Happening Today

UMass board, natural-gas hearing, Governor’s Council

— The University of Massachusetts Board meets in Lowell, where adjunct professors plan to hold a protest to call attention to their contract, pay and benefit disputes with the university, UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, Main Ballroom, 1st floor, 50 Warren St., Lowell, 9 a.m.

— Municipal Finance Oversight Board meets with Auditor Suzanne Bump as chair, Room 230, 11 a.m.

— Republican nominee for U.S. Senate Geoff Diehl holds a press conference at his campaign headquarters, 140 Wood Rd., Braintree, 12 p.m.

— Boston City Council holds its weekly meeting in which Councilors Matt O’Malley, Ed Flynn and Ayanna Pressley plan to introduce a hearing order on natural gas safety in Boston, Iannella Chamber, City Hall – 5th floor, Boston 12 p.m. — Governor’s Council meets in its weekly assembly, Council Chamber, State House, 12 p.m.

— The board of directors of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority meets, 100 First Ave. – 2nd Floor, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, 1 p.m.

— Republican state secretary candidate Anthony Amore is a guest on ‘NightSide,’ WBZ NewsRadio 1030, 8 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

Gonzalez goes there: Proposes new tax on universities

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez, who has faced criticism from Republicans for not saying how he’ll pay for his spending proposals, is now calling for a 1.6 percent tax on colleges with an endowment of $1 billion or more, a move he said is “fair” and will raise about a billion dollars for his education and transportation initiatives, reports Joshua Miller at the Globe.

Needless to say, the higher-education community, a major engine of the state’s economy, is not happy. Gonzalez’s plan follows Congressional Republicans and President Trump’s recent move to slap a tax on elite higher-educaiton institutions, as Miller notes. Republicans did it for largely raw partisan reasons. They despise higher education’s liberal bent on most issues. But Gonzalez’s proposal is all about the desire for more money – and he’s not the first progressive to propose taxing the endowment funds of elite schools like Harvard, MIT, Tufts, etc. As we’ve noted before, they see big pots of gold set aside for future uses and almost can’t resist the temptation to tax them. Of course, some pots of gold, such as the state’s $70 billion pension fund, are strictly off limits, an obvious double standard when it comes to pots of gold.

Boston Globe

RFK Jr.’s law firm leads the legal assault against Columbia Gas

The first of an expected wave of lawsuits against Columbia Gas have already been filed, following last week’s gas-line explosions in the Merrimack Valley, reports the Globe’s Milton Valencia and Matt Rocheleau. And one of the lawsuits filed on behalf of a Lawrence resident is being handled by a law firm whose attorneys include Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who yesterday accused Columbia Gas of committing an “act of extreme negligence,” reports Michelle Williams at MassLive.

Fyi: You might have recently seen Kennedy, an environmental attorney and son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, on TV touting his firm’s role in securing a $289 million verdict from Monsanto in a case tied to Roundup weed killer. Here’s the commercial now airing on cable channels.

Fyi, II: Christian Wade at the Eagle-Tribune reports that Columbia Gas and its parent company are on very thin credit-rating ice these days, a situation not helped by the prospect of potentially huge class-action payouts.

Nice timing: As Columbia Gas pledges $10M for recovery efforts, the utility is in line for $33M rate increase

Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine reports that embattled Columbia Gas plans to donate $10 million to a disaster relief fund for the Lawrence region following last week’s gas-line explosions and fires that devastated entire neighborhoods. Meanwhile, Mary Serreze at MassLive reports that today is the last day for the public to weigh in on a proposed $33 million distribution rate increase for Columbia Gas.

In related news, Jon Chesto at the Globe has a piece on who exactly – Columbia Gas or its customers – will pay for post-explosion pipeline upgrades. Attorney General Maura Healey is against customers footing the bill, but the general consensus seems to be that both Columbia and customers will ultimately pay. 

Separately, the Herald’s Mary Markos reports it could take two years for the feds to determine what caused the explosions. The Herald Joe Battenfeld writes that state leaders can’t, and shouldn’t, wait two years to take action  against Columbia Gas. 

After Lawrence-area explosions, National Grid feels pressure to end its lockout of workers

Last week’s gas-line explosions and fires in the Lawrence area have indirectly put pressure on National Grid to end its lockout of 1,250 natural-gas workers, even though the company had nothing to do with last week’s tragedy. The Globe’s Katie Johnston reports that National Grid’s position on the lockout has “weakened” as a result of events in the Merrimack Valley.

