Happening Today

Budget hearing, MBTA fare hikes, gun safety panel

— Attorney General Maura Healey speaks at the Project Here Summit, an event for teachers, school officials and community coalitions to learn about free substance use prevention educational resources available through the Project initiative funded through Healey’s office and the GE Foundation, Worcester State University, 486 Chandler St., Worcester, 10:30 a.m.

— The House and Senate Ways and Means committees will hear from Baker administration health and human services officials about their recommendations for the fiscal 2020 budget, Needham Town Hall, Powers Hall (2nd Floor), 1471 Highland Ave., Needham, 11 a.m.

— Frustrated with the lack of action on bills important to senior citizens, a coalition of groups plans to band together Monday to press lawmakers on various issues, Grand Staircase, State House, 11 a.m.

— The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board meets and may vote on a set of proposed fare hikes to take effect July 1, State Transportation Building, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, 12 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Attorney General Maura Healey, Boston University Public Health professor Sandro Galea, Boston Globe columnist Nestor Ramos, and Chair of Stop Handgun Violence John Rosenthal are among those participating in a panel discussion about how Massachusetts has achieved a low rate of gun violence and what can be learned from it, WBUR Cityspace, 890 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 6 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

Warren to big tech companies: ‘Boo hoo’

We’re interested in hearing what the local tech community thinks of this idea. From the Globe’s Jess Bidgood: “Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed Friday to break up some of the nation’s biggest technology companies, casting Google, Amazon, Facebook, and others as the newest villains in the scathing picture of capitalism run amok that has framed her political rise and her presidential run.”

At the Herald, Matt Donnelly reports that Warren, after her pledge to break up big tech companies, appeared at a major South by Southwest tech event in Texas over the weekend and was shedding no tears for Jeff Bezos et gang. “This only affects tech monopolists. Less monopoly profits? Boo hoo,” Warren said.

You’re too old, Liz, Bernie, Joe and Bill

In a provocative piece at the Globe, Linda Rodriguez McRobbie writes that, sorry, but Bernie Sanders, 77, Joe Biden, 76, Bill Weld, 73, and Elizabeth Warren, 69 are simply too old to be president – and she says science backs up her argument.

But some of the candidates sure weren’t showing their age over the weekend. Warren was in Texas on Saturday, almost taunting techies at a convention with her call to break-up big technology companies (see above post). Meanwhile, Sanders was barnstorming through New Hampshire, claiming other Dems were merely following in his progressive footsteps, as the Globe’s James Pindell and the Herald’s Brooks Sutherland report. 

And then there’s the most recent Iowa poll, via the NYT, showing that the oldsters are leading the Democratic pack among likely voters in that state, with Biden, Sanders and Warren, in order, topping the list.

Boston Globe

‘Ready, Seth, Go’: Is Moulton set to announce his bid for the presidency?

Speaking of presidential politics, David Bernstein at WGBH writes that U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton appears certain to announce, possibly later this spring, that he’s running for president, making him the third Massachusetts pol to throw his hat into the presidential ring (along with Elizabeth Warren and Bill Weld). And Bernstein says it may end being a win-win situation for Moulton – even if he loses. Bernstein explains why.


Report: Property tax override attempts in Massachusetts are at a 30-year low

This is interesting. From SHNS’s Michael Norton: “Property tax override attempts are at a 30-year low, cities and towns have roughly doubled their total savings over the past ten years, and municipalities over the past decade have tripled the amount they could raise under the local tax limit but choose not to, according to new data. The Massachusetts Taxpayers Association’s  annual report on the revenues and expenses of the state’s 351 cities and towns showed just 20 Proposition 2 1/2 property tax override votes in fiscal 2018, the lowest number since 1990.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Has Marty Meehan surveyed the failure rate of online colleges?

University of Massachusetts president Marty Meehan may be all excited about the possibility of UMass launching its own stand-alone online college. But the Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes reports that others have tried to launch similar ventures – and they didn’t end up so well.

Giving immigrants and 16-year-old the vote: Is it all about political power for Dems?

The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld takes a look at the all the recent proposals to extend voting rights to non-citizen immigrants, 16-year-olds and others and concludes that the Democratic House is now “going to ridiculous lengths to increase its political power by opening up the right to vote to just about any living, breathing human — as long as they vote Democrat.”

Btw: The Herald’s Alexi Cohan reports on how the state’s U.S. House delegation voted against a measure pushed by Republicans to prohibit non-citizens from voting in elections.

Boston Herald

Here’s an idea: Link state funding to the state having seats on local school boards

The Pioneer Institute’s Charles Chieppo and Jamie Gass at CommonWealth magazine float the reform idea of tying increased state funding to letting the state appoint members to local school committees, in proportion to how much districts get in state aid. We’re pretty sure local school districts would and will object, vehemently so.


