Happening Today

Transportation bond bill, legislative hearings, and more

— The Joint Committee on Transportation meets to review Gov. Charlie Baker’s multi-year, $18 billion transportation bond bill, with Gov. Baker testifying at the hearing, Room B-1, 10 a.m.

Joint Committee on the Judiciary meets to review 60 bills related to criminal justice, including legislation to allow the state to impose a death sentence on those convicted of killing police officers; the Supreme Judicial Court invalidated the death penalty in 1984, Room A-1, 11 a.m.

— The Joint Committee on Financial Services meets to review legislation related to health care coverage, Gardner Auditorium, 11 a.m.

Joint Committee on Health Care Financing meets to consider seven bills, including legislation related to urgent care medical centers and ‘step therapy,’ Room 428, 12 p.m.

— Attorney General Maura Healey appears on ‘Boston Public Radio’ for her regular ‘Ask the AG’ segment, WGBH-FM 89.7, 12:30 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

State’s first vaping fatality is reported

We assume criticism of Gov. Charlie Baker’s vaping-products ban will be a bit more muted moving forward. From Scott Croteau at MassLive: “Massachusetts health officials have announced the first death from a vaping-associated lung injury. The state’s Department of Public Health said Monday afternoon that a woman in her 60s from Hampshire County has died from a vaping-associated lung injury.”

The Globe’s Naomi Martin has more. In an opinion piece at the Globe, Tom Keane, who notes the recent death, nevertheless says Baker’s vaping-products ban is just bad policy.


The MBTA’s ‘exploding budget deficit’

This despite recent fare hikes. From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski: “MBTA officials are weighing a hiring freeze on some positions, tighter inventory procurement and other options to address a midyear budget deficit that’s expanding $16 million beyond what they expected. The transit authority (now) faces a $53 million projected fiscal 2020 budget deficit.”

Bruce Mohl at CommonWealthmagazine has more on the T’s budget woes. Meanwhile, we have a feeing this won’t be aggressively acted upon anytime soon, via SHNS (pay wall): “Report: T should hire more workers faster.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Pollack: Keolis may get a rail extension after all

It’s not unlike a soap-opera relationship. From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “Walking back a position she took in early 2017, Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said on Monday that it may be necessary to extend the contract with Keolis Commuter Services for two years to give the MBTA time to launch a major overhaul of commuter rail services in Massachusetts.”

Keolis’s contract extension aside, Mayor Marty Walsh is clearly hoping the T improves commuter rail service along the Fairmont Line, as Steve Brown reports at WBUR. In fact, Walsh and other mayors want a major overhaul of the entire commuter-rail system, reports SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall).


‘Horrible’: Family of five found dead of gunshot wounds in Abington

The Herald’s Rick Sobey is calling it an “apparent murder-suicide.” Other media outlets, including the Brockton Enterprise, are being more cautious in attributing motives. But one thing is clear: The deaths of five family members, including three children, in Abington is simply a “horrible, horrible event,” as Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz described it yesterday, according to the Globe.

U.S. Marine on leave may have played a role in death of Emerson student

Speaking of horrible crimes, from the Globe’s John Element: “A US Marine on leave played a role in the death of Emerson College student Daniel J. Hollis who was fatally injured during a scuffle Sept. 28 in Allston, the Marine Corps said in a statement Tuesday. ‘We are deeply saddened to learn that an off-base incident allegedly involving one of our Marines has led to the passing of a man in the Boston community,’’ the Corps said in the statement.”

Boston Globe

Bump blasts Baker’s ‘duck-and-cover’ handling of RMV controversy

The Friday afternoon RMV report dumb clearly didn’t work. From the Herald’s Mary Markos: “The state auditor is blasting Gov. Charlie Baker’s “duck-and-cover” reaction to the deadly failures at the RMV as he brushes off criticism about secrecy for withholding over 50,000 documents during an investigation into the agency.”

Meanwhile, from SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall): “Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday defended his administration’s focus on improving customer service at the Registry of Motor Vehicles while employees there fell short on key public safety responsibilities, a dynamic that investigators highlighted in a lengthy report about the RMV’s failures.”

