Third District recount, Walsh on the air, and more
— The official recount of the Third Congressional District primary election results enters its second day, with public recounts scheduled to be heldin 16 towns today and more public recounts scheduled for the weekend and Monday.
— The Citizens’ Initiative Review, a program designed to produce pro and con statements about a ballot question that can be easily digested by average voters, holds its third day of deliberations, Watertown Public Library, Savings Bank Room, 123 Main St., Watertown, 9 a.m.
— Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan hosts a meeting of the Lowell Opioid Task Force, Lowell General Hospital, 295 Varnum Avenue, Lowell, 9:30 a.m.
— Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders and Elder Affairs Secretary Alice Bonner attend the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home falls prevention kick-off and ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new walking path, 110 Cherry St., Holyoke, 11 a.m.
— Boston Mayor Marty Walsh appears on his monthly ‘Ask the Mayor’ radio segment, WGBH’s 89.7 Boston, 12:30 p.m.
— The Holy Family Hospital holds its annual Adult Behavioral Conference with Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan delivering remarks, Northern Essex Community College, 100 Elliott Street, Haverhill, 12:30 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.
The gas-line explosions: ‘It just looked like an absolute war zone’
By now, most of you have heard about the awful gas explosions in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, a catastrophe that left some communities looking like ‘an absolute war zone,’ in the words of Andover’s fire chief (WGBH). So we’ll just point you to some stories that might help you sort out things.
First on the list: Keira Blessing’s tally-and-facts piece at the Eagle-Tribune: One dead, three explosions, 60 to 80 fires, 25 treated at local hospitals, and an unknown number of people evacuated from neighborhoods. Schools and many government offices have been closed. Federal and state investigators have already descended on the scene.
MassLive reports that crews must check 8,000 gas meters before people can return home following the explosions and fires.
The Globe’s David Abel reports that officials are still trying to determine the cause of the disaster, but it’s “likely the result of excess amounts of natural gas coursing through the region’s old pipes, some of which were being upgraded this week.” Both the New York Times and the Washington Post have prominent stories on the explosions.
Of lockouts, pipeline expansions and other political issues to come …
Yesterday’s gas-explosion catastrophe in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover involved lines operated by Columbia Gas — and Columbia Gas will have a lot of explaining to do in coming days, weeks and months. U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton was already tweeting last evening about the “multiple times” he tried to get hold of the Columbia Gas president to get answers about yesterday’s explosions and fires.
And you can bet that a lot of others questions will start to emerge soon about National Grid’s lockout of 1,250 of its natural-gas workers. Even before yesterday’s catastrophe, Attorney General Maura Healey was asking the DPU to launch an investigation into safety issues concerning the National Grid lockout. Meanwhile, unions officials representing the locked out workers issued a press release last night offering to help gas-line workers in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. It was their deft way, without saying so outright, that yesterday’s events and the National Grid lockout are linked.
And we can only imagine how yesterday’s gas explosions will play out in the ongoing debates over proposed natural-gas pipeline expansions in Massachusetts.
MGM Springfield’s generational problem: Minors sneaking into the casino
SHNS’s Colin Young at MassLive reports that Michael Mathis, president and CEO of MGM Springfield, is acknowledging that the new casino is running into the problem of underage young ones sneaking onto the gaming floor. He outlined the steps MGM Springfield is taking to keep minors out.
No bringing down the house: Card-counter gets tossed from MGM Springfield
Speaking of unwanted patrons at the new MGM Springfield casino, Mark Arsenault at the Globe reports that a professional blackjack player, who apparently travels the country plying his card-counting trade, was “unceremoniously escorted” from MGM Springfield earlier this week.
More casino problems: Pair indicted for trafficking meth at Plainridge Park
Two New Hampshire residents have been indicted on drug trafficking and weapons charges in connection with their arrest in late May at the Plainridge Park Casino, David Linton reports at the Sun-Chronicle. The duo was found with methamphetamine pills and a loaded gun at the time of their arrest.
Credit union becomes first financial firm in state to serve retail pot firms
From Dan Adams at the Globe: “A Massachusetts credit union will become the first financial institution in the state to offer banking services to recreational marijuana companies, a step that will allow consumers to pay for pot with plastic and helps cannabis businesses avoid the expensive and risky proposition of running all-cash operations. GFA Federal Credit Union, founded in 1938 to serve French-Canadian immigrants and headquartered in Gardner, told the Globe Thursday that it’s ready to wade into the recreational marijuana sector.”
Galvin refuses Koh’s request to delay Lowell recount
Secretary of State Bill Galvin has rejected Third District candidate Dan Koh’s request that the recount of primary votes not be held until an investigation is completed into Lowell’s election process, reports Mike LaBella at the Eagle-Tribune. As a result, Lowell’s votes will be counted on Sunday, as now scheduled by Galvin’s office, and the entire recount process will continue today in 16 other towns and additional communities over the weekend and on Monday. Btw: Joan Vennochi at the Globe has a column on the ‘Battle of the Martys’ in the Third District contest.
