Happening Today

Firefighter training class, Impaired driving commission, FAN EXPO Boston

— Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan plans to host a meeting of the Lowell Opioid Task Force, Lowell General Hospital, 295 Varnum Avenue, Lowell, 9:30 a.m.

— Graduating members of the Career Recruit Firefighter Training Class #S08 will be honored, with State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey and Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Director David Evans presenting certificates to class members, 100 Grochmal Avenue, Springfield, 11 a.m.

Special Commission on Operating Under the Influence and Impaired Driving meets for the second time, with the commission expected to present ‘outside materials’ and discuss its work plan, Gaming Commission meeting room, 12th floor, 101 Federal St., Boston, 1 p.m.

FAN EXPO Boston, formerly Boston Comic Con, opens its three-day convention today, Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, 415 Summer Street, Boston, 1:30 p.m.

MassDOT hosts a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Assabet River Trail Project, 3.4 miles of multi-use trail from the Stow-Maynard town line to the commuter rail station in Acton, South Acton Commuter Rail Station, 4 Central St., Acton, 2 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.

Today’s Stories

Baker signs automatic voter registration legislation — and 52 other bills

Gov. Baker yesterday signed the automatic voter registration bill, making Massachusetts the 14th state in the country to adopt the practice of enrolling people to vote when they apply for various state services. In the case of Massachusetts, residents will be automatically registered when they make transactions at the Registry of Motor Vehicles or with MassHealth, reports Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive and Katie Lannan at SHNS (pay wall). 

Baker’s voter-registration action capped a busy day for the governor, who signed a total of 53 bills yesterday, including legislation dealing with opioid addiction treatment, clean energy, the environment, animal protections, veterans benefits and other measures, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy at MassLive.

Healey and Baker’s office: 3D guns are illegal in Massachusetts. Period.

Forget about new legislation restricting the possession of 3D-printed guns in Massachusetts. Attorney General Maura Healey and Gov. Charlie Baker’s top public safety official announced yesterday that 3D guns are already illegal in Massachusetts under current state law – and that applies to anyone who builds, sells or owns a 3D printed firearm, writes Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive. Here’s the full notice issued by Healey’s office yesterday.


Thunderstorms and lightning strike the Cape — and Spilka’s home

Intense thunderstorms have hammered the Cape, sparking fires, flooding roads, downing trees and knocking out power for thousands of utility customers, reports Beth Treffeisen at the Cape Cod Times. Her story is accompanied by lots of photos of the damage.

Meanwhile, other areas of the states didn’t escape the fury of recent storms, including Ashland, specifically at the home of Senate President Karen Spilka, who tweeted yesterday that her Ashland house was hit by lightning. “Never know what Mother Nature will do,” she wrote. “Tornado Warning on Saturday… lightning strike Wednesday. But WE ARE ALL OK. THat’s the only thing that matters. Big thanks to Ashland’s Finest.” She also has photos. SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) has more on Spilka’s lightning hit.

Chandler’s new position as ‘Senate president emertia’ nets her an extra $35K

Sen. Harriette Chandler took a pay cut when she officially stepped down as Senate president last month. But the reduction was cushioned by her assuming the newly created position as “Senate president emerita,” netting her $35,000 in extra pay, reports SHNS’s Andy Metzger at the Telegram. Our question: Does this have something do with Chandler agreeing to step down earlier than expected to make way for Sen. Karen Spilka to become president? Just asking.


CCC close to finding pot testing lab, but showdown with communities may delay shop openings

The Cannabis Control Commission yesterday approved seven more retail marijuana licenses – and said it’s close to finding a pot testing lab that would finally clear the way for pot shops to actually open in Massachusetts, reports SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall).

But, wait, CommonWealth magazine’s Jack Sullivan reports that the commission “wants to put a halt to communities demanding payments from legal pot businesses in excess of what’s allowed by law but the panel’s decision could move the opening of retail stores even further back.” File under: One step forward, one step back.

Weld and others sue to change the state’s winner-take-all electoral system

Former Gov. William Weld has joined forces with Lawrence Lessig of Harvard Law School and Al Gore’s former lawyer to sue Massachusetts and three other states over their winner-take-all presidential electoral systems, saying they disenfranchise millions of voters who back the losing candidates, reports the Globe’s Michael Levenson and the Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo. Attorney General Maura Healey plans to fight the lawsuit and Secretary of State William Galvin calls it “a bad idea.” 

Just a thought: Can’t the same disenfranchisement argument be applied to other winner-take-all elections, such as crowded primary races or three-way general elections, and aren’t they indirectly arguing that some sort of ranked-choice system might be justified in other elections?

