Happening Today

Compressor station report, college closure bill, and more

Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility holds a press conference to discuss health and safety hazards of the proposed compressor station in Weymouth. Boston College, Yawkey Athletic Center, Murray Room, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill, 10 a.m.

— The Higher Education Committee reviews ten pieces legislations, including the governor’s bill regulating college closures in Massachusetts, Room A-1, 10:30 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Michael Kennealy to offer remarks and administer the Oath of Office for the Economic Development Planning Council, with Polito and Kennealy then co-chairing the council’s first meeting, Room 428, 11 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Senate President Karen Spilka, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and House Minority Leader Brad Jones gather for leadership meeting, Senate President’s Office, Room 332, 2 p.m.

MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board hosts its weekly meeting with an agenda calling for discussion of the Green Line ‘train protection system,’ capital needs, late-evening South Shore commuter rail, and the delayed automated fare collection system and more, State Transportation Building, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, 12 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday, Sen. Diana DiZoglio, Rep. Jim Kelcourse, Newburyport City Council President Barry Connell and Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority Executive Director Joe Costanzo participate in the Newburyport Intermodal Transit and Parking Facility ribbon-cutting ceremony, 83 Merrimac Street, Newburyport, 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

Yes, it’s May and it snowed this weekend – and more may be on the way

Here’s photographic proof, via Universal Hub, that, yes, it really did snow this past weekend out in western Massachusetts. And the Herald, which also has photographic proof of the white stuff falling on Sunday, reports that another sprinkling may occur today or tomorrow. Granted, we’re not talking about much. But still … Now on to all things politics and government (mostly).

Vaccines war

The public-health battle over vaccines is intensifying across the land. The Globe’s Liz Kowalczyk reports how local doctors who speak out against the anti-vaccine movement have suddenly become the target of scorn on online physician rating sites, apparently part of a coordinated social-media campaign waged by anti-vaccine types.

Meanwhile, Christian Wade at the Newburyport Daily News has an update on the Massachusetts Medical Society’s determination to wage a counter-offensive against the anti-vaccination movement, openly endorsing legislation that would limit opt-outs of vaccines required of children attending schools.

Somerville’s sweet 16

We still marvel at how much Somerville has changed over the years. Anyway, from Alex Newman at the Patch: “Somerville is poised to become the first community in Massachusetts to have a voting age of 16. The city council unanimously voted Thursday night to extend voting rights in local elections to 16- and 17-year-olds, according to Mayor Joseph Curtatone. The city has sent a Home Rule Petition to the State House for approval.”

The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld is blasting the move as nothing more than a “partisan power grab to gin up the Democratic vote” in Somerville and in other communities where they’re talking about lowering the local voting age to 16.

As for yours truly, we’re still trying to figure out the contradiction of those who want to raise the criminal-justice age from 18 to 21 in Massachusetts, arguing teen brains haven’t developed yet, and their simultaneous push to lower the local voting age to 16. Something’s not adding up here.


Meanwhile, Somerville and senator unite against facial recognition technology

Speaking of Somerville, its city council has moved to ban government agencies from using facial recognition software, as Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem simultaneously prepares to wage war on Beacon Hill against Big Brother and Big Sister. MassLive’s Steph Solis and the Herald’s Mary Markos have the details.

Nancy Pelosi’s growing impeachment headaches: Elizabeth Warren, Seth Moulton, etc. etc.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has her hands full trying to tamp down all the impeachment talk coming from her Democratic caucus left – and she’s facing added pressure now that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton and other Dem presidential candidates are also calling for impeachment of President Trump, reports the Globe’s Jess Bidgood and Liz Goodwin.

In other 2020 presidential news, you don’t read this often, via Politico: “Trump backers applaud Warren in heart of MAGA country.” And, no, they were not applauding talk of impeachment. Meanwhile, the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky recently hit the campaign trail and found that N.H. Dems are not ready to write off Beto O’Rourke. The Globe’s James Pindell, meanwhile, reports on O’Rourke’s fall from top-tier candidate to just another presidential-wannabe earthling. 

Harvey Weinstein lawyer loses dean’s post at Harvard

Harvard says its decision to remove faculty dean Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. from his position as head of the Winthrop House (a fancy way of saying “dorm”) had nothing to do with his recent legal representation of disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, a relationship that caused a huge MeToo outcry on campus. But the timing, ah, the timing. Shera Avi-Yonah and Aiden Ryan at the Harvard Crimson and Stephanie Ebbert at the Globe have more.

