Happening Today

DOC visitation policy, college accessibility and more

— Senate President Karen Spilka delivers remarks at the 82nd Citizens Legislative Seminar, Room 428, 10:15 a.m. — Governor’s Council holds a hearing on Gov. Charlie Baker’s nomination of Judge Kathryn Hand to the Appeals Court bench, Council Chamber, 11 a.m.

— The Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus will hold a press conference to acknowledge changes made to the Department of Correction prison visitation policy, State House, Room 437, 11:15 a.m.

— Mayor Marty Walsh visits the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology to unveil a new initiative to make college more accessibility for Boston students, 41 Berkeley St., Boston, 11:30 a.m.

— Organizers say several hundred concerned parents and faith leaders plan to gather outside Gov. Charlie Baker’s office to ask him to veto ‘any legislation that bans counseling for children with sexual identity issues,’ outside Room 360, 12:30 p.m.

— Members of the Boston Teachers Union and supporters will rally outside of the Boston Public Schools headquarters to demand the city agree to a contract improving funding for inclusion, social and emotional wellness and homelessness supports, Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building, 2300 Washington St., Roxbury, 4:30 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

As Fall River mayor blasts opponents as ‘cry babies,’ group sues over recall election

Never a dull moment in Fall River. A group of Fall River taxpayers say they’ll ask a judge to stop the city from certifying the results of last week’s election which saw indicted Mayor Jasiel Correia recalled from office and re-elected in the same night. The suit claims the ballot voters were given violated the city charter and that because the push to recall Correia won a majority of the vote, he should have been ineligible for re-election, Jo C. Goode reports at the Herald News.

Meanwhile, Correia is criticizing his opponents as a bunch of post-retaliation “cry babies,” reports Jacqueline Tempera at MassLive. And, yes, the mayor did deliver a State of the City speech last night, calling for unity and emphasizing the city’s strengths, Laura Crimaldi reports at the Globe.

Herald News

Kraft’s dilemma: Take the deal or not take the deal?

From the NYT: “Robert K. Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, has been offered a deal that includes paying a fine and doing community service in return for admitting that if his soliciting prostitution case were to go to trial, the prosecutors would win. The prosecutors in Palm Beach County, Fla., offered the deal to Mr. Kraft and 24 other men who last month were arrested on misdemeanor charges of buying sex at the Orchids of Asia day spa in Jupiter, Fla.” If he agrees, the charges would be dropped.

But here’s why a deal might be dicey for Kraft: Anti-human-trafficking activists are insisting that Kraft should be banished from the National Football League if the league and Florida authorities demonstrate he participated in a pay-for-sex operation in Florida. The Globe’s John Ellement and Danny McDonald have more.


Slush funds? House caucus proposal has advocates raising warning flags

Government watchdogs say a proposal to allow private funding for various caucuses in the Massachusetts House of Representatives needs to be handled with care to avoid them becoming ‘slush funds’ for lawmakers to access outside public view or the regular appropriation process, Shira Schoenberg reports at MassLive.


Fake statistics: Hodgson overstated OD problem during Oval Office visit

Better sit down for this one. It’s a shocker. It seems that during his recent visit to the White House, Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson stretched the truth more than a little when providing the president with some local color on the opioid epidemic. Jennette Barnes at the Standard-Times reports that while Hodgson told Trump the city sees 15 to 20 overdoses per day on the second shift alone, the city’s main hospital says their numbers show just a fraction of that.

South Coast Today

Warren’s call to abolish the electoral college: Is the end of democracy near?

The Herald is all over U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s call to abolish the electoral college for electing presidents. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld and Howie Carr are pounding into Warren for backing the idea. Meanwhile, the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports on a state law that would commit Massachusetts to designating its electors based on the national popular vote, not the state vote. Meanwhile, Cotter has another piece on the matter: “Charlie Baker opposes deal to bypass Electoral College.”

And the Herald’s Mary Markos reports that the tinkering with election laws isn’t confined to the electoral college, with a bill now under consideration that would require presidential candidates to disclose the four previous years of their federal income tax returns before a primary election, as well as move the midterm primary date up a few months. (Hint: The former is aimed at a certain guy with orange hair.) Rounding out the Herald’s all-things-Liz coverage, Michael Graham blasts Warren’s stand on reparations for African Americans. 

Newsflash: Beto O’Rourke spotted in New Hampshire! Warren in Mississippi!

In other presidential campaign news, the newest Dem rock star, Beto O’Rourka, was in New Hampshire last evening, appearing at a packed gathering at Keene State College. The Globe’s Victoria McGrane has the details. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren continued her swing through the Deep South yesterday, as she tries to woo voters outside the normal early-primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, as the Globe’s Liz Goodwin and Jess Bidgood report.

Count the Globe’s Scot Lehigh among those impressed with Warren’s recent campaigning and public-policy pronouncements, saying she’s more than proven she can take on Donald Trump. And rounding out the Globe’s largely positive coverage of Warren – in stark contrast to the Herald’s largely negative coverage of Warren – Hiawatha Bray writes that Warren’s proposed break-up of big tech companies is not at all unprecedented.

Small and late rollout of pot shops add up to lower-than-projected tax revenues

Lower-than-projected revenues at casinos. And now lower-than-projected revenues from pot shops. The Globe’s Naomi Martin reports how the late and slow rollout of pot shops in Massachusetts has led, so far, to disappointing tax revenues for the state.

Boston Globe

Meanwhile, study projects riches to come from tax on high-end real estate

Will they learn? We’ll see.  The Globe’s Tim Logan reports that a new study projects that a proposed tax on the sales of high-end real estate in Boston would generate big bucks for affordable housing projects. One city councilor said such a tax would have generated $420 million last year alone. But, ah, the study also warns the proposed tax could dampen the city’s real estate market. And, if past casino and pot-shop revenue projections are any indication, councilors should probably dampen their expectations.

