Happening Today

Columbia Gas president, Cannabis Commission, Gaming Commission

Columbia Gas of Massachusetts President Mark Kempic holds a media availability to announce that the second phase of restoration of residences and business damaged by last year’s natural gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley is now ‘substantially complet,’ 55 Marston St., Lawrence, 9:30 a.m.

Cannabis Control Commission convenes for the second day of accepting public input on their new draft regulations for the medical and adult-use marijuana industries, Western New England University School of Law, Moot Court Room, 1215 Wilbraham Road, Springfield, 10 a.m.

Massachusetts Gaming Commission meets to discuss matters related to Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park Casino, 101 Federal Street, 12th floor, Boston, 11 a.m.

— The Water Transportation Advisory Council, which is tasked by the Department of Transportation with producing a vision for the ferry system, hosts a public meeting, State Transportation Building, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, 12 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

Mega-merger: Harvard Pilgrim and Tufts Health plan to team up

The big question for policymakers and regulators this morning: Is this merger really necessary and in the best interest of consumers? Anyway, Martha Bebinger at WBUR and Jessica Bartlett at the BBJ (pay wall) have the details on yesterday’s huge announcement that Harvard Pilgrim and Tufts Health, two of the state’s largest health insurers, have agreed to merge, in a move that would put them in a better position to compete against Blue Cross Blue Shield and negotiate deals with giant health-care providers. Whether it puts consumers in a better position is an entirely different matter.

Don’t look now: Stock markets tank amid growing global fears of a recession

We interrupt this mostly political newsletter to bring you breaking economic news that most definitely could impact politics far and wide: The stock markets are tanking amid growing fears of a coming recession, as the Washington Post reports. The NYT has more on the economic anxieties out there. … Now back to all things (mostly) politics and public policy.

Washington Post

Trump storms New Hampshire

President Trump will attend a rally tonight in Manchester, New Hampshire, a state he narrowly lost in 2016 and hopes to win next year with the help of his fired-up GOP base there, reports the Globe’s Victoria McGrane. The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky reports that Trump will need more than just a fired-up GOP base to win the Granite State, based on polls showing him not doing so well in New Hampshire.

Tracking poll moves Warren to within only 1 point of Biden

As President Trump campaigns in New Hampshire tonight, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is closing in on the frontrunner in the Democratic primary for president. The latest version of the Economist/YouGov weekly tracking poll has Warren just a single point behind Joe Biden, leapfrogging over rival progressive Bernie Sanders, Julia Manchester reports at The Hill. 

The Hill

But can Warren attract moderate voters to win a general election?

In a sign that she’s indeed a top-tier candidate within striking distance of possibly winning the Democratic nomination for president, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is now facing, and trying to answer, questions about whether her progressive agenda can win over enough moderate Independents and even some Republicans to defeat President Trump in a general election. The Globe’s Michael Levenson finds that there’s still unease out there about Warren’s appeal to moderates.

Meanwhile, Warren is certainly not appealing to the Massachusetts Coalition of Police, which is running a two-page ad spread in the Herald’s print edition this morning (we didn’t have time to check the Globe), blasting away once again at Warren’s “murdered” comment about a police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri a few years back. The Herald’s Joe Dwinell has more on the coalition’s “open letter’ to Warren.

Boston Federal Reserve: Discrimination rampant in Section 8 rentals

File under ‘depressing.’ Adrian Ma at WBUR reports that the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has released a new study showing widespread discrimination against those who receive federal housing assistance to rent apartments – and it’s even worse for African Americans seeking an apartment with a Housing Choice voucher (also known as a Section 8 voucher).


Smile, you’re on pot-delivery camera

The Globe’s Dan Adams has a piece this morning on the privacy concerns by some about a proposed new rule that would require future pot-delivery people to wear body cameras – body cameras that could end up recording those eagerly opening their doors for their weed deliveries.

Speaking of pot and regulators, the Cannabis Control Commission had a special guest yesterday, former state legislator and former Congressman Barney Frank, who proposed legalization of pot way back in the 1970s and yesterday got to say “I told you so,” SHNS’s Colin Young reports.

Boston Globe

Meanwhile, state authorities launch ad campaign against driving high and drunk

As the Cannabis Control Commission weighs new rules on pot use, the state has launched television ads featuring “people sharing their perceptions about driving after consuming cannabis, alcohol, or other drugs,” reports SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall). The ads are part of a public service campaign targeting men aged 18 to 34.

The Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo reports that state officials are particularly interested in combating those driving high on marijuana, which is the “most prevalent drug found in drivers involved in fatal Massachusetts crashes from 2013 to 2017, according to the Baker administration.”

New Orange Line cars start rolling …

They won’t solve all of the T’s problems. But they will indeed help with service – and they’re most welcome. They’re the spanking new Orange Line cars unveiled yesterday by Gov. Charlie Baker and others at Wellington Station in Medford. And, as Baker says, more new cars are on the way. Stefan Geller at the Herald and Chris Lisisnki at SHNS (pay wall) have the good-news details.

Bear repellent sprayed on the Red Line. Yes, bear repellent

Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine reports that a man taking the Red Line on Tuesday evening is now “accused of, for no apparent reason, pulling a full-on can of bear repellent out of his backpack and, according to witnesses cited in a police report, spraying it into the train for a ‘few seconds.’’ And that’s all it took, a few seconds, for some passengers to suffer eye pain and ‘respiratory distress.’

Boston Magazine

MIT workers say university deal with Fidelity is costing them millions

How cozy is too cozy? Workers at MIT say the university has cost them millions of dollars in pension funds by allowing financial giant Fidelity to populate the fund with high-fee products even as it donated millions back to the school, Chris Arnold at WBUR reports. A lawsuit from current and former employees is slated to go to trial next month.


