Harvard strike, Worcester Six 20th Anniversary, and more
Note: Due to the severe weather, many events planned for today have been cancelled or postponed. As of last evening, the events below were expected to proceed, though please confirm the status of them before attending.
— Thousands of Harvard Graduate Students Union-UAW workers plan to strike today amid a contract dispute with the university, Harvard Yard, Harvard University, Cambridge, 10:30 a.m.
— Public Health Committee holds a hearing on a pair of vaccination-related bills, including one that would eliminate the religious exemption for vaccinations, Gardner Auditorium, 1 p.m.
— Joint Committee on the Judiciary holds a hearing on bills related to sex offenses, with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito planning to testify on Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal to rewrite the state’s laws around sharing sexually explicit images, Hearing Room A-1, 1 p.m.
— Hampshire College alum Ken Burns and President Ed Wingenbach host a press briefing before the launch of Hampshire’s major fundraising campaign, Red Barn Hospitality Room lower floor, Hampshire College, Amherst (accessible from lower door facing Rte 116), 3:45 p.m.
— Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito joins Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty, City Manager Edward Augustus Jr., Worcester Fire Chief Michael Lavoie and other local leaders to participate in the Worcester Six 20th Anniversary Memorial Event, Franklin Street Station, 266 Franklin Street, Worcester, 6 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker plans to attend the Faneuil Hall Marketplace Holiday Tree lighting, which will be broadcast live on WBZ-TV/CBS Boston, Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Marketplace Center, 4 South Market Street, Boston, 7:30 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.
Harvard grad students set to strike today over stalled contract talks
As thousands of members of Harvard Graduate Students Union-UAW prepare to strike today, WBUR’s Max Larkin takes a look how and why the labor standoff got to this point. The Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes has more on the graduate-student strike that “threatens to slow many academic functions to a crawl.”
Rail coach detachment: What a way to start the winter
We’ll just let SHNS’s Michael P. Norton explain this latest ill-timed T mishap, in the aftermath of yesterday’s snow storm, not to be confused with today’s snow storm: “A commuter rail coach detached from its train set Monday morning, causing widespread delays on all routes in and out of South Station.”
Keolis, the operator of the commuter-rail system, said the incident was not related to the bad weather. Which really doesn’t matter to the Herald, which says in an editorial: “If a non-weather related car detachment causing widespread delays during the first snowstorm of the season is anything to go by, this is going to be a long winter for T commuters.”
Btw, from Universal Hub: “South Station issue raises a question: Can you die of terminal congestion?”
As snow falls, ‘Blizzard bags’ to get the boot
One more storm-related item: They’re bagging the Blizzard Bags. State education officials say this winter will be the last that the state allows school districts to substitute take-home assignments for making up days lost to snow cancellations, Ray Kelly reports at MassLive. The state had allowed the practice since 2014 and critics have said the homework could never replace actual in-school education.
Baker tries to play budget-impasse peacemaker
Or is it mediator? Or is he taking sides with House Speaker Robert DeLeo? Anyway, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, caught in the middle of a Democratic feud over the state’s unpassed supplemental budget, yesterday outlined “truly critical” spending priorities – including $50 million for the MBTA – that need to be passed, like real soon. Andy Metzger at CommonWealth magazine, Shira Schoenberg at MassLive and SHNS’s Matt Murphy and Colin Young (pay wall) have the latest on the now 156-days late supplemental budget bill.
The People’s Pledge: Markey was for it before he was against it
As the Globe’s Victoria McGrane points out, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey was all for the so-called “people’s pledge” to limit outside spending in 2013. But that was then, and this is now, and today he favors a special exemption for progressive outsiders when it comes to limiting outside spending. McGrane and CommonWealth magazine’s Sarah Betancourt have more on the details on the people-pledge brouhaha in the U.S. Senate race.
Warren’s tears won’t help her regain lost ground
The Globe’s Joan Vennochi says U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose presidential campaign appears to have lost momentum in recent weeks, is indeed the victim of some gender double standards, but her recent tears on the campaign trail won’t be enough to overcome the doubts about her candidacy.
After losing PawSox, Rhode Island unveils $400M plan for new complex and soccer stadium
Maybe the New England Revolution might be interested? Certainly not the PawSox, who will soon become the WooSox after the minor league baseball team moves to Worcester because Rhode Island couldn’t get its act together to keep the team in Pawtucket. Still, Rhode Island might come out ahead, after a developer and elected officials yesterday unveiled a $400 million plan to redevelop Pawtucket’s McCoy Stadium area, a project that would include a new 7,500-seat soccer stadium. The BBJ’s Catherine Carlock has the details.
GOP’s Tarr objects to Senate special election date
SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) reports that Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr is objecting to holding a special election on March 3 to fill Vinny deMacedo’s seat – the same day as the state’s presidential primary that’s expected to generate a large Dem turnout, though Barr isn’t citing that as the reason for his objection.
