MassWorks Infrastructure, MBTA Control Board and more
— Jane Doe Inc., the Massachusetts coalition against sexual assault and domestic violence, holds a day of action to ask lawmakers to support its legislative and funding priorities, Great Hall, 9:30 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker will join Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and local officials for a MassWorks Infrastructure Program celebration, AMC South Bay 12, 95 Allstate Road, Dorchester, 11 a.m.
— Director of VA Boston Healthcare System Vincent Ng welcomes veterans and families of the Vietnam War to the VA Boston Jamaica Plain campus to commemorate the service and sacrifices of those who served, Jamaica Plain Campus, 150 South Huntington Ave., Boston, 11 a.m.
— MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board meets with an agenda that includes discussion of ‘own-source revenue’ and ‘parking policy’ for fiscal 2019, State Transportation Building, 2nd Floor, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, 12 p.m.
— At an event timed for the beginning of Holy Week and shortly before Passover, more than 50 religious leaders plan to confront Gov. Charlie Baker about his ‘refusal to meet with them regarding their concerns about climate change,’ starting at State House steps, 12 p.m.
— Boston City Council’s Government Operations Committee hosts a hearing on a proposal from Councilor Josh Zakim, who is running for secretary of state, to create an automatic voter registration process within city government, Boston City Hall, Iannella Chambe 2 p.m.
— The Revenue Committee holds a hearing on legislation filed by Salem Rep. Paul Tucker to allow Salem to impose a room occupancy tax on any short-term residential rental for tourist or transient use, Room B-2, 2 p.m.
— Project Bread holds a kickoff celebration for the 50th annual Walk for Hunger and 5K run, with U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and other expected to speak, Cathedral Church of St. Paul, 138 Tremont St., Boston, 5:30 p.m.
— Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meets to hear a presentation on ‘competency-based and personalized learning,’ 75 Pleasant St., Malden, 5:30 p.m.
— The Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts hold ‘legislators night,’ with Senate President Harriette Chandler, Treasurer Deb Goldberg and others planning to attend, Florian Hall, Dorchester, 6 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.
Is State Police scandal worse than thought?
Nine State Police troopers were suspended and nine others suddenly resigned in connection to the going investigation into alleged overtime scams at the agency, authorities announced late last week, as reported by Scott Croteau at MassLive.
But the Globe’s Matt Rocheleau and Todd Wallack report this morning that troopers’ actual overtime earnings are much higher than previously disclosed, raising “further questions about the agency’s spending, oversight, and transparency.” In addition, they report, the payroll records for one entire division at State Police have been “hidden from public view and weren’t filed with the state comptroller for several years.”
Freetown, host to massive pot plant, bans retail weed sales
Marijuana irony alert: The town where what could become the largest pot cultivation and production facility in the country is being built voted over the weekend to ban the sale of recreational marijuana within its borders, David Schemer reports in the Standard-Times. Freetown narrowly passed an outright ban in a special Saturday vote, with 219 voting in favor of the ban and 195 against. Just 7 percent of the town’s voters cast a ballot.
Massachusetts to brewer: No, you can’t infuse beer with cannabis substance
From Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine: “Everett-based Down the Road Beer Co. says its plans to make a CBD-infused beer have been thwarted by the state’s alcohol authority, who say adding the marijuana-related substance to their products would be illegal. The brewery says it had hoped to launch its Goopmasta Session IPA, a beer blended with a few milligrams of cannabidiol (which is made from marijuana but doesn’t contain psychoactive ingredient THC) at a can release Friday night. Goopmasta would have been Massachusetts’ first beer made with the substance.”
Criminal-justice compromise bill unveiled at State House
SHNS’s Matt Murphy at CommonWealth magazine has an excellent summary piece on the compromise criminal-justice reform bill filed on Friday by lawmakers. There’s a lot to pore over regarding the bill, but state Sen. William Brownsberger has a handy outline of the legislation, if you want to dig further into it.
A couple things caught our attention: The final bill does not propose to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 18 to 19, but it does raise the age of criminal responsibility from 7 to 12. The bill also makes eligible, as Murphy writes, for expungement from criminal records some crimes committed by offenders up to age 21. In addition, adults would be able to apply to have their records expunged of crimes that are no longer considered illegal in Massachusetts, such as possession of marijuana, he writes.
The big question: How will Gov. Charlie Baker react? He probably won’t like everything in the bill – and that could lead to legislative skirmishes. Fyi: The Globe, in an editorial, is urging passage.