Yet another way to get your kid into an elite college: Pay the athletic coach’s salary

Speaking of elite schools, it’s all above board and even touted on Ivy League colleges’ web sites: For a mere $1 million or more, you can endow a university athletic coaching position – and, by sheer coincidence, as a Globe reporting team finds, your kid can sometimes transfer to the college and even play for that very same coach. … Incredible. They don’t miss a beat.

Btw: The Globe’s Maddie Kilgannon reports that actress Felicity Huffman plans to plead guilty today in Boston in the ongoing college-admissions scandal.

Boston Globe

Walsh on casino’s 4 a.m. liquor license request: Not so fast

Mayor Marty Walsh thinks state regulators should hold off on granting a 4 a.m. liquor license to the soon-to-open Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett, saying officials should first see how a 2 a.m. license works before extending hours, reports Brooks Sutherland at the Herald.

Boston Herald

Sherry H. Penney, first women to lead UMass system, RIP

From the Globe’s John Hilliard: “Family and colleagues mourned Sunday the deaths of the first woman to lead Massachusetts’ university system and her husband, a retired MIT professor, after the couple were found Friday in their Florida home overcome by carbon monoxide from a car they had purchased for its modern safety features, family members said. Their 2017 Toyota Avalon, which had a keyless ignition system, apparently was accidentally left running in the garage of the Sarasota home of Sherry H. Penney, 81, the former interim president of the University of Massachusetts, and James Livingston, 88, a retired Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, according to family.”

Boston Globe

When $50K isn’t enough for elders to live on in Massachusetts

Sophia Brown at WGBH has a good piece on how expensive and hard it is for seniors to live in Massachusetts if they still have mortgages to pay off. The same applies, we assume, to seniors renting during their retirement years.


Seniors and slots: Researchers to probe how Plainridge has impacted older neighbors

Speaking of seniors, the Mass. Gaming Commission says it will spend $40,000 to launch a study of how seniors who live near the Plainridge Park Casino have been impacted by the arrival of the state’s only slots parlor four years ago, Robert Weisman reports at the Globe.

Boston Globe

Technology upgrades to the foster-care rescue at DCF?

This sounds promising and seems to have a lot of support. From Kay Lazar at the Globe: “The Baker administration is pursuing major technology upgrades to improve communication with thousands of foster parents, and to overhaul the process for placing abused and neglected children who are removed from their homes at night. A new, secure intranet system will go live in the next week, allowing foster families to communicate directly with the state’s child welfare agency, the Department of Children and Families.”

County jail guards: Why aren’t we paid the same as state prison guards?

Teachers, cops, firefighters and others across the state could be asking roughly the same pay-inequity question, except it’s county jail guards asking the question, and demanding changes, regarding the pay inequity between jail guards and state prison guards. Shira Schoenberg at MassLive has the details.


Quincy’s building boom is a $100K boon to the mayor

From the Patriot Ledger’s Erin Tiernan: “As Quincy continues to undergo a building boom that is changing the face of the city and drawing in millions of real estate investment dollars, one clear winner has emerged: Mayor Thomas Koch’s campaign account. In the last three years, Koch’s campaign has received nearly $100,000 from developers seeking to build in the city, according to a Patriot Ledger review of campaign finance records.”

Patriot Ledger

Former MLB commissioner blasts Red Sox who skipped White House ceremony

The members of the champion Red Sox have come and gone from the White House lawn but some people – such as former MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent — aren’t done mulling the controversy over the team’s racial divide over who did and didn’t attend the event. Writing at the Washington Post, Vincent calls the boycott “an error” and writes that “the head of our nation ought never be the target of disrespect.” 

Washington Post

Suspended state trooper sentenced to two months in prison for overtime abuse

And more sentencings are on the way. From Wicked Local: “A former state trooper from Braintree was sentenced to two months in prison for being paid for overtime hours he did not work, the office of U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said. Kevin Sweeney, 40, also received three months of home detention followed by nine months of supervised release. U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton also ordered Sweeney to pay a fine of $4,000 and restitution of $11,103 at Friday’s sentencing.”

Wicked Local

Arbella chair: Pass the ban on handheld phones in cars, Massachusetts

John Donohue, chair and president Arbella Insurance Foundation, cites studies, and Arbella’s own data, about the dangers of distracted driving caused by people using handheld cell phones while at the wheel of a car – and he writes at CommonWealth magazine that it’s time for lawmakers to pass legislation to ban handheld phones in vehicles in Massachusetts.


