Online education, GIC hearing, DOT-MBTA meeting
— Judges from the oldest appellate court in North America discuss the Supreme Judicial Court’s history in Salem, where it held its first sitting 325 years ago, with SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants, Justice David Lowy and Robert Brink, executive director of the Supreme Judicial Court Historical Society, expected to attend, Courtroom K, 5th Floor, 56 Federal St., Salem, 8:30 a.m.
— Department of Higher Education holds a public hearing on an interstate reciprocity agreement on distance and online education for colleges and universities, Department of Higher Education, One Ashburton Place, Room 1401, Boston, 10 a.m.
— After a controversial move to restructure health plan offerings for state and municipal workers, the Group Insurance Commission starts holding hearings around the state to gather feedback ahead of additional decisions that will be made in February, Springfield State Office Building, 436 Dwight St., Conference Room B42, Springfield, 10 a.m.
— The MassDOT Board and MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board discuss a design-phase policy for major highway projects, fiscal 2019 budget priorities and MBTA Capital Budget milestones, 10 Park Plaza, 2nd floor Transportation Board Room, Boston, 12 p.m.
— A task force convened by the Senate to help the state’s retail sector holds meetings today on Cape Cod to hear from local business owners, the first being held at Land Ho! Restaurant, 429 Route 28, Harwich, 11:30 a.m. and the second at Alberto’s Ristorante, 360 Main St., Barnstable, 1:30 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker, Speaker Robert DeLeo, Acting Senate President Harriette Chandler, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and House Minority Leader Brad Jones gather for a leadership meeting, Senate President’s Office, 2 p.m.
— Boston Mayor Martin Walsh is a guest on ‘NightSide with Dan Rea,’ WBZ NewsRadio 1030, 8 p.m.
‘Bill Belichick smiled!’
First things first: You gotta check out this video, via Universal Hub, of one fan’s explanation of what the hell happened in Foxboro yesterday. … To determine whether we saw what we think we saw (i.e. yet another spectacular come-from-behind Pats victory), we turned to an outsider for objective perspective – and Sally Jenkins at the Washington Post confirms that the Pats inevitably accomplished the preventable. … WCVB needs to bone up on the Pats roster before the Super Bowl, i.e. Danny Amendola is most definitely not Aaron Hernandez, as Universal Hub notes. … One last Pats item: Check out actor John Malkovich’s pre-game teaser for CBS Sports, via the Herald. It’s four-minutes long, so you might want to tuck this away for viewing during the lunch break. … Now on to all things politics …
Walsh to crack down on Airbnb ‘virtual hotels’
A recent piece on short-term rentals by CommonWealth’s Jack Sullivan may have had something to do with this. From Tim Logan at the Globe: “In a bid to ease Boston’s persistent housing shortage, Mayor Martin J. Walsh is seeking to rein in Airbnb and other online services that have turned thousands of apartments and condos into de facto hotel rooms. After more than two years of research and discussions among City Hall, housing advocates, and rental companies, the Walsh administration on Monday will propose limits on how frequently landlords can offer their units for short-term stays as opposed to conventional 12-month leases.
Auditor employees tried to sell reconfigured software to DCF
Remember the mysterious firing of three data analytic workers by Auditor Suzanne Bump? It turns out the trio apparently tried to sell a re-engineered version of software her agency used to audit the Department of Children and Families back to DCF, Matt Stout of the Herald reports, citing documents the paper obtained. Bump’s office is only saying that some workers were let go for failing to disclose a potential conflict of interest.
Shutdown: Day 3
It was close but no cigar yesterday for moderate senators trying to broker a deal that would end the federal government shutdown, now in its third day, reports the Washington Post. Senators will try again today to end the impasse.
In Massachusetts, the national flood insurance program has lapsed during the shutdown, reports the Patriot Ledger. Elizabeth Warren is among a handful of senators donating salaries during the government shutdown, according to a report at the New Boston Post. The government shutdown may have grave implications for area nonprofits, according to a report at the Eagle Tribune. The shutdown has already caused the closing of local tourist attractions, including the Bunker Hill Museum and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, reports the Herald. The shutdown also led to the cancellation of the traditional fighter-jets flyover before yesterday’s Pats game, reports MassLive, and Armed Forces Network had to nix broadcasts of the game to military members and their families overseas, Universal Hub reports.
