Happening Today

MCI-Concord tour, ‘People Before Highways,’ Healey-Purdue court hearing

— Black and Latino Legislative Caucus members, including Reps. Carlos Gonzalez and Jose Tosado, tour MCI-Concord to get a firsthand account of the facility’s inmate incentive program, 965 Elm St., Concord, 12:30 p.m.

— Attorney General Maura Healey is a guest on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 12:30 p.m.

— Auditor Suzanne Bump visits Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington’s office to discuss a recent transition audit that recommended changes to the office’s forfeiture funds and internal control plans, 7 North St., Pittsfield, 1 p.m.

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— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Sen. Patrick O’Connor, Rep. David DeCoste, Weymouth Police Chief Richard Grimes and members of the late Police Sergeant Michael Chesna’s family participate in the ceremonial singing of a bill that would grant a real estate abatement to the spouse of Chesna, who was killed last year in the line of duty, Room 360, 1:30 p.m.

— Activists gather with residents and elected officials to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ‘People Before Highways’ demonstration that opposed an interstate highway that would have cut through Dedham, Milton, Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and Lynn, State House, , near the Grand Staircase,1:30 p.m.

— Lawyers from Attorney General Maura Healey’s office and attorneys representing drug manufacturer Purdue Pharma will be in Suffolk Superior Court to update Judge Janet Sanders on an ongoing confidentiality/redaction issue in Healey’s lawsuit against the maker of OxyContin, Suffolk Superior Court, 2 p.m.

— U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and her presidential campaign hold an organizing event in Las Vegas, Springs Preserve, 333 S Valley View Blvd., Las Vegas, NV, 4 p.m. (EST).

— U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley will receive the Boston Arts Academy Champion Award at a pre-show reception before a student performance of ‘Memphis: The Musical,’ Strand Theatre, 543 Columbia Rd., Dorchester, reception at 5:30 p.m., production 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.

Today’s Stories

Strings attached: Baker’s plan for more school funding comes with a big intervention caveat

From the Globe’s Victoria McGrane: “Governor Charlie Baker’s new education proposal would expand the power of the state to intervene in struggling schools, opening up a major front in the coming Beacon Hill debate over how best to revamp the state’s troubled school funding formula. Teachers and other education advocates slammed Baker’s plan, which includes enabling the commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to withhold some state aid from school districts if the department determines they aren’t making necessary changes to improve student performance.”

Fyi: CommonWealth magazine’s Michael Jonas was tackling the accountability issue the other day. Fyi, II: In an editorial, the Globe is cautiously siding with Baker on this one. Fyi, III: Shira Schoenberg at MasssLive has more on the criticism being lobbed at Baker’s plan.

Boston Globe

To pay hefty salary hikes for police brass, Methuen starts laying off half its cops

Maybe it’s time for a state intervention in Methuen? The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky reports that pink slips have begun going out to 50 Methuen police officers, or more than half the department’s cops, all due to a ridiculously lucrative contract given to top police brass. And, keep in mind, they’re now working off a lower “compromise” contract proposal. The initial contract called for even higher pay raises.

Boston Herald

Warren’s proposed ‘Ultra Millionaire’ tax: A political master stroke?

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was apparently paying close attention to local polls showing astronomically high support for a proposed “millionaire’s tax” in Massachusetts, before the measure was shot down by the Supreme Judicial Court. As a presidential candidate, she’s now pumped the idea up on steroids, given it a catchy nickname and – voila! – yesterday unveiled a nationwide “Ultra Millionaire” tax on the assets (and not just the income) of the uber-wealthy. Liz Goodwin at the Globe and the Washington Post have more.

It’s actually a master political stroke, one that indeed, as Goodwin notes, sets down an “aggressive marker for the rest of the Democrats vying for the 2020 presidential nomination.” One doesn’t have to like the idea to admire its potential political impact. And it comes as Warren seems to be on a campaign-trail roll in general, most recently in South Carolina, as WGBH’s Saraya Wintersmith reports.

Just in: Warren gets zero Pinocchios for PAC claims

Speaking of the senior senator from Massachusetts, our aggregator heart started beating faster when we saw that the Washington Post’s excellent Fact Checker column, by Glenn Kessler, was going after U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s claim that she doesn’t accept any PAC money and … he found her claim to be true, as of this past August, that is. So she gets no Pinocchios.

The same can’t be said about U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who recently got three Pinocchios for her recent comments on living wages. But Ocasio-Cortez is counterattacking on the rating, Fox News reports. … Seriously, this a great column. Pols are paying attention.

Washington Post

For first time, transgender inmate is moved to women’s prison in Massachusetts

From Michael Levenson at the Globe: “The Massachusetts Department of Correction, under pressure from a federal lawsuit, said it has for the first time moved a transgender inmate from a men’s prison to a women’s prison. The prisoner’s lawyer, Jennifer L. Levi, said she believes the transfer also marks the first time a transgender prisoner in the United States has been moved to a prison that corresponds to her gender identity.”

