Happening Today

Gaming Commission, Impaired driving warning, and more

Massachusetts Gaming Commission is expected to meet, 101 Federal St., 12th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker joins administration officials, public safety leaders and advocates for a press conference to bring awareness to the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, Room 360, 10:30 a.m.

— The Massachusetts Health Connector will hold a board meeting, with HHS Secretary Sudders chairing, Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, 50 Milk St., 8th Floor, Boston, 9 a.m.

— U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III is a guest on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 11:30 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Mayor Martin Walsh, Sen. Nick Collins and Rep. David Biele participate in the 43rd Annual South Boston Boys and Girls Club St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon benefiting the Edgerley Family South Boston Club and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, Laugh Boston, Westin Waterfront Hotel, 425 Summer Street, Boston, 12 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lowell Mayor William Samaras, Lowell City Manager Eileen Donoghue, Sen. Ed Kennedy, Rep. Thomas Golden, Rep. David Nangle and Rep. Rady Mom participate in Lowell’s 32nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Dinner, UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center, 50 Warren Street, Lowell, 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

Rep. McMurtry cleared of sexual harassment charges

We haven’t heard the last of this, we suspect. From SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall): “A special committee investigating whether Rep. Paul McMurtry violated the House sexual harassment policy concluded in a report Wednesday that there was ‘insufficient evidence’ to support allegations that he inappropriately touched an incoming lawmaker at an orientation for freshmen legislators in December. “

The Herald is all over this story, with the front-page headline “Cleared” and with Mary Markos reporting how, after the report was released, McMurtry was promoted to a House chairmanship. At the Globe, which first published the allegations against McMurtry, Matt Stout reports the committee basically concluded that “if any contact occurred, it was not intentional.” Shira Schoenberg has more on the findings at MassLive. And here’s the committee’s full report at SHNS (pay wall).

SHNS (pay wall)

Breaking news: Beto O’Rourke enters 2020 presidential race

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has another rival to contend with in the Democratic primary for president: Beto O’Rourke, who announced this morning he’s also running for president, the NYT reports. Warren certainly has her hands full these days. She’s also sparring, indirectly, with would-be Dem rival Joe Biden, Politico reports.


SJC reinstates Aaron Hernandez’s murder conviction

From the AP’s Alanna Durkin Richer at WBUR: “Massachusetts’ highest court on Wednesday reinstated the late Aaron Hernandez’s murder conviction, which was erased after the former NFL star died of suicide in prison. The Supreme Judicial Court also scrapped the legal principal that wiped out Hernandez’s conviction for future cases, calling it ‘outdated and no longer consonant with the circumstances of contemporary life.’” Jacqueline Tempera at MassLive has more.


Meanwhile, teen’s killer gets parole hearing under past SJC ruling

This doesn’t have to do with yesterday’s high-court ruling, but it is sort of distantly related, i.e. Christian Wade at the Gloucester Times reports that Richard Baldwin, convicted of beating a Groveland teenager to death with a baseball bat more than 27 years ago, is up for parole, based U.S. Supreme Court and Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rulings a few years ago related to cruel-and-usual punishments of juveniles. Relatives of the victim are in shock that Baldwin is now up for parole, needless to say.

Gloucester Times

Note to Mom and Dad: ‘It’s really not about you’

There’s a lot out there this morning on the nationwide college-admissions scam that U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling exposed earlier this week. We’ll start with this story by Steph Solis at MassLive: “Gamal Aziz, charged in college admissions scandal, worked for Wynn Resorts, helping to secure license for Encore Boston Harbor.” From the Cape Cod Times: “College admission scandal ensnares 3 with Cape ties.” 

Meanwhile, Callum Borchers at WBUR digs into the case of local businessman John B. Wilson, accused of going above, beyond and over the top in helping a certain person get into college. At WBUR, Joanna Weiss, in our opinion, comes closest to what this scandal is ultimately about: “Bad parenting.” Everyone is focusing on the wealth-and-connections angle of all of this. But when you get right down to it, most wealthy and connected people, and most people in general, don’t resort to such pathetic antics when it comes to getting their kids into college. Along the same lines, McGreggor Crowley, a Boston-based college admissions counselor and a former director of selection at MIT, has one of the best pieces this morning on what it’s like to sit on a college admissions board. He’s seen it all and has some advice for overbearing parents: “It’s really not about you.”

