Happening Today

Gaming Commission, Transportation hearing, and more

Massachusetts Gaming Commission meets with an agenda that includes a vendor diversity update, Region C, tribal litigation and federal legislation, 2020 Community Mitigation Fund, and horse racing, 101 Federal Street, Boston, 10 a.m.

— Lawmakers hold a public hearing on transportation finance and toll bills, including proposals to impose new fees on ride-hailing companies and to study expanded roadway tolls on highways that do not have them, Room A-1, 1 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Brockton Mayor Moises Rodrigues and other local leaders participate in a ribbon cutting for the Mayor Bill Carpenter Garage and make an announcement about MassWorks funding, 28 Petronelli Way, Brockton, 2 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Rep. Susan Gifford and other local officials to make an announcement about MassWorks funding for the town of Carver, Carver Town Hall, 108 Main Street, Carver, 4 p.m.

Democratic National Committee holds an IWillVote fundraising gala, with featured speakers including DNC Chair Tom Perez, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Attorney General Maura Healey, Boston Westin Waterfront, 425 Summer St., Boston, 6 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 Baker vows to fix ‘unfortunate’ Orange Line problems …

Yes, it was another day, another delay for Orange Line riders on Wednesday, and Gov. Charlie Baker says the “unfortunate” subway problems do indeed “need to be fixed,” reports the Herald’s Mary Markos and SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall).

To be clear: Yesterday’s woes were not the result of the new Orange Line subway cars (MassLive) because, well, they had already been pulled due to ‘uncommon noise’ problems (Globe). It’s not clear when the new cars will resume service. The Globe’s Joan Vennochi writes that, if it turns out the new Orange Line cars are seriously flawed, then the entire region may be facing an “existential threat.”

… Keolis fixes things on Beacon Hill with big bucks

This is one way to fix things. From Christian Wade at the Salem News: “The French company that operates the MBTA’s commuter rail is spending big bucks on lobbying as state officials consider extending its contract another two years. Keolis Commuter Rail Services has dropped more than $1.3 million lobbying Beacon Hill since January 2014, when the company was awarded a $2.68 billion contract to operate the system, according to disclosures.”

Salem News

Construction begins on Weymouth compressor station

For opponents, the last-minute legal miracle didn’t materialize. From Jessica Trufant at the Patriot Ledger: “After nearly five years of protests and standouts, opposition letters and lawsuits, construction has started on a 7,700-horsepower natural gas compressor station on the banks of the Fore River.”

SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) reports that opponents are vowing continued resistance, up to and including “preparations for nonviolent civil disobedience.”

Patriot Ledger

Spilka and others cancel flights to Israel amid budget impasse

They must have seen the bad optics too. SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) reports that Senate President Karen Spilka and top Senate budget negotiators have cancelled their planned flights today to Israel (70 degrees F as of this morning), amid the ongoing supplemental-budget impasse in Boston (33 degrees F). The sacrifice!

Meanwhile, Andy Metzger at CommonWealth magazine reports that Comptroller Andrew Maylor and Gov. Charlie Baker appear to disagree on which state agencies and programs are in the most immediate need of funds from a supplemental budget.

The Hodgson emails: White House suck-up, snitch or both?

The Globe’s Yvonne Abraham sifts through all the emails, obtained by the ACLU, between Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, who is honorary chair of President Trump’s reelection campaign here, and the White House – and marvels how much time Hodgson devotes to the correspondence, so much time that it’s as if he’s “auditioning for a job in the White House.” 

Our attention was drawn more to how Hodgson “informed about those undermining Trump’s agenda in Massachusetts — including, in one instance, the sheriff’s own Catholic parish.” I.e. He’s a volunteer snitch.

Boston Globe

State tax revenues: Back to boom or bust?

From SHNS’s Colin Young and Katie Lannan: “State budget writers began the fiscal year 2021 budget cycle Wednesday with a hearing at which the Department of Revenue, independent economists and think tanks sent the same message: get ready for state tax revenue growth to start slowing down.”

OK, so we’re not exactly headed for a bust. Still …Separately, SHNS does report (pay wall) that pot-sale tax revenues are expected to come in strong next fiscal year, with short-term rental tax revenues also flowing in at an impressive clip (SHNS – pay wall).

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Maine and New Hampshire to Massachusetts: Thanks for the vaping ban!

The Department of Revenue is estimating that the state will lose about $93 million in tax revenue as a result of the recently passed flavored-tobacco ban in Massachusetts, reports Shira Schoenberg at MassLive. And one has to presume a large chuck of that money is going to New Hampshire and Maine, where vape shops have recently been jammed with Bay State customers buying up items during Gov. Charlie Baker’s vaping-products ban, as the Globe’s Naomi Martin reports.

