Happening Today

National Grid workers rally, Ash replacement, and more

— Governor’s Council holds four meetings today: confirmation hearings on Superior Court judicial nominee Kathleen McCarthy and Michael Malamut as a Housing Court judge in the Eastern Division, a weekly assembly meeting, and a hearing on the nomination of Brian Sullivan as the new clerk magistrate at Lynn District Court, with meetings held in the Council Chamber at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.

— U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III tours the emergency department at Milford Regional Medical Center, 14 Prospect St., Milford, 10 a.m.

— Massachusetts Lottery Commission meets, with Treasurer Deborah Goldberg serving as chair, One Ashburton Place, 12th Floor, Crane conference Room, Boston, 11:30 a.m.

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— Greater Boston Labor Council are hosting a solidarity rally to support more than 1,200 United Steelworkers locked out by National Grid since late June, outside the Boston Tea Party Museum, on the Harbor Walk adjacent to the Intercontinental Hotel, 306 Congress St., Boston, 12 p.m.

— Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy is a guest on Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 1 p.m

— Massachusetts Water Resources Authority Boad of Directors meets with an agenda that includes transmittal of the fiscal 2020 proposed capital improvement program to the MWRA Advisory Board, review of cyber security and other matters, 100 First Ave., 2nd floor, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, 1 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker hosts a press conference with outgoing Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash and his expected replacement, Mike Kennealy, Room 360, 1:30 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Public Safety and Security Thomas Turco and Undersecretary for Law Enforcement Jen Queally for a meeting of the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, Room 157, 2 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker participates in the Kennedy Center’s annual holiday drive, 55 Bunker Hill St., Boston, 3:30 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

‘Establishment’ Andersen poised to take over as chair of state GOP

The moderates-versus-conservatives battle over control of the state Republican Party appears to be over before it even began. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld and SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) report that Brent Andersen, the party treasurer and Auburn businessman who many consider the “establishment” favorite to lead the party, is saying he’s locked up enough votes to become the next state GOP chair. Charlie Baker must be relieved. But conservatives are saying it’s not over till it’s over.

Economic chief Jay Ash leaving administration; Baker taps his assistant as new secretary

The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that Gov. Charlie Baker’s economic chief Jay Ash is indeed leaving the administration, likely to take over as head of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, a business group. Meanwhile, the administration announced yesterday that Mike Kennealy, assistant secretary for business growth, will be sworn in Friday as the new secretary of housing and economic development, according to Baker’s office, as reported by SHNS’s Katie Lannan at CommonWealth magazine.

Ash’s departure isn’t a big surprise. He’s reportedly been eying jobs at both the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership and the Associated Industries of Massachusetts. Baker is planning a press conference today to formally announce the cabinet change (see Happening Today section above).

Indictment says Rockland health agent forged 11 restaurant reports

The Rockland Town Hall late-night sex scandal may have turned some stomachs, but this story is about actions that  could have literally emptied stomachs. Janice McCarthy, who was the town’s health agent until resigning in October, has been indicted on 33 counts of forgery and related charges in connection with the falsification of inspection reports on at least 11 local eateries, Mary Whitfill reports at the Patriot Ledger. 

Patriot Ledger

Fall River council issues ultimatum to mayor: Resign or face recall

From Jo C. Goode at the Herald News: “Despite a last-minute legal maneuver, the City Council unanimously voted to give notice to embattled Mayor Jasiel Correia II that he has five days to vacate his office or face a recall election.”

The Globe’s Jackson Cote and MassLive’s Gintautas Dumcius have more on the political and legal showdown in Fall River, where matters are “really turning into a circus,” as one councilor put it.

Herald News

Advocates push for some non-suburban-male diversity on T board

From Sean Philip Cotter at the Herald: “Advocates don’t want the open seat on the MBTA control board to be filled by just another guy from the suburbs. ‘We fully hope and expect that that seat represents the interests of the most vulnerable populations,’ said Maria Belen Power, a transit activist from Chelsea.”

Boston Herald

Confirmed: State to join new regional effort to curb carbon emissions via higher gas prices

From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “Massachusetts and eight other states plus the District of Columbia pledged on Tuesday to spend a year developing a regional system that would put a price on the carbon contained in transportation fuels and invest the proceeds in initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The announcement, which was expected, ultimately means that motorists, via changes to the wholesale gas market, will likely see higher pump prices, though the states have yet to commit to any specific plan. Mary Serreze at MassLive has more.

