Federal workers rally, GOP chair vote, and more
— Sexual Health Lobby Day will gather advocates from across the Commonwealth to support legislation aimed at better access to sexual and reproductive health care, with plans to honor House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad, Senate President Karen Spilka and Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler, Hall of Flags, State House, 10:30 a.m.
— The Municipal Finance Oversight Board meets to hear requests from the cities of Pittsfield and Fall River, State House, Room 437, 11 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker is a guest on ‘Ask the Governor’ segment with hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan, WGBH-FM 89.7, 12 p.m.
— Marshfield author Jim Hamilton gives this month’s State Library author talk about his new book, ‘The Black Cats of Amherst,’ about a World War I ambulance unit formed in Amherst in June 1917, State Library, Room 341, 12 p.m.
— Rep. Paul Brodeur and the National Treasury Employees Union lead a rally to support federal workers affected by the ongoing partial government shutdown, with Secretary of State William Galvin, Treasurer Deb Goldberg and others planning to attend, State House front steps, 1 p.m.
— Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito joins Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant and Rep. Carmine Gentile to announce three Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative grants totaling $3.77 million, Sheaumann Laser Inc., 45 Bartlett Street, Marlborough, 1:15 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Secretary of Education James Peyser, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy and members of the Legislature to announce an award of $3.3 million in Skills Capital Grants to 31 high schools and educational institutions, Shawsheen Valley Technical High School, 100 Cook Street, Billerica, 2 p.m.
— Cannabis Advisory Board holds a public meeting to receive updates from subcommittees, Department of Transportation Building, Conference Room, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, 2 p.m.
— State Rep. Shawn Dooley of Norfolk joins a cybersecurity expert on ‘Radio Boston’ to talk about potential cybersecurity risks with the new Chinese-made MBTA cars, WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m.
— The Women’s Bar Association will host a Government Lawyers Mix and Mingle to allow those interested in a career in public service to mingle with the WBA’s Government Lawyer’s Committee, Carrie Nation, 11 Beacon St., Boston, 5:30 p.m.
— Elected members of the Massachusetts Republican Party’s state committee will gather in Framingham to choose a successor to Kirsten Hughes, the party’s chairwoman, with MassGOP Treasurer Brent Anderson, state Rep. Peter Durant and former state Rep. Jim Lyons vying to succeed Hughes, Sheraton Framingham, 1657 Worcester Rd., Framingham, 7 p.m.
— Senate President Karen Spilka delivers remarks at a Jewish Community Relations Council meeting, Congregation Kehillath Israel, 384 Harvard St., Brookline, 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.
State Rep. McMurty accused of ‘inappropriate behavior,’ i.e. grabbing lawmaker’s backside
From the Globe’s Andrea Estes and Matt Stout “A member of House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo’s leadership team walked up behind an incoming legislator and grabbed her backside last month during an orientation cocktail hour for newly elected lawmakers, according to several officials who either witnessed or were told of the alleged incident. The allegations against Representative Paul McMurtry, a Dedham Democrat and, at the time, chairman of the House personnel committee, have roiled several new members of the Legislature, who gave voice to fears that the climate of harassment House leaders vowed to address last year hasn’t abated.” McMurty has “forcefully denied” the allegations, the Globe reports.
Fyi: For some reason, we had this incredible urge to look up the technical definition of the word “grope,” via Merriam-Webster. Now we know, just for future potential reference.
In Lawrence, mayor threatens to use police to prevent fired city attorney from working
Well, this should make for an interesting Friday morning at Lawrence City Hall. Mayor Daniel Rivera says he’ll use police if necessary to keep the assistant city attorney he fired last week from reporting to work after the City Council voted to reinstate him, Keith Eddings reports at the Eagle-Tribune. Rivera gave no reason for firing Brian Corrigan and the council–in a rare rebuke of the mayor–voted to put him back in his $88,000-a-year gig on Tuesday.
Purdue Pharma’s cozy ties with MGH and Tufts Medical
Stat’s Andrew Joseph reports that a new court filing by Attorney General Maura Healey reveals Purdue Pharma’s “cozy relationship” with a number of private institutions, including Massachusetts General Hospital and Tufts University, as part of its alleged overall campaign to peddle its OxyContin painkiller drug.
And speaking of corporate peddling of prescription opioid products, the Herald’s Laurel Sweet reports on the pre-trial maneuvering in the case against former Insys Therapeutics executives accused of “bribing healthcare providers to push a potent fentanyl mouth spray for cancer sufferers on patients who didn’t have cancer.”
Sen. Crighton poised to introduce sports-betting bill on Beacon Hill
On your mark, get set … From SHNS’s Matt Murphy at the BBJ: “With thousands of fans getting ready to settle into their couches this weekend for the NFL playoffs, one state senator has a proposal ready to make sports betting legal in Massachusetts, eight months after the Supreme Court opened the doors for states to enter the sports gambling market. Sen. Brendan Crighton, a Lynn Democrat, is getting ready to file a bill that would allow Bay State casinos and online, mobile platforms like DraftKings to apply for licenses to operate sports books for Massachusetts bettors.”
