Happening Today

Cannabis Control Commission, Governor’s Council, Marriott CEO

— The Cannabis Control Commission meets to review the bid responses for a new system to track marijuana products ‘from seed to sale,’ One Ashburton Place, 21st floor, Boston, 10:30 a.m.

Governor’s Council is scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing on the nomination of attorney Steven Power as associate justice of the Westborough District Court, Council Chamber, 10:30 a.m.

Senate Democrats will caucus to ratify the selection of a new co-chairman of the Transportation Committee, Senate president’s office, 11 a.m.

Marriott International president and CEO Arne Sorenson is the featured speaker at a Boston College Chief Executives Club luncheon, Boston Harbor Hotel, 70 Rowes Wharf, Boston, 12 p.m.

Massachusetts Water Resources Authority Board of Directors meets to elect MWRA board officers and committee members and to discuss an agreement with the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the Southborough Historical Commission related to the demolition of a building, Charlestown Navy Yard, 100 First Ave., 2nd floor, Charlestown, 1 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker participates in a lab tour and ribbon cutting ceremony for Indigo Agriculture’s expanded research labs and office space, Indigo Ag Headquarters, 500 Rutherford Ave., Charlestown, 1:30 p.m.

Governor’s Council scheduled to hold a hearing on nomination of attorney Janice Howe to the Superior Court bench, Council Chamber, 1:30 p.m.

— The Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities holds an oversight hearing for the Department of Developmental Services, Hearing Room A-2, 1:30 p.m.

— Boston Mayor Martin Walsh joins the Boston Bruins and the National Hockey League to name the Smith Field street hockey rink in honor of Willie O’Ree, TD Garden, 100 Legends Way, Boston, 2:30 p.m.

— State Sen. Jamie Eldridge talks on ‘Radio Boston’ about his effort to create an independent commission to investigate reports of harassment and sexual assault on Beacon Hill, WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m.

— The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce launches its Pacesetters Initiative, a program to create ‘more opportunities at scale for local enterprises of color,’ 265 Franklin St. – 17th floor, Boston, 6 p.m.

— The full Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel meets with undersecretary for the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation John Chapman attending, 117 Long Pond Rd., Plymouth, 6:30 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker attends the Posse Boston Awards Ceremony, Fairmont Copley Plaza, 138 Saint James Ave., Boston, 6:45 a.m.

Today’s Stories

French Toast Alert System: Elevated

Universal Hub’s French Toast Alert System is now at ‘Elevated’ status for today’s hopefully somewhat moderate snowstorm. Fyi: Our “Happening Today” calendar above has been culled to include only those events that haven’t been nixed by organizers, but it’s probably a good idea to check in advance whether the listed events are indeed taking place.

Et tu, Democrats? The government shutdown game

The extreme wing of the Republican party has usually been the one to push for federal government shutdowns in the past. But the Globe’s Liz Goodwin reports that it’s now the “fired-up base” of Democrats who are threatening a government shutdown, if need be, if they don’t get what they want in the debate over immigration. And U.S. Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren seem to be among those rattling their shutdown swords these days. In an editorial seemingly contradicting Goodwin’s reporting, the Globe is placing full blame on any shutdowns on Republicans. The Globe’s Evan Horowitz reports on what to expect if another federal shutdown occurs.

Boston Globe

Warren may be on collision course with moderate Dems over Dodd-Frank reforms

Speaking of progressives and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a number of moderate Democrats in the Senate are going along with a plan to reform parts of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill – and  Warren and other progressives are not happy, reports the NYT. “This bill increases the risk of another taxpayer bailout, and I will continue to challenge supporters of this bill — from both parties — to explain why they stand on the side of big banks instead of working families,” said Warren.

Is a General Electric breakup now inevitable?

General Electric, we hardly knew ye, or at least the one that moved here from Connecticut in 2016. GE chief executive John Flannery confirmed yesterday that he’s seriously considering splitting up some of the company’s core businesses, as the giant Boston conglomerate continues to struggle to right its financial ship (including taking a painful $6.3 billion charge over its legacy insurance business). But some analysts wonder if a breakup is indeed the right move for GE, as Greg Ryan at the BBJ reports. The Globe’s Jon Chesto and the NYT have more on the GE breakup talk.


