Happening Today

Operation Exit RENEW, youth rally, Cannabis Control meeting

— The State Ethics Commission will meet to discuss enforcement division matters, legal division matters and will go into executive session, 1 Ashburton Place, 6th Floor, Room 619, Boston, 9:30 a.m.

— U.S. District Court Judges Patti Saris and Mark Wolf and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh take part in a ceremony recognizing the accomplishments of three defendants who served sentences for drug trafficking and participated in Operation Exit RENEW, John J. Moakley U.S. Courthouse, Courtroom #19, Boston, 9:30 a.m.

Hundreds of youths from the I Have A Future coalition rally for youth jobs funding and juvenile justice reform on Boston Common, where they are expected to hear from U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and then march to the State House at 1 p.m., where they will hear from Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins, Boston Common, 11 a.m.

Cannabis Control Commission is expected to meet, Gaming Commission, 101 Federal St., 12th floor, Boston, 12 p.m.

— The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission will hold a regular meeting to discuss feedback on the 2020 regional transportation plan, annual budget estimates and updates on the executive director search committee, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, 60 Congress St., 2nd Floor, Large Conference Room, Springfield, 5:30 p.m.

— Sen. Becca Rausch, Voter Choice Massachusetts Executive Director Adam Friedman and Latina Circle & Amplify Latinx co-founder Eneida Roman will discuss ranked choice voting and whether it could help elect more women to office, Non-Profit Center, 89 South St., 1st Floor Community Room, Boston, 5:30 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

Settlement may be near for Quebec-to-Mass. hydro-power line

The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that the Conservation Law Foundation is on board with a proposed settlement that may clear the way for a major transmission-line project in Maine that would bring huge amounts of hydro power from Canada to Massachusetts. Maine’s governor’s also appears ready to endorse the deal that could be filed tomorrow, though one Maine environmental group is holding out, Chesto reports.

Of course, any deal comes with a price, as Chesto notes: “In a rough sketch, the settlement is valued at more than $250 million, mostly consisting of rate relief for Maine customers over 40 years. The package includes tens of millions for other niceties: broadband upgrades, heat pump installations, electric vehicles.” Guess who will ultimately pay for all these goodies? You, dear Massachusetts ratepayers.

In other energy-related news: Bruce Mohl at Commowealth magazine reports that the head of the New England electric grid appears a little perplexed about why the region hasn’t embraced a carbon-pricing plan. Meanwhile, ISO New England is once again warning that energy demand is outpacing supply in the region, reports SHNS’s Chris Lisinski at the Lowell Sun.

Boston Globe

Meanwhile, Gaming Commission moves to settle Wynn suit

From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to authorize its attorneys to finalize an agreement with Steve Wynn that would allow the commissioners to receive the agency’s long-awaited investigative report on the gambling executive’s alleged sexual misconduct and the company’s suitability to retain its Massachusetts casino license.” As Molh reports, it may yet take another month to actually settle the legal issues in Nevada and prepare for the report’s release. 


MBTA and union officials quietly renegotiating pension fund payments

Here’s yet another behind-the-scenes deal in the making. From the Globe’s Matt Stout: “As the MBTA’s top officials have publicly sounded alarms over its escalating retirement costs, the transit agency and its largest union for months have been quietly renegotiating the agreement governing what the T contributes to its $1.5 billion pension fund. The closed-door talks surrounding the MBTA and Carmen’s Union Local 589’s pension agreement come as the agency is again facing a budget deficit, weighing a 6.3 percent fare hike, and openly fretting about the ever-increasing checks it’s cutting to its privately run retirement system.”

UMass poll: N.H. voters still favor Biden in 2020, Warren not so much

Shannon Young at MassLive and SHNS’s Matt Murphy at Wicked Local report on a new UMass-Amherst poll that shows former Vice President Joe Biden, even though he hasn’t declared (yet) that he’s running for president in 2020, continuing to lead other Democrats among likely voters in New Hampshire. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren placed fourth, with 9 percent support of likely voters, behind Biden (28 percent) and U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders (20 percent) and Kamala Harris (14 percent). Again, it’s early. Make of the poll what you will.

Btw: Sanders raised $6 million within 24 hours of his announcement earlier this week that he’s running again for president, reports the NYT. Does this mean he still has his 2016 mojo? Maybe. Maybe not.

And, btw, the Globe’s Nestor Ramos has a good column this morning looking at what he calls “POTeases,” i.e. the legion of pols who are considering running for president but won’t acknowledge they’re considering running for president. U.S. Seth Moulton used to be a POTease, until he recently acknowledged he’s mulling a run, Nestor notes.