Recount of a different sort: MBTA employee actually stole $450K from fare boxes, not $80K
From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “The Attorney General’s office is now saying an MBTA employee stole $450,000 from bus fare collection boxes, more than five times as much as the $80,000 alleged in June. Stephen Fagerberg, a 55-year-old Dedham resident, was arrested in June as a result of an undercover operation that tracked marked bills placed in fare boxes on MBTA buses to Fagerberg’s personal bank account.”
Warren leaps to top of CNN’s 2020 Democrats list
She’s number one. Chris Cillizza and Harry Enten at CNN”s The Point newsletter have updated their list of the national Democrats jockeying to position themselves for 2020 presidential runs – and they’ve put Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at the top of the pack. Warren replaces former VP Joe Biden as No. 1 in part because of the steps she has taken to clear the way for a run—including releasing a cache of her tax returns—and in part because of the success female candidates are seeing on the national political stage this year.
Honolulu, here we come
The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports tht Hawaiian Airlines plans to announce today it will start new direct flights between Boston and Honolulu, making the 5,100-mile, 10-hour route the longest domestic fight in US history.
Diehl: I won’t be a rubber stamp for Trump
Gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez and other Democrats yesterday continued to hammer away at Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s endorsement of GOP U.S. Senate candidate Geoff Diehl, a big Trump supporter, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy at the Herald News. Now Diehl is pushing back, asserting he won’t be a “rubber stamp” for Trump if elected and, if anything, he’ll be an “asset” to Baker in Washington, Murphy reports in a separate story at CommonWealth magazine.
The Globe’s Victoria McGrane has a good piece this morning that basically reviews how Diehl – and Trump – have become a major political headache for Baker, a frequent critic of the president.
Lively announces he won’t be launching political kamikaze attacks on Baker this fall
Gov. Charlie Baker did catch one political break yesterday: Firebrand conservative Scott Lively, who Baker defeated in last Tuesday’s GOP gubernatorial primary, said yesterday he’s decided not to actively campaign against Baker this fall. Instead, he’s headed to Tennessee to help his son renovate a house. SHNS’s Michael Norton at South Coast Today has the details.
Red-Blue pedestrian link isn’t as simple (or as cheap) as it sounds
Ethan Finlan, a member of TransitMatters and a freelance transportation researcher, writes at CommonWealth magazine that a proposed 600-foot pedestrian connection between the State Street and Downtown Crossing stations, thus finally linking the Blue and Red lines, isn’t nearly as simple as portrayed, nor as inexpensive as projected, and by “virtually all metrics” a Blue Line extension from Bowdoin to Charles/MGH remains the best connection option.
Police scandals past: The more things change, the more they stay the same
Peter Lucas at the Boston Herald recently stumbled across an old book published in 1935 – “Massachusetts Politics 1890 to 1935,” written by late Globe political reporter Michael E. Hennessy — and he finds that the more things change, the more they stay the same, when it comes to police scandals. Amazingly, the book went through a reprint in 2017 and is still available at Amazon in paperback.
Editorials rip Bump over ‘partisan’ driver’s license audit
The Lowell Sun and the Salem News/Eagle-Tribune (in a shared editorial) are slamming Auditor Suzanne Bump for what they’re calling a bogus and obviously partisan audit of the Registry of Motor Vehicles, the one in which she found nearly 2,000 deceased people that were issued driver’s licenses and the one vehemently disputed by the Baker administration.
Globe editorial: Rollins should stick to her petty-crimes guns
Here’s another noteworthy editorial. A day after Suffolk DA candidate Rachael Rollins appeared to be backing away a bit from her controversial “decline to prosecute” list of petty crimes she won’t pursue if elected, the Globe, in an editorial, says that Rollins “should stick to the policy. It’s smart, and it’s not as radical as it might sound.”
Boston joins others in suing drug-makers over opioid epidemic
From the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett: “The City of Boston filed a lawsuit Thursday against opioid pharmaceutical companies, distributors and a doctor, joining dozens of other cities and towns in Massachusetts — as well as Attorney General Maura Healey — in seeking damages over the opioid crisis. The city, along with the Boston Public Health Commission and the Boston Housing Authority, filed a complaint in Suffolk County Superior Court Thursday afternoon.”
Somerville dumping Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous People’s Day
This would never have been politically tolerated in the Somerville of old, the All-American City Somerville that was politically dominated for decades by Italian-American pols. But this isn’t the Somerville of old, and that’s why Mayor Joe Curatone announced yesterday that Somerville is dropping Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous People’s Day, according to a report at WBUR.
In MASSterList’s feature, Campaign Ca$h, our research team this week takes a look at the finances in the 1st Essex Senate election. Click the banner to view a mobile-friendly, complete PDF list of expenditures and donors since 1/1/2018. All information is from the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance (ocpf.us).
