Happening Today

Gaming Commission, Healey on offshore drilling, and more

— Gov. Charlie Baker visits 908 Devices, Inc., a chemical and biomolecular analysis company, and participates in a discussion on how technology can be utilized to detect Fentanyl and combat the opioid epidemic, 645 Summer Street, Suite 201, Boston, 9:30 a.m.

Gaming Commission meets with an agenda that includes MGM opening 90-day review items, a budget update, a vote on Encore Boston Harbor non-disclosure agreement request, a 2017 casino industry diversity impact report and other items, MassMutual Center, 1277 Main St., Springfield, 10 a.m.

— Treasurer Deborah Goldberg chairs a meeting of the State Retirement Board, One Winter St., 8th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.

— Attorney General Maura Healey makes an announcement related to opposition to the federal government proposal to permit offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, New England Aquarium, One Central Wharf, Boston, 11 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker and House Speaker Robert DeLeo participate in a Salvation Army Bell Ringing, outside of Macy’s Downtown Crossing, Corner of Washington Street and Summer Street, 450 Washington Street, Boston, with Baker at 11 a.m. and DeLeo at 12 p.m.

Massachusetts Family Institute, a ‘Judeo-Christian pro-family group,’ holds a Christmas nativity ceremony featuring lawmakers and a choir, Great Hall, 11 a.m.

— Nevada Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez will hold a hearing on a motion to dismiss the lawsuit former casino mogul Steve Wynn has filed against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to block release of information on its investigation of Wynn’s alleged sexual misconduct, Eighth Judicial District Court, 200 Lewis Ave, Las Vegas, Nevada, 9 a.m. PST, 12 p.m. EST

— The concert chorus from Anna Maria College’s music department performs as part of the State House holiday concert series, Grand Staircase, 1 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Treasurer Deborah Goldberg for their semi-regular meeting at the State House, Room 227, 3 p.m.

— Emerson College president Lee Pelton is the featured speaker at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce ‘City Awake’ Words of Wisdom dinner, 265 Franklin St. – 17th floor, Boston, 5:30 p.m.

— Attorney General Maura Healey 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

As DPU angers workers by lifting National Grid moratorium, Baker suggests he can support anti-utility bill

There was a lot happening on the National Grid lockout/construction moratorium front yesterday, so we’ll just tackle them in order:

— SHNS’s Colin Young and Michael Norton at the Patriot Ledger report that the DPU yesterday lifted the moratorium on National Grid gas-line work, with some restrictions, in a move that’s infuriated locked out gas workers.

— The Globe’s Matt Stout reports the Massachusetts Senate is teeing up a bill for today designed to extend unemployment benefits for the 1,250 workers locked out by National Grid, though the legislation will be different from one in the House.

Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine reports that Gov. Charlie Baker, while concerned about the “unusual precedent” of the state interfering in a labor dispute, is nevertheless signaling he can support legislative action as long as it doesn’t run afoul of state and federal law.

Paul Levy, a former chairman of the DPU, writes at CommonWealth magazine that the state does indeed have “broad supervisory and remedial powers” to pressure National Grid to settle its battle with unions.

There. We think that’s all of it. Hopefully we haven’t missed anything.

Galvin: Massachusetts should retain all nine Congressional seats due to state’s population growth

The Associated Press is reporting that Massachusetts has the fastest growing population in the Northeast — with many of its newest residents coming from other countries. And that impressive population growth has Secretary of State Bill Galvin tentatively predicting that Massachusetts should be able to hold on to all nine of its seats in Congress, assuming there’s an accurate head count in 2020, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall). Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive has more on the latest U.S. Census data.

Associated Press

Someone forgot to tell Durant and Lyons that the GOP chair race is over

The Globe’s Frank Phillips reports that Geoff Diehl, the conservative lawmaker and failed U.S. Senate candidate, has decided not to seek the chairmanship of the state Republican Party, a move that’s “greatly boosted” the candidacy of moderate Brent Andersen, who has already declared he has enough votes to win the chairmanship. But Rep. Peter Durant and outgoing Rep. Jim Lyons, who says he’s now running for the post, say the battle isn’t over, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall). We’ll see. It sure looks over.

