Happening Today

Performance Recognition Awards, ‘Beat the Press’ anniversary and more

— Washington D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals hears Town of Weymouth v. FERC over a compressor station, Washington D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, 10 a.m.

Wellesley Middle School students perform at the State House as part of Secretary William Galvin’s student holiday concert series, Grand Staircase, 10:15 a.m.

— The Middlesex Sheriff’s office graduates the 42nd class from its Basic Training Academy, with Sheriff Peter Koutoujian presiding over the ceremony and Rep. Michael Day and former Boston Police Commissioner and former Lowell Police Superintendent Ed Davis attending, Stoneham Town Hall, 35 Central St., Stoneham, 1:30 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael Heffernan attend the 34th Annual Performance Recognition Awards Ceremony, recognizing select state employees for their outstanding contributions, Gardner Auditorium, 2 p.m.

— NBC News national political correspondent Steve Kornacki, a Groton native who took dual-enrollment classes at UMass Lowell while in high school, returns to campus to discuss the impact of the 2018 midterm elections and share insights from his new book, ‘The Red and the Blue: The 1990s and the Birth of Political Tribalism,’ UMass Lowell, O’Leary Library, Room 222, 61 Wilder St., Lowell, 4 p.m.

— Rep. Adrian Madaro and the Madaro Family Community Fund hold the 15th annual Eastie’s Elves dinner and dance to gather holiday gifts for underprivileged families in Greater Boston, Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor, 101 Harborside Dr., Boston, 6 p.m.

— WGBH’s ‘Beat the Press’ celebrates its 20th anniversary before a live studio audience, with Host Emily Rooney and panelists Adam Reilly, Callie Crossley, Dan Kennedy and Jon Keller talking about how the news and media have changed over the past two decades, WGBH-TV Ch. 2 and WGBHNews.org, 7 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

The last days of the Elizabeth Warren’s presidential hopes?

Are we witnessing the last weeks of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s unofficial bid for president? You have to wonder. The NYT’s Astead Herndon has a story about how Warren is damaged goods among some progressive and Native American groups for how she handled the DNA tests to prove her Native American ancestry. There’s even chatter about Warren possibly issuing a “strong apology” as a last-ditch attempt to salvage her 2020 presidential hopes. Btw: Herndon reports that a decision about whether she’s running for president could come within a matter of weeks.

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe, in an editorial, writes that other politicians – read: Elizabeth Warren – should “take note” of Deval Patrick’s decision earlier this week to call it quits for 2020. And the Globe bluntly adds: “Warren missed her moment in 2016, and there’s reason to be skeptical of her prospective candidacy in 2020.” The Lowell Sun, in an editorial, takes note of a recent UMass poll showing little enthusiasm among Massachusetts voters for a Warren presidential campaign. And don’t forget the recent Harvard/Harris poll showing Warren way back in the Dem pack in early national polling, as MassLive’s Shannon Young reported earlier this week.


The bottom line: Patrick reached his limit of what he could take

Speaking of presidential politics, Eugene Scott at the Washington Post gives his postmortem analysis on why former Gov. Deval Patrick decided not to run for president in 2020, basically concluding that just about everything to do with running for president sucks.

Here’s a local example of one of the probable reasons cited for Patrick’s decision (i.e. the “business ties” angle), from Blue Mass Group’s Charley on the MTA (aka Charley Blandy): “There was some considerable skepticism of a Patrick run on this very site, and from the left. In particular his connections with some of the seedier aspects of the corporate world — subprime lending, fossil fuels — have really not aged well.”

Washington Post

Kerry: It’s back to the ‘I doubt I’ll run again’ line

One more presidential politics item: Until he formally states in unequivocal Shermanesque fashion that he’s not running for president, John Kerry will continue to be subjected to a journalistic, and audience member, form of torture, i.e. relentless questions about his 2020 intentions. And yesterday, it was back to his “I doubt I’ll run for office again” line, which can and is dutifully reported by Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive.


