Happening Today

Solar and hemp tours, and more

Lowell Opioid Task Force, hosted by Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan, meets, gathering law enforcement, health care workers and addiction experts to discuss ways to address the epidemic, Lowell General Hospital, 295 Varnum Ave., Lowell, 9:30 a.m.

Department of Public Utilities holds an evidentiary hearing on an Eversource Energy petition for review of the company’s 2018 Gas System Enhancement Plan and Gas System Enhancement Reconciliation Adjustment Factors, Department of Public Utilities, Hearing Room A, 1 South Station, Boston, 10 a.m.

— Sen. Bruce Tarr, Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken and others join SEBANE, the Solar Energy Business Association of New England, for a tour of solar installations in Gloucester and Rockport, 9A Dr. Osman Babson Rd., Gloucester, 10 a.m.

— Boston Mayor Martin Walsh attends the Boston EMS Graduation & Promotional Ceremony, Great Hall, 1 Faneuil Hall Sq, Boston, 11 a.m.

— Reps. Blais, Carey and Domb and Sen. Comerford host Pioneer Valley hemp farm tour for local, state and federal officials to learn how farmers are using hemp to diversify crops and the challenges they face, Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation Hall at UMass Amherst, 911 North Pleasant St. in Amherst, 11 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.

Today’s Stories

‘Smorgasbord’: Baker’s traffic-congestion study leaves door open to ‘managed lanes’

As the headline on Andy Metzger’s piece at CommonWealth magazine puts it, Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday released a new traffic-congestion report with a ‘smorgasbord’ of policy suggestions on how to deal with the region’s horrific traffic woes. The idea receiving the most attention: So-called “managed lanes” that would let people pay extra to zip past others via special lanes along highways.

But the “managed lane” idea is already running into trouble, at least based on the initial media coverage. The Herald’s splash front-page headline this morning: ‘Charlie’s Luxury Lane$’ (with a road sign reading ‘Fat Wallets Only)’ From the Herald’s Mary Markos and Marie Szaniszlo: “Gov. Charlie Baker eyes high-priced luxury lanes to fix traffic woes.”

Meanwhile, from CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl: “Baker likes managed (toll) lanes/Would likely require state to add a lane to existing highways.” Shira Schoenberg at MassLive and Greg Ryan at the BBJ have more on the “managed lanes” concept.

One other big takeaway from yesterday: Baker is now openly on the record opposing “congestion pricing” in general, not just against “pilot programs” for congestion pricing. 

The five most congested highways in Massachusetts? Hint: None of them currently have tolls

Attention all those who think congestion pricing on the Pike and Tobin is critically needed: They’re not the problem. Bruce Mohl and Andy Metzger at CommonWealth magazine and Shira Schoenberg at MassLive have pieces, based on the new Baker administration traffic-congestion study, on the worst highways/roadways when it comes to traffic jams in Massachusetts – and the usual non-toll suspects top the list: I-93 (north and south), Route 2, Route 9, etc. etc. The Mass Pike doesn’t make the top-five cuts. Not even close. Here’s the full state report to check for yourself.

Think about this next time someone who doesn’t regularly use the Pike and Tobin for commuting and doesn’t pay daily tolls (i.e. various pundits, environmentalists, pols etc. etc.) calls for a congestion pricing “pilot program” on the Pike and Tobin – without stipulating whether congestion pricing should also apply to themselves.

Cumberland Farms files ballot question to lift cap on liquor licenses

The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that Cumberland Farms has filed a ballot question that would lift the current cap on the number of liquor licenses that a food retailer can hold, in a sort of encore performance of the “Booze Ballot Battle of 2006” (which retailers lost).

Boston Globe

Meanwhile, local Republicans seek to block ‘sanctuary state’ via ballot question

Speaking of statewide referendums, this would be a hotly debated issue if it ever makes it to the ballot box. from Christian Wade at the Daily News: “A group of mostly Republican state, county and municipal leaders are behind a new ballot initiative that seeks to prevent Massachusetts from taking steps to declare itself a sanctuary state.”

