Happening Today

MBTA Control Board, All renewables by 2045, State of City addresses

Department of Environmental Protection holds a public hearing on an emergency regulation that went into effect in December connected to the low emission vehicle program, MassDEP Headquarters, 2nd Floor Conference Room, One Winter St., Boston, 10 a.m.

— Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch will attend a ribbon cutting ceremony for Boston Collegiate Charter School’s expansion and renovation of its Dorchester campus, BCCS Commons, 11 Mayhew St., Dorchester, 10 a.m.

— The MBTA Fiscal Management Control Board gathers for a weekly meeting, 10 Park Plaza, Transportation Board Room, Boston, 11 a.m.

— Reps. Marjorie Decker and Sean Garballey join Ben Hellerstein of Environment Massachusetts to unveil legislation supporters say would power Massachusetts with 100 percent renewable energy by 2045, outside the House Chamber, State House, 11 a.m.

— Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch delivers the annual State of the City address., with Attorney General Maura Healey and Auditor Suzanne Bump expected to attend, James R. Macintyre Government Center, Great Hall, 1305 Hancock St., Quincy, 11 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Senate President Karen Spilka, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and House Minority Leader Brad Jones in a leadership meeting, Room 360, 2 p.m.

— Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders chairs a meeting of the new Harm Reduction Commission, established under last year’s opioid legislation, and Mayor Martin Walsh may speak about safe-injection sites he toured last week in Canada, One Ashburton Pl. – 21st floor, Boston, 3 p.m.

— First-term lawmakers Jo Comerford, Natalie Blais, Lindsay Sabadosa and Mindy Domb discuss their legislative priorities, gender representation in government and advice for future leaders at a ‘Women Leading Western Mass: Campaigns, Policy and Public Service’ event sponsored by the UMass Amherst School of Public Policy and UMass Amherst Women into Leadership, UMass Amherst Old Chapel, 144 Hicks Way, Amherst, 4 p.m.

— Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer delivers her State of the City address, with Auditor Suzanne Bump and Treasurer Deb Goldberg expected to attend, Memorial Building, Nevins Hall, 150 Concord St., Framingham, 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

Shutdown showdown: Dems score TKO, Trump reels in defeat

He picked the fight – and he lost the fight. And now critics galore are piling on President Trump after he ended (perhaps only temporarily) the month-long federal government shutdown on Friday. Shannon Young at MassLive reports on the reaction of local Democrats to the president’s capitulation. The Globe’s Scot Lehigh says the president suffered a “humiliating” defeat at the hands of Nancy Pelosi. The Herald’s Joyce Ferriabough Bolling agrees. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Yvonne Abraham is rushing to the defense of the poor president, the true shutdown victim and man of the people (snort).

Is Trump now vulnerable to GOP challenge? Hogan and Weld certainly hope so

After his inglorious shutdown retreat, some are wondering if President Trump is now vulnerable to a possible primary challenge in 2020. The NYT Times mentions Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a popular GOP centrist, and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld as potential primary challengers to the president. Our quickie reaction: The GOP will rally around the president no matter what, and they’ve already started to rally around the president no matter what.


Warren unleashes feared ‘nerding out’ strategy

The NYT has been following U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s official-unofficial presidential campaign and has noticed something: She’s “nerding out” audiences with policy-wonk speak – and it seems to be working. Meanwhile, the Herald, in an editorial, isn’t impressed with Warren’s nerding-out “uber-millionaire” tax idea, calling it as “tawdry tax threat.”


Spoiler alerts? Starbucks’ Howard Schultz and Bernie Sanders poised, or so they say, to enter presidential race

The Atlantic reports that former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is seriously mulling a race for president as an Independent, a move that could make him the next Jill Stein or Ralph Nader spoiler of presidential politics. … Meanwhile, Yahoo News is reporting that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sander is ready to jump into the Democratic race, potentially spoiling Elizabeth Warren’s hopes to become the top progressive dog in the contest. … And then there’s New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who sees the mayor of South Bend, Indiana running for president, so why the hell can’t he? The NYT has the details.

John Kerry and Mitt Romney hugging?

Following the (temporary) end of the federal government shutdown late last week, the nation’s capital apparently exhaled a collective, bi-partisan sigh of relief that it was finally all over. John Kerry and Mitt Romney even hugged each other at the 106th annual Alfalfa Club dinner, reports the Washington Post.

Washington Post

Roger Stone: ‘Fascist’ Mueller also got it wrong half a century ago in Boston

Somehow the Herald’s Joe Dwinell snagged a phone interview with Roger Stone, the long-time Republican political hustler who was arrested by armed FBI agents on Friday on witness tampering and lying-to-Congress charges, as part of Robert Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Stone, 66, blasted the FBI’s “abuse of power and fascist tactic,” claimed he was treated “like El Chapo,” and accused Mueller of blowing it in a mob murder case in Boston dating back to 1965.

