Cannabis Control meeting, budget hearing, public records commission
— Boston Mayor Marty Walsh will join members of the building trades to announce a new apprenticeship partnership with Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, 75 Malcolm X Boulevard, Boston, 9 a.m.
— The House and Senate Ways and Means committees travel to Worcester for a budget hearing on a variety of spending areas, including the Executive Office of Public Safety, the Ethics Commission and the Commission Against Discrimination, Seven Hills Foundation, 81 Hope Ave., Worcester, 10 a.m.
— Office of Campaign and Political Finance holds a public hearing on regulations that change campaign finance law, with the conservative Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance planning to testify against the changes, One Ashburton Place, Room 411, Boston, 10 a.m.
— The Cannabis Control Commission meets to discuss technology procurement and job descriptions, among other agenda items, Gaming Commission meeting room, 101 Federal St., 12th floor, Boston, 10:30 a.m.
— MGM Springfield will give an early preview of the soon-to-open Massachusetts Casino Career Training Institute (MCCTI) Gaming School, MGM Springfield, 95 State St., 9th Floor, Springfield, 11 a.m.
— The Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets will hold a hearing on a $1.7 billion housing bond bill that passed the House last month, Room A-1, 1 p.m.
— A special commission takes a look at whether the Legislature should be exempt from public records laws, Room 437, 1 p.m.
— Municipal officials meeting together as the Local Government Advisory Commission will receive a presentation on the administration’s fiscal 2019 budget proposal, the state’s fiscal health, and municipal and school aid, Room 157, 1 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack to announce RMV license and registration services now available at select AAA branches across Massachusetts, 125 High St., Boston, 3:30 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker will ceremonially swear-in Appeals Court Chief Justice Mark Green, who took the top position at the state’s second-highest court on Dec. 6, John Adams Courthouse, Great Hall, 5 p.m.
— State marijuana regulators from the Cannabis Control Commission hold a public hearing in Roxbury to give residents a chance to weigh in on draft marijuana regulations, Bolling Municipal Building, 2300 Washington St., 2nd Floor, Roxbury, 6 p.m.
MBTA eyes fare and parking fee hikes to plug $111M deficit
Yes, another deficit at the MBTA – and officials are not ruling out possible fare and parking-lot fee hikes to cover the projected $111 million budget gap. The Globe’s Adam Vaccaro, CommonWealth’s Jack Sullivan and SHNS’s Andy Metzger (pay wall) have the details.
Next stop: New Bedford, Fall River and … Middleboro
Speaking of the T, CommonWealth magazine’s Jack Sullivan reports on why MBTA officials have decided to proceed with the phasing in of the new South Coast Rail line by running it through Middleboro, a move T officials say will mean a quicker start to service without extra costs. SHNS’s Andy Metzger and Colin Young (pay wall) have more on the line’s projected price tag and potential 2022 service start.
New Bedford’s post-‘Codfather’ economic blues
And speaking of New Bedford: He was a first-class scoundrel, but he was a first-class scoundrel who brought a lot of business, albeit illegal business, to New Bedford, where some firms are now reeling following the conviction and imprisonment of Carlos ‘The Codfather’ Rafael, reports the NYT’s Jess Bidgood, who shines a national spotlight on a slowly unfolding local tragedy in the nation’s most lucrative fishing port.
Trump’s sham infrastructure bill?
U.S. Sen. Ed Markey and other local lawmakers are blasting President Trump’s proposed $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill, saying it merely tries to push spending onto states, local communities and private sector companies – with minimal federal financial support. “There is an old saying that a vision without funding is a hallucination,” Markey said yesterday, reports SHNS’s Colin Young at the BBJ.
Meanwhile, the Herald’s Kimberly Atkins believes critics have a point and that the president’s proposal now faces “nearly insurmountable odds out of the gate.” The NYT has a piece on how the Trump plan “upends” the traditional approach towards infrastructure spending. Btw: In other federal budget news, the Globe’s Liz Goodwin reports on how Republicans are now “turning their sights to shrinking the nation’s safety net, targeting food stamps, Medicaid, and other social service programs for poor Americans.”
And now Rep. Kulik isn’t running …
From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “State Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, the powerful vice chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, will not run for reelection. Kulik, 67, has been in the Legislature for 25 years. He has been a strong voice on behalf of rural communities.”
As SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) notes, Kulik is just the latest legislator to opt not to run for re-election this year. Reps. John Scibak, James Dwyer, Cory Atkins, Jay Kaufman and Frank Smizik have also announced this will be their last term.
