Happening Today

Baker public safety bill, Clark on the air, Walsh’s State of City address

— Massachusetts chapter of the American Institute of Architects hosts a breakfast for new legislators and staff, House Members Lounge, State House, 9:30 a.m.

— Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito joins Rep. Jim O’Day and Quinsigamond Community College President Dr. Luis Pedraja to announce four grants totaling $2.5 million for the Advanced Manufacturing Training Program, QuEST Center, Quinsigamond Community College, 670 West Boylston St, Worcester, 10:30 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker speaks at the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police Association meeting and is expected to announce the re-filing of a public safety bill, Bank New York Mellon, Glendale Room, 135 Santilli Highway, Everett, 11:30 a.m.

— Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell is a guest on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 12 p.m.

Massachusetts Cultural Council holds a board meeting to discuss 2019 financial updates and round one recommendations for the artists fellowship program, Peabody Essex Museum, 135 Essex St., Salem, 12 p.m.

— Treasurer Deborah Goldberg chairs the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust, Room 227, 1 p.m.

— The benefits of a policy requiring new single-family homes and certain multi-family buildings to be built with rooftop solar panels will be outlined in a report from Environment Massachusetts Research and Policy Center, Webinar, 1 p.m.

— U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark and City Councilor Lydia Edwards are guests on ‘Radio Boston,’ WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m.

— The Nuclear Regulatory Commission holds a public meeting to discuss a decommissioning roadmap report for the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, Hotel 1620, 180 Water St., Plymouth, 6 p.m.

— Boston Mayor Martin Walsh gives his annual State of the City address, with Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito among those expected to attend, Boston Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, 6 p.m.

— Melrose Mayor Gail Infurna will give the 2019 State of the City address, Memorial Hall, 590 Main St., Melrose, 7 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

Rollout of new Orange Line cars delayed again

What can you say? From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “A holdup in the testing of a new vehicle signal system will delay the introduction of new Orange Line cars by at least six to eight weeks, MBTA officials said on Monday. The MBTA had hoped to begin introducing the new vehicles into service this month, but Jeffrey Gonneville, the T’s deputy general manager, said a vehicle signal system developed by a subcontractor on the project needs to be fully checked out by an independent third party and that process will not be completed until mid-March.” 

SHNS’s Colin Young at WBUR has more on the latest T delay. And, what the heck, we might as well squeeze this T item into the post, from Mark Williams at the Globe: “MBTA pension crisis should be a priority.”


Baker on shutdown: ‘My pox is on all the houses down there’

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, once again caught in the middle of a partisan brawl in Washington, is making it clear he’s sick of the federal government shutdown: “My pox is on all the houses down there,” Baker said yesterday. Shira Schoenberg at MassLive and the AP’s Steve LeBlanc at the Herald have more.

Btw: LeBlanc reports the administration is exploring ways to offer state unemployment benefits to federal workers and contractors now going without paychecks. But the idea faces a number of hurdles, not least whether federal workers even qualify for unemployment benefits.

Btw, II: The shutdown headlines keep coming. From Worcester Magazine: “Worcester’s Heard Marketing goes viral with shutdown offer to federal employees.” From MassLive: “Israeli singer forced to postpone Boston show because of government shutdown.”

Lawmakers push to pay Coast Guard members amid shutdown

Here’s another way to help at least some federal workers. Mary Whitfill at Wicked Local reports that state Rep. Patrick Kearney, a Democrat, and Sen. Patrick O’Connor, a Republican, have formed a bi-partisan team to draft legislation that would have the state pay local Coast Guard members who haven’t been paid in more than three weeks. The state would, hopefully, get reimbursed after the shutdown ends.

Wicked Local

Massachusetts business confidence hits two-year low, thanks to shutdown and stock gyrations

Not good. From SHNS’s Katie Lannan at the Worcester Business Journal, via an AIM survey: “Confidence levels among Massachusetts employers hit a two-year low in December, driven by national factors like the federal government shutdown and the largest one-month stock market decline since the Great Depression. Closer to home, employers have their eyes on the cost of health care and fees imposed by the state.”


Romney calls on Steve King to resign after comments on white supremacy

The latest from our former governor, via the Hill: “Newly-elected Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Monday called for conservative Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) to resign from the House because of his remarks questioning whether white supremacy is “offensive. ‘I think he ought to step aside and I think Congress ought to make it very clear he has no place there,’ Romney told CNN’s Manu Raju on Monday.”

The Hill

SJC: Cops can arrest stoned drivers based on observations

The state’s high court isn’t waiting around for policymakers to come up with new laws on how to deal with suspected drugged drivers. From Scott Croteau at MassLive: “Police in Massachusetts can still arrest people for driving under the influence of marijuana if the officer observes signs of use. The state Supreme Judicial Court made that finding in a ruling issued Monday as more and more retail marijuana shops pop up across Massachusetts.”

