Happening Today

Cannabis Commission, Senate farewells, Markey presser, DiMasi and Moulton on the air

— The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is expected to announce November monthly revenue figures for the slots parlor at Plainridge Park Casino and MGM Springfield.

— State marijuana regulators could decide where the Cannabis Control Commission’s headquarters will be located in Worcester, Center for Health Information Analysis, 501 Boylston St., Boston, 10 a.m.

— The state Treasury hosts senior state officials for an investor conference call, with expected updates to the state’s credit rating, the economy and revenue collections as well as capital financing activities, 10:30 a.m.

— The Senate holds a session at which its departing members have a chance to say personal farewells to their colleagues and reflect on their careers, Gardner Auditorium, 11 a.m.

— Salvation Army Mass. Division host its 18th annual Christmas Castle event to help thousands of local families in need, with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito attending, The Castle at Boston Park Plaza, with Politio appearing at 11 a.m.

— U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey holds a press conference following a summit of the major climate, environmental, public health, clean energy, and grassroots organizations to discuss priorities for the coming new Congress, JFK Federal Building, Room 900A, 15 New Sudbury, Boston, 11:15 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Human Service Secretary Marylou Sudders; Eileen Connors, co-chair of the Governor’s Council to Address Aging; and several major companies to announce the winners of Baker’s ‘In Good Company: Optimal Aging Innovation Challenge,’ MIT Samberg Conference Center, Chang Building, 50 Memorial Dr., Cambridge, 1:30 p.m.

— Former House Speaker Sal DiMasi and his wife Debbie talk on WBUR about his time in federal prison and advocacy for compassionate release, while U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton is also a guest on Monday’s WBUR program, WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m.

— Edward M. Kennedy Institute hosts members of Congress 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,’ featuring Washington Post columnist Paul Kane as moderator and panelists U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois, Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts, Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma and Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware, Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate, 210 William T. Morrissey Blvd., Boston, 3 p.m.

— U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton is a guest 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.

Today’s Stories

Striking down ObamaCare: How much would it cost Massachusetts?

A ruling by a Texas-based federal judge last week to strike down all of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) has pushed health-care back to political center stage across the country, the New York Times reports. In Massachusetts, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren says Democrats will “fight it with everything we’ve got,” reports the Herald’s Kimberly Atkins. Though many strongly believe the court ruling will be overturned, it’s potential impact, if the decision is upheld, could cost Massachusetts huge amounts of money, in the opinion of Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist who was a consultant to the Obama administration when the act was first passed, reports Herald’s Jordan Graham. In an opinion piece at the Globe, Gruber calls the court ruling “ridiculous.” 

Fall River mayor files objections to recall signatures

Amanda Burke at the Herald News has the latest on the political and legal saga in Fall River: “Mayor Jasiel Correia II on Friday filed an eleventh-hour objection to the petitions certifying the recall election. … It was not immediately clear on what grounds Correia was objecting to the petitions, as he refused comment outside of the City Clerk’s office.”

The issue now goes before the Board of Election Commissioners, which, apparently, will decide whether the complaints by Correia, who’s now facing federal fraud charges, are valid. 

Herald News

Private criminal charges in secret courts: Nothing here to see, folks. Move along

Another jaw-dropper from the Globe’s Spotlight team, this one a follow-up on the paper’s recent ‘secret courts’ series, to wit: How some people use the state’s secretive court-magistrate system to personally file criminal charges, without the backing of police and prosecutors, against others, sometimes as a retaliatory legal move. And who often uses this little-know system? Police facing charges. The Globe’s Nicole Dungca and Jenn Abelson provide one example involving a Boston police officer – and it’s yet another reason for a major overhaul, if not outright elimination, of the state’s ‘secret courts.’

Boston Globe

Tech battle: Mr. Fix-it vs Mr. Comptroller

Hillary Chabot at the Herald reports on the unusual public battle between Gov. Charlie Baker and his handpicked Comptroller Thomas Shack over botched tech policies and rollouts in state government. The dispute involves warnings of possible state data breaches and millions of dollars to fix various tech problems.

Boston Herald

Galvin plans to ask for early voting in 2020, potentially boosting state’s primary-election clout

From James Pindell at the Globe: “Secretary of State William Galvin says he will ask the Legislature to expand early voting to include the 2020 presidential primary so Massachusetts voters can cast ballots as soon as five days before the March 3, 2020, contest. If the Legislature approves, voters may have a larger role in the early presidential primary calendar, something that could help US Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has said she would take a ‘hard look” at a White House run.”

Btw: Besides Massachusetts, the state of California also poses a threat to New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary, reports the Globe’s Pindell in a separate piece.