Deal done: Obamas take ownership of Martha’s Vineyard estate

It’s official. George Brennan at the Martha’s Vineyard Times reports former President Barack Obama is now officially the owner of an Edgartown estate, ending months of speculation that the former First Family would take up residence on the island. Another presidential feather in the Bay State’s cap? Sure. And also a pretty good day for Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, the former owner of the $11.75 million property. 

Martha’s Vineyard Times

Baker backs Tarr in special-election battle, Galvin protests

From SHNS’s Chiris Lisinki (pay wall): “The confrontation over when to schedule a special election for an open Senate seat spilled outside the Senate chamber walls Wednesday when Gov. Charlie Baker endorsed the Republican leader’s plan to avoid a general election on the same day as the presidential primary and Secretary of State William Galvin accused the minority party of attempting ‘voter suppression.’”

Spotlight on a scholar: Harvard Law’s Noah Feldman

Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman was one of the constitutional scholars called by Democrats to testify at the House impeachment hearing yesterday in Washington – and, not surprisingly, he called President Trump’s action on Ukraine an impeachable abuse of power, the NYT reports. The Times also has a separate mini-profile on Feldman.

The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld was more impressed with the testimony of George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who was called by Republicans and who questioned whether Democrats had the goods on Trump.

Well done: State worker who fabricated credentials gets a promotion

We must have missed a chapter in ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ From the Globe’s Matt Stout: “A top official in the state medical examiner’s office, who was demoted last year amid revelations she claimed to have a psychology degree she never earned, has been promoted to a management role overseeing staff across the state for the agency, and at a higher salary than before she was downgraded.”

Boston Globe

Worcester school’s Thanksgiving program rapped as ‘insensitive’

From Scott O’Connell at the Telegram: “A tribal chief, a city councilor and a School Committee member have criticized a local school’s plans last week to have staff come dressed as pilgrims and Wampanoag people to a Thanksgiving celebration.” But wait: The superintendent counters that no one ultimately wore costumes and critics have “focused on the wrong thing.”


And, please, no extra credit for Hitler parody videos

Speaking of insensitivity, from the Daily Collegian: “UMass accounting professor removed from classes until end of semester for ‘offensive’ extra credit videos.” The offensive videos? A parody from the German movie ‘Downfall’ and song ‘Bust Down Thotiana.’

Daily Collegian

SJC to decide whether Northeastern is responsible for student’s rape

Local colleges will be watching this case closely — very closely. Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports that the Supreme Judicial Court will hear arguments next week on whether Northeastern University can be held responsible for creating conditions that led to a freshman student’s rape. It appears the case ultimately comes down to whether two sophomore residence assistants who invited underage students to a party were effectively university representatives. Schoenberg has the details.


They’re now breaking the $70K tuition mark at area colleges

Speaking of higher education, Hilary Burns at the Boston Business Journal reports that 13 colleges in Massachusetts now have annual sticker prices exceeding $70,000 a year. Amherst and Tufts are leading the pack, but others are not far behind.


Golden holiday memories for Gold Star families

The Herald’s Jessica Heslam and the Globe’s Alyssa Lukpat report on yesterday’s moving Gold Star families ceremony yesterday at the State House, where Gov. Charlie Baker, First Lady Lauren Baker and others saluted relatives who lost loved ones serving the country in the military.

Bourne selectman latest to enter state senate race

Add him to the list. Bourne Selectman Jared MacDonald is poised to enter the race for the vacant Plymouth & Barnstable state Senate seat, Geoff Spillane reports at the Cape Cod Times. MacDonald would be the second Republican to wade into a race that already includes at least five declared Democratic candidates. 

Cape Cod Times

Straus: Baker admin ‘should have known’ about RMV woes

She knew–or at least should have. Rep. William Straus, the co-chair of the legislature’s transportation committee, asserts that Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack and the Baker administration had the information they needed to spot problems in handling records at the RMV before it led to tragedy, telling WGBH’s Jim Braude that “the information was right in front of them.”

Btw: We had noticed these comments buried in other RMV stories, but MassLive’s Steph Solis is giving them more prominence.: “Former Merit Rating Board Director Thomas Bowes called employees ‘poor white trash,’ audit notes say.”


Feds give barn swallows the boot in Hadley

Turns out the housing crisis isn’t just for people. After a year of debate and study, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it will demolish a decrepit barn on a refuge in Hadley where scores of barn swallows have taken up residence, Scott Merzbach reports at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. The feds are worried the structure will collapse and say an offer from bird backers to fund roof repairs falls short of what would be needed to make it safe. 


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


Roslindale’s first pot shop approved by city – Universal Hub

City council votes to rezone Lynn’s waterfront district – Lynn Item


Work starts at Weymouth compressor station site – Patriot Ledger

NSCC president to retire in July – Salem News

Haverhill mayor claims zero tolerance for violence against city workers after DPW assault – Eagle-Tribune


Biden says he’ll consider Harris as running mate – Politico

Trump administration cutting off food stamps for nearly 700,000 – New York Times

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