Gaming Commission, autonomous cars pact, Cannabis Control
— Gaming Commission meets with gaming regulations and MGM Springfield gaming beverage license application on its agenda, 101 Federal Street, 12th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker, Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Leo Roy, MassRobotics executive director Tom Ryden and others sign a regional agreement regarding the testing of autonomous vehicles in Massachusetts, MassRobotics, 12 Channel St., Boston, 10:30 a.m.
— The Senate is scheduled to meet in formal session, Gardner Auditorium, 11 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and locally elected officials to announce $10.9 million in Workforce Skills Capital Grants, Salem High School, 77 Willson St., Salem, 12:15 p.m.
— State officials plan to publicly discuss the results of a feasibility reassessment study exploring an underground rail link between the North and South station transportation hubs in Boston, according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, second floor of 10 Park Plaza in Boston, 5:30 p.m.
— Cannabis Control Commission meets and is expected to vote on granting the state’s first legal marijuana business license to Sira Naturals, a Milford-based marijuana grower, Health Policy Commission conference room, 8th floor, 50 Milk St., Boston, 2 p.m.
— The Commonwealth Institute unveils results of its first Women’s Leadership Development in Massachusetts impact study at a celebration marking its 20th anniversary, with Treasurer Deborah Goldberg attending, Locke Lord, 111 Huntington Ave., Boston, 5:30 p.m.
— U.S. Sen. Ed Markey is guest speaker as the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action honors Larry Rasky, CEO and chairman of Rasky Partners, Boston Park Plaza, 50 Park Plaza, Boston, 6 p.m.
— Five Democrats running in the Sept. 4 primary to succeed Rep. Jay Kaufman — Michelle Ciccolo, Matthew Cohen, Joseph Lahiff, Mary Ann Stewart and William Sweene — will meet for a ‘campaign conversation’ hosted by Kaufman, Depot in Lexington, 13 Depot Square, 7 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.
Lawmakers approve ‘grand bargain’ over leave, minimum wage and sales tax
They undoubtedly had a pre-planned compromise in place in the event the Supreme Judicial Court ruled against the proposed millionaire’s tax, for it’s rare for the legislature to act so swiftly on a bill of this magnitude, though there was some grumbling yesterday at the State House. From SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall): “Massachusetts lawmakers on Wednesday agreed to historic wage and benefits legislation designed to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers, but the bill’s passage was tainted with charges that legislators had backtracked on important worker issues in order to appease the retail industry sector.” Some activists are holding out, for now, on the minimum wage component of the bill.
The Herald’s Brian Dowling has more, including how some in the business community are disappointed with many of the measures, though they’re happy that at least two ballot questions may no longer have to be fought. The Globe’s Katie Johnston has a good story summarizing details of the grand-bargain compromise.
So who ultimately won yesterday? Setting aside the SJC’s stinging rejection of the millionaire’s tax question, one observer at Blue Mass Group has no doubt about who won: “Look, if business needs to tell reporters this is a ‘grand bargain’ to make themselves feel like progressive activists are not their daddies, fine. But this feels a lot more like a landslide win for progressives than a ‘compromise.’”
As Trump retreats on immigration policy, state Dems go on offensive against Baker
Snarling and sounding defiant, President Trump yesterday nevertheless backed off his administration’s controversial family-separation policy for immigrants caught at the southern border, according to an NPR report at WBUR. But local Democrats are just getting started in their criticism of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who they say is flip-flopping all over the place on immigration issues, reports the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld writes that “Trump’s actions on immigration leave Baker more vulnerable than ever to charges that he’s not doing enough to denounce the Trump administration.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters flooded the State House yesterday to, among other things, put pressure on Baker and lawmakers (read: House Speaker Robert DeLeo) to back a Senate budget measure that would ban local and state police from assisting federal ICE agents on immigrant matters, reports the Globe’s Chistela Guerra. At CommonWealth magazine, Carol Rose, head of the local ACLU, is also pushing for passage of the Senate amendment. But the Baker administration appears to be drawing a line in the sand, saying the Baker administration “opposes a sanctuary state” and criticizing the Senate measure for not adequately addressing how police should help detain “dangerous criminals.”
Bloomberg explains why he’s spending $80M to help get Dems elected
Speaking of Democrats on the offensive, Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, sometimes Republican and current billionaire media mogul, writes at the Globe why he’s plunking down $80 million of his own money to help elect Democrats this fall. It’s simple: “Republicans in Congress have had almost two years to prove they could govern responsibly. They failed.”
