Health-care bill, Auerbach Center opening, Baker at high-tech meeting
— Massachusetts Board of Higher Education meets to review a ‘state of the system’ report and possibly vote on the appointments of new presidents for Greenfield and Massasoit community colleges, Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) in Boston, 9 a.m.
— Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton and Massachusetts Clean Energy Center CEO Stephen Pike attend a meeting of the MassCEC board of directors, MassCEC Board Room, 63 Franklin St. 3rd floor, Boston, 10 a.m.
— First Lady Lauren Baker and Sun Life Investment Management employees will help pack hundreds of clothing items for future Wonderfund Welcome Bags for children, 1 Sun Life Executive Park, 90 Worcester Road, Wellesley Hills, 10 a.m.
— The Massachusetts House is expected to begin its consideration of its long-awaited health-care reform bill, House Chamber, 11 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and others participate in the grand opening of the Auerbach Center at Boston Landing, which will serve as the Boston Celtics’ new practice facility, 40 Guest Street, Boston, 11 a.m.
— Committee on Export Development will hold an oversight hearing on the Port of Boston that will cover projects to dredge the channel and expand the Conley Terminal, Room B-1, 11 a.m.
— A day after the Supreme Judicial Court struck down the so-called ‘millionaire’s tax’ ballot question that the high-tech industry opposed, Gov. Charlie Baker is a guest at the Massachusetts High Technology Council’s annual meeting, Seaport Hotel and Trade Center, 1 Seaport Lane, Boston, 12 p.m.
— House Bonding Committee holds a hearing on the Economic Development Committee’s redraft of Gov. Charlie Baker’s economic development bill, Room B-1, 1 p.m.
— University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees holds a Committee of the Whole meeting to discuss the five-year strategic plan for UMass Dartmouth, Woodland Commons, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 285 Old Westport Rd., North Dartmouth, 4 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker celebrates the 5th anniversary of The BASE, a Boston-based organization that combines baseball and softball training with academic resources to empower urban youth, Fenway Park, Boston, 6 p.m.
For more calendar listings, check out State House News Service’s Daily Advances (pay wall – free trial subscriptions available) and MassterList’s Beacon Hill Town Square below.
Dashed spending dreams: SJC nixes ‘millionaire’s tax’
As most readers probably know by now, the Supreme Judicial Court yesterday rejected the ‘millionaire’s tax’ ballot question, ruling it violated the state’s constitution on what can and can’t be put to a statewide public vote. The BBJ’s Greg Ryan, the Globe’s Jon Chesto and SHNS’s Katie Lannan at the Lowell Sun have the details on the actual ruling.
But, obviously, the big news is how the ruling is a major setback for progressives hoping to have a major new tax revenue stream for various state programs. SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) reports the the SJC decision will force Democrats to regroup and rethink their spending priorities moving forward. The Globe’s Matt Stout writes that the SJC ruling “turns up the pressure” on Democrats on Beacon Hill, while the Globe’s Marek Mazurek reports progressives were despondent in general yesterday.
Of course, not everyone was despondent yesterday. Far from it. The BBJ’s Max Stendahl reports the business community is ecstatic about the ruling. The Globe’s Rachelle Cohen says the state just “dodged the economic bullet.” The Herald’s Howie Carr couldn’t be happier. Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports on the general ‘relief and dismay’ reaction to the decision.
The big question moving forward: Will there be a sales-tax-cut question on the November ballot?
Nurse-staffing ballot question survives court challenge
It wasn’t all thumbs down at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court yesterday. Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports that the high court upheld the ballot question that seeks to mandate nurse staffing ratios at hospitals. Backed by nurse unions, the measure is opposed by hospitals. Look for a tough, and expensive, ballot-question fight on this one.
Berkshire veterans oppose statue of W.E.B. Du Bois due to his past communist ties
Great Barrington wants to honor its native son W.E.B. Du Bois, the late African-American scholar, civil rights activist and one of the co-founders of the NAACP, by erecting a life-size statue of him in front of the Great Barrington library. But some residents, including veterans, oppose the move, noting Du Bois ultimately joined the Communist Party when he was in his 90s, reports Terry Cowgill at the Berkshire Eagle. Mary Serreze at MassLive has more.
The real villain: Unpatriotic woodchuck blamed for stealing cemetery’s American flags
Forget commies. What about woodchucks who have total disregard for the American flag? There’s at least one of them at the Bellevue Cemetery in Adams, where police suspect a woodchuck is responsible for the disappearance of dozens of flags at the graves of veterans, reports Adam Shanks at the Berkshire Eagle and Steve Annearat the Globe. “Of all the things that go on in today’s world,” said Police Chief Richard Tarsa, “we have a woodchuck problem in our cemetery, stealing flags.”