Another blockbuster real-estate deal? UMass-Lowell to auction off 34-acre Chelmsford site

Last week, UMass-Boston closed a $235 million deal to develop the former Bayside Expo Center. Now it’s UMass-Lowell’s turn to play real-estate wheeler and dealer. The BBJ’s Catherine Carlock reports the university is set next month to auction off 34 acres of land in Chelmsford that it no longer needs for potential expansion. The “ideal development opportunity” won’t raise nearly as much as the Bayside Expo deal, but it should still raise a hefty amount.

BBJ (pay wall)

Report: State’s transportation system facing an $8.4 billion shortfall

A business group is estimating that the state is facing an $8.4 billion funding shortfall over the next 10 years to adequately fix and maintain all of its roads, bridges and tunnels, as well as eventual MBTA maintenance costs. CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl and SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) have the details on the new report developed for A Better City.

Cape Assembly tees up censure vote of Beaty after ‘gay politicians’ tweet

Four of the 15 members of the Barnstable County Assembly called for Commissioner Ronald Beaty Jr. to step down and the group could hold a formal vote to censure him in two weeks, as fallout from Beaty’s Twitter post about gay politicians continues to mount, Geoff Spillane reports at the Cape Cod Times. For his part, Beaty issued a defiant statement saying he’d done nothing wrong and that his comments are protected by the FIrst Amendment. 

Cape Cod Times

Columbia’s toll for Merrimack Valley debacle: $1B (and climbing)

The Globe’s Milton Valencia reports that the Merrimack Valley gas-line disaster has now cost Columbia Gas of Massachusetts more than $1 billion, apparently not including potential lawsuit settlements that the utility is currently seeking. The billion-dollar question: How much will ratepayers ultimately have to pay to cover a portion of the costs?

Boston Globe

Meanwhile, Boston Scientific shelled out $800M last year to settle mesh-implant suits

Speaking of corporations paying the price for their blunders, the BBJ’s Allison DeAngelis reports that Boston Scientific Corp. last year spent $800 million to settle lawsuits over its controversial mesh implant product that thousands of women allege led to infections and other medical problems. Here’s another stunning number: The company is close to settling nearly 50,000 lawsuits tied to the product. That’s right: Fifty thousand.

BBJ (pay wall)

Is Cardinal O’Malley politically throwing the pope under the alter?

The Globe’s Joan Vennochi is sort of amazed by Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s open challenge to Pope Francis’s handling of the clergy sexual abuse scandal just prior to this week’s Vatican summit to address the crisis engulfing the church. Meanwhile, the Globe, in an editorial, says the pope needs to show the world that the church has truly embraced reform.

But Peter Borre, a canonical law expert and founder of Boston’s Council of Parishes, writes at the Herald the pope is hurting his summit position by all his “devil” bashing of accusers and critics. The summit officially started this morning, btw.

Knock it off: Falmouth woman charged after MAGA hat confrontation

Those MAGA hats sure make people crazy. The latest example comes from Falmouth, where a MAGA-hat wearing diner — inside a Mexican restaurant, no less — was confronted by a woman who knocked the baseball cap off his head and later allegedly hit him in the head while police were escorting her out of the eatery, which resulted in her arrest. Beth Treffeisen at the Cape Cod Times has the details. 

Cape Cod Times

Salem pot shop halts sales due to ‘corrupted’ tracking system

From the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett: “One of the state’s nine recreational marijuana dispensaries has temporarily closed to recreational customers after running into technology problems with the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system.”

In related (sort of) pot news, Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports that an advocacy group for medical marijuana patients is “pushing the state to eliminate its requirement that medical marijuana dispensaries grow their own marijuana,” rather than buying pot from other growers.

BBJ (pay wall)

Methuen’s nightmare police contract: A case study on how not to govern?

Isaiah Thompson at WGBH takes a look at how one single labor contract, passed with no debate, has pushed Methuen to the brink of bankruptcy (or at least talk of bankruptcy), sparked political turmoil in town and provoked harsh criticism that laws may have been broken.

Here’s something we didn’t appreciate until reading Thompson’s piece: “At least four of the nine councilors who passed the contract had had such conflicts of interest: two outgoing members had already accepted jobs in the police department. Two others had sons who were ranking police officers — including (Mayor James Jejuga), whose son had just been made a captain.”


Fired twice, reinstated twice: A Springfield cop’s tale

Speaking of police, here’s more news coming out of the seemingly always-in-the-news Springfield Police Department: Peter Goonan at MassLive reports on a Springfield cop who’s now been fired twice – and reinstated twice after arbitration. Among past complaints against the officer: That he allegedly hit a woman and used pepper spray on her, domestic violence that left a woman with injuries, etc. etc.


Will someone dare to challenge Springfield Mayor Sarno this year?

Speaking of Springfield: With all that’s going on in the city these days, there’s muffled chatter about someone, anyone, possibly taking on Mayor Domenic Sarno later this year. Matt Szafranski at Western Mass Politics & Insight reviews the potential would-be candidates – and explains why it won’t be easy to dethrone hizzoner.  


