Happening Today

Higher ed meeting, Gas safety hearing, and more

Board of Higher Education meets, with plans to vote on a new ‘vision statement’ and new metrics for measuring and reporting the performance of Massachusetts public colleges and universities, Roxbury Community College, Student Commons, Academic Building 3, 1234 Columbus Ave., Roxbury Crossing, 10 a.m.

Linda Dorcena Forry, the former state senator who resigned earlier this year to take a position at Suffolk Construction, welcomes members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s Access and Opportunity Committee to hear a presentation on construction activity at Encore Boston Harbor, Suffolk Construction, 65 Allerton St., Boston, 10 a.m.

— The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy holds an oversight hearing on natural gas safety in the wake of the Sept. 13 gas fires and explosions in the Merrimack Valley, Gardner Auditorium, 11 a.m.

— Auditor Suzanne Bump chairs a meeting of the Municipal Finance Oversight Board to review a request from the city of Methuen, Room 437, 11 a.m.

— Senator-elect Jo Comerford will host Senate President Karen Spilka for a tour of Comerford’s large Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester district, 97 North Hatfield Road, Hatfield, 11 a.m.

Massachusetts Historical Society hosts an event to look at the life and legacy of the state’s first attorney general, Robert Treat Paine, with current Attorney General Maura Healey expected to attend, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1154 Boylston St., Boston, 12 p.m.

— Students from Solomon Schechter Day School perform a holiday concert at the State House, at 10:30 a.m., followed by a performance by students from Southbridge’s Trinity Catholic Academy, Grand Staircase, 12:30 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker speaks at a ribbon-cutting of the $50 million Ira H. Rubenzahl Student Learning Commons at Springfield Technical Community College, with STCC President John Cook, Mayor Domenic Sarno, Sen. James Welch, Rep. Bud Williams and others also attending, Springfield Technical Community College, 1 Armory Sq., Springfield, 1 p.m.

Joint Committee on Public Service holds a hearing on four bills, one of which was filed by Gov. Charlie Baker and would allow Dara Gannon, the widow of Yarmouth Police Sgt. Sean Gannon, to receive line-of-duty death benefits, Room A-2, 1 p.m.

— The MassHousing board of directors meets, with Janelle Chan, undersecretary for the Department of Housing and Community Development, attending, One Beacon St., Boston, 2 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker tours science labs at Bay Path University, highlighting projects made possible through Massachusetts Life Sciences Center grants, President’s Office, Deepwood Hall, Bay Path University, 588 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, 2:30 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Sen. James Welch, Mayor Domenic Sarno and Make-It Springfield Co-Founder Laura Masulis to visit Make-It Springfield, a community workspace that received a $25,000 Collaborative Workspace Grant in 2017, 168 Worthington St, Springfield, 4 p.m.

— The Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance awards outgoing House Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sanchez with the Canon Brian S. Kelley Public Servant Award at the group’s annual meeting, Boston College Club, 100 Federal St., Boston, 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

Leaving the White House with his ‘reputation in tatters’ …

It seems President Trump is having some problems filling the chief of staff job that Boston’s very own John Kelly will be vacating soon (WBUR). The Globe’s Nestor Ramos is throwing his hat into the ring for the post, saying his “extremely tired dad” talents are perfect for the job.

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Michael Cohen says Kelly, once a respected Marine Corps general, is leaving the White House with his “reputation in tatters.” But it’s a reputation that could also make him a millionaire, as book publishers line up to get Kelly to write a tell-all book on his tour of duty at the White House, reports the U.K.’s Daily Mail.

Globe columnist: Damn the Globe, run for president, Liz

The Globe’s Joan Vennochi says U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren should ignore the fickle editorial writers at the Globe, early polls, Beto O’Rourke, Deval Patrick’s warnings, and just go for it in 2020. Meanwhile, the Herald’s Hillary Chabot warns that Warren might want to first settle a few things with Bernie Sanders before they potentially split the progressive primary vote in New Hampshire. 

