Gaming Commission, Spilka takes command, Cannabis Control, Comm Ave Bridge project
— MassDOT this evening shuts down a major intersection over the Massachusetts Turnpike in Boston to complete the replacement of the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge; the project lasts about two-and-a-half weeks.
— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash and undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Janelle Chan gather to announce the recipients of FY 2018 Community Development Block Grants, Grand Staircase, 10 a.m.
— MG&E’s request for reconsideration of its Brockton resort casino goes before the Mass. Gaming Commission at its regular meeting, 101 Federal St. – 12th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.
— Climate-action organizations plan a series of vigils outside the offices of energy bill conferees to urge them to support a Renewable Portfolio Standard increase and other environmental issues, State House, 12 p.m.
— Sen. Karen Spilka assumes the presidency of the Senate, replacing Senate President Harriette Chandler, in a ceremony that will be attended by Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Attorney General Maura Healey and Suzanne Bump, among others, Gardner Auditorium, 1 p.m.
— The Cannabis Control Commission will review ‘a significant number’ of marijuana license applications, HPC Conference Room, 50 Milk St. – 8th floor, Boston, 1 p.m.
— Public defenders rally outside the State House to call for collective bargaining rights, State House steps, 1 p.m.
— Governor’s Councilor Mary Hurley hosts a public forum in Springfield to hear feedback from constituents on Gov. Charlie Baker’s nomination of attorney Kevin Maltby for a seat on the Northampton District Court bench, Western New England School of Law, Moot Court Room, 1215 Wilbraham Rd., Springfield, 5 p.m.
— John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center talks about gun control on ‘NightSide,’ WBZ NewsRadio 1030, 8 p.m.
Correction: MassterList inaccurately reported in our Happening Today section yesterday that the Cannabis Control Commission planned to meet on Wednesday. The commission, instead, plans to meet today. See item above.
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.
Spilka takes command in the Senate
After eight months of leadership turmoil in the Senate, Karen Spilka officially assumes the presidency of the Senate today, replacing current Senate President Harriette Chandler, who herself took over after former Senate President Stan Rosenberg became embroiled in controversy tied his husband’s alleged sexual misconduct at the State House.
The Globe’s Joshua Miller writes that Spilka’s first priority is to “right the ship” in the Senate. WGBH’s Mike Deehan has a good piece that notes that Spilka “is by action and by trade, a professional mediator,” having formerly served as a social worker and labor attorney. She’s going to need those mediating skills in her new job. Shira Schoenberg at MassLive doesn’t forget Harriette Chandler, who rightly steps down with her head held high.
Rep. Campbell calls for state investigation of Methuen police contracts
The insider types in Methuen aren’t happy about this one. From Lisa Kashinsky at the Eagle-Tribune: “State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell is calling for a state investigation into Methuen’s police contracts. The Methuen Democrat intends to submit letters to the state attorney general, inspector general and State Ethics Commission on Friday asking for formal investigations into the police patrolmen and superiors union contracts and their approval process.”
You recall those contracts, right? Or at least the one that would have paid police captains nearly a half-million dollars a year?
Three utilities present the tab for their hydro-power work: $426M
Was there some heavy lifting involved in the negotiations? The numbers sound pretty high. From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth Magazine: “The three utilities that negotiated hydro-electricity contracts on behalf of the state are seeking compensation equal to 2.75 percent of the deal, a total of nearly $426 million over 20 years or an average of roughly $21 million a year.” Fyi: Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil are expected to seek similar compensation for work negotiating offshore wind contracts, Mohl writes.
Is there an end in sight for the National Grid lock-out?
Speaking of utilities, the Herald’s Antonio Planas reports that National Grid and union representatives of the more than 1,000 employees who the utility has locked out of work plan to meet together today to try to, finally, hammer out a new contract. They better hurry. The Globe’s Katie Johnston said the lock-out is causing “significant delays” for residential customers who need and want gas work.
Choices, choices: Women’s groups get to pick and choose from a plethora of female candidates
It’s a dilemma they ultimately welcome: There are so many females running for offices this year that women’s groups are having a tough time making endorsements. The Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert has the details on how women’s groups are now learning the fine art of snubbing.
Lindstrom plays women’s card, then asks people not to vote for her only because she’s a woman
Speaking of female candidates, Tori Bedford at WGBH reports that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Beth Lindstrom suggested that her gender may give her the best chance of beating U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, rattling off stats to back up her point. But then Lindstrom, who’s running against two males in the GOP primary, says “don’t just vote for me because I’m a woman” and urges people to look at her record on issues. File under: Message mission accomplished.
Will Warren’s tax comments come back to haunt her?
The Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s comments on a cable news program about raising taxes – perhaps to 50 percent or more for wealthy citizens – is drawing fire from Republicans and other critics. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld says Warren is merely providing future ammo for the GOP if she runs for president in 2020.
The levels she’s suggesting are indeed ridiculous. But something does need to be done about the recent Republican tax cuts that are now pushing the federal deficit towards $1 trillion a year, as the NYT reports this morning. One can only imagine the hypocritical reaction of Republicans if the federal deficit was this high under Obama.
