Happening Today

Neal at State House, ‘Get the lead out,’ and more

— The Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus will hold a legislative breakfast in celebration of women’s history month, with the event hosted in collaboration with Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Pro Tempore Pat Haddad, Nurses Hall, 9 a.m.

— U.S. Rep. Richard Neal visits the State House to host a roundtable discussion on retirement and pensions, with Putnam Investments CEO Robert Reynolds, WISER fellow Linda Stone, Melissa Kahn of State Street Global Advisors and UMass Boston Interim Chancellor Katherine Newman among those serving as panelists, Room 428, 10 a.m.

MASSPIRG and Environment Massachusetts outline the results of a new report, ‘Get the Lead Out,’ on lead in school drinking water, Room 222, 11 a.m.

Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action will be joined by Safe Communities Act co-sponsors Sen. Jamie Eldridge and Rep. Ruth Balser and other lawmakers to urge their colleagues to pass the bill. Room 167, 11 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker is a guest on ‘Boston Public Radio’ as part of his semi-regular ‘Ask the Governor’ segment, WGBH-FM 89.7, 12 p.m.

— U.S. Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Katherine Clark hold Women’s Economic Empowerment Town Hall, Cambridge Community Center, 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

Report: State medical examiner’s office in danger of losing accreditation

Here we go again. From the Globe’s Matt Stout: “The state’s chief medical examiner’s office is in danger of losing the accreditation it received just months ago, a potential black eye that its leader — fearful it could be made public — told officials should not be scrutinized by the media. In late January, the National Association of Medical Examiners told chief medical examiner Dr. Mindy J. Hull that her office will ‘most likely’ lose its fully accredited status after it reported it was unable to complete 90 percent of its autopsy reports within 90 days.”

Boston Globe

Deal dilemma, Part II: Kraft resists plea deal in Florida

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has reportedly rejected a proposed deal that would require him to admit he solicited prostitution – in exchange for Florida prosecutors dropping charges, reports the Globe’s John Ellement and Danny McDonald and the Herald’s Karen Guregian. But it appears, at least according to Guregian, that Kraft’s legal team may “attempt to counter with a more favorable deal in hopes of a resolution.”

Actually, Kraft may have a point that the wording of the proposed deal differs from other plea agreements offered by prosecutors in the past, but Kraft is taking a huge PR beating by pursuing this legal strategy.

Meanwhile, Healey threatens to cut charitable ties with Kraft

First U.S. Sen. Ed Markey. Now Attorney General Maura Healey. In her column this morning, the Globe’s Joan Vennochi writes that Healey, whose office has partnered with the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation for a program called ‘Game Change,’ is distancing herself from Robert Kraft over the Florida massage-parlor controversy. From an office statement: “It’s clear that our office cannot continue this partnership without an acceptance of responsibility and serious remediation, or his resignation from the foundation.”

Btw: Both Vennochi and the Globe’s Yvonne Abraham, in a separate column, say Kraft needs to admit to wrongdoing and get this entire mess behind him, pronto.

But Kraft still has one supporter sticking by him: Donald Trump

From Politico: “New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who was caught up in a Florida prostitution sting last month, might appear at the White House before he appears in court. President Donald Trump wants Kraft to join his players at the White House this spring for a celebration of their February Super Bowl victory, a prospect that has White House aides worried that it could turn a feel-good photo op into an embarrassing media spectacle.


Healey: I’m not dodging anything

Back to Attorney General Maura Healey and the Globe’s Joan Vennochi, the AG, in a letter to the editor, defends her investigation into the sudden closure of Mount Ida College and takes exception to a recent column by Vennochi that said Healey dodged holding college administrators accountable for disrupting the lives of students and parents.

The latest Dem presidential poll: White males lead pack, Warren still in single digits

Emerson College Polling has released new national poll numbers showing that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden are tied for first in the Dem presidential race (assuming Biden indeed runs), followed by U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and former Texas U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren comes in fifth at 8 percent. Some good news for Warren: She runs rather well against Trump. Again, it’s early. So take all of this with a grain of salt.