Lewandowski doubles down on his ‘womp womp’ taunt
Lowell native Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager, yesterday wasn’t backing down from his ‘womp womp’ taunts during a Fox News interview earlier this week, i.e. the one in which he interrupted another guest who was telling the story of an immigrant girl with Down syndrome who was separated from her mother at the border. Lewandowski called the outrage over his remarks “fake news” and said he was merely mocking a “liberal who attempted to politicize children,’’ reports the Globe’s Felicia Gans.
Troubling signs: MBTA and Samaritans team up to prevent suicides by train
Amid a spike in pedestrian deaths on commuter rail lines, the MBTA and Samaritans, Inc. have partnered to install signs at scores of stations and crossings across the state urging anyone considering suicide-by-train to seek help instead, Paul Leighton reports in the Salem News. The T says some 1,500 signs will be going up after pedestrian deaths more than doubled last year compared to the previous year.
Lawsuit: Hefner took ‘naked photos’ of elected official and passed them around Beacon Hill
Here’s more from that lawsuit recently filed by an ex-State House aide. From Jacqueline Tempera at Masslive: “Bryon Hefner allegedly took ‘naked photos’ of an elected official without his consent and distributed them to multiple people on Beacon Hill, according to a civil suit filed Friday. Former Senate President Stan Rosenberg knew his husband had the photo, according to the suit, and watched him show it to another colleague at a house party in December 2014.”
Healey takes aim at Hodgson
Attorney General Maura Healey wants two state agencies to investigate the Bristol County House of Corrections, where the inmate suicide rate is higher than average and where Sheriff Thomas Hodgson has faced multiple lawsuits over the treatment of prisoners with mental illnesses, Curt Brown reports in the Standard-Times. A Hodgson spokesperson called Healey’s letter requesting the inquiries “a political witch hunt.”
Meanwhile, Healey supports call to review release of child rapist Wayne Chapman
From Dan Atkinson at the Boston Herald: “Attorney General Maura Healey is signing on to a legal plea calling for the Supreme Judicial Court to change the law that would let serial child rapist Wayne W. Chapman be released over the objections of victims, saying the current system has created ‘serious and unintended consequences.’”
In an editorial, the Globe is backing Gov. Charlie Baker’s bill that would reform state laws regarding the release of sexual predators, though the legislation wouldn’t apply to the Chapman case.
CLF to file suit over waterfront skyscrapers. That means you, Don Chiofaro
Developer Don Chiofaro’s dream of building a tower at the site of the Boston Harbor Garage looked like it was finally becoming a reality after he recently won necessary regulatory approvals. Not so fast, says the Conservation Law Foundation, which is planning to file a lawsuit against new waterfront zoning plans, reports Tim Logan at the Globe.
Patriots players play their part at Suffolk DA forum
It was certainly an unusual political forum, as three NFL players – the Pats’ Devin McCourty, his twin brother Jason, and Matthew Slater – got to quiz the candidates for Suffolk County district attorney on law-enforcement matters. CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas writes that the trio were frank about the fact they were using their celebrity status to bring about change.
Meanwhile, the Globe’s Yvonne Abraham reports on another unusual political forum involving the Suffolk DA candidates: A forum at the House of Correction on Bradston Street.
Sorry, but, no: DOC rejects first ‘compassionate release’ request for dying inmate
Speaking of law-enforcement reforms: In the first ruling under a law passed in April that allows the early release of dying inmates, DOC Commissioner Thomas Turco has rejected a “compassionate release” petition by 31-year-old Alexander Phillips, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer while serving a long sentence for manslaughter for the stabbing of a former schoolmate, reports the New England Center for Investigative Journalism’s Jennifer McKim at WGBH. Turco ruled Phillips still poses a safety risk.
Stay back: Boston approves self-driving car tests throughout city, not just in Seaport
The city of Boston has given self-driving car startup nuTonomy the OK to start testing its autonomous vehicles on all city streets, not just those in the Seaport district, reports Catherine Carlock at the BBJ. But more than a few people are nervous about the tests on Boston’s infamously chaotic streets, reports Mary Markos at the Herald.
Holyoke councilors walk out of meeting to show support for ‘intimidated’ female colleague
Three city councilors weren’t happy with the way firefighters treated a female councilor when she had to leave a contentious Holyoke meeting over retroactive pay raises, saying she was effectively harassed and looked ‘distraught’ and ‘intimidated,’ reports Mike Plaisnce at MassLive. At least two councilors changed their votes on a new firefighter contract and three later walked out of the meeting in apparent protest.