Brockton sought to keep lid on attempted arson of mayor’s vehicle

The attempted torching of Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter’s city-owned SUV was preceded by a loud explosion and officials sought to keep the incident out of public view to avoid rewarding the culprit or encouraging copycat attacks, Marc Larocque reports at the Enterprise. Indeed, there is no mention of the attempted arson in the city police log, an omission slammed by some First Amendment advocates and at least one of the mayor’s political rivals.


Baker: Troopergate had nothing to do with Bennett’s departure

Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday introduced his new public safety secretary, Tom Turco, the former head of DOC, and bid farewell to his outgoing public safety chief, Daniel Bennett, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall). But it has to be reported, and Murphy and the Herald’s Mary Markos make sure to report, that Baker denied Bennett is leaving because of all the scandals engulfing the embattled State Police these days.

The price for Worcester’s urban renaissance: Rents on the rise, rapidly

Amid increasing chatter that Worcester’s “renaissance” could pose a threat to the city’s character, a new report says residential rents in the city have jumped 16 percent in the past year alone, adding $200 a month to the average one-bedroom rent payment, Zachary Comeau reports at the Worcester Business Journal, citing data from online price-tracking site Zumper. Compared to the Boston area, Worcester still ranks among the more-affordable places to live in the state, but that, obviously, is quickly changing.

Worcester Business Journal

Magistrate judge recuses herself in criminal case against Fall River mayor

First, an attorney leaves Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia’s legal team. Now federal Magistrate Judge M. Page Kelley has recused herself from the pending criminal case against Correia, citing a law that requires judges to disqualify themselves if their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” reports the Globe’s Laura Crimaldi. No other explanation is given. Jo C. Goode at the Herald News has more on the somewhat mysterious recusal.

Surgeon General suggests it might be time to reclassify marijuana and other drugs at federal level

He was in town to talk about the opioids crisis. But the real news made by Surgeon General Jerome Adams yesterday was his comment that maybe it’s time for the federal government to revisit the nation’s drug classification system, specifically to study the medial potential of marijuana. To be clear: He’s not calling for decriminalization of drugs at the federal level. The AP’s Philip Marcelo at the Herald and SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) have more.

Damn the local judges, it’s full steam ahead for ICE raids

We missed this one from the other day. From Joe Dwinell at the Herald: “ICE agents have detained more than 50 illegal immigrants in raids in the last two days targeting suspected drug dealers — many of whom had been freed by local judges or jails, the Herald has learned.” The Globe’s Danny McDonald has more, while the Herald’s Howie Carr sings the praise of ICE.

Boston Herald

Coming to a campus near you? Porn filters on WiFi systems

The Daily Beast reports on a nascent campus movement, apparently started at Notre Dame, to install porn filters on college WiFi systems, as part of a sort of loose #MeToo-era alliance between conservative and progressive students. DB reports students at secular schools, like Harvard, as well as at Catholic schools, have reportedly expressed interest in such filters. Worcester’s Holy Cross has long had one.

Daily Beast

Hardship duty: He watched Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow so you don’t have to

Media critic Dan Kennedy at WGBH deserves a medal of some sort. Without trying to establish false moral equivalency between talk-show gabs Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow (he views the latter as less facts-challenged than the former), he decided to monitor the two cable shows for their tone and content – and concludes neither is good for our political culture. “Hyper-polarization may be tearing us apart, but at the cable news outlets, it’s good for business,” he writes. 


DPH rejects application for massive pot cultivation facility in Charlton

Speaking of pot, the state Department of Public Health has rejected a plan by Valley Green Grow Inc. to develop the country’s largest marijuana cultivation and processing facility in Charlton, effectively saying the firm had submitted an inadequate application. The firm expressed confidence it can remedy regulators’ concerns, reports Debbie LePlaca at the Telegram.

