Happening Today

Unemployment numbers, Healey on the air

— The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development releases the preliminary November and revised October unemployment rate and labor force estimates for Massachusetts.

–Attorney General Maura Healey is a guest on ‘Boston Public Radio.’ before a live audience at WGBH’s Copley Square studio in the Boston Public Library, WGBH-FM 89.7, 12:30 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

Up and away: Lawmakers approve Airbnb tax and regulatory bill

From SHNS Matt Murpshy at MassLive: “With the clock ticking on the end of the two-year session, House and Senate leaders finalized a deal Thursday to tax and regulate short-term housing rentals through websites like Airbnb, reviving a bill that passed in July but was imperiled by concerns raised by Gov. Charlie Baker.”

Now the big question is whether Baker will sign the compromise legislation. The Globe’s Tim Logan and Matt Stout report the governor, whose staff was involved in the negotiations, says he still needs to read the bill. But lawmakers are optimistic he’ll sign it. Airbnb, on the other hand, is not pleased. Not at all.

Btw: SHNS reports (pay wall) that lawmakers have a few other bills up their last-days-of-the-session sleeves.


Grid gridlock, Part II: DeLeo challenges Baker to issue his own plan to resolve National Grid lockout

As Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports, the Senate yesterday passed a bill that would extend unemployment benefits for more than 1,200 locked out National Grid workers, but it differs from a previously passed House bill and so, for now, the Senate plan is floating in legislative limbo. Meanwhile, Matt Stout at the Globe and Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine report that Speaker Robert DeLeo is calling on Gov. Charlie Baker to submit his own plan on how to address the lockout impasse. But Baker is saying he’s already given his guidance.

In an editorial, the Boston Globe, which knows a thing or two about labor disputes, says both the Senate and House bills miss the mark and may end up prolonging the battle between National Grid and its union members. Let ‘em fight it out on their own, the paper advises.

All politics are not local: Turmoil in Washington, economic jitters, etc.

It’s not quite a perfect political storm in Washington, but it’s close to it. The NYT’s Mikayla Boucnard has a good summary of all the upheaval in the nation’s capital these days, including the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis over President Trump’s Syria policy, a looming government shutdown, the jittery stock markets, Fed interest rate hikes, etc. etc. These are wild times in D.C. … Now back to local political and government news. 


Lawmaker on his Chinese Trojan horse theory: ‘Prove to me I’m a nut’

State Rep. Shawn Dooley — who recently penned an opinion piece at CommonWealth magazine warning that the new Chinese-made Orange and Red Line cars might be used for nefarious purposes against the U.S. – is throwing down the gauntlet to the MBTA: “Show me that we’ve done this, this, and this (to protect the T), and it could never happen,” he says, as quoted by Michael Jonas at CommonWealth magazine. “Prove to me than I’m a nut and happily I’ll go away.”


‘Elizabeth Warren, Trumpian of the Left’

An opinion piece by the NYT’s Bret Stephens is generating a lot of comments at the paper’s website (more than 1,400 comment at last count). His basic argument: That President Trump and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s recent “rigged” comments are eerily similar, in a mirror-image/left-right-paradigm sort of way.


Elizabeth Warren, check your schedule: DNC sets debates for next year, starting in June

Speaking of the senior senator from Massachusetts and presidential politics: Domenico Montanaro at WBUR reports that Democratic National Committee announced Thursday that it will hold its first sanctioned debate in June 2019. There will be 12 Democratic primary debates, one a month from then on, except August 2019. From Montanaro: “This may seem early, but it’s really not. The first primary debates in the 2008 cycle took place in April 2007. There wound up being some 40 debates.”


Labor group plans to revive millionaire’s tax

We’re not sure how they’ll get around all the constitutional questions. But the BBJ’s Greg Ryan reports that Raise Up Massachusetts is planning a renewed push to enact a “millionaire’s tax,” following the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision earlier this year to throw the measure off the statewide ballot.

BBJ (pay wall)

Everett school superintendent retires amid sexual-harassment controversy

The Boston Globe and the Everett Independent report that Everett School Superintendent Frederick Foresteire, who was put on leave after allegations of sexual harassment were leveled against him, has decided to retire. His decision comes amid a district investigation into the claims.

‘Trooper of the Year’: Leigha Genduso

The release of the State Police’s internal affairs report on the controversial hiring of Leigha Genduso is like throwing a slab of red meat to a hungry beast, in this case the Herald’s Howie Carr, who proceeds to rip apart State Police, Genduso, the Boston Globe and anyone else foolish enough to get too close as he devours the 42-page report.

Just fyi, from the Globe: ‘State trooper who allegedly broke woman’s leg appears in Dorchester court.’ Never a dull day at State Police.

Boston Herald

‘Always surrounded by historical treasures’

For history buffs, Albie Johnson probably holds the best job in state government: State librarian. As the Globe’s Joshua Miller reports, she’s “always surrounded by historical treasures,” from early maps of Boston in French (“Plan de la ville de Boston et ses Environs”) to a priceless account by William Bradford of the original “Plimoth Plantation” settlers. She even gave Miller a tour of a special documents/artifacts vault, the “exact location of which the Globe agreed not to disclose to help protect the treasures within.” It’s a fun story. Definitely check it out.

Boston Globe

Rattling the legal sword: Brockton says it’s done waiting for state to act on school funding

Members of the Brockton School Committee say they are ready to move forward with other districts on long-discussed plans for an education funding equity lawsuit “within a few months or sooner,” assuming state officials don’t move beforehand to address their concerns, Joe Pelletier reports at the Enterprise. 