On Cape, Hunt faces a Dem challenger as well
Republican state Rep. Randy Hunt of Sandwich now has a Democratic challenger looming even as he faces a primary foe in his bid for a fifth term representing the 5th Barnstable District. Jack Stanton, a 26-year-old Sandwich resident, kicked off his campaign for the Democratic nomination on Monday, saying the interests and issues of Cape residents need a stronger voice on Beacon Hill, Geoff Spillane of the Cape Cod Times reports. Hunt is facing a GOP primary challenge from Barnstable County Commissioner Ronald Beaty Jr.
Baker and DeLeo step up pressure to modify proposed cannabis regulations
Gov. Charlie Baker and now House Speaker Robert DeLeo are voicing more concerns about the Cannabis Control Commission’s proposed marijuana regulations. In particular, the Baker administration, which has previously complained that the commission is going too far and too fast with new rules, warned yesterday that Massachusetts is likely to experience a surge in stoned drivers and an increase in youth marijuana if current proposed rules go through, according to reports by Dan Adams and Joshua Miller at the Boston Globe, Matt Stout at the Boston Herald and SHNS’s Colin Young at WBSM Radio.
Worcester says pot club plans were hazy enough to sneak by regulators
Still on the subject of pot: City officials in Worcester say a private pot-smoking lounge that opened there over the weekend was not forthcoming as it secured its necessary permits and is reaching out to the state’s Cannabis Control Commission to close what they say is a loophole in existing law, Zachary Comeau of the Worcester Business Journal reports.
Sen. Gobi: Let farmers grow pot as cash crop
And yet another opinion on what should or shouldn’t be allowed marijuana-legal Massachusetts. From Mary Serreze at MassLive: “A state senator from Central Massachusetts said Sunday that small farmers, and not just big investors, should be able to grow marijuana as a cash crop.’It shouldn’t be just for these big businesses,’ said Sen. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer. ‘It should be an opportunity for small farmers.’”
Report: Powder hoax aimed at Trump kin traced to Boston
Let’s hope this is not true. From Chris Cassidy at the Herald: “Boston was reportedly the origin of a bogus white powder attack that sent President Trump’s daughter-in-law to the hospital as a precaution — the second such mail scare aimed at the first family that was traced back to the Hub. Vanessa Trump opened the letter containing an unidentified white powder that was addressed to her husband, Donald Trump Jr., yesterday morning at her mother’s midtown Manhattan apartment. … The letter was postmarked from Boston, according to several published reports, citing anonymous law enforcement sources.”
Comcast, city credit union yank ads from WEEI
Comcast and the City of Boston Credit Union have pulled their ads from WEEI, where there’s yet another controversy over racially insensitive remarks/jokes by on-air hosts, the latest being Christian Fauria’s impersonation of an Asian with a stereotypical accent, reports the Dorchester Reporter’s Bill Forry and the Boston Globe’s Shirley Leung, who, as an Asian-American, was particularly upset in her column yesterday about Fauria’s crude antics.
But where do we draw the line on censorship?
This is a brave column by the Globe’s Joan Vennochi – and it’s a column we’re glad someone has written. In no way, shape or form is Vennochi condoning recent ugly statements by a Northeastern University professor and by the race-baiting blabbermouths at WEEI. But Vennochi does note: “I just wonder where we draw the censorship line.” … Fyi: Andrew Sullivan was recently making roughly the same general point in a piece at New York Magazine headlined: “We all live on campus now,” a reference to speech codes and triggers etc. that are now seeping their way from ivory-tower college campuses into mainstream American life.
Walsh calls BPD’s Red Auerbach tweet ‘completely inappropriate’
OK, back to dunderheaded things people say and do: The Boston Police Department thought it was a good idea to honor a white guy, the late Red Auerbach, with a shout-out tweet for Black History Month. Many others think it was a “tone-deaf” and “clueless” tweet, while Mayor Walsh called it “completely inappropriate,” according to Universal Hub and an AP report at WBUR. It was all of that – tone-deaf, clueless, completely inappropriate and, we’d add, just plain dumb. Still, we find it hard to believe it was maliciously intended, considering the tweet praised Auerbach’s genuinely way-ahead-of-his-times racial policies with the Celts.
Meanwhile, Boston College is sticking with ‘Yawkey Athletics Center’ name
One last post on roughly the same what-you-can-and-can’t-say subject: Tom Yawkey may have been the last Major League Baseball owner to allow an African-American to play on his team, i.e. the Red Sox, a legacy many are now trying to distance themselves from in Boston. But Boston College is defiantly sticking with its ‘Yawkey Athletics Center’ name because, well, the Yawkey Foundation paid for it. The BC Heights has more, as does Universal Hub.