In Vermont, high-court justices have reached, it appears, a somewhat different conclusion, ruling that the “faint scent of burnt marijuana is no longer justification for a police officer in Vermont to search or seize a person’s property,” writes Felicia Gans at the Globe. Granted, they’re two different things: Arrests versus searches/seizures. But still …


Georgia company to acquire Bay State pot retailer

Speaking of marijuana, Surterra Wellness, a rapidly growing pot company based in Atlanta, is acquiring New England Treatment Access, a marijuana firm that only recently opened its first pot shop in Massachusetts and that owns other cannabis businesses in the state as well. SHNS’s Colin Young at Wicked Local has more.

Wicked Local

More delays for Charlton marijuana farm proposal

One more pot item and it comes down to this: Chill. That’s the message from the Charlton Planning Board, which has delayed until March a decision on a subdivision proposal for land being eyed for a massive and controversial marijuana cultivation operation. Valley Green Grow agreed to the two-month deadline extension even as it considers whether to appeal an unfavorable ruling from the board made earlier this month. 


Angie’s List for Medicaid patients

It’s odd this hasn’t been done before: The state, for the first time, is seeking the opinions of thousands of Medicaid recipients about the quality of their experiences in doctors’ offices, allowing the state to determine how well patients are served and, perhaps eventually, allowing patients to compare the quality of provider networks. The Globe’s Liz Kowalczyk has more.

Boston Globe

Foes no more: New Bedford and charter school reach ‘novel’ agreement to end feud

Aimee Chiavaroli at the Standard-Times and Michael Jonas at CommonWealth magazine report that New Bedford officials and operators of the Alma del Mar Charter School, after months of acrimonious debate, have reached a “pioneering” and “novel” agreement that would allow the private school to expand – with enrollment limits — in exchange for taking over a currently shuttered New Bedford school building. 

Herald owner’s next media victim: Gannett Co.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Digital First Media, owner of the Boston Herald and other papers around the region and nation, is now pushing Gannett Co., publisher of USA Today and other newspapers, to sell itself – and Digital First, of course, is first in line to buy. Get a load of this: Digital First, known for its draconian staff cuts and squeezing papers dry, is lecturing Gannett that it hasn’t “demonstrated that it is capable of effectively running the company,” as the WSJ puts it.

WSJ (pay wall)

Field grows for Fall River mayoral recall election

Nine and counting. Two more candidates have taken steps to jump into the recall election seeking to oust and then replace Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia, bringing the total number of potential candidates to at least nine, J.C. Goode reports at the Herald-News. 

Herald News

Ex-Rep. and Fall River mayor Lambert to head business-education group

Speaking of Fall River, here’s one city pol not running in the crowded mayoral recall election: Former state Rep. and Fall River Mayor Edward M. Lambert has been tapped as the new executive director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, an employer-backed group focusing on public school issues, reports the BBJ’s Greg Ryan. Lambert most recently served as of head government relations at UMass-Boston.

BBJ (pay wall)

He’s not Mr. Fix-it nor the Urban Mechanic. Maybe the Fine Tuner?

The Globe’s Milton Valencia writes that Mayor Marty Walsh is shunning labels and nicknames given to past mayors as he prepares for tonight’s State of the City address. Walsh seems more content with just fine-tuning municipal government, Valancia reports.

Meanwhile, the Herald’s Brooks Sutherland also has an advance story on the mayor’s address this evening, when he may touch upon the hot-button issue of housing. As he has in the past, he doesn’t sound too thrilled about proposed new real estate taxes to pay for affordable housing.

Springfield council overrides mayor’s veto of ‘welcoming city’ ordinance

The Springfield City Council has overridden Mayor Domenic Sarno’s veto of a “welcoming city” (aka “sancturary city”) ordinance, prompting cheers from supporters attending Monday’s council meeting, reports Peter Goonan at MassLive. Matt Szafranskiat Western Mass. Politics & Insight has more on the end of the sometimes bitter two-month battle between the council and mayor.


The consensus: Warren’s off to a good start

Four Globe political reporters — Jess Bidgood, Liz Goodwin, Victoria McGrane and James Pindell – answer all the questions you may have about Elizabeth Warren’s now two-week-old presidential campaign. The consensus among the four reporters: The campaign has gone better than expected for Warren, as she preaches the gospel of populist economics. Meanwhile, the big question is whether U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a potential progressive rival to Warren, will even run – or, if he does, whether he can catch his old 2016 mojo. The Globe’s Michael Levenson has the details. 

Boston Globe

Americans are now more likely to die from opioid overdoses than traffic accidents

This is just incredible – and depressing. From Ian Stewart at WGBH: “For the first time in U.S. history, a leading cause of deaths, vehicle crashes, has been surpassed in likelihood by opioid overdoses, according to a new repport on preventable deaths from the National Safety Council. Americans now have a 1 in 96 chance of dying from an opioid overdose, according to the council’s analysis of 2017 data on accidental death. The probability of dying in a motor vehicle crash is 1 in 103.” One in 96 will die from overdoses?


