Happening Today

Delayed work start, Baker buzz cut, Dem candidate forum

— Governor Charlie Baker has announced an 11 a.m. delayed start time today for all non-emergency executive-branch state employees due to last evening’s storm.

— The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development plans to release the preliminary January and revised monthly 2016 and 2017 unemployment rate and jobs data for Massachusetts.

— The Supreme Judicial Court hears oral arguments in six cases, John Adams Courthouse, Courtroom One, Second Floor, Pemberton Square, Boston, 9 a.m.

Health Connector Board meets with a planned vote on the 2019 affordability schedule and individual mandate awareness, One Ashburton Place, 21st floor, Boston, 9 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker gets a buzz cut as part of the annual ‘Saving by Shaving’ event in support of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute with Quincy Mayor Tom Koch and special guests, Granite Telecommunications, 150 Newport Avenue Extension, Quincy, 9:45 a.m.

MassDevelopment board of directors meets with Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash expected to attend, 99 High Street, 11th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.

— Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito joins National Grid Massachusetts president and chief operating officer Cordi O’Hara on a visit to the National Grid Operations Center in Worcester to thank workers for their recovery efforts during recent winter storms, 939 Southbridge Street, Worcester, 10 a.m.

— The Senate meets in full session and is expected to vote on a bill that would give students and employees legal cover to maintain the privacy of their personal email accounts, Gardner Auditorium, 11 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Rep. Nick Collins, Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans and others gather to participate in the 42nd Annual South Boston Boys and Girls Club St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon, Laugh Boston, Westin Waterfront Hotel, 425 Summer Street, Boston, 12 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo, Sen. Joseph Boncore, Rep. RoseLee Vincent and local officials gather for a MassWorks Infastructure Program announcement, Bagel Bin Deli, 207 Shirley Avenue, Revere, 4 p.m.

— Attorney General Maura Healey provides opening remarks at an International Women’s Day event, ‘Five 261 Fearless Game-Changing Women,’ Mandarin Oriental, 776 Boylston St., Boston, 5:30 p.m.

— Attorney General Maura Healey speaks and is honored at a joint anniversary party for the Women’s Bar Association and the Women’s Bar Foundation, Goulston & Storrs, 400 Atlantic Ave., Boston, 7 p.m.

— The three Democrats running for governor — Jay Gonzalez, Bob Massie and Setti Warren — will speak at a candidates forum hosted by Suffolk University, 20 Somerset St., Boston, 7 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

Digging out

As expected, western and central Massachusetts got hit the hardest by last evening’s snow storm that roared through the state, with Worcester County seeing as much as 18 inches of white stuff, reports the National Weather Service. The NWS has county-by-county estimates. Gov. Charlie Baker, meanwhile, has announced an 11 a.m. delayed start time today for all non-emergency executive-branch employees. NECN also has a list of school closings.


Those crazy sounding harbor seawalls don’t sound so crazy now

As the Globe’s Jon Chesto notes, talk of possibly building new Boston Harbor seawalls doesn’t seem so far-fetched these days, considering the battering coastal areas have endured from recent winter storms. He points out two UMass-Boston ideas for harbor sea barriers. An even more ambitious sea-barrier plan was recently floated at CommonWealth magazine. Meanwhile, SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) reports that engineers, planners and downtown Boston businesses are “putting pressure on the House to pass a bill requiring the state to plan for the effects of climate change.”  

Fyi: The Globe’s David Abel has an interesting storms-related piece in this morning’s paper: “A trove of centuries-old documents, recently found archived in dusty boxes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, shows that the pair of massive nor’easters that pummeled the region’s coast this winter were among the most powerful tidal storms since the 1800s, scientists say.” 

Warren’s ‘political hit list’ includes … Democrats?

More than likely, she just made a lot of enemies within the Democratic party over this. From Liz Goodwin at the Globe: “Senator Elizabeth Warren blasted out a political hit list of senators voting to ‘roll back the rules on the biggest banks’ to her many followers this week, signaling to the liberal resistance which lawmakers to target. Nothing unusual about that — except 16 of those lawmakers are Democrats.”

Among others, former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, a liberal’s liberal, says Warren’s call to interparty arms is a “mistake,” Goodwin reports. “To let a fairly small difference over one issue provoke an angry fight is self-defeating for our fight to win back the Congress,” Frank said. But other progressives love it – and so do Republicans, Goodwin notes.

The Washington Post reports that Warren was still at it last night at a Democratic National Committee gala, chiding party colleagues who went along with the banking legislation. We could be wrong, but Warren has crossed a political threshold here – or jumped a shark, depending on how you view it – and it can’t be good for unifying Democrats or unifying them one day around her, assuming she still wants to be the party’s presidential nominee in 2020.

Boston Globe

Meanwhile, Warren says she’ll donate $265K to Democrats across the country

While bashing away at fellow Dems, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren yesterday was also vowing to donate $265,000 to Democrats across the country, giving $5,000 to every state Democratic party in the U.S. and $15,000 to the Democratic National Committee, reports The Hill. The story points out that Warren has previously criticized the DNC for allegedly rigging the Democratic presidential primary in 2016.