Btw: The headline on a piece by Antony Brooks at WBUR: “Elizabeth Warren Is Dominating The Policy Discussion — But Not The Democratic Race.” We could be wrong, but our hunch is that Warren is starting, or will soon start, to gain some traction. We’ll see.

Emerson College Polling

Has phony Betomania bitten the dust?

Dan Kennedy at WGBH says that “Betomania had somehow eluded me” – and you can count us among the eluded too. Still, Kennedy sees early signs that the media is having second thoughts about the presidential candidacy of Beto O’Rourke and all the hype surrounding the Texas wunderkind. And, yes, we apologize to Clash fans for the headline.


Duke fires back at Trump: ‘His attacks on John McCain are disgusting’

President Trump yesterday continued with his classless attacks (yes, classless) on the late U.S. Sen. John McCain – and he also found time to reach back to 1988 to poke fun of former Gov. Michael Dukakis as well. Dukakis isn’t hanging back. The Globe’s Martin Finucane has the details.

Boston Globe

Harvard sued over use and ownership of old slave photos

This is a fascinating case, from both a legal and moral standpoint, to wit: The great-great-great granddaughter of a black slave who had his photo taken by a Harvard professor in the 1800s is suing Harvard over the university’s continued use and ownership of the images. The New York Times and the Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes have the details. 

Needless to say, there’s a lot of copyright issues involved (ones that we assume will make it difficult for the descendent to prevail) – and moral issues as well (ones that the descendent is perfectly right to raise, seeing that the images were originally taken to support the professor’s racist white-superiority beliefs).

Springfield police chief who took over amid false-reports scandal has her own false-report history

The Springfield Police Department is back in the news for all the wrong reasons – again. Dan Glaun at MassLive reports that Acting Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood, who recently took over the department amid allegations of police filing false reports, was herself convicted on a misdemeanor false report charge decades ago – and that her current explanation of that incident is not exactly, well, we’ll let him explain.


Report: Eighteen teen killers released since controversial SJC ruling

We missed this story from the other day. From Christian Wade at the Gloucester Times: “Eighteen inmates serving life sentences for first-degree murders they committed as teenagers have been released over the past five years under a controversial state Supreme Judicial Court ruling.” Wade explains the legal issues involved – and has all the stats on those potentially impacted. 

Gloucester Times

‘So Boston it hurts:’ Toy car on sidewalk gets parking ticket

It has to be a joke. It must be a joke. Via Universal Hub, Jonathan Levitt snapped a photo of a toy car on a city sidewalk that has a parking ticket on its little windshield. An adorable joke by the BTD? We assume so. Still, another reader, who later dutifully checked to see if the offending vehicle had been booted yet, determines it was indeed a genuine ticket envelope – but she didn’t check to see if the ticket inside was real. Another reader offers a possible explanation: “Errant space saver.”

For second time in a week, a developer eyes mall space for pot business

Cannabis: The best thing to happen to malls since Orange Julius? Anyway, Cannaworld Inc. wants to transform the Macy’s space at the Eastfield Mall into a pot shop and growing facility, according to Peter Goonan at MassLive, extending a trend that began earlier in the week when plans to convert a former JC Penney store at the Berkshire Mall into a marijuana growing and processing facility also came to light.

Btw: Max Reyes at the Globe has a piece on how many hope to fill the windows of former bricks-and-mortar retail shops, now sitting empty due fierce online-retail competition, with art. Needless to say, these are tough times for old-line retailers.


City councilors on citizen petitions: This is our show – so scram

Adam Gaffin at Universal Hub reports that the Boston City Council has rejected a proposal that would have required hearings on any petitions signed by at least 500 Boston voters. The concern of some district councilors: Such a process would bypass their authority and diminish their power. Seriously. That’s what they’re saying.

