Happening Today

Governor’s Council, Education funding, Rosengren on economy

— The Governor’s Council holds three hearings today, the first on nomination of attorney Gloriann Moroney to the Parole Board, the second on the nomination of attorney David Sorrenti as a district court judge and the third to possibly vote on the nomination of attorney William Rooney as a judge in the East Hampshire District Court, Council Chamber, with hearings starting at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12 p.m., respectively.

— Senate President Karen Spilka attends the grand re-opening of Facebook’s Cambridge office, 100 Binney St., Cambridge, 9:30 a.m.

— Associated Press White House reporter and MSNBC political analyst Jonathan Lemire visits UMass Lowell to present ‘On the Road with No. 45,’ offering his views on covering President Donald Trump, O’Leary Library Learning Commons, Room 222, 61 Wilder St., Lowell, 10 a.m.

— Senate President Karen Spilka speaks at an Environmental League of Massachusetts breakfast, Carrie Nation, 11 Beacon St., Boston, 10:30 a.m.

— MASSCAP and the Massachusetts Association of Community Action hold a press conference to call for Gov. Charlie Baker and the Legislature to include $30 million for the low-income home energy assistance program in the next round of supplemental funding, State House steps, 10:30 a.m.

— Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz and Reps. Mary Keefe and Aaron Vega hold a press conference to promote a new education funding reform bill, with mayors Martin Walsh of Boston and Alex Morse of Holyoke among those attending, Room 428, 11 a.m.

— The Boston Economic Club hears from Boston Fed president and CEO Eric Rosengren for his annual economic outlook, Frank E. Morris Auditorium, Boston Federal Reserve, 600 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, 11:30 a.m.

— Boston Mayor Martin Walsh attends Councilor-Elect Althea Garrison’s swearing in ceremony, City Council Chamber, City Hall, Boston, 12 p.m.

— Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll talks about recreational marijuana on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7,12:20 p.m.

Cannabis Advisory Board’s Public Safety and Community Mitigation Subcommittee meets to discuss its recommendations to the Cannabis Control Commission around home delivery of marijuana and social use of marijuana, Transportation Board Room, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, 1 p.m.

— Boston Mayor Marty Walsh talks about his plans for 2019 on ‘Radio Boston,’ WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m.

Steve Koczela, president of The MassINC Polling Group, and Jennifer Smith, news editor of the Dorchester Reporter, record a live episode of The Horse Race podcast, with Senate President Karen Spilka and Rep. Russell Holmes as guests, WeWork, One Beacon St., 15th floor, Boston, 6 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

Walsh joining the education-funding fray on Beacon Hill

State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz and other lawmakers today plan to file a bill that would revamp the way the state distributes funds to school districts across Massachusetts – and they’ll have a powerful ally at their side: Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. The Globe’s James Vaznis and the Herald’s Taylor Pettaway have more on what’s shaping up to be the top issue on Beacon Hill this session.

Shutdown showdown: The Debate

President Trump last night asked Americans to put pressure on lawmakers to build his long-sought Mexican border wall in return for ending the federal government shutdown, reports the NYT. But the Globe’s James Pindell and the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld write that there were other messages embedded in the president’s nationally televised address: A.) “Republicans, please stick with me” (Pindell) and B.) Shifting the blame for the government shutdown onto others (Battenfeld).

Meanwhile, there were plenty of local reactions to the president’s address last night, from U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey and other members of the state’s Congressional delegation, reports the Globe’s Abbi Matheson. In her first floor speech, U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley warned the president: ‘‘I see right through you and so do the American people” (via MassLive’s Jacqueline Tempera). Then again, from Boston.com: “Ayanna Pressley got a warning following her first House speech.” Not surprisingly, the Herald’s Howie Carr and Michael Graham are bashing Democrats.

Shutdown showdown: The Effect

As pols debate the border wall and the partial government closure, the Globe’s Brian MacQuarrie reports that the partial government shutdown is now impacting a wide variety of government services and employees, from the Coast Guard to even Secret Service agents. Shannon Young at MassLive reports that U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton won’t accept his pay as long as thousands of other federal workers are going without paychecks. Meanwhile, from the Martha’s Vineyard Times: “Tribe stretching its federal dollars during shutdown.” From the Berkshire Eagle: “Meeting on river cleanup postponed due to shutdown.” From MassLive: “Mass. veteran’s widow won’t get her roof repaired during shutdown.” From SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall); “Lawmakers say shutdown might require emergency state $$$”

High court refuses to let other states scramble Mass.’s cage-free eggs law

From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “The U.S. Supreme Court has decided that it will not allow 13 states to sue Massachusetts in the nation’s highest court over a law that will ban the sale of eggs and meat from animals that are too tightly confined. … The Supreme Court’s decision, which was issued Monday without an explanation, denied the states permission to file a complaint.”


Like rabbits: Number of cars growing faster than people in Massachusetts

From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “According to Census data compiled by New York transportation consultant Bruce Schaller, the number of households in Boston owning vehicles rose faster between 2012 and 2017 than the population as a whole. The total number of household vehicles grew 15 percent over the period, while the population increased just 7 percent.”

