Happening Today

U.S. Senate gas-line hearing, MBTA Control Board, R.I. sports betting

— The U.S. Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation holds a hearing on pipeline safety in the wake of the September natural-gas disaster in the Merrimack Valley, with a number of company officials and political leaders, including U.S. Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, expected to participate, South Lawrence East Middle School Gymnasium, 165 Crawford Street, Lawrence, starting at 9 a.m.

— The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board meets and is expected to discuss the RIDE and hear an update on MBTA ridership and a review the T’s strategic plan process, MassDOT, Transportation Board Room, 2nd floor, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, 12 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker meets with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Senate President Karen Spilka, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and House Minority Leader Brad Jones, Room 360, 2 p.m.

Rhode Island’s Twin River Casino launches the first legal sports book in New England, with a number of the state’s top elected officials attending, 100 Twin River Road, Lincoln, RI, 3 p.m.

— U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas is a guest on ‘Radio Boston,’ WBUR-FM 90.9., 3 p.m.

Boston Public Schools Superintendent Search Committee meets, Bruce G. Bolling Municipal Building, 2300 Washington Street, School Committee Chamber, Roxbury, 6 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

Is it time for a statewide mass-transit board?

The Globe’s Adam Vaccaro has a piece on what comes next after the legal mandate for the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board, which was created after the winter crisis of 2015, expires in mid-2020. There seems to be a consensus that some sort of oversight needs to remain. But what type of oversight? Among the ideas being floated: A statewide transit authority that would oversee both the T and regional transit authorities.

Meanwhile, CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl reports that mayors and city managers across eastern Massachusetts are forming a new coalition to advocate for the MBTA’s commuter rail system. We’re surprised such a coalition didn’t already exist. Btw: The Herald had a story over the weekend about the launch of a new state study to pinpoint the Boston area’s worst traffic spots.

Boston Globe

Not sold: Walsh sure doesn’t sound gung-ho about retail pot shops

As the media descended last week on Leicester and Northampton to cover the opening of the state’s first retail pot shops, the city of Boston was quietly putting the finishing touches on a host agreement to open a pot shop in Boston, probably by early next year. But Mayor Marty Walsh, who opposed legalization of marijuana, doesn’t seem excited about hosting a weed joint in Boston, reports the Herald’s Brooks Sutherland. “I hope the taxation’s worth the human toll,” Walsh said when asked about the prospect of new revenue for the city.

The Globe’s Dan Adams reports that pot-shop rollouts, despite last week’s hype, could be rather slow moving forward in Boston and elsewhere. The Herald’s Jordan Graham, meanwhile, has a helpful list of pot shops set to open in the near future.

Not a bad haul: Pot retail sales on opening day hit $404,011

Speaking of pot shops, it was a six-figure revenue day for the state’s first two pot shops on their opening day last week, reports Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive. Keep in mind that most bars consider a five-figure revenue night a big deal.


Boston’s top cop and Holyoke councilor unite against ACLU’s ‘paper warriors’ and ‘phonies’

Boston Police Commissioner William G. Gross has gotten into a war of words with the ACLU over its lawsuit tied to a gang database, calling the civil rights group “paper warriors,” as the Herald’s Joe Dwinell reports. The ACLU’s Carol Rose is firing back, saying Gross is trying to “divert attention” from serious issues, reports the Globe’s Jeremy C. Fox and John Hilliard

Meanwhile, a city councilor in Holyoke is ripping the ACLU for filing a lawsuit against the city’s new lawn-sign ban, asserting the “altruistic ACLU proves, once again, they’re really a bunch of phonies,” reports Dennis Hohenberger at MassLive. Can’t you just feel the love towards the ACLU?

Surprise, surprise: Pay provision slows adoption of civilian ‘flaggers’

A report from the Pioneer Institute says the state has seen slow adoption of civilian flaggers at roadside construction sites because of a provision in state law that requires their pay be tied to that of police officers who work details, Sean Phillip Cotter reports at the Herald. In other words: The law is working as intended, i.e. impeding the increased use of civilian flaggers.

Boston Herald

They’re back: Globe columnists Kevin Cullen and Yvonne Abraham return to punditry duties

In case you didn’t notice, Globe columnist Kevin Cullen — who last June was slapped with a three-month suspension and two months on the general assignment desk after a review found he fabricated details in comments he made about the Boston Marathon bombings – was back on punditry duty last week (with his first columns here and here). Meanwhile, Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham, who suffered a severe concussion four months ago, is back with a terrific column on her head injury and long recuperation.

