Happening Today

Budget hearing, vocational education and more …

— Gov. Charlie Baker, U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant and community members attend the 495/MetroWest Partnership’s 2018 Annual Conference, Courtyard Boston Marlborough, 75 Felton Street, Marlborough, 9:30 a.m.

House and Senate Ways and Means Committee holds a budget hearing focusing on health and human services accounts, Media Arts Center, Roxbury Community College, Boston, 10 a.m.

— U.S. Rep. Richard Neal visits officials and students from Pittsfield High School and Taconic High School, including students who organized walkouts following the mass school shooting in Florida, 300 East Street, Pittsfield, 10 a.m.

— Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Treasurer Deb Goldberg and Education Secretary James Peyser speak at the release of the Alliance for Vocational Technical Education’s ‘High Quality Career Technical Education in Massachuetts: A Critical Investment in our State’s Future’ report, Great Hall, 10:30 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker reads a Dr. Seuss book to a group of second graders at Whelan Elementary School as part of Read Across America Day, 107 Newhall Street, Revere, 1 p.m.

— Treasurer Deborah Goldberg attends the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center’s Chinese New Year’s banquet, Hei La Moon Restaurant, 88 Beach St., Boston, 5:30 p.m.

— The deadline for the extended public comment period on MBTA’s draft State Rail Plan; comments can be sent to Planning@dot.state.ma.us or via post to Jennifer Slesinger, State Rail Plan, MassDOT, 10 Park Plaza – Suite 4150, Boston 02116.

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

Rain, snow, high winds and flooding: Massachusetts bracing for it all today

Emergency response officials and others are going all out this morning in preparing for a truly nasty Nor’easter expected to slam Massachusetts today. Gov. Charlie Baker has already called out the National Guard (SHNS at BBJ). Coastal residents are being urged to evacuate their homes as soon as possible (Boston Herald). Public-works employees and others are throwing up sandbags in Boston (Universal Hub) and elsewhere (Cape Cod Times). Schools along the coast are canceling classes (MassLive). Maps show just how bad it could get today across the state (Boston Globe). More storm preparation stories at the Inquirer & Mirror and the Eagle Tribune. Bottom line: Be careful today.

A State Trooper’s off-the-charts racist and profane rants

Yet another controversy at State Police. From the Globe’s Evan Allen and Andrea Estes: “The Massachusetts State Police trooper who fired his rifle during a police confrontation in which a Cape Verdean ATV driver was injured in Boston on Saturday has a long history of posting racist and profane comments on a website called MassCops, including some in support of police officers who shoot suspects. ‘Note to [expletive] scumbags!’ wrote Trooper Matthew Sheehan, using the screenname ‘Big Irish,’ in a July 2012 posting about an incident in Worcester in which a state trooper shot and killed a man who allegedly drove at him. ‘You try and run us over and you will die!!!! Good shoot ALL DAY LONG!!!!!!!’”

Unbelievable. Gov. Charlie Baker says the trooper should be fired if he indeed posted such angry and racist remarks, reports Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive. The trooper is now on paid leave.

Boston Globe

Is Eversource playing Santa Claus in N.H. with Mass. ratepayers’ money?

CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl listened as Eversource executives ticked off all the multimillion-dollar goodies that would come New Hampshire’s way if regulators reversed their decision to nix a planned hydro-power transmission line through the Granite State – and then it hit Mohl: “I realized that nearly all of these promised benefits for New Hampshire would flow either directly or indirectly from the wallets and pocketbooks of ratepayers in Massachusetts.” Merry Christmas, New Hampshire!


Anti-gay Lively turns to openly gay Healey for help against Baker

Politics indeed makes strange … oh, never mind. From Frank Phillips at the Globe: “GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Lively, who has spent much of his life in a worldwide crusade against what he denounces as the LGBTQ ‘agenda,’ is turning to the openly gay Democratic attorney general, Maura Healey, for help in dealing with a Republican establishment that has rejected his candidacy.” If she’s in a particularly mischievous mood, Healey could always invite Lively to her office to chat more about his concerns.