Christian Wade at the Daily News reports on other sports-betting activity at the State House.
Shutdown showdown: No State of the Union address?
We can’t decide if we love or hate this idea: In the latest government-shutdown salvo, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is suggesting that President Trump postpone his State of the Union address until after the government shutdown is over, according to a report at WGBH. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld hates the idea, calling Pelosi’s move a “cheap ploy.” It’s a cheap ploy, all right. But … what’s the president going to say amid a shutdown? That everything’s just hunky-dory? Besides, we’re no fans of State of the Union speeches in general. … In other shutdown news, the Globe has a story this morning on all the ways local businesses are trying to help out federal workers going without pay, including the BSO offering free tickets to furloughed government workers. … Other shutdown headlines: From WBUR: ‘Concerns grow among Mass. affordable housing agencies amid shutdown.’ From MassLive: ‘US Sen. Ed Markey questions federal shutdown’s impact on FAA, air safety.’
Women’s March 2019: United they stand, divided they are
Two years after the high-profile Women’s March rallies held across the country following Donald Trump’s inauguration, organizers are holding more rallies this weekend – and the Washington Post reports how the sense of unity has frayed this time around due to allegations of anti-Semitism by march leaders.
In a Globe op-ed, Karen Cosmas, Tanisha M. Sullivan and Cindy Rowe try to rally the troops, but they do feel “compelled to state explicitly that our march is in steadfast opposition to racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and transphobia.” Not a good way to start off a major unity event.
Healey, Goldberg, Bump and Galvin sworn in for new terms
MassLive’s Shira Schoenberg reports on yesterday’s swearing-in events for Attorney General Maura Healey, Treasurer Deb Goldberg, Auditor Suzanne Bump and Secretary of State Bill Galvin. For more detailed reports, the indispensable SHNS (pay wall) has it all covered – with individual stories on Healey and Goldberg and Bump and Galvin.
2020 rumor mill alert: Moulton headed to N.H.
For a guy who claims he’s not running for president, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton keeps finding himself in situations in which he sure looks like he’s running for president, or at least testing the presidential waters, with the latest example being his plan to travel to the key primary state of New Hampshire in two weeks, reports the Globe’s James Pindell.
‘The Democrats’ Richie Neal Problem’
At the American Prospect, Jeff Hauser and Eleanor Eagon weigh in on the growing clamor over U.S. Rep. Richard Neal’s acceptance of so many donations from corporations, saying it’s evidence he’s more of a “corporate Democrat” than a, well, progressive Democrat. Meanwhile, Sludge names Neal as one of the most “corporate PAC-reliant” members on Capitol Hill.
Bottom line: It sure looks like Neal’s the latest centrist Dem in the crosshairs of progressives.
Baker names new comptroller to replace outgoing Slack
From the Globe’s Matt Stout: “Thomas G. Shack III, the independent overseer of more than $60 billion in state spending and assets, is stepping down as state comptroller after nearly four years, and will be replaced by a local official at the center of the recovery from last year’s deadly Merrimack Valley gas explosions. … Governor Charlie Baker said Wednesday that he will appoint Andrew Maylor, currently the town manager in North Andover, as his replacement, effective Feb. 18.”
As SHNS’s Colin Young reports at the Salem News, Baker and Shack weren’t exactly best buds over the years.
Don’t send Attleboro mayor an email unless you want to land on his campaign email list
Colman Herman at CommonWealth magazine reports that Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux has been handing over to his campaign committee the email addresses of people who have emailed him as mayor, a practice he says he used to do while a lawmaker on Beacon Hill. But former state inspector general Gregory Sullivan said he believes Heroux is violating the state’s conflict of interest law.
Union Point lender to hold foreclosure auction for development parcels at former South Weymouth Naval Air Station
It’s one of the biggest mixed-use development projects in the state – and it’s also one of the biggest messed-up development projects in the state. From Jessica Trufant at the Patriot Ledger: “A firm that lent $60 million to the struggling developer behind a sprawling project on the site of the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station has started the foreclosure process for several dozen parcels of land as the development faces growing legal and financial challenges. Washington Capital Management has scheduled a public auction next month at the development, called Union Point.”
GE agrees to shed light on its political donations
Score one for the Center for Political Accountability. Boston-based General Electric has agreed to “broaden the company’s disclosures of political donations to include trade association dues as well as gifts to ‘social welfare’ nonprofits,” in a corporate transparency move pushed by the center, reports the Globe’s Jon Chesto.
Next pot stop, North Station
The city of Boston has approved its first pot-shop license agreement, with Ascend Massachusetts, which hopes to open the capital city’s first cannabis store at 272 Friend Street, near North Station and TD Garden. The Cannabis Control Commission must still give its final approval, according to MassLive. The BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett (pay wall) provides a glimpse of what the shop might look like.