Manhunt, Part III: Is the Beacon Hill graffiti bandit also an arsonist?

Boston Police have arrested a man for allegedly tagging Back Bay properties with graffiti over the weekend. But they’re not sure if he’s the same guy who’s been tagging the State House and Beacon Hill of late, reports Universal Hub. After arresting Angel Rodriguez, 37, police later announced they were also charging him with setting a fire at one Boylston Street building and smashing in a store window at another, Universal Hub reports in a separate post.

Neal’s tightrope act over Trump’s tax returns

The Globe’s Liz Goodwin reports on the pressure U.S. Rep. Richard Neal is feeling these days from both the left and right over President Trump’s tax returns. Neal has signaled his Ways & Means committee will demand the president’s returns in coming weeks. But that’s’ not good enough for some, such as billionaire Tom Steyer, who’s rescheduled his “Need to Impeach” rally in Springfield for later this week, reports Shannon Young at MassLive.

Authority exceeded: Land court sides with cannabis grower in Charlton case

Score one for Valley Green Grow. The would-be marijuana growing operation has prevailed in a Mass. Land Court case that could have implications across the state — with a judge ruling the town of Charlton overreached by attempting to pass a general bylaw banning marijuana businesses after the town adopted a zoning bylaw allowing them, Mark Sullivan reports at the Telegram.  


Green with envy: Mass. border states eye piece of pot pie

Meanwhile, at least three neighboring states are poised to hone in on Massachusetts’ newfound recreational-pot cash cow. Christian Wade reports at the Salem News on ongoing efforts in Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York to advance adult-use cannabis measures.

Salem News

Did you know the Sox have a their very own ‘official and exclusive resort casino’?

It’s sort of like Fenway Franks being the official hot dog of the Red Sox. From Chris Cotillo at the BBJ: “The Red Sox have reached a ‘multi-year partnership’ with MGM as team’s ‘official and exclusive resort casino,’ according to a press release. The partnership, which replaces the team’s five-year deal with Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Connecticut, includes moving the January fan-fest to MGM Springfield starting in 2020.”


‘Five fast fixes’

As T officials meet today to possibly vote on proposed fare increases, the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter lists five “tweaks” that the MBTA could implement to make its services more enjoyable and reliable. To us, only two of the five seem as though they could be done relatively quickly. The others, including re-implementing the Pacheco waiver, don’t exactly fall into what most would consider a “tweak” category. The Herald also has a separate list of major projects facing the T, btw.

Boston Herald

‘Network theory’ as applied to Beacon Hill

Using “network theory,” Chris Oates at CommonWealth magazine compiles, sorts and plots on graphs all the bills filed on Beacon Hill this year – and their various sponsors and co-sponsors – and finds that female legislators tend to use social networks more to build support for legislation. It doesn’t mean they have more clout on Beacon Hill. Instead, he writes that it is “more likely that, because positions in leadership have generally not been occupied by women, cosponsoring legislation is one of the avenues of influence available to female legislators.”


‘In plain sight’: Sex trafficking in Massachusetts

Other media outlets have explored the dark side of massage, spa and “body work” shops in Massachusetts. Now it’s the Globe’s turn, via Stephanie Ebbert, in the wake of the Robert Kraft controversy. The bottom line: Behind many of those spa doors are female victims of blatant human sex trafficking.

Boston-set ‘SMILF’ canceled by Showtime after non-stop reports of on-set controversies

Here’s your official Hollywood/entertainment fix for the day: Yes, SMILF, the Boston-set Showtime dramedy, has been cancelled, after one too many complaints about the toxic-boss ways of Frankie Shaw, the series creator and star. Ray Kelly at MassLive has the cancellation details.


So when can we expect a Malcolm X monument in Boston?

Now that Boston seems set on building a memorial to Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King on Boston Common, the Globe’s Renée Graham wonders, somewhat mischievously but not that mischievously, when we can expect a memorial for Malcolm X in Boston. We’d love to hear Mayor Walsh’s thoughts on the matter. Mayor? Hello? Mayor?

Boston Globe

Healey joins other AGs in North Carolina gerrymandering suit

From Jackson Cote at WBUR: “Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and 21 other state attorneys general are suing North Carolina over allegations the state unconstitutionally gerrymandered congressional districts to undermine voting rights. The suit accuses the state of deliberately redrawing voting districts to keep ‘one political party in power and for no other justification than to maximize partisan advantage,’ Healey’s office said in a statement Friday.”

We could make all sorts of cracks about how the same shocking thing is done here in Massachusetts, but we’ll resist the temptation.