State study: North-South rail tunnel could cost $12.3B – and possibly much higher
And we were just coming around to liking the idea. From the BBJ’s Don Seiffert: “A year-long study sponsored by the state to study the North South Rail Link project, released on Monday, estimates that the project will cost at least $12.3 billion — significantly greater than previous estimates.”
Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth reports that former Gov. Michael Dukakis and U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, outspoken backers of the North-South project, are dismissing the findings in the MBTA report. “They have no relation to reality,” Dukakis said of the cost estimates. SHNS’s Andy Metzger at WBUR has more, including how a more extensive version of the project could cost about $21.5 billion.
Don’t give up on that Boston Harbor sea barrier
Supporters of the North-South rail link, take heart: Here’s proof that massive infrastructure projects can’t and won’t be killed off by mere studies alone. Vernon Woodworth, a consultant at AKF Engineers and a faculty member at the Boston Architectural College, takes exception to a recent UMass Boston study that said a 14-mile long harbor barrier to protect Boston from storm sea surges just isn’t feasible, saying that the study was based on faulty assumptions and that it’s still “too early to discard any options, and too late to delay any further.”
Up and down: MBTA plans parking fee hikes here and fee cuts there, as part of pricing experiment
Daily fees at dozens of MBTA parking lots and garages would rise, while fees at other lots would either fall or remain the same, under a new MBTA program that’s attempting to tailor prices based on demand and, hopefully, attract more riders to less-busy lots. The plan also raises $8.5 million in new revenue, it should be noted. CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl and the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro have more.
On the T’s TTD list: A Blue-Red lines pedestrian link
The MBTA has compiled a long-term things-to-do list of projects, one of which could be a new pedestrian link that would finally connect the Blue Line to the Red Line in downtown Boston, reports CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl, who notes the connection would be an alternative to building an actual rail link between the two lines.
Citing ‘inhumane treatment of children,’ Baker cancels sending National Guard personnel to border
This one made the Drudge Report cut yesterday. From Amanda McGowan at WGBH: “Governor Charlie Baker is canceling the deployment of Massachusetts National Guard troops to the border in light of recent reports about the Trump Administration’s practice of separating immigrant children from families. ‘Governor Baker directed the National Guard not to send any assets or personnel to the Southwest border today because the federal government’s current actions are resulting in the inhumane treatment of children,’ said Baker communications director Lizzy Guyton in a statement sent to WGBH News.”
Romney calls for end to Trump’s ‘pretty disturbing’ family-separation polices
Speaking of the immigration controversy, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, now running for the U.S. Senate in Utah, yesterday took time out from praising President Trump to return to criticizing Donald Trump, calling for an end to the president’s “pretty disturbing” and “heartbreaking” immigrant family-separation policy at the southern border, reports the Washington Post.
Meanwhile, the Globe’s Joan Vennochi writes that two women, Laura Bush and Melania Trump, have become the “voice of reason and Republican outrage” over the president’s controversial policy. But, then again, it’s a woman, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who has become the “the public face of the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance strategy,” reports the Washington Post. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld writes that Trump needs to abandon the family-separation policy, if only because it’s become a PR nightmare that Democrats are taking full advantage of, even though former President Obama implemented similar separation policies when he was president.
Pollster: Warren can unify Democrats, win White House in 2020
Democratic pollster Brad Bannon makes his case in The Hill for U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren as the most likely candidate to unite the still-warring wings of the Democratic party and lead it to victory in 2020. Bannon argues Warren has the progressive bona fides to keep Bernie Sanders supporters from defecting to third party candidates and a career’s worth of work on economic issues that could appeal to the minority and low-income.
‘Harvard can’t have it all’
Charles Lane at the Washington Post writes that Harvard University, now the subject of an admissions discrimination suit filed by a group representing Asian-American students, is trying to have it both ways when it says it’s not discriminating as it tries to create a more diverse student body. The bottom line: Some sort of discrimination is needed, and unavoidable, when pursuing diversity of any kind. Btw: Lane is sympathetic to both Harvard’s policies and its plight.
With change of letter, Amazon’s Cambridge store gets green light
What a difference a letter makes. By changing the lower-case ‘a’ in its signage to a capital one, Amazon won approval for its long-stalled plan to open a pickup location in Central Square, John Hawkinson reports at Cambridge Day. The plain lettering and lack of company logo gets Amazon around a Cambridge ordinance restricting ‘formula’, or chain businesses.
MIT clears professor of #MeToo charges
First Boston Review cleared him. Now MIT has cleared professor Junot Diaz to return to his classes this fall, following an investigation into charges that he tried to forcibly kiss a woman and verbally abused two others. Mark Shanahan at the Globe has more.