Stay tuned for more races throughout the election cycle. If there’s a particular race that you’d like us to consider for upcoming coverage, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download the report here (desktop – XLSX format)
Conley just the latest in a long line of pols to join Mintz Levin
Suffolk County DA Dan Conley’s departure from office later this month to take a job at Mintz Levin and its lobbying arm ML Strategies is just the latest in a long line of local pols who have land jobs at ML. Greg Ryan at the BBJ has all the names.
Seventeen million smackers and counting …
Proponents and opponents of Question 1, which would set mandatory minimum staffing levels for nurses at the state’s hospitals, have already spent more than $17 million to persuade voters with six more weeks of campaigning ahead before votes are cast, Jessica Trufant reports in the Patriot Ledger. That’s considerable more than what other media outlets have reported.
Scibak bill would mandate space for write-in votes on ballots
After a wild primary season that saw a state Senate seat and other races won by write-in candidates, retiring state Rep. John Scibak has filed legislation to mandate that communities that hand-count ballots allow space for voters to write in their choices, Bera Dunau reports at the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
Secret donor offers to fund Milton Fire station
An anonymous donor has offered to foot the entire bill—of up to $8 million—for a new fire department headquarters in the town of Milton, Fred Hanson reports in the Patriot Ledger. The offer was made to the chairman of a recently formed building committee.
There will always be Althea Garrison, Part II
Finally, the perennial candidate of all perennial candidates, Althea Garrison, is in line to take Ayanna Pressley’s city council seat in January – and Quincy Walters at WBUR has a piece on the self-described “black conservative” who nevertheless voted for Pressley, if only to nab her council post.
Sunday public affairs TV
Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: Republican Third Congressional District candidate Rick Green, who talks with host Jon Keller about the campaign, immigration issues and paying for infrastructure repairs.
This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Shirley Leung of the Boston Globe and Doug Banks of the Boston Business Journal discuss the Massachusetts middle class, the economy, presidential politics, minors getting into MGM Springfield, Boston’s empty luxury condos and the MBTA as a political issue.
CEO Corner, NECN, 10:30 a.m. Dave McLaughlin, Northeast general manager at WeWork, and two members of the WeWork community talk about the shared office space model and why it’s changing the way many firms provide work space for employees.
On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez, 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: Staying healthy year round.
CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s topic: The Muslim community of Massachusetts.
Ales and Tales at the Stone Zoo
Don’t miss Stone Zoo’s fourth annual beer-tasting event, Ales & Tails! Sample offerings from breweries and learn about the amazing animals at the Zoo – including black bears, Caribbean flamingos, North American river otters, white-cheeked gibbons, sloths, and more.
Anatomy of a Commercial Building
The session will be divided into three parts: architectural design issues (the skin and personality of a building); mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection and building control systems (the organs and brain of a building); and structural systems (the skeleton of a building).
America is Watching: Response to the Opioid Crisis in New England
William James College will convene a public forum focused on novel treatments and early intervention programs aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic that continues to devastate communities across the region. Attendees will include policymakers, academics, business and community leaders, clinicians, families and first responders.
Slums: New Visions for an Enduring Global Phenomenon
Slums: New Visions for an Enduring Global Phenomenon is a symposium that challenges its participants to discuss the range of perceptions and systemic changes needed to re-imagine integrative urban and social landscapes, as well as the labor and land markets that most often underpin the formation of slums.
Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University
Navigating the Permitting Maze: A Crash Course On Permitting in Massachusetts
What does it take to successfully navigate a development project through the permitting process? Find out at this in-depth two-day (September 21 + 28) educational workshop where some of the real estate industry’s foremost experts will provide a close look at the ins and outs of environmental review and permitting in Massachusetts.
2018 Better Government Competition Awards Gala
Join Us on Sept. 24th at the 2018 Better Government Competition Awards Gala! Remarks by Governor Charlie Baker Keynote Speaker: John Sexton 2018 Topic: Making higher education & career training options affordable & effective.
Starr Forum: The Assault on Intelligence
Starr Forum: The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies. A book talk with Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA.
MIT Center for International Studies (CIS)
Doing it ‘her way’: Althea Garrison finds herself on the verge of public office again – Dorchester Reporter
‘Irresponsible’ delays plague Boston Public Schools bus plan – Boston Herald
Winds continue to affect Pilgrim power level – Cape Cod Times
Lawmakers say Western Mass. residents treated like second-class citizens when applying for handicap placards – Daily Hampshire Gazette
Notre Dame church bell saved, given to city of Worcester for memorial display – Telegram & Gazette
Wynn investigation in final stages, Mass. gambling regulators say – Boston Business Journal
Rejecting Puerto Rican death toll, Trump accuses Democrats of inflating it – New York Times
Manafort reaches tentative plea deal with Mueller – The Hill
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