Meanwhile, Gov. Charlie Baker, just prior to the shutdown, asked state managers to prepare for the federal budget impasse, reports SHNS at the BBJ. Bottom line: The state can handle a shutoff of federal funds on the short-term, but the situation will only grow worse by the day.
MBTA and union reach truce over bus-maintenance dispute
Is it really over? From the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro: “Months into a pitched battle over its efforts to hire private contractors to repair buses, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority on Friday reached a tentative deal with its mechanics’ union on a new collective bargaining agreement. But both parties refused to discuss details of the agreement, and it is unclear how it will affect the agency’s proposal to outsource maintenance at up to three garages that service buses.”
As Baker prepares to unveil budget, lawmakers set hearing on tax changes
Gov. Charlie Baker late last week gave a sneak preview of his proposed budget that he will unveil later this week, promising more money for local aid and education across the state, reports Katie Lannan at SHNS (pay wall). The AP’s Bob Salsberg at Boston.com has more on Baker’s forthcoming budget. Meanwhile, lawmakers tomorrow plan to take a look at the recently passed federal tax overhaul — and how it impacts Massachusetts, reports the Associated Press at the Greenfield Recorder. A new federal cap on deductions for state and local taxes is expected to get a lot of attention at the hearing.
Politics indeed makes for strange bedfellows. From Christian Wade at the Newburyport Daily News: “Massachusetts has become known as a ‘poachers paradise’ because of its outdated game laws and paltry fines that do little to deter illegal hunting, trapping and fishing. But an unlikely alliance between animal rights activists and hunters is driving a proposal on Beacon Hill that would increase fines for hunting and fishing violations and poaching of deer, bear, turkeys and other wild game.”
Confirmed: Witnesses reluctant to step forward in Rosenberg probe
The Globe’s Yvonne Abraham, who first broke the story of alleged Beacon Hill sexual misconduct by the husband of Stan Rosenberg, is confirming a report by WGBH’s Mike Deehan that victims and others are reluctant to speak to Senate investigators, fearing reprisals if they do so. “There’s no way I would come forward,” said one of the alleged victims. “This is an investigation to clear Stan Rosenberg’s name. It’s not an investigation to find out the truth.”
At women’s march, Healey calls Trump an ‘embarrassment’
A year after huge protests by women greeted the inauguration of President Trump, about ten thousand protesters gathered on Saturday for the Women’s March in Cambridge, where Attorney General Maura Healey, among others, ripped into the president. “We have a president who demeans and insults women, women of all kinds,” Healey told a crowd of protesters on Cambridge Common. “He’s an embarrassment and he’s certainly no role model for our young girls and boys.” Kristin LaFratta at MassLive and Esteban Bustillos at WGBH have the details.
Hey, governor, share some of the spotlight with your lieutenant governor, please
Amid women’s marches and the #MeToo movement, Hillary Chabot at the Herald thinks Gov. Charlie Baker should be sharing more of the re-election spotlight with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito – a woman some Democrats agree is being underutilized by the Baker campaign, especially in western Massachusetts, where she’s apparently quite popular.
‘The ghost haunting Elizabeth Warren’
Recall Republicans’ audacious but effective swiftboating attacks on John Kerry’s war record during the 2004 presidential race. Do you really think Republicans won’t go after Elizabeth Warren’s past claims of Native American ancestry if she runs for president in 2020? The Globe’s Annie Linskey reports those claims are the “ghost haunting” Warren – and it’s a ghost that concerns some of her natural liberal allies as well, as Linskey notes.
Baker: Commissioners need to better explain why state health-plan changes were necessary
From SHNS’s Michael Norton and Matt Murphy: “The public employee health insurance plan restructuring approved Thursday by a state commission was designed to ensure that “nobody” would lose access to their health care providers and to prevent employees from seeing continued unaffordable premium and out-of-pocket spending increases, Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday, urging state officials to communicate that message with disgruntled unions.”
