Happening Today

Mayors on education funding, Governor’s Council, and more

— Mayors and school officials from Brockton, New Bedford and Worcester hold a briefing on the ‘severe education challenges facing Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities’ and on possible education-funding  legal action, One State St., 4th floor, Boston, 11 a.m.

— The Massachusetts House holds a formal session with plans to consider Gov. Baker’s bill financing improvements to municipal roads and bridges, House Chamber, 11 a.m.

— The Massachusetts Senate meets and Senate Democrats go into closed caucus, Senate president’s office, 11 a.m.

— The Governor’s Council meets three times today, the first to hear testimony on Gov. Charlie Baker’s nomination of James Haddad as a Gardner District Court judge, the second as a general meeting with not votes scheduled, and the third to review Jennifer Allen’s appointment to the Suffolk Probate and Family Court bench, Council Chamber, 10:30 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., respectively.

— Rep. Paul Mark and Sen. Jo Comerford host a briefing on the impacts that advanced analytics and artificial intelligence could have on health care, House Members’ Lounge, 11 a.m.

Constitutional Convention, a joint meeting of the House and Senate, begins with possible consideration of a proposed tax on millionaires, with Senate President Karen Spilka presiding, House Chamber, 1 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

The Senate budget: Higher education funding, new e-cigarette and opioid-drug taxes

The real budget haggling is about to begin on Beacon Hill, now that the Senate has revealed its budget blueprint. From MassLive’s Shira Schoenberg: “The Massachusetts Senate’s state budget proposal, released Tuesday, would include a major increase for education funding while adopting new taxes on e-cigarettes and opioid drugs. The Senate Ways and Means Committee released a $42.7 billion state budget proposal for fiscal 2020, representing a 3.1 percent increase over the current year’s budget.”

The budget is generally in line with the recently approved House budget, but there are key differences. The Globe’s Victoria McGrane and Matt Stout focus on the big bump in education funding in the Senate budget, tens of millions of dollars more than what Gov. Charlie Baker and the House have proposed. SHNS’s Chris Lisinksi (pay wall) has a good overview piece on the Senate budget proposal.


Meehan slams Senate’s one-year tuition freeze proposal

A budget wouldn’t be a budget if it didn’t draw fire – and the Senate’s new budget blueprint was definitely drawing fire yesterday from one quarter, as the Herald’s Mary Markos reports: “University of Massachusetts executives say a Senate proposal to prohibit the system from increasing in-state tuition and fees for one school year would be ‘unprecedented.’

UMass president Marty Meehan says the Senate budget plan is “devastating” to the university and could lead to layoffs and cuts in student financial aid, etc. etc., reports SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) and MassLive’s Shira Schoenberg.

Boston Herald

Another unhappy camper: MassBIO

Yet another group is unhappy with the Senate budget blueprint: MassBIO, the biotech and pharmaceutical industry trade group that’s objecting to drug price-control proposals in the Senate budget, reports Andy Metzger at CommonWealth magazine. The BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett has more on the drug-pricing debate.


The changing face of Boston’s suburbs

The Globe’s Meghan Irons reports on a new Boston Foundation study on how immigrants are dramatically changing the demographic face of Greater Boston, particularly in the once lily-white suburbs of Boston.

Boston Globe

Boston’s racial education-achievement gap: As wide as ever

Speaking of demographic differences and trends, from the Herald’s Rick Sobey: “A deep and persistent minority achievement gap is one of the most urgent problems facing Boston Public Schools, as the city welcomes a school superintendent who oversaw Minnesota schools plagued by chronic poor academic performance.” He provides the stark statistics proving the wide racial gap – and it’s a big gap.

Boston Herald

The Red Sox. Or is it ‘the white Sox’?

Speaking of racial divides, the Globe’s Adrian Walker was harping on this point the other day, i.e. the clear racial divide between Red Sox players/managers/owners who are and aren’t attending this week’s World Series celebration at the White House. Now the Washington Post had spotted the same divide. “This dichotomy was highlighted by a tweet from longtime Boston sports columnist Steve Buckley, who noted, ‘[B]asically, it’s the white Sox who’ll be going,’” writes the Post’s Dave Sheinan.

Washington Post

Fall River officials in the dark as mayor decamps for some poolside cards in Vegas

Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia has again irked city councilors by leaving the city without letting anyone know — this time for some poolside card games in Las Vegas, Jo C. Goode reports at the Herald News. Correia, who returned to City Hall this week, refused to answer questions about his time away, but a local resident snapped a pic of the shirtless mayor playing cards on the Caesar’s Palace pool patio. Last year, Correia drew fire for twice traveling to Cape Verde without notice, a trip he is unable to repeat since he surrendered his passport after being indicted on federal fraud charges.

Herald News

Boston police captain placed on leave amid ‘anti-corruption’ probe

This sounds ominous. From the Dorchester Reporter: “Capt. Haseeb Hosein, who has commanded the Area B-3 police district in Dorchester and Mattapan since 2014, was placed on paid leave on Monday amid a BPD anti-corruption investigation. … ‘It’s an active investigation, it’s an open investigation, and it’s an anti-corruption investigation,” said BPD Commissioner William Gross, who said he could not comment further on the details on the probe, which is being led by the BPD’s own Bureau of Internal Affairs.”