Btw: Phillips notes that Diehl may be in line for a temporary state-party job, until he finds a new employment gig in the Trump administration.

Baker and Polito will party into the night at inaugural events across the state

Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive has the details on the multiple inaugural events that the recently re-elected Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Healey plan to host in Boston, Springfield and Worcester next month. SHNS’s Michael Norton has more (pay wall).


Confessions of a State House lobbyist: There’s no ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ on Beacon Hill

If they want to get any legislation passed on Beacon Hill, there’s an unwritten rule among lobbyists that you don’t spill the beans about how things actually work at the State House. But Phillip Sego is a former lobbyist, so he can spill the beans and does so in a long piece at CommonWealth magazine, arguing the House is run like a virtual dictatorship. In other words, he doesn’t have kind words for House Speaker Robert DeLeo. This is most definitely going to be the water-cooler story of the day at the State House.


Lawmakers express frustration over delay in ending casino-license investigation

As a Nevada judge today considers whether to dismiss a suit brought by Steve Wynn to block Massachusetts from releasing the findings of its investigation into Wynn’s sexual misdeeds, lawmakers are getting angry over delays in resolving the Everett casino-license issue, saying the impasse may stall the opening of the Encore Boston Harbor casino next year, reports Hillary Chabot at the Herald.

Boston Herald

No bull: Eliza Dushku comes out swinging at CBS and Michael Weatherly

Boston-bred actress Eliza Dushku is breaking her silence over her $9.5 million sexual-harassment settlement with CBS (CNN), arguing “Bull” star Michael Weatherly violated a confidentiality agreement by talking to the NYT – and so now she’s talking. And it’s pretty devastating. In an opinion piece in her hometown paper the Globe, Dushku claims that many of her damning allegations against Weatherly were recorded on film at CBS, including reported tapes of him offering to take Dushku to his “ rape van, filled with all sorts of lubricants and long phallic things.”

Btw: The Southie-set comedy SMILF is also being “rocked by allegations of appalling unprofessional behavior” behind the cameras, reports the Herald’s Mark Perigard.

And, no, we’re not turning into a Page 6-like newsletter. This most definitely falls into the #MeToo category of items, or at least the Dushku controversy does.

Boston Globe

Collateral damage: Our war against rats is also harming dogs, cats, foxes, bobcats, owls, you name it

It seems we never stopped to think that all those anticoagulant rodenticides we’re deploying against the rat population might find their way into the food chain and endanger other wildlife. But that’s exactly what has happened. “This is similar to what DDT was in the ’60s,” says an Arlington’s animal control officer. Amy Saltzman at Wicked Local has the details.

Wicked Local

So what will happen to Newbury College’s 10-acre campus?

It’s in a prime location in Brookline. And it’s just going to be sitting there after Newbury College closes its doors next year. So what’s to be done with the college’s 10-acre campus? The Globe’s Tim Logan explores the possibilities, including another college perhaps swooping in to buy the property, similar to UMass-Amherst’s takeover of the Mount Ida College campus earlier this year.

Boston Globe

More less-than-impressive poll data for Elizabeth Warren

Shannon Young at MassLive has the latest poll data, this time from Quinnipiac University, showing that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth is still lagging other potential Democratic candidates for president (read: Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders) in voter surveys. But we’ll repeat: It’s still early, so don’t put too much stock in these polls, though they must be a bit discouraging to Warren and her legion of fans.


Everett city official fatally shot, allegedly by estranged husband

From the Globe’s Emily Sweeney: “A member of the Everett Board of Assessors and second cousin to the city’s mayor was fatally shot, allegedly by her estranged husband, as she sat in her car in the driveway of her parents’ home Wednesday morning while she prepared to leave for work, authorities said. Ersilia Cataldo Matarazzo, 50, was found in her vehicle in the driveway of the home on Central Avenue, according to Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan.” The Herald’s Kathleen McKiernan has more on the tragedy.

