GIC meeting, Pelosi town hall, opioid crisis update
— The Group Insurance Commission will reconsider its controversial plan to jettison three insurance plans used by public employees and retirees, 19 Staniford St., 4th Floor, Nancy Bolduc Conference Room, Boston, 8:30 a.m.
— Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash tours the facilities of S12 Technologies and makes an announcement relative to the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative program, 267 Boston Rd., North Billerica, 9 a.m.
— PRIM Administration and Audit Committee meets with Treasurer Deborah Goldberg attending, 84 State St. – 2nd floor, Boston, 10 a.m.
— The Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security reviews Gov. Charlie Baker’s bill to double the minimum daily pay for soldiers and airmen performing active state duty in the National Guard and to establish a Massachusetts Code of Military Justice, Room A-1, 10 a.m.
— U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will join U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, Tax March executive director Nicole Gill and Center for American Progress senior fellow Seth Hanlon for a town hall on the recent federal tax law overhaul, Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway, Cambridge, 10:45 a.m.
— Sen. Patrick O’Connor hosts informational seminar on the potential benefits of establishing a statewide ‘baby box’ distribution system, with Jennifer Clary, co-founder of the Baby Box Company, acting as the keynote speaker and with Acting Senate President Harriette Chandler, Sens. Joan Lovely, Adam Hinds, Julian Cyr, Jason Lewis and Reps. Smitty Pignatelli, Kate Hogan, and Kay Khan expected to attend, Room 428, 11 a.m.
— Senate Democrats plan to meet in a closed caucus, Senate president’s suite, 11 a.m.
— Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Quincy Mayor Tom Koch, Weymouth Mayor Bob Hedlund and Braintree Mayor Joe Sullivan attend the South Shore Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting with, Lombardo’s, 6 Billings St., Randolph, 12 p.m.
— Rep. Geoff Diehl, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, plans a sidewalk press conference to follow U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s town-hall event, Broadway sidewalk in front of Lorentz Park, near Cambridge Library, Cambridge, 12 p.m.
— Mayor Marty Walsh speaks at Boston’s kick-off celebration of Black History Month, 3rd floor mezzanine, City Hall, Boston, 12:30 p.m.
— Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel presents the most recent findings of ongoing research into the opioid crisis, Room 428, 1 p.m.
— The Senate plans a formal session, with plans to take up a number of bills, including legislation related to the used vehicle record book, Gardner Auditorium, 1 p.m.
— Two candidates for the 7th Congressional district this fall — challenger Ayanna Pressley and incumbent U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano – have back-to-back interviews on ‘Radio Boston,’ WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m.
— U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, who has been a negotiator on immigration policy, will speak at a Harvard Kennedy School event moderated by Bill Delahunt, the former congressman and acting director of the Institute of Politics, Kennedy School, Cambridge, 6 p.m.
— Elin Suleymanov, Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the United States, will discuss the choices his country faces at a dinner reception organized by World Boston, A World Affairs Council, Union Club of Boston, 8 Park Street Boston, 6:15 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker is vacationing in the Park City area in Utah with First Lady Lauren Baker and their children, with plans to return to Massachusetts on Saturday.
Wynn’s casino license in jeopardy after investigator says firm deliberately concealed harassment payout
It’s no longer just about Steve Wynn. It’s about whether the company, Wynn Resorts, will keep its Everett casino license after a state investigator found that the firm deliberately concealed from the state a $7.5 million payout to settle a sexual harassment complaint against chief executive Steve Wynn. Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine, Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive, and Mark Arsenault at the Globe have more on how state regulators are now signaling that there’s more at stake than just going after Steve Wynn.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reports: “The Nevada Gaming Control Board launched a formal investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct made against Steve Wynn, a move that may ultimately mean the end of the casino mogul’s storied career.” Attorney General Maura Healey said yesterday that the allegations of sexual misconduct by casino magnate Steve Wynn are “sickening and disturbing,” reports Shira Schoenberg at MassLive.
DeLeo to funnel more funds to MCAD to handle harassment complaints
Speaking of sexual harassment, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, expecting a spike in harassment complaints in general, is proposing that an additional $250,000 be earmarked for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, whose staff has been pleading for more funds to handle complaints and training requests, reports the Herald’s Matt Stout and SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall).