More DNA damage control: Warren courts blacks, declares she’s ‘not a person of color’

Speaking of the state’s senior senator, the Globe’s Jess Bisgood, the Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo and the NYT’s Astead Herndon report that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, still reeling from her DNA-ancestry gambit earlier this fall, is aggressively courting African-American voters and leaders, going so far as to say she’s ‘not a person of color,’ an apparent reference to/reminder of her past claims of Native American heritage. The Herald’s Howie Carr can’t resist jumping all over this story.

State transportation study: Of more trains, not necessarily planes and electric automobiles

Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine, Adam Vaccaro at the Globe and Shira Schoenberg at MassLive have all the details on the major transportation study that the Baker administration released last week, including recommendations for more frequent commuter rail trains running throughout the day and the goal of switching nearly all vehicles to electric power by 2040.

Report: Massachusetts exploring carbon fee on auto fuels

This could be big – and controversial (though not necessarily in the Yellow Vest category of controversial). From Andy Metzger at CommonWealth magazine: “Massachusetts is expected to join other East Coast states in attempting to design a system that would assess a fee on the carbon content of automobile fuels and use the proceeds from that fee to finance a transportation system generating fewer greenhouse gases, according to people familiar with the planned announcement.” Any price increases, needless to say, would be passed along to motorists. Just pointing it out.

SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) has more on the carbon plan that was also mentioned in the state transportation study released last week by the Baker administration.


Windfall: Offshore wind farm auction raises record $400M

Speaking of efforts to curb carbon emissions: The federal auction last week of ocean areas south of Martha’s Vineyard for proposed offshore wind farms raised more than $400 million, a record and a sure sign private developers are bullish on the clean-energy initiative. Barbara Moran at WBUR has the details on the winning bids by three companies.


What do nuclear and solar energy have in common? Good intentions that leave consumers holding the bag

Still on the subject of energy: Paul F. Levy, the former chairman of the state Department of Public Utilities, sees eerie regulatory and financial parallels between the long-ago rollout of the nuclear industry and today’s solar-power sector: Good-intentioned government policies that can boomerang on consumers years later. He explains at CommonWealth magazine.


‘Simply bewildering’: The ‘odd alliance’ between environmentalists and fossil-fuel firms to block hydropower

One last energy-related item: In an editorial, the Globe says it knows why fossil-fuel companies are opposing the state’s attempt to import huge quantities of clean hydro-power from Quebec. But it says the opposition of some environmental groups, which say the plan won’t add new clean power, is “simply bewildering.”

OK, one more energy link in our last energy post of the day: In a Globe opinion piece, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey says a new Congress will soon bring a ‘green wave’ of climate-change legislation to Washington.

Boston Globe

The price of a good economy: State’s income tax to automatically fall in January

This was expected but it’s still news. From Dave Canton at MassLive: “The state’s income tax rate will drop 0.05 percent in the coming year, the Department of Revenue announced Friday, thanks to continued strong revenue performance.  Department spokeswoman Julie Mehegan said the Part B individual income tax rate will drop from 5.10 to 5.05 percent. The department predicts that if the state’s economic performance continues, the rate should drop to the target 5.0 percent in 2020.”

SHNS Michael Norton (pay wall) notes the move to 5.05 percent is worth about $175 million.


Globe union: Management contract offer is ‘draconian’ and ‘insulting’

The union representing more than 600 Globe employees is urging members to wear union T shirts to work tomorrow to “show our disgust” over “insulting” and “ridiculous and draconiam” contract offers by the newspaper’s management, reports Jonathan Ng at the Herald.

Boston Herald

British provide handy advice to Bostonians on how to make tea without dumping it into the harbor

As Bostonians celebrated the 245th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party over the weekend (CBS Boston), the U.K Consulate in Boston (via Universal Hub) was providing five-step instructions on how to brew a proper cup of British tea, including: ‘RESIST THE URGE TO DUMP EVERYTHING IN THE NEAREST HARBOUR.’

In October, lest we forget, the U.K. Consulate was openly welcoming back Her Majesty’s troops to re-occupy Boston.

Twitter (U.K.)

Thousands honor fallen firefighter Christopher Roy

Gov. Charlie Baker and U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey were among those who attended weekend funeral services for Christopher Roy, the Worcester firefighter who died in the line of duty earlier this month, leaving behind a nine-year-old daughter and thousands of mourners, civilians and firefighters alike. The Telegram and CBS Boston have more. The Telegram also has a photo gallery of the sad weekend services.

City says hasty process led to ‘opportunity zone’ designation for cemeteries

City and state officials said they were aiming to protect against displacement of current residents and minimize fears of gentrification when they designated cemeteries, the Boston harbor islands and a city park as ‘opportunity zones’ to put them in line for federal tax breaks, Sean Phillip Cotter reports at the Herald. Critics say the designations likely mean funds for new construction will flow to other communities as a result.  … We can’t resist: ‘Bring out your dead’ (You Tube).

