Happening Today

Senate Democrats caucus, fantasy sports hearing, Forry farewell

— The Health Policy Commission‘s Market Oversight and Transparency Committee holds its inaugural meeting at which commissioners will discuss past Beth Israel Deaconess and Lahey Health System transactions that the HPC has examined, 50 Milk St., Boston, 9:30 a.m.  

— The Massachusetts Climate Action Network holds a Valentine’s Day ‘I Love Clean Energy’ lobby day, Room 438, 10 a.m.

— The Massachusetts School Building Authority Board meets with Treasurer Deb Goldberg chairing, 40 Broad Street, Board Room, Boston, 10 a.m.

Head Start and Early Head Start programs from across the state hold a legislative event featuring Head Start alumni who work at the State House and current participants, Grand Staircase, 10:30 a.m.

Senate Democrats hold a closed-door caucus at which Senate President Harriette Chandler could name her new majority leader and make other adjustments to her leadership team, Senate President’s Office, Room 333, 11 a.m.

Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies holds a hearing on Sen. Eileen Donoghue’s bill to make popular daily fantasy sports contests permanently legal, put the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in charge of overseeing the industry and levy a 15 percent tax on game operators, Hearing Room B-2, 11 a.m.

— Attorney General Maura Healey appears on her regular ‘Ask the AG’ segment on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 12 p.m.

— Former Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry returns to the State House for a farewell speech; Gov. Charlie Baker, Senate President Harriette Chandler, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and senators present her with a citation for her years of service to the Commonwealth, House Chamber, 1 p.m.

— State marijuana regulators from the Cannabis Control Commission hold a public hearing in Danvers to give residents a chance to weigh in on draft pot regulations, North Shore Community College, 1 Ferncroft Road, Math/Science Building Room 119, Danvers, 2 p.m.

— Senate meets in formal session to address bills dealing with a community college workforce training program and health care confidentiality, Gardner Auditorium, 2 p.m.

Discovering Justice and the Museum of African American History host a lecture and panel discussion on the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass, part of a celebration of his 200th birthday and the 20th anniversary of the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse, Moakley Courthouse, 3:30 p.m.

— The Department of Conservation and Recreation holds a public meeting to obtain input on a proposed design for a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the Mystic River that would connect Everett to Somerville and Charlestown, 90 Chelsea St., Everett, 6:30 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Herald sold to ‘relentless cost-cutting’ Digital First Media

Digital First Media came from the back of the pack to win the auction to buy the bankrupt Boston Herald, agreeing yesterday to pay $11.9 million for Boston’s second newspaper, or twice as much as what GateHouse Media originally offered for the newspaper, reports the BBJ’s Greg Ryan, the Boston Globe’s Jon Chesto and the Boston Herald’s own Brian Dowling.

The sale, subject to final federal bankruptcy court approval, is set to close by March 28 – and then the cutting begins, or perhaps/probably/inevitably sooner. And there will be deep cuts, based partly on what Digital First has told a Herald union, based partly on Digital First’s ‘relentless cost-cutting’ track record (as the Globe’s Chesto puts it), and based partly on the fact that all newspapers are cutting back these days.

Indeed, the CEO of the New York Times made news earlier this week by predicting his company’s print product will probably last no more than 10 years, as Real Clear Politics reports, and so … Digital First Media, unless it truly develops a “digital” business model that its name suggests, will squeeze ever last penny of profit from the Herald before that final print-run day. That’s part of the business model of Digital First’s NY investment firm owner, Alden Global Capital, as it was for the other two Herald bidders, it should be noted.

Fyi: Digital First owns the Lowell Sun, Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise, Denver Post, Orange County Register and hundreds of other papers.

It’s official: Rep. Orrall to challenge Treasurer Goldberg

State Rep. Keiko Orrall gave it some thought and has reached a conclusion: The Lakeville Republican and Republican National Committeewoman will indeed challenge Democratic Treasurer Deb Goldberg, who has also confirmed she’s running for re-election, Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports. Orrall will be the first Asian-American woman to run for a constitutional office in Massachusetts.


Sen. Barrett diagnosed with rare – but curable — form of leukemia

This a bad-news-but-good-news political development. From SHNS’s Katie Lannan: “Sen. Michael Barrett was diagnosed Monday with a rare and curable form of leukemia and will be hospitalized for about a month, his office announced Tuesday. Barrett said in a statement that doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital diagnosed him with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), which he described as ‘highly curable.’ ‘In terms of politics, for me nothing will change: I’ll be running for re-election in the fall,” the Lexington Democrat said.” Here’s hoping for a very quick recovery.

