Happening Today

Group Insurance meeting, ‘Addiction in America’ forum, Gaming Commission

— The Group Insurance Commission meets to vote on health plan product rates and premiums, 10 Park Plaza, State Transportation Building, 2nd Floor, Transportation Board Room, Boston, 8:30 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Mayor Martin Walsh and former White House drug czar Michael Botticelli are among the speakers at a Washington Post program on ‘Addiction in America: On The Front Lines,’ Hyatt Regency Boston, One Ave. de Lafayette, Boston, 9 a.m.

— Treasurer Deborah Goldberg chairs the Massachusetts State Retirement Board meeting, MRSB Headquarters, One Winter Street – 8th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.

— Boston Mayor Martin Walsh offers remarks at the 5th Annual Black History Month Celebration for Seniors, Russell Auditorium, 70 Talbot Ave., Dorchester, 11 a.m.

— House of Representatives announces a new interactive board providing ‘enhanced resources’ to State House visitors, Outside House clerk’s office, 1st floor, 12 p.m.

— The Boston City Council’s Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation holds a hearing on Beacon Compassion Center’s proposal for a medical marijuana dispensary in West Roxbury, City Hall, Boston, 12:30 p.m.

Gaming Commission meets to possibly vote on a service employee registration matter and deal with legal division regulatory matters pertaining to a jobs compendium submission, floor plans, possession of firearms, unsecured funds and gaming day, 1010 Federal Street, 12th floor, Boston, 1 p.m.

— U.S. Rep. Bill Keating is a guest on ‘Radio Boston,’ WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m. 

 — Massachusetts Technology Collaborative co-sponsors a Boston Manufacturing Meetup at Mass Robotics, with representatives from MassTech, Mass Development and MassMEP attending, 21 Drydock Ave., Boston, 5:30 p.m.

— U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch appears on ‘NightSide,’ WBZ NewsRadio 1030, 8 p.m.

For more calendar listings, check out State House News Service’s Daily Advances (pay wall) and MassterList’s Beacon Hill Town Square below.

Today’s Stories

A Mutual Marijuana Bank of Massachusetts?

It’s a jaw-dropper, all right. From Dan Adams at the Globe: “Massachusetts should consider creating a state-run bank to serve recreational marijuana companies, the state’s top cannabis official suggested Wednesday, warning that an all-cash industry would create security risks and regulatory headaches. With recreational pot sales scheduled to begin in July, Cannabis Control Commission chairman Steve Hoffman said no local banks or credit unions have committed to providing financial services to recreational marijuana shops and other licensed cannabis operations, wary they will run afoul of federal restrictions.”

So the state should shift its role from merely allowing legal marijuana to actively propping up the entire marijuana industry, playing capitalist financier to one and all? Was this mentioned in the fine print of Question 4? Gov. Charlie Baker’s office is reportedly “cool to the idea.”

Boston Globe

Attleboro councilor’s pot-company donation becomes rep-race issue

Speaking of marijuana financing, Attleboro City Councilor Julie Hall’s campaign for state representative received a $1,000 donation from the CEO of a medical marijuana firm that Hall helped secure a permit from the city, Jim Hand reports in the Sun Chronicle. Hall rejected the suggestion the campaign donation was a ‘reward’ for her work on behalf of Bristol County Wellness but her opponent in the March 6 Republican primary, Jeff Bailey, said he was surprised she would even allow the “appearance of impropriety.” 

Sun Chronicle

‘The T is failing before our very eyes’

It’s getting to the point where another day, another train derailment is no longer another day, another train derailment at the T – and former transportation secretary James Aloisi says that we reached that point yesterday, after the latest Red Line debacle that included a train derailment, 300 feet of damaged electrified track, plumes of smoke billowing into Andrew Station and widespread service disruption for thousands of riders. Aloisi at CommonWealth magazine: “Wednesday’s Red Line meltdown didn’t happen because of harsh winter weather. Ironically, it happened during a gloriously warm day in February, a day when the one blessing of a failed subway system was that many people could walk to their destinations in relative comfort.”

CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl, the Globe’s Danny McDonald and Alana Levene and Boston Magazine’s Spencer Buell have more. SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) has Democratic gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren’s enough-is-enough reaction. Edmilson Silva at the Herald describes what it was like waiting inside a stranded train yesterday.


Pothole tirade leads to murder-threat charge

In other transportation news: OK, we know the roads are bad, but you can’t do this. Douglas resident Paul Keddy was arraigned Wednesday on charges of threatening to kill the town administrator after his frustration over pot holes on his private street boiled over, Susan Spencer of the Telegram reports. Police, citing Keddy’s lengthy criminal record, took the phone-in threats seriously. 