One day someone should study if there’s a link between increased household car ownership and people being priced out of the Boston-area housing market, forcing many to move ever westward and beyond most public-transit services.


That’s a take: State tax subsidies of Hollywood films hit record $90M

From the Globe’s Matt Stout and Matt Rocheleau: “The state issued nearly $90 million in film tax subsidies in 2016, a new high-water mark that includes tens of millions in previously unreported incentives paid out to movies inspired by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. ‘Patriots Day,’ the 2016 Mark Wahlberg-led film about the terrorist attack at the finish line that killed three people and injured hundreds more, collected $15.7 million worth of credits — the fifth most for any project to date, according to newly revised state data.”

Boston Globe

State workers’ bottled-water tab tops $1 million

Massachusetts spent $1.1 million providing bottled water for state workers last year, a figure slammed by environmentalists who say the commonwealth is ignoring more planet-friendly alternatives, Mary Markos reports at the Herald. State spending on bottled H2O has risen 23 percent in the past five years.

Boston Herald

From ‘ZooMass’ to … what? EliteMass?

Neil Swidey at the Globe takes a look at UMass-Amherst chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy’s attempt to shed his school’s “ZooMass” image and position it as a powerhouse among public higher-education institutions across the country. He’s largely accomplished the former (‘ZooMass’ is so 1980s and 1990s), but some are concerned the quest for higher status may mean some students will get left behind, Swidey writes.

Fyi: We like the UMass comparison to Tufts, BC, BU and Northeastern, four schools that completely transformed themselves starting in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. The question is whether UMass can become a little more elitist without being too elitist.

Boston Globe

How Harvard can avoid future enrollment-discrimination suits: Hold an admissions lottery

Speaking of elite colleges, Natasha Warikoo, an associate professor of education at Harvard University, thinks Harvard would save a lot of time and money (especially on legal bills tied to enrollment-discrimination suits) if it switched to a lottery for admitting students. She’s says it would be more efficient and fair. Our suggested name for the proposed lottery: MegaAdmissions.

BBJ (pay wall)

Robert Kraft awarded Israel’s ‘Jewish Nobel’ prize

From the Associated Press at the Herald: “New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been awarded Israel’s 2019 Genesis Prize in recognition of his philanthropy and commitment to combatting anti-Semitism, organizers of the prize announced on Wednesday.”

Boston Herald

Walsh tries to put out fires over scathing report on ‘male-dominated’ fire department

One would think female firefighters, city councilors and others would embrace the findings of a recent report slamming the Boston Fire Department for its “locker room” culture that drives women away from the profession. But they’re actually criticizing the report for merely rehashing old issues and not going far enough in calling for reforms, reports the Globe’s Meghan Irons.

Meanwhile, Mayor Marty Walsh is seeking to create a new cadet program within the department with the goal of recruiting more women, who now represent only about 1 percent of the firefighters force in Boston, reports Brooks Sutherland at the Herald.

Not a bad job if you can find one: Former Lowell superintendent paid nearly $100K for not working

Elizabeth Dobbins at the Lowell Sun reports how former school superintendent Salah Khelfaoui was paid nearly $100,000 – after he was removed from his post amid accusations of poor financial and personnel management. The bulk of the money, $63,598, was paid for his time on administrative leave and the rest for unused vacation time.

Lowell Sun

SJC: You can’t write spouses out of wills

We’re actually surprised they’re not entitled to at least half. From John Ellement at the Globe: “Relying on a decades-old inheritance law, the state’s highest has court ruled that spouses are entitled to one-third of their deceased spouse’s estate — when they are not mentioned in the spouse’s will. The Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously on Monday for the second wife of a Charlton man who demanded her share of the real estate her husband had willed his four adult children.”

Boston Globe

Battle heats up over flame-retardant bill on Beacon Hill

Supporters of a recently passed bill that would ban certain toxic flame retardant chemicals in many products, including furniture, are calling on Gov. Charlie Baker to sign the legislation. But industry groups are urging the governor to veto the measure. SHNS’s Matt Murphy at CommonWealth magazine has the details.


Details, details: How the T plans to spend $8B

Bob Seay at WGBH takes a look at the MBTA’s “long journey and steep mountain to climb,” as T chairman Joseph Aiello recently put it, as it embarks on a five-year, $8 billion program to upgrade the entire transit system. Nearly half of that money will be spent on new rapid transit cars and buses, along with new power and signal systems for all of the rail lines and the rebuilding of stations, bridges and tunnels, Seay writes.


Pot shops cleared to open this week in Hudson and Pittsfield

Regulators said the pace of pot-shop openings would increase this year – and they weren’t kidding. From SHNS’s Colin Young at CBS Boston: “The seventh and eighth recreational marijuana stores in Massachusetts have been cleared to open as early as this Saturday, the Cannabis Control Commission announced Tuesday. … Both locations already operate as medical marijuana dispensaries and can begin selling non-medical marijuana on Saturday.”