Dorchester Reporter

Florida prosecutors: Kraft’s attorneys are liars

They’re going at it in Florida, where prosecutors are accusing Robert Kraft’s legal team of lying about what was said and not said by a cop involved in the Orchids of Asia Day Spa prostitution case against the New England Patriots owner. The Kraft team counters that prosecutors are now desperate to keep their case from collapsing. The Globe’s Danny McDonald has the details.

Warren begs to differ with McConnell’s ‘case closed’ pronouncement on Mueller probe

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may have declared ‘‘case closed’’ on the Russia probe and potential obstruction of justice by President Trump, but U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren begs to differ. “Wishing won’t make it so,” she says, according to an Associated Press report at the Globe. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Scot Lehigh writes that McConnell’s pronouncement reveals four key things about today’s Republican Party: “Cynicism. Shamelessness. Subservience. Hackery.”

Northeastern proposes second science and engineering complex in Boston

Forget Harvard’s big plans for a new science campus in Allston. Northeastern University is one-upping it with plans for a second science and engineering complex in Boston, the latest a proposed 350,000-square-center along Columbus Avenue. The BBJ’s Catherine Carlock has the details.

BBJ (pay wall)

An unlikely debate over Elizabeth Warren’s ‘Two-income Trap’ theory

Speaking of Elizabeth Warren, NYT columnist Ross Douthat writes that the progressive Warren, of all people, has indirectly sparked a debate among conservative Republicans, via her book “The Two-Income Trap,” about whether two-income families are better or worse for American families today.

Meanwhile, Annie Linskey at the Washington Post has a piece about other thought-provoking ideas and books that Warren has issued over the years, sometimes sparking harsh words and feuds.


Three communities reach $80M settlement over last fall’s gas explosions

Lawrence, Andover and North Andover have reached an $80 million settlement with Columbia Gas over last fall’s devastating natural-gas explosions and fires, providing  need funds largely to repair roads and other infrastructure torn up during recovery efforts, reports Bianca Vázquez Toness at WGBH. Lawrence Mayor Don Rivera, whose city will get the bulk of the funds, said he wished communities got more money, but it was the best deal they could get.


Of ride-share strikes and stalkers …

We suspect it’s going to be more like herding cats, i.e. it can’t be done. But the Boston Independent Drivers Guild, a grassroots organization formed last summer, swears its Uber and Lyft members are united, ready, and able to join a nationwide strike today to protest unfair wages as Uber prepares to go public this week, reports the Herald’s Brooks Sutherland.  

After today’s action, the guild might want to turn its focus on how to stop creepy ride-sharing drivers from stalking passengers. The Globe’s Jeneé Osterheldt has a harrowing tale this morning of one female passenger who thought she was getting an Uber ride and instead got a nightmare stalker.  

Bunnies, not bombs: Feds start populating Nomans Land with cottontails

Now they can just do what comes naturally. Federal wildlife officials delivered 13 New England cottontail rabbits to Nomans Land — a small island off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard that was long used as a test site for airborne bombs — with hopes of creating a thriving colony of the furry creatures. Officials believe the island’s landscape and a lack of natural predators should allow the colony to grow to a crowd of 600 within a few years, Ethan Genter reports at the Cape Cod Times.

Cape Cod Times

Springfield mulls postcard and robocall offensive to boost ‘dismal’ voter turnout

Considering voter turnout was only 9.9 percent in the last Springfield local election, this isn’t such a bad idea. From Peter Goonan at MassLive: “City Councilor Jesse Lederman has proposed a new ordinance that, if approved, would require the city to send postcards and robocalls to all voters in advance of every election, aimed at improving often-dismal voter turnout.”


The Delahunt Courthouse?

The Herald’s Howie Carr fears a statewide outbreak of naming courthouses after retired pols, the latest example being a House budget amendment to name a superior courthouse after former U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt.

Boston Herald

Ex-trooper on unauthorized CORI inquiries: Everyone does it!

Colman Herman at CommonWealth magazine reports that a former state trooper who was reprimanded this month for improperly accessing criminal records when he with State Police, is partly defending himself thusly: “I was a trooper for a long time and it was a common practice for troopers to run someone’s name through the CORI system for reasons besides law enforcement.”

Speaking of former state law enforcement officers, an ex-transit cop is suing the MBTA, charging that he was fired by a black boss who hates whites and by a white supervisor who hates unions, reports Universal Hub. The ex-officer, who is white, had been accused of literally sleeping on the job.


Tie breaker: Warwick moderator breaks stalemate on cannabis cultivation measure

  Every vote counts, Town Meeting edition: Warwick Town Moderator David Koester cast the tie-breaking vote that led to the approval of a bylaw making marijuana cultivation legal by right in the Franklin County town, Melina Bourdeau reports at the Greenfield Recorder. Koester’s vote broke a 28-28 tie and approves the streamlined process for cannabis cultivation at the local level, though would-be pot growers still need to get state approvals.


