Mueller testimony, Cronin funeral, ‘Conrad’s Law’
— Gov. Charlie Baker returns from Aspen, Colorado, where he attended the Republican Governors Association’s summer meeting earlier this week.
— Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller will testify at two congressional hearings regarding his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, starting this morning and through the early afternoon, Washington, D.C.
— Funeral Mass for longtime Governor’s Council aide George F. Cronin Jr., who also served as a council member from 1965 through 1982 and who died Friday at 81; the council has postponed its planned meeting for today, Holy Name Church, West Roxbury, 10 a.m.
— Sen. Barry Finegold and Rep. Natalie Higgins hold a press conference to announce the filing of ‘Conrad’s Law,’ a bill that would criminalize suicide coercion in Massachusetts, Room 428, 10:30 a.m.
— Striking bus drivers from the Vineyard Transit Authority plan to rally outside the State House to publicize concerns about bus safety and wage stagnation, State House front steps, 12 p.m.
— Stop Taxpayer Funded Abortion Committee and other pro-life organizations hold a press conference to re-launch their ballot question campaign seeking a constitutional amendment that would allow the exclusion of abortion services from state-funded health care programs, State House steps, 10:45 a.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.
Healey launches criminal probe of trucking firm tied to fatal NH crash
From Arjun Singh at WGBH: “Attorney General Maura Healey said on Tuesday that her office has launched a criminal investigation into Springfield based company Westfield Transport. Westfield Transport is the company that employed Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, the driver in a crash that killed seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire in June.”
Meanwhile, RMV is still feeling the heat
Speaking of the tragic NH crash, the Registry of Motor Vehicles is still feeling the heat for its failure to suspend Volodymyr Zhukovskyy’s driver’s license before the accident – and the Baker administration is still feeling the heat for not letting certain RMV personnel testify at a State House hearing earlier this week. From the Herald’s editorial board: “RMV no-shows speak volumes.” From the Globe’s Shirley Leung: “Memo to the RMV: If it’s life-and-death, don’t go on vacation.”
And, curiously, Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack seems to be suggesting RMV record-keeping blunders might also be tied to software problems, not just the failure by some to notice overflowing bins at the agency. SHNS’s Chris Liskinski (pay wall) has more.
Polito urges patience as thousands remain in dark after Cape twister
At least no one’s talking about sharks. Cape Cod had to deal with another type of natural menace on Tuesday, as a tornado touched down twice, leaving tens of thousands without power — some likely for several days. Christine Legere at the Cape Cod Times has the damage report and some first-person accounts from the motel that had its roof ripped off by the storm.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who viewed the damage herself because Gov. Charlie Baker was out of town, warned it could be days before all power is restored, citing a “mass destruction of the distribution system,” WHDH reports.
Fall River mayor’s lawyer wields the slander sword over ‘kickback’ accusation
This is getting good. An attorney for Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia has threatened legal action against a member of the city council who last week accused the mayor of taking “kickbacks” in exchange for community agreements to operate marijuana businesses in the city, Jo C. Goode at the Herald-News reports. Kevin Reddington warned Councilor Shawn Cadime that his claims were potentially “slanderous” and urged him to take any concerns he has to the U.S. Attorney already prosecuting the mayor for financial fraud crimes. For his part, Cadime says he did reach out to prosecutors to say he’d be happy to cooperate.
Congressional delegation pushes to advance Vineyard Wind
They’re flooding the zone on this one. From SHNS’s Michael Norton (paywall): “Members of Congress have become involved in trying to move Vineyard Wind forward, a top Baker administration official said Tuesday, as lobbying intensifies to advance what state officials hope will be the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind project.” Meanwhile, from the Globe’s editorial board: “Feds shouldn’t stymie Mass. wind power.”
Separately, state Sen. Marc Pacheco is raising concerns over lawmakers’ tinkering with state wind-price requirements, saying efforts to help the offshore-wind industry may be going a bit too far, reports Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine.
Center stage: Walsh portrayed as instigator of alleged Boston Calling shakedown
The Herald’s Andrew Martinez and the Globe’s Maria Cramer report that federal prosecutors yesterday made it clear that Mayor Marty Walsh was a central figure in the Boston Calling corruption case, mentioning him during opening arguments as a pol striving to get payback for a union that politically supported him.
OK, fine. Here’s our question: Then why wasn’t Walsh charged too? This is a weird case, involving charges that one suspects just about every elected official in America could get hit with at some point, i.e. going to bat for political supporters. We’ll see if the feds have more damning evidence up their sleeves. Right now, the case looks pretty flimsy. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld has more on the trial and the mayor’s union ties.
Walsh pitches ride-hailing fees as traffic-congestion solution
Speaking of the mayor, from CommonWealth magazine’s Andy Metzger: “Boston Mayor Marty Walsh wants to reduce traffic choking city streets and enhance transit options in the city through a mixture of targeted taxes on ride-hailing services and investments by the MBTA.” SHNS’s Colin Young(pay wall) has more on yesterday’s State House hearing, where Walsh made his pitch, and legislation regarding ride-hailing firms.
Report: Uber and Lyft cost the MBTA $20 million a year
And speaking of the T, from Boston Magazine’s Spencer Buell: “As the number of Uber and Lyft drivers circulating through Greater Boston’s streets keeps increasing, trips using the services are taking millions of dollars in fare money from the MBTA, a new study has found—about $20 million each year, to be exact. That’s according to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.”
It appears the ride-hailing loss has been offset this year by lawmakers, who unexpectedly allocated an extra $23 million to the MBTA in the new state budget passed by the House and Senate earlier this week. The T isn’t quite sure what to make of the windfall, reports SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall).
