Happening Today

Spilka at conference, NRC hearing, and more

Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation holds its annual tax policy conference, with MTF president Eileen McAnneny giving a fiscal and tax policy overview and Revenue Commissioner Christopher Harding providing an update from his department, John Hancock, 601 Congress St., 4th Floor, Boston, starting at 8 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker participates in the Harrington HealthCare System’s Southbridge Emergency Department groundbreaking ceremony, 100 South Street, Southbridge, 9 a.m.

— Senate President Karen Spilka delivers opening remarks at a conference titled ‘Housing and Serious Mental Illness: Taking Actions to Implement Solutions at Scale,’ Hampton Inn, 319 Speen St., Natick, 9:30 a.m.

— Boston Mayor Martin Walsh joins Alex Shing, CEO of Cottonwood Group, for the topping-off of the first tower of EchelonSeaport, EchelonSeaport, 133 Seaport Boulevard, Boston, 10:30 a.m.

— State Reps. Hannah Kane, Jay Livingstone and Dan Donahue and state Sen. Sal DiDomenico gather to call attention to the ‘invisible epidemic that is hunger,’ State House, 12:45 p.m.

— The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission holds a hearing to discuss the plan to sell Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth by the end of 2019 to a company that specializes in ‘accelerated decommissioning,’ NRC One White Flint North, 0 – 10B4, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland, 1:30 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and others gather for the groundbreaking of the Berkshire Innovation Center, 51 Woodlawn Avenue (Corner of East Street and Woodlawn Avenue), Pittsfield, 1:30 p.m.

— The Cannabis Control Commission and Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce/City Awake’s Fierce Urgency of Now Festival Millennials host an event so people of color can learn about opportunities to start or work in a marijuana-related businesses, National Center of Afro-American Artists, 300 Walnut Ave., Roxbury, 5 p.m.

— Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts President Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak and Boston Public Health Commission executive director Monica Valdes Lupi participate in a Kennedy Institute program on the ‘State of Women’s Health,’ Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, Columbia Point, Boston, 6:30 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.

Today’s Stories

Poll: Nurse staffing ballot question a dead heat

A new WBUR/MassINC poll finds voters split down the middle on Question 1, which would set minimum nurse staffing levels at hospitals. Callum Borchers at WBUR reports that 44 percent of likely voters say they support Question 1, the same percentage of voters who say they oppose the measure, with 12 percent undecided.

The WBUR/MassINC survey comes only a few days after a Suffolk/Globe poll showed 51 percent favoring Question 1, versus 33 percent opposing the ballot controversial initiative. The average of the two poll suggests this is going to be a very tight one.

Meanwhile, the state’s Health Policy Commission plans to weigh in on the matter, announcing that it’s currently studying the potential financial impact of Question 1, in the first independent look at the question’s potential costs, reports Priyanka Dayal McCluskey at the Globe.


Columbia Gas president takes full ‘financial responsibility’ for Merrimack Valley calamity

To the probable chagrin of his firm’s insurers, Columbia Gas president Steve Bryant is now on the record as saying Columbia is on the financial hook for the entire gas-line disaster in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. Here’s what he said in a story by the Globe’s Milton Valencia: “Part of that restoration will be money … People need funds to repair things; people need funds for out-of-pocket expenses. People need funds to repair homes that were damaged or destroyed. Business needs funds for the interruption of their business. All of those things are the responsibility of Columbia Gas. We have a financial responsibility for those impacts.”

Give him credit for stepping up – with, granted, mostly insurance-company money. Whether natural-gas customers will also have to pay up is another matter.

Boston Globe

Andover firefighters respond to grease fire caused by recently distributed hot plate

Will Columbia Gas pay for this too? From Jacqeline Tempera at MassLive: “Firefighters responded to a cooking fire in Andover Monday night after a hot plate distributed as a ‘temporary relief measure’ following the gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley caught fire, Fire Rescue Chief Michael Mansfield said.”

In related news, Zoe Mathews at the Eagle-Tribune reports on the cold reality that cold weather is coming – and space heaters, also now being distributed to homes in the region, just won’t cut it for most Merrimack Valley residents and business owners.


