Happening Today

PAWS Act, Orange car rollout, school funding campaign

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meets to discuss a number of topics, including state curriculum standards and high-quality instruction, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 75 Pleasant St., Malden, starting at 8:30 a.m.

— U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark hosts an event celebrating the expected signing of the PAWS Act, which expands federal domestic violence protections to include protections for the pets of domestic violence victims, MSPCA-Angell, 293 2nd Ave, Waltham, 10:30 a.m.

— The Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change and House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change hold an oversight hearing on greenhouse gas emissions reductions progress under the Global Warming Solutions Act, with Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton, Conservation Law Foundation attorney David Ismay and others expected to talk, Room 428, 11 a.m.

— Ex-Gov. Michael Dukakis is a guest on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 11:30 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, Consul General of China in New York Huang Ping, MBTA Interim General Manager Jeff Gonneville and CRRC MA Corporation Vice President Jia Bo to participate in a ceremony marking the rollout of new Orange Line cars, CRRC Rail Car Facility, 655 Page Boulevard, Springfield, 12 p.m.

Health Policy Commission Advisory Council meets to discuss findings from the upcoming 2018 Cost Trends Report, 50 Milk St., 8th floor, Boston, 12 p.m.

— The Cannabis Control Commission and the Social Law Library team up with the Massachusetts Municipal Association to host two panels featuring Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, Hudson executive assistant Thomas Moses and others, Social Law Library, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Sq., Suite 4100, Boston, 1 p.m.

— The Massachusetts Teachers Association formally launches a new campaign for increased school funding by $1.5 billion, Room 222, 2 p.m.

— The PILOT Action Group turn over a petition to Boston Mayor Martin Walsh’s office demanding that ‘our largest and wealthiest’ nonprofit institutions pay their full Payment in Lieu of Taxes cash contributions, Boston City Hall Plaza, 1 City Hall Square, Boston, 3 p.m.

— Joint Committee on Election Laws holds a hearing on a Rep. Marjorie Decker bill to authorize Cambridge to offer early voting in municipal elections, Room A-1, 3 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

Pot shops update: Two more are on the way …

By the end of the week, there could be five retail marijuana stores open for business in Massachusetts, after the Cannabis Control Commission yesterday authorized the opening of two additional pot shops in Eastampton and Wareham, reports SHNS’s Colin Young at Wicked Local.

Btw: The commission yesterday also made it official: It will be moving its permanent headquarters to Worcester’s Union Station, hopefully by mid-2019, SHNS reports separately at the Telegram.

Wicked Local

Cuomo to push for legalization of pot in NY by early 2019

Make no mistake: This is partially in reaction to legalization of pot in Massachusetts and, soon, in New Jersey, and it’s all about money: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday he’ll push to legalize marijuana early next year, a move that could raise more than $1.7 billion in revenue a year for the state, the NYT reports. It looks like Cuomo has the legislative votes in Albany to get it passed.


Pollack: Time to replace Sagamore and Bourne bridges

State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack has finally stated what many have assumed for a long time: It’s time to replace the narrow and outdated Sagamore and Bourne bridges over the Cape Cod Canal with wider and more modern structures. Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine and SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) have all the details, including how the condition of the bridges are on Pollack’s “keep-me-up-at-night list.”

If this ever happens, it’s going to be the Cape’s version of the Big Dig. Fyi: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns and maintains the bridges, is currently studying whether to overhaul or simply replace the structures.

New sheriff in town: Baker taps former councilor and Scott Brown aide for Norfolk County post

There’s a new sheriff in Norfolk County. And not just any sheriff. He’s a Republican. In Democratic territory. He’s Jerry McDermott – and the governor just appointed him to clean up town (figuratively speaking). The Globe’s Matt Stout and SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) have more.

The Blob: MGM Springfield bids to take over city’s historic Symphony Hall

MGM Springfield, which opened its casino doors only a few months ago and which already manages the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield, has its eye on another conquest in the western Massachusetts city: Springfield’s historic Symphony Hall. Peter Goonan at MassLive reports that MGM has submitted one of two competing bids to take over management at the hall. Next up: Handing over the keys to Springfield City Hall? Just wondering.


MGM Springfield’s gaming revenue takes a dip in November

Speaking of the Springfield casino, Peter Goonan at MassLive reports that MGM Springfield, which opened in August, saw its gaming revenues dip to $21.2 million in November, down $1 million from October and down even more from September. Nothing to worry about per se. Though their revenues bear watching. Keep in mind: Encore Boston Harbor opens next year in Everett. That’s when the monthly revenue numbers will get really interesting.

Sanofi signs record mega-lease for space in Cambridge

From Catherine Carlock at the BBJ: “French drug giant Sanofi has confirmed long-rumored plans to lease 900,000 square feet across two buildings at Cambridge Crossing, further cementing the East Cambridge development site as a biotech hub, and marking the largest single lease deal in the city’s history.” 