Btw: We never knew being a pundit could be so hazardous. The Herald’s Howie Carr reports that he broke his elbow and fractured a wrist while bicycling over the weekend. He says he’ll be OK, which we assume means he can still search and peck at the keyboard.

On the hot seat: U.S. Senate committee to grill executives over Merrimack Valley debacle

With thousands of people still without gas service due to the September pipeline disaster in the Merrimack Valley, Columbia Gas and NiSource executives will be on the hot seat today when the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation convenes a field hearing in Lawrence on the gas-line debacle. Besides corporate bigwigs, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board and a who’s who of the state’s political elite are expected to testify, according to U.S. Sen. Ed Markey’s office, as Zoe Matthews reports at the Eagle Tribune.

Among those also expected to testify: The sister of Leonel Rondon, the 18-year-old man killed in the gas explosions, reports MassLive.com. And a lot of residents want to have a say too, reports the Herald.


Giving it to Hodgson on Thanksgiving

The Herald’s Alexi Cohan reports that a Rhode Island left-wing group, dubbing itself the “FANG Collective,” demonstrated outside Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson’s home on Thanksgiving morning to protest his cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Hodgson claims he took the protest in stride, but is warning that such tactics could become “dangerous.” In an editorial, the Herald is agreeing with Hodgson’s assessment, noting the harassment of public figures in restaurants and at their homes is getting out of hand.

Boston Herald

‘Embedded Enemies’

Lowell’s very own Corey Lewandowski is out with another co-authored book, this one warning about “embedded enemies of President Trump” within the “deep state” corridors of government. And Corey and co-author David Bossie name names! The Washington Post has more on “Trump’s Enemies: How the Deep State is Undermining the Presidency.”

Washington Post

Kindergartners gone wild: They’re ‘out of control’ in Orange

Sounds like the National Guard may have to be called in to restore order in Orange, where they’re apparently overwhelmed by “out of control” kindergartners and first-graders who are stabbing each other with pencils, trashing classrooms, threatening teachers and even causing frequent “evacuations.” David McLellan at the Athol Daily New has all the Lord of the Flies details.

Athol Daily News

‘Fiscal stability cellar’

Robert L. Reynolds, chief executive of Boston’s Putnam Investments, and Chris Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Tech Council, are not impressed with the state’s recent infusion of hundreds of billions of dollars into its rainy day fund, writing at CommonWealth magazine that long-term state spending trends and revenues are still seriously out of whack. And if a recession hits, well, how do multibillion-dollar deficits sound?


Boston now has two big education posts to fill

Rahn Dorsey, who became Boston’s first-ever “education chief” in 2014, has stepped down due to personal reasons “and in anticipation of the need to address family matters in 2019,” Walsh’s office said in a statement last week, reports WBUR. The Herald’s Kathleen McKiernan notes Dorsey’s departure has created an education leadership void at the top, as the city also searches for a new school superintendent.

Deb Goldberg’s lonely lotto fight

As Rhode Island officially opens its first sports-betting joint today (and New England’s first sports betting joint as well), the Herald’s Hillary Chabot reports how state Treasurer Deb Goldberg is still trying to get lawmakers to approve online lotto games, let alone sports betting, so the Lottery can better compete with increased legalized gambling outfits across the region.

Boston Herald

Brianna Wu: The Comeback

She lost by a lot. But she says she learned a lot. Now Brianna Wu is already toiling away to unseat U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch in a Democratic rematch in 2020, reports the Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert.

Boston Globe

She came, she saw, she wowed

Michelle Obama stormed Boston over the weekend, appearing at both TD Garden and a Dorchester roundtable. WBUR and the Boston Globe have the details.

Has Bernie’s time come and gone — and perhaps Warren’s, too?

The NYT has a piece that looks into whether Bernie Sanders’ time has passed, a sort of victim of his own push-Democrats-to-the-left success, so far left that he’s now been “outflanked” by the likes of Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Beto O’Rourke. Curiously, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, while mentioned in the story, is not listed as one of those outflanking and possibly eclipsing Sanders.


Jay Ash: Vaulting to the New Vault?

Jay Ash, Governor Charlie Baker’s top economic development chief, has filed an ethics disclosure stating that he’s exploring a possible job with the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, aka the “New Vault” backed by business bigwigs. The Globe’s Joe Chesto writes that it could be a good fit for both Ash and the business group.

Boston Globe

Before dismissing Moulton’s coup attempt as an act of political suicide, please consider the following …

The NYT has a piece on the Democratic coup plotters who will try to take down Nancy Pelosi later this week at a party caucus, including, of course, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton. It’s actually a rather eclectic group. Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that Pelosi, the master of parliamentary survival and tactics, has enticed yet another former opponent to defect to her side.

