Happening Today

Revenue hearing, Thermo Fisher opening, and more

— States participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (REGGI) hold their last quarterly auction in which states will offer carbon allowances for purchase to meet CO2 compliance obligations for 2019, this morning.

— The Baker administration and the Joint Ways and Means committees hold the annual consensus revenue hearing to try to determine the tax-collection outlook for the next fiscal year, Gardner Auditorium, 10 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker speaks at the opening of Thermo Fisher Scientific’s new clinical and commercial gene therapy manufacturing site, with Rep. Michelle Ciccolo and Thermo Fisher President and CEO Marc Casper also attending, 45 Hartwell Ave., Lexington, 11 a.m.

— Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito chairs a weekly meeting of the Governor’s Council, Room 360, 12 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Janelle Chan and other local leaders to make an announcement relative to MassWorks funding for the City of Somerville, City Hall, City Council Chamber, 93 Highland Avenue, Somerville, 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

As other states take aggressive action on housing, Massachusetts can’t even pass one measly housing-reform bill

The Globe’s Tim Logan reports that other states – such as New York, Washington and Oregon – have recently passed aggressive action to address the housing crunch in their respective domains. In Massachusetts? Lawmakers can’t even pass Gov. Charlie Baker’s rather modest proposal to ease restrictions on new housing construction in towns and cities.

Well, at least one municipality is stepping up to the plate, for a change. From MassLive: “Newton City Council approves largest housing project in city’s history; Plans include 800 apartments and 14 buildings.”

Boston Globe

Boston’s Zoning Board of Appeal: Impervious to even the smallest change?

Speaking of seemingly intractable problems, Boston’s Zoning Board of Appeal, currently at the center of a bribery scandal, might seem ripe for major reform. But … but no reform proposals have emerged yet, and the board seems destined to keep on rubber-stamping those zoning variances until ordered otherwise. WGBH’s Isaiah Thompson has the details.


For Warren: Less policy, more tears?

In politics, you know things aren’t going well when backers advise a candidate to start showing more emotion – and the candidate starts taking the advice. Slumping in the polls after an autumn surge, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is indeed tweaking her campaign strategy a bit by talking less about policies and more about herself, even shedding a tear or two, report the Globe’s Jess Bidgood and Liz Goodwin. The Globe’s Joan Vennochi was writing about the tears-for-votes strategy the other day – and she didn’t sound very impressed.

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Adrian Walker writes how Warren has lost momentum and how Deval Patrick is trying to gain any momentum, as they and other presidential candidates search for that elusive magic spark. 

MBTA update: Seeing red, but not orange

On the same day that the MBTA had to pull its new Orange Line cars from service due to an ‘uncommon noise’ (Herald), the agency’s governing board yesterday was signaling that it may request more funds from lawmakers to balance its budget (CommonWealth). How much more money isn’t clear. And, oh, btw, also from the Herald: “Orange Line squeezed by failure in MBTA’s rehabbed downtown tunnel.”

Globe’s Spotlight Team gets results: Editor starts taking commuter rail

Speaking of mass-transit matters, Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine reports that it was Globe editor Brian McGrory’s idea to launch the paper’s recent investigation of traffic-congestion woes in Greater Boston, after he personally experienced one too many commutes from hell. At the suggestion of a Spotlight Team editor, McGrory has since started taking the commuter line to work on most days.


Off to Israel: Budget impasse? What budget impasse?

And speaking of both money and transit matters, SHNS’s Matt Murphy says there may, or may not be, added pressure on lawmakers to cut a deal this week on the state supplemental budget bill, which is now more than five months late. The reason: “bad optics,” i.e. Senate President Karen Spilka and other key senators are headed for a 10-trip to Israel, starting tomorrow. The supplemental budget bill includes, among other things, $50 million for the T. See first item above.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Herald editor Joe Sciacca jumps ship for TV post

Notice we didn’t say ‘sinking ship’ in the headline. Callum Borchers at WBUR and Jon Chesto and Travis Andersen at the Globe report that Herald editor Joe Sciacca is leaving the paper for an editing post at WHDH-TV (Channel 7). A 37-year veteran at the Herald, Sciacca, who has headed the paper’s newsroom since 2010, bolts the paper as it, let’s face it, fights for survival, as are most other newspapers.

Sciacca is a virtual walking encyclopedia of local politics, so his departure will definitely be felt at the Herald. Fyi: Curiously, the Herald’s non-bylined story on its editor’s departure amounted to just six paragraphs.

Grad students of the nation, unite!

They did it. From Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine: “Chanting ‘What’s up? Time’s up!’ and marching down the winding paths in Harvard Yard, a small army of grad students at the nation’s wealthiest and most prominent university walked off the job Tuesday morning.” And the striking students, who are locked in a contract dispute with the university, hope their labor action spreads to other campuses nationwide, Buell writes.

Boston Magazine

Once more with feeling: Recapping Rockland’s sex scandal

The passion may be gone, but the mystery remains. Rachel Slade at Boston Magazine gives the long-read treatment to Rockland’s bizarre late-night Town Hall sex scandal involving selectmen, the town administrator and a number of investigations — and comes to the conclusion that we may never know who the real victims were in the twisted tale. 

Nursing home backers file signatures for ballot question, but not so abortion foes

SHNS’sMichael Norton (pay wall) reports that supporters of a potential 2020 statewide referendum on increasing government rates paid to nursing homes have submitted 87,000 signatures with the state, enough they say to advance the ballot question to the next stage in the process. But the Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert reports that “for the third time in five years, a petition drive aimed at ending state taxpayer funding for abortions has failed to garner the support it needed to land on the election ballot.