The Hill

Should Warren take a DNA test to settle her ethnic-heritage controversy?

We’re not picking on her. She’s just in the news a lot. Anyway, the Berkshire Eagle, in an editorial, is suggesting that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren should take a DNA test to settle the controversy over her past claims of Native-American heritage. The Globe’s Joan Vennochi thinks it’s a good idea, one that could potentially put the controversy to rest.

Btw: Both Vennochi and the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld think Warren may have another major problem if she runs for president in 2020. His name: Deval Patrick. They explain how Patrick might be a more attractive candidate for African-Americans and other Democrats.

Berkshire Eagle

Barney Frank on Pressley’s challenge to Capuano: ‘Politics at its most egotistical’

Back to Barney Frank and Democrats fighting Democrats. From a Bloomberg news summary: “Tuesday night on Bloomberg Baystate Business, former Rep. Barney Frank called Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley’s primary campaign to unseat Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA) in Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District as ‘politics at its most egotistical’ and a race that wasted Democratic Party resources. Frank told hosts Tom Moroney, Pat Carroll and Peter Barnes, ‘I am very disappointed…The last thing liberals need at this point is to have fights that are generated by personality and ego with zero issues, so that money and energy that should be spent for us trying to take back the Congress is spent on internal fights.” There’s more, much more, on the audio tape at Bloomberg.


Rep. Cantwell leaving House to join Markey’s staff, no special election envisioned

This is an odd political career move. From SHNS’s Andy Metzger at the Patriot Ledger: “Rep. James Cantwell is ending his decade-long run in the House, planning to resign at the end of March to join U.S. Sen. Ed Markey’s staff as state director.” For those weary and wary of yet another legislative special election, Metzger adds: “House Speaker Robert DeLeo does not envision any additional special elections this year, according to a top aide.”

Patriot Ledger

DeLeo decides against special election for Kocot’s seat

Speaking of no more special elections: The Massachusetts House seat left vacant by the passing of Peter Kocot will remain open until next January after Speaker Robert DeLeo decided against holding a special election, Scott Merzbach reports in the Hampshire Gazette. The two Democrats already in the race expressed support for the decision although one did say the region would be hurt by not having a representative on Beacon Hill for 10 months. 


Just 2,854 votes put Crighton into the Senate

Another special-election angle: Rep. Brendan Crighton officially became Sen. Brendan Crighton yesterday, getting sworn in a day after he won an uncontested special election with only 2,845 votes cast, or just 2.6 percent of registered voters in the Lynn district, reports SHNS’s Andy Metzger at CommonWealth magazine. As Metzger notes, Crighton’s ascension to the Senate comes amid mounting criticism of frequent special elections – and how they overwhelmingly favor insiders and incumbents like Crighton. Metzger points to a recent CommonWealth piece on the subject.


IRS agent charged with raping and choking summer intern in government-issued car

The IRS has some explaining to do on this one. From Shelley Murphy at the Globe: “An Internal Revenue Service agent, who was allowed to remain on the job for months despite allegations of sexually assaulting a summer intern, was charged Wednesday with raping and choking the woman in his government-issued car. James R. Clarke, an agent in the IRS’s criminal investigations office in Boston, allegedly handcuffed and assaulted the 21-year-old college student at gunpoint in July, according to the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.” Read on. It actually gets worse.  

Boston Globe

Gaming Commission’s Crosby interested in UMass-Boston chancellor post

We suspect Cathy Minehan and Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, as well as other women, will have different ideas about who should be the next UMass-Boston boss. From the Herald’s Dan Atkinson: “State Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby is considering leaving one troubled institution for another — and potentially doubling his already-six-figure salary — by taking over as chancellor of UMass Boston. Crosby said he’s agreed to be considered in the University of Massachusetts Boston’s global search for a new chancellor.”

As Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive notes, Crosby, before joining the commission, served as the founding dean of UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies. But state officials will be under great pressure to go with a woman for this post. See Minehan and Calderón-Rosado link above.

FBI local chief: Russian operatives are lurking in Boston and ‘all over the country’

Hank Shaw, the special FBI agent in charge of the Boston division, sort of stole the local show yesterday when his boss, FBI Director Christopher Wray, was in town for a cybersecurity conference at BC. Sure, Wray warned about the growing global threat of cyber thieves, hacks and spies. But it was Shaw, when asked whether Russian operatives are active in the Boston area, who provided the local angle. “I can tell you, as an adversary, they’re all over the country,” said Shaw, pointing out how the Boston area is a tempting espionage target due to all its higher-education and tech institutions “It’s of concern.” Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive has more. 

Btw: WBUR has a global “Russian Spycraft Roundup” piece, indicating that Shaw is by no means exaggerating the threat.


Spotlight Team strikes again: Head of regional VA health system retires

From Brian MacQuarrie at the Globe: “The embattled director of the VA New England Healthcare System retired under pressure Wednesday, leaving a network of eight hospitals and 48 clinics that had come under intense criticism for inadequate care and poor accountability. Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith stepped down on the same day that the inspector general of the US Department of Veterans Affairs released a report that found ‘failed leadership at multiple levels’ in the federal government’s second-largest agency.” 