Locals laugh off fed threats to criminally charge sanctuary city leaders

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has confirmed that her agency has asked federal prosecutors to review whether they can lodge criminal charges against sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal deportation efforts, the Washington Times reports. The Herald’s Joe Dwinell reports that some local mayors, including Lawrence’s Dan Rivera and Boston’s Marty Walsh, don’t seem too concerned. “I gotta laugh,” said Rivera. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Boston Herald

Baker’s push for forced treatment of addicts meets skepticism on Beacon Hill

This is one of those cases where both sides make sense. It’s a close call. Anyway, the WGBH’s Mike Deehan and the Boston Globe’s Joshua Miller have the details on yesterday’s hearing at which Gov. Charlie Baker pushed for the mandatory treatment of some opioid addicts while some lawmakers pushed back. The Herald, in an editorial, cautiously sides with the governor, with caveats. 

Romney declines to confirm ‘I’m running,’ says the ‘time will come’ for Utah announcement

What’s he waiting for? Who knows. From the Associated Press at the Washington Post: “Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declined to say Tuesday whether he would run for the Utah Senate seat being vacated by Republican Orrin Hatch, telling reporters the ‘time will come’ for him to make some kind of announcement.” Recall: He reportedly has privately told Utah’s governor: “I’m running.”

Washington Post

Lawrence school receiver among three finalists for top state education post

Here are the three finalists for state education commissioner, as announced yesterday the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and via SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall): Lawrence school superintendent and receiver Jeff Riley; Penny Schwinn, chief deputy commissioner of academics for the Texas Education Agency; and Angélica Infante-Green, deputy commissioner of the Office of Instructional Support P-12 in New York State Education Department. The trio will be interviewed next week by the board. Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive has more bio info on the three.

Ex-Sen. Joyce’s attorney now facing his own troubles

From Matt Stout and Laurel Sweet at the Herald: “A lawyer for ex-state Sen. Brian Joyce is accused of making ‘false representations’ to state ethics regulators on Joyce’s behalf, including as part of Joyce’s claim that 700 pounds of free coffee he received were a barter for legal services. U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling’s office said it intends to argue that attorney Howard Cooper should be booted from Joyce’s defense team, and indicated that Cooper himself could serve as a witness in its prosecution of the former lawmaker.”

Boston Herald

Reality check: Jay Gonzalez

The Globe’s Scot Lehigh takes a fun, but informative, look at Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez, as part of Scot’s planned series, if you will, on candidates for office this election year. We like his “reality check” feature. It’s not disrespectful. It’s just a way of pointing out, well, certain realities.

Boston Globe

Republican Senate candidates tiptoeing around this guy named ‘Trump’

Meanwhile, the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld notices how two of three GOP Senate candidates, John Kingston and Beth Lindstrom, are tiptoeing through the Trump political minefield these days. The only Republican Senate candidate fully embracing all things Trump is state Rep. Geoff Diehl.

Boston Herald

Trahan takes fundraising lead among female candidates in 3rd

Lori Trahan of Westford last year raised more than $550,000 for her campaign for the Third Congressional District seat, making her the female candidate with the strongest fundraising numbers to date, Aaron Curtis reports in the Lowell Sun. Trahan’s numbers came on the heels of state Sen. Barbara L’Italien’s recent announcement that she had raised $320,000 in the first two months after declaring her candidacy Meanwhile, on the male side of the race, Democratic candidate Beej Das said his campaign brought in $425,000 in the fourth quarter of 2017 alone, and enters the new year with $550,000 on hand. 

Lowell Sun

Short honeymoon: Framingham council deals mayor first setback over appointee

The newly minted Framingham City Council has rejected one of Mayor Yvonne Spicer’s first would-be appointments, declining to confirm one of her picks on the city’s new licensing board, Jim Haddadin reports in the MetroWest Daily News. Councilors were worried that Adam Barnosky’s work in the field of liquor licensing and regulatory compliance would represent a conflict of interest, but it did leave the door open a bit to maybe approve his appointment later. 

MetroWest Daily News

Gomez quits Republican Party, may challenge Warren as Independent

A possible three-way race for U.S. Senate? It could happen. Steve Koczela at CommonWealth magazine reports that Gabriel Gomez, who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate as a Republican in 2013, has bolted the GOP, saying that it’s “impossible” to support the party at the national level, and he’s not ruling out challenging U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren as an Independent. We’re sure Warren would more than welcome a three-way race that would split the center-right vote.


Echoes of TrooperGate: Assistant Worcester DA arrested for drunk driving – and after telling cop he was a prosecutor

John O’Leary, an assistant DA in the Worcester County District Attorney’s office, was charged with drunken driving with his 13-year-old daughter in the car, after he struggled to perform field sobriety tests and “made spontaneous utterances that he was a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office in Worcester,” according to State Police reports, as reported by Brad Petrishen at the Telegram. O’Leary been suspended without pay and his case transferred to the Hampden County district attorney’s office.