The transit-oriented development idea behind CTrail
More than 20,000 riders took advantage of free trips on the first weekend of CTrail service from Springfield through Hartford to New Haven, reports Jim Kinney at MassLive. In a separate story, Kinney also writes that riders who took the trains yesterday, the first weekday of the new service, seemed happy that they now have a new transportation alternative to commute to and from work – and that’s economic music to the ears of planners.
As Kinney notes: “CTrail and the Hartford Line, built with $760 million in Connecticut and federal funds, is designed to make it easier for workers to get to jobs, to take traffic off Interstate 91 and to encourage developers to build retail, office and residential space near stations on the route.”
For Herald employees, there’s an alternative to Alden Capital: Bitcoins
A MassterList reader alerted us to this New York Times story about how former reporters and editors at the Denver Post — which, like the Boston Herald, is owned by squeeze-‘em-dry Alden Global Capital – are creating their own news outlet, the Colorado Sun, helped by Civil Media Company, a New York start-up that that “aims to use blockchain technology and crypto economics to start 1,000 publications nationwide by the end of the year.”
As our ML reader put it: “Why not do the same thing with the Boston Herald?” Another alternative, of course, is to get a billionaire to buy the Herald and bring in some pros who actually care about newspapers, as the LA Times did yesterday.
Two years after Walsh proposes lobbying reforms, council comes up with its own rules
Like a fine wine, some things just need a little aging. From Milton Valencia at the Globe: “Two years after Mayor Martin J. Walsh proposed what he called tough reforms of municipal lobbying laws, the City Council seems ready to tackle the issue – with its own proposal. Councilors Michelle Wu and Michael Flaherty, who chairs the council’s government operations committee, which had reviewed Walsh’s proposal, submitted the new draft Monday. A hearing could be held as soon as next week.”
For retailers, it’s not if, but when, smoking age rises to 21 in Massachusetts
Grocery store owners and other shops that sell tobacco products aren’t wild about the legislative push to raise the age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21 in Massachusetts. But Eli Sherman at Wicked Local reports that some retailers, including their statewide industry group, say the current town-by-town approach to setting age limits isn’t working – and that at least a statewide law would bring uniformity.
House to take up $450M assessment plan and other health-care reforms today
Just Fyi: The House today will start debate on its major health-care reform bill that includes the new $450 million in assessments on industry players to help prop up struggling community hospitals. The Globe’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey has the details.
Opponents open new fronts in battle over Charlton pot farm
Charlton residents plan to present selectmen with a petition demanding they undo their approval of a planned $100 million marijuana facility on a former apple orchard, Debbie LaPlaca reports in the Telegram. Residents, who want a new Town Meeting called to revisit pot zoning, have also filed an Open Meeting Law complaint against the board and asked the state Ethics Commission to weigh in on whether the town’s zoning enforcement officer should have been recused from weighing in on the proposal.
No Hail Mary for Worcester’s Notre Dame church
A judge has refused to issue an injunction halting the demolition of the Notre Dame des Canadiens church in Worcester, clearing the way for the historical structure to be razed and redeveloped, Walter Bird Jr. reports at Worcester Magazine. The judge rejected arguments from the Save Notre Dame Alliance that the project required additional state reviews before it could proceed.
Chat & Chowder – Digital World War
This exploitation of social media has had a significant impact on the Muslim world and is often difficult to counter or monitor, raising a very valid concern: how do we fight in this digital war?
Making High-Quality Early Childhood Education a Public Priority: A Community-Policy Dialogue
Boston has been selected to host The Wonder of Learning exhibition, conference, and professional development series from June to November 2018, the most ambitious and potentially transformative early education event in our history!
50th Anniversary Open House Celebration
Join us for refreshments and drinks as we watch short videos, connect with friends, hear from people who’ve been with the UCEDD from the beginning, and learn more about today’s ICI.
Best Places to Work 2018
Join us on June 20th to honor the 2018 Best Places to Work!
Fenway Ball Gala
This event will connect corporate executives and professionals from the real estate industry, business sectors, and Fenway’s renowned institutions – the crucial economic drivers of our region.
Educational Program on Guardianship Set for Holyoke
Guardian Community Trust, a nonprofit created to improve the lives of seniors and individuals with disabilities in Massachusetts, is partnering with WestMass ElderCare in Holyoke, to convene an educational program for caregivers about resources and tools for enabling care in the community, including guardianship and alternatives to guardianship.
Author Talk and Book Signing with Patricia Harris and David Lyon
Author talk and book signing with Patricia Harris and David Lyon, authors of the new book: Historic New England: A Tour of the Region’s Top 100 National Landmarks
JALSA Distinguished Leadership Award Presentation to Larry Rasky
We are thrilled to share with you the news that Larry Rasky has been named the recipient of the JALSA Distinguished Leadership Award, to be presented by the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action.
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