Happening Today

Local aid announcement, Gross on the air, Warren in N.H

MassEcon holds 2019 kickoff meeting for members, with Northeastern University professor Alan Clayton-Matthews delivering a forecast on the state economy in 2019 and reviewing trends in the state economy as they relate to the national economy, 200 Friberg Parkway, Second Floor Conference Room, Westborough, 9 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Gardner Mayor and President of the Massachusetts Municipal Association Mark Hawke for the Massachusetts Municipal Association Annual Meeting and Trade Show, where they will make announcements related to local aid in the administration’s upcoming Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal, Ballroom B, 3rd Floor, Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston Street, Boston, 10:15 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Massachusetts National Guard Adjutant General Gary Keefe, Sen. Mike Rush, Reps. Hank Naughton and Donald Wong and members of the Massachusetts National Guard for the ceremonial signing of ‘Act establishing the Massachusetts Code of Military Justice,’ Room 360, 1 p.m.

— Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito participates in the Massachusetts Municipal Association Women Elected Municipal Officials Leadership Luncheon, Ballroom C, 3rd Floor, Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston Street, Boston, 12 p.m.

— Boston Police Commissioner William Gross is a guest on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 12 p.m.

— U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in her capacity as a presidential candidate, holds an organizing event in New Hampshire, The Common Man, 16 Mill Road, Claremont, New Hampshire, 6:30 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

In upset, Lyons wins GOP chairmanship

Former Rep. Jim Lyons, one of the most conservative lawmakers on Beacon Hill until he was ousted in last November’s elections, last night was elected chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, defeating the centrist candidate backed by the Republican establishment. The Globe’s Danny McDonald, the Herald’s Joe Dwinell and SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) have more on the surprise outcome. Considering his recent less-the-successful re-election bid, it’ll be interesting to hear more on Lyons’ ideas on how to elect more Republicans.

Lawmakers press for investigation of alleged ‘inappropriate conduct’ against Rep. McMurtry

Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports that lawmakers are pressing for an investigation into sexual harassment/’inappropriaate conduct’/groping allegations against state Rep. Paul McMurtry. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Matt Stout reports that House Speaker Robert DeLeo is defending his handling of claims against McMurtry, saying he “acted accordingly” and within House rules. SHNS’s Colin Young at the Lowell Sun has more on the latest sexual-harassment controversy to erupt on Beacon Hill.

Bet on it, Part II: Baker files bill that would legalize sports gambling in Massachusetts

The timing of this caught us, and we assume others, a little off guard, but there’s no question a debate on the subject was inevitable. From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “Gov. Charlie Baker said he plans to file legislation that would authorize the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to oversee the development of betting on professional sports and assess a 12.5 percent tax rate on daily fantasy sports contests. In a press release, Baker said the commission would be authorized to grant sport wagering licenses to existing casino licensees – MGM in Springfield, Encore in Everett, and Plainridge in Plainville – for on-site and online betting. In addition, ‘unaffiliated entities’ could apply for licenses to offer online wagering.’”

SHNS’s Matt Murphy at WBUR makes an important point: Baker’s plan excludes wagering on college sports. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Andy Rosen makes another important point: “The plan, which Baker said would generate $35 million in taxes and licensing fees in the coming fiscal year, would make Massachusetts the first state to allow companies to operate online sports betting without a financial relationship to an existing casino.”


‘Doesn’t seem legal’: Developer defends plan to pay voters to show up at town meeting

Here’s a head-scratcher to contemplate over the weekend: A Seekonk developer who offered to give a $500 rental voucher to tenants who showed up at a town meeting where his rezoning proposal will be taken up is defending the move, saying it was cleared by his attorney, Jim Hand reports at the Sun Chronicle. Charles Tapalian says dangling the voucher is akin to offering voters a ride to the polls–it’s not tied to how they actually vote–while a host of state agencies say the matter falls outside their jurisdiction. 

Sun Chronicle

Libel suit tossed against Turtleboy Sports blog

This is interesting. From Dan Glaun at MassLive: “A judge has dismissed libel and fraud claims filed against the controversial Turtleboy Sports blog by former City Councilor Michael Gaffney, ruling that the blog’s harsh criticisms of Gaffney were protected by the First Amendment. Gaffney sued Turtleboy and its founder Aidan Kearney, his former political ally, just over a year ago.”

This is equally interesting: Turns out Gaffney was one the creators of the cyber-tabloid-on-steroids blog, according to court filings, Glaun reports.


Shutdown showdown: ‘His goddamn wall’

Here’s your daily update on the partial federal government shutdown: SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) reports on the federal workers’ rally at the State House yesterday, where state Treasurer Deb Goldberg blasted the shutdown tied to President Trump’s demand for funds to build a Mexican-border wall. “He has no human capacity to understand that there are 800,000 families in need today, not later on, when he gets his goddamn money for his goddamn wall that isn’t going to do a goddamn thing for our country.”