Boston Herald

The coming T fare hike …

From Andy Metzger at CommonWealth magazine: “The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board plans to discuss fare proposals at its meeting on Monday afternoon, beginning what can be a contentious process depending on the scale of the changes. The control board’s agenda for Monday lists ‘fare proposals’ under a discussion of the budget for fiscal 2020, which begins July 1.” 

You’ve been warned.


Price tag for Finegold’s return to state Senate: Nearly $500K

Barry Finegold raised $476,127 last year to regain the state Senate seat he surrendered four years earlier, making his campaign the most expensive in that chamber, Keith Eddings reports at the Eagle-Tribune. In addition to donations from the likes UMass chief Marty Meehan, Finegold enjoyed strong support from the state Democratic party and raised enough to have more than $100,000 in his campaign account after fending off challengers in both the primary and general elections. 


Jim Lyons: Crazy conservative, crazy like a fox or both?

David Bernstein at WGBH takes a look at the new state GOP chairman, Jim Lyons, a man some see as a crazy conservative who’s about to take state Republicans over the cliff. Or perhaps not.


Driven by jealousy: Business group pushes for arcane tax break for all firms

The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that the Associated Industries of Massachusetts is now pushing for all state companies to get a “single factor sales” tax break, not just defense and financial industry firms. We’ll let Jon explain, for we can’t possibly explain “single factor sales” in the average space allotted to us for each post.

Boston Globe

He found her! A real-live centrist Democrat not thinking of running for president

The NYT’s Frank Bruni has a good column on Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat who’s standing by her moderate-liberal and business-friendly approach toward government, as the Democratic Party marches ever leftward. “Where I think we are at risk is if all we do is beat up and crap on businesses,” says Raimondo, who, as Bruni notes, can speak frankly because she’s not running for president and doesn’t need to pander to anyone.

What would Emily Post say? The etiquette of smoking pot in front of kids and other societal matters

This one got the Drudge Report treatment yesterday: S.I. Rosenbaum’s piece at the Globe headlined: “Should you smoke pot in front of the kids?” There are other pressing etiquette concerns to ponder in this age of legalized marijuana, including whether you can give pot as a gift. Our rule of thumb: If you guzzle beer in front of kids at barbecues and regularly bring Three Buck Chucks to casual gatherings, you’re fine.

Boston Globe

Cheers: After 162 years, Rockport lifts its prohibition on alcohol sales in town

It’s only a grocery store. But it’s a grocery store that, for first time in 162 years, will be allowed to sell booze in Rockport, a dry town since 1865, reports the Gloucester Daily Times.

Gloucester Daily Times

Role reversal: Could the Herald’s owner end up being the one devoured by Gannett?

You may recall that the hedge fund behind Digital First Media, the cost-cutting owner of the Boston Herald, was reportedly seeking to buy Gannett Co., owner of USA Today. But the New York Post is reporting that it may end up being Digital First acquired by Gannett, not the other way around. Media critic Dan Kennedy’s view: “On a 1-10 scale of whether this is good news or bad news, I’d give it a 5.1. As I argued in a recent column for WGBHNews.org, anything is better than Digital First. … But Gannett virtually invented the business model for chain newspapers of cutting journalism to the bone.”

From the Worcester Sunday Telegram to BuzzFeed: The rise and fall of journalism

Speaking of newspapers, Harvard’s Jill Lepore has an excellent piece in the New Yorker on journalism and whether it even has a future. She recounts her time as a fearless newspaper delivery girl in Worcester (with her dad and siblings in a ’72 Oldsmobile) and walks readers through the glory days and non-glory days of the media, and how each stage shaped an increasingly more “interpretive” media (i.e. biased) that’s played its own role in shaping today’s politically polarized times. Bottom line: “The more desperately the press chases readers, the more our press resembles our politics.”

New Yorker

Patriots Derangement Syndrome: ‘I am sickened beyond words …’

How low can Patriots Derangement Syndrome get? They’re now assaulting – assaulting! – our Pat Patriot mascot. Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine has the hate-filled, sickening details. Then there’s Norman Chad’s column at the Washington Post. Actually, it’s pretty funny, but it does convey the depths of despair and depravity outside New England these days. Samples: “The Patriots and their fans are so loathsome, I wish we could brexit New England. … I am sickened beyond words.”

Baker and Healey could be teaming up to crack down on Medicaid drug-price gougers

The BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett takes a closer look at Gov. Charlie Baker’s multi-step proposal to rein in prescription drug prices within the state’s Medicaid program, including a measure that would allow Attorney General Maura Healey to go after drug companies if all else fails. You know policy makers and taxpayers have reached their free-market limit when the Boston Herald, in an editorial, endorses Baker’s price-control plan.