Attleboro firefighters plan to picket mayor’s house during political event
Speaking of firefighters putting pressure on public officials, Attleboro firefighters say they’ll picket outside the home of Mayor Paul Heroux on Saturday, where politicians from across the state are expected to gather for a fundraising cookout, Jim Hand reports in the Sun Chronicle. For his part, Heroux calls the picketing of his private residence “unprecedented.”
Firefighter solidarity, Shutesbury style
Yet another firefighter pay fight: The fire chief in the town of Shutesbury has threatened to quit unless he gets a pay raise by the end of next month and now all 10 members of the paid, on-call department say they’re ready to walk out the door with him, Patrick Johnson reports at MassLive. Negotiations appear to be down to whether Chief Walter Tibbets receives a raise of $5,000 or $10,000.
About that Blue-Red lines pedestrian link …
The envisioned pedestrian link for the T’s Blue and Red lines wouldn’t connect with what you’d expect it to connect with, i.e. Bowdoin Station and the Charles/MGH station. Instead, it would run between State and Downtown Crossing, reports CommonWealth Magazine’s Bruce Mohl, who notes that the general concept, no matter where the connections are made, are raising some skeptical eyebrows.
MBTA repairman accused of stealing $80K from fare collection boxes
Speaking of the T, from WCVB: “An MBTA repair technician stole more than $80,000 from the fare collection boxes he was assigned to fix, the Attorney General said. Authorities said that during the course of the investigation, they placed marked bills inside the fare collection boxes that MBTA employee Stephen P. Fagerberg was assigned to repair. Fagerberg, 55, of Dedham, later deposited those marked bills into his personal bank account at a drive-up ATM, Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office announced.”
State issues $25M bond for Stonehill College’s new business school
From Joe Pelletier at the Enterprise: “Stonehill College received a $25 million tax-free boost from the state for its new school of business. MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, announced the tax-exempt bond Wednesday. The $25 million will go toward the construction of Stonehill’s new Leo J. Meehan School of Business building in the center of campus.”
Amazon, Buffett, JP Morgan pick Boston as headquarters for new cost-control health care firm
Amazon.com Inc., Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan has selected a Brigham and Women’s surgeon to run their new health care company – which will also be based in Boston, reports the AP’s Tim Murphy at WGBH. Dr. Atul Gawande, who is a general and endocrine surgeon at Brigham and a professor at Harvard Medical School, is charged with focusing on rising health care costs at the yet unnamed firm.
Stephen Colbert discovers Scott Lively, generating laughter over usually non-laughing matters
It seems comedian Stephen Colbert has only recently learned that A.) Scott Lively exists. B.) he’s running for governor in Massachusetts and C.) he’s the author of “The Pink Swastika” book that argues gays held the real power over life and death in Nazi Germany. You can imagine what followed. Shannon Young at MassLive has the details.
Stormy Daniels may reveal all, literally, at Springfield strip club
Stormy Daniels, the porn film star who allegedly had an affair with a certain person now occupying the White House, will be “performing” at the Mardi Gras Gentleman’s Club in Springfield on Friday, reports Ray Kelly at MassLive and Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine. She’s also performing at another Connecticut strip club on Saturday, but that show is already sold out, and at two shows on Sunday in Providence.
State Police chief: Agency reforms are going ‘smoothly’
From Brian Dowling at the Herald: “State police Col. Kerry A. Gilpin said reforms at the embattled public safety agency are moving forward ‘smoothly’ as the force works to implement a body camera pilot program and expands the use of in-vehicle location tracking to its whole fleet.”
Senate to vote on proposed ban on sales of ivory and rhino horns
From Christian Wade at the Gloucester Times: “State lawmakers are taking up a proposed ban on the sale of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horns as part of a broader effort to curb illegal poaching. The measure, set for a vote in the state Senate on Thursday, would prohibit the sale, offer for sale, purchase or possession of ivory and rhino horns beginning next year — with a handful of exceptions.”
Some Revere parking lot owners say they’ll close over parking-fee plan
Revere officials plan to raise the fee parking lot owners pay to the city from $25 to $365 per space — and some lot owners say they’ll shut down rather than pay the increase, Thomas Grillo reports at the Lynn Item. The License Commission says it is trying to make up for a 25-year gap between fee hikes.
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.
Kennedy Library Foundation’s NFN Summer Celebration
Spend your Wednesday evening on the Kennedy Library’s ocean-front patio overlooking the Boston skyline & harbor, while enjoying delicious food, beverages, live music, lawn games & more!
ADL’s Glass Leadership Institute Happy Hour & Info Session
Come join us to learn about ADL’s Glass Leadership Institute and meet GLI alumni and ADL staff! Light refreshments will be provided. Registration required at http://www.adl.org/BostonGLIHappyHour
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