At loggerheads: Protesters and loggers clash at Wendell State Forest

They’re going at it at the Wendell State Forest, where protesters and lumberjacks are facing off over logging operations in the area. Caught in the middle: The Department of Conservation and Recreation. Douglas Hook at MassLive has the details.


Activist: Somerville is just asking for trouble if it opens safe-injection site

The Herald’s Alexi Cohan reports that Somerville city councilors are defending Mayor Joe Curtatone’s plan to open a safe injection site in the city as soon as next year. But U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling is once again warning that his office may take action against any such move.

Meanwhile, the Herald’s Jessica Heslam reports that at least one activist believes Somerville will have trouble from another quarter if it opens a safe-injection site: The addicts themselves. “They’re going to see their own Methadone Mile,” he says.

Helping herself: Ex-Great Barrington tax official charged with stealing $100K from town

Sounds like a variation of ‘one for you, one for me.’ From Patrick Johnson at MassLive: “Deborah A. Ball, the longtime assistant treasurer and tax collector for the town of Great Barrington, pleaded innocent Wednesday in Berkshire Superior Court to charges that she pocketed more than $100,000 in tax payments to the town.”


Qdoba fined $409,400 for child labor law violations in Massachusetts

This is a big fine for a lot of violations. From Aviva Luttrell at MassLive: “Qdoba Restaurant Corporation has been fined $409,400 for more than 1,000 alleged child labor law violations at 22 locations in Massachusetts. Attorney General Maura Healey’s office began investigating Qdoba after receiving a complaint from a minor in March 2018 alleging that she worked late into the evening at a Newton Qdoba location.”

Losing GOP legislative candidates ask: Where did the party money go?

More on the conservative-vs-moderate infighting within the state’s Grand Old Party. From the Herald’s Rick Sobey: “Fifteen former Republican candidates are speaking out about the rift between the Massachusetts GOP and Gov. Charlie Baker’s political team — saying they’re standing behind MassGOP Chairman Jim Lyons and encourage him to ‘uncover the truth’ about spending before he took over.”

Boston Herald

From Fore River to Riviere Cochon Gras: A bridge (literally) of hope in Haiti

This is a great feel-good story – and a fascinating one too. From SHNS’s Sam Doran: “A familiar stretch of steel from the South Shore has a new life in rural Haiti. An 80-foot section of the temporary Fore River Bridge, which carried people over the river between North Weymouth and Quincy Point from 2002 until 2017, was reused this year in Perches, Haiti, where it now spans the Riviere Cochon Gras.”

Jay Cashman Inc., the construction company that donated the bridge, technical staff and equipment via one of its charitable arms, take a bow.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Teens who called out TD Garden fundraising fall short of ice-rink goal

This is a feel-good story that hasn’t turned out so well. It appears the Boston teenagers who discovered TD Garden had failed to carry out promised fundraisers to benefit community groups won’t have a happy ending, at least not yet. Milton Valencia at the Globe reports Urban Edge is abandoning plans to use the missing funds to build an ice rink because the costs have ballooned and the group remains well short of its fundraising target. 

Boston Globe

Emergency funding going away with Pilgrim closure

Communities surrounding the Pilgrim Station Nuclear Plant could be without annual payments that fund disaster preparations if the NRC follows precedent, Christine Legere reports at the Cape Cod Times. Cape-area lawmakers tried but failed to get additional funds in the recently approved budget — and the plant’s owners are asking regulators to let it limit its emergency funding obligations to the plant property itself starting next year. 

Cape Cod Times

Report says overcrowded ERs cause more violence

Overcrowding in hospital emergency rooms contributes to additional violence, according to a new state report that urges additional steps to ease the situation. The report from the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety estimates that as many as 80 percent of ‘adverse incidents’ in hospital ERs could be avoided with more security and other steps, Grant Welker reports at the Worcester Business Journal. 


Kiosk Unveiling and Reception: State of-the-art kiosk makes available the complete volumes of Susan B. Anthony’s Newspaper

The Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum now has a state-of-the-art, interactive kiosk that displays the complete, unedited Susan B. Anthony newspaper, The Revolution, from 1868-1872. The kiosk indexes the period, January 1868-May 1870, the years Anthony was the owner and publisher. The unveiling coincides with the opening of the National Suffrage Centennial, when women won the right to vote.

Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum

Authors@MIT | Nolen Gertz in Conversation with Robin James

Nolen Gertz in Conversation with Robin James discussing Gertz’s new book Nihilism

The MIT Press Bookstore

Town Hall Meeting on Climate Change with Sen. Edward Markey and Rep. Katherine Clark

A community discussion will be held at Framingham High School with Sen. Edward Markey and Rep. Katherine Clark, with plans to discuss “the Green New Deal resolution, a bold set of goals that calls for a national mobilization to transform the economy, fight climate change, and create millions of jobs.”

City of Framingham

Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

A housing professional will provide an overview of tenant rights and responsibilities.

City of Boston’s Office of Housing Stability

2019 Malden Democratic City Committee Annual Summer BBQ

We hope you’ll join us for our summer BBQ! This annual event is always a lot of fun and a great chance to catch up with old friends while supporting MDCC.

Malden Democratic City Committee

Global Engagement Networking Night

Join WorldBoston, BNID, and UNAGB, three local international relations organizations, for an exciting evening on international affairs!


Today’s Headlines


Somerville officials defending mayor’s plan for safe injection site – Boston Herald

Egleston Square: A City Divided in Life and Death – The Scope


Lowell council backs additional voting option – Lowell Sun

Greyhound Friends gets new license in Hopkinton but opponent aren’t backing down – MetroWest Daily News


Here’s the net worth of every 2020 presidential candidate – Forbes

Colorado’s Hickenlooper to drop out of presidential race – Politico

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