Lelling: He’s just doing his job, unlike Healey

Lowell Sun columnist Peter Lucas is riding to the defense of U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, who Lucas says was just doing his job when his office charge a sitting state judge with obstructing justice for allegedly helping an illegal immigrant escape ICE detention. Attorney General Maura Healey? She’s too busy suing Donald Trump, Lucas contends.

Lowell Sun

The great outdoors: Time to tout it

Isn’t there already a state tourism office that could handle this? Anyway, from SHNS’s Colin Young: “Touting a roughly $16 billion industry in Massachusetts, activists on Tuesday called on lawmakers to create a new state office that would promote outdoor recreation — downhill skiing, backpacking, whitewater rafting, pleasure boating and more — and maximize its impact. A Sen. Adam Hinds bill (S 484) would establish an Office of Outdoor Recreation within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Thinking small: Auburn town meeting says bring on the tiny houses

Auburn could soon join Nantucket as the only communities to allow so-called “tiny houses” as standalone structures in its zoning bylaws after a favorable town meeting vote, Craig Semon reports at the Telegram. Under the bylaw, which was sparked by a citizen’s petition, tiny houses would have to be less than 400 square feet in total size and only one can be sited on each building lot.


Massachusetts Medical Society adopts policy opposing most vaccine exemptions

Anne-Gerard Flynn at MassLive reports that the Massachusetts Medical Society, amidst a measles outbreak, has endorsed a policy opposing non-medical vaccine exemptions at schools. The society is also supporting proposals to tax sugar-sweetened beverages and to make it easier for young women to obtain abortions without parental consent.

Report: Local public health agencies have a lot of shortcomings to address

From SHNS’s Colin Young: “Local health departments in Massachusetts have a limited ability to deliver on their statutory requirements in the areas of housing code violations and restaurant and septic system inspections, lack workforce standards, and face inequities in funding, according to a new special commission report.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

U.S. Navy sailor Meaghan Burns victim of double homicide and suicide in Virginia

This is terrible. A 23-year-old Massachusetts woman serving in the U.S. Navy was an “innocent victim of senseless gun violence” when she and a friend were killed at a convenience store by a deranged man who later committed suicide over the weekend in Virginia. Melissa Hanson at MassLive has more on the death of Meaghan Burns, a Springfield native and South Deerfield resident who was stationed at the Portsmouth Naval Medical Center in Virginia.


Offshore Wind Panel

YPE is excited to announce that we will be hosting a panel discussion on offshore wind energy at WilmerHale later this spring! Our panelists and moderator represent a diverse group of stakeholder interests from the growing offshore wind industry here in Boston, from finance and development to engineering and manufacturing.

YPE Boston

NETWORK Conference

The Massachusetts Coalition for Adult Education (MCAE) brings together over 500 adult educators, counselors, administrators, volunteers, and activists for its annual NETWORK Conference, the largest gathering of its kind in New England.

Massachusetts Coalition for Adult Education (MCAE)

Intro to Construction Management Onsite Course

This is a two-part course that will be held on May 10, 2019, and May 17, 2019. Introduction to Construction Management will provide students with a practical understanding of the planning, design and construction processes from project initiation to closeout.

NAIOP Massachusetts

Book Talk: Boston’s 20th-Century Bicycling Renaissance

Author talk and book signing with Lorenz J. Finison, author of the new book Boston’s Twentieth-Century Bicycling Renaissance.

State Library of Massachusetts

A Conversation With Bill Cummings

Young professionals are invited to hear from Cummings Properties founder Bill Cummings as he discusses his career, dedication to philanthropy and new self-written memoir.

NAIOP Massachusetts

Poverty and Inequality in Boston: A Tale of Two Cities?

Join us for a discussion about what we can do about income inequality in Boston.

A Faith that Does Justice

JALSA 2019 Annual Meeting

The Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action is devoted to engaging the community in promoting civil rights, protecting civil liberties and achieving social, economic, racial, and environmental justice.


Massachusetts Clean Community Awards Gala

The Massachusetts Clean Community Awards Gala recognize volunteers, nonprofit leaders, government leaders, businesses, and educators for exceptional environmental protection and community improvement efforts. This celebration will be chock full of inspiring stories, good food, drink, and entertainment! WCVB news anchors Emily Riemer and Ben Simmoneau will emcee the event.

Keep Massachusetts Beautiful

Today’s Headlines


Boston makes it a little easier to find Charlie Cards – WCVB

Boston ride-hailing drivers to join nationwide strike – Boston Herald


Leicester voters OK spending some pot shop host agreement funds – Telegram & Gazette

New leader seeks dialogue to bridge Berkshire Museum’s past, future – Berkshire Eagle

Burns upbeat on Hampshire College fundraising effort – Daily Hampshire Gazette


Decade in the red: Trump taxes show over $1 billion in business losses – New York Times

Trump campaign refuses to say whether it has a policy on foreign agents – Politico

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