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? That was the heated question at the State House yesterday

SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) and MassLive’sShira Schoenberg report on a packed legislative hearing yesterday on two vaccination-related bills, one of which would eliminate the religious exemption from mandatory vaccinations. The Globe’s editorial board is making its view clear on the issue: “Lawmakers should heed science, not anti-vaccine activists.”

Of dead mice and crumbling concrete

The Globe’s Malcolm Gay and Meghan Irons report there are some things that the state’s new school-funding reform law just can’t fix, like the crumbling and decrepit conditions of many school facilities. They  have more than a few sad-condition details.

Is Massachusetts now a sudden believer in states’ rights?

Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine looks at all the recent ways Massachusetts has established (or may establish) itself as a progressive outlier on various policies, from legalized marijuana to sanctuary cities, and notes the state’s proud history of flouting federal laws. Then again, as Buell notes, does all of this sort of put us in the same category of conservatives who have long defended states’ rights on controversial issues?

Boston Magazine

RIP, GOP? Not so fast

Writing at CommonWealth magazine, Curtis Wilkie has a good review/analysis of Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg’s new book ‘RIP GOP: How the New America is Dooming the Republicans.’ Saying he’s only “half convinced” by Greenberg’s prophecy, Wilkie notes that Dems can still blow it if they don’t build a large enough coalition to win – and right now they don’t look like they’re doing that.


Fire chief’s sage advice: ‘Please don’t stick your hand in a snowblower’

Area fire departments and hospitals were busy during this week’s snow storms helping and treating people who, counter to user instruction manuals, stuck their hands into running snow blowers, as Steph Solis reports at MassLive. After one such incident in Lawrence, the fire chief felt compelled to pronounce: “Please don’t stick your hand in a snowblower” (MassLive).


Aloha, Part II: Baker administration defends ‘integrity’ of EBT system

The Herald is going full Herald on this one. From Joe Dwinell and Mary Markos: “Despite evidence of EBT spending in vacation hot spots like Hawaii and Las Vegas, the Baker administration is standing by the ‘integrity’ of the tax-funded welfare program. The state Department of Transitional Assistance said Tuesday the agency has hired more staff to target EBT card abuse.”

You know it’s getting the full Herald treatment when: A.) Howie chimes in and B.) The editorial board also chimes in.

Boston Herald

Feel the Burns: Filmmaker helps launch Hampshire fundraiser

Cue the Civil War music. Filmmaker Ken Burns helped Hampshire College kick off a $60 million fundraising push designed to help the liberal arts college usher in a new educational model and rebuild its shrunken student headcount, Jim Kinney reports via MassLive. The school says it has already taken in about $11 million. 


Au contraire: Court rules au pairs deserve state’s minimum wage, not the federal minimum wage

As Universal Hub notes in its headline, it ‘sucks to be well off,’ for those who can afford to hire foreign au pairs must pay them the higher Massachusetts minimum wage, not the lower federal minimum wage, according to federal appeals court ruling issued yesterday.

Universal Hub

Lynch: Aircraft need ‘stern review’ after 100-pound slide falls from sky onto Milton lawn

This is definitely a strange one that deserves review. From the Herald’s Rick Sobey: Milton sky fall: U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch: “U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch on Tuesday called for a rigorous federal review after a 100-pound evacuation slide fell from a Boeing aircraft and landed in a Milton front yard Sunday, in what he called a potentially “’atal error.’”

Boston Herald

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

Community Forum on the Future of Education

With the Student Opportunity Act signed into law, now is the time to celebrate what’s been accomplished and think about what comes next. What programs and services do students need to succeed? How can schools better reflect the priorities of community members? The Rennie Center is hosting a community forum to raise these questions and gather input from students, parents, and others.

Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy

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

Getting to the Point: The Next Frontier of Public Health in Massachusetts

State and local leaders will discuss public health issues facing communities across Massachusetts, including gun safety, substance abuse, mental health, and the social determinants of health. The panel will highlight how the Commonwealth addresses each of these issues and will reflect on opportunities for the state to continue to lead and expand on support for strong public health policy.

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

JP Progressives 10 Year Anniversary & Holiday Celebration

JP Progressives is 10 years old!! Come celebrate with the founders of JP Progressives and with our many amazing partners. We are proud to be increasingly working in collaboration with other organizations around the city to build progressive political power together.

JP Progressives

Think/Write/Speak: Activism in Action

Join the Bostonian Society and nomadic arts incubator Brown Art Ink for a workshop on raising your voice for local issues.

Brown Art Ink

Swampscott, Marblehead & Nahant RTC Holiday Party

Please join us for our annual Swampscott, Marblehead & Nahant Republican Town Committees holiday party with special guest Governor Charlie Baker.

Swampscott Republican Town Committee

Today’s Headlines


New Orange Line cars peeled out of service over ‘uncommon’ noise – Boston Herald

South Boston home where Whitey Bulger’s victims were buried may be torn down – Boston Globe


State nears approval of power line through Sudbury, Hudson, Stow – MetroWest Daily News

Congressional candidate Auchinchloss announces transportation plan – Sun Chronicle

Historic home among three Shrewsbury lots up for auction – Telegram & Gazette


The spectacular collapse of Kamala Harris – Politico

Europe turns the tables on Trump and he doesn’t like it – New York Times

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