Meanwhile, the House has set March 3 as the special-election date to fill the seat of Paul Brodeur, who was elected mayor of Melrose last month, as SHNS reports (pay wall) separately.
Split decision on what’s causing the Mass. GOP split
Speaking of Republicans: Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine takes a look at the factional infighting that’s splitting the state Republican Party. Basically, it’s a conservative-vs-moderate fight, even though both sides swear that they’re in favor of big-umbrella party unity and that it’s the other guy doing the splitting.
Will Brookline’s ban on gas and oil heating systems spread to other towns?
Writing at WBUR, Frederick Hewett says Brookline’s recently approved ban on installing oil and gas heating systems in new construction (beginning in 2021) is technologically feasible and sound, and the idea may spread to other communities across the state. Which would be good for the environment, he says. And which could be bad, potentially, for new housing construction if it doesn’t work as planned, we note with caution.
Bay State Banner to bolster its State House and City Hall coverage
This one is via Universal Hub via Sarah Betancourt, to wit: It looks like the Bay State Banner will soon have an extra reporter to cover “how state legislative and city hall actions affect Boston’s African-American communities,” as a result of a grant from Report for America.
Could Boston pick up two extra legislative seats after redistricting?
Due to a huge population gain over the past decade, the city of Boston could end up with a few extra state representative seats after the 2020 census count and redistricting, according to Mike Freeberg’s analysis, via the folks at Universal Hub.
MassMutual CEO bucks business trend, backs gas tax hike
From the BBJ’s Greg Ryan: “Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. CEO Roger Crandall supports increasing the state’s gas tax to help fix its transportation problems, he recently told the Business Journal, a position that puts him at odds with a few of the most powerful business groups in Massachusetts.”
Meanwhile, the liberal Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center has its own tax plan that Crandall and other won’t like.. From SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall): “Think Tank: Biz Tax Hike Would Address Inequity.”
She’s a Harvard-educated lawyer, children’s advocate and wife of Joe Kennedy III. What more needs to be said?
The Globe’s Victoria McGrane profiles Lauren Birchfield Kennedy, a health policy lawyer, occasional Elizabeth Warren consultant and head of a child advocacy non-profit who also happens to be U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy’s wife. She also went to Harvard, it can and must be noted.
Dershowitz says he won’t be cancelled
In a letter to the editor at the Herald, Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz responds to a column by Casey Sherman, saying Sherman’s suggestion that Harvard might “cancel” Dershowitz won’t happen. Why? Because of Dershowitz’s “unblemished half century of hard work,” Dershowitz humbly says.
Coast Guard catches fishermen submitting fishy reports
From SHNS’s Michael Norton: “Fishing crews used schemes to misreport as much as 2.5 million pounds of regulated groundfish species between 2011 and 2015, according to U.S. Coast Guard investigation findings that will be discussed Tuesday in Rhode Island. The report, which will be presented to the New England Fisheries Management Council, describes the current regulatory regime as vulnerable to misreporting.”
‘Aloha!’ EBT cards used at posh hotels in Hawaii
We’re only talking hundreds of dollars, but, on a day like today, this definitely rankles. From the Herald’s Joe Dwinell: “EBT card holders from Massachusetts have spent their tax-funded benefits in almost every state — including popular vacation spots like Hawaii where welfare money was withdrawn at hotels in ‘paradise,’right on Waikiki Beach and the ‘best address’ on Hanalei Bay, records show.”
San Francisco slaps travel ban to Boston over state’s abortion laws
We missed this story from the other day, from Martha Bebinger at WBUR: “Massachusetts officials are struggling to understand why the state has been blacklisted by San Francisco over the state’s abortion laws. Last month, San Francisco officials announced a ban on travel by city employees to Massachusetts and 21 other states whose abortion laws were deemed too restrictive by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.”
Going down: Report tracks curious falling property values for Fall River official
Fall River officials have released a report on how former City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros saw the assessed values on her properties fall even as she made upgrades to them, Jo C. Goode reports in the Herald-News. The report is harshly critical of former Assessor Benjamin Mello for failing to conduct in-person inspections but suggests Viveiros did not direct Mello to make the changes. Both officials resigned before the report was made public.
Never forget? Bay State contracts still carry Northern Ireland provisions
With Boston Mayor Marty Walsh freshly back from a trip to Belfast, WGBH’s Paul Singer digs into state contracts and finds a provision dating from the mid-1980s that subjects contractors with ties to Northern Ireland to additional scrutiny on issues such as workplace discrimination.
Manhattan transfer: NYC firm to market Valley Flyer
Riders wanted, New York City address preferred. A New York-based branding firm has been tapped to market the new Valley Flyer train service that connects Greenfield and other western Massachusetts cities to the Big Apple, Anita Fritz reports at the Greenfield Recorder. The state, which has committed to a pilot of the service, says it will be made permanent if enough riders get on board and has pledged $250,000 to get the word out to New Yorkers and others.
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