Happening Today

Inaugural details, Springfield rail, and more

— The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund releases a preliminary Law Enforcement Fatalities Report, which shows an increase in overall law enforcement fatalities in 2018 compared to 2017, 9 a.m.

— A general briefing and technical production walkthrough for members of the media will be held regarding the upcoming inaugural ceremony for Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, House Chamber, 10:15 a.m.

— The Boston Public Library and the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts sponsor a Kwanzaa celebration in Dudley Square, with local artist Wyoma leading a ceremony, 88 Warren St., Boston, 1 p.m.

— U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno host Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy and Connecticut U.S. Rep. John Larson for a press conference to ‘recognize the investment Governor Malloy made during his tenure to significantly improve the north-south [rail] line to Massachusetts,’ Springfield Union Station, 55 Frank B. Murray St., Springfield, 1:15 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

From bloody carnage to giddy celebration: Wall Street rebounds

It’s only one day, but, thankfully, the markets yesterday didn’t see a resumption of the Christmas Eve carnage on Wall Street, with stocks posting their best day in 10 years on Wednesday, reports the Associated Press at the Globe. And, no, we’re not turning into an economics newsletter. Obviously, this needs close watching, considering how politics and the economy are now so surreally intertwined these days.

Former U.S. treasurer and Harvard president Larry Summers is among those also watching events – and he thinks the markets aren’t looking good, but says it’s not time to panic … yet. Maybe next year is the time to panic, he cautions. The Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter has more on the Wall Street gyrations and the growing concern of economists.

Yes, there’s still a government shutdown, and Barney Frank knows why

One of the things unnerving investors is the political chaos in Washington D.C., including the partial government shutdown and the prospect it will last into the New Year. Writing at the Globe, former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank thinks the root cause of the shutdown and other woes is rather simple: “The total triumph of the most extreme right-wing elements in American politics.”

Boston Globe

Shutdown to leave Vineyard Coast Guard members without paychecks

As the partial shutdown of the federal government stretches into its sixth day, Rich Salzberg at the Martha’s Vineyard Times reports that Coast Guard members stationed on the island are about to become victims of the stoppage when the second of their twice-monthly paychecks does not arrive on time later this week. About two dozen Guard members are stationed on the island, where, their commander notes, the cost of living is notoriously high.


From slots parlor to pot shops, Eugene McCain never gives up

The will indeed “test the integrity of the state’s new marijuana regulatory system,” as the Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert reports: “A man whose unsuccessful 2016 campaign to edge into the casino market violated state campaign law by disguising the identities of its financial backers has shifted his focus to another new-to-Massachusetts industry — marijuana sales.  Eugene McCain, whose plan to transform a dilapidated Revere trailer park beside Suffolk Downs into a slots casino was rejected by voters, is now president and lead shareholder of Canna Provisions Inc.” And, as Ebbert notes, his company has “secured local special permits to build retail marijuana stores in Holyoke and Lee and is seeking state licenses from the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.”

Next up: Pot bars and home deliveries, starting next spring

Speaking of legalized marijuana, from Hillary Chabot at the Herald: “Cannabis Control Commission Chairman Steven Hoffman said regulations for recreational pot delivery and marijuana use at bars or cafes will be approved by late spring, prompting cheers from pro-pot activists who say legal weed has suffered from a sluggish rollout.”

The pot industry may be cheering. But some communities aren’t exactly cheering the spread of pot-related products and services, such as marijuana-infused edibles that may be consumed by youths, reports Paula Owens at the Telegram.

Boston Herald

Next up, II: Police stops and license suspensions for pot drivers?

As the Cannabis Control Commission prepares to issue pot-bar licenses next year, Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports that a special commission is poised to recommend that suspected pot users should be subjected to the same sanctions as suspected drunk drivers who refuse breathalyzer tests: Having their licenses yanked if they refuse drug tests. “We are going to really encourage the Legislature to strengthen the law in the areas where it needs to be strengthened,” says one commission member.

There’s only one small problem: There’s no test for drugs that is comparable to a breathalyzer, as Schoenberg notes.