Maybe next year: Due process concerns sink push for caretaker-registry bill

From SHNS’s Colin Young: “Advocates for legislation to create a registry of individuals found to have abused people who they were supposed to be caring for said Wednesday their bill will not become law this session, but a key House lawmaker hopes the bill will move again early in the new year.” The big hang-up, apparently: Due-process concerns over compiling a list of those charged with abuses, not necessarily convicted of abuses.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Impressive: Globe journalist to appear on Jeopardy

She can’t say much. She’s been sworn to secrecy about her recent taping of a “Jeopardy!” game show in California. But Carrie Blazina, a Globe reporter, does reveal that, before appearing on the set with Alex Trebek et gang for the  taping, she practiced at pub-trivia events and crammed on online quiz sites. Cynthia Needham at the Globe has the details.

Boston Globe

Amid union strife, John Henry acknowledges the Globe is indeed profitable again

Speaking of the Globe, media critic Dan Kennedy at WGBH reports that the newspaper — which has been losing money for lord knows how long and is now embroiled in a union contract dispute — is finally profitable again, according to Globe (and Red Sox) owner John Henry, who attributes the turnaround to “management, increasingly relevant journalism, continuing strategic investment and by becoming much more efficient in all areas.”


As he grapples with newspaper woes, John Henry longingly eyes Nascar and theater investments

Speaking of the Globe and Red Sox owner, from Bloomberg News: “Billionaire John Henry has shown interest in buying a stake in Nascar, potentially adding to a sports empire that includes the Boston Red Sox and the Liverpool Football Club, people familiar with the situation said.” Henry’s Fenway Sports Group is already a partner with Roush Racing in owning Nascar racing teams.

Meanwhile, Universal Hub reports Fenway Sports Group has officially filed a letter of intent with the city for its previously announced plan to build a 5,000-seat theater and entertainment venue near Fenway Park.

Bloomberg News

State shoots down hockey rink proposal at old anti-aircraft testing site in Middlesex Fells

Must be an incompatible-use issue. From Miranda Willson at Wicked Local: “The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has a proposal to build a recreational facility and ice hockey rink in the Middlesex Fells near South Border Road, Medford Mayor Stephanie M. Burke announced in a Facebook post. Proposed by several Winchester residents involved in youth ice hockey, the facility would have spanned five acres in an area known as the 90mm site for its past use as an anti-aircraft testing ground by the U.S. military.”

Wicked Local

Former Bourne selectmen convicted of assault

We had forgotten all about this case involving a Bourne selectman who allegedly grabbed his ex-girlfriend’s hair, banged her head repeatedly against the hardwood floor and then stood over her with a baseball bat and threatened to kill her. Michael A. Blanton, now a former selectman, has been convicted of assault in the ugly case, reports Karen B. Hunter at the Bourne Enterprise.

Bourne Enterprise

Bump vs Baker, Round II: Lax oversight of contracts cost state nearly $90 million, audit says

In her latest shot at the Baker administration, Auditor Suzanne Bump’s office, which earlier this year tangled with the Baker team over driver’s licenses, says that lax contract oversight in the executive branch cost the state as much as $87 million between 2013 and 2017, Sean Phillip Cotter reports at the Herald. Administration officials questioned Bump’s figure, but didn’t put up much of a fight in this round. It acknowledged they have reduced some contract oversight in the face of budget cuts. 

Boston Herald

Galvin fines MetLife $1M for denying benefits to retirees

From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin has fined insurance company MetLife $1 million for not paying pension checks to retirees it wrongly presumed were dead. Galvin announced in June that his office’s securities division filed a complaint against the company, charging MetLife with fraud for failing to make the payments.”


Meanwhile, Healey fines McLean Hospital for losing personal data of 1,500 people

From the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett: “Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office has fined Belmont-based McLean Hospital $75,000 for allegedly losing the personal and health information of more than 1,500 patients and employees.”