Universal Hub

Josh Zakim won’t seek re-election to city council

Speaking of the council: After getting the stuffing knocked out of him by Bill Galvin last year in the Dem primary for secretary of state, Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim has decided he won’t seek reelection this fall. The Globe’s Milton Valencia has the details.

‘Need to Impeach’ launches yet another billboard campaign to pressure Neal

Yes, Need to Impeach, bankrolled by billionaire Tom Steyer, is dropping another $10,000, this time for a billboard campaign, to put pressure U.S. Rep. Richard Neal to immediately request President Donald Trump’s tax returns. As Shira Schoenberg reports at MassLive, the billboard campaign is in addition to the group’s “six-figure digital buy and television ads it has deployed in the 1st Congressional District targeting Neal.”

Six figures? Aren’t there greater societal needs out that could use six-figure assistance? Housing for the needy? Food for the poor? Just throwing out suggestions.

So how’s that privatization of the T warehouse system going?

When a spokesman for the T starts muttering something about a “learning curve,” you know critics might be right that the recent privatization of the MBTA’s warehouse system isn’t going so well. Andy Metzger at CommonWealth magazine has the details.


Record progressive power

SHNS’s Katie Lannan reports that 60 out of 127 Democrats in the Massachusetts House now consider themselves progressives, a record number. Their caucus also picked a new co-chair yesterday. Lannan has the details.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Polito’s sister-in-law nominated to appeals court

Now we learn that Kathryn Hand, a justice on the District Court who has been nominated to the Appeals Court by Gov. Charlie Baker, is the sister-in-law of Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, as the Herald’s Mary Markos reports. The relationship apparently wasn’t mentioned yesterday at a Governor’s Council hearing on the nomination, as SHNS’s Chris Lisinskireports (pay wall). But you know what? While the relationship should have been highlighted a bit more clearly (cough, cough), Hand has been serving as a justice since well before the Baker-Polito team took office and she is indeed winning praise for her past duties and so …

Meanwhile, Gov. Baker has found yet another close-to-home judicial nominee: Gregory White, who has as worked since 2015 as chief of staff and general counsel in the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, was nominated yesterday by the governor to serve on the Superior Court, reports SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall).

Report: Weston residents and other rich suburbanites are biggest political donors in Massachusetts

The state Office of Campaign and Political Finance has put out a new report that shows what just about everyone knew or suspected: Rich suburbanites are the biggest political donors in Massachusetts as measured by per capita donations. The good residents of Weston lead the give-till-it-hurts-a-little pack. Other top donors come from Dover, Cohasset, Winchester and Swampscott, where Gov. Charlie Baker lives, as Andy Metzger reports at CommonWealth. Metzger has all the numbers.


North Andover students stage walkout – and media locked out – over sexual harassment controversy

From Lisa Kashinsky at the Herald: “Hundreds of students walked out of North Andover High Wednesday and are circulating a petition in protest of the school’s sexual assault policy that urges both the alleged abuser and victim to sign a contract to avoid each other in school.”

Meanwhile, Breanna Edelstein at the Eagle-Tribune reports that, apparently per the order of the police chief, members of the media covering the walkout were ordered to stay off school grounds. In other words: Nothing to see here, folks. Move along. Nothing to see.

Boston Herald

Final report: Faulty fuel-line fitting led to plane crash that killed former Newburyport mayor

From the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky: “Investigators said a single-engine plane crash into a Methuen condominium building two years ago was likely caused by improperly secured oil and fuel line fittings that resulted in an in-flight engine fire. The National Transportation Safety Board has released its final report on the Feb. 28, 2017, crash that resulted in the death of former Newburyport Mayor Alan Lavender, 73, and displaced nearly three-dozen condo residents.”

