MBTA meeting, House and Senate sessions, and more
— U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas will moderate a roundtable forum with federal, state, and local officials to discuss federal resources available to municipalities to combat the opioid epidemic in the Merrimack Valley, with Methuen Mayor Jim Jajuga, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, Haverhill Mayor Jim Fiorentini, Reps. Andy Vargas and others participating, Comprehensive Grammar School Auditorium, 100 Howe St., Methuen, 10 a.m.
— Both the House and Senate plan sessions at 11 a.m.
— François-Laurent Nivaud, executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, attends a meeting of the Advisory Commission on Travel and Tourism, Boston Public Market, The Kitchen, 100 Hanover St., Boston, 11 a.m.
— Hudson High School students kick off the second week of holiday concerts at the State House, Grand Staircase, 11 a.m.
— The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board meets to discuss bus procurement, the early-morning pilot program, Green Line cars and other topics, Transportation Board Room, second floor, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, 11 a.m.
— More than two dozen parents and leaders of Stand for Children Massachusetts plan to deliver more than 1,000 letters to Gov. Charlie Baker calling for ‘new investments in school funding,’ Room 360, 11 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Senate President Karen Spilka, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and House Minority Leader Brad Jones hold a leadership meeting, Speaker’s Office, 2 p.m.
— Capital Debt Affordability Committee is due to meet to discuss its options for what it could recommend as the prudent level of debt that Massachusetts can issue in fiscal year 2020, Room 373, 3 p.m.
— HubSpot hosts female leaders of color for a panel on representation in the workplace, featuring Suffolk County District Attorney-elect Rachael Rollins and others, HubSpot, 2 Canal Park, Cambridge, 4 p.m.
— State officials in June released findings of a North South Rail Link Feasibility Reassessment and now officials publicly review the comments they have received and MassDOT’s response, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, 5 p.m.
— Boston City Councilor and U.S. Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley hosts a listening-only hearing on violence and trauma in Boston, Iannella Chamber, Boston City Hall, 1 City Hall Square, Boston, 5:30 p.m.
— State Reps.-elect Nika Elugardo, Tram Nguyen and Liz Miranda are guests on ‘Greater Boston,’ WGBH-TV Ch. 2, 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.
Worcester mourns the loss of yet another firefighter
Worcester is in shock and mourning after the weekend death of firefighter Christopher Roy, 36, a member of the force for two and a half years and father of a 9-year-old daughter, who died shortly after he was pulled from an apartment building blaze in the city. Mark Sullivan and Winston Wiley at the Telegram have the details.
Meanwhile, Kim Ring at the Telegram reports that this is the eighth Worcester firefighter to die in the line of duty over the past 19 years, including those who perished in the infamous Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. blaze nearly two decades ago.
The Warren DNA Debacle: The piling on stage
The Herald is arriving a little late to the Elizabeth Warren bashing party, started last week by the New York Times and Boston Globe. But it’s making up for its tardiness with quantity, with Warren-bashing columns by Joe Battenfeld and Howie Carr, a Warren bashing Herald editorial, and a story by Mary Markos about how Warren is remaining mum about her presidential prospects in the wake of all the Warren bashing.
So is she or isn’t she?
The Washington Post’s Matt Viser, formerly of the Globe, reports that those close to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren assume (just assume) she indeed will go for it in 2020, despite recent setbacks, which, in addition to last week’s NYT and Globe hit jobs, include “fissures” within Warren’s campaign ranks, as Viser notes. Politico’s Natasha Korecki reports Warren’s presidential campaign is indeed locked and loaded – and merely awaiting for word from Warren, whose staff, at least as of last week, was still looking around for a campaign HQ office.
Those two-timing Dems are falling in love with someone else!
As U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren decides whether to run for president, the NYT is reports that many progressive Democrats have apparently fallen in love with someone else, i.e. Beto O’Rourke, described as the new “wild card” in the crowded Dem scrum for president and a potential threat to Warren’s grass-roots fund raising. Here’s an early contender for Quote of the Week, via Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel: “What is it with a party that gets excited about a guy who loses but tries to undercut somebody who wins? … Our party is emotional.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey is aggressively venturing into Warren’s backyard, paying high-profile visits to New Hampshire, the latest this past Saturday, reports the Globe’s Jeremy Fox and the NYT.