CBS Boston

Criminal justice reform, Round 2

SHNS’s Katie Lannan at the Sentinel & Enterprise reports that supporters of criminal justice reform are not resting on their laurels after winning key criminal-justice reforms during last year’s legislative session. Bottom line: They’ll be back.

Sentinel & Enterprise

‘Boston College students venture into city, get two bars in trouble’

As a reporter attending a Boston Licensing Board meeting yesterday, Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin was like a kid in a candy store, coming up with all sorts of fun posts, including one on how underage BC students managed to get two city bars in trouble. The other posts involve hard-partying MIT frat members who discovered liquor laws applies to them too and an underage Suffolk student who didn’t get tripped up by a bouncer’s trick question about the capital of Maine.

DAs double down on withholding records in Globe case

Three district attorneys who face a court order to turn over records sought by the Boston Globe are poised to appeal a judge’s ruling against them, likely adding to an already $80,000 legal bill they’ve run up battling the release, Todd Wallack reports in the Globe. 

Boston Globe

Healey files brief in fight over Trump’s birth-control policy

From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “Attorney General Maura Healey is continuing to fight in the courts against rules set by President Donald Trump’s administration that will make it easier for businesses to decline to provide insurance coverage for birth control. … Healey on Monday led other state attorneys general in filing briefs in federal courts in Pennsylvania and California, where judges are weighing whether to let the Trump administration’s new rules go into effect.”


Meanwhile, Healey distributes $3M to address ‘social detriments’ to health

Speaking of the AG, from SHNS’s Colin Young: “Attorney General Maura Healey on Tuesday doled out $3 million in grant funding to help community organizations address issues in society that affect people’s health, like nutrition, safe housing, violence prevention and substance use.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Cape Cod Community College receives $5M donation, its largest ever

This is great news for a small public college. From the BBJ’s Doug Bank: “Cape Cod Community College has received a $5 million donation — its largest-ever gift — as part of its construction of a new science and engineering building. … It comes from Maureen Wilkens, a longtime benefactor who, with her husband, Frank, a former investment manager, established the Wilkens Family Trust Scholarship in 2007.”

BBJ (pay wall)

Cape lawmaker to propose offshore drilling ban as part of national push

State Rep. Dylan Fernandes says he will file legislation to ban oil exploration or drilling off the Massachusetts coast, part of a national effort aimed at stopping a Trump administration push to boost fossil-fuel production, Sean Horgan reports at the Gloucester Times. “We want to make it cost-prohibitive for offshore drilling companies to explore for oil and natural gas,” Fernandes said, noting that all six New England states agree on the need to protect commercial fisheries, tourism and other industries. 

Gloucester Times

Opponents of Weymouth compressor station turn eyes to Baker

Foes of a languishing proposal to build a pipeline compressor station in Weymouth are now hanging their hopes for stopping the project on intervention by Gov. Charlie Baker, following a series of setbacks at the federal level, Jessica Trufant reports at the Patriot Ledger. A federal lawsuit against the facility was thrown out last week and, in late December, federal regulators granted a two-year extension of the project’s approval. 

Patriot Ledger

A Community Conversation: The Power of Public Monuments & Why They Matter

In conjunction with the $2.8 million restoration of the Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Regiment Memorial (Shaw 54th), the Partnership to Renew the Shaw 54th, comprised of four organizations– the National Park Service, the City of Boston, Friends of the Public Garden, and the Museum of African American History– will host a panel discussion about the role of monuments and memorials in our society.

the National Park Service, the City of Boston, Friends of the Public Garden, and the Museum of African American History

2019 Leadership Institute

The goal of the NAIOP Massachusetts Leadership Institute is to develop the practical knowledge and leadership skills that are necessary to advance the careers of mid-level commercial real estate professionals with 10+ years of experience. This is a 12 week program (January 15 – April 4).

NAIOP Massachusetts

Live Webinar: Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning

Join AIM on a Webinar led by experts from Wolf & Company who will discuss best practices for achieving and maintaining safety, security, and compliance in times of trouble. In addition to providing ample time for your questions, you will also hear first-hand from one of Wolf’s clients, Kurt Shouse, AVP, Information & Cybersecurity Officer Florence Bank, about his recent experiences.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts

Faith and Justice in Society: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Perspectives

“Faith and Justice in Society: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Perspectives” will bring people from across Greater Boston together to learn about Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives on social justice from prominent religious leaders, deepening their awareness of our shared religious and social heritage.

A Faith That Does Justice

Power Breakfast: Economic Outlook

Join the BBJ for a panel discussion looking into 2019!

Boston Business Journal

Today’s Headlines


Walsh seeks cadet program after scathing review of BFD – Boston Herald


Lowell council weighs using pot funds to fix city buildings – Lowell Sun

Northampton City Council rapped over loss of Walmart’s ammunition donation – Daily Hampshire Gazette

Worcester council adopts urban farming amendment – Telegram & Gazette

Public airs concerns on Pilgrim shutdown – Cape Cod Times


Manafort shared 2016 polling data with Russian associate, according to court filing – Washington Post

On the border, little support for a wall – New York Times

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