Suffolk DA forum, Commonwealth Ave. Bridge, Cannabis Control, Gaming Commission and more
— Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department and the ACLU of Massachusetts host a district attorney candidates’ forum at the Suffolk County House of Correction, Suffolk County House of Correction at South Bay, 20 Bradston St., Boston, 10 a.m.
— The Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets holds a hearing on the House’s $2 billion environmental bond bill, Room 222, 10 a.m.
— Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver and other MassDOT officials join Commonwealth Avenue Bridge Project staff for a tour of construction staging location and a media availability ahead of major construction scheduled for July 26 through Saturday, Aug. 11, Beacon Park Yard, entrance is approximately 272 Cambridge St., Allston, 10 a.m.
— The Housing Committee meets to accept testimony on two bills related to public housing, Hearing Room B-2, 10 a.m.
— The Cannabis Control Commission meets, Health Policy Commission conference room, 8th floor, 50 Milk St., Boston, 10:30 a.m.
— Massachusetts Lottery Commission meets to vote on the compensation of the Lottery executive director Michael Sweeney and to approve new contracts, One Ashburton Place, 12th floor, Boston, 10:30 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker meets privately with AARP State Director Mike Festa, Elder Affairs Secretary Alice Bonner, and Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Janelle Chan about housing options for the state’s aging population, Room 360, 11:15 a.m.
— The House’s Trump working group, led by Majority Leader Ron Mariano and Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad, hosts a hearing on Rep. Michael Day’s bill that would prevent for-profit business corporations from raising religious claims for corporate exemptions from Massachusetts anti-discrimination laws, House Members Lounge, Room 350, 1 p.m.
— The Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on Gov. Charlie Baker’s child-sexual predators bill, Room A-1, 1 p.m.
— Hopkinton Selectman Brian Herr, 2014 Republican candidate for U.S. Senate who recently unenrolled from the Republican Party, is a guest on ‘Radio Boston,’ WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash, Sen. Brendan Crighton, Rep. Dan Cahill, Lynn Mayor Tom McGee and AFL-CIO and Hub Holdings officials gather for the grand opening of Gateway North Apartments, 700 Washington St., Lynn, 3:30 p.m.
— Gaming Commission meets to discuss a report about the overall economic and social impacts of Plainridge Park Casino on the host and surrounding communities, Plainville Council on Aging/Senior Center, 9 School St., Plainville, 5:30 p.m.
— Emerge Massachusetts honors Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer and Boston City Councilors Andrea Campbell and Lydia Edwards as the group’s ‘Women Who Dare’ of the year, with Treasurer Deborah Goldberg attending, Foley and Lardner LLP, 111 Huntington Ave. – Suite 2500, Boston, 5:30 p.m.
— Former U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz is the keynote speaker at a networking event hosted by Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and the Women’s Bar Association, Atrium in TradeCenter 128, 300 Tradecenter Drive, Woburn, 6 p.m.
— Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins, former Sheriff and Public Safety Secretary Andrea Cabral and Rahsaan Hall of ACLU Massachusetts discuss the Suffolk district attorney race on ‘Greater Boston,’ WGBH-TV Ch. 2, 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.
Investigation of Baker’s son switched to U.S. Attorney’s office
Facing reporters for the first time since news broke that his adult son has been accused of groping a woman while on an airline flight, Gov. Charlie Baker declared yesterday, “Look, I love my son, but this review needs to be done by the U.S. Attorney’s Office” and he repeated that A.J. Baker will fully cooperate with authorities. Meaning: The investigation won’t be handled by the State Police, which is currently embroiled in controversy over, among other things, showing arrest-report favoritism towards the daughter of a state judge. Shira Schoenberg at MassLive, Matt Stout at the Globe and SHNS’s Katie Lannan at CommonWealth magazine have the details.
Btw: Proving that even a stopped clock is right twice a day, GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Lively raises an interesting point: Was A.J. shown favoritism by not being arrested after an alleged in-flight incident that required airline officials to call in the State Police? Shira Schoenberg at MassLive has more. Btw II: By pure coincidence, NPR at WBUR has a piece on the increasing number of sexual assault reports on commercial airline flights in general.