Finally, the Herald’s Laurel Sweet alerts us that there’s soon going to be a Hollywood perp-like walk in Boston. She has the details. And we’ll keep you updated on the coming media circus.

Reversing previous order, state re-certifies Quincy College’s nursing program

This is good news. From Mary Whitfil at the Patriot Ledger: “The nursing program at Quincy College has been granted initial approval status to relaunch degree and certificate courses at its Quincy and Plymouth campuses, 10 months after students were left in the cold by the state’s decision to revoke the programs’ accreditation.” It looks like local officials really hunkered down to get the re-certification.

Patriot Ledger

Healey settles with nursing homes over substandard care that led to deaths and injuries

From the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett: “Attorney General Maura Healey reached settlements with seven Massachusetts nursing homes after deaths and allegations of poor care at some facilities. In one case, an operator must leave the state for nearly a decade.  Five patients died as the result of poor care, state officials said, and hundreds more were put at risk.”


Meanwhile, Healey joins suit over Trump’s emergency declaration, warns of cuts at National Guard and Lincoln Laboratory

Speaking of the AG, from Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth magazine: “Attorney General Maura Healey on Wednesday joined a multi-state lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border, saying the declaration jeopardizes significant federal funding for the state.”

The interesting part: How the president’s declaration could lead to funding cuts at the Massachusetts National Guard, Hanscom Airforce Base’s Lincoln Laboratory and Westover Airforce Base.


Future candidate for the ugliest building in Boston? Part II

The Boston Preservation Alliance was first to condemn the design (Universal Hub). Now the Boston Civic Design Commission is turning thumbs down on the proposed residential building atop the Dock Square parking garage next to Boston’s Faneuil Hall, reports the BBJ’s Catherine Carlock. Definitely check out the renderings in both links. You decide: Is it just ugly or plug ugly?

House easily passes conversion therapy and cap-on-kids bills

The House got some business done yesterday on two fronts. The AP’s Steve LeBlanc at WWLP reports that lawmakers overwhelming approved legislation that would ban so-called ‘gay conversion therapy’ for minors, while Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports that legislators over to lift the family cap on welfare benefits. The vote on that bill: 143-1.

Report: Women and minorities underrepresented at business groups

From the BBJ’s Catherine Carlock (pay wall): “Women and minorities make up a majority of the state population, but when it comes to the leadership of the state’s most influential business-advocacy organizations, it’s hard to find a women or non-whites in the corner office or on the board. Some 72 percent of CEOs of prominent business-advocacy groups in Massachusetts are male, while 82 percent of board chairs are male — and 70 percent of board members are men, according to a first-of-its-kind study by Eos Foundation and the Business Journal.”

Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine has more on the findings.

WWII vet: He wasn’t buried alone

Kiera Blessing at the Daily News reports how Albert Corn, a 95-year-old veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, wasn’t buried alone yesterday in Methuen, after officials put out the call for volunteers to attend the service for a man with few relatives and friends still alive. State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell was among those who attended – and she provided moving words about Corn’s sacrifices so many years ago.

Daily News

The ‘drip, drip, drip’ of anti-Semitism

In an editorial at the Jewish Advocate, U.S. Rep. Ilham Omar isn’t mentioned in the piece about creeping anti-Semitism, but she’s there in spirit, as the paper sounds the alarm over the increasing “anti-Israel and anti-Semitic tropes and views (that are) surfacing at the highest federal level of government among members of our own U.S. Congress.” Btw: The “drip, drip, drip” metaphor comes from Gov. Charlie Baker. The editorial explains.

Jewish Advocate

Council to investigate BPD/ICE connections

From Universal Hub: “The City Council agreed (yesterday) to hold a hearing to look into the specific case of an immigrant construction worker whose boss allegedly reported him to ICE, which then arrested him with the help of Boston Police, after the worker was injured on the job and applied for worker’s comp.”

