presidential pearls of wisdom of late, from Mayor Walsh (Herald), Yvonne Abraham (Globe), Joyce Ferriabough Bolling (Herald) and, last but not least, from Celtics legend Bill Russell (Globe).
Where to put Boston’s MLK statue?
The Globe’s Adrian Walker has a good column on the debate, if you can even call it a debate, over where to put a future Martin Luther King memorial in Boston. It’s not a question of whether, but rather where, and that’s it. “The MLK Memorial project is taking an admirably open approach,” he writes.
Latest bombshell of the week likely to be a dud
Another day, another bombshell political story. Or is it? A day after stepping in you-know-what, President Trump and his team were in full damage-control mode over a Wall Street Journal report that a lawyer for the president arranged a payment of $130,000 to a former porn star to stay quiet about an alleged 2006 sexual romp. But the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld writes that, if we’ve learned anything about Trump and his base, it’s that this and other bombshells don’t make a damn bit of difference. “For a normal politician, those kinds of s—storms might be enough to knock them out. For Trump they are glancing blows.”
State Rep. Atkins calling it quits
Activate the candidate alert system! State Rep. Cory Atkins, the Concord Democrat who has represented the 14th Middlesex District on Beacon Hill since 1999, has decided to call it a career at the end of her current term later this year, Henry Schwan reports in the Concord Journal. Atkins, 71, isn’t sounding the most optimistic tone on her way out, saying she wants to focus in part on political mentorship because young people are “not prepared to run the country.”
Mitt: ‘I’m running’
Re the U.S. Senate race in Utah, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has privately confirmed to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert that, yes, “I’m running.” The NYT has the details.
For a mere $30B to $50B, why not build a 14-mile dike to protect Boston Harbor?
Some area architects have an idea to combat future climate-change sea surges that we got a taste of earlier this month during the recent bombogenesis: A 14-mile long dike, called the Metro Boston DikeLANDS, stretching from Cohasset to Swampscott. The estimated cost: $30 billion to $50 billion. They make the argument for the “macro-economic project” at CommonWealth magazine.
State leaders agree on state revenue and budget parameters, but are the estimates accurate?
From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “Next year’s Massachusetts state budget will estimate that the state will bring in $27.594 billion in tax revenue, or 3.5 percent more than in the current fiscal year. The consensus revenue estimate, which was released Friday, is a first step in setting the state budget. … Because of the challenge of estimating so far in advance, the figure is not always accurate. In several recent years, the number had to be revised downward either during the budget-setting process or later in the year.”
The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, in a report not posted yet on its web site, cautions budget estimates are once again “unlikely to hold true” through the fiscal year due to a number of factors, including the unknowns surrounding ballot questions, and it urges lawmakers to set aside revenues in a stabilization fund. SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) has more on the budget.
State payroll costs are on the rise again
Despite the Baker administration’s elimination of 2,500 positions within the executive branch, the state’s overall payroll costs rose last fiscal year by 2 percent, a year after declining for the first time in recent memory, thanks largely to union-contract pay raises and spending by other state agencies, reports Matt Rocheleau at the Globe and Joe Dwinell at the Herald. Payrolls include “eye-popping individual salaries,” especially at the UMass Medical School, reports Rocheleau. Here’s a list of the highest paid employees via the Globe.
Double, double toil and trouble over moving witch-trial and other historical records
Salem residents are really upset about the Peabody Essex Museum’s plan to permanently move a vast collection of historical records – including documents from the Salem witch trials – to nearby Rowley, according to reports by Greg Phipps at Wicked Local and Malcolm Gay at the Globe. We’re talking hundreds of people who recently packed a museum auditorium to voice their disapproval.
As Providence goes, so goes the Herald?
The Globe’s Mark Arsenault takes a look at the cut-to-the-bone business practices of GateHouse Media, one of two companies now vying to buy the bankrupt Boston Herald. He takes a specific look at what’s happened at the Providence Journal since that paper was taken over by GateHouse.
Galvin probing Fidelity over pricey-product bonuses
From the BBJ’s Greg Ryan: “The state’s securities regulator is investigating Fidelity Investments and two other large brokerage firms following a Wall Street Journal report that the companies pay their financial advisers in a way that incentivizes them to direct customers to more expensive products. Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin’s office has sent letters to Fidelity, Charles Schwab Corp. and TD Ameritrade (Nasdaq: AMTD) asking them for information regarding how they pay advisers at their brokerage businesses.” Here’s the WSJ story in question.