Basically, the governor is saying that, yes, RMV focused on reducing license-renewal lines (i.e. “front of the house” matters) while neglecting basic records-keeping functions (i.e. “back of the house” matters).

Boston Herald

Baker: No impaired driving bill, no pot cafes

He may not get is way. But he does make a good point. From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday said he worries about the state moving forward with cannabis cafes unless lawmakers pass his bill cracking down on impaired driving. ‘I do have some concern about heading down the social consumption route without putting some sort of structure like the one we’re talking about today in place.’”


Confirmed (again): Massachusetts residents paying more out of pocket for health care

Most people who have been to the doctor lately have discovered this the hard way: Health insurers are now constantly redefining what’s covered and not covered by health insurance plans, forcing patients to pay ever more out of pocket for co-pays and deductibles etc. etc., even as overall health-care prices rise only modestly. Shira Schoenberg at MassLive and SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) have the funny-money details. 

Frontrunner: Warren overtakes quickly fading Biden

She’s no longer second tier or first tier. She’s now frontrunner tier. Investor’s Business Daily has the latest poll showing U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren now leading former Vice President Joe Biden in the Democratic race for president.

We were going to devote an entire post yesterday to Biden’s falling star, but ran out of time and space. Might as well broach the subject now: Are we seeing the beginning of the end of Biden’s latest campaign for president? One of the compelling reasons for his candidacy was that he had the political gravitas to take on President Trump. But he’s struggled to form a response to Trump’s recent attacks on him and his family (NYT) and his fundraising efforts are suddenly faltering (NYT) and … there’s all these polls. Coupled with Bernie Sanders’s recent health woes, Warren is now the clear frontrunner in this race, folks. 


Warren updates: Her long-ago teaching job, anybody-but-Warren, the French Connection etc.

For all you Warren news junkies, take your pick. From CBS News: “Warren stands by account of being pushed out of her first teaching job because of pregnancy.” From New York magazine: “The emerging anybody-but-Warren campaign.” From the Washington Examiner: “Two French economists from Berkeley advise Warren and Sanders on wealth tax.”

Taking bets: How long will Romney stand up to Trump?

For the Globe’s Joan Vennochi, it’s a matter of when, not if, Mitt Romney retreats from his criticism of President Trump. “How long will Mitt Romney stand up to President Trump? If history is the judge, as long as it’s good for Mitt Romney.” But maybe this time he’ll stick to his guns? From Vanity Fair: “Romney won’t primary Trump but will rally senators to vote to impeach him.” Well, first, senators don’t impeach presidents. They convict (or not convict) presidents. Still … 

‘Tide of hatred’: Seven Jewish groups awarded security grants for protection

How did we get to this point? From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “With anti-Semitic incidents on the rise, seven Jewish organizations are receiving state or federal grants to enhance their physical security. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security announced Monday that the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which has both state and federal funding, is awarding $605,395 in grants to seven Jewish institutions.”

Along roughly the same lines, from SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall): “’Tide of Hatred’ revives push for genocide education.”


Richard Neal’s tax-returns quandary

File under: “Do as I say not as I do.” Michelle Williams at MassLive is bird-dogging U.S. Rep. Richard Neal over the release of certain tax returns. Not the release of President Trump’s tax returns, as Neal’s congressional committee has demanded. But release of Neal’s own tax returns, as he’s previously promised to do and yet still hasn’t. 

Ominous sign: Employers predicting economic woe in 2020

It’s coming. Two-thirds of Massachusetts employers say they are planning for a slowdown in the economy sometime before the end of 2020, the Associated Industries of Massachusetts has found in a recent survey, Jim Kinney reports at MassLive. AIM cites a host of possible factors from global trends, such as the trade war, to state-specific impacts, such as a record-low unemployment rate that is making it harder for businesses to grow and the arrival of new taxes to fund the state’s paid family leave program. 

Globe workers rally to protest more than 100 job cuts

Speaking of economic concerns, from the BBJ’s Don Seiffert: “Between 150 and 200 members of Boston Globe’s various unions held a rally Monday afternoon at the newspaper’s Taunton printing plant to protest a plan to cut 77 full-time and 44 part-time jobs there. Stephen Sullivan, the head of the Boston Newspaper Pressmen’s Union No. 3, which represents about 120 workers in Taunton, told the Business Journal after the rally that ‘we delivered our message.’”