Quincy mayor wants $250K to fight Long Island Bridge

Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch is asking the city council to set aside a quarter-million dollars to fight Boston’s efforts to rebuild the Long Island bridge, including defending a recent decision by the Quincy Conservation Commission to deny a construction permit to the project. Erin Tiernan of the Patriot Ledger has the details. 

Patriot Ledger

T looks at redesign of entire bus system

Subway and commuter rail performance at the T tends to get the most attention. But the quality of bus service is also a major problem – and now the MBTA has launched a review of the agency’s bus network that “could result in major changes to existing bus lines, including the addition of some new routes and the elimination of others,” reports Adam Vaccaro at the Globe.

That’s a lot of migraines …

Speaking of the T, Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine reports that complaints of migraines have prompted about 40 percent of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leaves by employees at the MBTA – and there was some discussion yesterday whether all the leaves might actually be linked to a lack of bathroom breaks and other work-place conditions. Hey, we just report what’s reported.


Sen. Pacheco questions whether T saved as much as claimed via privatization

One more T post: In a Herald op-ed, state Sen. Marc R. Pacheco is questioning whether the MBTA has really saved $450 million over ten years as a result of its recent exemption from the Pacheco Law, the anti-privatization measure that bears his name. “The MBTA report refers to ambiguous ‘improvements’ and ‘anticipated savings’ without breaking down any of its underlying calculations,” he writes. “In the absence of a transparent public process, we cannot rely on reckless speculation to determine the true cost of privatization.”

Boston Herald

Not taking it anymore: Councilors want to toss Hempfest from Boston Common

From Universal Hub: “City Councilors Josh Zakim and Ed Flynn, whose districts meet in Boston Common, say they’re tired of complaints about the marijuana-focused Freedom Rally on the Common every September and that it’s time to move it somewhere else.”

Universal Hub

You don’t say: Scandal-plagued State Police hires auditing firm to review payroll practices

After a payroll administrator pleads guilty to larceny and dozens of state troopers are implicated in an overtime fraud scandal, yeah, maybe it’s time to call in an independent auditing firm to see what’s wrong with the agency’s payroll practices. The Globe’s Matt Rocheleau has more on the hiring of Ernst & Young.

Boston Globe

Baker: Don’t link welfare benefits to issuance of green cards

From SHNS’s Katie Lannan at the Lowell Sun: “The Baker administration will ‘formally oppose’ a proposed federal rule change that would restrict the ability of immigrants to obtain green cards if they receive public benefits including Medicaid or food stamps, a spokesman for the governor said Monday.”

Lowell Sun

Gonzalez gets pro-choice group endorsement over Baker

The Globe’s Matt Stout reports that the NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts PAC is planning to endorse Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez over Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, despite Baker’s pro-choice credentials. The group cites some non-abortion issues for its move.

California man pleads not guilty to threatening Globe reporters

Ally Jarmanning at WBUR reports that a California man accused of threatening to kill Boston Globe employees — calling them “the enemy of the people” — yesterday appeared in a Boston federal court and pleaded not guilty to all seven counts of making threats. 

At the same hearing, the feds revealed they’re also investigating whether Robert Chain, 68, of Encino, Calif., made similar threats to the New York Times and the NFL. 


First things first: Trahan skipped her own victory rally to head to NY

We missed this one from the other day by the Globe’s Matt Stout: Lori Trahan, the winner of the Third Congressional district Democratic primary, skipped her own victory rally last Friday – an event that was featured to include U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez — due to a “personal conflict” and fund-raising meetings in New York. SHNS’s Michael Norton at the Lowell Sun reports that Democratic party chairman Gus Bickford is dutifully falling on the sword.

DPH: Hepatitis A outbreak hitting mostly the homeless and addicts

First, the state Department of Public Health announced the 25th case of West Nile virus this year in Massachusetts, as reported at Wicked Local. Now this, via Laney Ruckstuhl at WBUR: “The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said Monday that 65 people have contracted hepatitis A statewide, and one person has died after acquiring the viral infection. The health department says most of the individuals who have contracted the disease — which affects the liver and can cause severe illness — are homeless, struggling with addiction or both.”


