Baker inauguration, Pressley takes office, and more
— U.S. Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley attends official opening day activities for the 116th Congress, with a swearing-in ceremony at the Congressional Black Caucus at 9 a.m. and an official swearing-in ceremony on the House floor at 3 p.m., U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC.
— The Massachusetts Gaming Commission holds an agenda-setting meeting, Commission Offices, 101 Federal St., 12th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.
— Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners meets, 98 North Washington St., Boston, 10 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito for a ceremonial arrival on the State House front steps to honor first responders including National Guard service members, police, firefighters, and EMTs, 10:40 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker becomes the first Republican governor since William Weld in 1995 to be sworn in for a second consecutive term; Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, his running mate in 2014 and 2018, will take the oath of office in the House chamber, 12 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and other elected officials for a ‘spotlight event on treatment and recovery,’ East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, 20 Maverick Square, Boston, 3:30 p.m. –
– Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, who was inaugurated on Wednesday, is a guest on ‘Greater Boston,’ WGBH-TV Ch. 2, 7 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito hold the first of three inaugural celebrations in different parts of the state, Museum of Science, 1 Science Park, Boston, 7:30 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.
National Grid and unions reach tentative agreement to end lockout
It took six months and a lot of political pressure, but they finally did it. From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “National Grid and the union locals representing 1,250 steelworkers said late Wednesday night that they have negotiated a new contract that, if ratified, would end a bitter, six-month lockout that has been costly for both sides. The utility and union locals issued a joint statement saying the terms of the new agreement would not be shared publicly until the workers vote on the agreement on or before Monday.”
The Globe’s Katie Johnston has more on the apparent end of the protracted labor battle.
Baker to stress school funding and transportation as he starts second term
From the Associated Press: “Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is planning to discuss ways to improve the state’s education and transportation systems as he begins his second four-year term as governor. The Republican will be sworn in at the Statehouse Thursday at noon along with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. An aide said that during his inaugural address Baker will outline his proposals to update the state’s school funding formula and improve underperforming schools. Baker will also discuss portions of a new report on the future of transportation in Massachusetts.”
SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) has more on the governor’s expected inaugural address. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Joshua Miller takes a look at the “enigmatic” governor as he prepares to begin his second term.
Spilka vs Baker-DeLeo?
As lawmakers were officially sworn in yesterday on Beacon Hill amid pomp and circumstance (MassLive), there was more than a few hints of political intrigue and rebellious behavior to come, such as how Robert DeLeo was re-elected to his sixth term as speaker of the House, only after squashing a push for a secret-ballot election and after eight Dems later openly declined to endorse his re-election (SHNS – pay wall).
But another thing to watch in the months and years ahead is the relationship between liberal Sen. Karen Spilka, elected yesterday to her first full term as Senate president, and the more moderate tag team of DeLeo and Gov. Charlie Baker, as the AP’’s Bob Salsberg at the Daily Hampshire Gazette and SHNS’s Matt Murphy at WGBH report. Bottom line: Spilka yesterday put down her aggressive progressive markers for the coming session. – and it will be interesting to see how much of her agenda she’ll get.
Rollins tries to calm concerns as she’s sworn in as Suffolk DA
Rachael Rollins was officially sworn in yesterday as the new Suffolk County DA – and she went out of her way to reassure police and others that all will be well regarding her reformist agenda. Whether she was softening her stance on reforms or merely reiterating what she’s said in the past (and we think it’s more of the latter) depends on which story you read, either Alexi Cohan’s piece at the Herald or Michael Jonas’ coverage at CommonWealth magazine.
Board rejects plan for massive pot facility in Charlton
Apparently against the advice of its lawyer, the Charlton Planning Board has rejected a site plan for a proposed $100 million marijuana facility on a former farm, saying the proposal is “too industrial” for the site, Dan Adams reports at the Globe. Neighbors who oppose the plan cheered the unanimous decision, though a prompt appeal is almost certainly in the offing.
Even his own niece is dumping on Mitt’s op-ed attack on Trump
We did find a few favorable stories about Mitt Romney’s harsh op-ed criticism of President Trump, such as this WaPo piece about how some moderate Republicans are heartened that someone in the GOP is standing up to Trump.
But it was mostly a day of negative-to-skeptical reviews of Mitt’s attack on the president. The Globe’s Michael Levenson reports that Romney is denying he’s angling for another presidential run in 2020. The Herald’s Kimberly Atkins writes that the former Massachusetts governor was just being consistently inconsistent by criticizing the president who he’s both praised and criticized in the past. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld has a new nickname for Romney: ‘Mitt the Resister’ (for now). Needless to say, you know where Howie Carr stands.