Patrick is right: Presidential elections really are cruel
OK, one last presidential item: Scott Detrow and Domenico Montanaro at WBUR have a good piece on how former Gov. Deval Patrick isn’t alone when it comes to dreading, and ultimately declining, a run for president due to the ‘cruel’ and grueling costs of campaigns to both candidates and their families.
In Methuen, awaiting ‘Armageddon’
Six months after a police supervisors’ contract blew a hole in Methuen’s municipal budget, the city’s leadership has yet to find a solution and a state-appointed fiscal stability officer says the coffers will run dry by February unless something is done quickly, Lisa Kashinsky reports at the Eagle-Tribune. One city councilor says ‘Armageddon’ awaits early next year with possible layoffs at the police department if the contract that pays superior officers as much as $430,000 isn’t renegotiated.
Taking private property for private development: Brockton’s turn
This reminds us of the famous/infamous Supreme Court case involving New London, Conn. taking private property for private development. In this local version, Brockton is flexing its eminent domain muscles by taking the 8-story Brockton Furniture building in the center of the city and turning it over to a developer who plans to convert it into housing, as Marc Larocque reports at the Enterprise. Despite a legal challenge from the previous owner, the city’s mayor says the $1.02 million being paid is “top, top dollar.”
In the school funding debate, suburbanites hold most of the political (and financial) cards
At CommononWealth magazine, Lawrence DiCara and Michael Nicholson write that the deadlock over the state’s school funding formula is politically intertwined with the steady rise in clout of suburban towns – at the expense of cities. “Representatives at every level of government have always voted their pocketbooks to secure their standing among the voters back home,” they write. “This issue is no different.”
Lynch defects to Pelosi, bails on Moulton
U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, one of 16 Dems who signed a letter saying they wouldn’t support Nancy Pelosi for House speaker, is now supporting Pelosi for House speaker after securing what he says is a pledge to help working families, the Globe’s Martin Finucan reports. It looks more like Lynch was simply reading the writing on the wall – and the writing doesn’t spell victory for anti-Pelosi ringleader U.S Rep. Seth Moulton.
Boston native Kelly escaping/leaving White House
Brighton’s very own John Kelly is out as President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, part of an apparent post-midterm staff shake-up at the White House, the Herald’s Alexi Cohan reports. Whether it’s a voluntary or involuntary departure isn’t quite clear. But we have a hunch the former Marine Corps general isn’t shedding any tears.
Harvard student sues over university’s probe of alleged rape far off campus
Universities have a right to know if one of their students is potentially dangerous. But a university investigating a non-prosecuted rape charge allegedly committed hundreds of miles away from campus? The Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert has the details on just such a case at Harvard University – and whether the university is “overstepping its authority” by launching the probe against a student.
German Chancellor Merkel to give Harvard’s commencement speech
Speaking of Harvard, from Iris M. Lewis at the Harvard Crimson: “Chancellor of Germany Angela D. Merkel will cross the Atlantic next May to speak at Harvard’s 368th Commencement ceremony, the University announced Friday. Merkel will be the principal speaker in the ceremony’s Afternoon Program, which will take place in Tercentenary Theatre on May 30, 2019. Merkel, who is often referred to as the de facto leader of the European Union, has served as the chancellor of Germany since 2005.”
Hackers steal $800K from CCCC’s bank accounts
This makes you wonder how secure the state’s multibillion-dollar coffers are on a day to day basis: Hackers have stolen more than $800,000 from the bank accounts of Cape Cod Community College, the result of an apparent phishing scheme with highly sophisticated malware. Cynthia McCormick at the Cape Cod Times has the details of the brazen cyber attack.
Thirteen Newton teachers yanked from classes to deal with anti-Israel public-record requests
For some reason, we get the impression this is deliberate overkill, sort of the way state officials are quick to turn off the lights on the Zakim Bridge whenever threatened with budget cuts. But we could be wrong. From the Globe’s Laura Crimaldi: “Thirteen history teachers in the Newton Public Schools are expected to miss some class time this week in order to gather documents for a public records request filed by an advocacy organization that has accused the district of anti-Israel bias in its high-school world history curriculum.”
Dear Santa: From Beacon Hill, we’d like …
In an editorial, the Globe has its holiday to-do list all drawn up for Beacon Hill lawmakers, hoping they’ll tackle some key legislation in the last days before the new session starts next month, including the Airbnb bill, natural-gas safety legislation and the Equifax bill.