Dems Falling In Love with Beto O’Rourke Alert: Et tu, Deval?

Let’s get this straight: A successful, popular, revenue-generating T service has to end due to regulations?

Bruce Mohl at CommonWeaalth magazine reports that members of the MBTA’s Fiscal Management and Control Board are none too happy that they have to end the popular and revenue-generating weekend discount program for rail riders until a government required equity analysis is conducted. They’re now looking at ways to possibly, well, circumvent/navigate around the federal requirement.

Btw: Bruce also reports that the T is eying privatizing some future bus services, though the service, under a union agreement, would have to be beyond specified core levels.


T removes train operator after his ‘uncommon remarks’ over the loudspeaker

Speaking of the T: He was apparently upset over alleged discrimination, or maybe it was unsafe Orange Line cars, or perhaps it was something else. It’s not clear. But what is clear is that when a T train operator starts muttering over the loudspeaker “uncommon” things like “no one is going anywhere… no one is going to work,” you get him off the train, fast. The Globe’s Andres Picon has the details on the latest strange incident at the T.

Boston Globe

Spilka warns National Grid to end lockout – or else

Senate President Karen Spilka is making it clear she wants National Grid to “immediately” end its lockout of more than 1,200 union pipeline workers, though it’s not clear what exactly might ensue if the utility defies her demand. Probably passage of the anti-National Grid bill recently approved by the House. The Globe’s Victoria McGrane and MassLive’s Shira Schoenberg have more on the looming showdown between frustrated lawmakers and a so far defiant National Grid.

DeLeo and Spilka: Pipeline safety bill is on our end-of-year priority list

Speaking of pipelines and utilities, from SHNS’s Matt Murphy and Katie Lannan at the Daily News: “The top two Democrats in the Legislature said Monday that before the end of the year they want to pass legislation filed by Gov. Charlie Baker to improve the safety of gas infrastructure work. Baker met with House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka on Monday where the status of gas service restoration in the Merrimack Valley and the governor’s safety legislation were major topics of discussion.” A legislative hearing is set for today on the bill. See our Happening Today section above.

Gotcha: Judge strikes down part of state law banning secret recordings of police and others

We’re pretty sure activists, and citizens in general, are one day going to regret the weakening of this law, probably after it boomerangs on them via gotcha pseudo-journalists and others. From Adam Gaffin at Universal Hub: “A federal judge ruled today that a Massachusetts law that can be used to prosecute journalists and others making secret audio recordings of police and public officials in public spaces is unconstitutional. The ruling by US District Court Judge Patty Saris would, if upheld, nullify a part of the state’s wiretap law, known as Section 99, that bars such recordings, and would extend earlier rulings that people have the right to record police in public places as long as they let police know they’re being recorded.”

Among those involved in the case, and who wants to start using hidden cameras in Massachusetts, is none other than right-wing media provocateur and gotcha artist James O’Keefe.

Universal Hub

In Sterling, police will take home deliveries to thwart porch pirates

Although this kind of defeats the purpose of door-to-door delivery, desperate times often call for desperate measures. Police in Sterling think they may have a solution for stopping thieves from swiping e-commerce deliveries from driveways and porches: The department will allow residents to have packages sent directly to the police headquarters, where they could later pick it up, Brian Lee reports at the Telegram. 


‘Dear Senate colleagues’: Kerry and Kirk sign letter asking senators to basically save the Constitution

John Kerry and Paul Kirk (who briefly served in the Senate after the death of Ted Kennedy) have joined 42 other former senators in warning current Senate members that “we are entering a dangerous period,” with the Mueller investigation coming to a head and with international turmoil all around, and they’re urging senators to remain “steadfast and zealous guardians of our democracy by ensuring that partisanship or self-interest not replace national interest.” The Washington Post has the letter.

