Happening Today

JetBlue strike vote, flu vaccine funding, Super Bowl security

— The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a breakfast on its main campus, with author and advocate Shaun King as the featured speaker, 285 Old Westport Rd., Dartmouth, 8:30 a.m.

— Boston Mayor Marty Walsh offers remarks at the 32BJ SEIU rally for JetBlue contract workers who are threatening a strike against a key airport subcontractor and JetBlue, with City Council member Lydia Edwards, Rep. Adrian Madaro, Sen. Joseph Boncore and others are expected to attend, SEIU Local 615, 26 West St., Boston, 10 a.m.

— Auditor Suzanne Bump holds a roundtable discussion with local farmers and Massachusetts Farm Bureau deputy director Brad Mitchell about farmers’ experiences with the state Agricultural Preservation Restriction program, 249 Lakeside Ave., Marlborough, 10 a.m.

— U.S. Sen. Ed Markey holds a press conference at Massachusetts General Hospital to call for $1 billion in funding for a universal flu vaccine, with MGH chief of infection control Dr. David Hooper and chief medical officer Dr. O’Neil Britton expected to attend, Paul S. Russell MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation, 2 N. Grove St., Boston, 11 a.m.

— Boston Mayor Marty Walsh appears live on Boston Public Radio’s ‘Ask the Mayor,’ WGBH 89.7FM, 12 p.m.

— Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and Boston Police Commissioner William Evans hold a press conference to discuss public safety measures in advance of Sunday’s Super Bowl , Eagle Room, City Hall, Boston, 1:30 p.m.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation hosts a public information meeting on the newly released draft state rail plan, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, 2nd floor conference room, 60 Congress Street, Springfield, 3 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker is vacationing in the Park City area in Utah with First Lady Lauren Baker and their children and plans to return to Massachusetts on Saturday.

Today’s Stories

Time for Plan B? N.H. rejects Northern Pass hydro plan picked by Baker administration

In an embarrassing setback for the Baker administration, New Hampshire regulators yesterday voted to reject Eversource Energy’s proposed Northern Pass hydroelectric transmission line through the Granite State, only a week after the Baker administration picked Northern Pass as the sole winner of a huge state clean-energy contract. As the Globe’s Jon Chesto puts it: “By picking the Northern Pass project to import electricity from Canada just last week, the Baker administration gambled that officials in New Hampshire would support building 192 miles of transmission lines across their state. That bet turned out to be badly misplaced.” 

So is it time for the administration to go with a Plan B, i.e. with one of the losing bidders who many believe should have and could have won the contract in the first place? A Baker spokesman will only say officials will continue to “monitor and evaluate developments in New Hampshire.” But others says that, yes, it’s time for Plan B. Bruce Mohl and Jack Sullivan at CommonWealth magazine have more on the surprise N.H. action, as do the Manchester Union Leader and the Portland Press Herald.

Meanwhile, GIC opts for ‘Option B’ – and rescinds its controversial health-plan vote

It’s another Plan B, only this time it’s ‘Option B’ and it’s already been implemented. From SHNS’s Andy Metzger at the BBJ: “Scrapping its much-maligned move to cull the number of health insurance carriers available to public employees and retirees, the Group Insurance Commission decided Thursday to go with ‘Option B.’ The new approach gives GIC members six commercial carriers and four Medicare carriers, as opposed to the three commercial carriers and two Medicare carriers under an earlier approach the commission approved in a Jan. 18 vote, according to the GIC.”  

CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl takes a look at how Baker administration officials on the commission switched votes and ended up backing ‘Option B.’

Capuano calls for a Wynn-license Plan B to protect workers

Well, wadda you know. Another Plan B in the offing. From Jordan Graham at the Herald: “U.S. Rep. Michael E. Capuano is looking to protect the workers who are relying on the scores of jobs created by the Wynn Casino project by pushing for a backup plan should the state Gaming Commission decide to give Wynn Resorts the boot.” The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld says it’s also time for the commission to start re-examining its own license-approval and background-check policies.