Meanwhile, from MassLive: ‘Massachusetts food stamps recipients will get February benefits early due to government shutdown.’ … From Universal Hub: ‘Jamaica Plain food pantry seeks additional donations due to federal workers starting to ask for help in Trump shutdown.’ … From the BBJ (pay wall): ‘Reverberations of the gov’t shutdown felt by Mass. businesses.’ From the Gloucester Times: ‘City rallies to aid Coast Guard families during shutdown.’ … From the Worcester Business Journal: ‘Staples’ $500 million acquisition stalled by shutdown.’

SHNS (pay wall)

GOP lawmakers seek to eliminate health-care fee on employers

The Associated Industries of Massachusetts couldn’t be happier. From Christian Wade at the Gloucester Times: “Republican lawmakers are pushing for a repeal of fees charged to companies that aren’t providing health insurance to a majority of their workers. … Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr has filed a bill that would scrap the fees retroactively from Jan. 1 and require the state to reimburse companies for money collected this year.”

Gloucester Times

Walsh eyes $28M in improvements for Boston Common

Mayor Marty Walsh, flush with money from the recent sale of the Winthrop Square garage, has hired an engineering and design firm to start the process on a $28 million renovation of Boston Common, Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin reports.

Universal Hub

Ex-Bourne firefighter claims order to appear in photo violated both the First Amendment and First Commandment

A former Bourne firefighter has sued the town, claiming discipline he received for refusing to appear in a department photo violated his First Amendment right to religious freedom. Thomas Swartz, who received a one-day suspension and has since left the department, said the order to appear in the photo clashed with his belief that self-promotion runs against the First Commandment to honor only a single God, Beth Treffeisen and Wheeler Cowperthwaite report at the Cape Cod Times. 

Cape Cod Times

Warren headed to Puerto Rico next week

She’s in New Hampshire today. Next week she’s in Puerto Rico. The Globe’s Liz Goodwin is keeping close tabs on U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Reading the Bay State tea leaves on Warren’s presidential run

Nathaniel Rakich of FiveThirtyEight has dug into the town-by-town returns from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s successful re-election campaign in November and finds both good and bad news for her 2020 presidential run. Warren under-performed, compared to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 run, in so-called “elite” suburbs (think: Wellesley). But she did well in smaller towns that went for Trump and did better than Clinton among young voters. She performed about the same as Clinton in the state’s most diverse communities, which is where she may have both the most room for growth, Rakich finds. 


Shack confirms he resigned as comptroller over IT differences with Baker administration

We suspected this was the case. SHNS’s Colin Young is reporting that a major disagreement last fall between Comptroller Thomas Shack and the Baker administration over new computer systems was the main cause of his decision to step down from his post. “When there was this back and forth relative to the design and implementation of the accounting system, I made it perfectly clear to the administration and to [Secretary of Administration and Finance] Mike [Hefferan], I’m happy to step aside in favor of getting the job done,” he said yesterday, as quoted by Young.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Just in: Cora may reconsider visit to White House

This could shake Washington to its very core. From the Globe’s Peter Abraham: “Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Thursday he is reconsidering his decision to visit the White House next month out of concern for his native Puerto Rico. ‘Right now I can say yes,’ Cora said. ‘It might change tomorrow.’”

About that preachy Gillette viral ad …

We were wondering when the Herald would jump on the controversy over the now-viral Gillette ad that’s got so many in a lather. The paper’s all over it this morning, with Jonathan Ng and Sean Philip Cotter’s mainbar story on the “social-media firestorm” over the online “The Best a Man Can Be” ad. Herald columnist Jaclyn Cashman says the ad is just more anti-men propaganda. But the Herald’s Jessica Heslam wonders how anyone could object to its message of men acting with more sensitivity.

Switching to the non-Herald coverage of the ad, the Globe’s Christopher Muther definitely supports the ad’s message that men have to get their act together. But we liked Joanna Weiss’s take on the controversy. Writing at WBUR, she has no problem with the ad’s intended message, but she does have a problem with its scolding tone that seeks to preach instead of persuade, something we’ve seen way too much of in recent years. Btw: The relatively unexplored part of this controversy is the pent-up market anger at Gillette for its blatant price gouging on razors. But that’s another story.

With its robotic grocery-delivery idea, Stop & Shop may have met its match: Local governments

The Globe’s Hiawatha Bray says Stop & Shop’s plan to deploy “driverless grocery vehicles” may be a cool idea. But it’s facing perhaps the most intractable obstacles known to man: Local and state government restrictions. Bray explains.