Filmmaker Ken Burns joins effort to save Hampshire College

From Jim Russell at MassLive: “One of Hampshire College’s best-known alumni, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, has joined the effort to help the college endure financial troubles, President Miriam Nelson confirmed in a letter to the college community Wednesday afternoon. Burns, 65, and seven others are members of the newly created President’s Options Working Group, appointed by Nelson.” As Russell notes, Burns is best known for his award-winning “Civil War” and “Baseball” documentaries.


Groceries, with a twist: Whole Foods proposes beer and wine cafe at Sudbury store

Is this just a ploy to sell more pretzels? Whole Foods is mulling a plan to allow shoppers at its Sudbury store to sip beer and wine from an in-store cafe while they fill their grocery carts, Zane Razzaq reports at the MetroWest Daily News. Because Sudbury is at its pouring license quota, the proposal would have to jump through extra legal hoops, but the store says the concept has worked well in other states. 

MetroWest Daily News

Fired up: Environmental groups want Baker to back off wood-to-energy plan

A coalition of environmental groups is pushing back on a plan by Gov. Charlie Baker to promote the use of forest products and other biomass to produce heat and energy, saying the burning wood is a major contributor to air pollution and therefore poses health risks, Greta Jochem reports at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Baker recently awarded a series of grants to companies involved in the harvesting and processing of biomass fuels. 


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

Jewish Climate Change Conference: The Task Is Great, The Time Is Short

This half-day conference brings the Jewish community together to explore surmounting challenges and mobilizing communities to act. Learn actions for individuals and congregations to take on the path forward in the coming years. Build connections. Learn from and with experts and leaders.

Synagogue Council of Massachusetts

ADL New England’s 12th Annual “A Nation of Immigrants” Community Seder

Join us in continuing the tradition of bringing diverse communities together to build bridges of understanding. At this special event, we will model the traditional celebration of the Passover Seder and also share readings, songs, and stories from the diverse backgrounds that make up our great nation.


President Carter: The White House Years

Stuart E. Eizenstat, former chief White House domestic policy adviser to President Jimmy Carter, Ambassador to the European Union, and Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, discusses his new book, President Carter: The White House Years.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

New Insights: Native American History in the Colonial Period

Colin Calloway, author of The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, The First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation and Dartmouth professor of history, and Julia A. King, St. Mary’s College of Maryland professor of anthropology, discuss recent historical research into Native American life with Philip Deloria, Harvard professor of history.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Kindness and Civility in Society: A Call to Common Purpose

A discussion about kindness and civility in society with leaders from Boston College and A Faith that Does Justice.

A Faith that Does Justice

Women’s Network Breakfast: Sandi Fenwick, Boston Children’s Hospital

Boston Children’s is the leading recipient of pediatric research funding from the National Institutes of Health, and is home to the world’s largest pediatric research enterprise. Much of this consistent excellence can be credited to the outstanding leadership, of Boston Children’s first female Chief Executive Officer, Sandra Fenwick, and the team she has assembled.

Lobby 101 – Methuen

Wondering how to get involved in improving animal protection in Massachusetts? At this event, we will discuss the legislative process, current legislation you can take action on, and different ways that you can effectively use your voice to make a difference for animals.


Today’s Headlines


Boston city council decides it doesn’t want to deal with people with petitions – Universal Hub

BPS teachers and supporters rally for new contract – Boston Herald


Greenfield council votes for new library – Greenfield Recorder

Lowell eyeing new approach to ending homelessness – Lowell Sun

Tax rate cut for micro-weed manufacturers in Great Barrington – Berkshire Eagle


Judge halts drilling in Wyoming over climate concerns – Washington Post

The Enigmatic Russian who Helps Fund Maria Butina’s Legal Bills – The Atlantic

How to Contact MASSterList

Send tips to Matt Murphy: Editor@MASSterList.com. For advertising inquiries and job board postings, please contact Dylan Rossiter: Publisher@MASSterList.com or (857) 370-1156. Follow @MASSterList on Twitter.