Newburyport Daily News

Next in line: Ex-Fall River mayor planning marijuana dispensary

Jo C. Goode at the Herald News has the latest on city approvals for legalized marijuana operations in Fall River, where the current mayor just recently issued an approval to the brother of his live-in girlfriend. Next in line for an approval: The former mayor of Fall River. Goode has the details.

Herald News

She goes there: Warren calls Trump a white supremacist

From the NYT: “Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said on Wednesday night that she believed President Trump was a white supremacist, broadly accusing him of dividing Americans along racial lines and providing direct and tacit support to those who believe white people are superior to other races.”


Warren steadily closing the polling gap

MassLive’s Douglas Hook and the Washington Post report that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren keeps climbing in the polls, with the latest good-news survey for Warren coming out of Monmouth University. Bernie Sanders? He’s dropping fast in Iowa, real fast, as the Post notes.

But Warren does have an ‘electability’ problem: She’s a white intellectual female from … Massachusetts

She may be doing well in polls. But Aaron Blake at the Washington Post writes that Elizabeth Warren does have a major “electability” problem (not to be confused with “likeability”) that few Dems want to talk about openly, i.e. She’s an “older, white, intellectual woman running in the aftermath of the Hillary Clinton debacle, and she follows in a long line of failed presidential nominees from Massachusetts. Dukakis ’88. Kerry ’04. Romney ’12.”

Washington Post

Moulton meltdown? Part II

Speaking of Massachusetts presidential candidates with apparent electability problems, James Pindell at the Globe counts all the ways that U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton’s presidential campaign isn’t exactly running on all cylinders, i.e. staff departures, low polls, exclusion from debates, etc. But Moulton says he isn’t giving up his quest for the Democratic nomination.

Boston Globe

UMass Amherst unveils new dining plans to help poor students going hungry

From Matt Berg at MassLive: “After years of criticism about increasingly high dining costs, the University of Massachusetts Amherst will introduce dining options aimed at battling student food insecurity, including a new meal swipe program and two new meal plans. No Student Goes Hungry is a supplemental meal swipe program for students experiencing severe food insecurity.”

Btw: We had to look up the definition of ‘food insecurity’ just to make sure we got it right, i.e., it’s a fancy way of saying poor people going hungry because they can’t afford nutritious foods.


Modern day Goo-Goos: Are they forever changing the way business is done in Boston?

The Globe’s Milton J. Valencia and Tim Logan look at all the ways the city’s “unwritten rules” for building and advocacy in Boston may change as a result of the Boston Calling verdict earlier this week. They adroitly avoid using the word “shakedown” when describing the current union/”community benefits” process of getting things done in Boston.

Meanwhile, Don Gillis, a former City Hall honcho writing at CommonWealth magazine, and the Globe’s Kevin Cullen have opinion pieces blasting the Boston Calling verdict, saying it criminalizes the city for pushing for good paying jobs, etc. Cullen reaches back to the James Michael Curley days, when Goo-Goos and Curleyites battled on the doorsteps of Boston, to make his point. 

Legislative staffers raise concerns about pay equity in the Senate

File under: ‘Do as we say, not as we do’? Three years after lawmakers passed a landmark gender pay equity law applying to employers far and wide in Massachusetts, SHNS’s Matt Murphy reports that there’s more than a little grumbling going on at the State House among Senate staffers about pay equity and transparency. “The frustrations reached a boiling point last week when a former communications aide to Sen. Jamie Eldridge wrote a lengthy email to Senate Counsel Jennifer Miller, and copied all Senate staff, raising concerns about a lack of transparency in how Senate leaders went about reevaluating salaries,” Murphy writes.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Cape Air could make aviation history with battery-operated airplanes

Bruce Gellerman at WBUR reports that Cape Air, the “little airline that could,” is set make aviation history with the world’s first order of commercial airlplanes that run on electric batteries. The electric planes could be flying high by 2023, says Cape Air founder and CEO Dan Wolf, the former state senator.


State GOP civil war update: They’re now fighting over lucrative donor database

TheHerald’s Lisa Kashinsky and the Globe’s Joshua Miller report that the Massachusetts Republican Party and Gov. Charlie Baker’s political committee are squabbling over access to a highly valued donor database, the latest sign of a major conservatives-vs.-moderates rift within the state GOP.

