Happening Today

— Boston Mayor Martin Walsh attends the Senior First Night Celebration, Seaport World Trade Center, 200 Seaport Blvd., Boston, 11:30 a.m.

— Mayor Martin Walsh, Boston Police Commissioner William Gross, Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn, MBTA Transit Police Chief Kenneth Green, and other officials discuss public safety measures for Boston’s First Night celebrations on Monday, Boston City Hall, Eagle Room, 5th floor, 1:30 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

One for you, one for me: Baker approves pay hikes for lawmakers – and himself

From SHNS’s Matt Murphy at Wicked Local: “Two years after legislators ignited an uproar by voting through a generous package of pay raises for themselves and other public officials, the salaries for top ranking elected officials and rank-and-file legislators on Beacon Hill are going up again. Gov. Charlie Baker certified a pay raise of 5.93 percent for the 200 members of the House and Senate for the 2019-2020 session, raising the base pay for legislators by $3,709 to $66,256.”

Baker also certified rather hefty pay raises for himself and other statewide elected officials – and he plans to keep his cut  this time. Btw: We rather enjoyed Matt Stout’s lead at the Globe: “State legislative leaders stand to collect not one, not two, but three different pay raises in January thanks to a humming economy and a controversial state law, promising to swell some lawmakers’ paychecks by nearly $12,000 just two years after they awarded themselves a pay hike.” He explains the three-step pay process.

Wicked Local

State agencies nervously eye shutdown that may stretch well into 2019

Congressional Republicans have punted the shutdown ball into 2019, all but ensuring that incoming Democrats will have to work with President Donald Trump to reach some sort of deal to end the shutdown/Mexico-border-wall impasse in the nation’s capital, reports the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, the prospect of a prolonged fight in Washington has prompted the Baker administration and Comptroller’s office to conduct a full-scale review of how a prolonged federal shutdown might impact state agencies, reports SHNS’s Colin Young at the Salem News. From Young: “Officials said the impacts of the shutdown may not be felt immediately but will become more obvious at state agencies that receive federal grant funding after a period of weeks.”

USA Today-Suffolk poll: Warren still pulling up the rear

Yet another early poll shows U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren stuck at the back of the presidential-wannabe pack, this time via the latest USA Today/Suffolk survey. Here’s the odd thing: Dem voters say they want someone entirely new to run for president – but, if they can’t have that, they prefer a 76-year-old former vice president. Go figure. Btw: The Washington Post’s Philip Bump has a good breakdown of the USA Today/Suffolk numbers.

USA Today

Meanwhile, Bernie’s got his own problems

It seems like it’s U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ turn to get a media drubbing, after months of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren being on the receiving end of her own media drubbing. The NYT reports that Sanders, long considered the progressive to beat in the crowded Dem contest for president, is struggling to retain the widespread progressive support he received in 2016.


Breaking news: Owner of scuttled Provincetown boat won’t face littering charge

Just in: The owner of a damaged boat that the city of Provincetown paid $40,000 to have removed from a breakwater won’t face littering charges, a court magistrate has ruled. But the owner still faces civil litigation seeking restitution, Ethan Genter reports at the Cape Cod Times.

Cape Cod Times

Hitting its ‘rhythm’: Cannabis chairman sees up to eight new pot shops opening every month

SHNS’s Colin Young at WBUR reports that Cannabis Control Commission chair Steven Hoffman sees the state eventually hitting its “rhythm” when it comes opening new pot shops, perhaps at the rate of four to eight new shops every month.


So is there really ‘widespread’ flu activity in Mass.?

The Globe’s Andres Picon reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that Massachusetts is one of six states that by mid-December had reported “widespread” flu activity. But then the story quickly quotes local medical officials saying that influenza-like illnesses don’t seem to be above normal this year. Huh? Anyway, the bottom line remains: Get a flu shot.

Actually, we’re more intrigued/worried about this, via Anne-Gerard Flynn at MassLive: A third case of a polio-like disease has been confirmed in Massachusetts, with more cases suspected.

Boston Globe

Police group asks state bar to investigate Rollins, saying her views are a ‘clear and immediate danger’

She’s a duly elected official. But that doesn’t seem to matter to the National Police Association, which is asking the Massachusetts Bar Association to investigate Suffolk County District Attorney-elect Rachael Rollins, whose views on not prosecuting minor crimes on are “unethical” and a “clear and immediate danger,” the group says, as the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports. Why do we get the impression that a subtle form of hysteria is taking hold the closer Rollins gets to being sworn in next month?

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Maria Cramer takes a look at the political tensions Rollins faces as she prepares to become the first African-American female to head the office. The story is similar to Michael Jonas’s piece the other day at CommonWealth magazine.

Boston Herald

Police fatalities up 12 percent in 2018

Statistics like these partially explain, though they don’t justify, police concerns about Rachael Rollins and other reformers. From Mary Markos at the Herald: “A staggering 144 police officers were killed in the line of duty this year, a national report shows, and for the first time in decades the leading cause was shootings. Two of those deaths were in Massachusetts, where Yarmouth Sgt. Sean Gannon, 32, and Weymouth Sgt. Michael Chesna, 42, were gunned down.” SHNS’s Katie Lannan at Wicked Local has more on the grim police-fatality stats.

Online retailers sue to avoid paying millions in taxes to Massachusetts

The BBJ’s Greg Ryan reports that a group of online retailers are suing the state, saying they shouldn’t have to pay sales taxes on purchases made prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Wayfair tax ruling earlier this year. It’s sort of a novel argument: A state tax that was found to be constitutional wasn’t constitutional until it was found constitutional. We think we got it right. Anyway, millions of dollars are at stake in the case.