State mulls licensing of recovery coaches

Speaking of opioids, a state commission will explore whether to set up licensing procedures for addiction recovery coaches, a move that could prompt more insurance companies to extend coverage for their work, Christian Wade reports at the Eagle-Tribune. The 15-member commission established by last year’s opioid response legislation will start hearing testimony later this month and should make a final recommendation by August. 


Real estate gold: The Back Bay’s only surface parking lot is put up for sale

It’s only a surface parking lot on one-third of an acre. But because it’s in the heart of the Back Bay, at the corner of Newbury and Dartmouth streets, it could fetch tens of millions of dollars. Talk about market timing. The Globe’s Tim Logan has more on the planned sale of the Back Bay’s only surface parking lot — which won’t be a surface parking lot for much longer.

Wampanoag’s tribal school now in limbo due to Trump administration decision

More is at risk for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe than just its planned $1 billion casino, if a Trump administration ruling on its land status is upheld. The future of the tribe’s language immersion school, Mukayuhsak Weekuw, is also in limbo, reports Carrie Jung at WBUR.


Shaw’s to close three stores in Mass., one in N.H.

Frankly, we’re surprised that there’s not more closings, based on low foot traffic we’ve seen at other area stores. From NECN: “The Shaw’s supermarket chain is closing four stores in New England, the company has announced. The company said Monday that stores in Leominster, Plymouth, and Lynn in Massachusetts would be closing, as well as a location in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.”

NECN (video)

Pressley condemns anti-Semitism after quoting Alice Walker

From Nik DeCosta-Slipa at Boston.com: “Rep. Ayanna Pressley is making amends for quoting Alice Walker in a tweet last week, after the newly sworn-in Massachusetts congresswoman was made aware of the acclaimed author’s alleged history of anti-Semitism. ‘I fully condemn and denounce anti-Semitism, prejudice and bigotry in all their forms – and the hateful actions they embolden,’ Pressley tweeted Monday afternoon.”


Healey: DDS employee bilked state for $42K in bogus OT claims

It’s not just state troopers playing the OT game. From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “A former Massachusetts state employee has been indicted for billing the state for $42,500 in overtime pay for hours she did not work. Attorney General Maura Healey announced Monday that Katelynn Sullivan, 33, of Lowell, an employee of the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services, was paid for 1,428 hours of overtime that she did not work between July 2015 and March 2017.”

Mostly favorable audit of Berkshire DA’s office suggests improvements on money handling

A review by the office of Auditor Suzanne Bump found the Berkshire District Attorney’s office mostly in compliance with state regulations but suggests stricter controls to ensure that money seized by law enforcement is turned over to the DA’s office in a more timely manner, Bob Dunn reports at the Berkshire Eagle.

Berkshire Eagle

Baker names hotel executive to MassPort Board

From SHNS: “Warren Fields, the chief investment officer of Pyramid Advisors, is joining the Massachusetts Port Authority Board. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday appointed Fields, who began his career at Beacon Hotel Corporation, rising to top posts at Guest Quarters Hotels and Doubletree Hotels.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Springfield YMCA housing project boosted by $9M state tax-exempt bond

From Peter Goonan at MassLive: “A local development group has launched a $15 million housing renovation project at the YMCA building on Chestnut Street, aided by a newly announced $9.2 million tax exempt bond issued by MassDevelopment.”


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

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

Innovative Approaches for the Prevention and Treatment of Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Use Conditions Forum

The Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, the Association for Behavioral Healthcare, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, and the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Behavioral Health + Economics Network (BHECON) are hosting a collaborative forum – “Innovative Approaches for the Prevention and Treatment of Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Use Conditions.”

The Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, the Association for Behavioral Healthcare, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, and the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Behavioral Health + Economics Network (BHECON)

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

Power Breakfast: Economic Outlook

Join the BBJ for a panel discussion looking into 2019!

Boston Business Journal

Author Talk and Book Signing with Jim Hamilton

Author Talk and Book Signing with Jim Hamilton, Author of The Black Cats of Amherst

State Library of Massachusetts

Executive Forum – The State of Massachusetts Business 2019

Join us on January 25 as AIM presents the 2019 State of Massachusetts Business address and Economic Outlook Forum. AIM President Rick Lord and a panel of experts will discuss solutions to one of the most persistent challenge facing employers today: the shortage of qualified workers.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts

Get New Insight and Practices for Boosting Revenues

Are you ready to infuse your product, marketing and sales efforts with fresh ideas that work? Past Summits have won rave reviews. Learn more and register at StrategicMarketingSummit.com

MarketReach, Inc.

Today’s Headlines


Ciommo could face competition in Allston-Brighton council race – Universal Hub

‘I truly want to make Boston better,’ Walsh says ahead of annual speech – Boston Globe


St. Anne’s Hospital in Fall River to be part of new generic medicine effort – Herald News

Northampton police department details six years of ammunition purchases – Daily Hampshire Gazette

Worcester schools change proposal for sex education – Telegram & Gazette


Shutdown gives some Trump allies what they want: A smaller government – Washington Post

Trump discussed pulling U.S. from NATO, aides say amid new concerns over Russia – New York Times

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