Gloucester fish processing plant closes abruptly, eliminating 150 jobs

From the Gloucester Times: “Gloucester’s mayor has mobilized her team to help employees of National Fish & Seafood, which abruptly closed its doors Friday afternoon. … The company gave some of its approximately 150 employees a severance package of 60 days’ pay and the continuation of health insurance for an indefinite period of time, the mayor said she was told. The company, founded in 1979, processed seafood at its 66,000-square-foot facility at 159 E. Main St.” 

Gloucester Times

Think tank offers $10K reward for best idea to reduce traffic congestion

The Pioneer Institute wants to give $10,000 to whoever can solve Boston’s chronic traffic congestion problem. Really. Alexi Cohan at the Herald has the details – and some of the early ideas.

Boston Herald

The state’s failed transportation polices in Chelsea (and other communities of color)

Speaking of traffic woes, María Belén of Chelsea’s GreenRoots and Chris Dempsey of Transportation for Massachusetts contrast, among other things, state transportation services and funding in Chelsea to those provided by the state in more affluent suburbs – and guess what? The affluent suburbs win – again. At CommonWealth magazine, they have some suggestions on how to improved transportation polices in Chelsea and other hard-scrabble communities across the state.


Ex-AG Frank Bellotti: The last of his WWII breed

The Herald’s Casey Sherman has a column this morning on 96-year-old Frank Bellotti, the still sharp-as-ever former AG and lieutenant governor who’s now the lone survivor of his WWII unit of the ‘Scouts and Raiders,’ forerunner of today’s Navy SEALs.

The Senate-UMass funding fight: Still no light at the end of the tunnel

The Globe’s Matt Stout has a recap of the battle between UMass and the Senate over the latter’s proposed 7 percent increase in funding for the system – with the demand that tuition rates be frozen. Bottom line: Still no consensus. Btw: Mathematically, UMass does seem to have some explaining to do, since you’d think a 7 percent hike in funding would offset any need for 2.5 percent tuition rate hike, or whatever the system is threatening. 

Yet another threat to right whales: Seismic airgun blasting

It’s not just fishing gear and area ships that are threatening the nearly extinct right whales along the country’s eastern coast. It’s also seismic airgun blasting, used to find offshore oil and gas reserves, that could further threaten the right whales, writes U.S. Reps. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and John Rutherford of Florida and the New England Aquarium’s Vikki Spruill at CommonWealth magazine.

Going noisily: Worcester school board member flames committee as he bows out

File this under: ‘Tell us how you really feel.’ Worcester School Committee member Dante Comparetto says he won’t seek re-election because of last week’s controversial decision to extend the city’s school superintendent’s contract. As Bill Shaner reports at Worcester Magazine, Comparetto isn’t going quietly, pulling out a flame thrower at Facebook, where he calls the school board “morally corrupt, a committee representing a very racist community.” He also said it was “disgraceful” that Superintendent Maureen Binienda has not apologized to students of color for comments many have found insensitive.

Worcester Magazine

Another study calls safety of proposed Weymouth pipeline project into question

A study released Monday will argue that the area around a site proposed to host a natural gas compressor station in Weymouth is too densely populated to allow for safe evacuation or prompt emergency response, Barbara Moran reports at WBUR. The report from the Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility argues the proposed facility would also be sited both in an area prone to flooding and too close to other heavy industrial uses that pose their own safety risks.


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

The Fletcher School Class Day Ceremony address

The Fletcher School is welcoming Susan Rice, former U.S. National Security Advisor and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, will deliver the Class Day speech at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University on Saturday, May 18.

The Fletcher School

Today’s Headlines


Trump 2020 banner unfurled at Fenway Park, then quickly ripped down – Fox News

Marty Walsh: Encore should have to make case for 4 a.m. liquor license – Boston Herald


Springfield mayor urges state to reject methadone clinic plans – MassLive

Last class graduates from Newbury College – Boston Globe

Suffolk Downs officials take stock of Great Barrington Fairgrounds for state’s horse racing future – Berkshire Eagle

Legal weed sales kick off in Amherst – Daily Hampshire Gazette


‘A dream ticket’: Black lawmakers pitch Biden-Harris to beat Trump – Politico

How a newspaper war ends in New Orleans: With Baked Alaska and layoffs – New York Times

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