Baker press conference, Christopher Roy wake and more
— Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan hosts a meeting of the Lowell Opioid Task Force, Lowell General Hospital, 295 Varnum Ave., Lowell, 9:30 a.m.
— Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Director Kurt Schwartz and Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera are on hand as the last batch of travel trailers, used to house Columbia Gas customers after the September 13th gas line disaster, leave South Common Park in Lawrence, South Common Park, Market St, Lawrence, 10 a.m.
— U.S. Sen. Edward Markey joins Hannah Frigand of Health Care For All and Louis Gutierrez of the Massachusetts Health Connector for a press conference to call attention to the “ongoing sabotage by the Trump administration that is leading to lower enrollment in health care coverage through HealthCare.gov,” Massachusetts Health Connector office, 100 City Hall Plaza, 5th floor, Boston, 11 a.m.
— The Lynnfield Middle School Pioneer Singers perform at the State House as part of a holiday concert series, Grand Staircase, 11 a.m.
— Auditor Suzanne Bump plans to attend a Massachusetts Building Trades holiday gathering, UMass Boston Campus Center, Alumni Lounge, 200 William Morrissey Blvd., Dorchester, 12 p.m.
— The Special Commission on Operating Under the Influence and Impaired Driving meets and is expected to hear a presentation from Boston attorney Stephanie Soriano., Gaming Commission, 101 Federal St., 12th floor, Boston, 1 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton and Commission on the Future of Transportation in the Commonwealth chair Steve Kadish hold a press conference, Room 157, 2:30 p.m.
— A wake is held for fallen Worcester firefighter Christopher Roy at St. John’s Catholic Church through 8 p.m; funeral and burial are on Saturday, Four Temple St., Worcester, 4 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.
‘Sanders and Warren Meet and Agree: They Both Are Probably Running’
It’s sort of attempted collusion that led to no collusion: The NYT reports that U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, two of the nation’s leading progressives, held a hush-hush meeting earlier this week at Warren’s Washington condominium to discuss their political intentions but “did not reach any accord about coordinating their dueling presidential ambitions, according to two Democrats briefed on their discussion.” They did, apparently, agree they’re both seriously considering runs for the White House in 2020, the NYT reports.
Our quick take: Warren, who reportedly organized the one-on-one, would dearly love Bernie to step aside to avoid splitting the progressive vote. That’s what the meeting was about, ultimately.
A Biden-Romney ‘unity’ ticket? More like a re-elect Donald Trump ticket
Speaking of presidential politics, the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld thinks a proposal by a Republican consultant for a ‘unity’ presidential ticket, perhaps between Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Mitt Romney, would not only be doomed to failure. It would almost guarantee the re-election of President Trump. He’s right. And we’re sort of surprised Battenfeld even bothered to dwell much on the crazy idea.
Hoax bomb threats: The Day After
What a crazy day. From Sean Philip Cotter at the Herald: “Emailed bomb threats flooded into dozens of Massachusetts businesses and others around the country Thursday afternoon, looking to extort the targets out of money, police say. The state police know of at least 39 apparent hoax bomb threats sent to businesses around Massachusetts, prompting state and local law enforcement to send officers and bomb squads.” Dan Glaun at MassLive has more.
Growing like weeds: Four more pot shops approved
From Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive: “Massachusetts regulators on Thursday approved four new retail pot shops, more than doubling the number of that have received sign-offs. … ‘I think this is the clip we’re going to be operating at, and if anything it’s probably going to get little more voluminous,’ Steve Hoffman, chairman of the Cannabis Control Commission, told reporters after the regulatory agency met.” The new stores will be located in Hudson, Pittsfield, Great Barrington and Fall River.
Meawhile, Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports that Gov. Charlie Baker thinks it’s a “good idea” that a new shop in Salem, set to open tomorrow, will be making sales via appointments only, largely for traffic reasons.
Banks starting to crave that marijuana gold
Speaking of the pot industry, the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett reports that a few banks – just a few, mind you – are starting to feel more comfortable about providing services to marijuana companies, among them Swansea-based BayCoast Bank. Considering pot shops are (currently) making hundreds of thousands of dollars a week in sales, yeah, it’s going to attract bankers.
It’s time: Bill would do away with Daylight-saving-time clock changes
The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that state Sen. John Keenan’s staff is putting the finishing touches on legislation that would effectively keep Massachusetts at one time year-round, i.e. no more of that spring-forward/fall-back stuff. The catch: The law would only take effect if Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island agree to go along. Quickie observation: We used to think the idea was daffy, but no longer. It makes sense, as long as other states agree to do it too.
Baker: A ‘group discussion’ led to Ramirez getting shown the door
It’s sort of amazing the length corporate and political leaders (and the media) will go to avoid use of the word “fired” and “canned” etc. In the case of Gov. Charlie Baker, he prefers to say Luis Ramirez’s sudden departure as T general manager was the result of a “group discussion.” In our case, we prefer “sudden departure” and “shown the door.” SHNS’s Matt Murphy at WGBH has more on Ramirez’s amazing disappearance act at the T.