Healey: Reform the ‘secret courts,’ not eliminate them

Attorney General Maura Healey yesterday defended (sort of) the ‘secret courts’ run behind closed doors by clerk magistrates, a controversial system the Globe’s Spotlight Team has been hammering away at in recent months. But Healey did say the courts need to be more transparent. Antonio Caban at WGBH has the details.


It’s official: Neal and McGovern land key committee chairs in Washington

In separate stories, Shannon Young at MassLive reports that, as expected, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal was officially selected to head the House’s powerful Ways and Means Committee, while U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern got the official nod to chair the key House Rules Committee. For both them and Massachusetts, it means: Clout.

It’s official, Part II: Jay Ash to take over as head of Massachusetts Competitive Partnership

The BBJ’s Greg Ryan reports that Gov. Charlie Baker’s housing and economic secretary, Jay Ash, after announcing earlier this week that he’s leaving the administration, has indeed been named as the new CEO of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, a business group representing 17 corporate bigwigs in the state. 

BBJ (pay wall)

‘Pot line guy’

Greenfield resident Michael Murphy has a new side hustle, complete with surge pricing, Dusty Christensen reports at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Murphy waits in line outside the NETA pot dispensary in Northampton and offers his spot for sale, asking $5 to $20—depending on how close to the shop’s front door he is. 


House hires new HR director after harassment review

From SHNS’s Colin Young: “The Massachusetts House has hired a woman with experience running human relations for Raytheon and Bright Horizons Family Solutions to serve as the House’s human resources director, a new position created as the branch works to update its policies dealing with harassment reporting and prevention.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Gaming Commission to review southeast casino license next year

Besides the controversy swirling around the fate of the Everett casino license, the state Gaming Commission will have another major issue to tackle next year: a possible new casino in southeastern Massachusetts. Marc Larocque at the Enterprise has more, including how one gaming company really wants a casino in Brockton. 


Lyons handing off his nativity tradition as he exits the legislature

Outgoing state Rep. Jim Lyons, a conservative Republican, attended his last Christmas nativity ceremony yesterday at the State House – and now plans to hand off the once-controversial tradition to others as he prepares to leave Beacon Hill, reports SHNS’s Chris Triunfo at the Greenfield Reporter.


Kendall Square Cinema sold to billionaire movie fanatic

From Garrett Quinn at Wicked Local: “Landmark Theatres, the 52-theater arthouse chain that owns Kendall Square Cinema and Embassy Cinema in Waltham, has been sold to Cohen Media Group, a film production and distribution company owned by billionaire, self-proclaimed cinephile Charles S. Cohen.” The local arts community is reacting positively to the takeover by Cohen, who’s well known and respected within the independent-movie industry.

Wicked Local

‘Outrageous’: Mass. stroke victim billed $474,725 for medical flight

More proof that in health care, as in higher-education and at the Pentagon, it’s frequently just funny money with little or no attachment to reality, to wit: A Berlin stroke victim recently got billed $474,725 for a medical flight from Kansas to Boston. Check out the cost explanation from an official at the Association of Air Medical Services, who basically admits the bill is BS. But, in his mind, it’s perfectly logical and justified BS. WBUR’s Martha Bebinger has the details.


UPS workers say union fees stole their Christmas

Some seasonal UPS workers say the Teamsters union is playing Grinch to their efforts to enjoy the holidays. Cheryl Fiandaca at CBS Boston reports that workers saw their union dues deducted from their paychecks in one lump sum, rather than the weekly allotments they said they agreed to pay. The station reports the National Labor Relations Board is looking into the dispute. 

CBS Boston

Hometown favorite falls short on ‘Jeopardy!’

Boston Globe journalist Carrie Blazina came in second place on last night’s episode of the trivia-game ‘Jeopardy!’ But she will still walk away with $2,000 for her efforts. Jackson Cote at the Globe has the blow-by-blow show details, including how a Mozart question tripped her up in the end.

Boston Globe

‘An impact that will last a lifetime’

To end the week, we’d like to congratulate long-time Lincoln-Sudbury football coach Tom Lopez, who earlier this week announced he was retiring after 41 years as head coach and 48 years at the school when you count his prior years as assistant varsity and freshman coach, as the Globe’s Brendan Hall and the Herald’s Danny Ventura report. Lopez finished his career with 303 wins, ranking him fifth in state history.

But more importantly, as one of your favorite MassterList writers who played for Lopez long ago can attest, he was a legend for all the right reasons, a truly inspiring man who, as a current player notes, had an “impact that will last a lifetime.”

Sunday public affairs TV

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: UMass president Marty Meehan, who talks with host Jon Keller about tuition hikes, college closures and higher-ed funding.  

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Shirley Leung of the Boston Globe and Doug Banks of the Boston Business Journal count down the top ten business stories of 2018.  

CEO Corner, NECN, 10:30 a.m. Stephen Kramer, the CEO of Bright Horizons Family Solutions, and teacher India Jassamy talk about child care and early childhood learning centers.  

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guests: Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera and political analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Rob Gray, who talk with anchor Ed Harding and co-anchor Janet Wu. 

This is New England, NBC Boston Channel 10, 11:30 a.m. With host Latoyia Edwards, this week’s topic: Celebrating the holidays in New England with the Boston Arts Academy Ensemble.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s topic: The Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra.

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


Applicants are lining up to bid for pot permits in Dot, Mattapan – Dorchester Reporter


Parents, students disagree on sex health curriculum for Worcester schools – Telegram & Gazette

Lupoli family pledges $500,000 to Northern Essex CC – Eagle-Tribune

State Sen. Hinds gets engaged – Berkshire Eagle

Walmart wants to give $13,000 of ammunition to Northampton police department – Daily Hampshire Gazette


Border wall GoFundMe maybneed to issue refunds after millions raised – New York Post

Isolated and under pressure, Trump sets government in crisis – Washington Post

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