In the end, it looks like the final decision on the matter will be decided by the Cannabis Control Commission, which in January will assume oversight of the medical marijuana industry in Massachusetts, replacing DPH, reports SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall).


State pension fund is the Globe’s new landlord

The Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board is part of an investment group that’s paying $845 million to buy 53 State Street, home to tenants such as Hill Holliday and the Boston Globe, reports the Globe’s Tim Logan and   SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall).

In other real estate news, the Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that Fidelity Investments has big plans for Seaport World Trade Center complex: It’s closing the vast exhibition space known as Commonwealth Hall and plans to use the space as corporate offices.

Mashpee tribe leader says school, jobs on block if Congress doesn’t act

The stakes couldn’t be higher. That’s the message from the leader of the Mashpee Wampanoags, who says the tribe will be forced to shut its Wampanoag language school and other cultural programs and cut workers from its payroll unless Congress passes legislation recognizing the tribe’s right to keep land in reservation. Tanner Stening at the Cape Cod Times has more.

Cape Cod Times

‘It’s time’: Senate clerk Welch to retire after nearly half century of service

A big congrats to William Welch. From SHNS’s Colin Young at the MetroWest Daily News: “Senate Clerk William Welch, who started in the Senate clerk’s office in 1973 and has guided the office and the Senate as clerk since 2003, plans to retire at the end of the year, capping off a near half-century State House career. Welch, 69, said he will retire after presiding over the Dec. 31 joint session of the House and Senate.”

MetroWest Daily News

Union Point developer put on default notice over lack of progress at former naval air station

We assume this is the next-to-the-last step in the saga before the developer is officially canned. From Jessica Trufant the Patriot Ledger: “The board overseeing the redevelopment of the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station is putting the project’s master developer on notice of default for failing to attract development, provide necessary infrastructure and meet its financial obligations.”

Patriot Ledger

House passes National Grid lockout bill

This was expected but it’s still news. From CommWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl: “The Massachusetts House, in a sparsely attended informal session on Thursday, approved legislation that would extend unemployment assistance for the 1,250 locked-out workers of National Grid or any other utility that locks out its employees.”


Alex Cora and the Sox whiff on White House visit

Peter May, a former Boston Globe sports writer, is, shall we say, a little disappointed that the World Series champs Boston Red Sox have accepted the invitation to be honored at the White House – and that Alex Cora, the “well-intentioned but apparently politically daft manager,” actually thinks it doesn’t conflict with his principles.


Group is counting on Supreme Court’s make-up and aversion to unions in campaign-finance case

In an opinion piece at CommonWealth magazine, Paul D. Craney, spokesperson for the conservative Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, sounds pretty confident that a challenge to the state’s campaign-finance law that favors unions over corporations has a shot at winning at the U.S. Supreme Court, based on the court’s current composition (read: conservative majority) and its past “aversion” to unions.

Meanwhile, MFA and Common Cause yesterday both urged state campaign finance regulators to scrap the legal interpretation that allows unions to donate up to $15,000 to a single candidate, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall).


MIT: No ‘compelling’ reason to sever ties with Saudi Arabia after gruesome killing of journalist

From the AP’s Collin Binkley at WBUR: “The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has no ‘compelling case’ to cut ties with Saudi Arabia following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but it’s unlikely to pursue an expansion of its work in the kingdom, according to a report released by the school Thursday.” Esteban Bustillos at WGBH has more on MIT’s nuanced definition of “compelling.”


Measuring Ayanna’s office …

Milton Valencia at the Globe reports that more than a few potential candidates are eyeing Ayanna Pressley’s at-large City Hall seat as she prepares to leave the council for Congress next month. And she hasn’t even packed up her office belongings yet.

Boston Globe

Pop quiz: Who’s arguably the most controversial elected official in Holyoke City Hall?