Nonetheless, David Bernstein at WGBH has a piece that basically says Moulton may not be committing political suicide in pursuit of a lost cause. Why? From David: “Almost nobody expects Moulton to stick around the House for long.” The Lowell Sun’s Chris Lisinski reports that experts and commentators are increasingly asking: Where, exactly, is Moulton going with this? For the answer, see David Bernstein’s article.

Is demographics really destiny?

The NYT’s Sabrina Tavernise has an excellent piece that explores the politics of demographics, specifically the possibility that white Americans may become minorities by 2042. There’s a lot of people who think that, statistically, the white-minority projection is bogus. There’s also many academics who think it’s simply a terrible zero-sum way to look at politics. 


New luxury hotel to soon open on Beacon Hill

Just what the neighborhood needs: A once sort-of-affordable B&B transformed into a luxury boutique hotel. The BBJ’s Max Stendahl has the details on the ongoing renovation and expansion of the former John Jeffries House into The Whitney. The new name just screams what type of clientele they’re going after when the hotel opens next year.

BBJ (pay wall)

With eye on ballpark, WRA seeks more leeway in downtown redevelopment

The Worcester Redevelopment Agency wants to add 21 more acres to an existing downtown urban revitalization area to allow more development and infrastructure improvements in the Canal District neighborhood the ballpark that will be built to host the Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate starting in 2021, Nick Kotsopolous reports at the Telegram. 

Meanwhile, Pawtucket Red Sox President Larry Lucchino has penned a letter of gushing gratitude—replete with Casablanca references– to the city for the welcome mat it rolled out to lure the team from Rhode Island.

The Telegram

No end in sight for Western Mass. natural gas moratorium

Think the now weeks-old DPU moratorium on Columbia Gas and National Grid pipeline work in pinching businesses and residents? In western Massachusetts, Berkshire Gas says an already four-year-old moratorium on new hookups will remain in place for the foreseeable future, Richie Davis reports at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. At least 300 residences and businesses are awaiting new service but the company says it has not found a cost-effective option for increasing its capacity since Tennessee Gas dropped plans for a large-scale pipeline project in 2016. 


Fall River latest city to bid farewell to a historic church

After nearly 130 years, parishioners celebrated Mass for the final time Sunday at St. Anne’s Church in Fall River, making it just the latest historic church in the state to face an uncertain future, Deborah Allard reports in the Herald News.  It’s probably scant solace, but Fall River is hardly alone. Writing in the Atlantic, Jonathan Merritt says as many as 10,000 churches close their doors annually in the U.S. and that, by and large, communities struggle to successfully repurpose the often iconic structures.

Herald News

The Arc Tank 2.0

Northeast Arc is hosting the Arc Tank 2.0, a competition that seeks to fund innovative and positively disruptive ideas that enhance the lives of persons with disabilities. The event will be held from 2-5pm on Nov. 27 at the JFK Library in Boston.

Northeast Arc

What Your Company Is Saying – What Your Customers Are Hearing .. The Art of Corporate Communications

Join North Shore technology entrepreneurs and leaders for a discussion of the art and practice of corporate communications.

North Shore Technology Council

Religion and Politics in America

E.J. Dionne, Washington Post columnist, political commentator, and visiting professor at Harvard Divinity School, examines the role of religion in American politics with Margery Eagan, co-host of WGBH’s Boston Public Radio.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Power Breakfast: Life Sciences

Join the BBJ for our last Power Breakfast of 2018 as we discuss the business of biotech and the life sciences of the Boston area.

Boston Business Journal

NAIOP – SIOR Annual Market Forecast

Join NAIOP and SIOR for the Annual Market Forecast, one of the industry’s leading market updates.

NAIOP Massachusetts & SIOR New England

The Rise of Populism in the US and Europe

Panelists including Salena Zito and Brad Todd, authors of The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Shaping Contemporary Domestic Politics, and John Judis, author of The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics, examine the rise of populism in the US and Europe with Heather Cox Richardson, Boston College professor of history.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Today’s Headlines


First Lady Michelle Obama enchants TD Garden crowd – Boston Globe

Millennium Tower’s grand penthouse back on the market for $45M – Boston Business Journal


State funds programs to discourage teen sex – Salem News

Drones eyed to get lowdown on sharks off Cape beaches – Cape Cod Times

Steamship Authority consultants report delayed – Martha’s Vineyard Times


Trump administration’s strategy on climate: Try to bury its own report – New York Times

It’s not just Ocasio-Cortez: Here are 7 freshman Democrats to watch – Politico

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