Happening Today

RMV shutdown, Airbnb regs, civic lessons, Pats players step up, Goldman Sachs CEO

— All Registry of Motor Vehicles services, with the exception of law enforcement, will be unavailable from 7 p.m. today until 8 a.m., March 26 due to the RMV changing over to a new computer system. 

— Secretary of State William Galvin and the Massachusetts Election Modernization Coalition hold a press conference on automatic voter registration legislation, with representatives from Common Cause Massachusetts, League of Women Voters and MassVOTE attending, Room 116 (Secretary of State Bookstore), 11 a.m.

Senate meets in a full formal session, but then Democrats immediately go into caucus before possible votes on civics education, financial literacy, towing reform, unsolicited loans and manufactured homes, Gardner Auditorium, 11 a.m.

— Sen. Marc Pacheco sponsors the sixth annual Massachusetts Water Forum organized by nonprofit Foundation for a Green Future, with Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton and others expected to speak, Room 428, 11:45 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker participates in the opening ceremony for the Massachusetts YMCA Youth & Government Program, House Chamber, 12 p.m.

Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein speaks at the Boston College Chief Executives Club 25th annual luncheon, with Auditor Suzanne Bump expected to attend, 70 Rowes Wharf, Boston, 12 p.m.

House Democrats gather in a private caucus, Rooms A-1 and A-2, 1 p.m.

— Past and present NFL stars Devin McCourty, Troy Brown and Ulish Booker join Carol Rose and Rahsaan Hall of the ACLU of Massachusetts for a press conference advocating for juvenile justice and education reforms, Grand Staircase, 2 pm.

— House meets in a formal session, with plans to consider a bill regulating and insuring short-term rentals such as Airbnb, House Chamber, 2 p.m.

— MassEquality holds its Beacons of Light dinner and Icon Awards ceremony, with plans to honor Attorney General Maura Healey, Hotel Marlowe, 25 Edwin H. Land Blvd., Cambridge, 6 p.m.

Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association holds its annual gala to celebrate the 45th anniversary of its founding, with plans to present its Lifetime Achievement Award to Melvin Miller, founder, editor and publisher of the Bay State Banner, among other award recipients, Boston Park Plaza, 50 Park Plaza, 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

Um, what happened to all that snow? Parents of school kids want to know

Some areas of the state are still expected to get a good coating of snow today, but nowhere near the amount that was originally forecasted, according to the Globe. That’s fine with most people … except, perhaps, the tens of thousands of working parents who now have to stay home today in Boston and elsewhere due to school cancellations based on the worst-case storm scenarios. The Salem News has a good story on school superintendents experiencing a social-media backlash for school cancellations of late – and we assume there will be more backlashes today, unless the downgraded storm gets upgraded again.

Btw: The school closings don’t include all the postponed and canceled non-school events, both yesterday and today, in anticipation of a major storm.

Just like that: City Hall extortion case ‘canceled’

Remember all the headlines immediately after the indictment of two top City Hall officials on extortion charges and how it allegedly threatened the very foundation of the Walsh administration? Never mind. A federal judge has “canceled” the planned trial of Kenneth Brissette and Timothy Sullivan, who were accused of illegally strong-arming organizers of the Boston Calling music festival into hiring union members, and the judge is now mulling whether to just dismiss the case, reports the Globe’s Maria Cramer and the Herald’s Laurel Sweet.

The feds seem to be going along with the decision by U.S. Judge Leo T. Sorokin, whose planned jury instructions would have made it almost impossible to convict Brissette and Sullivan, or so said the prosecutors. What a turn of events.

Judge: DiMasi conviction stands

Speaking of corruption cases and judges, from Laurel Sweet at the Herald: “A long-languishing petition by former House speaker and convicted extortionist Salvatore DiMasi to vacate his eight-year federal prison sentence has been dismissed by his federal trial judge. U.S. District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf broomed the one-time North End Democrat’s petition yesterday because no action has been taken to move it forward since it was first filed in 2015.”

Boston Herald

How does Senate President Spilka sound?

This sort of came out of the blue. Sen. Karen Spilka, an Ashland Democrat and chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, yesterday announced she’s secured enough votes to become the next president of the Massachusetts Senate – and current Senate President Harriette Chandler has even extended her congratulations to Spilka, according to reports at CommonWealth magazine, the Boston Globe and MassLive. As the Globe put it: “The powerful chair of the Senate budget-writing committee, Spilka locked up the necessary votes with a flurry of phone calls over the weekend, according to her colleagues, tipping a race that had dragged on for months and absorbed the attention of the 40-seat body.”

The only question now is when Spilka will take over – either later this year or early next year when Chandler’s current term ends. It would be weird to effectively have a Senate president and a Senate president-in-waiting serving at the same time, so our hunch is the transition will be speeded up.

One thing is clear: Former Senate President Stan Rosenberg ain’t getting his old job back, as investigations continue into allegations that his husband sexually harassed lobbyists at the State House. Tori Bedford at WGBH reports that Chandler has been in contact with Rosenberg and she says he’s going through a “very difficult time.”