Read the opening lines of the Globe Spotlight Team’s recent exposé on a “four star” VA hospital in New Hampshire and you’ll understand why Mayo-Smith and others had to go.

Boston Globe

Found in North Adams: a key to the city of Worcester

It’s a mystery only a political nerd or history buff could love: How did an honorary key to the city of Worcester wind up on a street in North Adams? Police are hoping social media can help unlock the truth, but for now clues are hard to come by: The ornate gold key appears to have been issued in the early 1950s by then-mayor Andrew Holmstrom, Adam Shanks reports in the Berkshire Eagle, but the office of the current Worcester mayor says its records of who received the honor don’t date back that far. 

Berkshire Eagle

Regarding the Globe’s ‘apocalyptic,’ ‘Orwellian’ and ‘silly’ editorial on pipelines

As expected, the Globe’s recent editorial on natural-gas pipelines – the one in which it accuses pipeline opponents of engaging in “moral purity” and “faddish” politics — is not sitting well in some quarters of this bluest of blue states. Climate activist Craig Altemose, writing at CommonWealth magazine, decries the “apocalyptic scenarios” outlined by the Globe, while BlueMassGroup’s Charley at the MTA, aka Charley Blandy, says the editorial is “Orwellian and silly on the face of it.”

Wayne Budd to chair Carvalho’s DA campaign

From SHNS’s Michael Norton: “Rep. Evandro Carvalho’s campaign for Suffolk County district attorney is getting a lift from a former top prosecutor. Wayne Budd, who served as U.S. attorney, has signed on as chairman of the campaign. ‘We need a District Attorney who can manage the tens of thousands of cases that come forward, and make decisions on how we prosecute each individual case,’ Budd said in a statement. ‘Evandro knows the difference between a violent criminal who should be in prison and a young person who has made a mistake.’”

SHNS (pay wall)

Morse codes on the Green Monster. Now a ‘strand of DNA’ on Mass. license plates?

WGBH heard from a listener curious about what looked like a “double helix” pattern running down the middle of Massachusetts license plates, so the crack investigative team of Edgar Herwick and Isaiah Thompson headed outside the ‘GBH newsroom to inspect Herwick’s Toyota Yari – and there it was: a mysterious double-helix like pattern on the plate. Turns out it’s a “Ensure Virtual Security Thread” embedded in license plates by 3M to thwart counterfeit plates. Herwick has the details.


Dan Kennedy: Paid digital is only hope for newspapers like the Globe

Media critic Dan Kennedy writes at WGBH that the Boston’s Globe’s reported plan to jack up its print subscription prices – possibly as high as $1,300 a year for some subscribers, as the BBJ’s Don Seiffert has reported – is part of a repositioning of the print paper as a “niche luxury product” and it’ll be “fascinating to see if (owner John Henry’s) gamble pays off.” But Kennedy says paid digital subscriptions appear to be the only hope left for newspapers like the Globe. He explains.


Meanwhile, the MBTA thinks paid digital ads on billboards is the future

Speaking of the digital future, from Greg Ryan at the BBJ: “The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is considering converting old-fashioned roadside billboards on its property into digital displays — a step that would increase revenue for the cash-strapped agency but that has proven controversial in the past. The agency recently awarded a contract to Outfront Media Inc. (NYSE: OUT), one of the largest outdoor advertising companies in the U.S., to manage 125 roadside billboards on MBTA-owned properties.”


From Hubway to Blue Bikes …

Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin reports that Hubway, the Boston-area bike-share program, has announced a marketing deal with Blue Cross Blue Shield that will dramatically increase the number of Hubway bikes and rental stations, in exchange for Hubway renaming itself Blue Bikes. 

Universal Hub

Bourne selectman resigns after arrest on assault charges

He was arrested, charged and held in jail without bail for allegedly slamming a woman’s head on a hardwood floor, threatening her with a baseball bat and vowing to kill her if she went to police. Now Bourne Selectman Michael Blanton has resigned from his town office, “saying it was in the best interests of the town,” reports Ethan Genter at the Cape Cod Times.

Cape Cod Times

Persuasive Business Writing Workshop

John Sturtevant

Nature for Water: Exploring Water Challenges in Our Commonwealth

Foundation for a Green Future

Today’s Headlines


The pitfalls of generalizing neighborhood crime rates – Dorchester Reporter

Blue Cross expansion concerns trucker group – Boston Herald


As storms intensify, climate change standoff continues on Beacon Hill – WGBH

Gov. Baker set to attend Berkshire Innovation Center announcement Friday – Berkshire Eagle

Hundreds of students walk out to protest gun violence – Boston Globe

Few women among highest-paid Quincy employees – Patriot Ledger

Employer group sounds warning about ballot questions – Salem News

Paving of front yards concerns Worcester councilors – Telegram & Gazette

East Springfield marijuana dispensary looking to hire 25 people at job fair this weekend – MassLive


Trump spoke to inquiry witnesses, ignoring lawyers – New York Times

Florida house passes gun control, school safety bill – Politico

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