Meanwhile, as Ramirez shuffled through the T turnstile in one direction, Steve Poftak was heading through the turnstile in the other direction, and Adam Vaccero at the Globe has a profile piece on the T’s fifth GM in four years.
Moulton tried to recruit Kennedy to run for speaker?
The Washington Post takes a look back at the recently (and tentatively) concluded battle between Nancy Pelosi and Dem insurgents, including U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, over control of the U.S. House. How desperate were the rebels to find a leader in their fight to oust Pelosi? Moulton and others approached U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, among others, to lead their revolution. Kennedy, needless to say, declined.
Meanwhile, the Globe’s Liz Goodwin basically tries to assess how much, if any, long-term damage Moulton inflicted upon himself by taking on Pelosi so vigorously. Moulton says constituents have reacted positively to the recent truce deal. We’ll see. In an editorial, the Globe says the new term-limits accord “actually is a good one,” though it’s unclear if it will be implemented. The Globe’s Scot Lehigh tips his hat to Pelosi, who he says just completed a “very impressive week.”
CBS paid Massachusetts actress Eliza Dushku $9.5M after sexual harassment complaint
The Bay State’s very own Eliza Dushku, aka “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” collected $9.5 million in a settlement agreement after she was written off the CBS show “Bull” following a confrontation with star Michael Weatherly over his beyond-crude remarks about her appearance, rape, and a threesome. The New York Times and MassLive’s Ray Kelly have more on the latest guy (and entertainment star) who just doesn’t get it. Dushku should have gotten more from CBS, btw.
Mayflower descendants offer support for Wampanoag land quest
The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has new support for its effort to get Congress to recognize its land rights from some old—very old— acquaintances. The General Society of Mayflower Descendants says it will lobby lawmakers to get behind legislation that would recognize the tribe’s land rights in Mashpee and Taunton, where it wants to build a $1 billion casino, reports Tanner Stening at the Cape Cod Times.
Hey governor. Want to save money on Medicaid? Check out PBMs
Todd Brown, vice chair of the department of pharmacy at Northeastern University and head of the Massachusetts Independent Pharmacists Association, writes at CommonWealth magazine that if Gov. Charlie Baker and others really want to reduce state spending on Medicaid, they should take a look at the huge profits that pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are making as entrenched middle-men in drug transactions.
Kerry to Congress: Ignore Trump, pass climate-change legislation, and see how he reacts
John Kerry, the former U.S. senator and secretary of state, writes at the NYT that it’s futile to try to work out a deal with a climate-change denier like Donald Trump, so Congress should simply pass legislation and force the president to react one way or the other. Until he’s out of office, it may be the only option, as Kerry suggests.
DeLeo to Congress: It’s indeed possible to pass gun safety bills
Yet another local pol has some advice for Congress (and other legislatures): In an opinion piece at The Hill, Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo says the Bay State has shown it’s indeed possible to pass effective, common-sense gun safety legislation – and maybe it’s time Congress and other legislatures try to do the same.
Federal judge rejects challenge to Maine’s ranked-choice system
Those pushing ranked-choice voting in Massachusetts are breathing a sigh of relief this morning, after a federal judge struck down Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s legal challenge of Maine’s new ranked-choice voting law and rejected Poliquin’s request to invalidate the runoff he lost to Democrat Jared Golden. As Steve Mistler at WBUR reports, the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker is a “significant blow to Poliquin’s quest to retain his seat, as well as Republicans’ vigorous campaign to challenge the legality of the election law Maine voters approved two years ago.”
On Nantucket, pool-limiting proposal poised for pushback
Call it: Not in Your Backyard. A member of the Nantucket Planning Board has filed a petition article that would dramatically limit where swimming pools can be installed on the island, arguing that developers are shoe-horning the amenities onto tiny lots, causing a nuisance to neighbors, Joshua Balling reports at the Inquirer & Mirror.
Terrific taxpayer deal: Paying $68K to see nothing
The Globe’s Todd Wallack reports that three district attorneys have spent about $68,000 fighting a so-far-unsuccessful battle to withhold records from the Globe – with the legal bill expected to climb even higher. And we’re paying for it, taxpayers.
With $31M in new state tax breaks, Wayfair is going to bulk up even more in Massachusetts
Wayfair Inc. has so many employees in Boston that its workers now have to literally wait in line to get into their offices. They may soon be waiting longer, now that a state council has approved a $31.4 million tax break for the firm to add at least 3,000 more jobs in Boston and 300 call-center positions in Pittsfield. Greg Ryan at the BBJ has the deal details, while Jim Kinney at MassLive has the reaction in Pittsfield, where Mayor Linda Tyer is pumped.
The Apple move: Go east, young men and women, go east
As the Wayfair expansion was unveiled yesterday in Massachusetts, Apple announced that it was building a new $1 billion secondary campus in Austin, Texas, where it already has a strong presence, although Apple is flipping a couple hundred new jobs to Boston in the process, reports Callum Borchers at WBUR.
