Happening Today

MassWorks, People’s Pledge, and more

Note: Due to the recent snow, many events planned for today have been cancelled or postponed. Here are some events that weren’t officially cancelled, as of last evening, though confirm the status of them before attending.

— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Lynn Mayor Thomas McGee, Sen. Brendan Crighton, Rep. Lori Ehrlich and other local leaders to make an announcement tied to MassWorks funding for the City of Lynn, City Hall, 3 City Hall Square, Lynn, 9 a.m.

New England Power Generators Association and the Dupont Group host the New England Energy Summit, with former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Pat Wood III delivering a keynote address and Energy Secretary Kathleen Theoharides attending, Seaport Hotel, 1 Seaport Ln., Boston, 10 a.m.

Merit Rating Board Preliminary Screening Committee meets to continue considering candidates for the board’s permanent director position, 1:30 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker meets privately with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Senate President Karen Spilka, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and House Minority Leader Bradley Jones, Governor’s Office, 2 p.m.

— U.S. Senate candidates Shannon Liss-Riordan and Joe Kennedy III plan to sign a ‘People’s Pledge,’ which would restrict outside money in the race, Shannon for Senate Campaign Office, 434 Massachusetts Avenue, Floor 4R, Boston, 2:15 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

Baker signs flavored-tobacco ban, lifts vaping ban

It’s back to the grind after a long holiday weekend. But before the long holiday weekend, Gov. Charlie Baker made it official: He signed the legislation that would ban flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, in Massachusetts. And in a surprise move, the governor also announced he’s lifting the administration’s temporary ban on the sale of most vaping products. SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) and Boston Magazine’s Spencer Buell have the details, including how vape customers and shop owners can’t celebrate too much. Meanwhile, from the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett: “Cannabis vapes will remain quarantined in Massachusetts.”

Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ found in MWRA’s waste-water fertilizer pellets

Just what we need. The Globe’s David Abel reports that scientists and environmentalists are becoming increasingly alarmed over the levels of toxic chemicals known as PFAS, or so-called ‘forever chemicals,’ in the fertilizer pellets made from the MWRA’s waste-water sludge and the potential of the fertilizers seeping into the region’s drinking-water supplies.

Boston Globe

RMV employees: ‘War on Wait Times’ took priority over safety

MassLive’s Steph Solis and the Globe’s Matt Stout report that recently released audit-investigation documents show that Registry of Motor Vehicle workers believed the Baker administration’s “war on wait times” at the agency played a role in the records-keeping scandal. The Herald’s Howie Carr also sifted through the documents and found that employees didn’t have too high of an opinion of ex-Merit Rating Board boss Tom Bowes.

Barney Frank on Warren’s Medicare for All woes: I warned her

The Washington Post has a piece on how U.S. Elizabeth Warren appears to be suffering in the polls largely because of her changing stances on Medicare for All. Former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank is quoted in the story as saying he privately told Warren that backing the Bernie Sanders approach on health care was “a terrible mistake.”

Still, the NYT is reporting that Warren’s proposed “wealth tax,” part of which would pay for health care, is proving popular in polls. Meanwhile, from the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky: “Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren share the progressive lane … strategists say that can’t last.”

Washington Post

FERC gives final approval to Weymouth gas project

It’s not quite over, but it’s close, barring last-minute legal and legislative miracles. From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski: “Federal regulators gave final approval (last) Wednesday to a unpopular natural gas project in Weymouth, clearing the way for construction to begin in a matter of weeks. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted a notice to proceed to Algonquin Gas Transmission, a subsidiary of energy giant Enbridge, for a natural gas compressor station that would be located on the banks of the Fore River.”

There are still legal challenges out there, not to mention some angry federal and state lawmakers.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Michael Dukakis: Please, no more turkey carcasses

Former Gov. Michael Dukakis asked for ‘em and he got ‘em: Leftover Thanksgiving turkey carcasses so he could make his family’s leftover turkey soup. But the frugal ex-governor is now saying to the public: No mas. Nik DeCosta-Klipa at Boston.com reports that Dukakis says it’s time people start making their own leftover turkey soup.


