Happening Today

President’s Day

— Today is President’s Day, an official state and federal holiday. State, federal and local governments, courts and schools are closed, as are stock markets and banks. The T will be running on a Saturday schedule. Retail shops and restaurants are open, as are national and state parks. More at MassLive.

— Those interested in presidential history can interact with actors portraying past presidents and First Ladies at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum’s seventh annual Presidents’ Day Family Festival, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, 10 a.m.

Today’s Stories

Baker selects a power backup plan to a backup plan

From CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl, who’s quite justified in squeezing the word “odd” into the lead of his story: “The Massachusetts clean energy procurement took another odd turn on Friday as officials entered into contract negotiations with a second transmission company with ties to Hydro-Quebec while giving Northern Pass until March 27 to overturn a unanimous regulatory rejection in New Hampshire. Just before 5 p.m., Baker administration officials released an update on the procurement that said Northern Pass, a partnership of Eversource Energy and Hydro-Quebec, would be given additional time to get its bid back on track.”

So they have a backup plan to a backup plan. Mary Serreze at MassLive and SHNS’s Michael Norton at the Lowell Sun have more. Btw: CommonWealth magazine has another point-counterpoint debate going on over natural-gas pipelines, with Jon Hurst (for) and Matt Mincieli (against).


Tom Ashbrook’s post-firing comments not sitting well with WBUR staffers

After getting canned for his alleged toxic-boss ways at WBUR, former On Point host Tom Ashbrook gave interviews with WGBH’s Emily Rooney and the Globe’s Shirley Leung late last week, coming across as genuinely apologetic and yet repeating claims WBUR bears some responsibility for problems on the show. “That’s bulls—,” reacted one former employee who worked with Ashbrook for years, as Martha Bebinger reports at ‘BUR. Bebinger adds: “Rage spread among some current and former On Point staff members as they read or listened to Ashbrook’s version of events.”


‘OMG! … Stink bomb’

Dan Glaun at MassLive has gotten hold of Massachusetts Gaming Commission emails showing how members, especially chairman Steve Crosby, initially reacted to breaking news about sexual misconduct charges against casino mogul Steve Wynn. A sampling from Crosby’s emails: “OMG! … stink bomb. … Just what we needed. … These fires burn so hot they can consume anything they touch.”


Romney is now following in the footsteps of … Sam Houston?

As expected, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney late last week announced that he’s running for the U.S. Senate in Utah. The Globe’s Matt Viser has an interesting political trivia question: Who was the last person to serve as a governor of one state and a U.S. senator from another? Answer: Sam Houston, 173 years ago. The Boston Herald and the Globe’s Michael Levenson have more on Mitt’s Utah bid.

Boston Globe

McConnell: Trump needs to get behind Mitt candidacy

Considering Mitt Romney’s past harsh criticisms of Donald Trump, it’s safe to say the two Republicans are not best buds. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says President Trump needs to set aside his differences with Mitt and back his U.S. Senate candidacy in Utah, reports the New York Times.


Can Republicans fend off Dems in this year’s Congressional mid-terms?

Speaking of Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader is sending mixed signals about how Congressional Republicans will fare in this year’s mid-term elections, painting a rosy picture one week and a not-so-rosy picture the next, reports The Hill. The Globe’s Astead Herndon reports that Democrats are growing increasingly nervous about their prospects of making big gains this year. The reason: Trump’s base is rallying behind the president.

Calling Auditor Bump: A cyber money scam has Holyoke officials calling for a state review

It wasn’t a lot of money – less than $10,000 – but a cyber attack/theft has unnerved the political establishment in Holyoke and sparked calls for a review of city finances by state Auditor Suzanne Bump. The former city auditor is even suggesting the city should be placed in receivership, though that idea is getting panned by the city treasurer. Mike Plaisance at MassLive has the details.