Baker signals he’s set to sign ‘grand bargain’ bill – and break his no-new-taxes pledge
Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday danced around the issue a bit, but, yeah, he indicated he’s ready to sign the “grand bargain” bill that includes a minimum wage hike and new family and medical leave provisions, though he still has some “technical questions,” reports SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall).
But the Globe’s Joshua Miller and Matt Stout note the sweeping paid family and medical leave program is funded by imposing a new $800 million payroll tax on workers and employers in Massachusetts. So, ask Miller and Stout, isn’t that a violation of the governor’s “most sacrosanct” no-new-taxes policy? As they report: “Asked if signing it would violate his no-new-taxes pledge, Baker did not directly reply, saying, ‘There’s a benefit that’s attached to this thing, and that benefit is a paid family leave provision that did not previously exist in state law.’” So that means … what? That there’s a small-print caveat in his no-new-taxes pledge tied to new taxes bringing benefits?
Restaurant wars: Coming to Boston?
Boston restaurateurs debate whether it’s appropriate to deny someone a smile and service if they don’t like their politics, as was the case in Virginia the other day when the owner of the Red Hen restaurant kicked out White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The Globe’s Janelle Nanos has the details. The Globe’s Michael Cohen is defending the shaming and booting-out tactic, saying it’s “offered a useful, alternative path forward.” The Herald’s Adriana Cohen offers a textbook ideological argument against the “textbook political discrimination.” We liked Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby’s opening lines to his column on the raging issue du jour: “Stephanie Wilkinson, the owner of Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Va., refused — as a matter of moral conviction — to serve the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, on Friday night. Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Co., refused — as a matter of moral conviction — to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.” Sort of makes everyone look like political hypocrites, which is Jacoby’s point.
Btw: Many Dems are not comfortable with the new protest tactic, the NYT reports.
Pressley calls for elimination of ICE
Speaking of once unthinkable policy positions/tactics by Democrats, Ayanna Pressley goes there. From Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine: “Ayanna Pressley, the Boston city councilor and Congressional candidate, says she wants to abolish ICE, saying it’s time to defund the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. In doing so, she joins a small but growing cohort of Democrats who will not just condemn the actions of the force that rounds up and deports undocumented immigrants, but will call for dismantling it.”
Indeed, the Washington Post reports that an increasing number of progressives are now calling for ICE’s elimination. Michael Graham at the Herald calls the idea crazy and says some Democrats are now effectively advocating “open borders,” without specifically saying so, of course.
Speaking of ICE: Outgoing Boston schools superintendent Tommy Chang is denying BPS has been feeding information about students to ICE, reports Adam Gaffin at Universal Hub. Meanwhile, Here & Now host Meghna Chakrabarti at WBUR takes a look at the history of ICE.
Quite a haul: Methuen’s police captains in line to make $432K each
Residents and officials in Methuen are outraged that an audit has revealed that five police captains in town stand to make a whopping $432,295 each under a new contract, making them the highest-paid police officers in the state, reports Michael Levenson at the Globe. For comparison purposes: Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans makes $238,846 and Gov. Charlie Baker makes $151,800.
‘Worcester’s overhyped renaissance’
Sure, there are more restaurants and shops. And, sure, many people who have visited Worcester after years of being away for years are pleasantly surprised by the changes. But Grant Welker at the Worcester Business Journal says city boosters are getting a little carried away with all the talk about Worcester’s ‘renaissance,’ noting that comparable cities across the country have seen far stronger economic performance over recent years than the Bay State’s second city.
Presumed dead MetLife customers say they’re not dead – and they want their pension payments
From Greg Ryan at the BBJ: “Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Gavlin’s office has received hundreds of calls from Massachusetts residents who were supposed to receive pension payments from MetLife but were “presumed dead” by the financial services giant, according to a new complaint. Galvin, the state’s securities regulator, filed an administrative complaint against MetLife (NYSE: MET) on Monday, seeking to require the company to find all Massachusetts residents eligible for pension payouts from MetLife.”