Is Sununu all aboard on rail service from Boston to N.H.?
Until last week, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu appeared to hate the idea of extending commuter rail from Boston to Manchester and Concord. But that was before his state’s Boston-bashing bid for Amazon HQ2 went nowhere. Now he’s at least open to the idea of studying rail service to New Hampshire from Boston, reports the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro.
Maybe term limits aren’t such a bad idea when applied to Baby Boomers
George Bachrach, the former state senator and ex-chief of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, says it’s time for Baby Boomers to let go – and, if they don’t let go voluntarily, terms limits are in order. He explains his changing views on terms limits at CommonWealth magazine.
Sanctuary pot state?
From Kathleen McKiernan and Matt Stout at the Herald: “Bay State police would be banned from helping federal officers bust legal weed shops under a bill filed yesterday that’s aimed right at U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The AG has rescinded an Obama-era policy that allowed federal law enforcement to turn a blind eye to marijuana possession and use in states that have decriminalized pot and legalized recreational use. ‘What the Trump administration did was an affront to Massachusetts voters and, interestingly, states’ rights,’ said state Sen. James Eldridge, a bill co-sponsor.”
Cardinal O’Malley rebukes pope over sexual-abuse comments
Cardinals and bishops have long refined the art of ignoring some of the more controversial statements and edicts coming out of the Vatican. But we’ve never heard of a cardinal openly rebuking a sitting pope – and that’s what Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley has done, implicitly rebuking the pontiff for accusing Chilean victims of clerical sex abuse of slander, reports the Associated Press at Wicked Local.
Tax lien law haunts Bay State property owners
Critics and even the author of a 1996 state law that allows cities and towns to sell tax liens to third-party bill collectors say lawmakers should revisit the legislation, which has led to handsome profits for some investors and hardship for property owners, according to a piece by Chris Burrell of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting posted at WGBH. Burrell reports that cities have sold more than 1,300 tax liens to third parties in the past five years, recovering $10 million in the process.
State’s bump-stock ban may face legal challenge
From Christian Wade at the Eagle Tribune: “Gun owners are weighing a lawsuit to block the state’s new ban on bump-fire stocks, arguing it’s unconstitutional because it forces them to turn over property without compensation.”
Three strikes? No problem
Officials in Ashland have racked up three violations of the state’s Open Meeting Law in recent months. State officials agreed with a local resident who filed complaints against the Board of Health, the Sustainability Committee and the Conservation Commission, but issued no penalties, Alison Bosma reports in the MetroWest Daily News.
Is Washington D.C. the new favorite to land Amazon HQ2?
There’s a lot of stories out there about the final round of the Amazon HQ2 sweepstakes. These two pieces, by the Boston Globe’s Tim Logan and the Boston Herald’s Gordan Graham, caught our attention because of how so many people seem to think the D.C. area may now be the odds-on-favorite to win the big prize.
One thing is clear: Melia Robinson, a native of Greater Boston writing at Business Insider, hopes Boston doesn’t win. The reason: Housing prices are bad enough here already.
After nearly 70 years, Cardullo’s decides it’s time to expand
They went gourmet even before Julia Child, selling specialty groceries, fine wine and other products out of its small Harvard Square shop for nearly 70s years. But now Cardullo’s Gourmet Shoppe has decided to expand to Seaport, opening a new store at 101 Seaport Blvd., reports Catherine Carlock at the BBJ.
Perkins School for the Blind to Demonstrate Innovative Aira Technology
Film Screenings: “Big Sacrifices, Big Dreams” – Fontbonne Academy
Economic Update: Critical Questions for 2018 – “It’s not the answer that enlightens, but the question.”
New Realities for Philanthropists in the Trump Era
Condition of Education in the Commonwealth
The Annual Massachusetts State of Solar
Facing the Future of Care: Innovations in recruitment and retention of home care workers
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