Boston Globe

This is how recessions (and worse) start …

Though this subject is really national and international in scope, let’s just get it on the record that President Trump yesterday announced one of the most significant and reckless steps of his presidency: A plan to impose stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, as the NYT reports. The Dow fell 400 points yesterday as Trump’s tariffs vow sent tremors through markets, reports the Washington Post. This is big. And you’ve been warned. Now back to more local matters …

Report recommends overhaul of House’s sexual harassment policies

From the Globe’s Joshua Miller: “Responding to complaints of sexual harassment on Beacon Hill, the Massachusetts House of Representatives is poised to create an office to investigate accusations of misconduct against elected officials and staffers. The review of current policies and the proposal to update them, conducted by the top lawyer for the House, was initiated in October 2017 after a Globe report (by columnist Yvonne Abraham).” The Herald’s Matt Stout, MassLive’s Shira Schoenberg and SHNS’s Katie Lannan and Colin A. Young (pay wall) have more on the overhaul recommendations by the House legal counsel and a group of outside attorneys, including former Attorney General Martha Coakley.

More on that gondola … and helipad … and T measuring delays in minutes

It’s a transportation potpourri: The BBJ’s Catherine Carlock takes a closer look at Millennium’s revised gondola plan for Seaport. The story is accompanied by a slide show of the new planned route and cool design sketches. … The Herald’s Matt Stout reports that Suffolk Construction has indefinitely tabled its controversial plan to build a helipad in Roxbury. … The Globe’s Adam Vaccaro reports that the T is now alerting subway riders of service delays by the estimated minutes, rather than issuing nebulous “minor” or “moderate” delay alerts.

Goldberg preparing legislation to divest pension fund’s gun stocks

In the wake of last month’s mass shooting in Florida, the Globe’s Shirley Leung is urging local investment firms and institutions to follow State Street Corp.’s lead by taking a stand on gun companies – and she notes that Treasurer Goldberg is now preparing legislation that would allow the state’s pension fund to divest itself from gun-manufacturer investments. It will be curious to see how western Massachusetts lawmakers react to the legislation, considering that the corporate headquarters of Smith & Wesson (now known as American Outdoor Brands Corp.) is based in Springfield.

Fyi: Two years ago, Goldberg talked about how she couldn’t proceed with divestment of gun-company stocks without legislative approval, following an Orlando nightclub massacre in 2016, as the Globe’s Beth Healy reported at the time.

Boston Globe

As it is, Baker didn’t recently modify his position on assault-weapon bans

Btw: We messed up on a post yesterday. We stated that Gov. Charlie Baker appeared to have modified his stance on an assault-weapons ban compared to a few years ago. In fact, he modified his stance on assault-weapons in 2014. Our mistake – and apology. It was a confusing story, but that’s no excuse.

Btw II: The Globe’s Scot Lehigh thinks Baker and House Speaker Robert DeLeo should take to the national stage to tout what Massachusetts is doing – and what other state could do — to control the proliferation of guns.

Another DOR faux pas: Revenue agency failed to deliver timely child support payments

From Michael Levenson and Joshua Miller at the Globe: “The state Department of Revenue, already under fire for a data breach of sensitive tax information, acknowledged Thursday that it has failed to deliver timely child support payments to about 1,500 parents in Massachusetts since the beginning of the year. Revenue officials blamed the problem on a faulty computer system implemented in January and said it affected only a tiny percentage of the state’s 160,000 child support recipients.”

Boston Globe

Report: Sports betting would raise only modest revenues for state

From the Herald’s Jordan Graham: “Companies with local ties are expected to push for legal sports betting in Massachusetts if the Supreme Court finds a betting ban unconstitutional, but revenue to the state is not expected to be a game changer, according to research from the state Gaming Commission. A white paper released yesterday estimates Massachusetts could see between $8.6 million and $61.3 million in revenue from various regulatory and tax schemes, less than the revenue expected from the Plainridge Park slots parlor.” SHNS’s Colin Young at CommonWealth magazine has more on the commission’s white paper and sports-betting revenue estimates.