A 25 percent tariff on foreign cars? Mutiny among Republicans?
Briefly switching to national political and economic news, this bears watching because it’s potentially so historic and mind blowing, if it ever happens. From the Washington Post: “Several of President Trump’s senior economic advisers believe he plans to push forward with 25 percent tariffs on close to $200 billion in foreign-made automobiles later this year, three people briefed on internal discussions said. Trump wants to move forward despite numerous warnings from GOP leaders and business executives who have argued that such a move could damage the economy and lead to political mutiny.” … There is some good news on the tariffs front: The U.S. and European Union have agreed to work out a possible no-tariffs deal, reports CNN. Now back to all things local. …
Median price of single-family homes tops $400K for first time in state’s history
Need more proof about the housing crisis in Massachusetts? From the Warren Group, publisher of Boston’s Banker & Tradesman: “Last month, the median single-family sale price increased 6.3 percent to $420,000, up from $395,000 a year earlier. This marks the first time the median single-family home price has ever exceeded $400,000 in a given month. Year-to-date, the median price rose 5.6 percent to $380,000.”
Lawmakers move to repeal controversial Valor Act
From Matt Stout at the Globe: “Legislative leaders moved Wednesday to repeal the state’s controversial Valor Act and replace it with a far more narrow measure intended to close loopholes that allowed some veterans to avoid criminal charges, including assaults on women, by citing their military service.”
Another state trooper charged in OT scandal
From WCVB: “Another retired state police trooper is facing charges of embezzlement in connection with an overtime scandal that has rocked the department. Trooper Daren DeJong, 56, who retired after news of the scandal broke, is accused of embezzling $14,062.50 worth of overtime pay for hours he did not work, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.” Btw: After retiring, DeJong began collecting a pension of $75,014 per year, WCVB reports. Dan Glaun at MassLive has more on the fifth person to be charged in the ongoing OT case.
Racial gap in Boston’s homicide clearance rates back in focus
A Washington Post story has reignited debate over the Boston Police Department’s divergent homicide clearance rates, the Globe’s Laura Crimaldi reports. The Post cited data showing that since 2007, arrests have been made in 90 percent of murders involving white victims compared to just 42 percent in cases where the victim was black. Outgoing Commissioner Bill Evans defended the department, telling Crimaldi that “it all comes down to the evidence.”
Eldridge withdraws Sunday-pay amendment, says fight not over
Sen. Jamie Eldridge yesterday withdrew his amendment to the Senate economic-development bill that would have repealed a key provision of the recently passed “grand bargain” bill that eliminates time-and-half pay for workers on Sundays, reports Shira Schoenberg at MassLive. “After speaking to my colleagues and workers’ rights advocates, I believe that it is better to address this issue next session,” Eldridge said. As noted yesterday, it’s an issue that’s not going away. Unions are really upset about this one.
So what do abortion rights have to do with being secretary of state? Not a thing
The Globe’s Joan Vennochi knows why Josh Zakim is going after Bill Galvin over the issue of abortion rights in the secretary of state race in Massachusetts: It’s a progressive year and it’s an issue of huge importance to progressives. But as Joan notes: “When I asked Zakim to point to a decision Galvin made or could make as secretary of state that affects abortion rights, he couldn’t.” He couldn’t because abortion rights are totally irrelevant to the race and office.
WBUR names new program co-hosts to replace Tom Ashbrook
Meghna Chakrabarti, host of WBUR’s weekday show ‘Radio Boston,’ and David Folkenflik, longtime NPR News reporter, will be the new co-hosts of WBUR’s syndicated weekday talk show On Point, replacing former host Tom Ashbrook, who earlier this year was canned for, well, being a sort of toxic boss. Martha Bebingerat WBUR and Max Stendahl at the BBJ have the details.
Lawmakers send data-breach and civics-lesson bills to governor’s desk
As expected, legislators yesterday approved compromise bills that require greater emphasis on civic lessons in schools and provides more consumer protections in the event of data breaches. Shira Schoenberg at MassLive covered both stories.
Governor signs bill calling for new car-rental fee to pay for police training
Also as expected, Gov. Charlie Baker, surrounded by families of fallen officers, yesterday signed legislation calling for a new $2 fee on car rentals to pay for police training across the state, reports SHNS at the Salem News.
Baker and Sanders hold on to their most-popular status
Speaking of the governor, from SHNS’s Michael Norton at WBUR: “Gov. Charlie Baker and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders retained their most popular status in rankings of the job performance of U.S. governors and senators released on Wednesday. … Baker had a plus-52 net approval rating, with 69 percent of Bay State voters approving of him and 17 percent disapproving. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin was the least popular governor, with 19 percent approval and 74 percent disapproval.”
Btw: A new survey by Morning Constult shows that U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey are pretty popular too. Shannon Young at MassLive has the details.