BBJ (pay wall)

That’s it: Fall River man who’s faced at least 90 charges over the decades has finally stepped over the line

Fall River’s David Medeiros, 62, is quite familiar to police, having been arraigned over the past four decades on at least 90 various charges. Now he’s been arrested again, this time for heroin distribution, after police reportedly found lots of baggies full of you-know-what in his apartment. Amanda Burke at the Herald Review has more.

Herald News

Worcester going all in as state’s ‘hub of pot’

It’s only fitting. From Mark Sullivan at the Telegram: “The Heart of the Commonwealth appears to be on its way to becoming a pot hub of the Bay State. With the state’s Cannabis Control Commission preparing to make its headquarters in Union Station, the city announced Tuesday it is entering into negotiations to host five retail marijuana establishments, plus two marijuana cultivation facilities, one marijuana product manufacturing business, and one marijuana micro-business.”


Problems solved? Leicester follow-up meeting features mostly praise for pot shop

Speaking of pot: What a difference a month makes. Just weeks after dozens of angry Leicester residents crowded into a public meeting to decry the traffic and parking mess created by one of the first pot shops in the state, Craig Semon at the Telegram reports that a follow-up meeting drew just a handful of residents, most of whom praised Cultivate Holdings for its responsiveness to their concerns. 

But tempers are flaring in New Bedford, where a shouting match erupted a cannabis-related meeting over new pot businesses in the city, reports Michael Bonner at the Standard Times.

Springfield mayor wields veto pen again, this time on pot taxes

Another day, another veto in Springfield. This time, Mayor Domenic Sarno is rejecting a plan approved by the city council to set aside 50 percent of local tax revenues from pot shops into a fund to be used for specific neighborhood needs, saying the amount was too high, Peter Goonan reports at MassLive. Sarno this week also rejected a council order creating a ‘welcoming city’ ordinance.


Tufts professor discovers Facebook addicts’ deletion point: $1,000

Tufts University economist Sean Cash has done a great service for humanity by discovering, through tests, that Facebook addicts will indeed delete their social-media accounts for a price: $1,000. Don Seiffert at the BBJ has the details.

The Globe’s Hiawatha Bray does the calculations: “If Facebook’s entire membership of two billion users took the money en masse, it would cost more than $2 trillion a year to keep them all off the network. That’s five times Facebook’s Wednesday afternoon stock market value of $395 billion.”

Well, at least we now have an option, albeit an expensive one, for how to rid the world of Facebook. It’s a start.

BBJ (pay wall)

Cambridge startup to take $500M from Saudi-backed investor despite Khashoggi murder

Money over morality? Or money as a means to morality? You decide: From Callum Borchers at WBUR: “A co-founder of Cambridge Mobile Telematics says the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was a “crime against humanity,” but the local startup nevertheless felt comfortable accepting $500 million from a venture fund whose largest backer is the Saudi government. ‘Our focus was on making the world a better place with our partner and with our investor,’ said Hari Balakrishnan, CMT’s chief technology officer.”


Framingham school committee stuck on Columbus Day

The Framingham School Committee will try again next year to reach agreement on whether to alter the district’s calendar by changing the Columbus Day holiday to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Zane Razzaq reports at the MetroWest Daily News. Some board members said changing a national holiday was beyond its purview while the superintendent proposed using both names for the day off. 

MetroWest Daily News

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


Cambridge startup says it will take $500M from Saudi-backed investor despite Kashoggi murder – WBUR

Speculation builds as Newbury College announces it will sell campus – Boston Globe

Hadley residents bid farewell to Scibak – Daily Hampshire Gazette


Provincetown sets special election – Cape Cod Times

New Balance looks to add site in Methuen – Eagle-Tribune

Shouting match erupts at New Bedford cannabis committee meeting – Standard-Times


Gun deaths in U.S. are at their highest rates in decades, CDC says – Time

Republicans rip Trump’s Syria withdrawal plan in meeting with Pence – Politico

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