In wake of legalization, Worcester school committee to review pot discipline rules

One more pot item. Is it too harsh? That’s the question the Worcester School Committee is asking as it seeks a fresh look at the district’s disciplinary rules for marijuana use, with some members saying the one-year suspension now in place is too Draconian in light of the state’s embrace of legal adult-use marijuana, Scott O’Connell reports at the Telegram.


Is there or is there not a video of Kevin Spacey groping a teen?

Dan Glaun at MassLive reports that the “sexual assault case against actor Kevin Spacey reportedly includes a Snapchat video of him touching the front of the alleged victim’s pants, according to a Massachusetts State Police investigative report.”  

But the Globe’s Matt Rocheleau reports the video may not be as conclusive as Spacey’s critics and accusers think, or at least that’s the opinion of Spacey’s defense attorney. The Globe piece, based on an audio recording of a recent court hearing, raises a lot of other questions about the case in general.

Fall River mayor: Go ahead, hold a recall election, I’m not resigning

As expected, Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia, facing federal fraud charges, yesterday provided his answer to a demand by the city council that he either resign or face a recall election: He’s not resigning. “The answer to this question rests with the people of our City. If it is their will to allow me to continue to serve as mayor, then I shall continue to serve for as long as I am able,” Correia pronounced, reports Jo C. Goode at the Herald News.

The council have will hold a special meeting next week to set an official date for the recall election. Btw: It looks like the mayor will be able to tap into his campaign funds to fight the recall campaign, Goode reports in a separate story.

Herald News

Life expectancy up in Massachusetts (though not for everyone)

The good news: Life expectancy is up in Massachusetts, bucking the national trend in general. The bad news: Life expectancy is down for blacks in Massachusetts, bucking the state trend. The Herald’s Alexi Cohan and SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) have the encouraging and discouraging details.

L’Espalier bids adieu after 40 years as one of Boston’s top restaurants

This is big news in the restaurant industry. From the Globe’s Devra First: The Back Bay restaurant L’Espalier, known for its sophisticated fare and impeccable service, is closing after 40 years. Its last day of operation will be Dec. 31. ‘The lease is up, and I don’t really have the desire to continue to do this and renew,” chef-owner Frank McClelland says.”

Hold the presses: Warren names chief of staff

You have to read till the fifth and eighth paragraphs for a fuller explanation on why this staff-announcement story that would normally be a brief in a political tidbits column requires a full story bylined by two Globe reporters. So we’ll make it easier for you: U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who’s eyeing a run for president and who’s been aggressively courting black leaders, has hired a new chief of staff who’s a person of color. There. We said it. Clearly. Why can’t the Globe? After all, it’s what they were hinting at – and it’s why the story was given top billing on its website earlier this morning.

Btw: The Herald’s Jaclyn Cashman writes that the media has a big decision in 2020: Whether to back Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden in 2020. Actually, we had no idea there was a political media-selection process for these things, similar to sportswriters voting to see who gets into the baseball hall of fame. Where’s our ballots? 

Boston Globe

Hold the presses, II: State GOP member says Republicans are still irrelevant in Massachusetts

File this one under “old news” or “stating the obvious”? Decisions, decisions. From SHNS’s Matt Murphy at WBUR: “One member of the Republican state committee penned a blistering post-Christmas indictment of party leadership in Massachusetts on Wednesday, calling for his fellow party leaders to ‘face the bitter truth’ that the MassGOP has become ‘all but irrelevant.’” The post was written by Steve Aylward, a conservative who previously lost a bid for state party chairman and who’s now backing a conservative who was recently tossed out of office by voters. 


It’s official: New England’s last remaining GOP Congressman concedes Maine race

Things aren’t going well for Republicans across the region, it seems. From the AP’s Marina Villeneuve at Boston.com: “New England’s last remaining Republican congressman ended his legal battle Monday challenging the election of his Democratic opponent under Maine’s new voting system. U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin said in a statement posted on Facebook that he still considers the ranked-choice system confusing. He said he wishes the best for Democrat Rep.-elect Jared Golden, whose swearing-in is set for Jan. 3.”