House and Senate lawmakers reach tentative deal on criminal-justice reform bill

SHNS’s Matt Murphy at WBSM reports that House and Senate negotiators have reached a tentative agreement on a potentially far-reaching overhaul of the state’s sentencing and criminal justice laws and they hope to have a final deal before the end of the week.


Meanwhile, Pats stars hope to push juvenile and education reforms over the goal line

New England Patriots defensive captain Devin McCourty and former Pats star Troy Brown plan to hold a press conference today, along with representatives from the ACLU and Players Coalition, to advocate for reforms to the juvenile justice and public education systems, reports SHNS’s Colin Young. McCourty and Brown also plan to “talk with state legislators about a provision in the Senate criminal justice bill to raise the age of jurisdiction for the state juvenile justice system, racial disparities in education, and policing in Massachusetts schools.”

SHNS (pay wall)

Man robbed and left to die on T platform

The lead of this sad story says it all. From Jeremy Fox at the Globe: “A man with a long record of drug crimes and violent offenses allegedly spent a half-hour rummaging through an unconscious man’s belongings, stole a prescription drug and ‘multiple’ other items, and left the man to die alone on a subway platform in Boston early Wednesday, according to the Suffolk district attorney’s office.”

A T official is rightly expressing revulsion at the “depravity” of the action.

Boston Globe

Frank Avruch, former Bozo the Clown, dies at 89

WCVB is reporting that long-time TV personality Frank Avruch, best known as Boston’s very own ‘Bozo the Clown,’ has passed away at the age of 89. Though he’ll forever be linked to Bozo, Avruch was also host of ‘The Great Entertainment,’ ‘Man About Town’ and a ‘Good Day’ contributor, among other things, over the course of his 40-year broadcast career. He had a wonderful voice and his ‘Great Entertainment’ movie introductions were sophisticated and even mesmerizing at times. The Boston Globe and Universal Hub have more. RIP, Frank.


Herald to be printed in Providence, promises a ‘more reader-friendly paper’

After giving the printing boot to the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, under new ownership as of this week, has announced it will now be printed at the Providence Journal in Providence, though it will continue to be distributed by the Globe. In an anonymous staff-written story, the Herald says the printing switch “means our loyal customers can look forward to a more reader-friendly paper” – whatever that means. Fewer byline stories and more photos?

Boston Herald

Retailers to Baker: We’re not your sales-tax collection ‘guinea pig’

Retailers are blasting Gov. Charlie Baker’s first-in-nation plan for retailers to hand over sales taxes on certain purchases on a daily basis, rather than a monthly basis, and they say the plan could cost them more than $1 billion to implement, reports Greg Ryan at the BBJ. “We urge the Legislature to resist the administration’s desire for the commonwealth to be the guinea pig in this endeavor,” Retailers Association of Massachusetts vice president Bill Rennie said in a letter to lawmakers this week.

In an editorial, the BBJ argues the so-called “accelerated sales tax remittance’ proposal is a “solution in search of a problem.”


The State Police scandals: It all starts at the top

The Globe’s Mark Arsenault talks with several experts, including former Boston police chief William Bratton, about how the Massachusetts State Police have squandered public trust amidst recent scandals — and how they can win back that public trust. It won’t be easy. The bottom line: It all starts and finishes at the management top. 

In an editorial, the Springfield Republican says the overtime scandal in particular has exposed “institutional dishonesty that has damaged public trust in an already checkered department to an almost irreparable degree.”

Btw: House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Senate President Harriette Chandler may grill State Police on the apparent dysfunction at the agency, but are holding off for now on possible public hearings, Arsenault at the Globe reports. DeLeo does plan to meet with State Police chief Kerry A. Gilpin.

‘Why did anti-BDS bill fail in Massachusetts when it succeeded in other states?’

Rafael Medoff reports at the Jewish News Syndicate on why legislation to combat the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanction” movement against Israel has found no traction on Beacon Hill. Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, which helped draft the bill, thinks it’s because the State House is dominated by Democrats while legislatures in other states where the measure has passed are dominated by Republicans. “The overall political climate in [heavily Democratic] states, where anti-BDS legislation is seen as conflicting with free speech,” he says.


Would Paul Revere have supported ‘smarter tolls’ on the Tobin?

Transportation for Massachusetts, a group representing municipalities, businesses, environmental groups and others, has launched a digital billboard campaign pushing for “smarter tolls” on Massachusetts roadways to reduce traffic congestion. The group – which has taken out ads on five billboards in Boston, Revere, Chelsea (two) and Peabody – is using humor to make its point. “If Paul Revere had to deal with this traffic, we’d still have a king,” reads one message. No link to the ads available, but here’s the group’s web site.

Poll shows widespread support for additional gun control …

A WBUR poll finds 73 percent of voters support walkouts, marches and other forms of student activism aimed at making school safer while overwhelming majorities support tougher gun control laws, Max Larkin reports at WBUR. The poll finds 98 percent of Mass. voters in favor of universal background checks, 79 percent supporting raising the minimum age to buy a gun to 21 and 89 percent support so-called ‘red flag’ laws to keep guns away from anyone determined to be a risk to themselves or others. 