Keolis promoting ‘reverse commuting’ to fill trains
From Cyrus Moulton at the Telegram: “The inbound trains are full on weekday mornings. Now Keolis and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority are trying to get passengers on the outbound trains at the same time, embarking on a new marketing campaign to encourage reverse commuting and leisure travel on the commuter rail. ‘The whole principal is driving ridership in ways that aren’t being utilized,’ said Dave Walker, director of revenue and marketing at Keolis, the commuter rail operator.’”
The marketing effort – which includes radio, TV, direct mail and online ads – is focusing on the Worcester/Framingham line. Moulton explains why.
It’s not your imagination: You really are wasting more time commuting to work …
Speaking of commuting, the Globe’s Beth Teitell doesn’t rely on data-rich traffic studies to show that Boston-area motorists are wasting more time sitting in traffic. She whips out old “express” bus schedules to prove that, yes, it’s getting worse out there.
Thousands turn out for March for Our Lives rallies across state …
They were out in force over the weekend – tens of thousands on Boston Common (Patriot Ledger), hundreds on the Cape (Cape Cod Times), hundreds in Chelmsford (Lowell Sun) and yet more in Worcester and Springfield (MassLive) – all for March for Our Lives anti-gun rallies. There’s plenty of photos of the weekend events over at Universal Hub and at WBUR. There were also counter-demonstrators, it should be noted (Globe).
One media shout-out goes to the New York Times, which, after all the mostly fawning media coverage of the mostly kids-dominated rallies, went out of its way, finally, to acknowledge that, yes, the March for Our Lives rallies wouldn’t have happened without the “sophisticated, experienced organizational muscle” of a lot of adults and advocacy groups. Even though we agree with the general gun-control demands of the students, it was nevertheless annoying to read/watch/listen to many of the stories that frankly weren’t very honest in their portrayal of the rallies as merely spontaneous expressions of youthful outrage. That distorted narrative, we’d argue, helped pave the way for right-wing conspiracy theories about the marches. Speaking of which: Here’s a good Washington Post piece on a conspiracy theory involving student activist Emma González and others.
Emojis can’t hide some things: Police increasingly arresting students for threatening online posts
Still on the subject of schools and violence, Mike Plaisance at MassLive has a piece on how police in Holyoke, Springfield and Chicopee are responding to more calls these days of students posting what appear to be threatening messages on social-media sites, sometimes surrounding angry and hostile words with happy-face emojis and words like “love” etc.
Another sign of the times: Police and school administrators conducting “lockdown drills” in Chicopee, as reported by Jeanette DeForge at MassLive.
Commission seeks ouster of loverboy judge
The lawyer for embattled Belchertown District Court Judge Thomas Estes thinks his client should be suspended and forced to apologize for a sexual affair he had with a courthouse worker. The Judicial Conduct Commission would go a bit further: It wants him off the bench, permanently. The Globe’s Andrea Estes has more.
The Herald’s Howie Carr notes that the judge’s attorney is trying to portray him as being lured by a sultry temptress into the affair, which included regular afternoon romps at the courthouse: “You think Paris or Rome is a great spot for swingin’ young lovers? Have you ever been inside the Belchertown District Courthouse?”
NECCO may be headed for bankruptcy
Forget layoffs. It appears NECCO is fighting for its survival at this point. From Greg Ryan at the BBJ: “Revere-based New England Confectionery Co. has defaulted on more than $100 million in loans and should be put into receivership, a lender said in a new legal filing, but a judge on Friday wondered whether bankruptcy might make more sense for the candymaker. NECCO has been looking for a buyer to allow it to continue its operations.”
A new record: State wants $245,425 for a public records request
Granted, it’s the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee looking for any dirt it can find on GOP Senate candidate Beth Lindstrom and it’s asking for what sounds like a large amount of info via a public records request. Still, the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation says it would cost $245,425 to process the request, the highest fee ever charged for a public records request, reports the Globe’s Todd Wallack.
Who would pay $11,197 for Whitey Bulger’s prison commissary card?
Relatives of Whitey Bulger’s victims are not happy that a New York-based online auction site is auctioning off Whitey paraphernalia, including Friday’s sale of his prison commissary ID card for $11,197. The Herald’s Laurel Sweet has the details.
Democracy seems to be breaking out in Massachusetts
What’s this? Contested down-ticket elections? Steve Koczela at CommonWealth magazine reviews what looks like a break from the recent past: Some genuinely contested elections at the Congressional, legislative and DA levels in Massachusetts, driven largely by Democrats battling Democrats.