Boston Herald

Beverly man, 24, arrested for sending white powder to Trumps

They had already determined the letter was sent from Massachusetts. Now they have a suspect under arrest. From Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine: “Police say they have identified and arrested the man responsible for sending an envelope filled with a mysterious powder to Donald Trump Jr. and scaring his wife, Vanessa, who opened it. In a release, officials say Daniel Frisiello, a 24-year-old Beverly man, was arrested Thursday and charged with charges related to mailing threats and carrying out hoaxes. Officials allege he also sent envelopes with powder inside them to at least four other political figures and celebrities.”

Boston Magazine

Meanwhile, Trump’s former campaign aide cancels trip to Boston due to threatening comments

Between the post above and this, Massachusetts isn’t exactly getting great press these days. From Josh Gerstein at Politico: “Rick Gates, the former Trump campaign aide who entered a guilty plea last week and agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, is canceling a planned family trip to Boston because of threatening comments posted online. Gates, who is under court supervision while he awaits sentencing, said in a court filing submitted by his attorney on Thursday that media coverage of his request to take his children on a spring break trip to visit Revolutionary War sites this month led to worrisome online reaction. “


Forry to endorse Collins, once a bitter primary rival

Now that state Rep. Evandro Carvalho has opted to run for Suffolk County district attorney, Linda Dorcena Forry no longer feels compelled to remain neutral in the race to fill her former First Suffolk Senate seat – and she’s now endorsing Rep. Nick Collins, once a Forry rival in a bitter special election battle for the same seat, reports the Globe’s James Pindell.

Boston Globe

How Harvard blew $1B on tomatoes, sugar and eucalyptus trees

Bloomberg’s Michael McDonald and Tatiana Freitas report on how a disastrous bet six years on agricultural development in Brazil turned into a $1.1 billion write down in the Harvard endowment fund’s globe-spanning natural resources portfolio. It seems a former endowment chief got overly excited about agriculture investments after spending a week in Brazil, flying in a turboprop plane to survey some of the university’s holdings of forest and farmland.


Herald staffers start learning next week whether they still have jobs

Boston Herald staff members are already interviewing with representatives from the paper’s new owner, Digital First Media, and many will start learning next week whether they’ll be keeping their jobs. Conversely, many will find out if they’re not being offered jobs, as Digital Media moves ahead with planned deep staff cuts. The BBJ’s Greg Ryan has the details.  


Facing angry crowd, Northampton council votes to back police tactical gear spending

Agitated residents crammed into Northampton City Hall yesterday to protest a request to spend $225,000 over the next three years to purchase new tactical gear for the city’s police department, a request that was eventually approved, Bera Denau reports in the Hampshire Gazette. Some residents decried spending on riot gear over investing in the city’s schools and others lamented the militarization of law enforcement; police officials said most of the expense would go to updating older gear.


Galvin finds what MetLife says it couldn’t find: Names of people owed pensions

Amazing what tapping on the keyboard can turn up. From Jim Kinney at MassLive: “MetLife owes pension payments to hundreds of Massachusetts residents the company was unable to locate. But the Securities Division in Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin’s office found them, and hundreds of letters telling retirees or their dependents how to claim their money went out Thursday, said Galvin spokeswoman Debra O’Malley. ‘My office was able to locate many of these retirees in just two months,’ Galvin said in a statement.”


Berkshire DA Capeless surprises with retirement announcement

Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless says he’ll be leaving his position later this month after 14 years in the role and 35 years overall as a prosecutor, Bob Dunn reports in the Berkshire Eagle. The 65-year-old will be succeeded by his first assistant DA, Paul Caccaviello, who will also run for election to the post in November. 