… while study shows 2014 gun-control laws had little effect

Meanwhile, David. S. Bernstein reports at WGBH that a 2014 package of gun-control laws appears to have had no effect on the number of firearms-related crimes in the Commonwealth, at least so far.


Quincy councilor wants to ban cash-only motels

Hoping his city can learn from the struggles of its neighbors, a Quincy city councilor has proposed banning cash-only motels, Sean Phillip Cotter reports in the Patriot Ledger. Councilor Brian Palmucci said requiring guests to leave a credit card number—even if they pay with cash—could help avoid situations such as the unattended and still unexplained death of a young woman at one Braintree motel and the police-involved shooting that took place at another nearby no-tell motel. 

Patriot Ledger

Non-disclosure agreements: Hey, the president uses ‘em too

Massachusetts House leaders are not the only pols to have used non-disclosure agreements. President Trump used to regularly use them when he was in the private sector and has tried to use them in the White House, though for completely different reasons than the ones issued at the State House. The NYT has the details on the president’s non-disclosures, aimed primarily at protecting his image.


To lure doctors to community health centers, state offers to help pay off student loans

Throwing money at the problem is always an option – and this one is for a good cause. From Jessica Bartlett at the BBJ: “MassHealth is offering to pay doctors’ student loans to entice physicians to work for community health centers and community mental health centers. The state’s Medicaid program will spend $4.5 million on loan repayment efforts this year to encourage providers to work in community settings. More specifically, MassHealth will repay a portion of loans for more than 100 primary care and behavioral health workers, and more than 80 care coordinators and nurses.”


Can RMV handle the expected rush of motorists seeking new ‘REAL’ licenses?

As the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro notes, the Registry of Motor Vehicles has made impressive strides in recent years in reducing wait times for people renewing licenses and conducting business at RMV facilities. But the introduction next week of federally-required “REAL” IDs is expected to cause delays. The question is: How much of a “backslide in wait times” will motorists endure?

Boston Globe

It’s official: Rep. DiZoglio will launch Senate bid on April 5

She’s going for it: Rep. Diana DiZoglio plans to officially launch her state Senate bid with an event in Haverhill on April 5, according to reports by SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) and the Lawrence Eagle Tribune. 

Wynn to sell off shares, but is it enough to save the Everett casino license?

Steve Wynn, the disgraced former head of Wynn Resorts, says he plans to sell part or all of his stock holdings in the embattled casino company, reports Jordan Graham at the Herald. But if he and Wynn Resorts think the move might salvage the company – and its Everett casino license — they have reason to pause. “Our investigation remains very active and aggressive,” said a spokeswoman Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which is deciding whether Wynn Resorts can keep the Everett license in the wake of Steve Wynn’s sexual-harassment controversies.

Boston Herald

Pipeline war update: Protester demands jury trial, businesses push for more natural gas capacity

The Berkshire Eagle’s Heather Bellowreports that an activist charged with assaulting state troopers during an anti-pipeline protest has denied hitting anyone, turned down a plea deal and is demanding a jury trial. Meanwhile, business bigwigs belonging to the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership have written to Gov. Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Senate President Harriette Chandler urging them to support increased natural gas capacity (i.e. more pipelines), though the group favors a shift to hydro-electricity and renewable energy too, reports Bruce Mohlat CommonWealth magazine.

Facing an embarrassing council defeat, Walsh pulls Airbnb ordinance

We missed this one from the other day. From Jack Sullivan at CommonWealth magazine: “Just hours before the Boston City Council was set to vote – and likely reject – Mayor Marty Walsh’s proposed ordinance to regulate short-term rentals such as those listed on Airbnb, he withdrew his bill and said he’d come up with another ‘in the coming weeks.’”


Businesses push for million-dollar ‘image campaign’ in Springfield

The Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts is willing to pony up $400,000 on an “image campaign” touting Springfield and the region if the city itself contributes $100,000, the group’s chief says, reports Peter Goonan at MassLive. The city appears willing to fork over the money – and that could trigger an additional $500,000 in in-kind contributions from local media outlets, Goonan writes.


March For Our Lives Boston

March For Our Lives Boston

Fun in the Tropics at Franklin Park Zoo

Franklin Park Zoo

2018 Investment Conference

HBS Investment Club

Senator Ed Markey Town Hall at Boston College

College Democrats of Boston College

Today’s Headlines


Boston is the most challenging food truck city, new report says – Boston Business Journal

Mayor pulls proposed Airbnb regulations to allow more study – Universal Hub


Trump tariffs could backfire on Mass. cranberry growers – Boston Globe

Bay State DAs back $5M plan to combat recidivism – Boston Herald

At least 30 job cuts loom in Southbridge schools – Telegram & Gazette

Officials, residents weigh in on work scheduled for Cape bridges – Cape Cod Times


Kelly furious over Putin ‘Do not congratulate’ leak – Politico

2020 Dems compete for top campaign operatives – The Hill

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