McAuliffe jumps out of Suffolk DA starting gate fast, declaring she’s the ‘progressive change’ candidate

Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell and Rep. Evandro Carvalho say they’re not running – and City Councilor Michael Flaherty and city corporation counsel Eugene O’Flaherty both say they’re eyeing a run. But defense attorney Shannon McAuliffe is most definitely off and running, saying she’s a candidate to replace Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley and she’s going to run on a “progressive change” platform, reports Michael Jonas at CommonWealth magazine. SHNS’s Andy Metzger (pay wall) has more on what’s shaping up to be a very interesting local election this year.


A charter school asking to be taken over by BPS?

Charter schools usually try to stay as far away as possible from the clutches of teacher unions and district administrative bureaucracies. Not the Conservatory Lab Charter School. In unusual move, the independent charter school is now pondering whether to join the Boston school system. James Vaznis at the Globe has the details on what would be a first for a charter school in the state.

Boston Globe

Massive restructuring of Medicaid health coverage starts next week

Let’s hope this goes a little more smoothly than the Group Insurance Commission’s recent disastrous rollout of new health plans for state employees. From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “Next week, MassHealth will undergo a massive reorganization in which more than 800,000 MassHealth members will be moved to new insurance plans. MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program for low-income individuals, automatically enrolled members in plans based on their primary care physician, so members should be able to keep their primary care doctors.” The plan is part of a switchover to a new “accountable care organization” system.


Developers take a pass on buying strings-attached state parcels

When you require that a potential buyer replace an existing steam plant, preserve a park, build a deck over a highway and still ask $167 million for a piece of property, guess what? You’re not going to have many takers. It appears the state still doesn’t understand that. Jon Chesto at the Globe has the details on the state’s now aborted attempt to sell off key parcels of land.

Boston Globe

He’s back: Lynch to host St. Pat’s Day breakfast, post- Dorcena Forry

And it didn’t take a special election. From SHNS’s Katie Lannan: “The Dorchester and South Boston residents in the First Suffolk district are still without a state senator, but another vacant post last held by Linda Dorcena Forry has been filled: the host of Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day breakfast. … Congressman Stephen Lynch, a South Boston Democrat, will take the mic as this year’s host, with City Councilor Michael Flaherty of South Boston serving as co-host, according to Forry’s office.” For Flaherty, what timing, with the Suffolk DA post opening up and all.

SHNS (pay wall)

Four will compete for Dorcena Forry’s seat

Speaking of Linda Dorcena Forry, only four of the original six hopefuls to fill Forry’s First Suffolk Senate seat have submitted signatures to the Boston Elections Department to secure a spot on the ballot, reports Jennifer Smith at the Dorchester Reporter. They include Democratic state Reps. Nick Collins and Evandro Carvalho, and former state Rep. Althea Garrison and Donald Osgood, Sr., both as independents.

Dorchester Reporter

DOR data breach was twice as large as initially reported

And keep in mind the breach lasted five months. From Joshua Miller at the Globe: “A data breach at the Massachusetts Department of Revenue was much larger than the tax-collecting agency originally reported, inadvertently making private information from about 39,000 business taxpayers viewable to other companies — potentially even competitors. That’s more than twice the number of filers the Baker administration originally said last week could have been affected by the breach.”

Boston Globe

So why are Mitt and other GOP candidates suddenly groveling for Trump’s support?

The NYT has a piece about how many Republican candidates who once bitterly criticized Donald Trump, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, are now seeking and/or welcoming his support in races. The reason: The GOP base has rallied around Trump and Republican candidates need the president’s support to win. The Globe’s Michael Cohen is accusing Mitt and other Republicans of “spinelessness” when it comes to Trump.


Weld sues to overturn the state’s winner-take-all presidential election system

Speaking of a former Bay State governor (and former Libertarian vice presidential candidate), from Chris Cassidy at the Herald: “Former Gov. Bill Weld is among a group of plaintiffs suing Gov. Charlie Baker and Secretary of State Bill Galvin alleging the Bay State’s winner-take-all system of assigning electoral votes in presidential elections is unconstitutional. .. Weld and two other plaintiffs allege that the practice violates the U.S. Constitution, essentially silencing the voices of voters supporting minority parties.”