To be clear: It’s not really an anti-free market proposal. It’s unleashing a component of the free market on anti-free market forces largely hiding behind government bidding rules – with a last-resort, anti-free-market government stick to help those negotiations along.

BBJ (pay wall)

Gene therapy: Revolutionary health care — with a big price tag

Shira Schoenberg at MassLive has a good package on the incredible promise offuture gene therapies now being studied and tested in Boston and elsewhere – and the incredible potential prices involved.

Advocates seek to bolster and expand access to abortion in Mass. and other left-leaning states

From the Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert: “Reproductive rights advocates in Massachusetts and across the country are launching aggressive campaigns for the new year to bolster access to abortion services in left-leaning states, in anticipation of further restrictions in conservative ones. The effort is part of a nationwide strategy by groups, including Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, and NARAL Pro-Choice, to create safe havens for women seeking abortion services.” But here’s where it gets dicey: Legislation now pending at the State House includes a provision that would eliminate parental or judicial consent before women younger than 18 can get abortions.

Boston Globe

The other big opioid-prescription case in Boston goes to trial today

As Attorney General Maura Healey battles the founding family behind Oxycontin-maker Purdue Pharma (WGBH’s Tori Bedford), another legal battle is unfolding in Boston, as the wealthy founder and former chairman of Insys Therapeutics goes on trial, along with other company executives, in federal court on racketeering conspiracy charges tied to sales of its own opioid-based painkiller drug. The AP’s Alanna Durkin Richer at WBUR has the details. 


Marty Walsh to open talks on safe injection sites with new commission

Speaking of the opioids crisis, from Brooks Sutherland at the Herald: “Mayor Martin J. Walsh will discuss his changed and now more positive opinion on safe injection sites at the Harm Reduction Commission meeting Monday — one week after claiming his visit to facilities in Canada left him more open-minded to an idea he initially shot down.” See our Happening Today section above for more details on today’s planned meeting of the commission.

Boston Herald

The college student-loan bubble: It’s bursting before our eyes

Bob Hildreth writes at CommonWealth magazine that Hampshire, Wheelock, Mount Ida and Newbury colleges all have one thing in common, besides the fact they were/are financial basket cases: They were/are addicted to revenues from government-backed student loans – and now the bubble is bursting.


There’s actually three education-funding bills on the legislative table – and they all disagree on one key point

Michael Jonas at CommonWealth magazine says education-funding bills backed by Gov. Charlie Baker and Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz may be grabbing most of the headlines these days. But there’s a third House bill that’s been quietly filed by Rep. Paul Tucke, a Salem Democrat, and there’s a pattern forming, Jonas writes: “Emerging as a central areas of disagreement is the component of the school funding formula that provides extra money for districts with high concentrations of low-income students.”


Connecticut: Toll deadbeats, all

From Mary Markos at the Herald: “Out-of-state drivers are taking Massachusetts for a ride, to the tune of $26.8 million in unpaid tolls since the electronic system was implemented over two years ago, with Connecticut the biggest offender. The tab has been steadily rising since the state switched to electronic tolling in October 2016, jumping by $7 million just in the last six months.”

Boston Herald

‘A Kafkaesque health care assessment’

Michael Widmer, the former head of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, writes at CommonWealth magazine that “even Franz Kafka would be taken aback by the state’s convoluted and self-defeating health care assessment on human service providers.”

Bring ‘em with you: Lesser files ‘portable benefits’ bills

Shira Schoenberg at MassLive takes a look at Sen. Eric Lesser’s recently filed bills that call for employee “portable benefits,” or allowing employees to move from job to job with current benefits, such as health insurance, retirement savings and job-training funds.


The latest idea for a faltering retail mall: A DPW headquarters

The demise of brick-and-mortar retail continues to drive fresh ideas for repurposing old shopping malls — and Worcester may be poised to add a new one to the list. City Councilor Sean Rose wants to explore buying and using the all-but-abandoned Greendale Mall as the city’s new DPW headquarters, a move that would free up two other parcels closer to downtown for redevelopment, Bill Shaner reports at Worcester Magazine. 

Worcester Magazine

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


Marty Walsh to open talks on safe injection sites with Harm Reduction Commission – Boston Herald

Boston’s economy is booming, but schools seem cash poor. Why? – Boston Globe


Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer to lay out vision for second year in office – MetroWest Daily News

Documents show Mashpee Wampanoag tribe in dire financial situation – Cape Cod Times

Shaw’s closing in Lynn add to existing grocery gap – Lynn Item


Trump’s golf course employed undocumented immigrants–and fired them amid border wall showdown – Washington Post

As government reopens, new Congress tries to begin again – New York Times

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