In other DA-related news, the former head of the Springfield Parking Authority has pulled paper to challenge first-term Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni, Stephanie Barry reports at MassLive. 

Berkshire Eagle

Warren and Clark issue their ‘DeVos Watch’ report card: DeVos flunks

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark yesterday issued their first ‘Devos Watch’ annual review, a 17-page report that examines Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s record since she took office last year. Guess what? DeVos flunks. Shannon Young at MassLive has the details.


Brockton councilor challenges mayor on lack of female appointees

The Brockton city councilor who last month voted not to affirm the mayor’s choice to sit on the Cable Advisory Committee “because he is a man,” says she will continue to fight for more female representation on city boards, Marc Larocque reports in the Enterprise. Anne Beauregard says she could have worded her objections to the appointment better, but says she won’t stop pushing the mayor to appoint more women. ““We can’t exclude an entire sector of society,” she tells the paper. 


Rural schools feel financial squeeze as enrollment decline

Declining enrollments at the state’s most rural school districts are exacerbating already difficult financial situations and state lawmakers should step in to address the issue, according to a report issued by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Enrollment at the 54 districts considered rural is down 14 percent in the last 10 years, even as those schools are forced to spend more on transportation and other necessary expenditures, Mary Serreze reports at MassLive. 


Judge: Healey can pursue student debt lawsuit

From Deirdre Fernandes at the Globe: “A Massachusetts state court judge has ruled that Attorney General Maura Healey can pursue her lawsuit against a national student loan servicer for unfair and deceptive practices. A Suffolk County Superior Court judge Wednesday denied a request by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency to dismiss the case.”

House passes patient privacy bill

We missed this story from the other day. From SHNS’s Katie Lannan at WBUR: “The House on Wednesday took a step supporters said would improve patient privacy, voting 139-14 to pass a bill that would require insurers to send explanation of benefit forms directly to adult patients instead of to the plan subscriber.” Lannan has more.


Sunday public affairs TV

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, who talks with host Jon Keller about the politics of gun violence, what’s next for DACA and immigration reform, and the fallout from his State of the Union rebuttal.

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Steven Hoffman, chairman of the Cannabis Control Commission, provides an update on his agency’s new regulations for the retail pot industry; Mark Ethier, CEO of IzoTope, on the company’s portable recording studio product; Shirley Leung of the Boston Globe on the top local business stories of the week.

CEO Corner, NECN, 10:30 a.m. Identical twin sisters Liz Graham, vice president of service and sales at Wayfair, and Sue Graham Johnston, president of 128 Technology, talk about their careers, how they support each other and what it’s like being a female in businesses that are dominated by men.   

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

This is New England, NBC Boston Channel 10, 11:30 a.m. With host Latoyia Edwards. This week’s main topic: A celebration of International Women’s Day

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s topic: The Oscar Awards.  

2018 MIT Latin American Conference

MIT Sloan Latin American Business Club

Nahant Reads Together: Caleb’s Crossing, a town-wide read of one book to encourage dialog about current issues

Town of Nahant

A Nation of Immigrants Community Seder

ADL New England

Lobbying, Advocacy & Political Activities for 501(c)(3)

Foundation for MetroWest

Author Talk and Book Signing with Brooke Barbier

State Library of Massachusetts

Today’s Headlines


After criticism, Milliennium Partners changed route of proposed $100M gondola – Boston Business Journal

Gaming panel considers Wynn still in with casino – Boston Herald


Lynn schools write a success story with improved MCAS scores – Lynn Item

Cariddi’s parting gift: $100K to Adams-Cheshire schools – Berkshire Eagle

Quincy businessman wins $122 million contract to deepen Boston Harbor – Patriot Ledger

5 Cape, island towns takes steps to sue drug companies – Cape Cod Times

Capuano: CFPB Quietly Ended The Equifax Investigation – WGBH


Depth Of Russian Politician’s Cultivation Of NRA Ties Revealed – NPR

NRA suggests Trump may retreat from gun control – New York Times

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