Confirmed: Quasi-public agencies are indeed big spenders

It seems Colman Herman at CommonWealth magazine was putting the finishing touches on a report on spending trends at quasi-public agencies in Massachusetts when the Globe beat him to the punch with its own review of hefty six-figure salaries at the same agencies. So CommonWealth is running just the spending charts, including how much they pay in office rents and legal fees, in addition to salaries. Bottom line: The agencies are indeed big spenders.

Meanwhile, the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky reports that there’s no talk of financial belt tightening at the Massachusetts Cultural Council, as it awaits a windfall of money from the gaming industry.


Meanwhile, hacker accessed employee data at quasi-public agency

Maybe quasi-public agencies could spend a little more on computer security rather than on salaries and office space, etc.? From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “A hacker infiltrated a quasi-public Massachusetts state agency and accessed payroll data for 164 current and former state employees. The breach at Commonwealth Corporation was made public Tuesday in an audit by state auditor Suzanne Bump.” Schoenberg has more.

Legislation eyed to force gender parity on public boards

SHNS’s Kaitlyn Budion reports that legislators and advocates are calling for gender parity on public boards and commissions following the release of a new Eos Foundation study that found female and minority underrepresentation on the governing boards of more than 50 public institutions. 

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

The plot to take down McMurtry: When will the accusers be named?

Peter Lucas at the Lowell Sun is convinced that the now discredited sexual harassment charges anonymously lodged against state Rep. Paul McMurtry were nothing more than a “phony story concocted by several legislators” to embarrass and take down House Speaker Robert DeLeo. And he thinks it’s time to name the names of those who sought to blacken McMurtry’s name.

Lowell Sun

John T. Driscoll, long-time Mass Pike chief, RIP

John T. Driscoll, 93, the long-time head of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, passed away earlier this month. The Globe’s Bryan Marquard reports how he served under five governors, palled around with the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy and House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, and was once considered one of the most powerful politicians in Massachusetts.

Boston Globe

BPL now offering ‘Tequila Mockingbird’ and other cocktails at its Tea Lounge

Now this is how you get patrons to keep going to libraries in this age of Kindle: Offering up scholarly cocktails, as the BPL is now doing at its revamped Map Room Tea Lounge in its iconic central library in Copley Square. Jacqueline Cain at Boston Magazine has the details on the “art and poetic flair to cocktail-making” at the library, including scholarly mixes such as “Tequila Mockingbird,” “Catcher in the Rye” and the “Dorian Gray.” We’re eagerly looking forward to the future “Ulysses.”

Boston Magazine

Markey and advocates blast Trump’s Title X rule change

From Shannon Young at MassLive: “U.S. Sen. Ed Markey joined local reproductive health advocates Tuesday in speaking out against a new federal rule that they said would bar health care providers at Title X-funded centers, like Planned Parenthood, from informing patients that abortions are among the health care options available to them.” We cannot let this stand,” he said, further casting the rule as “just another line of attacks in the Republican plan to take women’s rights back to the 19th Century.”


Teachers union to New Bedford: You can’t just give away a building to a charter school

The only surprise here is that it took this long for the union to object, i.e. the Massachusetts Teachers Association is criticizing the city of New Bedford’s compromise expansion deal with Alma del Mar Charter School, a compromise that includes giving away a shuttered school building at no cost. Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine has the details.


Austin hires away Boston’s transportation chief

The Lone Star State is poaching again. From the BBJ: “Gina Fiandaca, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s transportation commissioner, has been hired as Austin’s assistant city manager in charge of departments and projects focused on mobility. That role will include presiding over the city’s Public Works, Transportation, Aviation and Fleet departments.”


Pressley cancels events after injuring knee at home

U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley canceled events scheduled for yesterday and today as she recovers after tripping on the stairs and injuring her knee at home on Monday, reports Shannon Young at MassLive. “I miss everyone already & I am eager to get back to my recess events,” Pressley tweeted yesterday.


In Greenfield, the ‘Great Compromise’ is finally on the table

An effort to secure local funding for a new library by offering support for a commercial zoning change — a plan dubbed the ‘Great Compromise’ by locals — will finally go before the Greenfield City Council Wednesday night, Joshua Solomon reports in the Recorder. 


Women’s Legislative Breakfast

The Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus will host our first annual Women’s Legislative Breakfast at the State House on Thursday, March 21, 2019 in celebration of Women’s History Month.

Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus

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

Kathy Kelly: Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan: What’s happening and what can we do?

Kathy is just coming off her fast to call attention to the need for the U.S. to end its joint war with the Saudis against Yemen. She is the founder of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, and for many years has visited the war-torn countries of the Middle East and supported those working for peace in those countries.

Massachusetts Peace Action

Fun in the Tropics at Franklin Park Zoo

Escape to the Tropics with the Zoo’s young professionals group, The Wild Things, at Franklin Park Zoo! Join us in your best luau gear as you dance and limbo your way through the Tropical Forest with friends!

Franklin Park Zoo

Today’s Headlines


WGBH’s radio chief announces retirement – Universal Hub

Boston’s transportation head to depart for job in Austin – Boston Globe


Developer plans 130-room hotel, rock climbing and skydiving center at former Springfield jail – MassLive

At least 30 gravestones tagged with swastikas and anti-semitic language at Fall River cemetery – MassLive

Facing EPA lawsuit, Quincy says it spent $30 million on sewers – Patriot Ledger


President Trump’s tax cuts won’t power the growth he predicts, officials concede – New York Times

Democratic candidates reach for the magic ticket to debates – Washington Post

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