And, oh, Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, in a Globe opinion piece, says you’re damn right a sitting president can charged with breaking the law.

Washington Post

The only people who miss toll booths in Massachusetts: East Bostonians

Massachusetts motorists are generally happy about the demise of toll booths on major state roadways in the state. But they’re not happy in East Boston, where the old tunnel toll booths actually served as a sort of magnate that drew toll-paying motorist one way, non-toll payers the other way – and somehow it worked. No longer. The Globe’s Adam Vaccaro has the only-in-Boston traffic details.

Boston Globe

Report: Many struggle to obtain mental health services in Mass.

Many Bay State residents—even those with strong health insurance coverage—struggle to access mental health care, especially in cases of substance abuse disorders, a study to be released Tuesday by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation will report. More than half of residents surveyed reported encountering difficulties obtaining behavioral services for substance abuse issues, Shira Schoenberg reports at MassLive. 


Native cottontails to be sent to Nomans Land to do their thing

For some reason, this makes us wonder whatever happened to Rattlesnake Island. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has signed off on a plan to release 10 wild-caught cottontail rabbits next spring on Nomans Land—a tiny island off Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard once used to test Navy bombs, Ethan Genter reports at the Cape Cod Times. Authorities say the island can sustain as many as 600 of the once-endangered species. 

Cape Cod Times

Fed up with eager beavers: Framingham orders culling of pesky dam builders to stop flooding

Speaking of furry critters, from Jim Haddadin at the MetroWest Daily News: “Pity the poor beaver that made Framingham its home. With persistent flooding hitting properties around Salem End Road and Crosby Circle, the Conservation Commission on Wednesday approved emergency requests to cull the beaver population in those two areas and break up long-standing dams. While beavers have been active in those spots for at least a decade, Conservation Administrator Rob McArthur said their handiwork is suspected of causing new headaches this year for the Department of Public Works.”

MetroWest Daily News

Wrongful-death suits on behalf of Whitey Bulger anger victims’ families (and a certain Herald columnist)

A lawyer for James ‘Whitey’ Bulger says he’s planning to sue the federal government over the notorious gangster’s gruesome prison killing, the AP reports at WBUR, and the families of Bulger’s numerous victims say any money from successful wrongful-death claims should go to them, not to anyone tied to Whitey, reports the Herald’s Joe Dwinell. The Herald’s Howie Carr agrees, saying not one penny should go to any member of the Bulger family, period. 

Could Utah’s ‘ReplyAll-pocalypse’ happen here?

The NYT has a fun story about how a certain department of corrections employee in Utah sent out an innocent email invitation for her division’s annual potluck gathering – except the email accidently went to all 22,000 state workers in Utah. Some recipients started sending reply-all responses – and the ‘ReplyAll-pocalypse’ ensued. The lieutenant governor’s response is pretty good.


Give him credit: Moulton may yet extract term-limit concessions from Pelosi

Though it’s not clear if U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton is directly involved in talks, Politico and the Washington Post are reporting that Nancy Pelosi is in “advanced negotiations” with House Democratic rebels to impose term limits on committee chairs and party leaders, as part of a compromise to get some or all of the insurgents to drop their opposition to her future speakership.

Meanwhile, the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld is ripping U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch for caving too early to Pelosi and he’s giving Moulton credit for sticking to his guns on changes in the House. But progressive activists aren’t giving Moulton any credit – and they’re actively looking for a primary candidate to run against Moulton, reports NBC Boston.

Baker administration makes it seven-times clear it opposes ‘public charge’ rule change

From SHNS’s Katie Lannan and Matt Murphy at the Lowell Sun: “Seven health, human services and community development officials from across the Baker administration went on record Monday against 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.” Attorney General Maura Healey previously expressed her opposition to the proposed rule, SHNS notes.