The new norm? Flash flooding hits state after storm

Maybe it has something to do with climate change. Maybe it doesn’t. But we seem to be getting more extreme weather these days – and it was definitely extreme yesterday in both coastal and non-coastal areas of Massachusetts

The Globe reports that yesterday’s intense rain and wind storm “tore a mile-long path of destruction” in Saugus. The Patriot Ledger reports that flash flooding “inundated parts of the South Shore, closing roads and even trapping some drivers in Quincy and Braintree.” Meanwhile, the Salem News, on the north shore, reports the “fast-moving storm rattled the region and sparked widespread flooding Tuesday.” They got hit hard in the Brockton area too, the Enterprise reports.

Anita Hill: ‘In 2018, our senators must get it right’

Anita Hill, a professor at Brandeis University, knows a thing or two about U.S. Supreme Court nominee hearings, accusations of sexual harassment, and the political and media circuses that ensue. That’s why it’s important that Christine Blasey Ford’s claim of being sexually assaulted by a young Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the nation’s high court, needs to be handled better than her sexual-harassment charges against Clarence Thomas in 1991, Hill writes in an op-ed piece at the NYT.

Separately, the Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert interviews Hill, who says the Ford-Kavanaugh showdown is “just another wakeup call” about sex-harassment issues in general.  

Fyi: The Globe’s James Pindell writes that U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, is getting hammered by both sides in the contentious Kavanaugh hearings. Meanwhile, the Herald’s Tom Shattuck accuses U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of trying to “exploit an allegation of sexual assault for fundraising purposes.”


Tale of two alleged gropers: One of them a truck driver, the other the son of a governor

Speaking of sexual-misconduct allegations: The Herald’s Howie Carr has a brutal column this morning on how two alleged groping incidents, one at Fenway Park and the other on an airline flight, have been handled differently. One involved a truck driver from Haverhill, the other involved A.J. Baker, Gov. Charlie Baker’s son. “It’s almost as if we have two different statutes on the books — groping, and groping while a Beautiful Person.”

Boston Herald

DeLeo: House members are very ‘very energetic’ in their support of him

The word “energetic” can mean different things to different people. To House Speaker Robert DeLeo, it’s a positive, as in House members are enthusiastically “energetic” about re-electing him as speaker in January. To progressives who don’t like DeLeo, we’re pretty sure “energetic” means something else. Anyway, SHNS’s Michael Norton has the details.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

It’s back: Auto shops push for an updated right-to-repair law

Is that a collective sigh we hear coming from Beacon Hill? From SHNS’s Matt Murphy at Wicked Local: “Six years after Massachusetts became the first state in the country to pass a ‘right to repair’ law, the coalition of auto repair and parts shops behind that effort is back, relaunching ahead of a push next session to update the law to address advances in car technology.”

Wicked Local

Ranked choice: Has its time come in Massachusetts?

The NYT’s Katharine Seeyle takes a look at all the new interest in ranked-choice voting in Massachusetts, following the recount drama in the Third Congressional primary race.


Connecticut gubernatorial candidate to Baker: ‘I’m going to get GE back’

Bob Stefanowski, the Republican candidate for governor in Connecticut and a former General Electric executive, is letting it be known he wants to lure GE back to the Nutmeg State, even telling fellow Republican Charlie Baker in a recent phone call that he’ll woo the conglomerate back via lower corporate taxes, the BBJ’s Greg Ryan reports. Baker, in a friendly exchange, reportedly said Massachusetts will meet tax-cut force with tax-cut force.

BBJ (pay wall)

In the Third general election, there’s no mistaking where candidates stand

Unlike this month’s primary races – often dominated by candidates expressing nearly identical views on issues — the Third Congressional general election now has two candidates, Democrat Lori Trahan and Republican Rick Green, with distinctly different blue-versus-red opinions on matters, reports the Globe’s Matt Stout and Victoria McGrane.

Boston Globe

Former Suffolk Downs owner sues Wynn Resorts for $3B, saying it conspired to land Everett casino license

The timing of this is most interesting, as Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine notes: “The former owner of Suffolk Downs filed a lawsuit against Wynn Resorts in federal court on Monday alleging numerous violations of racketeering laws and seeking a total of $3 billion in damages. The lawsuit was filed as the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is preparing to decide whether Wynn is suitable to retain its casino license in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct against the company’s former chairman and CEO Steve Wynn.”

Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive has more, including Wynn Resorts’s description of the suit as “frivolous and clearly without foundation.”