Boston Globe

‘Troll Slayer of Beacon Hill’

Sen. Eric Lesser, aka the potential ‘Troll Slayer of Beacon Hill,’ is back this session with his anti-troll legislation that seeks to crack down on people who use patent demand letters to bully tech firms into paying up, reports the Globe’s Jon Chesto.

Overdoses surge in New Bedford

Let’s hope this is a statistical blip. Amid promising signs Massachusetts has turned a corner on the opioid crisis, new data released by New Bedford’s opioid task force shows a spike in overdoses so far this year.  Five people have died of apparent overdoses so far in 2019, compared with three in all of last January, and the number of non-fatal overdose reports is on pace to exceed last year’s rate as well, Curt Brown reports in the Standard-Times. 

South Coast Today

Worcester sex-ed dustup may be preview of future statewide debate

Parents expressed skepticism about a new abstinence-based approach to sex education being proposed for Worcester public schools – and, with similar legislation pending on Beacon Hill, the local debate may be a preview of what lies ahead for the state as a whole, officials say. The new approach — built on the so-called Michigan Model — was criticized at a hearing Thursday for not focusing enough on consent or on issues related to LGBTQ students, Scott O’Connell reports at the Telegram.  


Hot-button issue alert: New bill would eliminate parental consent for minors seeking abortions

We suspect this provision won’t go far on Beacon Hill. But it will generate debate. From Miriam Wasser at WBUR: “A new bill in the Massachusetts Legislature could make it easier for minors to get an abortion. The bill, An Act to Remove Obstacles and Expand Abortion Access, known as the ROE Act, does many things, but front and center is a provision to eliminate the need for parental consent.”


Lewis to file bill requiring women on corporate boards

From Greg Ryan at the BBJ: “A state senator plans to file legislation this week that would require that all Massachusetts-based publicly traded companies have at least two women on their board of directors, a proposal based on a new, first-of-its-kind law in California that’s drawn heavy opposition from that state’s business community. The bill has not yet been filed, but its sponsor, Sen. Jason Lewis, a Democrat from Winchester, intends to do so by the Friday deadline for legislation this session on Beacon Hill, he said.”

BBJ (pay wall)

Tito Jackson’s vision: ‘A community-centric marijuana store’

The Globe’s Dan Adams reports that Tito Jackson, the former city councilor and mayoral candidate, last night in Mattapan unveiled his “community-centric marijuana store that would bring new jobs and wealth to a neighborhood once ravaged by high rates of arrest for marijuana crimes,” reports the Globe’s Dan Adams. Jackson, if you recall, is the chief executive of cannabis firm Verdant Medical.

Anti-Israel biases are ‘trickling down to the high schools’

From the Jewish News Syndicate: “Anti-Israel lesson plans are fast becoming a problem in high schools across the country and even in unlikely places like the heavily Jewish populated town of Newton, Mass., a group of scholars and writers on the Middle East are warning. … ‘What we’re seeing is that fashionable anti-Israel ideologies on college campuses are trickling down to the high schools,’ says (Andrea Levin, executive director of CAMERA, an international fact-checking organization).”


For those with diabetes, it often come down to this: Pay rent or buy insulin?

Marilyn Schairer at WGBH has a good story that explores why the price of insulin has increased so much – and why it’s financially crushing so many people with diabetes. In some cases, it comes down to either paying the rent or buying insulin. And, yes, insulin has gotten that expensive. Here’s something we’d like to know: Are there any anti-trust solutions here? It seems many companies are gouging because, well, they can.


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Sunday public affairs TV

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: Boston City Council president Andrea Campbell, who talks with host Jon Keller about Mayor Mary Walsh’s State of the City speech and her push for more diversity on public safety payrolls.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: Steve Poftak, the new general manager of the MBTA, who talks with anchor Ed Harding co-anchor Janet Wu.

This is New England, NBC Boston Channel 10, 11:30 a.m. With host Latoyia Edwards, this week’s main topic: Natasha Verma discusses Project Innovation with one of last year’s winners, the Boston Children’s Museum, along with this year’s Winter Champions in Action winner, Aaron’s Presents.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s main topic: Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

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.

The World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts

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.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts

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.

ADL New England

Today’s Headlines


BPS to allow older students to finish semester – WGBH

City’s top planner is stepping down – Boston Globe


Worcester seeks dismissal of homeschool parent’s lawsuit – Telegram & Gazette

Fall River recreational marijuana shop to use virtual line app for opening this weekend – Boston Globe

Parents demand answers after resignation of METCO chief – MetroWest Daily News


Trump directed his attorney to lie to Congress – BuzzFeed News

Next shutdown victim: School lunches – Politico

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