Teddy Roosevelt vs the Herald: The Great Turkey Terrorism Controversy of 1904

Another turkey-related item: A MassterList reader alerted us to this pre-Thanksgiving piece at the Washington Post about a long-ago holiday controversy involving then President Teddy Roosevelt and the Boston Herald, which ran a story saying the 26th president’s children had terrorized a poor live turkey delivered to the White House. The president wasn’t amused, retaliated and all hell broke loose. The incident even involved a federal weather forecast report. Sound familiar? Enjoy.

Washington Post

If Buckingham Palace can be brought to its knees, why not Alan Dershowitz?

Casey Sherman at the Herald writes that Virginia Roberts Guiffre, an alleged victim of the late serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, has already “brought Buckingham Palace to its knees with claims that she was forced to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew” when she was only 17. So is it possible Harvard University might be brought to its knees over similar allegations against Alan Dershowitz, who has vehemently denied any wrongdoing in the Epstein case?

Boston Herald

Supplemental Budget Bill Held Hostage: Day 155

SHNS’s Chris Lisinski and Colin Young (pay wall) and the Globe’s Matt Stout have updates on that unpassed state supplemental budget bill that’s supposed to finally – finally! – close the books on last fiscal year, which ended June 30, or 155 days ago. Hey, why not wait another 29 days so lawmakers can say they passed the bill a half-year late? It’s such a nice round number: Six months.

Is Partners by any other name still Partners?

We hope they didn’t spend too much money on this rebranding effort. Yes, Partners Healthcare, the region’s largest employer and health-care provider, is rebranding itself as … Mass General Brigham. The BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett has the details, as well as a separate interview with Partners/MGB chief executive Anne Klibanski, who doesn’t quite deny it will cost a boatload of money to change all those signs and logos and web sites, etc. to reflect the new name.

Speaking of two health-care giants, the Globe’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey reports that the folks at Tufts Health and Harvard Pilgrim say a merger between the two insurance giants would be just swell for consumers. If we recall correctly, MGH and Brigham once said roughly the same thing about their long-ago merger – and look how that turned out for consumers.


Insulin bill aims to address emergency medical situations

One more health care-related item, from SHNS’s Katie Lannan: “A new bill before state lawmakers on the Public Health Committee would allow pharmacists to dispense a 72-hour supply of insulin to a patient in an emergency situation. The bill, filed by Fitchburg Republican Sen. Dean Tran, defines “emergency situation” as an event in which a doctor’s authorization for dispensing insulin cannot be readily obtained.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

The gas tax: The dodo bird of our time?

The Globe’s Adam Vaccaro reports that the state’s gas tax, which some want to raise to pay for transportation-related improvements, may not be a long-term revenue solution for the state, as electric and fuel-efficient cars reduce the demand for gasoline and further cut into gas-tax revenues. The Herald’s Howie Carr thinks he knows, and fears, what might be coming next: The Transportation Climate Initiative and its non-tax tax on motorists.

‘World War Zero’: Kerry launches ‘star-studded’ climate coalition

Former U.S. Sen. and Secretary of State John Kerry has launched a new coalition to fight climate change, saying a wartime-like mobilization is needed to combat carbon pollution. Among the battle-hardened grunts on the frontlines of his ‘World War Zero’: Leonardo DiCaprio, Sting, Ashton Kutcher, Arnold Schwarzenegger and others, including Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, according to a staff/wire report at the Globe.

Rollins on BC text-suicide case: Bad people often say nice things about people they harm

The Herald’s Rick Sobey and the Globe’s Jeremy Fox report that Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins, appearing on WCVB’s ‘On the Record’ over the weekend, is defending her office’s manslaughter charge against Inyoung You, the former BC student accused of hounding her boyfriend to kill himself via thousands of texts, saying bad people often say nice things about the people they eventually harm. She has a point. Think of all the domestic violence cases involving people who swear they love each other.

Former MassGOP chair Hughes confirmed for court post

From SHNS’s Matt Murphy: “Quincy city councilor and attorney Kirsten Hughes was confirmed (last) Wednesday as clerk magistrate of the Stoughton District Court, a post she was chosen for by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker after she stepped down as MassGOP chairwoman in January. The Governor’s Council confirmed Hughes on a 5-2 vote, with Councilors Marilyn Devaney of Watertown and Eileen Duff of Gloucester voting against her appointment.” One of the complaints against Hughes? The complaints about her spending habits while chair of the state GOP.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Paul Revere’s descendants still galloping through history

He did have a lot of children, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that there are many descendants of Paul Revere around to this day in the Boston area, including at least one called, yes, Paul Revere. The Globe’s Brian McQuarrie reports on how the midnight rider’s descendants are keeping Revere’s historic legacy alive while fending off occasional jokes and skeptical looks when handing out business cards.