Boston Herald

Stop the presses: The Worcester Sun’s print experiment fades

Just three months after making a major splash by taking its online-only publication into the print world, the Worcester Sun has abruptly ceased all publishing activities, Bill Shaner reports at Worcester Magazine. The Sun’s publishers, who garnered national attention for their pivot to embrace a print edition after two years of being an online-only news source, say they faced a number of “challenges” in trying to scale up but aren’t ruling out a comeback. 

Worcester Magazine

Don’t forget that WBUR tolerated its toxic-boss star despite complaints from the little people

In other media industry news, the Globe’s Joan Vennochi isn’t making excuses for former WBUR radio host Tom Ashbrook, who used to work with Vennochi at the Globe and who recently got canned for his toxic-boss ways at the station. But WBUR management deserves some blame for not listening to its employees who regularly complained that the ‘Great Man’ was apparently about as verbally abusive as you can get at times, Vennochi writes.

Walsh proclaims parking-meter experiment a success, city eyes expansion

From Lisa Creamer at WBUR: “The city of Boston is lauding its yearlong test of higher metered parking prices in areas within the Back Bay and the Seaport District. City officials announced Wednesday that the pilot program, which began on Jan. 3, 2017, showed increases in available metered parking spaces in both areas, as well as decreases in double-parked vehicles and resident-only parking violations.” Other published reports say the Walsh administration is eyeing, though not committing to, a possible expansion of the program.


Neal accuses Trump administration of trying to ‘sabotage’ ObamaCare

The Trump administration’s move this week to make it easier to buy cheap short-term health insurance is part of an ongoing attempt by the president and Republicans to “sabotage our nation’s health care system,” U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and other Democrats say, reports Shannon Young at MassLIve.  


Aide to Rep. Hunt stabbed in Boston, expected to recover

We missed this one from the other day. Geoff Spillane at the Cape Cod Times reports that an aid to state Rep. Randy Hunt ofSandwic, was attacked and stabbed in the Allston section of Boston early Sunday morning. Matthew Liber, 25, was treated at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston for stab wounds to his right side but is expected to fully recover. Hunt said Liber was attacked “totally out of the blue” after he left a bar. “A guy yelled at him from behind and within a matter of seconds was stabbing him,” Hunt said. “It wasn’t even a robbery.”

Cape Cod Times

Growing pains: New Framingham council and mayor at odds over hires

The honeymoon, if there ever was one, is most definitely over between the new Framingham city council and Mayor Yvonne Spicer, as council members take a hard line against Spicer’s recent hiring of two senior advisers, reports Jim Haddadin at MetroWest Daily News. The council has even notified the city accountant that the two hires were unauthorized. Framingham switched from town to city government earlier this year.

MetroWest Daily News

Wicked Smaht: Bay State students top in nation in advanced placement exams

From the AP’s Collin Brinkley at WBUR: “Students in Massachusetts lead the nation in achievement on Advanced Placement exams, according to the nonprofit group behind the tests. More than 32 percent of Massachusetts students who graduated from public high schools last year scored a three or better on at least one test, according to a report released Wednesday by the College Board. They edged out students in Maryland, where 31.2 percent of 2017 graduates scored a three or better.”


Last rites: Atlantic Union College tells students it’s shutting down

Less than a year after laying out ambitious growth plans, Atlantic Union College says it will shut the doors of its Lancaster campus after the spring semester, Grant Welker reports at the Worcester Business Journal. The Christian college—which offers degrees in theology and health sciences—has fewer than 50 students currently enrolled and just last summer leaders said they hoped to scale to 1,000 students over time. 

Worcester Business Journal

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

Strategies for a debt-free workforce: How business and higher education can collaborate to address college affordability

Boston Business Journal

Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless Legislative Action Day

Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless and Representative Jim O’Day

A Board of Directors – Making Your Company More Successful and You a Better Leader

North Shore Technology Council

Grassroots Speaker Series: Women Encouraging Empowerment, Inc.

TSNE MissionWorks

Leaders in the Law

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly and New England In-House

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


12-concert bill at Fenway OK’d; some residents cry foul – Boston Herald

Developers cool to downtown Boston sites state sees as hot properties – Boston Globe


Worcester outlines plan for early voting in fall state election – Telegram & Gazette

Barnstable County commissioner refuses to sign county policy documents – Cape Cod Times

Pollack: Time to build consensus on South Coast rail – Standard-Times

Agawam Mayor Bill Sapelli says deal with medical marijuana facility will bring at least $125K annually to city – MassLive


Border Patrol steps up searches far from the border – New York Times

Facing jeers and boos, Rubio shifts on guns during tense forum – Politico

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