Publisher, newsroom colleagues dispute editor’s chest-beating claim he was fired for pushing equal pay
And speaking of discrimination: The former editor of the Daily Hampshire Gazette and its sister papers seems to have some credibility problems. From James Warren at Poynter: “Jeffrey Good, executive editor of Newspapers of New England’s Pioneer Valley Newspaper group, said he’s been fired for advocating equal pay for women employees — and quickly prompted his publisher and former colleagues to dispute his self-portrayal. … ‘Jeff is not the hero he makes himself out to be,’ Laurie Loisel, a former managing editor of the Daily Hampshire Gazette, told Poynter. She said that Good demoted her and was ‘marginalizing women.’” Michelle Williams at MassLive has more on the fray, as does the Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert, whose story seems more sympathetic towards Good’s claims.
Herald union backs down, reaches accord on bankruptcy sale
In other newspaper news: A day after Herald ownership warned the bankrupt paper would go under unless unions agreed to axe costly labor contracts, the newspaper and most of its unions struck a deal yesterday in which labor agreed to “back off its opposition to the newspaper’s plan to reject their collective bargaining agreements,” reports Brian Dowling at the Herald. The Communication Workers of America’s News Guild of Greater Boston did win some stipulations, but it sure looks like management got what it needed and wanted.
DeLeo outlines House’s legislative agenda for the year
Back to the subject of House Speaker Robert DeLeo: MassLive’s Shira Schoenberg and SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) report on DeLeo’s general plans for the House this session, including providing funds and taking action on health-care, early education, the life sciences sector, workforce development, children’s mental health, civics education and more. And without new broad-based taxes and Washington-style bickering, thus the civics-education push.
Presto: UMass Boston finds budget fix for dilapidated garage
It’s amazing what you can achieve when you eliminate some of the bells and whistles in construction plans. From Laura Krantz at the Globe: “As UMass Boston struggles to fix its overwhelming budget troubles, one especially complex challenge has loomed large: a massive, underground garage in urgent need of costly repair. On Wednesday, interim chancellor Barry Mills said he has found a way to fix the garage for $92 million — dramatically less than the previous estimates of $150 million to $260 million.”
GIC chief falls on sword, takes responsibility for ‘confusion and havoc’
From SHNS’s Katie Lannan at South Coast Today: “After a fierce wave of backlash to its move to limit the health plan offerings for state employees, the Group Insurance Commission’s executive director told lawmakers Wednesday she accepts accountability for the events that transpired. ‘Though unintended, I now understand full well the concern, confusion and havoc that have ensued,’ GIC executive director Roberta Herman said at a Senate oversight hearing called after the commission voted to consolidate its state employee health plan offerings by dropping three of its six carriers.”
Still, that didn’t stop lawmakers from criticizing Herman and the commission’s decision, nor should it have stopped them. It was a botched and poorly explained rollout. Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine has more.
Re the GIC debacle in general, the Globe’s Shirley Leung asks: How the heck did Gov. Charlie ‘Harry Houdini’ Baker escape blame for the GIC mess? Good question. He’s out in Utah now. Maybe he can be asked more about it next week.
Man convicted of buying grenades and guns to kill Martha Coakley and judge
This is more than a little scary. From Scott Croteau at MassLive: “A Massachusetts man with plans to kill former Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and federal judge Dennis Saylor was found guilty Tuesday in a New Hampshire federal court of receiving firearms with intent to commit murder. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Hampshire said Edward McLarnon, 69, of Malden, was found guilty after a six-day jury trial. He was found guilty on the receiving firearms with intent to commit murder charge and three related weapons and explosives charges.”
Kennedy: It was chapstick, not drool
For the record: U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, the day after the most important speech of his career, confirmed on Wednesday that it was chapstick, not drool, that appeared on the side of mouth during his televised response to President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night. His chapstick remarks come at the tail end of this WGBH Morning Edition interview (text transcript provided – “Apparently a little too much chapstick. I’ll note that for next time”) and during an interview on Good Morning America. At Boston Magazine, Hayley Glatter has more on ChapstickGate.
Meanwhile, as for the substance of Kennedy’s speech …
WGBH’s Peter Kadzis thinks Kennedy acquitted himself well Tuesday night and says it was a “smart move” to have Kennedy respond to President Trump’s State of the Union address. … James Pindell at the Globe says Democrats are pleased with his address, appealing to both the Bernie and Hillary wings of the party. … Lots of Dems, including former Vice President Joe Biden and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, were tweeting congratulations to Kennedy following the speech, reports the Globe’s Brian White.