Meanwhile, regulators have given final approval to a new pot shop in Fall River – and the eager owner says the shop will be open for business on Sunday, pronto, reports WPRI.
The penalty for not shutting up: Jury awards Lexington cop $500K in defamation suit
Keep in mind it’s pretty damn hard to win a defamation suit in this country and so … From the Globe’s Danny McDonald: “A Middlesex Superior Court jury has awarded a Lexington police officer $500,000 in a defamation lawsuit stemming from a distracted driving citation he issued nearly five years ago, court records show. Officer John Frissore had sued Curtis W. Schondelmeyer and Scott Russian, a married couple, alleging they ‘acted in concert’ to defame him and ‘injure his reputation’ after Schondelmeyer was issued the citation in 2014, according to the complaint.”
Lawmakers file bill to boost higher-ed spending by $500M
State Sen. Jo Comerford and Reps. Paul Mark and Sean Garballey yesterday filed legislation that would increase state funding for public higher-education by a half billion dollars, saying institutions need more funding to remain affordable and maintain high academic standards, reports Scott Merzbach at the Daily Hampshire Gazette and Shira Schoenberg at MassLive.
UMass Boston severs ties with controversial Confucius Institute
The University of Massachusetts-Boston has severed its ties with the controversial Confucius Institute, the on-campus Chinese academic center that’s come under fire from students and others for its funding ties to the Chinese government, reports Colman Herman at CommonWealth magazine. Tufts University also plays host to an institute center and will soon decide whether to sever its ties as well, Herman writes.
State payroll climbs to $7.2B … oh, never mind. Please see our payroll database
The Globe’s Matt Rocheleau has a piece this morning on how the state payroll climbed to $7.2 billion last year, an increase of 2.5 percent. That’s a lot of money, but it’s not exactly a huge newsworthy leap. But, wait, better late than never, the Globe also unveils its very own state payroll data set, following in the footsteps of other media outlets that have unveiled their own state payroll databases. Hey, the readers love it. The Globe also has a special bonus Troop F dataset, fyi.
After leading state trooper on a chase, Fall River fire district chief arrested on OUI charge
Fall River officials seem to be making a lot of news these days. From the Associated Press at WBUR: “Police have arrested Fall River District Fire Chief Ambrose Smith, who they say led troopers on a chase while driving under the influence. Massachusetts State Police say they received a call about someone driving a pickup truck on its rims early Friday morning in Dartmouth. Troopers attempted to stop the truck, but the driver sped off and hit speeds of up to 65 mph before coming to a stop near Dartmouth Mall.”
You can now text 911 on your cell phone
Technologically, this was easier said than done – but they got it done. From John Ellemont at the Globe: “For the first time, cellphone users in Massachusetts can now send text messages directly to emergency dispatchers, a major upgrade to what is known as the Next Generation 911 system. The new service had a ‘soft rollout’ in December and is now in place in call centers across the state, officials said. “
Gateway Cities poverty report casts new light on Worcester success story
Even amid an unmistakable downtown resurgence and a string of high-profile development success stories, the city of Worcester continues to struggle with poverty, with a new report saying home values are still down 15 percent since before the 2008 recession, Grant Welker reports at the Worcester Business Journal, citing MassINC research on Gateway Cities. The same study found the number of people living in neighborhoods with poverty rates of 40 percent or higher tripled over the past two decades.
Why Hampshire College won’t be the last school to fight for its survival
First it was Mount Ida, now it’s Hampshire College — and Max Larkin at WBUR reports these colleges could be just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potentially doomed higher-education insitutions. It’s a good piece. Check it out.
No sanctuary: Great Barrington chief defends police role in ICE arrest
Facing a resident complaint that Great Barrington police violated town policy by assisting federal authorities in its arrest last week of an Albanian immigrant, Police Chief William Walsh defended what he called the department’s limited role in the incident, Heather Bellow reports at the Berkshire Eagle.
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.
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
Instant Issues After Hours: Eric Lesser on Leadership & Negotiation Challenges in the World of Politics
The World Affairs Council will present Massachusetts State Senator Eric Lesser in conversation with Dr. Joshua Weiss, program director for Bay Path University’s Master of Science in Leadership and Negotiation, at an Instant Issues After Hours event on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at 5:30 p.m at Merriam-Webster, Inc.
Live Webinar: Brown Bag – Policy Update
John Regan, AIM’s executive vice president for government affairs, will give an update on the Associations’ legislative agenda for 2019/2020 and provide a brief update on the state’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave law.
ADL’s Breaking Barriers Speaker Series with Carmen Ortiz
What to expect at this event? The event will begin with a brief networking reception followed by a conversation between Carmen Ortiz and ADL New England’s Regional Director, Robert Trestan. Time will be reserved at the end to take questions from the audience. Light appetizers and soft drinks will be served.
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