Senators unveil ambitious climate-change bill
As expected, the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change unveiled its new omnibus legislation yesterday. Shira Schoenberg at MassLive has a good summary story, including this nut graf: “The bill sets more ambitious environmental and regulatory standards, bans fracking in Massachusetts, prohibits residents from being taxed for new natural gas pipelines, eliminates a cap on reimbursements for solar projects and sets the stage for carbon pricing.” Virtually no one at the State House thinks the bill will be passed as now written, but it’s a start. SHNS’s Matt Murphy has more at WBUR.
Report hangs $2.4 billion price tag on Massachusetts hunger
Hunger and food insecurity issues cost the Commonwealth $2.4 billion a year in added health and related costs, a new study argues. The study from the Greater Boston Food Bank and Children’s HealthWatch says most of the cost is tied to diseases associated with poor nutrition and urges the state to take a number of steps to address the problem.
Gaming Commission punts on Wynn-Baker financial probe, Dems cry foul
Reacting to Dem gubernatorial candidates’ request that the state Gaming Commission investigate alleged financial ties between Steve Wynn, Wynn Resorts, the Republican Governors Association and Gov. Charlie Baker, the commission’s executive director Ed Bedrosian said the matter would be more “appropriately handled by the Office of Campaign and Political Finance” and is “more within their jurisdiction,” reports SHNS’s Katie Lannan. Jim Roosevelt, the state Democratic Party’s legal counsel, says the commission has it all wrong. In an editorial, the Herald is accusing Dems of “trying to gain traction in the race for governor” by attempting to confuse voters.
SJC: Police searching a car trunk, OK. Searching under the hood, not OK
From WBUR: “The state’s highest court said police went too far when they looked under the hood of a vehicle — and under the air filter — during a voluntary search after a traffic stop. In a 4-3 ruling, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants wrote ‘a typical reasonable person would understand the scope of such consent to be limited to a search of the interior of the vehicle, including the trunk’ — not the engine compartment.”
We sort of lean toward the view of Justice Ellie Cypher, who doesn’t see much difference between a vehicle’s trunk and engine compartment when it comes to police getting permission to search a car in general.
Feds used Whitey-informer like tactics against MS-13
The similarities are more than a little eerie: The FBI, Boston, gangster informers, crimes committed by gangster informants, etc. But instead of an Irish-mob informer like Whitey Bulger, the FBI employed an ex-con El Salvadoran informer to infiltrate the notorious MS-13 gang in Massachusetts. The Globe’s Shelley Murphy and Maria Cramer have the details on the sprawling MS-13 conspiracy case, and its cast of dubious characters, now under way in federal court in Boston.
City council vs mayor: The coming showdown?
First a plastic bag ban. Next up: police body cameras, elected school board and a tax on property flipping? Isaiah Thompson at WGBH takes a look at how the new 13-member Boston City Council, long the butt of political jokes far and wide, may be gearing up to push its agenda on Mayor Walsh, rather than meekly sitting around waiting for the mayor to tell them what they can and can’t do in exchange for the occasional patronage jobs.
Moulton’s big-money haul
From CNN: “Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton raised $1 million at a single New York City fundraiser last week — a $50,000-per-candidate boost for the 19 Democrats he has endorsed in House races. The total from Thursday’s New York fundraiser, detailed by a Moulton aide, comes after he raised $600,000 for the candidates he’s backing at a forum last year in Boston. Moulton’s first big-dollar event outside his home turf of Massachusetts is another indicator of Moulton’s emergence as one of the most prolific fundraisers and bundlers among House Democrats outside of leadership ranks.”
Is Mass GOP violating its own rules by helping Baker?
The whole idea of a national or state political party remaining “neutral” when it comes to primary races is rather odd, especially when a primary race isn’t really contested. Still, rules are rules, and it doesn’t look like the Massachusetts Republican Party is abiding by its rules by helping organize petition drives for Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, as the Globe’s Frank Phillips reports.
Proposed tax could push out high earners, Pioneer argues
The proposed millionaire’s tax possibly headed to the voting booth this fall could double the tax bill for some of the state’s highest earners and lead some wealthy residents to up and move out altogether, the Pioneer Institute said in a report Monday, Christian Wade reports at the Salem News. The think tank points to Connecticut as a cautionary tale for the Bay State on how not to tax, but supporters say evidence of tax hikes causing millionaires to move is mostly anecdotal.
Harvard National Model United Nations Conference in Boston
Mass. Marijuana Summit II: New regs, federal threat, financial hurdles
A dynamic and controversial industry is only months from launching in Massachusetts. The regulations are complex and the barriers to entry formidable. How can we make sense of the arrival of recreational marijuana, an industry that may soon exceed $1 billion annually?
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