Meanwhile, Sen. Welch faces another rival in Springfield
Speaking of contested elections, Matt Szafranski at Western Mass. Politics and Insights reports that state Sen. Jim Welch has another challenger: Former Springfield City Councilor Amaad Rivera. Springfield Ward 1 Councilor Adam Gomez previously announced he’s also running.
Political heavy hitters called in as special legislative election hits home stretch
And it’s crunch time (again) in Attleboro. Gov. Charlie Baker, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey and U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy IIwere among the political big wigs making their way to the city over the weekend as campaigning hits the home stretch before the April 3 special election to fill a vacant state representative seat, Jim Hand reports in the Sun Chronicle. Republican Julie Hall and Democrat Jim Hawkins face off next Tuesday.
Bob Kraft pursuing World Cup for Boston in 2026
From the Globe’s Jon Chesto: “Kraft Group is teeing up a nonprofit organization that would enable Boston to take a shot at being a host city for the FIFA World Cup in 2026. The owner of the New England Patriots and Revolution has formed Boston Soccer 2026 to put Boston in the mix. The United States Soccer Association and its counterparts in Mexico and Canada submitted a bid to FIFA with 23 possible host cities, including Boston, earlier this month.”
Warren: Wishful thinking won’t work with North Korea and China
In a Globe op-ed, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who’s traveling to Asia on a fact-finding trip, is admirably tough on North Korea and China, saying that we need to stay engaged with them but shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking high-profile meetings will change their leaders’ mindsets. She also says America has to get its own act together at home to remain strong overseas. One suggestion: Filling the vacant posts of ambassador to South Korea and envoy to North Korea.
Never mind: Lasell and Mount Ida colleges call off merger talks
One wonders if they saw what happened to Wheelock College faculty and staffers – i.e., more than half of them losing their jobs due to a planned merger with Boston University – and decided it might be best to cool it. From Max Stendahl at the BBJ: “One month after announcing that they were exploring a potential merger, Lasell College and Mount Idea have abruptly ended their discussions. The Newton-based liberal arts schools said in a brief statement on Friday that they would ‘not move forward with a merger,’ without explaining how or why the talks fell apart.”
Two City Hall aides to return to work after corruption case dismissed
It’s not clear what jobs they’ll be returning to at City Hall, but they’ll be returning. From Jordan Graham at the Herald: “The two City Hall aides now clear of federal charges after a judge dismissed their case this week will soon be back at work even as prosecutors signal their intent to appeal the ruling. ‘I’m glad the matter is resolved,’ Mayor Martin J. Walsh said yesterday. ‘There was a case, everyone followed, you get a chance to see what evidence was put in place. I’m just grateful this was resolved.’”
From the Globe’s Adrian Walker: “This case began as a supposed example of excessive influence-peddling inside City Hall. But it will be remembered instead as an example of federal overreach.”
McConnell and Breyer headed to Boston
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, will be at the Harvard’s Kennedy School on Wednesday to discuss “midterm battle for the U.S. Senate, McConnell’s observations on today’s politics, and some discussion of McConnell’s autobiography ‘The Long’ Game,’” according to Harvard.
Meanwhile, from the AP at the Herald: “United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is expected to be in Boston for an event exploring hate speech and the First Amendment. Breyer is scheduled to have a public discussion Thursday with the president of the National Constitution Center, a nonprofit history museum in Philadelphia. It’s being held at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, a Boston museum and education group.”
Some say time has come for state to have greater role in power-grid security
Amid talk of potential Russian cyber attacks on the nation’s power grid, Christian Wade reports in the Gloucester Times that Massachusetts regulators have largely taken a hands-off approach to security at the state’s utilities, allowing them to self-police and self-report any issue that arise. Some utilities won’t even report how much they have spent to strengthen their defenses, Wade notes.
Poll: Support still strong for 2018 ballot measures
Voters still love the ballot questions. That’s the takeaway from the latest WBUR poll of Mass.voters, which found 78 percent support for an initiative to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, Steve Koczela reports. The so-called millionaire’s tax and a move to require businesses to offer paid family leave also enjoy majority support, which Koczela notes has lawmakers and lobbyists scrambling for legislative fixes before the questions can make their way to voters in November.
Gun Sense Activist’s Toolbox Event
Women on the Rise: On Intersectional Leadership in Boston
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