Happening Today

Baker to Washington, education chief interviews, solar tariffs, Iceland president at Harvard

— Gov. Charlie Baker is in Washington D.C. today for informational meetings on the military’s presence in Massachusetts, with plans to meet with Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Ellen Lord at the Pentagon at 9 a.m., with Assistant Secretary of Defense Lucian Niemeyer at the Pentagon at 9:45 a.m. and with General Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, at the Pentagon at 4:30 p.m.

— The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education holds a public meeting to interview the three finalists for the state’s next education commissioner, Omni Parker House, 60 School St., Boston, 9 a.m.

— 495/MetroWest Suburban Edge Community Commission meets to approve a new report, with a number of lawmakers, including Sen. Karen Spilka and Rep. Kate Hogan, expected to attend, Warren Center, 529 Chestnut St., Ashland, 9:30 a.m.

— Sen. Sal DiDomenico hosts a Red Cross blood drive at the State House, with donors getting a $5 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card, Great Hall, 10 a.m.

— U.S. Sen. Edward Markey holds a press conference with solar industry leaders on how new tariffs on imports of solar panels and cells will negatively impact the clean-energy sector, SunBug Solar, 1165 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington, 10:30 a.m.

— Sens. Barbara L’Italien and Kathleen O’Connor Ives and Reps. Diana DiZoglio and Frank Moran help with the 2018 launch of Volunteer Tax Assistance Program to aid low-income families, 305 Essex St., Lawrence, 10:30 a.m.

— Treasurer Deborah Goldberg speaks at the Credit for Life Fairs and Financial Literacy event, Medford High School, 489 Winthrop St., Medford, 11:30 a.m.

— The Pinnacle Awards, billed as the ‘premier event for women in business,’ will honor Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and officials from the non-profit, media and for-profit industries, with Auditor Suzanne Bump and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders attending the event organized by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 110 Huntington Ave., Boston, 11:30 a.m.

Guoni Thorlacius Johannesson, the president of Iceland, will visit Harvard University to discuss governance in his island nation, Kennedy School, Cambridge, 4 p.m.

— Attorney General Maura Healey is honored at Boston Arts Academy’s Winter Dance Revue Reception, Strand Theatre, 543 Columbia Rd., Dorchester, 6 p.m.

Today’s Stories

GIC caves: Panel to reconsider controversial health-plan changes

Shortly after Attorney General Maura Healey said she was investigating whether the Group Insurance Commission violated open-meeting laws when it approved a controversial change in public employees’ health-care plans, the GIC caved. The panel now says it will reconsider its deeply unpopular vote to drop popular private insurers from its list of health-plan options for public employees. The Globe’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey and SHNS’s Matt Murphy at the BBJ have the details of the retreat.

But the GIC’s about-face isn’t stopping Beacon Hill lawmakers from planning hearings on the matter – and one lawmaker, Sen. Cindy Friedman, has filed legislation that would require notice be given to legislators any time the GIC makes significant changes to government health plans, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy in a separate story (pay wall). Our three-word analysis of the situation: What a mess.

Northern Pass wins huge state clean-energy contract – battle lines form

The headline on the Globe story is brutal: “Eversource wins a huge state contract it helped design.” But it’s accurate. The Globe’s Jon Chesto and CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl have the details on the Baker administration’s awarding of the largest clean energy contract in the state’s history to a partnership of Hydro-Quebec and Eversource Energy. The selection of the Northern Pass hydroelectricity project is already drawing fire from environmentalists and grumblings from losing bidders about the process that allowed Eversource and other utilities to participate in crafting the original request for proposals, as Mohl points out.

The next step: Northern Pass must now negotiate details of the long-term, multibillion-dollar contract that will be submitted for approval to the Department of Public Utilities, Mohl reports. If the transmission project wins key approvals in New Hampshire, the president of Eversource New Hampshire swears the project can start as soon as this year. But we have a hunch the Conservation Law Foundation and others have a different legal time schedule in mind.