Another State trooper pleads guilty in OT scandal

And he won’t be the last. From Scott Croteau at MassLive: “A 40-year-old Massachusetts State Police trooper pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing overtime money by skipping specialized patrol shifts and writing or falsifying tickets to make it appear he was working.  Heath McAuliffe of Hopkinton, who was suspended in the overtime investigation, pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement from an agency receiving federal funds in a Boston federal court Friday, according to court records.”


Political intolerance in action? Trump supporters asked to leave Chelsea hotel

Well, Chelsea is part of Suffolk County. From the Globe’s Danny McDonald and Sophia Eppolito: “A group of President Trump supporters was asked to leave a gathering at a Chelsea hotel Thursday night, and the group’s leader thinks their ouster was politically motivated, something the establishment denies. Dianna Ploss, the 55-year-old founder and president of MA 4 Trump, said when her group gathered at the Holiday Inn on Broadway in Chelsea, it was meant to ‘bring people together and build our team.’”

Boston Globe

Trump critic Jeff Flake to speak at Tufts University

Former U.S. Sen Jeff Flake, one of President Donald Trump’s harshest Republican critics, will be speaking at Tufts University tomorrow night, reports that AP at the Herald. It seems Tufts is attracting a lot of big-name political speakers to its campus these days. It’s just something we’ve noticed. 

Easthampton may amend charter to allow for ranked-choice voting

A committee will decide this week whether to recommend Easthampton start the arduous process of changing the city’s charter to allow for ranked choice voting in local elections, Lisa Feldman reports at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Easthampton could join about a dozen cities already embracing the new approach toward voting –but only if the mayor, city council, the state legislature and a majority of city voters all agree to the change. 


Lab space anyone? GE touts its would-be HQ site as life-science mecca

The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that General Electric, which has pulled back from its plan to build a gleaming new corporate headquarters building in Boston’s Fort Point area, is now, via its commercial broker, marketing the site for sale as potential lab space.

The Codcast LIVE: Celebrate Women’s History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, CommonWealth magazine presents a live recording of The Codcast highlighting women’s political engagement from the suffrage movement to the present, hosted by Jesse Mermell, former Communications Director for Gov. Deval Patrick, and Jennifer Nassour, CEO of ReflectUS, a non-partisan coalition of the leading women’s political organizations in the country.

CommonWealth magazine and WeWork Boston

Meet the New Boston, Same as the Old Boston

On March 13th from 7:30-9:30am, the WPG Initiative and the Boston Business Journal are presenting a powerful program highlighting the power gap in Boston business organizations. We will release data about gender and racial diversity both in the leadership and on the boards of these groups, which have major influences on business, tax, and economic development policies in our state.

WPG Initiative and the Boston Business Journal

2019 North Shore Business Expo

Connect with over 2500 potential customers in one day at the largest business expo north of Boston on March 14th. The show is held at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Grand Ballroom – 50 Ferncroft Road – Danvers, MA 01923. Call 978-774-8565 to Sponsor or Exhibit or visit www.northshorechamber.org/2019expo

North Shore Chamber of Commerce

Starr Forum: From Cold War to Hot Peace

With speaker Michael McFaul, a former US ambassador to the Russian Federation.

MIT Center for International Studies (CIS), MIT Security Studies Program (SSP), MISTI MIT-Russia

Real Estate Development Fundamentals Onsite Course

This course is focused on planning and implementing real estate development projects and what it means to be a real estate developer.

NAIOP Massachusetts

Invite Your Legislature to School Day

The Massachusetts Association of 766 Approved Private Schools (maaps) is hosting 6 “Invite Your Legislator to School” Days at special education schools across the Commonwealth.

Massachusetts Association for 766 Approved Private Schools (maaps)

STEM and the Massachusetts Workforce Challenge

Already, the college degree pipeline in Massachusetts is inadequate to meet demand, and workforce supply, especially in STEM fields, must be better cultivated in the Commonwealth’s own backyard. Join us as we bring together business, education and public policy leaders to discuss the critical topic of the interconnection between STEM education, public policy and the changing needs in Massachusetts’ workforce.

State House News Forum

Today’s Headlines


Jeff Flake coming to Tufts to discuss politics – Boston Herald

GE’s would-be HQ tower could be turned into labs – Boston Globe


AG: Shirley selectmen violated open meeting law – Sentinel & Enterprise

Mass. man who detailed illegal marijuana business in 2017 High Times interview sentenced to prison – MassLive

Affordable housing measures, styrofoam ban on Westboro town meeting agenda – Telegram & Gazette


A ‘beat Trump’ fervor is producing big turnouts for 2020 Democrats – New York Times

Illegal border crossings from Canada quietly rising – NBC News

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