The Sierra Club’s Deb Pasternak at the Globe has a longer-term wish list: That Gov. Charlie Baker, Mayor Marty Walsh and House Speaker Robert DeLeo will get more serious about climate change.
National Grid’s short wish list for Christmas: A lockout settlement
Mary Markos at the Herald reports that National Grid, which has locked out more than 1,200 gas-line workers, is proposing to bargain every day, starting next Monday, in the hopes of reaching a lockout settlement by Christmas. But union officials say they are unaware of any meetings scheduled for beyond Dec. 17 – and, besides, National Grid can always unilaterally end the lockout it unilaterally imposed whenever it wants.
In Watertown, it’s solar or bust
From a report at WBUR: “Watertown will now require commercial developers to put solar panels on new buildings, becoming the first town in New England to do so. The town council unanimously approved a zoning ordinance requiring new commercial construction, as well as renovations of existing buildings that are more than 10,000 square feet, to have solar collectors.”
The perfect fit: Police OT cases go poof after they enter secret court system
The Globe’s Todd Wallack has a piece about how two separate cases of alleged police overtime abuses, this time at the Boston Police Department, suddenly disappeared and/or got erased from the record once they entered the state’s secret clerk-magistrate system. State troopers must be jealous: They got the feds in their OT scandals, while BPD officers got the state’s secretive courts. It’s simply unfair!
Healey’s latest for-profit school target: Startup Institute
From Srividya Kalyanaraman at BostInno: Startup Institute, a network of coding and development training intensives founded in Boston in 2012, is the latest for-profit educational institute that’s come under Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s scanner in her probe of for-profit colleges.”
It’s the red-vs-blue-state economies, stupid
This Washington Post Magazine piece by John B. Judis, a journalist and editor-at-large at Talking Points Memo, caught our attention over the weekend. He argues that midterm elections results show that it’s not only “the economy, stupid” but specifically the old-versus-new economies that are dividing Americans along red and blue lines.
MBTA ‘cascading failures’ update
You can now add derailed Green Line cars to the list of ‘cascading failures’ at the T, in addition to a wheel recently falling off a train and a locomotive catching fire. And so the T is now trying to figure out how to limit the ripple effect of all these ‘cascading failures’ on services. The Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter has the details.
The T wraps up weekend commuter rail discount
The MBTA’s seasonal weekend commuter rail pass discount program has come to an end and while the T says it sold about 180,000 of the $10 unlimited ride weekend passes, the vast majority of riders continued to pay individual fares, Adam Vaccaro reports in the Globe. The T’s oversight board is expected to be briefed on the pilot program’s results this week.
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
JP Progressives Holiday Event with our Sheros
Time to celebrate all our work during the past year! Please join us at our community fundraiser on December 12 at 7:00 pm at Doyle’s (where else) with our progressive Sheros we helped to elect and re-elect this year.
Why are Muslim Americans Democrats?
Come see social policy, racial and ethnic politics and Immigration expert Peter Skerry discuss why Muslim Americans vote for Democrats and more!
Young Americans for Freedom @UMB and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute
Ugly Sweater Party at ZooLights!
ZooLights at Stone Zoo promises to dazzle visitors of all ages this season.
Getting to the Point with Congresswoman-elect Ayanna Pressley
Congresswoman-elect Ayanna Pressley will participate in a moderated discussion at the Institute where she will preview the issues she will be fighting for in the 116th Congress, share insights from her longstanding commitment to community-based policy reform, and reflect on her most recent history-making campaign.
Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate
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.
Across the Aisle: Finding Common Ground in Congress
A bipartisan panel of Members of Congress will gather at the Kennedy Institute to discuss the state of affairs in Washington, opportunities for common ground in the 116th Congress, the political challenges they face, and how to foster a vibrant civic dialogue. This program is hosted in partnership with the United States Association of Former Members of Congress.
Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate
Ayanna Pressley to hold listening session on violence, trauma – Boston Herald
What we know (so far) about the historic overhaul of Boston Public Schools – WBUR
Mass. extends electric vehicle rebate program – Gloucester Times
Elderly man, 78, evicted for using medical marijuana – Boston Globe
After campaign to combat issue, Worcester schools’ chronic absence rate falls – Telegram & Gazette
Trump scrambles as top choice for chief of staff job says no – New York Times
Congress digs in for prolonged Saudi battle – The Hill
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