SHNS (pay wall)

State Lottery and Health Connector pull ads from WEEI, after prodding from Globe columnist

Globe business columnist Shirley Leung was curious to see who was still advertising on WEEI following its latest on-air racially insensitive controversy. “Turns out there are plenty,” Leung writes. “But defections are on the rise, especially after I contacted advertisers to explain themselves. On Tuesday, three more organizations — Citizens Bank, the Massachusetts State Lottery, and the Massachusetts Health Connector — cut ties with WEEI.”

Boston Globe

What the BPD’s Red Auerbach tweet says about Boston …

Speaking of racially insensitive incidents, the Globe’s Adrian Walker and Renée Graham aren’t letting go of the controversy over the Boston Police Department’s recent Black History Month tweet praising Red Auerbach, a white guy, and they say the tweet says more about Boston than many Bostonians care to admit.

Using your E-ZPass to buy cheeseburgers, coffee and gas?

What will they think of next? Kelly O’Brien at the BBJ reports that E-ZPass Group has signed a deal with Boston’s Verdeva Inc. to test toll transponders for possible future use by drivers pulling up to drive-thru coffee or burger joints – and paying for items via a separate “PayByCar” payment account connected to the transponder. Ditto for buying gasoline or getting your car washed.


Lynn Mayor McGee to seek state approval to balance city budget with borrowed funds

As a former state senator,  Lynn Mayor Thomas McGee certainly knows his way around the State House – and he may soon be utilizing that knowledge on behalf of his home city. McGee, who stepped down as senator last month to take the reins at Lynn City Hall, has presented a plan to balance the city’s out-of-whack budget for the next two years that involves getting legislative blessing for $16 million in borrowing, Gayla Cawley of the Lynn Item reports.

Lynn Item

Scibak seat has first contender

That was fast. Less than two days after state Rep. John Scibak said he would not run for re-election to represent the 2nd Hampshire District, Easthampton City Councilor Dan Carey became the first candidate to declare for the seat, Jim Russell reports at MassLive. Carey, a Democrat, oversees the drug diversion and treatment program in the Northwestern district attorney’s office. 

Meanwhile, Matt Szafranski at Western Massachusetts Politics & Insight takes a look at how the retirements of state Reps. Kulik and John Scibak should enliven the political scene in the northern Pioneer Valley this year.


Andover hockey coaches cleared of denying players food and water

As they say, where do they go to get their reputations back? From Danny McDonald at the Globe: “Andover school district has cleared a trio of boys varsity hockey coaches of allegations they denied players food or water, concluding an internal investigation into their behavior. Andover High School Principal Philip Conrad said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that the district’s investigation found that the allegations were ‘not sustained.’” The reinstatement of the coaches awaits a final state Department of Children and Families report, though Conrad sounds confident the coaches will indeed be reinstated.

Boston Globe

Child abuse cases spike in state to the highest rate in nation

Massachusetts saw more than 32,000 reported cases of child abuse and neglect in 2016, the highest rate of any state, but advocates say the ignominious ranking stems at least in part from more stringent standards. The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services says cases of reported abuse spiked 67 percent between 2012 and 2016, Christian Wade reports in the Salem News. 

Salem News

State data breach let businesses peek at rivals’ tax information

Glad to know our state tax records are securely behind an impenetrable cyber firewall. … Wait. … Never mind. … From Joshua Miller at the Globe: “A data mix-up on a state tax portal inadvertently made private data from about 16,500 business taxpayers viewable to other companies, potentially even competitors. The breach lasted from Aug. 7, 2017, through Jan. 23, 2018, and allowed some companies to view other business’s names, federal employer identification numbers, tax payments, and other data, according to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.”

Boston Globe

So who will emcee this year’s St. Patrick’s Day breakfast?

It’s never too early to start thinking about St. Patrick’s Day — and Mayor Marty Walsh, U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, state Rep. Nick Collins and others are most definitely thinking of St. Patrick’s Day, as they huddle to try to determine who will replace former state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry as the emcee of this year’s annual South Boston St. Patrick’s Day breakfast. Mike Deehan at WGBH has the details.