Chancellor: UMass has ‘much work to do’ after latest campus racial-profiling incident

Reginald “Reg” Andrade, a long-time UMass worker, is absolutely certain he was the victim of racial profiling when he was questioned by police after someone called an anonymous tip line about a ‘very agitated’ black man walking across campus. Now UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy is telling the university that the “incident illustrates we still have much work to do” to build an environment of “dignity and respect,” reports Diane Ledereman.


At the Emmys, Michael Che makes another joke about Boston’s racial history

Speaking of racial matters in Massachusetts: It’s not letting up. First Michael Che on SNL. Then Ron Wood on Comedy Central’s ‘The Daily Show.’ Now it’s back to Michael Che at the Emmys making jokes about Boston’s painful racial history, this time taking aim at the all-white cast of ‘Cheers,’ of all things. Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine has the details.

Boston Magazine

So what’s Kennedy up to in Michigan?

U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III has a busy campaign schedule today – in Michigan. He will appear at four events in the key Midwest battleground state, appearing at a University of Michigan rally with other Democrats, attending yet another rally at Michigan State University etc. His full schedule, including who he’s appearing with at events, is available at State House New Service’s Daily Advances (pay wall). We’ll refrain from standard speculation about why he’s doing this, besides Kennedy trying to help fellow Democrats in the mid-terms.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Man accused of threatening Globe reporters indicted by grand jury

From the Associated Press at NECN: “A federal grand jury has indicted a Los Angeles man accused of making a series of phone calls threatening to kill journalists at The Boston Globe. Federal prosecutors in Massachusetts on Tuesday announced the indictment against 68-year-old Robert Chain. He was arrested last month at his home and freed after agreeing to pay $50,000 if he violates any terms of his release.” The alleged threats were made after the Globe led a nationwide editorial campaign to condemn President Trump’s attacks on the press.


Women campaign managers are having a good year, too

The just-concluded primary season was a windfall for female candidates and, it turns out, for women running campaigns from behind the scenes, David S. Bernstein writes at WGBH. A host of winning campaigns were helmed by women, including Ayanna Pressley’s upset win, Rachael Rollins’ victory in the Suffolk DA race and Lori Trahan’s eventual emergence from the Third Congressional primary. 


Baker to give keynote address at pro-gay Log Cabin Republicans fundraiser

Gov. Charlie Baker, a moderate Republican who has long endorsed gay-rights initiatives, will be the keynote speaker next month at a Washington fundraiser for the Log Cabin Republicans, a pro-gay rights group, reports Shira Schoenberg at MassLive. Joshua Miller at the Globe has more on Baker’s appearance before the group, as well as the Massachusetts AFL-CIO’s endorsement yesterday of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez.


In case you missed it: Springfield Mayor Sarno says he’s running for re-election. Repeat: He’s running for re-election

Everyone’s talking about the 2018 and 2020 elections. But Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno apparently believes some have forgotten that there’s an election in 2019 – and, yes, he’s running for re-election, as he’s apparently stated publicly and privately before, though this time he’s perhaps more emphatic about his intentions, reports Peter Goonan at MassLIve. We can’t wait for the official announcement.

Aspiring state trooper files age discrimination suit

A Canton man who dropped out of training to become a State Police trooper has sued the agency, saying he was repeatedly harassed during training because of his age, Gary Murray reports in the Telegram. Ryan Lees, now 43 and a corrections officer, says he was repeatedly mocked and discriminated against during his time with the 2015 class of recruits. He is seeking lost wages and other damages.

This isn’t the first time someone has complained about the antics at the State Police cadet academy. Far from it.


From the South Shore, good news on opioid front

Overdose deaths related to opioids have plummeted in Weymouth from last year, dropping 90 percent in a trend that officials say shows their aggressive outreach and treatment efforts are working, Jessica Trufant reports in the Patriot Ledger. In Quincy, both overdose incidents and deaths are down sharply as well, while the trend statewide is much more modest, with a 4 percent decrease in opioid-related deaths. 

Patriot Ledger

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.

NAIOP 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.

Pioneer Institute

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)

Today’s Headlines


Suffolk Downs files $1B lawsuit against Wynn Resorts – Boston Herald

While pushing recovery efforts, Brockton sues pharmaceutical companies – Brockton Enterprise


Northampton hails plan to offset casino impacts – Daily Hampshire Gazette

Milton P. Higgins’ Worcester mansion is sold to developer – Telegram & Gazette

Those electric scooters are illegal in Mass. – Boston Globe

Emotions run high over rat infestation in Chelmsford – Lowell Sun


Ross Lied About Why He Added Citizenship Question to Census – New York Magazine

Rhode Island town passes resolution to boycott Nike – NBC News

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