Hail to the chief? Kennedy to deliver Dem response to Trump’s State of Union address

This is going to fuel months, if not years, of speculation about his presidential ambitions, to wit: U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III has been tapped to deliver the Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union address next week. As the Globe’s Victoria McGrane and Annie Linskey note, the choice “thrusts the 37-year-old, three-term congressman from Brookline into the national spotlight more squarely than he has ever been before.” The Washington Post has more.

State probing denial of food and water to high-school hockey players for playing lousy

And we thought hockey parents were bad. Three Andover High School hockey coaches have been put on leave as the Department of Children and Families investigates allegations boys were denied food and water as punishment for losing games, according to reports by the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe. A student manager is insisting the punishments never happened, the Herald reports.

Linda Dorcena Forry resigns from Senate for job at Suffolk Construction

This comes as a major surprise, considering she was only recently one of four senators vying for the Senate presidency. From the Globe’s Frank Phillips: “Linda Dorcena Forry, the lone black member of the state Senate and the state’s highest-ranking elected black official, is stepping down to take an executive post at the construction firm run by powerbroker John Fish. … ‘I will be leaving the Massachusetts Senate effective Friday and joining an incredible opportunity,’ she said in a statement provided to the Globe. Forry will be the northeast region’s vice president for diversity inclusion and community relations at Fish’s Suffolk Construction.”

SHNS’s Matt Murphy at the Dorchester Reporter has lawmakers’ reactions to Forry’s surprise decision.

Boston Globe

Does Forry’s departure signal the return of Stan Rosenberg?

Perhaps Linda Dorcena Forry, who only recently was angling for the coveted Senate presidency job, knows something the rest of us don’t know. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld speculates that Forry’s surprise resignation signals the likely return to power of former Senate President Stan Rosenberg. Battenfeld writes that City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, who lives in Forry’s district, could be vying against Rep. Nick Collins of South Boston for the latest open Senate seat. Fyi: Battenfeld also notes how so many senators are leaving office these days, perhaps a sign serving in the chamber has lost its luster. 

Boston Herald

Ethics Committee: Only special investigators, and not senators, will know names

Speaking of the Senate, we’ll see if this entices victims and witnesses to step forward. From Mike Deehan at WGBH: “The Senate Ethics Committee has reaffirmed that members of the Senate – including the Ethics Committee – will not know the identities of witnesses in the investigation of former Senate President Stan Rosenberg.  The six members of the Ethics Committee adopted an order saying that the special investigators probing Rosenberg shall not disclose to any party the identities of witnesses, victims, or subpoena recipients as they investigate whether Rosenberg broke rules in connection with allegations that his husband tried to trade political influence for sex.”


Trial court judge sued for allegedly demanding oral sex from woman

Now we have additional details on why he was suddenly transferred. From Jim Russell at MassLive: “A federal lawsuit filed against Massachusetts Trial Court Judge Thomas Estes accuses him of forcing a woman who used to work at a private service agency that advocated on behalf of clients to perform a sex act inside a courthouse.” It allegedly involved him unzipping his pants while explaining what he wanted.


Thanks, Stormy: Shark researchers get fundraising boost after porn star says Trump hates sharks

You can’t make this stuff up. The Globe’s Steve Annear reports that the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy has seen its donations spike since porn star Stormy Daniels said that Donald Trump, while allegedly shacked up in a hotel room with her, hates sharks.

Boston Globe

Baker cautions State Police rookies: You’re on candid camera all the time

This is sound advice, considering the various controversies swirling around the State Police these days: Always assume you’re on camera. “In this day and age, we are all potentially on camera all the time, 24/7, because anyone who has a phone has a camera. And that raises the standard for all of us in public life,” Baker said while addressing the 83rd Recruit Training Troop graduates in Worcester, as the Herald’s Laurel Sweet reports. “So, when those videos go viral, be sure they’re videos that represent the very best among you — and nothing else.”