Lowell pols are chomping at the bit as Donoghue mulls riding into the Senate sunset

Two members of the Lowell City Council have already hinted they’re ready to launch bids for the 1st Middlesex District Senate seat that incumbent Eileen Donoghue may vacate if she lands the job as the city’s next manager, Todd Feathers reports in the Lowell Sun. Council members Rodney Elliot and Edward Kennedy are poised to run as Democrats, while there is already a Republican, John MacDonald, in the race regardless of whether Donoghue seeks to keep her seat or not. 

Lowell Sun

Blame Trump: Walsh says political protests last year drove up police overtime costs

The BBJ’s David Harris reports that the top two paid workers in city government last year were police officers, each making well over $300,000 a year, large chunks of which came from overtime and detail work. In all, the city’s overtime pay for employees amounted to a whopping $106.9 million last year, reports the Herald’s Dan Atkinson.

Mayor Walsh’s explanation for the soaring overtime? Major political protests and rallies last year requiring intense security, such as the Women’s March, Immigration Rally and the right-wing Free Speech Rally that attracted more counter-protesters than protesters, reports the Herald’s Laurel Sweet. Considering that overtime pay amounted to $99.9 million the year before, we’re not completely buying the mayor’s blame-the-Trump-era-protests explanation.

Meanwhile, a third of T workers make over $100,000

From the BBJ’s David Harris: “One in three workers at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority earned $100,000 in total pay in 2017, according to figures released Friday by the transit agency. In total, 2,026 MBTA workers out of a total workforce of 6,419 earned six figures last year, up from 1,800 in 2016. MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo told the Business Journal that the increase in $100,000 earners was a direct result of ‘an uptick in overtime spending, a direct result of the elevated level of state-of-good-repair work that was carried out last year.’”


A beautiful bridge. But who will pay for it?

Check out the design rendering of the proposed new bike and pedestrian bridge that would connect Somerville’s Assembly Square and the now-under-construction Wynn Resorts casino on each side of the Mystic River. It’s quite striking. But who will foot the $23 million bill? A mere minor detail that no one has an answer for yet, reports the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro.

Boston Globe

Sexual harassment claims are soaring in Massachusetts

This is why the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination is asking for more state funding. From Chris Cassidy at the Herald: “Sexual harassment complaints in Massachusetts are skyrocketing — up 400 percent so far this month alone compared to 2017 — as the state’s anti-discrimination agency braces for an unprecedented year of investigations and requests for workplace training in the #MeToo era.”

Meanwhile, Cassidy reports in a separate Herald story that a bill on Beacon Hill would ban agreements that waive employees’ rights to file lawsuits alleging discrimination and harassment — or to speak out against their accusers. “These are silencing tactics,” says Rep. Diana DiZoglio, the bill’s sponsor.

Boston Herald

In Randolph, residents want drug-raid answers — or at least a chance to ask questions

Some residents of Randolph are upset with the town council for not sharing more information on the arrest of a council member two weeks ago on drug charges, Jessica Trufant reports in the Patriot Ledger. Residents held a vigil over the weekend saying the council had a “chilling effect” on their free speech rights by shutting down any questions about the status of Councilor James Burgess following a drug raid at his home. 

Patriot Ledger

Remembering Mayor John B. Hynes …

For James Aloisi, the sad death last week of veteran TV newsman Jack Hynes sparked memories of his father, Mayor John B. Hynes, who Aloisi says deserves enormous credit for putting Boston on the post-war road toward recovery and rejuvenation. It’s a good piece about one of the more important mayors in Boston history.

Btw: The funeral for Hynes’ son, Jack, 88, will be held today at Holy Redeemer Church in Chatham. There was a big turnout yesterday at his Seaport wake at the Our Lady of Good Voyage Shrine, reports Laurel Sweet at the Herald.


And remembering President Chester Arthur …

The Globe’s Jeff Jacoby has a good President’s Day weekend column on President Chester Arthur, a true hack’s hack until he entered the White House and “governed honestly and conscientiously, putting country ahead of party and turning his back on the win-at-any-cost cynicism in which he had marinated for so long.”