Boston Globe

Moulton on safe-injection sites: Nothing to fear but fear-mongering itself

Tell us what you really think, Congressman. U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton is urging Gov. Charlie Baker and state lawmakers to “get past the fear-mongering” and allow supervised injection sites to be set up, saying the controversial approach is proven to save lives. Writing in CommonWealth Magazine, Moulton lays out the medical and legal reasons why doctor-supervised injection sites can and should be tried.


Can the SJC simply order lawmakers to appropriate money?

Michael Jonas at CommonWealth magazine reports that the Supreme Judicial Court is in an interesting constitutional bind regarding a Springfield case that deals with the low public pay of lawyers representing indigent defendants – and whether the court can order, and not just recommend, that more money be appropriated for attorney fees. As Jonas notes, there is this thing call “separation of powers.”


Selling in secret: Trail goes cold when tax credits change hands

Follow the money? It’s not as easy as it sounds. Paul Leighton at the Salem News tries to find out who eventually cashed in $2 million worth of state historic preservation tax credits issued to help a Beverly developer rehab a former box factory into veterans housing — and runs into more than a few roadblocks, including one set up by the Department of Revenue in the name of “taxpayer confidentiality.” 

Salem News

About that ‘R’ word bill: A correction

After linking to a story by the Herald a few weeks back about legislation regarding the “r” word (i.e. “retarded”), we couldn’t resist ranting about why the bill was wrong. But we were the ones who got it wrong, since the bill would not (repeat: not) make use of the ‘r’ word a hate crime. As we said, we were just wrong. It’s actually a good bill, and we apologize for the stupid mistake. 

Consolation prize: Millennium offers cash for Seaport transit

The gondola idea may be a goner, but Millennium Partners says it still wants to help people get in and around the Seaport district. The developer now says it will give the city of Boston $400,000 for transportation improvements as part of its plan to build a 10-story R&D facility, Catherine Carlock reports at the Boston Business Journal. 


Warm thoughts: State lawmakers weigh e-scooter rules

A glance out the window suggests it might not matter for a few months, but momentum is building for a push to create statewide rules governing e-scooter programs, Christian Wade reports in the Eagle-Tribune. 

Eagle Tribune

A Conversation with Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams, New York Times bestselling author, nonprofit CEO, former Georgia House Democratic Leader and 2018 Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia, discusses her distinguished career and continuing work on voting rights and social issues.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

High-Quality Curriculum: A Foundation for Student Success

Please join the Rennie Center as we explore how curriculum can support deeper learning and better student outcomes.

Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy

Discussion: Building Urgency and Political Will

There are many policy solutions that could have impact, but their viability is challenged by the lack of urgency and broad political will that is needed to get municipal leaders to lead on a crisis that their constituents may not currently feel. How do we sound the alarm and build the support needed to meet our housing challenges head-on?

Next Level Housing Solutions

Can We Bridge the Political Divide? Better Angels Red/Blue Workshop

Please join us for an intensive workshop that will bring together Republican-leaning and Democratic-leaning citizens for a day of structured conversations, with a focus on listening and reflecting rather than debating and persuading.

Better Angels Red/Blue Workshop

The Constitution: Changes and Challenges in US History

Akhil Amar, professor of law and political science at Yale University, and Eric Foner, professor emeritus of history at Columbia University and author of The Second Founding: How Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution, discuss constitutional changes and challenges throughout our nation’s history.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Today’s Headlines


Boston’s tough rules governing Airbnb rentals are finally in full effect – Boston Globe

“I’ll just quit” : Boston smokers react to impending menthol cigarette ban – MassLive


MassHousing down payment loans expanded in Worcester, other gateway cities – Telegram & Gazette

Bill to protect Massachusetts pollinators advances – BU News Service


Supreme Court poised to hear first major gun case in a decade – The Hill

Trump has turned the suburbs into a GOP disaster zone. Does that doom his reelection? – Los Angeles Times

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