Boston Globe

Mashpee Wampanoag chairman stripped of duties amid concerns over mounting debts

Tanner Stening at the Cape Cod Times reports that the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council has unanimously voted to strip its chairman, Cedric Cromwell, of his fiduciary duties, amid mounting concerns over tribal debts – and the personal debts of Cromwell and his wife as well.

Cape Cod Times

Happy 100th, Cannabis Commission

It’s actually a good thing that we’re starting to lose track of where and when new pot shops are opening in Massachusetts. It means the industry has truly gotten off the ground. From SHNS’s Colin Young at the Sentinel & Enterprise: “Marijuana regulators licensed the 100th cannabis business in Massachusetts on Thursday and voted to move three retail stores closer to being allowed to open their doors.”

Shira Schoenberg at MassLive has more on pot shop approvals across the state. The Globe’s Felicia Gans reports on a crowded meeting yesterday about getting more “social equity” shops open

Sentinel & Enterprise

Attention employers: State releases draft paid-leave law regulations

For businesses, this is sort of like getting a letter from the IRS or DOR: You don’t want to open it but you know you need to open it. In this case, it’s the draft regulations issued yesterday for the state’s new paid and family leave program. It’s wonky stuff, but potentially expensive wonky stuff for businesses. SHNS’s Colin Young has the details.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

The Marie Antoinette of Washington: Wilbur ‘Let Them Take Out Loans’ Ross

U.S. Reps. Joseph Kennedy, Jim McGovern and Katherine Clark had a field day yesterday after Wilbur Ross, the multimillionaire U.S. commerce secretary, wondered aloud why furloughed federal workers needed go to food pantries and why they just don’t get loans to tide them over while going without paychecks. Shannon Young at MassLive has the details.

Btw: U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton is pointing out that there are indeed zero-interest loans available to federal workers, reports Ethan Forman at the Salem News. Btw, II: Stephanie Leydon at WGBH reports on the Holy Tabernacle Church’s special food distribution program for furloughed workers. Btw, III: The NYT reports that Ross is known for padding around Washington in $600 embroidered slippers  

MassLive

Shutdown showdown: State poised to take action to help federal workers

And speaking of the shutdown: As expected, the U.S. Senate yesterday failed to pass two measures aimed at ending the federal government shutdown, as the NYT reports, and now state officials are moving ahead with plans to help local federal workers going without paychecks. Gov. Charlie Baker says he hopes to have a plan by next week to share with lawmakers to extend financial support to the thousands of federal workers living in Massachusetts, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphyat the Lowell Sun. Meanwhile, Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports the state Senate has formed a working group to examine the statewide impact of the shutdown and how to help affected residents. 

Here are a few more headlines from the shutdown/border wall/State of Union front. From WGBH: “Shutdown Is ‘A Nightmare,’ Katherine Clark Says.” … From the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld: ‘Trump flinched … and Pelosi will dig in.’

Dear Boston school officials: Stop bad-mouthing your own schools

Lisa Guisbond, executive director of Citizens for Public Schools, writes at CommonWealth magazine that she’s tired of Boston school administrators “slandering” certain schools that don’t do well on test scores, arguing that tests are not the true measure of quality.

We definitely get her point. But there are other ways to measure the quality of schools, such as, oh, measuring how well valedictorians do after graduating from high school, as the Globe Magazine did in a recent excellent package. Even that’s not a fair measurement, but when you start adding up all the inadequate measurements, a pattern starts to emerge.

CommonWealth

Mom-and-pop retail shops score a victory under Baker’s tax plan

The Globe’s Jon Chesto writes that mom-and-pop and other bricks-and-mortar retailers are big beneficiaries, from a competitive standpoint, of Gov. Charlie Baker’s plan to require online marketplaces, such as Amazon and eBay, to start collecting sales taxes on behalf of their third-party vendors. 

Boston Globe

Billy Bulger and siblings seize control of Whitey’s estate – and possible wrongful-death windfall

As far as we can tell, the move by the brothers and sisters of slain gangster Whitey Bulger to declare themselves heirs to his estate is all about legally positioning themselves to nab any potential proceeds from a wrongful-death suit. Or at least that’s how it comes across in a story by the Herald’s Joe Dwinell and Laurel Sweet. Needless to say, relatives of Whitey’s victims are not happy.

Boston Herald

Legal backdraft: Fall River firefighter charged with 15 counts of calling in fake fire alarms

Kyle Cusick, a three-year veteran of the Fall Fiver Fire Department, has been formerly charged with 15 counts of calling in false fire alarms, reports Peter Jasinki at the Herald News. He’s now on paid administrative leave. One official says he’s not getting his old job back. You don’t say.

Herald News

Progressives turn up the pressure on Neal to turn up the pressure on Trump

From Shannon Young at MassLive: ”Three progressive organizations called on U.S. Rep. Richard Neal Thursday to use his power as the House Ways and Means Committee chairman to immediately request President Donald Trump’s personal and business tax returns. Tax March, Stand Up America and Indivisible launched a campaign urging the Springfield Democrat to ‘stop slow-walking’ and formally seek the release of the president’s tax information.” Neal is defending his go-slow approach on Trump’s taxes, Politico reports.