Boston Herald

Capuano and Pressley clash over their political non-differences

In back-to-back interviews yesterday on WBUR, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano and Democratic challenger Ayanna Pressley effectively acknowledged there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference in their progressive political views. But Pressley, a City Council member, said the fact that she’s an African-American female gives her an “authentic and unique lens” that provides her with a different perspective. Capuano countered that gender and ethnicity are only part of a political lens and that she’ll probably vote “the exact same way” as he has over the years.

In other words, we now have a pure identity-politics primary race. The Globe’s Joshua Miller, SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) and WBUR – in separate stories on Pressley and on Capuano – have more.

Will Third District contest become the most expensive primary race in U.S. history?

As campaign finance filings get pored over, at least one observer thinks the Third Congressional District race has a chance to set a record as the most expensive Democratic primary in the nation’s history, Chris Lisinkski reports in the Lowell Sun. Candidates have already raised some $4 million—$1.6 million of that going to Dan Koh alone —and eight of the 12 Democrats in the race have brought in at least $100,000. 

Fyi: It’s not just congressional races setting finance records. Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle raised nearly $43,000 for her campaign last fall—a record amount in the city of 16,000 people, Caitlin Ashworth reports in the Hampshire Gazette. 

Lowell Sun

Race for Forry’s Senate seat narrows as Holmes and Cullinane say they won’t run

Scratch two legislators – Reps. Russell Holmes and Dan Cullinane – from the list of potential candidates running to replace former state senator Linda Dorcena Forry, who resigned last week to take a job at Suffolk Construction. But Reps. Evandro Carvalho and Nick Collins are still seriously considering bids for the Senate seat. The Globe’s Meghan Irons and SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) have more.

Hundreds of junkets: Lawmakers’ free travel in the spotlight

With an assist from Northeastern University journalism students, Mike Beaudet of WCVB digs into the hundreds of free trips state lawmakers have taken in recent years, junkets that one critic says amount to legalized influence-peddling. While some lawmakers were willing to talk on camera about the trips and the benefits they yield, state Sen. Marc Pacheco—who has been on 28 such trips since 2014—refused to discuss his travel itinerary. 


‘New poll out … ‘

The Globe’s Joshua Miller outdoes all journalists today in terms of succinctness and dry humor: “New poll out Thursday. Charlie Baker once again most popular governor in United States. Sixty-nine percent approve of job he’s doing. Election in November. No comment from two of three Democratic challengers.” He does have one more sentence, so, by all means, keep reading.

Boston Globe

Rainy-day fund replenishment time? State tax collections still on a roll in early January

After a spectacular December in terms of state tax collections, the money kept rolling into state coffers during the first half of January, up a whopping 35 percent over the same period last year, reports SHNS’s Michael Norton. Some believe the positive surge is tied to recent federal tax code changes and may be short-lived. 

Still, California is seeing the same surge in revenues, so much so that it literally doesn’t know what to do with the money, reports the Sacramento Bee. One thing is clear: California is replenishing its rainy day fund with the cash, something many say Massachusetts should be doing as well.

SHNS (pay wall)

Now this is how you colonize an island …

Memo to state fish and game honchos: This is the proper way to populate an island with a new species. Federal wildlife officials want to use Nomans Land—a 600-acre outpost in Chilmark—to help reinvigorate the area’s population of New England cottontail rabbits, Tanner Sterling of the Cape Cod Times reports. Authorities are taking comments on the plan until March, but, unlike the state’s ill-fated plan to create a colony of timber rattlesnakes on an island in the Quabbin, it’s a fair guess no one will be hopping mad about this scheme. 

Cape Cod Times

Number of foreign students drops in U.S., but not in Mass.