Chiofaro’s dream come true: City finally approves developer’s harbor skyscraper

From the Globe’s Tim Logan: “After a year of closed-door negotiations with developer Don Chiofaro and the New England Aquarium, city officials say it’s finally time to move forward with a skyscraper Chiofaro wants to build on the Boston Harbor Garage site. The Boston Planning & Development Agency on Friday filed a plan with the state that should allow construction of a building as tall as 600 feet on a prime piece of waterfront land.” The project still needs other state and city approvals, but this was the big one.

Boston Globe

North Adams explores Dutch ‘living street’ concept for downtown

Speaking of developments: The Dutch call it “woonerf” and North Adams wants to know if it can work in the Berkshires. City officials will use a CDBG block grant to weigh whether the Dutch concept of “living streets”—where pedestrians come first and vehicle traffic second—can become part of a larger scheme to revitalize part of its downtown, Adam Shanks reports in the Berkshire Eagle. 

Berkshire Eagle

Bankruptcy court approves Herald sale to Digital First

After winning last Tuesday’s auction to buy the bankrupt Boston Herald for nearly $12 million, Digital First Media on Friday got formal Delaware bankruptcy court approval for its takeover of the newspaper – and now Herald staffers are awaiting the inevitable hedge-fund axe to fall, reports Greg Ryan at the BBJ.


Warren’s Native-American speech: Two newspapers, two pundits, two views

Until Digital First Media finishes its down-to-the-studs gutting of the Herald, this is still a two-newspaper town – with two distinct views on how U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s big Native-American speech went last week. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld said she never addressed key points and thus her ancestry controversy isn’t going away. The Globe’s Nestor Ramos thinks she accomplished something positive that goes above and beyond mere politics.

Barrels of ink give way to petri dishes as MetroWest Daily News sells HQ

Speaking of newspapers, the MetroWest Daily News has found a buyer for its former headquarters building in Framingham. Zachary Comeau of the Worcester Business Journal reports that Cambridge-based King Street Properties, a biotech lab developer, has struck a deal to acquire the 90,000-square-foot building and 10 acres of land from GateHouse Media for a yet-undisclosed sum. 

Worcester Business Journal

Ed Markey’s career-long anti-nukes crusade

From raising alarms about radioactive isotopes in milk to issuing warnings about Donald Trump’s finger on the nuclear button, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey has spent his entire career fighting most things nuclear – particularly the peril of nuclear weapons. The Globe’s Joshua Miller has the details.

Meanwhile, it’s not all anti-nukes for the state’s junior senator. From John Hillard at the Globe: “US Senator Edward Markey vowed Sunday to drive a vote on gun control in the Senate this year, as students who survived a mass shooting at their Florida high school said they were planning national protests against gun violence.” 

DCF clears Andover hockey coaches, too

The Andover School District first cleared them of charges of deliberately denying food and water to boys hockey players. Now the state Department of Children and Families has effectively cleared the three Andover High School hockey coaches of the same charges, reports Marie Szaniszlo at the Herald. Our question: Who made the now obviously unfounded and unfair accusations against the coaches? Just wondering .

Boston Herald

Kick Butts Day 2018

The 84 Movement

Bridging the Bonded: Faith, Politics, and Diplomacy in a Polarized Age

Fletcher Initiative on Religion, Law & Diplomacy

Starr Forum: Is Democracy Dying?

MIT Center for International Studies

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


At midpoint of his term, Tommy Chang is being tested – Boston Globe

Walsh: Protests behind overtime costs – Boston Herald


Lowell area hit with 20 overdoses since Friday – Lowell Sun

Springfield seeks bid for downtown property once planned for 32-story ‘space needle’ tower – MassLive

Hopkinton’s Greyhound Friends remains closed a year later – MetroWest Daily News

Central Mass. towns join legal fight against Big Pharma to recover costs incurred by opioid crisis – Telegram & Gazette


School system tried for years to help Florida shooting suspect – Washington Post

Trump’s fixer used tough talk, hush money and tabloids – New York Times

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