Boston Herald

Developer, conservation group reach settlement on waterfront Seaport tower

From Catherine Carlock at the BBJ: “The Conservation Law Foundation and South Boston-based real estate developer Cronin Holdings have reached a settlement regarding Cronin’s proposed condominium tower at 150 Seaport Blvd., bringing a legal battle to a close and paving the way for additional luxury homes to be constructed in Boston’s Seaport District.” Cronin’s concessions include an expanded perimeter around the tower, a new public dock, and millions of dollars towards a new waterfront park and harbor educational programs.


Under legal and political pressure, Galvin backs bill allowing voter registration on election days

With the ACLU and voting rights organizations demanding changes, Secretary of State William Galvin announced yesterday that he’s proposing legislation that would allow people to register to vote on election days, starting in 2019, after this year’s statewide elections but before the 2020 presidential election, reports Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive. Galvin’s Democratic primary challenger, Boston city councilor Josh Zakim, has favored same-day registration and voting and has criticized Galvin for resisting change in the past.


Voting wars: Democratic group will spend $5M to elect secretaries of state across country

This has nothing to do with Secretary of State William Galvin (or at least not yet), but it does show how progressive groups are aggressively pushing voting changes at the source. From the Washington Post: “The left-leaning ballot access group iVote will spend at least $5 million across swing states to elect Democratic secretaries of state — the latest front in the ‘voting wars’ that Democrats worried they have been losing. ‘Republicans have understood the importance of the office,’ said iVote president and founder Ellen Kurz. ‘There isn’t a single Democratic swing state secretary of state.’”

Washington Post

Quincy launches full-court press to kill rebuilding of Long Island Bridge

They’re pulling out all the stops in Quincy to block Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s plan to rebuild the Long Island Bridge – with city officials pressing their case at the State House, the city council passing an ordinance in opposition to the plan, the city solicitor’s office exploring various options and City Hall wags talking about legal action. John Philip Cotter at the Patriot Ledger has the details.

Patriot Ledger

What’s behind Baker’s big bucks advantage? Among other things, fear

The Globe’s Frank Phillips has the latest reminder of how massive a financial advantage Gov. Charlie Baker enjoys over Democratic challengers and a new theory on one of the reasons why. Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito have raised more than $10.5 million —61 times what all three announced Democratic candidates have mustered. Phillips quotes one anonymous fundraiser who says deep-pocketed business interests are reluctant to be seen crossing the wildly popular governor and will either support him directly or sit this cycle out altogether. 

Boston Globe

Senate approves ‘NASTY Women Act’

From Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive: “Senators on Thursday unanimously passed the ‘NASTY’ bill, which stands for Negating Archaic Statutes Targeting Young Women. The bill’s title is a nod to when Donald Trump, while the Republican nominee for president, called Democratic rival Hillary Clinton ‘such a nasty woman’ at the end of the final debate in October 2016. The bill, which still has to pass the House and receive the governor’s signature before becoming law, repeals a ban on unmarried women’s use of contraception, the criminalization of the distribution of contraception, an abortion prohibition from the 1800s, and a requirement that abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy must be performed in a hospital.”


Unions slam Herald’s move to kill collective bargaining agreements

Another example of the Herald covering its warts-and-all self rather well. From Brian Dowling at the Herald: “Lawyers for the Herald’s unions are slamming the company’s bankruptcy plan to dissolve its collective bargaining agreements, claiming the newspaper didn’t negotiate in good faith and issuing a warning the move could spark a strike. Teamsters Local 25 and the Newspaper Guild of Greater Boston Local 31032 filed objections yesterday to the Herald’s motion to dismiss the union contracts as the newspaper’s bankruptcy case grinds on in Delaware.”

Boston Herald

RMV may (finally) have a new North Shore home

Eureka! Well, maybe. After months of searching and a number of false starts, the Registry of Motor Vehicles may have finally found a new home for its North Shore branch in a Danvers strip mall, Thomas Grillo reports at the Lynn Item. The North Shore has been without a full-service RMV office since the summer of 2016 and past searches have stalled when bids came in well over budget. 