In terms of laying political blame, this is not a very convincing story when you dig not-so-deep into the stats. Yes, the number of foreign students studying in the U.S. dropped last year, the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency. But it was a small drop and still remains well above numbers from five years ago. In Massachusetts, the number of foreign students here actually rose and the total is also well above stats from five years ago. The Globe has more. It’s going to take a couple more years of stats to establish any sort of pattern – and to place political blame.

Boston Globe

US Attorney: Feds pursue corruption cases because states can’t or won’t

He’s trying to be diplomatic about it. But there’s no hiding the fact that U.S. Attorney Andrw Lelling believes that if the feds don’t go after corruption in Massachusetts, no one else will (or rarely will). He explains why, via a piece by Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive.


Mark it on your calendar: Romney Senate announcement coming Feb. 15

Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney has set Feb. 15 to make a big announcement and we all know, or presume to know, what it’s about: He’s running for U.S. Senate in Utah. We’ll see. The Salt Lake Tribune has the details.

Salt Lake Tribune

Pay raises approved for child welfare attorneys and National Guard troops

From SHNS’s Colin Young at the Berkshire Eagle: “A shortage of attorneys who can handle children and family law cases for the Committee for Public Counsel Services in western Massachusetts prompted the House this week to sign off on temporary raises for those lawyers.” Colin has more details.

Separately, the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security’s yesterday approved a pay increase for active-duty National Guard troops, from $100 to $200 a day. SHNS’s Colin Young, again, has more details.

Double-barreled blast: In Cambridge, Pelosi slams GOP tax overhaul and plan to release FBI memo

U.S. House Minority Leaders Nancy Pelois swung through Cambridge yesterday, blasting the recently passed GOP tax overhaul, as Shira Schoenberg reports at MassLive, and plans by Republicans to release a controversial memo on the FBI, as Schoenberg also reports in a separate piece at MassLive.

Immelt lands on his feet at venture firm

The company he used to lead may still be trying to find its footing, but former General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt appears to have found a safe landing spot for himself as a Silicon Valley venture firm that has a growing presence in the Boston area. Kelly O’Brien of the Boston Business Journal reports that although New Enterprise Associates has a Kendall Square office, Immelt will likely spend most of his time on the West Coast since he’s also landed a gig teaching at Stanford. 


Go Pats!

Believe it or not, we went through an entire pre-Super Bowl week without one Super Bowl post – until now. Go Pats!

Sunday public affairs TV

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 p.m. This week’s guest: Steven Hoffman, chairman of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, who talks with host Jon Keller about ongoing progress in developing new regulations, local resistance to pot facilities and talks of making Massachusetts a “sanctuary” pot state.

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. It’s a Super Bowl Sunday special with DraftKings chief executive Jason Robins; MullenLowe senior vice president David Swaebe on this year’s Super Bowl ads; and Warren Zola of Boston College on the business of football.

CEO Corner, NECN 10:30 a.m. Table Talk Pies owner and president Harry Kokkinis talks about the growth of his Worcester-based family business.  

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

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. Topic: A look at the ‘Long Road to Justice,’ an exhibit showcasing the complexities of the African American experience in the legal system.

STEAM Your Child at Nahant Library

Nahant Library

The New Shape of Boston’s Historic Neighborhood

NAIOP Massachusetts

Author Talk and Book Signing with Rosalyn D. Elder

State Library of Massachusetts

Today’s Headlines


Amazon is prepping Central Square space on plaza for merchandise pickup location – Cambridge Day

A 44-story tower is set to break ground replacing the Garden garage – Boston Globe


Court renews art sale injunction to Monday, but says that’s it – Berkshire Eagle

Troopergate lawyer eyes cops, clerk – Boston Herald

Again facing deficit, Worcester school board threatens to take state to court over funding formula – Telegram & Gazette

Council committee supports downtown Salem pot sales – Salem News


Trump clears way for secret memo’s release – New York Times

Russia probe lawyers think Mueller could indict Trump – Politico

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