Cambridge man arrested for offering $500 to any Twitter follower who killed an ICE agent

A Cambridge man was arrested yesterday after offering $500 to any of his Twitter followers to kill an ICE agent – a threat that U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling is tying, at least indirectly, to the Abolish ICE movement in general. “There is a point in which rhetoric veers into irresponsible and sometimes criminal acts,” Lelling said. Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin and the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter have more. Not surprisingly, the Herald is going nuts on the story, with an editorial (“Watch your words, Liz Warren”) and with Herald columnist Joe Battenfeld also taking shots at U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Abolish ICE backers.

Rare find: Only known photo of JFK and Marilyn Monroe together is now up for sale

The question is: Who in heaven’s name would buy it? But they’ll indeed find a buyer, for the ‘it’ is the only known photo of JFK and Marilyn Monroe together, a black-and-white wonder now on the auction block. In one of the most-viewed stories at the Globe, Lillian Brown has the details (and the photo).

Boston Globe

Report: Growth of urgent care clinics helping state contain costs

From Jessica Bartlett at the BBJ: “A new report finds that the explosive growth of urgent care clinics in Massachusetts has helped the state contain health care costs. According to a report released on Thursday by the state’s health care watchdog, the Health Policy Commission, the number of urgent care clinics in Massachusetts increased from 18 in 2010 to 145 by the end of 2017. The number of retail clinics also nearly tripled during that period, from 20 to 58.”

So how is this saving money? The proliferation of clinics has reduced visits to costly emergency rooms, the reports says, stressing the “staggering differences” in prices between clinics and emergency rooms, as CommonWealth magazine’s Michael Jonas notes. Btw: Remember when there was actual consternation when retail and urgent care clinics were first rolled out during the Menino era?

Report: Mass. hospitals cling to narrow profitability

Speaking of health care costs and finances, profit margins at the state’s acute care hospitals are shrinking amid financial pressures from all sides, a new report says. The Center for Health Care Information and Analysis reports that 65 percent of the state’s hospitals had profit margins below the 3 percent level considered healthy, Christian Wade reports at the Salem News. 

Salem News

Dem gubernatorial candidates try to tap into Bay State road (and T) rage

In a piece headlined “American Horror Story: MBTA Edition,” the Herald’s Laurel Sweetthis morning chronicles the latest disasters at the T – yesterday’s Blue Line power outage, which required the evacuation of hundreds of passengers, and the falling concrete at the T’s Alewife Station, which has forced the T to shutter hundreds of parking spaces at the garage.

Enter the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro, who has a timely piece this morning about how the two Democratic candidates for governor, Jay Gonzalez and Bob Massie, are trying to make traffic, transportation and the T in general an issue in the governor’s race. Political history suggests Republican Gov. Charlie Baker will skate on the issue, but it’s definitely an issue worth raising.

Yes, there will be a tax free holiday this weekend (we’re pretty sure)

Gov. Charlie Baker has yet to sign legislation allowing an official sales tax holiday this weekend, as he continues to pore over the huge economic development bill (the one that magically grew from $600 million to $1 billion literally overnight) that the tax-holiday provision was tucked into by lawmakers. But his staff swears he’ll sign it on time, reports SHNS (pay wall).

Not that it really matters. It’s full tax-holiday steam ahead for retailers across the state. Marc Larocque at the Enterprise reports how Brockton area businesses are all abuzz about the tax holiday. MassLive has a when-where-how guide. And theSun Chroniclehas more, too.

‘No Taxation on Our Libations’: N.H. offers discounts on alcohol to out-of-state customers

peaking of sales tax breaks, there will always be a New Hampshire. The AP at CBS Boston is reporting that the Granite State, which has no sales tax, is now offering special discounts to out-of-state customers on alcohol purchases at its state-run stores. The sale, which runs through Labor Day, has been dubbed “No Taxation on Our Libations.”


Easier said than done: Collecting online sales taxes

One more sales-tax item: The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling this past June allowing taxes on online retail sales appeared to clear the way for Massachusetts and other states to start raking in the big bucks. But the Globe’s John Chesto reports on how there’s still a thicket of legal challenges facing tax collectors here and elsewhere over online sales and taxes.

Running two campaigns: Third District transgender candidate also has eye on transgender-rights referendum

The Globe’s Matt Stout takes a look at how Alexandra Chandler, the state’s first openly transgender candidate for Congress, is effectively active in two campaigns at the same time: The Third District Congressional primary race and the transgender-rights ballot question that will appear before voters in November.

Meanwhile, Chris Lisinski at the Lowell Sun also has a profile on Chandler and her ‘sense of responsibility at being the first.’

Developers plan to revive Hotel Alexandra—without guest parking

A team of developers will seek city approval for a plan to redevelop the long-suffering Hotel Alexandra in the South End into a high-end boutique hotel with no parking for guests, Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub reports. The developers say guest parking is both not feasible and not necessary, citing the “site constraints and the ample availability of public transportation.” 