Never mind: Private dorm builder eyes apartments instead

Citing neighborhood pushback, a British developer has scrapped plans to build a private dormitory in Kenmore Square and will instead seek to construct 1,300 apartments, Tim Logan reports at the Globe. Scape North America made waves when it pitched a $1 billion plan to build the first private dorm project in the city but says after hearing from Kenmore-area residents, it will move forward with plans for market rate and affordable units instead. 

Boston Globe

Debt consolidation? GE freezes pensions for 20,000 workers, offers buyouts to 100,000 ex-employees

One last business-related item of note: Boston’s General Electric, desperately trying to right its financial ship, is now freezing the pensions for about 20,000 workers and is offering pension buyouts to more than 100,000 former employees, as part of an attempt to reduce its huge debts by billions of dollars. The BBJ’s Greg Ryan has the latest on GE’s financial balancing act.


Walsh defends planning agency he once criticized as a candidate

For some bio-chemical or historical-determination reason, Boston mayoral hopefuls seem compelled to call for the revamp/abolishment of the city’s planning and development department. Mayor Walsh did so in 2013. Now City Councilor Michelle Wu is doing so today. And now Walsh is defending the agency that he once attacked, as Sean Philip Cotter reports at the Herald.

We have a hard time attaching much importance to this mini-feud, except to note that it indicates beyond doubt that Wu is indeed seriously considering a run for mayor.

Boston Herald

Is Joe K III the ‘real deal’?

The Herald’s Jeff Robbins thinks that U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, now challenging U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, is the “real deal,” as in not superficial and feeling entitled as a Kennedy. “There is something very incongruous indeed about a Kennedy representing something fresh in American politics in 2019,” Robbins writes. “That, however, is a big part of Joe Kennedy’s considerable appeal.”

Unfortunately for Kennedy, the Hill reports that U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thinks Markey is the real deal – and she’s urging her supporters to donate to Markey’s campaign, while her former NY primary opponent is backing Kennedy.

Boston Herald

Steve Grossman’s post-treasurer act: Spreading the wealth

The Globe’s Larry Edelman has a piece on former state Treasurer Steve Grossman’s late-career gig as head of the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, a Roxbury nonprofit founded by Harvard’s Michael Porter and aimed at narrowing the wealth gap in America. The programs is apparently taking off nationwide under Grossman’s stewardship.

Boston Globe

Rowley resident: Give voters a say on horse track plan

He’s got a point. As the developers behind a proposed horse racing track facility in Rowley prepare for the delayed roll-out of their plan, at least one local resident is arguing that town voters should have a say because the proposal includes gambling, Jim Sullivan reports at the Salem News.

Salem News

Forever at Home – An Evening to Celebrate and Support Boston Senior Home Care

Boston Senior Home Care’s Annual Fundraiser will be held at the beautiful Mandarin Oriental in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood on October 16, 2019. This annual event raises about $175,000 each year for BSHC thanks to our sponsors, donors and attendees. The event is a fun night filled with music from Boston’s own Rich DiMare, delicious food and drink, and amazing auction items to bid on!

Boston Senior Home Care

Race in the Public Dialogue: History, Free Speech and Civil Rights

Panelists will focus on the history of free speech and civil rights in the context of academia and the university campus.

Museum of African American History

Boston Speakers Series: Zanny Minton Beddoes

Named one of the “Most Powerful Women in the World” by Forbes, Beddoes is the first female editor-in-chief of The Economist, a post she has held since 2015. Prior to her 25-year tenure with The Economist, she was an economist at the International Monetary Fund.

Lesley University

Today’s Headlines


Lynn faces potential multi-million dollar settlement – Lynn Item

New city-owned buildings will be carbon-neutral under updated climate change plan – Boston Globe


Compressor critics say website issues impeding research – Patriot Ledger

Attleboro mayoral candidates clash over boiler vote – Sun Chronicle

Cannabis club considers Lowell – Lowell Sun


Trump tariffs are set to cost U.S. households $2,000 in 2020, research group finds – Yahoo Finance

Donors express frustration with Biden campaign – The Hill

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