Lowell Sun

Delta’s massive expansion at Logan tied to new Chicago and DC flights

The Globe’s Jon Chesto has the details on Delta’s big plans to boost flights at Logan Airport – including new service to and from Washington and Chicago – and to massively expand its presence at Logan.

Boston Globe

Here’s one way to avoid bad press: Fire the political reporters, if you happen to employ them

The Washington Post reports that Michael Bloomberg, the Medford homeboy, media mogul and former New York mayor who’s mulling a White House bid as a Democrat, has hinted he might simply eliminate political coverage at his news service if he runs for president. He gives the obligatory nod to the need for journalistic independence at Bloomberg News, blah, blah, blah. But then he spills the beans: “Quite honestly, I don’t want the reporters I’m paying to write a bad story about me,” Bloomberg said in a radio interview last week.

Fyi: Speaking of Bloomberg LLP, the NYT reports that Bloomberg’s company is caught up in a nasty kickback scheme involving four ex-executives at the company.

Washington Post

Walsh on pot shops: It’s about high standards

Even though he opposed legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts, Mayor Marty Walsh says in a Globe opinion piece he’s committed to implementing the law in Boston – as long as licensing and diversity standards are set high.

City council chamber renovation: From Brutalist to not so brutalist

What a difference new carpets, lights, furniture and ramps can make. Catherine Carlock reports on the recently completed renovation of the city council chamber in the Brutalist-designed City Hall. It does look a little cleaner and brighter. The BBJ story is accompanied by a before-and-after slide show.

BBJ (pay wall)

Westport looks to recall treasurer who’s been having a few problems balancing the town’s books

There’s a movement afoot in Westport to oust its elected treasurer following a controversial town-meeting vote to hire a consultant for $65,000 to basically assist authorities to balance the town’s books. Jeffrey Wagner at South Coast Today has the recall details. In November, the Herald News reported that the town’s books haven’t been balanced for about a year, putting the community at risk of fraud.

South Coast Today

UMass Amherst: ‘A new hockey power may be emerging’

Actually, UMass Amherst’s hockey team isn’t emerging as a power. It’s already arrived — and it’s now one of the top ranked teams in the nation. Esteban Bustillos at WGBH has a good piece on how the program has stormed its way into the elite of college hockey in such a short time. Hint: Hiring the right coach helps.


To elect of not to elect the school board?

The Boston City Council plans a hearing today on whether or not to switch to an elected school board in Boston. The Globe’s James Vaznis has the for-and-against details. Here’s our prediction: If they do switch to an elected school board, they’ll be back in 20 years demanding an appointed school board. It’s just one of those back-and-forth issues that never goes away.

Boston Globe

Markey wants answers on Naloxone-related life insurance denials

U.S. Sen. Edward Markey is asking the insurance industry for more details on why a Boston Medical Center nurse was denied life insurance because she carries the overdose-reversing drug Naloxone, Martha Bebinger reports at WBUR. In a letter to two industry trade groups, Markey expresses worries that the denials will have a ‘chilling effect’ on efforts to make the drug more widely available. 


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.

JP Progressives

Diversity & Inclusion in Legal Practice Summit!

The 2018 Diversity and Inclusion Legal Practice Summit offers world-class professional insights for the Greater Boston legal community.

COLOR Magazine

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.

Zoo New England

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.

Better Angels

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

Today’s Headlines


Should Boston go back to an elected School Committee or would it create more dysfunction? – Boston Globe

MassDOT chooses potential North-South rail link option – Boston Herald


Spencer gets whiff of pot transactions, wants to clear air – Telegram & Gazette

Berkshire Innovation Center early steel order dodged price spike from tariffs – Berkshire Eagle

Lynn waterfront master plan laid out in detail – Lynn Item

Fishing industry says it doesn’t endorse Vineyard Wind’s ‘consensus plan’ for transit lanes – Standard-Times


Senators to seek vote condemning Saudi crown prince for journalist’s killing – Washington Post

Meadows would give Trump a skilled brawler in White House – Politico

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