Lawmakers file proposal to open some ‘secret’ court hearings

Two Gloucester lawmakers have filed legislation designed to make it harder for the state’s district and municipal courts to hold secret hearings to determine if charges will be filed in certain cases, Christian Wade reports at the Salem News. The bill would not ban such closed hearings but instead require clerk magistrates to formally make exceptions and to keep a stenographic record of what happens behind closed doors.

Meanwhile, the Globe, whose Spotlight team has been pounding away at the “secret courts,” is urging in an editorial that Beacon Hill take the lead on secret-court reforms, saying the state judiciary won’t move quickly to reform the system.

Salem News

Lyft touts new app for … T service?

File under ‘currying favor’? From Andy Metzger at CommonWealth magazine: “Lyfit is taking another detour from its bread-and-butter service of offering people rides in cars with a new option to link its customers to Boston’s existing transit network. The Nearby Transit service that started rolling out to Boston-area customers Wednesday shows customers public transit schedules of the MBTA as well as the app’s existing car-hailing options.”


Under lien pressure, Pressley’s husband pays $17K in back taxes

It seems the newly minted political consultant needs some tax consulting. From the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter: “U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s husband built up $17,430 in unpaid federal taxes before settling up with the government after it filed a lien against him in December, he said. Conan Harris, a political consultant and former Boston City Hall employee, said the deficits came from a ‘miscommunication’ that he moved to pay off as soon as he found out about it.” The lien was not against Pressley, fyi.

Boston Herald

Walsh outlines $26M affordable housing plan

Every little bit helps – and this is more than a little bit. From Jerome Campbell at WBUR: “The city of Boston has allocated $26 million to fund affordable housing at 10 projects, Mayor Marty Walsh and city housing officials said on Wednesday at a news conference. The slate of projects includes $18 million to create and preserve 515 affordable housing units and deed-restricted homes in Brighton, East Boston, Dorchester, Mattapan, Mission Hill, North End and Roxbury.”


McGovern pushes single-payer petition in Washington

SHNS’s Michael Norton at the Lowell Sun reports that U.S. Rep. James McGovern is working this week to add signatures to a nationwide single payer health care petition he is circulating with Rep. Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon.

Lowell Sun

Curb appeal: Pittsfield mayor dangles interest-free loans to spur home renovations

Thanks, GE. Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer will ask the city council to free up $250,000 from the city’s economic development fund to set up a zero-interest loan program that would help homeowners fund exterior renovations, Amanda Drane reports at the Berkshire Eagle. Tyer says businesses have told her the state of the city’s largely pre-WWII housing stock is a barrier to recruiting workers to move there and hopes the funds–which the city received as part of GE’s settlement to clean up toxic chemicals its factories left behind–will spur even those on tight budgets to do some upgrades. 

Berkshire Eagle

NPO Group’s 2019 Annual Meeting

You’re invited to our first meeting of 2019! The NPO Group’s Annual Meeting agenda includes: networking, discussion on hot topics affecting NPOs, and the election of Steering Committee Officers and Members.

South Shore Chamber of Commerce

Business After Hours – February 2019 – Redemption Rock Brewing Co.

Business After Hours is an opportunity for you to network with other Chamber members and guests. Meet new contacts, develop new leads, and exchange ideas. Join us and hundreds of area professionals for a fun, informal networking event!

Worcester Chamber of Commerce

Building and Furthering a Career in Commercial Real Estate

Hear dynamic young professionals from NAIOP’s Developing Leaders program discuss their careers, how they got started, and the many opportunities available in the industry today.

NAIOP Massachusetts

Water: The Global Crisis and What Must Be Done Now

There is a global water crisis — increasing drought, desertification, floods, migrations, and social justice stressors. This forum will focus on the connection between the unfolding climate catastrophe and the water crisis; outline a global view of the ecological problems; focus on places that serve as case studies of resource scarcity and conflict; and point toward possible solutions.

Massachusetts Peace Action

herNetwork Women Mean Business Spring Conference 2019

herNetwork cordially invites you to our Women Mean Business conference! Our theme this year is “The Power of You.” The purpose of our conference is to empower, educate, and connect our students of all majors and years with other students and with professionals across a broad range of fields.


Rally: US Hands off Venezuela!

Join us as we support Venezuelan sovereignty and oppose US meddling in Venezuelan affairs, through sanctions and military threats.

Massachusetts Peace Action

Today’s Headlines


Lyft incorporates MBTA service into its app – CommonWealth Magazine

They’ll fit right in: Boston traffic lights confuse driverless cars – Universal Hub


Charlton planning board responds to Valley Green Grow appeal – Telegram & Gazette

State of Methuen: Jajuga focuses on stability and opportunity – Eagle-Tribune

State emergency management director to leave after nine years – Boston Globe


Justice Department preparing for Mueller report in coming days – Washington Post

GOP Sen. Collins says she’ll back resolution to block Trump’s emergency declaration – The Hill

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