Yarmouth police hand out Christmas cheer: $50 bills to randomly selected residents

Thanks to a $5,000 gift from an anonymous donor, Yarmouth police recently got to play Santa Claus, spreading Christmas cheer by simply handing people $50 bills and wishing them happy holidays on behalf of the men and women in blue. Jason Kolnos at the Cape Cod Times has the details. Scott Croteau at MassLive also has more. It’s amazing how much people appreciate, and sometimes truly need, the money.

Cape Cod Times

State police chief honored by Harvard

Considering what she’s endured since taking the job, she’s earned it. From Jeanette DeForge: “The National Preparedness Leadership Institute at Harvard University has named Col. Kerry Gilpin, superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, as its leader of the year. Gilpin, of Hampden, was appointed to command the State Police in November 2017 amid a scandal over an arrest report that was altered for a judge’s daughter which lead to the resignation of Commander Col. Richard McKeon.” She’s also had the thankless job of leading the agency through the even worse OT scandals.


Early voting in 2020? Hell, yes

In an editorial, the Globe is backing Secretary of State Bill Galvin’s call for early voting in the primary and general presidential elections in 2020, potentially giving Massachusetts more primary-season clout in picking party nominees for president. Early voting could indeed help the state’s very own U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who’s eyeing a run for president in 2020, something that may bother ardent Warren critics. But let’s be real: Early voting has proven to be wildly popular here and elsewhere because it’s so damn convenient, and so … just pass it. Voters like it.

Before heading to BC, Connecticut governor does a victory lap in western Massachusetts

This is mentioned in our Happening Today section above. But here’s a more full explanation from SHNS’s Colin Young on why Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, who’s leaving office after two terms to begin working at Boston College, is being feted today in Springfield, i.e. his help in making the north-south rail line to Massachusetts possible. Btw: He’ll be teaching at Boston College Law School starting this spring, SHNS reports.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Argument No. 1,321,784 for increased state funding for transportation

State Sen. Joseph Boncore and Jesse Mermell, president of the Alliance for Business Leadership, say they really didn’t need to read the recent report by Gov. Charlie Baker’s Commission on the Future of Transportation to know that: A.) The state’s transportation infrastructure is a mess and B.) The state needs more money to meet all its transportation needs.


‘Elizabeth Warren’s generic drugs plan: More placebo than cure’

Megan McArdle at the Washington Post is not impressed with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s call for the government to start manufacturing some generic drugs as a way to control costs, saying it’s nothing more than a presidential-candidate gimmick. “This idea is particularly silly given that so many of the problems that make it harder for generic drug-makers to enter the market are created by government regulations in the first place,” she writes.

Washington Post

Northampton councilors seek to clear air after ammo kerfuffle

The leaders of the Northampton City Council want to meet directly with the city’s mayor and police chief to clear the air after days of indirect sniping through the media r about the now-withdrawn offer of free ammunition from the local WalMart. In particular, council president Ryan O’Donnell is pushing back on the chief’s suggestion that “anti-police rhetoric” has become the norm on the council.


Healey and Pressley make Nation magazine’s ‘progressive honor roll’

The Nation’s John Nichols assembles his ‘Progressive honor roll’ for 2018 and a couple Bay State pols made the cut:. U.S. Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley was grouped–along with New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez– as one of the “most valuable progressives,” while state Attorney General Maura Healey is singled out for recognition as the “most valuable state official.” One notable local non-award: Nichols hands the award for most valuable senator to Vermont’s Bernie Sanders — and not our own U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

The Nation

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


Where are Brockton’s newest residents from? Your best guess is Boston – Brockton Enterprise

Women-led luggage startup Away opens in Seaport – Boston Business Journal


Weymouth mulls raising tobacco-buying age to 21 – Patriot Ledger

AG: Wayland selectmen, school committee violated open meeting law – MetroWest Daily News

On Housatonic farm, goats await Christmas tree feast – Berkshire Eagle


How Trump gave away his secret Iraq trip – Politico

Top Amazon boss privately advised US government on web portal worth billions to tech firm – The Guardian

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