Officials issue warnings about some local bottled water products
WGBH’s Gabrielle Emanuel reports that pregnant and breastfeeding women, and those with infants, might want think twice before buying bottled water produced by a Haverhill company and locally sold as store brands at Whole Foods, CVS, Cumberland Farms and Market Basket. It has to do with levels of PFAS. Emanuel explains.
Lottery posts record profit of nearly $1.1 billion
As long as the Lottery keeps racking up record profits, Treasurer Deb Goldberg is going to have a hard time convincing lawmakers that the Lottery desperately needs online games and sports betting to bolster its revenues. Anyway, SHNS’s Colin Young has the details on Lottery’s banner fiscal 2019 earnings that were achieved without online games and sports betting.
More online retailers will have to start paying state sales tax
The BBJ’s Greg Ryan found something interesting tucked in the new state budget passed by lawmakers earlier this week: A requirement that more online retailers pay sales taxes for transactions in Massachusetts. The potential tax-revenue haul: $42 million.
As Ryan writes: “Score another legislative victory for Massachusetts brick-and-mortar retailers.” We also suspect we haven’t heard the last of this.
‘Conrad’s Law’ would make suicide coercion a punishable crime
Prompted by the Michelle Carter suicide texting case, state Sen. Barry Finegold has filed legislation, dubbed “Conrad’s Law,” that would make suicide by coercion a crime punishable by jail time in Massachusetts, reports Christian Wade at the Eagle-Tribune. Fyi: Finegold and Rep. Natalie Higgins plan to hold a press conference today on the legislation. See ‘Happening Today’ section above.
Rollins’ intimidation game: It seems to be working
Political columnist Peter Lucas writes at the Lowell Sun (and the Boston Herald) that Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins is using race, gender and anything else at her disposal to discredit and intimidate her critics – and it seems to be working as it applies to the Globe.
Coming from all sides: Neal draws GOP challenger — and a fresh Trump lawsuit
They’re coming at him from the left and the right — and the White House. John Cain, a Southwick business owner and former Navy officer, says he’ll run as a Republican for the 1st Congressional District seat now held by Richard Neal, who on Monday officially drew a primary challenge from Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, reports Michael Connors at the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
Meanwhile, Neal himself was one of the targets of a new lawsuit filed Tuesday by President Donald Trump, a move meant to block the House Ways and Means Committee chair from getting his New York State tax returns, reports Brian Faler at Politico
Saugus selectman charged with stealing $1.7M from adult-ed center
From the Globe’s Danny McDonald: “A Saugus selectman is among three former employees of the Boston Center for Adult Education facing criminal charges for allegedly stealing over $1.7 million from the nonprofit, Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins said Tuesday. Mark Mitchell, who was first elected in a special election to recall the board in 2015, was also indicted on various campaign finance charges, Rollins said in a statement.”
Energy chief: Administration reviewing net-zero carbon goals
We’ll see if anything comes of this. From SHNS’s Matt Murphy: “Energy Secretary Kathleen Theoharides said Tuesday that the Baker administration is exploring more aggressive carbon reduction targets for Massachusetts, including what it would take to go net-zero by 2050, but would not commit to lawmakers to speeding up the state’s emission reduction goals.”
History unfolding: How the ‘squad’ got its start
The Globe’s Jazmine Ulloa has most everything you ever needed to know about how Ayanna Pressley and other like-minded political newcomers coalesced into the “squad.” And it apparently can all be traced back to a moment “under the glow of a neon pink light in the living room of a small Greenwich Village apartment.”
The housing crisis: Are unused parking spaces partly to blame?
And we thought land prices and zoning restrictions were the culprits. From Andy Metzger at CommonWealth magazine: “A widespread over-supply of parking in metro Boston residential developments is driving up the cost of housing and may encourage people to own cars who otherwise would not, according to a new study by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.” The Globe’s Tim Logan has more on the study.
Charter school sues state officials over denial of expansion
Not fair. The Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School is suing state education officials for repeatedly denying its bids to expand its enrollment, saying the state improperly considered the concerns of local public school districts, Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports.
Western Mass. lawmaker: Trains, not buses, please
Keep it on the rails. The state’s Department of Transportation unveiled six potential plans to extend commuter rail service to the western part of the state, but a key lawmaker says half of them are non-starters because they rely on buses, Larry Parnass reports at the Berkshire Eagle. William “Smitty” Pignatelli told the East-West Passenger Rail Study Advisory Committee that the hybrid proposals should be “dead on arrival” as the committee develops cost projections.
Seaport: This land is your land?
The Globe’s Adrian Walker has a good column on how black residents view the new Seaport District in Boston. Bottom line: They don’t feel particularly welcome and comfortable there. Adrian explains.
Celebrate Boston’s Public Open Spaces
Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and the Boston Waterfront Partners will celebrate Boston’s public open spaces by co-hosting the third annual Pitch A Blanket event near the Waterfront. Participants will learn more about their right to use and access public open spaces near Boston Harbor, the threats that climate change will bring to open space near the Waterfront, and more.
YoungDemsRead Book Club: The Fifth Risk
Join #YoungDemsRead in reading “The Fifth Risk” by Michael Lewis in July Meet new friends in Boston and discuss this spellbinding piece.
NAIOP @ Night at Alcove
Join NAIOP at Alcove, a modern neighborhood restaurant on Lovejoy Wharf that is a welcoming port on the edge of Boston’s West End. Expand your network and develop valuable business relationships while enjoying signature drinks and appetizers.
Rugelach with Ruth
Representative Balser will join us at a home in Newton for an intimate discussion on immigrant justice and progressive issues. Your ticket to this event is a donation of any amount, which will go to support JALSA’s efforts to create a more just, compassionate, and equitable society. Your invitation for our Rugelach with Ruth Balser will be emailed to you once a donation has been made.
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