The Globe’s Andy Rosen and Jon Chesto have the obligatory What’s Wrong With Boston piece on the Apple move, i.e. how we never get the “trophy” firms, etc. But we liked this NYT piece about how companies like Apple, Amazon and Google, in search of talent, are increasingly expanding outside of Silicon Valley, moving eastward, and places like Boston have been huge beneficiaries of such moves in recent years. Bottom line: There’s nothing wrong with Boston per se, except for the fact they we’re probably tapped out on available talent ourselves, forcing tech firms to look elsewhere for bodies.
Former owner of New England Compounding Center convicted in deadly meningitis outbreak
From Jim Haddadin at Wicked Local: “The former owner of a Framingham business tied to a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak and four employees will face prison time after being convicted Thursday by a federal jury. Southborough resident Greg Conigliaro, a former owner of New England Compounding Center, was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the United States following a trial that lasted eight weeks, according to an announcement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”
From a school fight to student deportation: What was the role of gang intelligence units in all this?
Shannon Dooling at WBUR has a good story about how one student, named Orlando, got in a school fight in East Boston – and then somehow landed on an agency’s gang list and was forced to leave the country. The case involved school administrators, Boston police, the Boston Regional Intelligence Center, ICE – and a lot of questions about the interaction between local police and federal officials.
Teachers push for $1.5B more in school funding per year
They’ll never get it – and they probably know it. Still, the Massachusetts Teachers Association is giving it a try, launching a new campaign to pressure Beacon Hill lawmakers to boost education spending by $1.5 billion a year, one third of it for higher education and the rest for public prekindergarten through grade 12 schools. SHNS’s Katie Lannan has the details.
Report: Hate crimes hit ten-year high in Massachusetts
From SHNS’s Colin Young at the Lowell Sun: “The number of hate crimes reported to the state increased by almost 10 percent to a 10-year high in 2017, the state said in a new report that also found a majority of law enforcement agencies reported they had experienced no bias-motivated incidents last year.” Hmmm. What significant political thing happened in 2017? We just can’t put our finger on it.
Return to sender …
From Matt Stout at the Globe: “Governor Charlie Baker last month accepted $2,500 from the firm of a registered lobbyist and longtime ally of Vice President Mike Pence toward his inaugural celebration in January, violating a self-imposed cap intended to limit lobbyists to a fraction of that amount. Baker advisers say they’re now returning most of the contribution from A10 Associates, a Boston-based firm run by Jess Tocco.”
Brockton mayor shoots down state drug czar role rumors
Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter took the unusual step of denying rumors that he would leave City Hall to take what would be a newly created position as a “drug czar” overseeing the state’s response to the opioid crisis, Marc Larocque reports at the Enterprise. Carpenter stopped short of saying there was no truth to the rumors, but said he’s happy in his current role.
Boston’s plastic bag ban has arrived
The city of Boston starts the rollout of its ban on single-use plastic bags today with large supermarkets and other retailers the first to be prohibited from offering them to customers, Dan Guzman reports at WBUR. Smaller stores will be phased into the ban starting next summer.
After outcry, UMass restores Daily Collegian office
UMass Amherst administrators are apologizing to staff of the Daily Collegian, the school newspaper, after reversing course on a plan to abruptly boot the publication from its offices, Dusty Christensen reports at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. A plan to use the Collegian’s offices for temporary storage while the campus center is renovated was dropped within hours after a chorus of criticism came in from current student journalists and alumni alike.
Logan named ‘airport of the year’ by TSA
A big congrats to the folks at Logan International Airport, which has been named “airport of the year” by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine has the details.
Sunday public affairs TV
Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: Dan Kennedy of Northeastern University and Emily Rooney of WGBH join host Jon Keller to review the political media’s performance in 2018 and the challenges ahead.
This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Partners Healthcare chief executive David Torchiana and Julie Burns, RIZE executive director, talk about the economic impact of the opioid crisis and what businesses can do to help; Greater Boston Chamber CEO Jim Rooney weighs in on the leadership changes at the MBTA, and Jon Chesto of the Boston Globe reviews the top business stories of the week.
CEO Corner, NECN, 10: 30 a.m. A discussion with the heads of three local companies that make holiday-gift worthy products: Bruce Smith, Hydrow founder and CEO, Kelly Nagel, Jabra president and GM of North America, and Lou Panaccione, OOFOS co-founder and CEO.
On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: Kirsten Hughes, outgoing chairwoman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, who talks with anchor Ed Harding and co-anchor Janet Wu.
DC Dialogue, NECN, 11:30 a.m. U.S. Rep.-elect Lori Trahan talks about her priorities as she prepares to head to Congress, and Peter Howe talks with New England Council CEO James Brett about his organization’s agenda for 2019.
This is New England, NBC 10 Boston, Channel 10, 11:30 a.m. With host Latoyia Edwards, this week’s topics: Bundle Up New England campaign with Big Brother Big Sister Foundation and the trends for the 2019 real estate market with East Boston Savings Bank.
CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s topic: Holiday arts.
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.
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