Backers of millionaire’s tax deny ‘logrolling’ and packing too much into ballot question
In a high-court filing, supporters of the “millionaire’s tax” say the proposed referendum question is properly worded and shouldn’t be stricken from this year’s November ballot, reports the BBJ’s Greg Ryan. Countering legal arguments by business groups trying to kill the ballot question, backers denied that the measure outlines a “specific appropriation” of tax revenues and that it joins together two unrelated issues in one ballot question, a practice known as “logrolling,” which is banned by the state constitution.
Lawmakers push for legislative solutions to avoid ballot questions
Speaking of ballot questions, from SHNS’s Matt Murphy: “Top Democrats on Beacon Hill are eyeing a legislative solution that would keep as many as three initiative petitions – a $15 minimum wage, paid family leave and a sales tax cut – off the 2018 ballot, but activists and stakeholders involved in those efforts say it could be a tricky needle to thread.” They’re facing an uphill battle, but at least they’re trying.
Wayland backs off its own school-start plan
Tommy Chang isn’t the only school superintendent in Massachusetts taking parental heat for trying to change school start and end times for students. Wayland’s school superintendent is also beating a retreat on the same issue in his town, as Brian Benson at Wicked Local reports.
‘Pot shots in the 3rd District’
Hillary Chabot at the Herald reports that the issue of making pot legal nationwide, not just in Massachusetts, has emerged as an issue in the crowded Third Congressional District race. Dan Koh says he’d support national legalization, but Lori Tran is basically saying c’mon, let’s talk about more substantive things of importance.
Lawrence may turn down homeless grant. Why?
Lynn Jolicoeur and Lisa Mullins at WBUR report that Lawrence definitely has a homeless problem, but some city officials are reluctant to accept federal money to help the homeless find permanent housing. Why? Because it wouldn’t solve all of the city’s homelessness problems and might attract more homeless people to Lawrence, one opponent says. Jolicoeur and Mullins have the details.
Hingham resident sues over speed limits
Can you do this? Hingham is facing lawsuits from a resident who says the town set artificially low speed limits within its borders without following proper procedure, Jean Lang reports in the Globe. The plaintiff in the state and federal suits say the resulting speeding tickets cost him the ability to drive for his family business.
Solar industry jolted by DPU approval of new hook-up fees
From SHNS’s Andrew Metzger at the Telegram: “Eversource utility customers who install solar panels a year from now will be on the hook for new fees under a new Department of Public Utilities order that is generating controversy within the renewable energy industry. The new charges will cast a shadow over the solar market, according to an industry representative, although a top Baker administration official described the order as ‘balanced,’ weighing the need for new investments in electrical infrastructure with protections for electricity customers.”
State police commander asks court to drop her from Troopergate lawsuits
From Laurel Sweet at the Herald: “A state police commander caught up in the Troopergate scandal has asked a federal judge to drop her from one of two subordinates’ lawsuits, insisting trooper Ali Rei’s fears for her job are ‘unfounded.’ Attorneys for Maj. Susan Anderson filed a motion to dismiss Rei’s civil rights action Friday in tandem with an 18-page memorandum spelling out their position.”
On 10th anniversary, Greenbush line shows mixed results
It’s been a decade since the Greenbush commuter rail line rolled into service, following decades of false starts and NIMBY opposition. Neal Simpson of the Patriot Ledger takes a look at the results and finds the activation of the line has undoubtedly altered the South Shore by sparking development but it’s fallen short of the ridership projections and the resulting traffic de-congestion that had been promised.
‘Dunkin’ Donuts’ going donut-less in the city where it was founded
Dunkin’ Donuts lost its soul years ago when it stopped making crullers. Now this. From Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive: “The sign just says “Dunkin’” but they’ll still be serving doughnuts. The Canton-based company behind the ‘Dunkin’ Donuts’ brand is experimenting with a re-brand, and chain is doing it in the city where it was born. The new store is located in Quincy, a city directly south of Boston, on Route 3A, just before the Fore River Bridge and the Quincy-Weymouth border. The store still has the letters ‘DD’ after the ‘Dunkin.’”
A ban on boiling lobsters? It’s downright anti-New Englander
The assault on our regional culinary heritage continues: Switzerland has banned cooking lobsters by throwing them live into boiling water. We’re tempted to say only a land-locked country like Switzerland could pass a law like this. But New Zealand has already passed a similar law. The Washington Post has the details on the Swiss action backed by animal-rights groups.
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