T starts testing new Orange Line cars on actual Orange Line tracks

Cue in Carly Simon’s ‘Anticipation’: Via Universal Hub, the T yesterday released a photo of a new Orange Line train going through its ‘final testing phase’ on actual tracks at the Mass. Ave. Station, rather than on some off-the-beaten-tracks somewhere out of view.

Universal Hub

Next up: Now it’s Newbury College’s turn to close its doors

Nine months after Mount Ida College announced it was closing and seven months after tiny Wheelock College was forced to merge with BU, another small higher-education institute in Massachusetts, Newbury College in Brookline, is biting the dust. The school announced late last week that it will be shutting its doors at the end of the academic year, for the same reasons as Mount Ida and Wheelock: Severe financial pressures. Kirk Carapezza at WGBH has the details. 


Babson College finds replacement for Kerry Healey: The co-founder of Jiffy Lube

In other higher-ed news, the BBJ’s Max Stendahl reports that Babson College has named Stephen Spinelli, the co-founder of car-maintenance giant Jiffy Lube and the former chancellor of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, as the school’s next president, replacing outgoing president Kerry Healey, the former state lieutenant governor.

BBJ (pay wall)

A year later, Boston hasn’t moved the racial needle very much

Adrian Walker, the Globe columnist and a member of last year’s Spotlight Team that examined racism in Boston, says, sure, there’s been a bit of racial progress in Boston over the past year with the election of Ayanna Pressley and Rachael Rollins and other developments. But face it: Such improvements have barely moved the racial needle in Boston, he says.

Salem pot shop opening: No walk-ins, no traffic, no problems

The state’s third retail pot shop opened over the weekend, but something was missing this time around: Traffic jams. Matt Reed at WCVB reports that the opening of Alternative Therapies Group’s shop in Salem went smoothly on Saturday, largely due to its policy of selling retail weed by appointment only, a move that averted traffic jams seen at the openings of marijuana stores last month in Leicester and Northampton. Btw: City Councilor Josh Turiel was the Salem shop’s first customer.


Plymouth and Mashpee marijuana dispensaries ordered closed over pesticide concerns

Speaking of pot, there will be no Tardis 9, Granddaddy Purple or White Rhino sold for the time being at medical marijuana dispensaries run by M3 Ventures in Mashpee and Plymouth, after the state Department of Public Health ordered the outlets closed due to concerns about pesticide use during the pot cultivation stage, reports Doug Fraser at the Cape Cod Times.

Cape Cod Times

After lawmakers complain, DOT opts to keep bike lane posts on Longfellow – for now

Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin and the Globe’s Steve Annear report that state lawmakers have sent a letter to MassDOT demanding that it keep “flex posts” that currently separate bike lanes from cars on the Longfellow Bridge. In response, DOT, which says the posts interfere with removal of snow in the winter, announced the posts will remain in place – at least for now.

Free meals draw more students to the table in Lynn

Three months after all public schools in Lynn began offering free meals to all students regardless of their financial need, the number of kids eating at school is up 7 percent, about in line with expectations of the federally funded program, Gayla Cawley reports at the Lynn Item. 

Lynn Item

In Hodgon’s Bristol County jail, it’s now two whole apples a week!

Speaking of chow lines, Jeannette Barnes at the Standard-Times goes inside the Bristol County House of Corrections for a look at the food services that inmates have complained about and even held a hunger strike over. She found a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables, prompting Sheriff Thomas Hodgson to start offering prisoners two fresh apples each week. The jail’s nutritionist also quit shortly after the newspaper began asking questions about the food. 

South Coast Today

Lengthy legislative careers end in tandem in Pioneer Valley

Outgoing state Reps. Stephen Kulik and John Scibak marked their retirements from public office on consecutive nights after spending much of their combined 41 years on Beacon Hill working closely together, Patrick Lovett reports at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Their departures represent just the latest loss of clout for the region, which also recently saw former Senate President Stan Rosenberg leave his post. 


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


Parkland survivor, gun reform advocate accepted to Harvard – WGBH

Boston police collect 54 firearms in gun buyback program – Boston Herald


Added incentive for Worcester buyback event: Watch your gun get crushed – Telegram & Gazette

Are the mountain lion sightings in Monterey for real? – Berkshire Eagle

Amesbury general store bings back the pay phone – Salem News

Community seeks answers on Falmouth needle exchange – Cape Cod Times


As the Trumps Dodged Taxes, Their Tenants Paid a Price – New York Times

California reverses course on plan to tax text messages – NBC News

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