CommonWealth

Baker pushes for changes in shipping laws to increase LNG deliveries to region

On another energy front: Fearing winter electric price spikes caused by natural-gas pipeline constraints (among other concerns), Gov. Charlie Baker and other leaders around New England are pushing for changes in the federal Jones Act to allow the easier sea transport of cheap domestic liquefied natural gas to the region, reports SHNS’’s Colin Young (pay wall).

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that, despite major legal and political setbacks, the business community isn’t giving up yet on expanding the state’s natural-gas pipeline capacity.

Pressley et gang say Baker ‘nowhere to be found’ on pipeline safety issues

Speaking of natural-gas issues: In a Globe opinion piece, U.S. Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley and union leaders Darlene Lombos and Jessica Tang say Gov. Charlie Baker is “nowhere to be found” and “alarmingly quiet” on natural-gas pipeline leaks and other safety issues. They’re calling on the governor to hold gas utilities more accountable in order to prevent a repeat of September’s Merrimack Valley gas-line disaster.

Speaking of the Merrimack Valley fiasco, the Herald reports that yet other suit has been filed against Columbia Gas.

Boston Globe

Congratulations: Offshore wind has finally grown up

In a Herald opinion piece, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Rep. Thomas Golden celebrate last week’s federal auction of ocean areas for offshore wind farms, saying it was a clean-energy milestone for the commonwealth.

Boston Herald

Legislative boo-boo: DeLeo admits National Grid bill drafted incorrectly

One last natural-gas/utilities item: We missed the story yesterday by SHNS’s Michael Norton at the Salem News that House Speaker Robert DeLeo has acknowledged a bill aimed at putting financial pressure on National Grid to end its lockout of more than 1,200 workers would incorrectly impose benefits requirements on all utilities, not just those that actually lock out workers. They now plan to fix the legislation. Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine has more on the embarrassing blunder.

Salem News

Harvard economist accused of sexual harrasment steps down from prestigious panel

From the NYT: “Roland G. Fryer Jr., a prominent economist who is under investigation at Harvard University over allegations of sexual harassment, resigned on Tuesday as a leader of the most prestigious organization in academic economics. The group, the American Economic Association, published a two-sentence statement on its website saying that Dr. Fryer was stepping down from the group’s executive committee, to which he was elected this year.”

NYT

Nonprofits benefit as retiring lawmakers empty their campaign coffers

Give it away, now. A bevy of retiring lawmakers means a windfall for nonprofits as the pols empty their campaign coffers, Scott Merzbach reports at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Both one-term state Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose and Congressional hopeful Tahirah Amatul-Wadud gifted funds to Pioneer Valley nonprofits while lawmakers with longer tenures—and bigger warchests—are still pondering their exit strategies. 

Gazette

In Lowell, it looks like a matter of when, not if, a new election system is adopted

Faced with a voting rights lawsuit seeking to overturn Lowell’s citywide council elections, city officials and activists seem confident, or at least hopeful, that a mediated compromise can be reached to change to a district-orientated election system. “What the lawsuit did is just kick start something we’ve been discussing a long time,” said Mayor William Samaras. Gabrielle Emanuel at WGBH has the details.

WGBH

Pot opponents’ new rallying cry: No more Leicesters!

The Globe’s Naomi Martin reports that pot opponents across the state have latched on to the nightmare traffic problems in Leicester to further their arguments against pot shops in their own communities. “The highly publicized transportation snarls (in Leicester) have reverberated across the state, changing the marijuana debate in places such as Roslindale, East Boston, Lowell, and Cape Cod.”

But the Globe’s Dan Adams reports that pot-friendly town leaders at a cannabis panel yesterday in Boston had a message to opponents about the opening of marijuana shops: The sky isn’t falling. Still, the Herald’s Mary Markos reports there are lingering fears of communities becoming “Pot Town, USA.”

Boston Globe

Wareham police think they’ve solved the Leicester riddle

Wareham police seem to have learned the lessons from the Leicester traffic debacle that followed the opening of a new pot shop in that town: They’re requiring customers to park in a designated lot when Wareham’s first retail marijuana store opens on Friday – and then customers will need special tickets to gain entry into the pot shop. There’s more at Wicked Local.

Wicked Local

Fifty years later, they’re still arguing over the Pentagon Papers

Jill Lepore, a Harvard University professor and writer for The New Yorker, is asking to unseal records tied to long-ago grand jury investigations in Boston into the leaking of the famous Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. “Despite the multitude of books, articles, and films that have examined the Pentagon Papers, a crucial portion of the story remains hidden from public view,” LePore’s lawyers write in a federal court brief. The Globe’s Mark Arsenault and the AP at the Herald have more.