Baker declines to sign letter from GOP governors backing Kavanaugh
Gov. Charlie Baker is one of three Republican governors who declined to sign a letter backing the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, the Associated Press reports, via the Herald. Thirty Republican governors signed the letter citing Kavanaugh’s “impeccable credentials,” with only the signatures of Baker, Maryland’s Larry Hogan and Vermont’s Phil Scott missing.
Cheerleading at its finest: MassINC/Barr Foundation release silly poll on ‘popular’ congestion pricing plan
As Gov. Charlie Baker prepares to return the budget to lawmakers today with expected vetoes, the folks at MassINC Polling Group and the Barr Foundation seem determined to pressure the governor into not vetoing a pilot congestion-pricing plan tucked into the budget blueprint. They present poll numbers showing that – surprise! – people support lowering some tolls during off-peak traffic periods, as the test program stipulates. Thus poll results show that the test program is a “popular idea,” Steve Koczela and Rich Parr of MassINC declare at WBUR.
But their own poll numbers show that 55 percent oppose raising tolls during peak hours, which we all know is the real goal of congestion-pricing supporters. After all, you won’t deter driving much during peak hours if you discount tolls for some and leave tolls at current levels for others, as the rigged test program stipulates. Raising tolls, substantially, is the only way to make congestion-pricing work.
And don’t get us going on how the poll doesn’t break down how, say, Pike and Tobin Bridge motorists feel (excluding the tunnel tolls). They’re the only ones now paying tolls to commute to work, the only ones paying higher tolls to pay off the Big Dig for the benefit of everyone else and, soon, they may be the only ones paying higher tolls to reduce regional traffic congestion for everyone else. We’ll be convinced congestion-pricing enthusiasts are serious only when they propose, and get passed, new tolls on I-93 and Routes 2, 3, 128 etc, etc. Hey, it’s about reducing regional traffic congestion, not just Pike and Tobin congestion, right?
Western Mass. bid for local gas tax runs into ditch on Beacon Hill
Speaking of transportation and money, lawmakers are putting roadblocks in the way of a bid by Great Barrington and Lee to tack a local gas tax onto drivers’ fuel bills, Heather Bellow reports in the Berkshire Eagle. State Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli says the local option bill he filed to allow communities to tax gas was deliberately sent to a committee to languish, thanks to what he calls “anti-tax fever” among lawmakers.
‘It’s coming. It’s bad’
No one can blame MassDOT for not warning them. Tonight, transportation crews start work on the mammoth Commonwealth Avenue project that will last about two-and-a-half weeks and close down traffic to cars in the area, as well as close lanes on the Turnpike on both sides, reports Meghan Kelly at WBUR. Transportation officials have been trying to get the word out, even flashing a message on digital signs hanging over highways: “IT’S COMING, IT’S BAD.”
Brockton rehires teachers as budget outlook improves
The Brockton school department is recalling a dozen teachers and two guidance counselors who were issued pink slips earlier this summer as the district faced down a massive budget deficit, Marc Larocque reports in the Enterprise. Brockton is in line to receive an extra $3.2 million in state funds than it had forecast, enabling some of the 83 staffers—including 46 teachers—who had been pink-slipped to get their jobs back.
Cannabis Commission staff to expand to 40, with average pay for employees hitting $110K
From Mike Plaisance at MassLive: “The full-time staff of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission will increase to over 40 from the previous 26 thanks to $4.4 million in personnel spending in the new state budget, a spokeswoman said. In total, the commission’s budget for fiscal 2019 is $7,987,870. The fiscal year began July 1. … The figure for personnel costs translates to an average salary of $110,000.”
Congressional delegation going to bat for Mashpee Wampanoags in land and casino dispute
SHNS’s Matt Murphy at Wicked Local has a good summary of the fight now under way in Washington D.C. over the Mashpee Wampanoag’s right to protected land in Taunton and Mashpee. At stake is a possible tribal casino in Taunton, something Brockton officials oppose because they want a casino in their city. Most of the state’s Congressional members are lining up behind the Wampanoags.
Coffee with the BBJ Editor & Publisher
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2018 Summer Institute in Global Leadership: Advanced Public Speaking
Advanced Institutes bring together older students who are passionate about global issues and are in, or aspire to be in, leadership roles that demand advance communication skills. This week, students will work together to develop public speaking skills through the format of Model UN crisis simulations. There will be a particular focus on presentation tips and tricks and extemporaneous speaking.
NAIOP 8th Annual Harbor Cruise
Mix business with pleasure on the decks of the NAIOP Harbor Cruise, featuring networking, an 80’s theme party, and cocktails. Connect with friends and colleagues while enjoying a 360-degree view of Boston’s ever-changing waterfront.
2018 #FlipMyFunnel B2B Marketing and Sales Conference
Each year, more than 1,000 B2B marketing and sales professionals gather together to learn about the latest in B2B marketing and sales, network with one another and explore the latest technologies to power their programs.
Malden Democratic City Committee Annual Summer BBQ
We hope you’ll join us for our summer BBQ! This annual event is always a lot of fun and a great chance to catch up with old friends while supporting MDCC.
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