BBJ (pay wall)

Meanwhile, Framingham mayor sued over appointment snub

Speaking of novel legal arguments: A Framingham attorney who was passed over for a seat on the city’s Veterans Council is suing Mayor Yvonne Spicer, claiming her rights were violated because she was subjected to a not-so-sympathetic interview process, Jim Haddadin reports at the MetroWest Daily News. Deborah Butler says Spicer erred by allowing staffers who Butler has clashed with in the past to handle her interview for the post.

MetroWest Daily News

Leif Erikson: He just doesn’t get the credit he deserves in Norumbega

Meagan McGinnes at WGBH sets off on a journalistic journey to “break down the long timeline of Massachusetts’ complicated, largely unproven and definitely unorthodox infatuation with (Leif) Erikson and Viking heritage.” We had no idea Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a true believer in the lost city of Norumbega, aka Boston – and we now know the story behind the Leif Erikson statue on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. It’s a fun piece. Check it out. 


Marathon bomber’s lawyers want death sentence tossed, say trial should never have been held in Boston

From the AP’s Alanna Durkin Richer at the Telegram: “Attorneys for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told a federal appeals court Thursday that his convictions or death sentence should be tossed because the judge refused to move the case out of the city where the bombs exploded, making it impossible for him to get a fair trial. In a 500-page brief filed in the 1st U.S. District Court of Appeals, Tsarnaev’s legal team outlined a host of other problems with his 2015 trial.”


Senate passes gas-line safety bill

From SHNS’s Katie Lannan at the Lowell Sun: “As the Massachusetts Senate on Thursday signed off on a gas safety bill filed by Gov. Charlie Baker, the chamber’s top Republican said he planned to file additional legislation responding to the Sept. 13 natural gas overpressurization incident in the Merrimack Valley.”

Lowell Sun

Report: Home sale prices hit another record high in Massachusetts

The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman newspaper, and the Massachusetts Association of Realtors may disagree on whether the actual number of home sale was up (WG) or down (MAR) in November. But they both agree home prices were most definitely up again in Massachusetts – of course. SHNS’s Colin Young at WBUR has the Warren Group numbers, while MAR has its stats on its website.

The newest development trend: Shopping-Sleeping malls

Speaking of housing, the Globe’s Tim Logan reports on how shopping mall owners, desperate to reinvigorate their properties amid fierce competition from e-commerce companies, are increasingly adding/planning multifamily residential components to their commercial mix. Considering the high price of housing in the region, this is a welcome trend.

Boston Globe

Selectman: Town should take Swansea Mall by eminent domain

Speaking of sleepy shopping malls, we initially snorted when we read the headline to this story, wondering what could the town of Swansea possibly do better to improve operations at the largely vacant Swansea Mall. But it seems Selectman Christopher Carreiro, a lawyer who specializes in real estate, really did his homework, discovering deed restrictions that have apparently crippled recent efforts to sell and re-develop the site. Kevin O’Connor at the Herald News has the details.

Herald News

PawSox dividend: New year, new contract for Worcester’s city manager?

Walter Bird Jr. of Worcester Magazine reports city manager Ed Augustus Jr. is likely in line for a contract extension in 2019, a move that would keep him in his role past the arrival of the Boston Red Sox’ Triple AAA team, something that Augustus helped engineer. Augustus, a former state senator, could also be well positioned to seek a bump from his current $209,000 salary given the good feelings surrounding the PawSox move to Worcester.

Worcester Magazine

Changing of the council guard in Springfield …

Matt Szafranski at Western Massachusetts Politics & Insight takes a look at the changes in store next year for the Springfield City Council, where the once upstart councilor Justin Hurst is no longer an upstart, as prepares to take over the council presidency in January.


New Year brings Pilgrim’s closure into view

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold online and in-person meetings in January for residents interested in how the process of decommissioning the Pilgrim Station Nuclear Plant will unfold in 2019, Joe Difazio reports at the Patriot Ledger. The plant is scheduled to stop making power in May after 46 years of operation. 

Patriot Ledger

Four WWII vets honored by France in Leominster ceremony

The French have a nice tradition of remembering and recognizing the sacrifices American vets made for their country in World War II, this time honoring four veterans of the war at a ceremony at a packed hall at the Leominster Veterans Center. Paul J. Owen at the Telegram has the details.


Sunday public affairs TV

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. Guests: State House News Service’s Matt Murphy and Katie Lannan, who talk with host Jon Keller about the personalities and issues that will likely make news in 2019.  

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. A repeat of last week’s show in which Shirley Leung of the Boston Globe and Doug Banks of the Boston Business Journal review the top ten local business stories of 2018.

CEO Corner, NECN, 10:30 a.m. Featuring Penny Heaton, M.D. and chief executive of the Bill and Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: Steven Hoffman, chairman of the Cannabis Control Commission  who talks 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 main topics: Staying healthy during the holidays and a talk with author and news personality Sorboni Banerjee.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s repeat topic: Social media.

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


How much will DA Rachael Rollins shake things up? – Boston Globe


Too much trash in recycling will cost West Bridgewater – Brockton Enterprise

Woman snubbed for Veterans Council sues Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer – MetroWest Daily News

Correia chief of staff may return to campaign role – Herald News


Dems’ New Year resolution: Stiff Trump on the wall and reopen government – Politico

Bernie Sanders can’t keep his top supporters on board – New York Times

How to Contact MASSterList

Send tips to Matt Murphy: Editor@MASSterList.com. For advertising inquiries and job board postings, please contact Dylan Rossiter: Publisher@MASSterList.com or (857) 370-1156. Follow @MASSterList on Twitter.

Subscribe to MASSterList

Start your morning with MASSterList’s chronicle of news and informed analysis about politics, policy, media, and influence in Massachusetts. Plus, get an inside look at Beacon Hill’s hottest new job postings.