And as for Mitt’s own niece: Yes, even she’s panning his op-ed performance, reports the NYT: “Her attack stunned other members of Mr. Romney’s family, with one suggesting she would regret putting her political loyalties over her family but they declined to publicly respond in kind.”
Warren on ‘too liberal’ label, low polls and Michelob Ultra
Appearing at yesterday’s inauguration ceremonies for lawmakers on Beacon Hill, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was peppered with all sorts of questions – and largely stuck to her talking points. But she did, reading between the talking-point lines, seem unfazed by all those pundits who say she’s “too liberal” to win the presidency (Globe), brushed off questions about her poor polling numbers (Herald), and acknowledged that she was chugging Michelob Ultra (“the club soda of beers”) in her now mildly controversial livestreamed video from Monday (Globe).
Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive reports that Warren was also cozying up to Mayor Marty Walsh, though he wouldn’t say if he will endorse her for president, before Warren heads off this weekend to campaign in Iowa.
Investment decisions: Buy or sell Elizabeth Warren at 10 cents a share?
We love anything to do with PredictIt and other cyber venues where people can trade on political outcomes like it’s the stock market. Ryan Cooper at The Week thinks U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who on Monday launched her presidential exploratory committee, is a “buy” at only 8 cents a share, though he’s not wild about her prospects of winning the Dem nomination. Other investors apparently agree with Cooper’s “buy” assessment, driving up Warren’s shares to 10 and then 11 cents on PredictIt as of this morning, though Beto O’Rourke was still leading the pack at 20 cents per share.
Bernie’s got his own problems, Part II
As we noted last week, it’s most definitely Bernie Sanders’ turn to get a media drubbing. And this is one hell of a suspiciously-timed media drubbing, coming only days after U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced she’s launched a presidential exploratory committee and as other potential candidates (including Sanders) mull/gear up for potential runs, to wit: The NYT reports that Sanders is getting hit for not taking action on sexual harassment complaints during his 2016 bid for the White House. The complaints may be legit, but they were also theoretically legit last year, the previous year and in 2016.
Fall River recall election set and … is that Mark Wahlberg?
The Globe’s Danny McDonald reports that the recall election for embattled Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia is set for March 12, setting up a potentially bruising battle for survival over the next two months. … And that would be just fine for the Mark Wahlberg-associated company that’s reportedly interviewing all sorts of city pols for a potential documentary on Fall River that may appear on HBO, Netflix or wherever. The latest to be interviewed: Former Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter. Jo C. Goode at the Herald News has the details.
Ten-hut: U.S. Army to step up recruiting in Boston and other left-leaning cities
After falling short of its recruitment goals in 2018, the U.S. Army is now taking a new approach towards signing up future soldiers, as the NYT reports: “Rather than focus on more conservative regions of the country that traditionally fill the ranks, the Army plans a big push in 22 left-leaning cities,” including Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle, etc. Here’s the full list of cities the Army will be focusing on via its new social-media strategy of appealing to young people’s sense of patriotism and adventure.
Christopher Columbus stays on Framingham school calendar — with new company
A move to eliminate Columbus Day from the Framingham school district calendar has been rejected, with the School Committee voting instead to use both the holiday’s traditional name and the proposed new moniker–Indigenous Peoples’ Day – at the same time, Zane Razzaq reports at the MetroWest Daily News.
Baker signs nearly three dozen laws passed in the final days of the last session
From SHNS’s Michael Norton: “Pay increases for National Guard members, $3 million for the agency that oversees the marijuana industry, and expanded authorization for medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction are among the provisions included in a batch of new laws signed Wednesday afternoon by Gov. Charlie Baker.” A full list of the bills accompanies the story.
Meanwhile, lawmakers send Equifax and gender disability-insurance bills to Baker
We missed these two stories from the other day, both by Shira Schoenberg at MassLive. The first story: ‘Legislature sends credit freeze bill to Gov. Charlie Baker.’ The second story: ‘Massachusetts Legislature bans disability insurers from charging women more than men.’ The governor’s office is reviewing the bills.
Who would we be punishing if Wynn Resorts loses Everett license?
Colette A. M. Phillips, president of Colette Phillips Communications, writes at CommonWealth magazine that it’s time for the state Gaming Commission to end its prolonged investigation of Wynn Resorts and let it keep its Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett. From Phillips: “Blocking the resort’s path forward or letting it die a slow death in endless litigation would be tantamount to wasting thousands of career opportunities for those who need them most. These opportunities don’t come around for communities of color that often.”