Lynn Item

Judge orders firm to give state access to broadband it paid $90M to install

After months of delays and legal wrangling, a federal judge has ordered the company that built the state’s so-called “middle mile” broadband network to allow access to state officials, Larry Parnass of the Berkshire Eagle reports. Judge Timothy Hillman says he will start levying financial penalties for any delays beyond Friday in granting the Mass. Technology Collaborative access to the network, which was built with $90 million in public funds and has been frozen in bankruptcy proceedings for months. 

Berkshire Eagle

Worcester awaits federal help for Maria refugees

The city of Worcester hopes an infusion of federal cash will help social service agencies handle the influx of Puerto Rican families who have sought refuge there since Hurricane Maria ravaged the island in September. More than 300 families have relocated to the city, stressing housing and educational services that are expected to get a boost from a $200,000 federal Community Development Block Grant in coming weeks, Craig Sermon reports in the Telegram.  Fyi: Education Secretary James Peyser plans to file a bill in coming weeks to steer state funds to school districts educating Puerto Rican students displaced by hurricanes, reports SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall).


Bill would require warrant for police to snoop through tolling data

From Shira Schoenberg at MassLIve: “A bill pending in the state Legislature would require state officials to obtain a warrant in order to access personal tolling data. ‘You have a situation now where the state is collecting unprecedented amounts of information about people and about their movements,’ said Sen. Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow, who sponsored (the bill). ‘What this bill would say is … you can only use data to collect the tolls. And if you need to use that information beyond just standard toll collection, you need a warrant.’”


Sunday public affairs TV

‘Eye on Weather: Blizzard of ’78,’ WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 p.m. The public affairs show Keller at Large has been bumped to another time slot so the station can take a special anniversary look at the Blizzard of ’78.

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV, Channel 4, time of show not available. This week’s guest: Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell, who talks with host Jon Keller about criminal justice, housing and education issues.

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Politico’s Lauren Dezenski discusses the governor’s State of the Commonwealth address and his new state budget; Gary Zieziula, president of EMD Sorono, discusses the firm’s new drug that uses the immune system to treat bladder cancer; Dennis Leonard, president of  Delta Dental of Massachusetts, on the insurer’s offerings and other issues.  

CEO Corner, NECN, 10:30 a.m. Sharon Kan, Pepperlane CEO and co-founder, discusses her startup that helps moms turn their hobbies, ideas and passions into businesses that fit into their own lives; Jana Blanchette of JLB Custom Quilt and LuSundra Everett of Everett Tax Solutions share how they built their companies.  

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: Bob Massie, Democratic candidate for governor, who talks with anchor Ed Harding and co-anchor Janet Wu.

D.C. Dialogue, NECN, 11:30 a.m. U.S. Rep. Richard Neal talks about the government shutdown, the GOP tax plan and other issues; New England Council CEO James Brett reviews the council’s priorities for 2018.  

This is New England, NBC Boston, Channel 10, 11:30 a.m. With host Joy Lim Nakrin, this week’s main topic: A talk with NBC 10 Boston traffic reporter Natasha Verma, who was recently diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and is now in remission and returning to work.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. This week’s main topic: Immigration issues in Boston and elsewhere.

Indoctrinating Our Youth: How a U.S. Public School Curriculum Skews the Arab-Israeli Conflict and Islam


Film Screenings: “Big Sacrifices, Big Dreams” – BC High School

Pioneer Institute

Legal Considerations for Blockchain Innovations and ICOs

MIT Enterprise Forum

ADL Breaking Barriers Speaker Series With Judy Shepard

The Anti-Defamation League

Today’s Headlines


AG opposes gas pipeline price break for new Back Bay high rise – Universal Hub

Unions fight Herald’s motion to kill contracts – Boston Herald


Weymouth mayor submits plans for new department – Patriot Ledger

Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget would let welfare recipients keep more benefits while working – MassLive

Charlton joins lawsuit against opioid makers – Telegram & Gazette


Trump ordered Mueller firing last June – New York Times

White House jumps back into Dreamer battle – Politico

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