TheHerald’s Howie Carr can’t resist: “What do call a civil war in the Massachusetts state Republican party? A shootout in the lifeboat.”

The top employee political donors in Massachusetts? Harvard workers

Callum Borchers at WBUR dove into campaign finance records to find who’s giving the most to whom when it comes to employees working at area companies and institutions. The top donors: Harvard employees. There’s some private-sector company employees on the list, but we’re struck by the number of non-profit/government workers doling out the bucks. Check out the story.


Healey sues EPA over continued use of pesticide

From Tim Jones at MassLive: “Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has joined attorney generals from five other states to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, claiming the agency failed to ban a widely-used pesticide despite evidence of dangers to children.” The issue is over the use of chlorpyrifos on food crops.


Massachusetts mayors call on Senate GOP to pass gun control legislation

From the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky: “A dozen Bay State mayors have joined more than 200 of their counterparts in calling for the U.S. Senate to take up gun safety legislation after the latest fatal mass shootings. The mayors of Boston, Beverly, Cambridge, Everett, Framingham, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Newton, Salem and Somerville signed onto the letter from the United States Conference of Mayors.”

Boston Herald

Time to license ‘recovery coaches’?

From Christian Wade at the Salem News: “A state commission is recommending professional licensing for the recovery coaches who are increasingly sent to emergency rooms, drug treatment centers and courtrooms to help addicts get clean. A 15-member panel, created as part of a sweeping opioid bill signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker last year, wants recovery coaches to be regulated under a yet-to-be-created board of registration for the emerging profession.”

Salem News

Sunday public affairs TV: Dan Kennedy, Alex Morse and more

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: Northeastern University journalism professor and media critic Dan Kennedy, who discusses the Gannett/Gatehouse newspaper merger, the state of the Herald and Globe, and the controversy over coverage of President Trump by the New York Times.

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Shirley Leung of the Boston Globe and Doug Banks of the Boston Business Journal discuss the currency and trade war with China, the boycott of Equinox & Soul Cycle over politics, state traffic reaching a tipping point, and implications of the Boston Calling verdict.  

CEO Corner, NECN, 10:30 a.m. A look at the wild blueberry business with Wyman’s (Jasper Wyman and Son) CEO Tony Shurman of Maine.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Richard Neal in next year’s Democratic primary and who talks with hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu, followed by a roundtable discussion with Democratic political analyst Mary Anne Marsh and Republican political analyst Patrick Griffin.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s main topic: Gentrification and Displacement.

Codman Square Health Center Public Annual Meeting 2019

Join Codman Square Health Center as we honor U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley and Boston Police Commissioner Willie Gross. We’ll hear about current issues in health care, the role that community health centers play, and a recap of Codman’s accomplishments over the past year.

Codman Square Health Center

Transportation and Climate Community Engagement Workshop – Chelsea

We have an opportunity to address two of our greatest challenges together — transportation and climate change.

Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs, MassDEP and MassDOT

Make Our Voices Heard – “Our Fight For Healthcare”

This event is designed to discuss the disparities that Black Women, the elderly, and other underserved demographics in America face during their experiences with the American healthcare system.

The Mary J. Harris Foundation, Inc.

Commercial Leasing Onsite Course

The course will provide an overview of the commercial leasing process and educate students on pertinent leasing issues and clauses in lease transactions for office, industrial and retail.

NAIOP Massachusetts

Today’s Headlines


Boston ZBA chair blasts City Council for ‘posturing’ in fight over marijuana buffer rule – Boston Globe

Marty Walsh short on specific solutions for Methadone Mile crisis – Boston Herald

Former charter-school CEO plans to turn old Harvest Co-op into a private elementary school – Universal Hub


Plymouth marijuana company M3 Ventures fined after employee lied about pesticide use – MassLive

State regulators want better reporting of lost natural gas – NewburyPOrt Daily News

Healey sues Environmental Protection Agency over continued use of pesticide, says residue can be a danger to children – MassLive


Former FBI Agent Sues Justice Department Over Firing – WSJ (pay wall)

Trump’s openness to extensive background checks for gun buys draws warning from NRA – Washington Post

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