T to restore $10 ride-all-you-want weekend rail fare
The feds are allowing the MBTA to re-launch its popular, and profitable, $10 ride-all-you-want weekend rail service, after the program was suspended a month ago because the T hadn’t yet done a required equity study. The feds basically have said: Go ahead, run the pilot program for another six months. So it’s all-aboard this Saturday, reports Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine.
Retail association’s next big issue on Beacon Hill: Teen minimum wage
Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, mentioned a new teen minimum wage in an email blast the other week and in the Boston Herald the other day. And he mentioned it again in a blog post yesterday. So, yes, we have the three necessary examples that add up to a trend: RAM really wants lawmakers this session to pass a lower minimum wage for teenagers, something 39 other states now have on the books. The push comes as the state, as of Tuesday, began a phased-in increase in the state’s minimum wage, with the goal of hitting $15 by 2023.
Judge: Methuen mayor’s libel suit against local paper can go to trial
From Sean Philip Cotter at the Herald: “A lawsuit by the mayor of Methuen against a local paper that accused him of being a corrupt drug addict was allowed to move toward trial, a judge ruled Wednesday. Mayor James Jajuga sued Thomas Duggan Jr. and his North-Andover-based monthly paper the Valley Patriot last year after Duggan wrote a column in March accusing Jajuga of a range of improper conduct, saying the mayor is a heroin addict who has used his various offices in corrupt ways.
Jill Abramson lobs another critical grenade at the Times, saying it’s now ‘unmistakably anti-Trump’
In other media news, Jill Abramson, the former New York Times editor and now Harvard writing teacher, is blasting her old employer again, saying that the Times’ news pages have become “unmistakably anti-Trump” and that it’s harming the newspaper’s credibility. Media critic Howard Kurtz has more at FoxNews. If you recall, Abramson previously criticized the Times for getting caught unprepared by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Congressional primary upset win earlier this year in New York.
Diehl hints a D.C. job is in the works
Massachusetts voters chose not to send him to Washington, but he may be heading there anyway. Former state Rep. Geoff Diehl, who was trounced by Elizabeth Warren in the U.S. Senate race in November, is hinting he may have an as-yet unspecified job in the Trump administration. Appearing on WGBH’s Greater Boston, Diehl–who recently dropped a bid to lead the state’s Republican party–said he’s “been working on a chance to go down to Washington, work with the administration.”
N.H. lawmakers can no longer pack a gun in House chamber
This has become a sort of biennial tradition in the Granite State. From the AP’s Holly Ramer at the Concord Monitor: “New Hampshire Democrats asserted their newly-acquired power at the Statehouse on Wednesday by restoring a ban on guns and other deadly weapons on the House floor. Rules on allowing guns in Representatives Hall, including the anteroom and public gallery overlooking it, have flipped back and forth depending on which party held a majority for the last decade.”
State report cites dearth of sexual predator examiners
From Christian Wade at Gloucester Times: “A shortage of specially trained psychologists is complicating efforts to evaluate the threat of dangerous sexual predators who have been locked up under the state’s civil commitment law, according to a new report.”
Star lawyer leaves Ropes to launch giant out-of-state firm’s new Boston office
This is big news in the Boston legal community. Look for more probable high-profile defections in coming months. From Greg Ryan at the BBJ: “The corporate legal giant Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP is opening a Boston office by hiring away a trio of Ropes & Gray LLP partners specializing in data breaches and cybersecurity, including star litigator Doug Meal. Joining Meal at Orrick are partners Heather Egan Sussman — the co-leader of Ropes’ privacy practice group alongside Meal — and Seth Harrington.”
Newly gaveled Neal in no rush to grab Trump’s tax returns
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, who will soon be chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, plans to build a public case for why President Trump should release his tax returns before trying to use an obscure law to force them to be turned over, Brian Faler reports at Politico. Though he’ll face pressure from the left to move quickly, a Neal spokesman says the committee could use its review of a Democratic proposal to require all presidential candidates to release 10 years’ worth of returns to build public support before trying to force the White House’s hand.
No shutdown-related stay in Mashpee tribe’s lawsuit
Here’s one thing that won’t be stopped by the partial federal government shutdown: The Mashpee Wampanoag’s lawsuit against the Interior Department over its decision to nullify an earlier recognition of the tribe’s land rights. Tanner Stening reports at the Cape Cod Times that a judge has rejected a government request to stay proceedings completely during the shutdown, but did grant an extension for it to respond to the tribe’s claims.
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