‘Pretty cool’: Baker sees first new Orange Line cars roll off factory line

He came, he saw and he thought it was “pretty cool” to see the first of the new Orange Line cars zipping around the massive CRRC factory in Springfield. Jim Kinney at MassLive has more on Gov. Charlie Baker’s viewing yesterday of the T’s newest train cars, which could see action as soon as next year in Boston.

What was not-so-cool at yesterday’s tour: The looming shadow of a trade war between the U.S. and China – and how it could impact the Chinese-owned CRRC’s operations in Springfield, reports Adam Vaccaro at the Globe.

MassLive

McGovern and Dukakis to Dems: Focus less on impeachment, more on governing and 2020

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern and former Gov. Michael Dukakis are warning Dems not to focus on the impeachment of President Trump, effectively saying the votes aren’t there and/or it’s a waste of time. The Globe’s Victoria McGrane reports McGovern wants Dems to focus on governing issues, while Tori Bedford at WGBH reports Dukakis wants Dems to focus on ousting Trump, who he calls a ‘pathological liar,’ in 2020.

GE accuses Chicago startup of ‘ruthless scheme to poach’ executives

Those little punks. Boston’s General Electric is legally going after a Chicago software startup that it’s accusing of masterminding a “ruthless scheme to poach” GE executives and “improperly obtain” confidential trade secrets, all to undermine the conglomerate’s rival predictive-analytics business. Ben Miller at the BBJ has more.

BBJ (pay wall)

After losing bid for Congress, Koh running for selectmen in Andover

Dan Koh, who finished second in September’s crowded Third District Democratic primary for Congress, isn’t going to Washington next month. But he is hoping to win a seat on the Andover Board of Selectmen, announcing he’s a candidate for the local town office. “Whether serving in Congress or serving the town, it’s the same principle,” Koh tells the Eagle-Tribune. “My aim is to be the best local official I can possibly be.”

Perhaps Koh is following the political game plan of a certain Swampscott resident who served three years as his town’s selectman before running for governor twice and ultimately winning the big one in 2014? We’ll see. 

Eagle-Tribune

Capuano says ‘anger’ ultimately led to his primary defeat in September

In an interview at WBUR, U.S. Rep. Michael Cuomo said many voters are rightfully angry at President Trump – and many progressives were simply determined to make changes when he lost to Ayanna Pressley in the September Democratic primary. “It’s not me. It’s whoever was in office in a place that has progressives. That [has] a lot of young people that don’t have a clue what happened yesterday, never mind five or 10 years ago. I get all that. And that’s fine. That’s not a problem to me. My hope is that it ends up something positive.”

WBUR

After years of negotiations, Stoughton nears deal to buy historic train station from MBTA

Many Stoughton residents won’t believe it till they see it. But a selectman says the town and MBTA are really and truly close to an agreement for Stoughton to finally acquire the historic, 130-year-old train depot, after years of frustrating talks and dashed hopes. Ben Berke at Wicked Local has the details. Check out the photo accompanying the story. It’s definitely a structure worth preserving.

Wicked Local

Springfield mayor vetoes ‘welcoming community’ ordinance, citing burden on services

Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno yesterday carried through on his vow to veto an ordinance declaring the city a “welcoming community” for all immigrants, saying the law would trigger unbudgeted financial and legal challenges for the city, reports Peter Goonan at MassLive. The mayor and council have been going at this for a while now, so we doubt we’ve heard the last of this.

Fyi: “Welcoming community” is now the preferred warm-and-fuzzy term for the apparently no longer warm-and-fuzzy “sanctuary city.” Just pointing it out to readers struggling to keep up with ever shifting political terminologies.

MassLive

Transportation officials look to manage expectations as East-West rail meetings launch

Not so fast. As members of the East-West Passenger Rail Study Advisory Committee met for the first time in Springfield—realizing a long-held goal of many western Massachusetts pols—state transportation officials seemed eager to tamp down expectations, reminding the group that significant hurdles must be cleared for high-speed rail service to connect Boston to Springfield and points west. Larry Parnass has more at the Berkshire Eagle.

Berkshire Eagle

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

Metro

Parents at Orchard Gardens School block traffic to protest needles in playground – Universal Hub

Investigation into death outside Somerville ER expected to be in place Friday – Cambridge Day

Massachusetts

Worcester comes to library’s defense after Drag Queen Storytime post draws a hateful mob – Worcester Magazine

Heroux considering proposal to put Attleboro mayor on school committee – Sun Chronicle

Lynn city council updates rules for first time since 1925 – Lynn Item

Provincetown funicular completes regulatory climb – Cape Cod Times

Nation

Nevada becomes first US state with majority female state legislature – The Guardian

Trump wants to find stray funds for the wall but there are barriers to that – Washington Post

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