Fyi: The development site was previously known as North Point.

Fyi, II: Across the street, the owner of the CambridgeSide Galleria wants to convert a portion of the third floor of the retail/restaurant mecca into office space, yet the latest example of the beating bricks-and-mortar retail venues are taking in this e-commerce era, the BBJ also reports (pay wall).

Fyi, III: The Globe’s Jon Chesto has an update on preliminary development plans for the Charlestown Navy Yard. And, yes, as Univesal Hub notes, it includes something that every world-class-city must now have in order to be a true world class city: A Ferris wheel. How original.

BBJ (pay wall)

Healey and other AGs challenge judge’s ruling on Affordable Care Act

From Jackson Cote at the Globe: “Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and her counterparts in 17 other states filed a motion Monday challenging a Texas federal judge’s ruling last week that struck down the Affordable Care Act.” Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey yesterday said the ruling is based on “a fallacious assumption” and may well be overturned, reports SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall). At the Globe, Priyanka Dayal McCluskey reports that the Texas-based judge’s decision, if upheld, could wreak havoc with the state’s health care system.

Boston Globe

‘As if Ramirez never existed’

The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board yesterday held its first meeting since the ouster/departure of former GM Luis Ramirez – and not a peep about him or the management move. Zero. Nothing. No mention. It’s as if he never existed, as CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl notes.


UMass chairman: ‘Many, many, many’ colleges could close in coming years

Sounding the alarm about declining college enrollment and graduation rates across the country, UMass board of trustees chairman Robert Manning is warning that tough financial times lie ahead for the nation’s colleges, particularly if a recession hits. “There are many, many, many higher education institutions both private and public that are going to go out of business in this country in the next five years,” he said, as reported by SHNS’s Nicole DeFeudis at the Salem News.

Considering the recent demise of Wheelock and Mount Ida collages and the soon-to-close Newbury College, it doesn’t sound like he’s exaggerating.

Btw, from the Globe: “Before announcing shutdown, Newbury College recruited students from defunct Mount Ida.”

Salem News

Union to Senate: What’s up with the National Grid bill? What’s going on?

From SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall): “Locked-out National Grid gas workers, in a new letter to Senate President Karen Spilka, are claiming that the Senate’s ‘uncertain position’ is strengthening the utility company’s position as contract talks extend closer to Christmas.” Union members want the Senate to pass a House bill calling for the state to set up benefits for any utility employee locked out in a labor dispute, a move that would put financial pressure on National Grid to settle.

Btw: The Globe’s Kevin Convey writes that union members are keeping the faith in general, despite the coming holidays with no contract settlement in sight.

Progressives claim majority in Senate: Now what?

The Progressive Caucus yesterday announced that progressive lawmakers will make up a majority in the Massachusetts Senate. Now comes the hard part: Reality. From SHNS’s Matt Murphy: “Asked what the caucus’s agenda would be in the next session with its new majority, (Sen. Jamie) Eldridge said, ‘That’s the discussion. Can we agree on some core issues?’”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

It’s over: Suffolk DA drops prosecution of Sean Ellis, citing lack of evidence and police corruption

The Suffolk County district attorney office has finally closed the book on the long and controversial saga of Sean Ellis, convicted in the 1993 murder of a Boston police detective, blaming old and unreliable evidence and corruption charges against detectives in the original case. Lisa Creamer at WBUR has more on the protracted and contentious legal fight that spanned more than two decades.


Warren and Markey to Columbia Gas: Who knew what and when about whistleblower’s warnings?

From Mary Markos at the Herald: “U.S. Sens. Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren are demanding answers from Columbia Gas after a whistleblower claimed job cuts in the crew that monitored the system’s pressure may have contributed to the September explosions. Whistleblower Bart Mederios, a retired Columbia Gas employee, claims he told the company that the cuts could lead to disaster.”

Boston Herald

Warren calls for feds to enter generic drug-making market

Speaking of the senior senator from Massachusetts, we’re pretty sure the state’s life-sciences sector isn’t exactly wild about this idea. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has unveiled legislation that would put the federal government in position to manufacture generic drugs with the aim of bringing down prescription prices, Alex Thomspon and Sarah Karlin-Smith report at Politico. In a Washington Post op-ed, Warren says the Department of Health and Human Services could step in to directly produce or contract production of generic drugs the private sector has dropped or ignored. 

The Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act—which was immediately opposed by the generic drug-making lobby and which many believe has little to no chance of making it through a GOP-led Senate—joins proposals from several other putative 2020 Democratic hopefuls. 