No mention of scrubbed police reports to protect the connected. But the Herald’s Owen Boss and Meghan Ottolinireport that a state trooper who helped book O’Leary was the same trooper who was ordered to scrub a police report on the under-the-influence arrest of a judge’s daughter and who is now suing his superiors involved in the TrooperGate scandal.


‘Spread the alarm’ – How New England handled air-raid warnings in 1941

First Hawaii. Now Japan has fallen victim to a false missile alert, according to a report at WBUR. With all these false alarms, Universal Hub has gotten hold of an old pre-Pearl Harbor newsreel, by New England Telephone and Telegraph and the Massachusetts Commission on Public Safety, on how the region was preparing for bombs to drop in 1941, with an opening header proclaiming ‘Spread the alarm.’

Universal Hub

Region came dangerously close to running out of power-plant oil during cold snap

Officials overseeing the region’s electric grid say natural-gas pipeline constraints during the recent cold snap forced power-plant operators to switch to less efficient and dirtier oil to generate power – and then came dangerously close to running out of oil to fuel power plants, reports Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine. 

Count U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III among those who aren’t buying the argument that pipeline constraints require more pipelines. He argues at the Herald News that the state’s energy market is indeed “broken” and in need of “deep and dramatic reform,” But the real problem is the so-called “capacity market,” he writes.


They really do exist: Gays and lesbians for Trump

It’s true. Right here in Massachusetts. The Globe’s Jeremy Fox has the details.

Boston Globe

Zuckerbergs donate $5.5M for UMass prof’s ambitious AI project

From Kelly O’Brien at the BBJ: “Andrew McCallum, a long-time professor of machine learning at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, now has backing from one of the biggest names in Silicon Valley for an ambitious project to use artificial intelligence to speed along scientific discoveries. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, led by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, is granting the school’s Center for Data Science $5.5 million to support a project called Computable Knowledge.”


The history of the state’s sales tax, abridged version

With the retail industry now pushing a ballot question that would slash the state sales tax, Edgar B. Herwick III at WGBH takes a walk down the sales-tax memory lane, all the way back to when it was first passed in the 1960s.


Plainridge reports strong 2017 numbers, but will the good times last?

Plainridge Park Casino brought in $12.7 million in December, regulators report, bringing the annual revenue total at the state’s only casino to $164.8 million, an increase of 6 percent over 2016 numbers, Jim Hand reports at the Sun Chronicle. The 2017 numbers likely represent the last full year that Plainridge will enjoy a competition-free landscape in the commonwealth, with the MGM Springfield resort casino expected to open its doors this fall. 

Sun Chronicle

Codfather’s wake still rocking fishing industry

A new report puts fresh perspective on the impact the various enforcement actions against Carlos ‘The Codfather’ Rafael have had on the region’s fishing industry. Some 300 jobs were lost in the Northeast in the first month of a ground fishing ban imposed by the NOAA after Rafael’s conviction, a study commissioned by New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell found, with $12 million lost from the regional economy. Michael Bonner has the details at the Standard-Times.  

South Coast Today

A ‘beverage bar tap system with nitro coffee’ at Dunkin’ Donuts?

Dunkin’ Donuts, now known as just Dunkin’ at its new concept store in Quincy, is really trying to change its image, from once unabashed blue-collar retro to semi-hipster. Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive has the low-down on its new name, tap system and uniforms, a mere mile away from the first-ever Dunkin’ Donuts store in Quincy.


Jo Jo White, RIP

Celtics legend Jo Jo White, one of the key members of the ‘70s championship Celts teams, has passed away after a long illness. The Globe’s Gary Washburn has a moving piece about what Jo Jo meant to the Celts during and after his playing years. The entire Celtics ‘70s era, in our humble opinion, doesn’t get the credit and glory it deserves in the pantheon of great Boston sports teams.

Boston Globe

2018 NE/SAE Annual Management Conference

New England Society of Association Executives

Author Talk and Book Signing with Mimi Graney

State Library of Massachusetts

Democratic Campaign Institute

Massachusetts Democratic Party

Boston/Cambridge Women’s March: The People Persist

The January Coalition

Living Our Values: JALSA 2018 Annual Meeting

Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action

Today’s Headlines


Historic Boston building gets blessing for housing – Boston Herald


Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has ‘open mind’ to needle exchange program after past opposition – MassLive

Methuen solicitor apologizes for not informing councilors of opioid suit ahead of filing – Eagle-Tribune

Illicit massage parlors are across Mass.: Why is police action so rare? – WGBH

BMC RNs vote for second one-day strike—if it’s deemed necessary – Berkshire Eagle

There were more murders but less overall crime in Lynn last year – Lynn Item


Shutdown would backfire on GOP, Republicans say – Politico

Mueller subpoenas Bannon to testify in Russia probe – Washington Post

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