T backtracks on parking fee hikes – at least on the South Shore
Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine and Adam Vaccaro at the Globe report that the T is already retreating a bit on those parking fee hikes approved only a week ago, specifically the fee hikes on the South Shore.
The latest GLX groundbreaking: ‘This one is real’
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Gov. Charlie Baker were among those at yesterday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the long-delayed MBTA Green Line Extension project, WBUR reports. We liked U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano’s quote: “I swore publicly that I would never come to another groundbreaking of the Green Line because I had already been to three,” he said. “Today is different because this one is real. It’s been a long time coming.”
Owner of Eagle-Tribune and other local papers put up for sale
Because of a planned corporate merger, Alabama-based CNHI, a unit of Raycom Media, is being put up for sale – and so that means the Eagle Tribune and a handful of other community newspapers north of Boston are also up for sale, unless Raycom merely spins off CNHI. Don Seiffert at the BBJ has the details.
Hate to bring this up: Are bond markets signaling a coming recession?
First, the NYT’s Matt Phillips reports that the so-called bond yield curve is “perilously close to predicting a recession — something it has done before with surprising accuracy — and it’s become a big topic on Wall Street.” Second, he explains why the ‘yield curve’ is considered important and what the fuss is all about.
No problem: National Grid’s lockout of 1,000 workers may lead to service delays
Expect service delays due to National Grid’s lockout of 1,000 workers From the Herald’s Dan Atkinson: “National Grid customers can expect delays for nonemergency calls after the company locked out more than 1,000 union workers yesterday, but officials said management and contractors will handle crucial complaints during the stoppage. The lockout began after National Grid officials and union leaders of United Steelworkers Locals 12003 and 12012 failed to reach a new contract Sunday, according to National Grid.” Wicked Localhas more on the National Grid lockout.
Firms say they’re getting unfairly punished for employees signing up for free Medicaid
Employers are demanding relief from new fees charged to companies that aren’t providing health insurance to a majority of their workers – and some say they’re being “punished” because many workers elect instead to sign up for free insurance through the state’s MassHealth, or Medicaid, program, reports Christian Wade at the Salem News.
Suspicions confirmed: ‘Car found 50 yards from shore in Wareham leads to OUI charge’
When Wareham police found a car 50 yards off the coast of Little Harbor Beach, sitting in water, they were suspicious. After an investigation, a 23-year-old Wareham woman has since been summoned to Wareham District Court on an OUI. Wicked Local has photos of the beached vehicle. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Isn’t a parole board supposed to parole people?
In a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker, critics of the state’s parole board – which has only approved a trickle of parole requests over the past eight years – are complaining that case proceedings are now taking longer than ever to review and failing to properly consider the mental health and drug-use disorders of patients, reports Maria Cramer at the Globe. However, as Cramer notes, it all ties back to the infamous Dominic Cinelli case in 2010.
Seven major bills are now in State House conference committee
SHNS’s Colin Young at the Sentinel & Enterprise reports that three more major bills – the red-flag gun bill, a veterans benefits bill and the massive health-care reform proposals – have been sent to conference committees for behind-the-scene negotiation between senators and House members. Four other bills dealing with the budget, short-term rentals regulations (the Airbnb bill), personal data security and civics education are also in conference committee as lawmakers strive to finish business by the end of July.
State Police payroll chief pleads guilty to stealing $23K
From Norman Miller at Wicked Local: “The former Massachusetts State Police payroll director who stole more than $23,000 from the agency pleaded guilty in Framingham District Court on Monday. Denise Ezekiel, 50, of Holbrook, pleaded guilty to one count of larceny of more than $250 at a change of plea hearing. Judge Michael Fabbri sentenced Ezekiel to two and a half years of probation, 100 hours of community service, to maintain a job and to undergo a “comprehensive” mental health evaluation.” The AP at NBC Boston reports State Police intend to fire Ezekiel.