Fourth time the charm? Baker refiles sick-time accruals bill that keeps getting rejected and rejected and rejected

At some point, Einstein’s definition of insanity needs to be taken into consideration. From Greg Ryan at the BBJ (pay wall): “For the fourth consecutive year, Gov. Charlie Baker is proposing putting a cap on the hours of sick time that government employees can accrue, in order to limit the large payouts they can receive from the accrued time when they retire. … Each year, the Democrat-dominated Legislature has failed to advance the proposal as the measure has drawn opposition from union members.”

Actually, here’s a variation of the plan that might, at least, get a ten-minute hearing on Beacon Hill: Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr is proposing a freeze on sick-time payouts to employees who retire while under criminal or internal investigation, NBC 10 reports.

‘Oh, who cares about those stupid Valentine’s Day hearts? Sky Bars could be coming back’

Jacqueline Cain at Boston Magazine notes that it’s going to be an unsweet Valentine’s Day without the now-closed NECCO’s Sweetheart candies. But, wait, it turns out that the owner of a Sudbury shop has won an online auction to the rights to NECCO’s iconic Sky Bar, reports the AP at WHDH. Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin makes clear where he stands on the two candies, in a post headlined ‘Oh, who cares about those stupid Valentine’s Day hearts? Sky Bars could be coming back.’

Universal Hub

Five Beacon Hill issues the business community will be watching very closely

The BBJ’s Greg Ryan and Jessica Bartlett review five key issues of interest for the business community this year in state government: family and medical leave regulations, the ongoing fight over the minimum wage, the millionaire’s tax, sports betting and … we’ll give you one guess what’s the fifth item. Hint: It’s a perennial.

BBJ (pay wall)

Spreading the wealth: Lawmaker wants casino proceeds to be spent evenly across city wards

From Peter Goonan at MassLive: “State Rep. Bud Williams has filed a bill that would require tax and related revenues received by cities from casinos to be spent evenly among the wards in those cities. … Williams’ bill targets property tax payments and payments in lieu of taxes for Category 1 casinos, which includes MGM Springfield and the Encore Boston Harbor casino under construction in Everett.”

Parking lot operator to T: Hey, where’s our bonus?

This is an odd one. From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “The private company hired to operate the MBTA ‘s 101 parking facilities is suing the transit agency for failing to comply with the terms of the contract, which requires the payment of as much as $2 million a year in bonus compensation for meeting key performance targets. Republic Parking of Chattanooga, Tennessee, said in its lawsuit that the MBTA has refused to even establish the performance targets on which the bonus payments would be made.”

Question: How can you claim a performance bonus when you acknowledge there’s no way to measure performance? Maybe the T knew what it was doing, in its own chaotic way.

CommonWealth

Attending Sunday school taught by former President Jimmy Carter …

This is just a nice story by SHNS’s Matt Murphy about a trip state Reps. Jeff Roy, Kevin Honan and Sean Garballey made this past Sunday to hear former President Jimmy Carter, now 94, give a Sunday school class at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. The trio had to get there early to get seats — and they did. “It was a phenomenal experience,” said Roy, a self-described history buff. Check out their photo with U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and civil rights icon U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Sunday public affairs TV

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: Jay Ash, chief executive of Mass. Competitive Partnership and former secretary of housing and economic development, who talks with host Jon Keller about the economy and taxes.

This Week in Business, NECN 10 a.m. Jim Rooney, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce CEO, talks about the Baker budget, government shutdown and State Street’s headquarters move; Notorize CEO Pat Kinsel talks about bringing the notarization process completely online; and Jon Chesto of the Boston Globe reviews the top business stories of the week.  

CEO Corner, NECN, 10:30 a.m. Yuchun Lee, who was a member of the Famous MIT Blackjack Team and who sold his first start-up to IBM for $500 million, talks about his latest company, Allego.  

DC Dialogue, NECN, 11:30 a.m. Neil Levesque, the executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm, talks about the growing presidential field in the NH primary. 

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: Boston City Council president Andrea Campbell, who talks with anchor Ed Harding and co-anchor Janet Wu.

This is New England, NBC Boston Channel 4, 11:30 a.m. With host Latoyia Edwards, this week’s main topic: Project Innovation Check-In w/Latino Stem Alliance; Super Bowl Entertaining Hollywood-style with Paul Zahn.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s main topic: ‘Dying to Deliver,’ a look at the high mortality rate of women while giving birth.

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

Metro

Historic photos of Rose Kennedy, Jack, and Ted will grace banners on the Greenway all winter – Boston Globe

Commissioner William Gross Says He Has Felt Unwelcome At The BPD – WGBH

Massachusetts

Offshore drilling ban sought for state waters – Salem News

Panel considers new MBTA commuter rail cars and more frequent service – BBJ (pay wall)

Nation

Collapse of Two Plans to End Shutdown Propels Urgent Negotiations – NYT

Venezuela’s Maduro says he will withdraw embassy, consulate staff from Washington and other U.S. cities – Washington Post

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