Rep. Benson: Odds are ‘very slim’ for House action on Senate carbon pricing bill
There’s a lot of chatter these days, mostly coming from members of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, that the Senate will pass a carbon pricing bill this year. But Rep. Jennifer Benson notes that the Senate is the Senate and the House is the House. “If I could just make sure one point is understood, this is a Senate-only committee,” Benson said, as reported by SHNS’s Colin Young at the Lowell Sun. She added, “The likelihood that it will proceed through the entire process is very slim.”
Unpaid phone bills leave Shirley police off the grid, briefly
The Shirley police department lost its non-emergency phone service for about a half hour late last month and the snafu was traced to a stack of unpaid bills stuffed into a drawer at Town Hall, M.E. Jones reports at the Lowell Sun. Rapid staff turnover was blamed for the oversight and officials are looking to overhaul the way mail is handled at the facility.
Circling the wagons: Walsh and Lynch praise Capuano after Pressley announcement
File under: Incumbents defending incumbents. Mayor Marty Walsh yesterday signaled he intends to support U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano in his now contested Democratic primary race against Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch didn’t just signal his support for Capuano. He promised it. The Herald’s Matt Stout has the details.
At WGBH, David Bernstein ponders the mystery of why Pressley is taking on fellow progressive Capuano and concludes that maybe it just comes down to her getting tired of waiting her turn.
State to Essex County: OK, we’ll pick up that $2 million prisoner tab
That was fast. A day after the Salem News reported that Essex County had spent almost $2 million guarding a prisoner who was housed in a jailhouse medical facility, the Department of Corrections said it would change its policy and begin picking up the tab and guarding Raymond Wallace, who has been held for five years at the jailhouse since being shot in an escape attempt, Christian Wade reports at the Salem News.
Walsh on Roxbury helipad: Suffolk is on its own
Mayor Marty Walsh, whose administration ran into fierce opposition when it once scouted around for a downtown helipad for General Electric, is basically saying Suffolk Construction is on its own when it comes to convincing Roxbury residents about building its own private helipad on a parking lot across from its neighborhood headquarters, the Herald reports.
Union will do GE electrical work after all
Speaking of General Electric: Do they have these type of disputes in other cities? From Jon Chesto at the Globe: “An electrical contract that was the focus of a labor controversy at the new headquarters project for General Electric Co. will be awarded to a union-affiliated company after all. GE delayed bidding for the work after electrical contractor Wayne J. Griffin Electric Inc. challenged the company’s use of a project labor agreement that would make it difficult for nonunion shops to compete.” But then … the union got the contract anyway.
Healey throws support behind same-day and automatic voting
From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “Attorney General Maura Healey is throwing her support behind bills to allow same-day voter registration in Massachusetts and to automatically register people to vote. ‘Our residents should be able to register and vote on the same day, and registration should be easy and automatic,’ Healey said Wednesday during a lobby day run by voting rights groups.”
Warren-led group wants Trump opioid response details — if there are any
A group of Democratic U.S. senators, led by Elizabeth Warren, is asking the Government Accountability Office to investigate what resources—if any—President Trump’s administration has put toward addressing the country’s opioid epidemic since declaring it a national health emergency last October, German Lopez of Vox reports.
Preservation group wants more time to study Worcester Memorial Auditorium
In what local officials are calling a positive development, the preservation group behind Boston’s Quincy Market wants more time to study possible redevelopment scenarios for the Worcester Auditorium. The Architectural Heritage Foundation will give the city $25,000 to keep exclusive rights to the hulking, long-vacant building for another six months, Nick Kotsopolous of the Telegram reports. Officials are hopeful the building — which is surrounded by roadways but is near the city’s art museum and other cultural attractions — will become another chapter in the city’s revival story.
Film Screenings: “Big Sacrifices, Big Dreams” – Bishop Connolly High School
STEAM Your Child at Nahant Library
The New Shape of Boston’s Historic Neighborhood
Author Talk and Book Signing with Rosalyn D. Elder
State Library of Massachusetts
WPI sets up shop in Boston’s Seaport district – Telegram & Gazette
Funding crunch at ABCD – Boston Herald
Springfield needle exchange public hearing finds no opposition – MassLive
SJC to hold appeal of canal plant expansion – Cape Cod Times
NECC pharmacist sentenced to 8 years in prison – Worcester Business Journal
State Rep. Joseph McKenna of Webster to run for re-election – Telegram & Gazette
Special counsel zeroes in on a Trump tower cover story – New York Times
Judge dismisses all charges against Sen. Melendez following request from prosecutors – Washington Post
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