Harvard’s ‘carefully considered act of slander’
Wesley Yang, a Tablet columnist writing at the NYT, is furious with an internal Harvard report’s description of Asian-American students as lacking engaging personalities, as recently revealed in the ongoing admissions-discrimination lawsuit brought on behalf of Asian-American students. Yang is calling it a “carefully considered act of slander.” And, in general, he’s right.
But we’re still not convinced it proves admissions discrimination against Asian-American students, for it seems Yang and others are arguing that SAT and GPA scores alone must determine who’s admitted into Harvard – and anything short of letting in the highest scorers must be ipso facto a form of discrimination.
Hey, Boston: Don’t lump second-home owners with investors renting out multiple units via Airbnb
Doug Gribbel, a Wellesley resident who owns a loft in downtown Boston, says the city council’s proposed new short-term rental law unfairly punishes second-home owners who rent out their units. “Personally, I worked hard and saved for almost 30 years so that I could purchase a condo in Boston, where my wife and I stay on occasion and plan to permanently retire to soon. Since I still work and live in the suburbs, our choice to retire to Boston hinged on our ability and right to rent it out on a short-term basis.”
Looking for affordable rents? Stay away from T stops
Speaking of rentals, the BBJ’s Max Stendahl reports, based on a new report by RentHop, that it’s getting increasingly expensive to live within walking distance of an MBTA subway stop: “Overall, the report found that rents for one-bedroom apartments near T stops across Greater Boston increased modestly — by around 3 percent — over the last year. Prices increased at 90 stops across the entire system, decreased at 21 stops, and remained the same at 10 stops.” The BBJ story is accompanied by a list of T-stop rents and an interactive map with detailed information.
Just what we need: Fentanyl-laced cocaine showing up in fatal overdoses
From Christian Wade at the Salem News: “Mixtures of cocaine and a powerful synthetic opioid are increasingly tied to fatal overdoses, prompting concerns among health officials who are warning about the deadly concoction. Newly released data show that cocaine and fentanyl were present in nearly half of the 351 fatal overdoses reported in Massachusetts in the last three months of 2017, according to the state Department of Public Health.”
Berkshire Museum to put nine more art works on auction block
The Berkshire Museum isn’t done selling art just yet. Looking to get to the $55 million threshold allowed under a court order, the institution says it has nine more pieces ready to be sold, Larry Parnass reports in the Berkshire Eagle. Seven of the pieces will be placed in private sales with the hopes of maintaining public access. No Norman Rockwell works are in the mix this time and the star of the lot appears to be the Albert Bierstadt oil painting ‘Giant Redwood Trees of California,’ which could bring in as much as $2.5 million.
Hingham spent $18K to vet harassment claim before ‘secret settlement’
The town of Hingham paid an employee $86,000 to quit and keep quiet about a harassment claim, but only after dropping another $18,000 on an investigation of the allegations, Neal Simplson reports in the Patriot Ledger, citing invoices that the newspaper obtained. A private investigator spent more than 120 hours—at a rate of $200 an hour—looking into the unspecified claims before filing a report the town has refused to release.
Plymouth Democrat to challenge GOP Sen. de Macedo
Two-term state Republican state Senator Viriato “Vinny” deMacedo is facing a challenge from a Plymouth Democrat who is making her first run at elected office, Geoff Spillane reports in the Cape Cod Times. Deborah Rudolf, a lawyer whose background includes work as a mediation trainer and as a state-appointed counsel for at-risk families, plans to formally launch her bid on Tuesday.
Sewage Pollution Right to Know Bill (S.2394)
Join leaders in the legislature, municipalities and the recreation and conservation community for a one-hour session on legislation that would inform the public when there is a sewage spill in their area.
Climate Crisis Action Summit
Senator Ed Markey invites you to the Climate Crisis Action Summit.
Boston Neighborhood Bike Forum
This gathering is meant to bring together Boston residents to connect, share, learn and envision what biking could be in our neighborhoods. The day will include discussion, information sharing, networking and skill building.
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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