Dracut board clears way for student alcohol testing before events

In a split vote, the Dracut School Committee approved a policy that will allow school officials to give students suspected of being under the influence of alcohol a breath test before allowing them into dances and similar student events, Amaris Castillo of the Lowell Sun reports. 

Lowell Sun

Baker releases $200M road bill

It’s an annual local rite, sort of like the Red Sox trucks leaving Fenway Park for Florida every winter. Except it’s municipal officials doing the cheering, not Sox fans. Shira Schoenberg has the details of the Baker administration’s proposed $200 million roads and bridges bill.


Tale of two parties: An outrage machine and a one-trick pony

Two national pieces in the Washington Post and the New York Times caught our attention this morning. Aaron Blake at the Post says Democrats might want to turn off the “outrage machine” now and then if they want to maintain credibility with voters, while Mike Lofgren, a former career Republican congressional staff member, writes that the GOP now stands for tax cuts – and that’s about it.

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Scot Lehigh and Jeff Jacoby both have columns this morning on the Republican Party’s retreat from its once small-government principals.

Beth Lindstrom disses male GOP Senate rivals

Beth Lindstrom is starting to sound like a Democrat as she disses her two primary rivals in the Republican U.S. Senate race, calling John Kingston a “white, rich male” and Rep. Geoff Diehl a “career politician” who can’t beat Elizabeth Warren. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld has the details.

Boston Herald

1960s activist Angela Davis donates papers to Harvard

From the Associated Press at WBUR: “Social activist and 1960s radical Angela Davis is donating her papers to a library of women’s history at Harvard University. The school announced Tuesday that it received 150 cartons of rare material from the 74-year-old Davis, including letters, personal writings and unpublished speeches.”


The suspense is over: Rosenberg among western Mass. senators pulling papers for re-election

He said he would do it – and he did it. Former Senate President Stan Rosenberg has pulled papers to run for re-election in his Amherst district this year, reports Shira Schoenberg at MassLive. No one has yet taken out papers to run against Rosenberg, a Democrat who stepped down from the presidency amid sexual-misconduct allegations against his husband.


RMV clerk sentenced to prison for role in identify-theft scheme

From the Associated Press at WBUR: “A former Massachusetts motor vehicles clerk involved in a scheme to provide fraudulent identification documents to immigrants in the U.S. illegally has been sentenced to eight months in prison. Federal prosecutors say 46-year-old David Brimage, of Boston, was also sentenced Monday to two years of probation. Brimage was the fourth Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles worker and sixth person overall sentenced in connection with the case.”


Now John Hancock Financial is pulling its name from Chicago’s landmark Hancock tower

First the insurance company yanked its name from the landmark Hancock Tower in Boston. Now John Hancock is doing the same in Chicago, removing its name from the skyline-defining Hancock Center in the Windy City, Gina Hall reports at the BBJ. The new building names in both cities are duller than dull: 200 Clarendon in Boston and 875 N. Michigan in Chicago .


Over your Post-traumatic Big Dig Disorder yet?

Dan McNichol knows many Bostonians may still be suffering from Big Dig fatigue, something that played no small part in a people’s revolt against holding the Summer Olympics here in 2024. But he says it’s time to get over the Big Dig and start thinking of major infrastructure projects that will benefit the region – and he presents his Top 5 project ideas. The last one may cause those with lingering Big Dig phobias to shudder a bit, but let him have his say.


Harvard National Model United Nations Conference in Boston

Harvard University

Family Law Workshop for Women

The Women’s Center

Celebrate Waltham!

Waltham, Brandeis and Bentley communities

YDMA Panel: Running for City Council

Young Democrats of Massachusetts

Author Presentation – Gerard Doherty

Wellesley Senior Center

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?

State House News Forum

Today’s Headlines


Activist Angela Davis donates personal papers to Harvard – WBUR

In Boston, a hole lot of trouble patching up streets – Boston Globe


$1M grant ‘a big step into the future’ for New Bedford waterfront – Standard-Times

Serta Simmons to close Mass. manufacturing plant – Boston Business Journal

Millbury to join lawsuit against big pharma – Telegram & Gazette

Pilgrim reveals flaw in past emergency system testing – Cape Cod Times


Russia already plotting to sway 2018 elections, spy chiefs say – New York Times

Trump readies blame game if Senate fails on DACA – Politico

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