Interim UMass-Boston president: It was ‘painful’ seeing another arm of UMass taking over Mount Ida

What’s done is done, but interim UMass-Boston president Katherine Newman says it was nevertheless “painful” to watch the more wealthy UMass-Amherst taking over Mount Ida College while her school is “burdened with historic debt,” she says in an interview at the BBJ. But Newman says the Mount Ida takeover probably won’t make much of a difference in the end to UMass-Boston.

BBJ (pay wall)

Nice guy: Man spits in face of woman who refused to pay his T fare

From Universal Hub: “Transit Police report they are looking for a man who spit in the face of a woman he didn’t know when she refused to pay for his T fare, even after he began screaming at her.” Dan Glaun at MassLive reports the woman was pregnant.

Universal Hub

Texas judge tosses complaint against T’s Ramirez for conduct at his old company

OK, one more T-related item: A Texas federal judge has dismissed a complaint against MBTA GM Luis Ramirez for issuing false and misleading financial reports at his old firm, Global Power Equipment Group, saying he may have fibbed a bit but the amounts involved were so miniscule that it’s not worth legally pursuing, reports Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine. It’s the second such complaint dismissed against Ramirez.


Percentage of those with health insurance in Massachusetts dips a bit

From SHNS’s Katie Lannan at the BBJ: “About 19,000 fewer Massachusetts residents had health insurance in 2017 than 2016, according to a new report that found the Bay State still leads the nation in health insurance rates but its progress toward total coverage has stalled. … At 97.2 percent, Massachusetts (still) had the highest rate of insured residents, compared to the nationwide 91.3 percent.”

BBJ (pay wall)

To elevate or not to elevate, that is the question …

The Globe’s Adam Vaccaro has a piece this morning on a much-anticipated consulting report on proposals to replace the aging Massachusetts Turnpike viaduct in Allston – and whether another elevated roadway should be built or whether the highway should be at ground level. It may sound like a rather wonky engineering debate – until you realize that more than $1 billion is at stake.

Boston Globe

Moulton: Partisan gridlock could derail strong economy

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton warned that partisan gridlock in Washington could imperil an otherwise strong economy as tasks such as fixing the nation’s infrastructure and addressing health care costs go unaddressed, Christian Wade reports at the Salem News. Moulton’s right, of course. 

Salem News

Baker announces expanded aid for community college students

Gov. Charlier Baker used Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester—which appears to have become one his favorite cities—to announce the expansion of a state aid program designed to help more part-time and non-traditional students complete their community college studies, Worcester Magazine reports. 

Worcester Magazine

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)

Launching the Next Big Thing (Successfully) – A Panel of Experts Share Their Experiences

A panel of product development experts and serial entrepreneurs will share their experiences and guidance on the essentials of successful product development.

North Shore Technology Council

HIPAA Privacy Rule Compliance-Understanding New Rules and Responsibilities of Privacy Officer

New York Events List

Women in Science and Politics featuring Obama EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

Gina McCarthy, former head of the EPA under President Obama, Nandita Scott, cardiologist and elected member of Hingham’s Rec Commission, and Katie McBrine, pediatrician and current candidate for State Senate, Plymouth and Norfolk, will discuss the importance of having science-literate women in public office.

Committee to Elect Katie McBrine

2018 Inner City 100 Conference & Awards

2018 Inner City 100 Conference & Awards – the premier networking and management education event for fast-growing urban businesses. Timed with its 20th anniversary of recognizing America’s fastest growing urban small businesses, the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) has expanded its 2018 Inner City 100 Award ceremony (IC 100) into a two-day event.

Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC)

11th Annual Public Performance Conference

Please join us for the 11th Annual Public Performance Conference. The goal of the conference is to examine and discuss performance management research and models for the adoption and implementation of compelling practices in the public sector.

Suffolk University

Today’s Headlines


Two city councilors want to move annual Freedom Rally off Boston Common – Universal Hub


Council set to take final vote on Worcester Red Sox funding plan – Telegram & Gazette

Northampton high school students stage walkout in support of sexual assault victims – Daily Hampshire Gazette

Quadriplegic who killed New Bedford teen suing over prison treatment – Standard-Times

Race is on for council seat in Attleboro – Sun Chronicle


What Rosenstein’s ouster would mean for Mueller – Politico

How Russia Helped Swing the Election for Trump – New Yorker

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