Mike Plaisance at MassLive has a pop quiz for readers: “Who has 26,816 bosses, gets evaluated only every four years, allegedly uses the F-word around her City Hall office with regularity and has clashed with staff in numerous city departments?” And the answer is … Holyoke City Treasurer Sandra “Suck it up, Buttercup” Smith! She’s just the latest in a string of city treasurers with an amazing talent for attracting controversy, as Plaisance notes in a sidebar piece.


UMass study: Casinos haven’t bankrupted anyone yet

OK, the headline is our take on the study. Here’s Patrick Johnson’s take at MassLive: “As Massachusetts gets closer to having two full casinos in operation, a study shows that, since 2015, the public has become more accepting of legalized gambling, and there has been little evidence of harm as measured in such things as the amount of crime, divorces, or even in the number of home foreclosures.”


No car, no problem: MGM Springfield rolls out door-to-door bus service

Next stop: The Roulette wheel. MGM Springfield plans to launch a door-to-door bus service on Monday that will pick up would-be gamblers in communities in both Massachusetts and Connecticut, delivering them right to the casino’s front door, Jim Kinney reports at MassLive. Passengers will pay either $20 or $30, depending on where they live, and receive $10 in food vouchers and even a few free slot machine plays.  

Just what we need: Axe-throwing contests in local bars

Well, they do have dart contests in bars. Allison DeAngelis at the BBJ reports on the planned opening today of Urban Axes in Somerville, where patrons will be throwing down beers while throwing axes for fun. Booze and axes. What could possibly go wrong? Btw: Urban Axes is one of a growing number of “axe” bars in the area, DeAngelis reports.

BBJ (pay wall)

Sunday public affairs TV

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8;30 a.m. This week’s guest: Katie Donovan, of Equal Pay Negotiations, who talks with host Jon Keller about pay equity in the private and public sectors.  

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Jon Hurst, president of the Massachusetts Retailers Association, discusses issues impacting this holiday retail season; Project Bread president Erin McAleer on the continuing need to feed the hungry; and Doug Banks of the Boston Business Journal reviews the top business stories of the week.    

CEO Corner, NECN, 10: 30 a.m. Penny Heaton, MD, the CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute, talks about the nonprofit biotech institute and its ambitious goal of eradicating diseases that disproportionately claim the lives of the world’s poorest residents.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guests: Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Rob Gray, who talk 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 weeks’s topics: Showcasing reporter stories in the community — learning about the safety of firefighters, new radio hosts in town, and local fashion designers.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s topic: Diversity in Education.

An Update on Coverage, Affordability and Access: Findings from the 2018 Massachusetts Health Reform Survey

The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation will host an event featuring the results of the 2018 Massachusetts Health Reform Survey.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation

Author Talk and Book Signing with Dick Lehr

Author Talk and Book Signing with Dick Lehr, author of the new novel Trell.

State Library of Massachusetts

Ugly Sweater Party at ZooLights!

ZooLights at Stone Zoo promises to dazzle visitors of all ages this season.

Zoo New England

Can We Bridge the Political Divide? Better Angels Red/Blue Workshop

Please join us for an intensive workshop that will bring together Republican-leaning and Democratic-leaning citizens for a day of structured conversations, with a focus on listening and reflecting rather than debating and persuading.

Better Angels

Today’s Headlines


Hub seeks locally grown food for schools – Boston Herald

Should the new Northern Avenue bridge be car-free? – WGBH


Mayors of Pittsfield, North Adams optimistic about cities’ ‘transitional moment’ – Berkshire Eagle

St. Luke’s Hospital alleges fraud in union vote – Standard-Times

Council president claims police commissioner system costing Springfield ‘millions of dollars’ – MassLive

Local residents implores Supreme Judicial Court to probe alleged bias in Worcester Housing Court – Telegram & Gazette


Documents Point to Illegal Campaign Coordination Between Trump and the NRA – Mother Jones

Bloomberg holds private meetings with top Iowa Democrats ahead of 2020 decision – Politico

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