Universal Hub

Barnstable County could see layoffs

Barnstable County officials are warning they may need to lay off employees in its next budget cycle after lawmakers failed to act on a bill that would allow an early retirement program to be offered, Geoff Spillane reports in the Cape Cod Times. The bill, which was filed in 2017 and has support from the entire Cape legislative delegation, has yet to make it to a vote in either chamber.  

Cape Cod Times

Board of Health orders Greenfield homeless encampment removed from common

Greenfield’s Board of Health broke a major political impasse in the western Massachusetts city by ordering the removal of a homeless encampment on the Greenfield Common, citing health concerns and possible violations of state law, reports Dan Desrochers at the Recorder. The city council promptly canceled its emergency meeting planned for last night regarding the controversial encampment, whose fate has divided political leadership in Greenfield. 

Greenfield Recorder

Boston experienced its hottest first week in August ever

We knew it was hot, but not this hot. From CBS Boston: “It’s supposed to be hot this time of year, but the first week of August was one for the record books in Boston. WBZ-TV executive weather producer Terry Eliasen says the 1st through 7th was the hottest first week of August in Boston ever recorded. The average temperature for the week was 81.9 degrees, a full degree warmer than the old record set in 1988, 1980 and 1938.”

CBS Boston

The statistical analysis: So who wrote what Beatles song – John or Paul?

This is fun stuff. Edgar B. Herwick III at WGBH talks with Harvard’s Mark Glickman, a senior lecturer in statistics, who has worked with Jason Brown, a math professor at Dalhousie University, on their statistical analysis of Beatles songs to determine who wrote what in the famous Lennon-McCartney collaboration. An example of their work, via Herwick: 

“When it came to melody lines, they found that Lennon tended to be limited in his range, while McCartney was more likely to take big leaps in pitch up and down the scale from note to note. Glickman pointed out the moment in Eleanor Rigby, a McCartney-penned song where Paul sings, ‘Where do they all come from?’ ‘The ‘Where do’ is an octave jump,’ he said. ‘There are no John Lennon songs where there’s an octave jump on the diatonic scale of the song.”

Enjoy the weekend, everyone.


Sunday public affairs TV

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 5, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: Diane Hessan, who’s been regularly surveying 500 voters across the country regarding President Trump and she tells host Jon Keller about the issues that are dividing and unifying her Trump focus group.   

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell on the offshore wind industry and its impact on his city; Velcro’s president for North America, Dirk Foreman, on the company’s New England presence; Politico’s Lauren Dezenski on Jim Koch’s dinner with President Trump and New York’s Uber strategy.  

CEO Corner, NECN, 10:30 a.m. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts chief executive Andrew Dreyfus talks about new models for health care and coverage, efforts to control prices, hospital consolidations and more.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: Beth Lindstrom, GOP candidate for U.S Senate, who talks with anchor Ed Harding and co-anchor Janet Wu.

This is New England, NBC Boston Channel 10, 11:30 a.m. With host Latoyia Edwards, this week’s topic: Gearing up for ‘Clear the Shelters’ on Saturday, August 18 to help find homes for pets across New England.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s topic: Exploring the summer arts community in Boston.

National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) Public Meeting (In Person Meeting Option)

This registration is for the in-person meeting only. If you would like to attend by teleconference please register here – https://nejac-public-teleconference-option-august-2018.eventbrite.com


Sheriff Cocchi’s Annual Summer Cookout

At the Springfield Elks: 11 a.m. – Hot dogs, hamburgers, clam chowder, grinders with sausage, peppers, and onions 5 p.m. – Beef kabobs & chicken dinner, baked potato, corn on the cob Live music! Games! Raffles and more!

The Committee to Elect Nick Cocchi

Digital Summit Boston 2018: Digital Marketing Conference



VOTER SUPPRESSION IN THE 21ST CENTURY: Richard Cohen, President, Southern Poverty Law Center

We Are America the Beautiful is pleased to host Richard Cohen, President of Southern Poverty Law Center to discuss: Voter suppression trends; Issues with voter ID, early voting, purges of voter rolls and restrictions in registration processes; Court rulings

We Are America the Beautiful

Today’s Headlines


Center Court buys Star Market, media building on Morrissey Blvd – Dorchester Reporter

South Boston residents push for traffic safety improvements – Boston Globe


Apartment plan for Hanover Mall prompts concerns – Patriot Ledger

Meeting Wednesday on planned Pilgrim sale – Cape Cod Times

Mansfield recycling costs increasing: Tip of a trashy iceberg? – Sun Chronicle

Report raps culture at UMass polymer sciences department – Daily Hampshire Gazette


Democrats seize on GOP ethics scandals in midterms because it’s worked before – NPR

Kobach agrees to recuse himself from Kansas primary recount – The Hill

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