Homelessness rises by 14 percent in Massachusetts

From Cynthia Fernandez at the Globe” “Homelessness in Massachusetts increased by 14 percent this year, according to a federal report released Monday, and local advocates said the data highlight the need to quickly build more housing for the most vulnerable.”

Boston Globe

Mickey Roache, RIP

Francis ‘Mickey’ Roache, 82, the former Boston police commissioner, city councilor and Suffolk County Registry of Deeds, has passed away, reports Universal Hub. The Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo has more on the death of Roache, who served as commissioner from 1985 to 1993.

Universal Hub

Report: ‘Penny pinching’ Steamship Authority ran ferry service aground

Get the lifeboats ready. Changes are expected at the Steamship Authority after a consultant’s review found a culture of management infighting and ‘penny-pinching” that helped lead to a disastrous spring of canceled ferry trips and broken-down vessels, Rich Saltzberg reports at the Martha’s Vineyard Times.  One member of the authority’s board said the report makes it clear the authority needs more revenue—which will likely mean additional fare hikes are in the offing. 

Ethan Genter at the Cape Cod Times reports that while welcoming many of the ten suggestions for improvement, some authority board members pushed back on the suggestion that without changes, the agency could face a repeat of the 2018 season. 

Martha’s Vineyard Times

‘They Shall Not Grow Old’

The NYT’s Mekado Murphy is right that Peter Jackson’s new ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ documentary on World War I is “nothing less than visually astonishing.” If you have a chance, see it. One of your devoted MassterList writers saw the film yesterday in Boston – and it’s simply, well, astonishing. Using the latest colorization and computer technology, Jackson, of “Lord of the Rings” fame, got hold of old British WWI archive footage and transformed them into what looks like scenes filmed only yesterday. The documentary has no main narrator, instead relying solely on old audio recordings of veterans themselves.


Everett school superintendent put on leave amid sexual harassment and discrimination claims

From Kristina Rex at CBS Boston: “Everett’s school superintendent of 30 years will be on paid  administrative for the foreseeable future, pending an investigation into multiple sexual harassment and discrimination claims against him by former employees. The Everett School Committee voted in a 90 minute private, executive session Monday night to place Fred Foresteire on leave.”

CBS Boston

Moulton: I’m not running against Markey

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton was making the media rounds yesterday, as part of his damage-control tour following his leadership fight against Nancy Pelosi, appearing at WGBH, the Globe and elsewhere. At the Globe, James Pindell reports Moulton made it pretty clear what’s he’s said before: He has no plans to run against U.S. Sen. Ed Markey in two years, despite speculation he might have his eye on the seat.

Pressley’s honor: State’s first black congresswoman to move into office of nation’s first black congresswoman

The symbolism is strong with this one. When she formally begins her term in Congress in January, U.S. Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley—the Bay State delegation’s first-ever black woman— will be unpacking her boxes into the onetime office of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman ever elected to Congress, reports Nik DeCosta-Klipa at Boston.com. Pressley says she scored the office of her “shero” with the help of a fellow Democrat who gifted her a higher number in the office lottery. 


What? Not one town in Mass. makes it on top 50 list of most expensive zip codes in U.S.?

We go shut out. But that’s not a bad thing. USA Today has the list of the most expensive zip codes, by home prices, in the U.S. – a list completely dominated by just two states: California and New York.

USA Today

Panel: State has room for an additional $90M in borrowing

From SHNS’s Colin Young: “State finance experts recommended last week that Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration could boost capital borrowing by as much as $90 million and issue a total of $2.43 billion in general debt next fiscal year. The Capital Debt Affordability Committee determined that Massachusetts can afford $2.43 billion of bonding for capital spending in fiscal year 2020, an increase of about 3.8 percent over the current year.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

DPH on teen vaping: Do something!

From Marriam Wasser at WBUR: “On the heels of a new report showing an unprecedented spike in the number of teens who use electronic cigarettes, the state’s top health official says it’s a problem that needs immediate attention. ‘The report shows us is that there is a sharp increase in the prevalence of nicotine vaping among our young people,’ says Dr. Monica Bharel, commissioner of the state Department of Public Health.”


Thank you for reading Beacon Hill Town Square…

We appreciate your readership and hope you have a happy holiday season & New Year’s! January events will be listed soon.

Today’s Headlines


Boston mayor doubles down on support for immigrants amid plea from ICE – Boston Herald

Northeastern receives $50M gift to further AI studies – Boston Globe


Neighbors say they weren’t notified of Falmouth needle exchange – Cape Cod Times

Students, alumni object to proposed Mount Holyoke logo – Daily Hampshire Gazette

Late fees pile up for ‘middle mile’ owner after high-stakes arbitration – Berkshire Eagle


Google to invest $1 billion in newly unveiled New York City campus – Politico

Russians targeted Mueller on social media, says report prepared for Senate – Washington Post

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