Universal Hub

Lawmaker’s bill would allow churches to be sanctuaries without upgrades

State Rep. Mindy Domb says she’ll file a bill to allow churches to provide temporary sanctuary housing without costly upgrades to meet local building codes, Scott Merzbach reports at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. The Amherst Democrat’s bill comes after a state board granted an extension to allow the First Congregational Church in Amherst to continue to house an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, who has been living in the church since 2017.


Is Baker the beneficiary of curve-grading when it comes to climate praise?

In a piece headlined “On Climate, Does Gov. Baker Deserve An ‘A’ — Or An ‘Incomplete,” Adam Reilly at WGBH takes a look at whether E&E News was justified in suggesting Gov. Charlie Baker might be the country’s strongest climate governor. Some environmentalists are not so sure, though they concede the Republican governor has evolved from a semi-climate-change denier to full-fledged climate-change believer, something a lot of people seem to appreciate.


Steyer preaches the gospel of impeachment

Tom Steyer, the billionaire hedge fund manager and bankroller of the Need to Impeach campaign, took his road show to western Massachusetts yesterday, preaching the gospel of impeachment, even though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently declared she’s against impeaching President Trump (at least for now). Maybe we’re reading the articles wrong by Shannon Young at MassLive and Matt Szafranski at WMPI, but it doesn’t seem like people are all that pumped up for impeachment.

Healey: It’s not worth suing Mount Ida over sudden closure

Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports that Attorney General Maura Healey has opted not to sue Mount Ida College for its sudden closure last year, concluding that “litigation would be costly, time-consuming, and of limited public benefit,” especially since there’s no assets left to pursue, as Healey put it.


Commission: Insulin prices skyrocketed 50 percent in recent years

This isn’t about competitive capitalism. This is about cornering-the-market capitalism. There’s a difference – and it explains why once somewhat affordable insulin prices have skyrocketed in recent years, as the state’s Health Policy Commission reported yesterday. Alexi Cohan at the Herald has the details.

Boston Herald

Another concert venue is coming to Boston – this time at Boston Landing

Mary Meisenzahl at Boston Magazine reports that the concert promotion company Bowery Presents has announced plans for a new music venue at Boston Landing, one that could host up to 3,500 people. “The unnamed venue will be the firm’s largest Boston setting so far, and bodes well for their ability to bring some big name artists to Boston soon,” Meisenzahl writes.

Boston Magazine

Settlement in Cambridge case brings relief for marijuana industry

Phew! A federal court case that sought to use the RICO statute to shut down a Cambridge medical marijuana dispensary–a case some worried could threaten the state’s entire marijuana economy–has been settled, Shira Schoenberg reports at MassLive. Harvard Square neighbors of Healthy Pharms planned to argue in court that because pot is illegal under federal law, the dispensary and those involved in its operation were engaged in racketeering. Thanks to a “substantial” payment to abutters, the issue is moot — at least for now.


Growing pains: CCC barraged with ideas to improve pot landscape

The state’s Cannabis Control Commission got an earful from pot advocates as it considers updating the regulations governing both medical and recreational marijuana sales in the state, Naomi Martin reports at the Globe. Dropping the annual fee for medical cannabis patients, advancing the arrival of delivery services and allowing for public consumption sites such as pot cafes were all laid on the table for the commission to consider.  

Boston Globe

Undo: Salem board has second thoughts on public-funded retirement fete

What a difference a month makes. The Salem Housing Authority completely reversed course on plans to spend $5,000 from its budget to throw a retirement party for its outgoing director, providing a win for Mayor Kim Driscoll in the process. Driscoll was the lone ‘no’ vote against the spending last month and, before the reversal, she said the outlay was becoming “a source of embarrassment” for the city, Dustin Luca reports at the Salem News.  

Salem News

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


Dozens of people are vying to be Boston’s next school superintendent – Boston Globe

In rare rebuke, Boston commission disapproves Dock Square garage design – Boston Business Journal


Tenant employment rate rises in Worcester housing projects – Telegram & Gazette

Wayland resident tries–again–to limit guns on town property – MetroWest Daily News

Former senate president prods DOT on rail study – Berkshire Eagle


Beto O’Rourke enters 2020 race – The Hill

Paul Manafort, Rick Davis, Anne Hathaway’s Fraudster Ex-Boyfriend and the Vatican Land Scam – The Daily Beast

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